Real Talk Thursday: things i’m unimpressed with this week

It feels like it’s been a doozy of a week over here. There’s been a lot bubbling up in the career and home arenas, which I hope to be able to talk about soon.  Though much is exciting, it’s also been exhausting and I’ve been a total grumpus.  So today is an airing of all my minor grievances for the week, because I’m a firm believer that if you voice your complaints you can let go of the negative feelings associated with them.  Here goes nothing. Let’s get rid of these grumpies!

Things I am Unimpressed with This Week

1. Allergies: Seriously allergies, are you done yet? Just when I think they’ve passed, I wake up to a series of ridiculously overpowering sneezes and never-ending congestion.  The bushes in the ravine behind our house have sprouted new blossoms and I blame them entirely for this allergy resurgence. Super uncool.

2. Price of parking downtown: At the risk of sounding like my father, who can rant about parking like the best of them, I’m going to rant about parking. I went downtown for an interview on Tuesday and had to pay $9 for 1.5 hours. I should be used to this. I’ve lived in Vancouver almost my whole life and it’s just the way parking is here. But somehow we’ve crossed even my threshold of acceptable parking prices. In my mind, $7 was reasonable for 1.5 hours.  The extra $2 was just not okay.

3. The new season of So You Think You Can Dance: Years ago, me and one of my best friends were roommates and we were addicted to watching SYTYCD. I remember amazing music and routines that stuck with me for days after watching. I was super pumped to realize the show is still on the air…until I watched it. Where was the dance? I think I saw about four routines in the entire hour of the audition episode. Most of the time was devoted to dancers’ dramatic backstories. I want the dance, not the filler! Give me the dance!

4. My upper body strength: Even after several days of rest, I continue to struggle with even 5 consecutive negative push ups. I don’t know if it’s the allergies, the stress, or just ebbs and flows in body energy, but I am now struggling to keep my form for more than 2-3 push ups. It’s ridiculous. I haven’t even attempted negative pull ups. Ugh.

5. Vacuuming stairs: I haven’t lived in a place with carpeted stairs and no-built in vacuum…ever. Granted, that’s because I’ve only had stairs in one of my rentals in the last almost twenty (!!!!) years. Using an upright vacuum in stairways is practically a death mission. I am constantly terrified that I will trip over a cord and fall either to my death or paralysis, not to mention it feels like a full-body workout dragging that thing from step to step.

Ahhhh, that does feel cathartic, doesn’t it? Things are looking sunnier already.

 

Real-Talk Thursdays: on being wrong & Father’s Day

I hate being wrong. Is anyone really okay with being wrong? For me, it depends on how much I think I’m right or how much I care about the subject at hand. Was I wrong about what we had for dinner last week? That’s fine, I don’t really care. But was I wrong about who sang that song on the radio just now? No, no I was not, and I will Shazam the hell out of it right now to prove how right I am.  So yes, I don’t like to be wrong when I’m certain I’m right.

What does any of this have to do with Father’s Day?  Well, this week, I had to tell my father he was right. It wasn’t about anything terribly consequential, mind you, but it was still so very hard. Like many father/daughter dynamics (I think), my father and I love each other very much but also annoy the hell out of each other on the regular. At times, it feels I’m pre-programmed to disregard his suggestions and he seems pre-programmed to expect me to do just that. I like to think it’s endearing, though I’m sure he’d have another word for it.

Earlier this week, I was telling my parents about my shower-door-soap-scum-removing concoction, one I’d found via Google, which was a combination of Dawn dish soap and vinegar. I’d had to wrap an old scarf around my nose and mouth while using it to avoid some very unpleasant vinegar-induced coughing. My father was not pleased with my selected method, and told me to stop using it immediately. His advice: baking soda. He told me it would easily clean the shower doors without any of the harmful fumes.  Like most of my father’s suggestions, in the moment it fell on deaf ears. I mean, I got my suggestion from Google, and Google does not let you down. Besides, it had sort of worked after an hour of scrubbing, so why not just keep going with it?

When I went to revisit the shower door a couple days later, I admit that I wasn’t looking forward to breathing vinegar for an hour, not to mention it hadn’t worked as swimmingly as the internet promised.  Sheepishly, I went to my kitchen cabinet and pulled out my baking soda.  Sure enough, armed with nothing but a damp rag and a sprinkle of baking soda, soap scum started to come off easily. Damn it, he was right.

