Summer’s End

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I know summer doesn’t technically end until late September.

Going back to school, and the changing weather makes it feel that way, though. I’m excited, because autumn is my favourite time of year. The air is crisper, the colours more vibrant, it suits my wardrobe better, and of course: cozy foods. I do very much love summer, so it’s bittersweet when it ends. This year stings just a little bit more.

This summer was absolutely packed.

I haven’t written a lot as a result. I seemingly haven’t found any time to sit down and get anything done. I don’t know if the school year will make it any easier. All said, it’s not a bad thing. It’s been awhile since I’ve had a “go go go” summer, and it’s been nice to experience the sights, sounds, and of course people that this year has brought. I’d love to sit down and detail it, I really would. The reality is, it would take up at least 3-4 normal posts, and I don’t want to get caught in a loop of not updating. So here’s a summarized list of highlights/observations from this summer:

Walking > All other modes of transpo.
Vancouver is a stunning city. (Despite questionable inhabitants)
#butts
Feeding the propaganda machine that is, and will continue to be: Operation Dogface to Vancouver.
Beach days. Lots of lazy beach days.
Brunch for days…so many bennies.
Days at the ballpark, and subsequent hotdogs will never get old.
Major reconnection with the outdoors
Cabin. No mobile service = best.

There’s a lot more, too. I’m still coming down from being away from “civilization” this long weekend, so it’s hard to reminisce about the entirety of the last 3 months. However, I’d be remiss if I left out on major point:

People

It’s been the thing I’ve struggled the most with since moving to Vancouver. I’ve come to find that most people I’ve met, follow a pretty specific set of patterns and personalities.. It’s made it difficult to make too many lasting connections. One benefit to this, is that it makes the connections I have made, stronger. This summer has been full of people. I’ve met a bunch of new ones, continued to form bonds with old ones, and let some others go their own way.

We’ve watched movies together, bummed on the beach, gone on picnics in the park, watched the city get sleepy on top of mountains, and squeezed every last drop out of summer we could. If it weren’t for the people I’ve met and known over the course of this summer, there’s no way it could have been such a rousing success. You people are the best.

Now let’s fall in love with autumn.

-DFP-

 

 

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HBD

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Boy, I sure don’t come around these parts very much anymore. In case anyone out there is wondering, I spend most of my time on WordPress here.

It is now officially July 4th on the West Coast.

Living in Canada, I always feel envious of Independence Day. There’s a lot richer, substantive history tied to it versus Canada Day (a patriot to my homeland I am not). This obviously doesn’t win me too many allies here at home, but a pox on them. There’s something more magical about July 4th to me, and I reckon that will never change.

A little over two years ago, this date got a little more special to me.

I came to Vancouver to try and figure out a career path. I’ve always had a passion for communication, art, and advertising, so graphic design seemed like a logical approach. It didn’t exactly pan out. School didn’t end being a total loss however, as right from Day 1, the trip our West started to show some gains.

Ok, I’m not going to lie: When the only seat left in your first college class is right beside a cute blonde girl, you can’t help but do a discrete fist pump. Granted, I was there for higher learning, not to worry about girls. Regardless, the next 12 weeks were made a lot easier sitting next to her; particularly since this carried over into 2 other classes that term as well.

It’s really interesting to look back on how a friendship grows. This is especially true in a scholastic environment, where in the case of workstation partners, you get a real close look at the other’s work. I got to see my newfound friend progress from simple Egyptian inspired communication design, to an ambitious Rococo poster, and finally the early beginnings of solid corporate branding.

In between all this, we’d talk about how Kiwis were simply better than Aussies. We’d make plans to see the Vancouver Art Gallery (accomplished a full year later), and generally vent about life and school. Seeing as how I was only a part time student, I would see her advance on to bigger and better things, getting a glimpse at was down the road for myself. It’s really heartwarming watching as someone’s skills, talent, and passions grow; even more so when they are a friend.

Eventually, the day would come for her graduation and portfolio show. Seeing all her hard work come to fruition was something that made me feel really prideful.

“That’s my friend, look how talented she is! She’s going to do big things!”

Of course, it didn’t take too long for her to find work within the industry. While it brought her to a new city and a new province, I couldn’t be more happy for her. It’s really easy to take for granted these opportunities to live and work in a new place, and I know she’s fully embracing it. Plus, it has given her a chance to experience my home town. Which I think is really cool when two people come from totally different places; it connects you just a little bit closer to that person.

