The Past and the Future

I treasure life’s unique experiences, especially those that come out of nowhere.

Last weekend, I had one of those experiences. I went to two parties on one weekend – one for our 96-year-old Baba and a first-year birthday party for my littlest niece. It was the past and the future all rolled into one weekend.

One of my favourite people in the world.

Baba first.

At 96, I can’t help but be amazed at the life Baba has lived.

Born in 1923.

Let’s think about THAT for a second.

To say it was a different time would be like saying the winters are a little cold in northern Saskatchewan.

Her mother and father were children of Ukrainian immigrants, simple farmers fleeing violent oppression, seeking cheap farming land in Canada. She grew up in a time where religion and community went hand-in-hand, through times when her family didn’t know if they’d have enough to eat over the winter, and in a home with no running water or Google (FYI, of the two, I think I could survive longer without water than the internet.)

She survived the Great Depression, all the sicknesses that took so many back then, and literally had to walk miles through blizzards to attend school. (And me, I complain if I have to walk to my car in the rain.)

So, imagine how the world has changed in her lifetime.

She saw how the world transformed after World War 2, from the rise of feminism, to the growth of suburbs, to the civil rights movement. She would have listened to the Beatles on the radio, watched men land on the moon on her black and white TV, and seen the ushering in of the computerized world.

For most of her life, she would have used a rotary phone, likely with an overly long spiral cord that risked strangling anyone who got in-between you and the phone. For most of her life, she would have gone to an actual store to shop, not Amazoned a blender or a book about bees. For most of her life, she would have had to rely on her memory to recall who was that actor who played that doctor on that show set during the Korean war, not simply spoken her request to the god-like Siri.

I could go on and on (and actually did, but edited this for brevity). This was a woman who not only lived through those times but refused to be confined by those times.

She never finished school, yet created architectural drawings for the church she helped build. While raising 4 children, she helped run a drive-in movie theatre (which I think is super cool). All of her life, even into her 70’s and 80’s, she organized and led her church women’s group, and worked in the kitchen cooking up legendary dinners at the Ukrainian Hall in Surrey.

She is a woman who has never slowed down, never given up, and always finds a way to contribute.

So, for her birthday, we all gathered to celebrate this amazing woman. Married at 16 to a man 8 years her senior, she had four children, who went on the have great lives and provide her with a boat-load of grandchildren who, in turn, brought forth many, many more great-grandchildren.

One of several tables full of family. Great Baba is at the head of the table.

Nearly all were able to come for her birthday. We sang, (poorly,), laughed loudly, watched a slide show of her life with her family, and cried with her as she thanked everyone for their love.

Personally, I love spending time with her, listening to her stories, hearing her history and shaking my head in wonder at someone who has been through so much, remains so positive, so productive and still so funny.

She is an inspiration.

Tomorrow, the future.

Top 10 things I Will Never Hear as a Parent

Top 10 things I will never hear as a parent

  1. Oh, sleep, glorious sleep.
    Oh, sleep, glorious sleep.

    Joe, thanks so much for getting us to bed on time so we can get a good night’s sleep and not be complete asshats the next day.

  2. Joe, thanks for making me apologize to my friend for doing something derpy to him. It made me a better person.
  3. Joe, why don’t we sit down and talk about history for a bit? You can tell me more about tanks.
  4. Joe, tell me more about what it was like back in your day. Especially about how much harder it was. Or better.
  5. Joe, any advice you can give me on how to please a woman?
  6. Joe, thank you for taking away my electronics for a week so I could focus on my homework.
  7. Joe, the best experience of my life was mowing the lawn every week. Right up there with picking up the dog poo.
  8. Joe, can we move, again so I can pack and unpack all your books? All 800 boxes of them.
  9. Joe, can you come and visit me and my friends at lunch time so we can all talk about life, the universe and girls?

    The most-interesting-man-in-the-world is never wrong.
    The most-interesting-man-in-the-world is never wrong.
  10. Joe, you were right.

Well, the truth is I could hear all those things sarcastically.

But I’m ok with that. When they’re 30 and have kids of their own, they will understand.

 

 

 

10 Best Kid Smells

Calvin and Hobbs. Calvin knows something about bad smells
Calvin and Hobbs. Calvin knows something about bad smells

The list of bad kid smells could fill a book, but maybe there is another side – Smells that are awesome and you pretty much only get them around kids.