So today, a few days shy of Father’s Day, I got to give my dad what was probably the best gift he’s ever received from me: I called him and told him that he was right. After recovering from the shock of it, I believe he appreciated knowing that I had listened to his suggestion, and really, really appreciated hearing that he had been right. Sometimes, the best gift you can give someone is admitting, without preface nor justification, that you were wrong. You’re welcome, dad.

Trail Tuesdays: 3 W’s of Hiking in Crappy Weather

Not all hiking days can be blue skies and sunshine.  Particularly here on the west coast, regular hikers are going to encounter inclement weather, everything from low cloud to absolute downpours. Let’s be clear here, hiking in heavy rain sucks. Today’s tips are more for those days when weather is unsettled, the kind of day when you know the clouds are never going to part and it’s probably going to rain here and there, but not the kind of all-day-rain-fest that can happen in the mountains. No one wants to hike in that.  Though it can be tempting to avoid hiking in iffy weather, sometimes you just want some fresh air, scenery and the healing power of nature.

The problem with hiking in crappy weather is that you’re probably not going to see a whole lot from the top of a mountain.  Trust me, I’ve hauled ass up many a trail to see nothing but cloud.

Exhibit A: No view after hours of hiking uphill.

Sure, it makes for a good workout, but it’s far better to save the epic mountain viewpoints for sunnier days.  On a crappy days, the three W’s can help you keep your hiking mojo even in less than ideal conditions:

1. Wildflowers:  Unlike mountain tops, wildflowers aren’t going to be obscured by clouds. On a crappy day, a hike through fields of wildflowers adds a pop of colour and some visual interest even if all the surrounding mountains are obscured by clouds. As a bonus, wildflowers actually photograph better in cloudy conditions than in full-on sunshine. If you get to know your area’s wildflower season and hot-spots, these become great destinations for less-than-perfect days.

Exhibit B: it rained for this entire 18 km hike and I never saw a mountain, but I think we can agree this is pretty damn beautiful.

2. Water: Select a trail that leads to a waterfall or a jewel-toned lake. Similar to wildflowers, jewel-toned lakes pop in grey conditions. Because they’re often found at the base of mountains, those pesky clouds won’t get in your way either. As for waterfalls, they tend to be underrated even though they can be simply stunning.  They’re also more likely to be found at slightly lower elevations, meaning good visibility even in the worst of conditions.  Seeking out both these destinations will keep you from slogging along a ridge line during a torrential downpour.

Exhibit C: Crap day, stunning lake.

3. Waterproof: I’ve written about having the right gear for hiking, and about an epic hiking weekend in which Mount Rainier decided to bestow upon me almost nothing but torrential rain. In other words, I have suffered through a lot of ill-prepared hiking in the rain.  Regardless of the type of trail you choose, the number one most important thing is some high quality, waterproof gear. In particular, you’ll want a waterproof jacket and hiking boots.  All the waterfalls and wildflowers in the world won’t save your hike if you’re soaking wet and cold.

So get out there no matter what the weather and remember your three W’s: water(falls and lakes), wildflowers, waterproof. I promise you it’ll help you make the most of an iffy day.

Real Talk Thursday: non-drowsy is a lie

I haven’t suffered from seasonal allergies in years. Years. The last time I remember them being an issue was probably a decade ago, during a Spring when Mother Nature deposited a visible layer of pollen on my car every single day. Since then, sure I get the urge to sneeze here or there, but I haven’t had what I consider to be seasonal allergies, nor have I needed to take antihistamines.

Until Monday.

In general, I’ve been sneezing a lot more this Spring than in years past but Monday, Monday is when the shit hit the fan. I went out to the valley for a hike, during which I was fine, but after which I started sneezing uncontrollably. By the time I got into my car after stretching, my nose was super congested. On the drive home, I had to blow my nose roughly every five minutes. Sorry, I know that’s gross. No one wants to read about nose blowing. I’ll move along. Five hours later, I couldn’t breathe through my nose at all, the skin around my nose was already raw from blowing it so often, and I continued to sneeze with a vengeance. I’d had enough.

I broke down and bought non-drowsy antihistamines, or so they claimed to be. After three days I have only one question: what are those things made of?????  For the last three days I have been beyond exhausted and my head a sea of fog. Sure, I can breathe, but what good is that when I can barely stay awake?  I took a two hour nap Tuesday morning. I went to bed before 10pm the last two nights and, even though I sleep in until 7:30, I was still exhausted in the morning. Should this really be the cost of clear nasal passages?