So we may not be the best at staying in regular contact. Some of our best laid plans took a long while to come to fruition, if at all. At the end of the day though, if the most I got out of my failed time at design school was this really great friend of mine, I think I’ve come out ahead.

Today is your birthday Chloe. I miss you bunches, and hope that you at least come back to visit before you go on your next adventure. I guess I’ve never really shared a lot of this out loud, mostly because it’s not exactly the type of thing you pull out of nowhere. I hope you know you’ll always be one of my favourite people I’ll ever meet in Vancouver, and I love you to pieces.

Have a stupendous birthday (a Friday!! Woohoo!) and I’m sorry for broadcasting this over the blogosphere, I just really couldn’t help it.

You’re one in a billion.

Happy Birthday 🙂

-DFP-

Because There Were Viva Puffs

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Man have I neglected this thing…so brace yourself, this is a LONG one.

When I started this, it was a forum to remove some clutter from my head. I also wanted to start writing again, even if it was mostly just train of thought, or anecdotes. I used to fill notebooks weekly in high school, and then it all kind of fizzled away. Maybe that’s just part of being young and naive. You have this false sense of pride in things you do because, at that age, you are so sure you’re adult, and mature, and right. Everything you create must be golden. The editor inside your head, he or she hasn’t been born yet. It’s a feeling I hope to rekindle some day.

Then, life suddenly got busy, so this got neglected.

Between taking an online course, tap classes, work, and trying to fit a social life in between, the clutter that’s usually in my head hasn’t formed. There hasn’t been time. Oh, and I finally started to write something again…

k asked me a few weeks back to write her a bedtime story. Of course, rather than let myself go unfiltered and come up with something on the spot, I delayed. Unlike some other writing projects however, (Hello Fairytale Rum-Runners novel and Short Stories about Superheroes in Mundane Jobs!), there’s been some pen to paper. Ok, so I’m not very deep or far into it. Heck, I didn’t even do a flow chart or any character in the rounds (Oh please no one tell Ms. Riddell!!). The point is, pen was put to paper. It’s helped calm my thoughts at night.

k also mentioned the other day that it’s probably about time I blogged on here. Considering I’ve paid more attention to our joint music blog…she’s probably right. I had intended to post something last night. Things got a bit out of sorts though, and the last 30 hours or so have been a bit of a blur. I’m not ready to bore with details…there’s a fair chance I never will be. I will however make use of this sleeplessness to at least write out my intended post from last night.

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I’m not going to sit here and pretend to know what or who extends past our mortal plain. I suppose for lack of a better term (because we are so obsessed with labels) most would call me an agnostic. I’m not a big fan of that term, primarily because it’s so rife with skepticism. Whatever tenants of my spirituality I do hold, are not ones that I struggle with or spend time weighing their validity. I think people have become so focused on boxing a person’s spirituality inside a preset religion (or concrete system of beliefs), and it really detracts from meaningful conversations on the topic.

I’m kind of getting side-tracked though. To start, that preamble should serve as a bit of disclaimer. This post relates to something that extend outside of the “rational” or “scientific” plane. If that’s not something you can handle without being critical, rude, or condescending…this post may not be for you.

ANYWAY…

Thursday was a long day. Since business has been slow at work (oh the joys of tourism dependant retail), I’ve been working on our inventory. We’re just a small shop, so the task seems pretty straightforward. The problem stems from the fact that in the owner’s 30 years of business, no one has bothered to do any inventory management. Last year, it took me 3 months to consolidate 30 years worth of inventory: repetitive SKUs, dead stock, improperly inputted stock, non-existent stock, while also accounting for everything that was ACTUALLY in the store. A year later, I find myself still trying to fight this awful demon.

After yet another full day of going through boxes upon boxes of junk that has been collected over the years, I was ready to go home. I was sore, hungry, and exhausted. My roommate Tara had her parents over for dinner. She made a lovely shrimp/crab sun dried tomato-pesto linguine, and when I got home she had put a plate aside for me. As I was sitting down to eat, Tara told me they were heading out and she was really sorry for the mess in the kitchen. Hey, your parents come over, a whirlwind of awesome cooking for them is going to leave a mess, right? She said: “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it when I get back”.

