Saturday, December 28, 2013

Days 2 - 7 of Nine Days Off

So, to recap, I spent DAY ONE mostly in bed.
Because I could.
And it was glorious. In every single way.
(And when I got up, I visited my dad. And did 10 minutes of Christmas shopping.)


(Was Sunday, Dec 22...)
Twas a grand day.

I was able to watch a BBC production that I'd been following with interest (and truth be told, had been praying for since last Spring) (shut up) by streaming it live on my laptop.
Lookit me go.
(Clint walked me through the process of adjusting my IP address. So thankful for sons with patience.)
I can't watch BluRay DVD's in this house I live in. Can't watch local TV programs on the 80" TV ten steps from my bedroom, but I can watch British Television FROM MY BED.

I friggin love the internet.

Sunday was also the day I met Marcus.

He's adorbs, no?

This is just the cutest family:

Then I picked up a friend and we zipped up to the lake, where it was frozen. Like for real. So cold. But that's what furnaces and blankets are for.

She's a fan of all things British, so I introduced her to Mr. Thornton and gasp, I don't think it changed her life.


I also introduced her to the fine art of staying in bed til noon.
Because I'm a crappy sensitive host that way; everyone should enjoy the luxury of not getting up one second before you want to.

So, DAY THREE, started at noon, essentially. JUST LIKE ALL DAYS SHOULD.

She introduced me to pomegranate seeds.

Such a festive fruit.

We walked around Lindell Beach.
And up Frosst Creek. (Where it was less scenic than it was a month ago.)
And around the neighbourhood.
Summer is so over.

We walked along the beach. Where the ground was soggy and covered in goose shit.

And it totally didn't matter. It wasn't raining, that's all that's important. A rain-free day.
A person can do just about anything on a rain-free day.

I dropped her off at her place at 3:00 pm and by 4:00 pm, I was out with another friend, walking around the Serpentine Trails.
First we crossed over the freeway, safely.

You know what?
I'm starting to get used to this lifestyle.
This business of working and playing. With no other responsibilities.
It's a nice break after 30 years of looking after kids and a house.

Know what else?
I like walking again.

For a couple years (like from 2009 - 2013) I wasn't a fan.
But lately?
I can hardly wait to get out and walkntalk.
Or just walk.

Dear God,
Thanks for all the non-rainy days this year.
Thanks for supplying me with friends who like to walk.
And talk.
And thanks for listening to me go on and on about the people in my life.
Thanks for loving them even more than I do.
Thanks for surprising me with the way you care for them.
Thanks for calling them in personal, unmistakable ways.
Thanks for not getting tired of the rejection.
Thanks for protecting them, giving them job opportunities, for surrounding them with people of your choosing for your purposes.
Thanks for wowing me with your creativity.
Thanks for this place, the people in my life and the people you've handpicked to cross my path.
Thanks for Christmas. Twas a good idea. Thanks for planning, since the beginning of time, to save us through Your son. You? Are an awesome God.


By 5:30 she was eating pizza with her husband and his bff, and I was back at my mom's having supper with her.

I wrapped Christmas gifts all evening then left at 10 pm for the States.

Clint had been in St. John's Newfoundland for the past week and was trying to get home. All flights out of the east coast had been cancelled, so he was scrambling to get home for Christmas. He ended up on a much delayed flight from St. John's to Toronto to Seattle. And he was scheduled to arrive at 1 am.

I ended DAY THREE (of my nine days off) on the 1-5, heading south, daydreaming about an alternate life when I was pulled over by the police for speeding.

I started DAY FOUR (of my nine days off) talking myself out of a speeding ticket by explaining  that after a cancelled flight and many delays, I was picking up my son from the airport so he'd be home for Christmas. My voice may have quivered.

I met the boys at carousel 2 in the baggage claim area at 1:30 am and listened to them talk all the way back to Vancouver. Best start to Christmas Eve day, ever.

By 5 am I was back in bed, only to be awoken a few hours later by the cleaning lady moving furniture and vacuuming the wood floor directly above me. So I got out of bed, ate my body weight in frozen baked goods then went for a 2 hour walk, up and down the hills of Fraser Heights.

Does your family have Christmas Eve traditions?
We do.
We traditionally never do the same thing two years in a row.

And this year was just like all the others.
I wouldn't know what it would look like til after it was over.

Drew and Danica invited Clint, Max and I to join them at The Village's Christmas Eve service. Clint and I went and it was incredible. I absolutely loved it. Every single second.

I'm a fan of church anyways, but this Christmas Eve service was especially worthy of my affection.

We met Max back at my mom's where we BBQed 100 pounds of steak and salmon and then ate it all. Nothing says Christmas like a dead, roasted cow.
Our 'activity' of the evening was to hook up my old tuner to the big TV downstairs using the 50 feet of HDMI cable I bought, along with the new converter thingy I had express delivered from Amazon that would enable me to watch BluRays in the media room.

Maybe we weren't all equally involved in the activity:

Eventually we admitted defeat (again) and I think I've almost totally given up on the thought of ever using this room for it's intended purpose.
And we moved on to the opening presents portion of the festivities.

This is them being wildly excited about their gifts:

Then we watched Robin Hood (the 40 year old animated Disney version) to end our evening together.
(Which was like coming full circle for me -  I started 2013 by watching the 2006 BBC version of Robin Hood by myself and ended the year, going down memory road, watching the version the boys grew up on...) They knew all the dialogue and even sang along to all the songs. It was a little bit nice.

Then the kids went to their dad's for night.
And I went out and partied for a few hours.

Day Five was Christmas Day.
And no I did not party the night before.