  • Crayons. Ah, crayons.
    Crayons. Ah, crayons.

    Crayons. Now this could just be me, but opening up a drawer filled with used crayons smells wonderful. Maybe it takes me back to my childhood. Maybe I like the smell of wax mixed with whatever yummy, sticky food the boys had on their hands while using them. Maybe I’m just suffering from a stroke.

  • Baby shampoo. (No more tears, stuff.) Now THIS reminds me of childhood for sure. But in an age of tangerine-oatmeal bodywashes and pear-jasmin shampoos. and moisturizing, organic, stress-relieving body butter made from the sweat of koalas, that no more tears stuff still smells the best to me. A part of me wants to go back to that, but I believe the ads that say I will get a hot woman if I use Axe (and clearly it worked!)
  • bubblegumBubblegum. Ok, adults can totally get bubblegum vodka and bubblegum flavoured condoms, apparently, but there’s nothing like the smell of bubblegum out of a pack of hockey cards or brought fresh from the local convenience store. That’s total kid stuff right there. Pure as it comes. Sometimes squishy and sometimes hard as a frozen sheet of steel.
  • New Plastic. I can’t explain why this smells so good, but open up a new lego box or tank model or the latest plastic toy and you’ll see what I mean. Was it because that new plastic smell meant I got something cool to play with back when I was a kid? Or did all the glue fumes from making models severely damage some part of my brain?

    Ah, model glue. Is it the smell or the fact it't toxic and addicting?
    Ah, model glue. Is it the smell or the fact it’t toxic and addicting?
  • Plastic Model Glue. Ok, I get why this one smells so good to me. I got high off it for years before I ever knew you could get high off it. I guess it’s like the smell of cigarettes to former addicts – it just kinda hits that part of your brain that says more please. Luckily, that addiction has now been replaced with donut cravings.
  • Pools. Now this isn’t a particularly kidish smell, but let’s face it, we don’t go to the pool that often unless we’re taking the kids. But that toxic smell of chlorine… Oh so good. But it’s a smell that could have been a total nightmare, too. I mean, my brother and I learned to swim in a chlorine pool and back when we were taught such things, they literally tossed us in the deep end, and there we were, desperately dog-paddling to stay afloat and gulping down gallons of the stuff. So it is a little odd I love the smell. It could have easily been something that sent me to therapy.
  • Playdoh.
    Playdoh.

    Play-doh. It’s in every box in which the boys have stored their toys. Little blobs of it at the bottom. Small jars underneath their cars. Giant globs stuck the sides of the Rubbermaid containers. I don’t honestly recall playing with it that much, but that smell… like cookie dough. Or an almond-vanilla thing. The more I think about it, the more likely it is that I didn’t so much play with it as eat it. I wish my mom was here to tell me what happened.

  • Cookie doh. Ha, cookie dough. Not that I haven’t eaten my weight 200 times over in cookie dough over my adult life, but it’s still a kid smell to me. I’m not talking those super-good-for-you cookies, though. Nope. We’re talking chocolate chip cookies. Maybe smartie cookies. But that sweet, doughy smell is hard to beat. Personally, I think Sesame Street should have made a cookie-dough monster except, you know, for the fact you shouldn’t really eat raw cookie doh,
  • School Books. No other book smells quite like a school book. Maybe it’s the smell of despair or panic that’s put into all of them. Maybe they use a different paper or a different binding than the Stephen King books. But there’s that new text book smell that’s just kind of hard to place. Inky. Something chemical-like. Probably the glue. Wait. Dammit, did they make those things with the same stuff I made models with?
  • Sharpies. Not only fun to draw with, but fun to smell.
    Sharpies. Not only fun to draw with, but fun to smell.

    Sharpies. OMG sometimes I think that when I’m down, I should just take off the lid of a sharpie and sniff, sniff, sniff. I’m not sure how healthy it would be, but there’s an intoxicating element to that pen. I don’t recall sharpies from my childhood, though, so the smell is a great 21st century kid smell. Probably done deliberately. Probably tested on rats or kids in China.

Oh, hey, but that’s not all. There are a lot of other smells associated with childhood or kids. Campfires. Burnt marshmallows. Fresh band-aids. Wet dog. Wet kid. Cold water on hot asphalt. Rubber dodge balls (I took a lot of those off the nose in my time.) Mothballs. Leather baseballs.