There are 6 of us in the house for those who are not familiar with my living situation. Paul and Tara are basically the landlords, there’s myself, Rachel, Lyndsay, and Jessie. Lyndsay is one of Tara’s friends, and is also a member of P&T’s church, as is Rachel. Jessie is a home-stay student from China that they are hosting while she goes to school. We are an interesting, diverse, neat group to say the least. Everyone is usually pretty good at helping out when it comes to cleaning up…but hey, we all have our off days ;).

Thursday, I was quite content to have one of those “off days” and take Tara at her earlier word. I devoured my dinner, and decided I was just going to go crash with some Netflix. I felt a bit guilty though, and thought that I should at least put away the dishwasher. That way it would expedite the cleaning process for when P&T got home. We keep some of our Tupperware in the pantry. When I went to put it away, I noticed something I hadn’t seen in years…

When I was a kid, my Grandma was always sure to spoil us with treats. She almost always had a full tub of some sort of gummy treat. Most times when I would go over with my mum and sister for after dinner tea, we would eat the whole thing. Cookies were also a staple. Two in particular: Chips Ahoy! Chewy, which were my Uncle Raymond’s favourite. I thought he was the coolest growing up. He did tae-kwon-do, had a Turbografx video game system, and he had sweet hair and a million types of mousse just like Uncle Jesse on Full House. I usually headed straight for those. The other ones she usually had were Viva Puffs. You know, the ones with the marshmallow on top of a cookie, enrobed in chocolate with a fruit jelly? I was never too crazy about them, but Grandma always had them…so they were nostalgic.

…Viva Puffs. I honestly don’t think I had seen them in 12+ years. I’ve lived in this place for over a year, and I don’t recall anyone every buying them. Tara does all the grocery shopping (mostly stateside) as it’s easier for the household, rather than have 5-6 of us all buying different things.If you’ve read further back to older posts, you’ll know that my Grandma passed away in early December. I was immediately thrown through a loop. I had both a deep sense of sadness, but also a sense of closure. This all goes back to my preface. I don’t pretend to know what happens after a person passes. I’d like to think that our loved ones stay with us in some sort of way, watching over us, keeping us safe. This felt like a reminder, to know my Grandma is still with me.

So after indulging in one, I felt compelled to repay the favour. Sure, there’s no way Tara could have known about this when she bought them. I just felt such an overwhelming sense of love, regardless of the initial intention…or even lack thereof. No matter who you are, what you believe in, returning that feeling in kind is what everyone should concentrate on more often.

After finishing unloading the dishwasher, I loaded it up again. I ran another cycle, then washed all the other dishes. I cleaned the counters and stove, and wiped the dinner table. Finally, I took out the garbage, the recycling, and the compost, despite being completely wiped and grumpy…

…all because there were Viva Puffs.

-DFP-

All We Are Is Memories

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Grandma’s funeral is today.

Due to many factors including time, distance, and money, I won’t be able to attend the service.

I’ve spent a great deal of the last week trying to put into words how much she meant to me. When Grandpa passed away, my Uncle and I performed a eulogy each. It was the single hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. To memorialize a loved one in a few words, in front of your own family, it’s not an easy task. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to come up with the right words for Grandma. Since I’m not able to attend the funeral, I wrote a letter to be put in with her ashes at the mausoleum. I had designs to share it on here, but I’ve decided to keep it private for the time being.

My sister pointed out something that I had never really thought about:

We were lucky enough to grow up at our Grandma and Grandpa’s table.

Family holidays were always spent there. Birthdays, Easters, Thanksgivings, Christmas. Every Saturday, the whole family visited. After groceries, we’d all head over and make sandwiches. Then, my cousins, sister, and I would all play, while my parents, aunts, and uncles chatted the afternoon away. Their house was the most convenient for everyone to get to. Not to mention it was also big enough. We could have gone elsewhere, the occasional birthday was held at our house, or an aunt and uncle’s. There was just something that made perfect sense about their home.

I realized thinking about this, that I may have taken it for granted growing up. So many people come from smaller or fractured families. Others never even had the chance to know their grandparents. A lot of the memories I have of my family just seemed so natural and routine, that I never stopped to think about how lucky I truly was to grow up around a full, loving family. Even in her passing, Grandma is teaching me something new about love. This was one trait that shone so brightly about her. Everything I’ve learned about love, forgiveness, and devotion, started with her. She probably didn’t know what a good teacher she was, she was just going about her day the way she thought was right.