But I slept in as if I had.
And then I walked the hills like it was any other day of the week.
Only this time I listened to music while I walked. And y'know what?
A person's gait adjusts to the tempo of the music that one has blaring in one's ear.

When mom got back from visiting dad, I headed over there.
We chatted about dead people, plum trees, basement bedrooms, past vacations and his red truck.
He was relaxed, at peace, and apparently completely pain free.

And he loves me.

Yes, I know how lucky I am.
I am unconditionally loved by both my mom and dad.

When I got back to my mom's place, we had dinner.
Turkey for two.

And then we watched another couple episodes of the last season of Friday Night Lights.
Like 2 old ladies.

Wait a minute.


We resemble that description.

At 9, I met my boys at Colossus and we saw a movie.

Do we have to talk about it?
Let's not.
It was disturbing.

I thought they'd be coming back to my mom's place afterwards, for night, but they decided to go back to their dad's to sleep over there instead, so I came home and had a little cry. Seriously. Expectations for Norman Rockwell Christmases are bad for the soul. I am such a nob. Knob. Noob. Boob.

I packed away all the beds and bedding I had set up downstairs, because it just looked pathetic with no one tucked into them. And called it a night by 2 am.

Some Christmases are just like that. Win some. Lose some.
It's just one day.
Just. One. Day.

And 2013 has been filled with many, many good days, so suck it up buttercup, quit being a drama queen.

I poked around the internet for a few hours and came across this song. Which is going to be my theme song for the next little while:

Did you listen?
Go ahead.
It's a good one.

You can listen and still read the rest of this riveting post. Go on...

I don't wanna be someone who walks away so easily
I'm here to stay and make the difference that I can make
Our differences they do a lot to teach us how to use
The tools and gifts we got, yeah, we got a lot at stake
And in the end, you're still my friend at least we did intend
For us to work we didn't break, we didn't burn
We had to learn how to bend without the world caving in
I had to learn what I've got, and what I'm not, and who I am

Day 6 (of my 9 days off) was Boxing Day.

Yes. I stayed in bed til noon.
Then walked the hills of Fraser Heights, listening to music, which made me smile the whole time.

Mom and I got dinner ready during the afternoon: two turkeys, a ham, mashed potatoes, rice, gravy, vegies, and so on.
My kids arrived in the later part of the afternoon and gave us a hand, while the rest of our family arrived a little after 5. We were eating our Christmas Dinner by 5:30.

Drew: mixing up some icing for the cupcakes -

Drew and Danica frosting the cupcakes:

Clint carving the turkey in the apron Mandi made for Jule for Christmas:

And Jule is wearing the one Mandi made for Daryl:

As per usual, the tables were set elegantly:

The kid's table:

My mom and her grandkids (missing Jake who was sick at home):

And then? After we could eat no more?

We all played a rousing game of Apples to Apples and we laughed. Like, alot.

By 8:30, we were done.
People in my family go to bed at reasonable hours, it seems ... especially when they have to work the following day. So mom and I hugged them all goodbye, then Clint and I did the dishes for a few hours:

He's going to be a great husband someday. When the time is right.

At 11:30, I packed up my backpack then drove over to Sandra's to pick her up.
We arrived at the lake at 1 am and talked about our Christmases til 3.

Because we each needed an hour to share the details.
Women are brilliant at this.

Friday Dec 27 was Day 7 (of my 9 days off):

The lake? My lake? Had men all over it:

So I put on some short shorts and a tank top then walked along the shore flicking my hair.

No I didn't.

(Well obviously I walked along the shore. Otherwise how would've I gotten these pics?
And obviously I flicked my hair. Come on. It's long. And with all the dampness, my bangs fall flat in my eyes...)

But I was dressed.

And seeing the sun was out, we went for a walk.
I seriously love this place.
Like, alot.

How lucky am I?

Thank you God.
How come I am the recipient of so many good things?
Thank you for this place.

Help me not to squander everything You've given me.

We spent the afternoon and evening hanging out with Val and her grandkids ...

Meanwhile, in the other part of the house:

And then, once the kids were put to bed, and the impromptu game of catch ended, we chatted about worship songs. And the two extroverts (Jesse and Sandra) both with strong opinions and a passion for sharing those opinions, went at 'er.

It was delightful.

In the end, we agreed that lyrics like this:

Could we with ink, the ocean fill, 
And were the sky, of parchment made. 
Were every stalk, on earth a quill, 
And every man, a scribe by trade. 
To write the love, of God above, 
would drain the ocean dry. 
Nor could the scroll, contain the whole, 
though stretched from sky to sky

are powerful and timeless.
As Jesse recited those words, I got all teary; those lyrics get me every time.
He got a little choked saying them as well.

Don't underestimate the power of music.
It slips past our brains and into our souls, impacting our feelers.

Now that song is in your head, isn't it?
Listen to the Mercy Me version:

Then Sandra and I went back to the cabin and started watching Season 2 of Call the Midwives...

And Day 8 (of my 9 days off)?

Was spent walking (3 hours) and talking (24 hours) and listening to english accents (8 hours) on Call the Midwife.

A most splendid day.

Three things I'm thankful for:

1. NINE days off.
2. Friends to hang out with on those days off.
3. A good Christmas, all things considered, when looking back.
4. Clint and Max made it to Sun Peaks safely.
5. Drew is feeling better.
6. My dad and mom love me.
7. This cottage.
8. Music.
9. Movies. Even ones that I find offensive.
10. The internet.
11. My family. All of them.
12. A non-rainy weekend.
13. Turkey leftovers.
14. Calves of steel.
15. Answered prayer.
16. Advil.
17. The way God is so very patient.
18. Hope.
19. My dad and mom's generous friends.
20. Kinsmen Lodge.

Shalom friends,

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