Oh the list could really be endless, as is the list of horrible smells. But as the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world reminded me, focus on the positive (and not the smell of vomit that you can’t get out of the car.)

 

 

10 Things I Had To Leave Behind

10 Things I Had To Leave Behind

baggageNowadays, the airlines have limits on the baggage weight. So, being a ‘rules’ guy, and having heard that Allegiant airlines was pretty strict about their baggage weight, I didn’t want to take anything that I didn’t absolutely need.

These things were taken out

1) My knife. Ok, it was a Swiss army knife, but the likelihood of me having to start a fire, gut a fish or saw a very, very small log (or my arm if I was trapped by a boulder) was pretty low. And I didn’t see it of much use as a self-defence weapon, I mean, why bring a knife to what would likely be a gunfight?

2) All explosives. Like my can of shaving cream. Or Axe sexy-smell-good stuff. Apparently aerosols are not something you want to take on a plane these days. I dunno why, I took them on planes forever, but these are different times I guess.

3) All liquids. Hey, I can buy some super spikey gel or pineapple-scented hand sanitizer or green, vita-juice in San Diego. If I had to cut weight, this was a good place to cut it.

catan4) All board games. No playing Catan while we’re away.

5) My dog. Vegas went to the doggie hotel to play with the other doggies. In fairness, she was the first thing I knew I couldn’t take. Weight restrictions or not

6) All adult toys. No way I want anyone, anywhere, at any time opening up a bag and asking. Ok, what is this? Not that I have any, you understand, I’m just saying.

7) My stuffed animals. I could claim they’d be for the boys, but…

8) My dress shoes. As nice as they are, let’s face it, the lions in the San Diego Zoo don’t care how awesome I look in them. So why bring them?

duck-dynasty19) My electric beard trimmer. I’ll just have to go all duck dynasty.

10)        All books. Ack. This was not easy. I love to pack a good hundred pounds of books and carry them all around the globe while never actually reading one of them. I guess they’re like a really hard security blanket.

As it turned out, they didn’t weigh the bags at all. So I could have brought Catan afterall.

However, I’m thankful they didn’t weigh me in when I got on the plane. What if that becomes a thing? Sir, you weighed 200lbs before going to the land of $5 all you can eat burger buffets and now you come back weighing 245. Please pay for you excess weight.

Pi Squared

PiI don’t think I’ve ever seen such a beautiful movie.

Ok, sure, there is absolutely no pie in this movie, but what it lacks in pictures of tasty pastry, it more than makes up for with stunning visuals, characters we love and a massively engaging plot. Oh, and there’s a tiger. An amazing tiger.

Now, full disclosure, I have NOT read the book. It’s literally in a stack of books beside my bed. So I went into the movie knowing very little about the story.

Oh, I knew there was a tiger. A boy. A lot of water. And I’d seen trailers that highlighted some amazing shots (like the whale bursting out of the luminescent ocean or the tin can thrown into a sea of amber glass.) In fact, the trailer sold me. I won’t deny it. It seemed like a movie I should see on the big screen, where I could be swallowed up by the visuals.

Pi whaleAnd, in that department, I wasn’t disappointed. Like a true work of art, the director, Ang Lee, has created images that will stick in your mind long after you’ve left the theater.

What I didn’t expect was how much humor would be in the story, like how Pi changed his name, how his father teased him about religious holidays, or when Pi learns they are going to Canada.

Pi’s Father: We are going to Canada, North America.

Pi: But Columbus was looking for India.

Funny, right?

What I also didn’t expect was how they could weave words into the story with such great effect – like the ship that “moved with the slow, massive confidence of a continent.” Or “I suppose in the end, the whole of life becomes an act of letting go, but what always hurts the most is not taking a moment to say goodbye.”

Lovely!

Or how fantastic they made the tiger look (I mean, was it real or CGI? Seriously! It was that good!)

Or how the ending affects the whole story, (anyone who’s read the book will know what I’m taking about.)

Or how they crafted such an emotional, tender, exciting (even terrifying), spiritual, uplifting and yet heartbreaking narrative.

It is so much more than journey, so much more than pretty pictures, it’s an epic imagining worthy of being seen not once, but many times.

Now I have to go read the book.