Other things about my Grandma:

  • She was sloppy (a family trait). Typically a visit to Grandma involved her changing her blouse at least twice.
  • She was genuinely interested in your day. Even if you had had the most mundane, boring, uneventful day. She wanted to hear about it.
  • She never had a shortage of Coke (diet and regular). I was thought this was strange growing up in a French household with Coke, when Pepsi is the dominant Francophone drink of choice.
  • She always left her front door unlocked. That way family and friends could come and go as they pleased. Her door was always opened. This changed later in life when a stranger walked in (with a bicycle). He had meant no harm, just had found the wrong house.
  • She loved ketchup chips. In fact, she loved ketchup period. She would often make ketchup sandwiches.

These are just a few things. I have so many memories. As I’ve been going over them in my head, trying to find the right words to write about her, one stands out. It involves Grandpa too.

Grandma wasn’t necessarily the healthiest eater. The aforementioned ketchup sandwiches might be a dead giveaway. It’s not like she couldn’t cook. She was adept in the kitchen, Grandpa as well. I think as they got older, they just didn’t feel the effort was worth it for just the two of them. They took care of my Great-Grandmother who lived next store, and it obviously took a long-term toll on them. In high school I would make it a point to visit as often as possible. This is where I got my first experiences cooking meals by myself. I had to eat, and I was more than happy to cook for Grandma and Grandpa. After all, it had to be better than the ketchup sandwiches!

They always bought simple foods. Chicken, hot dogs, sandwich meats, french fries. There were no culinary masterpieces being cooked. Just simple meat and potatoes, homie food. It helped re-enforce the sense of home, comfort, and warmth that was created in their house. Every once in awhile, Grandma would ask me if she could pick something up that I liked. I usually declined, unless it was a different spin on something she was going to buy anyhow. About the fanciest things ever got, was the rare time once in awhile Grandpa would order a pizza. That changed one day.

I went over on a Monday after school. It was late spring so it was just starting to warm up. I hadn’t seen them all weekend as I had had plans. When I walked in the door, Grandma was happier than usual to see me.

“I got something for you at the store.”

She scurried off to the kitchen and pulled something out of the pantry cupboard: an Old El Paso Taco kit. I’m not sure if I had ever mentioned tacos to Grandma. It certainly wasn’t something that would be in the realm of normal groceries for her. Either way, she had grabbed a box thinking of me.

“Will you make this tonight? We’ve never had tacos before.”

I had my doubts at first about how well it would go over. It wasn’t exactly the flavour profile I would imagine Grandma liking. She liked her food fairly plain. As for Grandpa, he’d started his radiation treatments, and keeping food down was a problem for him. Nonetheless, as I browned and seasoned the meat, Grandma chopped up tomatoes and lettuce for toppings. Then we grated some cheese. I warmed the shells in the oven, and then explained to them how tacos worked. It’s funny in retrospect, “explaining how tacos worked”. It was just the three of us, but there was an overwhelming sense of family in me at the time. Just the nature of the “build-it yourself” meal. It brought me back to family feasts where everyone would build their own custom plates from the pot-luck in front of us.

I love tacos. All kinds. Even as I’ve grown out of the taco kits of my youth into more flavourful options, I’ll never turn one down. I’ve been known to have a whole kit to myself. I half expected this to happen again. Grandma wasn’t a big eater, and with Grandpa being sick, I figured there would be plenty leftover. By the time I was done my first plate though, they were both halfway through their seconds. It was fun to watch them enjoy something so foreign to them as much as they were. Grandma would later say that it was the first thing Grandpa had enjoyed in almost a week.

My memories of Grandma and Grandpa are simple. They don’t involve wild stories, grandiose vacations, or comedic tales of senility. Just simple things. Like how Grandma would always use her socks to wipe up spills. How Grandpa would hover over me every time I was cooking, reminding me that I was “going to burn it”. Or how they would bicker back and forth over such silly things, and you could tell by the tone in their voices that they really loved each other.

And tacos.

Tacos and how even though we weren’t a family of money, I feel like the richest person alive because of the love I was afforded growing up.

I love you Grandma and Grandpa. I’m glad you are both together again. I’ll be looking forward to a frosty mug of Coke, and a game of Rummy 500 when we meet again.

xo
DFP

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