I checked the package at least five times to make sure that I had, in fact, selected a non-drowsy variety (I had). This only heightened my level of irritation, so much so that, for quite possibly the first time in my life, I read the entire paper insert  that came with my antihistamines. Let me tell you, that is not an engaging read.  But lo and behold, what did I find deep in a sea of dry, medical terminology? This: “[undisclosed brand name] is non-drowsy…however, some people can experience drowsiness” followed by this: “the most common side effects…are headache, sleepiness and dry mouth.”  Ah yes, the classic “non-drowsy” medication that may cause drowsiness, why didn’t I think of that before taking them? I suspect this is the case with many drugs, which is precisely why I don’t usually take them and why I never, ever read their fine print. Suffice it to say, I was not impressed.

Thankfully today’s rain seems to have sufficiently settled whatever nasty allergens were stirred up earlier this week. Still, even if the sun returns tomorrow, I think I’m done with supposedly non-drowsy allergy meds for now.

Mid-Week Tangent: Gelato Repeat

Okay, so if you read last’s week post you know that my goal is to try as many different gelato places as possible this summer. And then today, just one week later, I went and messed it up already by going right back to Dolce Gelato in White Rock. Can it sort of count as a new place if I at least forced myself to try different flavours? Not really, right? What makes matters worse is that I totally would’ve had the meringa flavour again if it had been there today.  Also in my defence, I was wooed by the beach and my nagging desire to take advantage of what appears to be the last sunshine we’ll see for four or five days.  I’ll stop making excuses now. Let’s just move past this, though, and accept that I’m failing in my gelato mission after just one week.

Professional food photographer I am not. This was not an attempt at an artistic backdrop. This was our beach blanket and my attempt to take a picture as quickly as possible so I could eat.

Where: Dolce Gelato, White Rock

What I Had:  I sampled the black sesame because I have an unabashed love for those little balls you get at dim sum stuffed with black sesame paste, and used to be on a stalker-like mission for black sesame bubble tea. In the end, for my actual order, I went with the Cassata and the Ricotta with Caramelized Pecans.

What stood out:  I was actually disappointed in the black sesame. It wasn’t as strong a flavour as I was expecting, which is precisely why I didn’t order it.  Maybe nothing can be as good as black sesame paste at dim sum, or black sesame bubble tea.  Or maybe, maybe this is the universe’s way of telling me to just try another gelato place already.

The Cassata, on the other hand, was way better than I had expected. Like by leaps and bounds. I mentioned last week that I didn’t order it because the girl behind the counter said it tasted strongly of candied orange which, let’s be honest, isn’t really a flavour any candy-holic craves.  Still, I walked away last week wondering if I’d made a mistake. Indeed, I had. It was the best of my flavours today.  The orange was there, but perfectly subtle and complimented by candied fruit, nuts and chocolate. Would I get this again? Yes.

The Ricotta with Caramelized Pecans, dare I say it, was tasty but underwhelming. The challenge here may be that ricotta is a notoriously mild cheese, so it’s hard for its flavour to stand out.  That said, I had a fig and ricotta gelato in Cinque Terre that was identifiably (and in the best possible way) cheesy. And I must say, more pecans please! To be fair, I’m one of those people who never feel like there’s enough stuff in my ice cream. I get enraged by the final quarter of Blizzards because there is never enough candy mixed in near the bottom. Seriously, how have they not figured this out?!? But enough about Blizzards and back to gelato. I wanted more caramelized pecans, plain and simple.

I suspect that today’s relative lack of enthusiasm for Dolce Gelato really may be the culprit of my strategy to make gelato my lunch. I am not sure that it’s wise to arrive starving and rely solely on gelato to curb one’s hunger. I ate faster than I normally would have (think inhaling), which meant less pausing to notice smoothness, flavour and texture.  Note to self: eat a real lunch before gelato. Also, clearly this means that I have to return again.

Real Talk Thursday: my new (and embarrassing) morning routine

It’s time for another confession. I’ve actually mentioned this once before, but only briefly and in passing when discussing some of my lazier unemployed moments, and at a time when I was doing it so infrequently that I couldn’t classify it as a routine. But now I’ve crossed the line. I do it every day. On purpose. And, even worse, I sort of look forward to it.

Every morning I tune in to Live with Kelly and Ryan.  I don’t understand my attraction to this show.  I used to despise Regis and Kathy Lee, and I couldn’t stand Kelly Ripa when she and Regis co-hosted. Now that I think of it, I may be having an epiphany as I write this that perhaps it was Regis that brought out the worst in everyone all along! As for Ryan, I didn’t watch American Idol, but I never understood how Ryan Seacrest became famous hosting it, nor how it parlayed into hosting a New Year’s Eve special.  And yet, somehow Kelly and Ryan together are enough to get me hooked.  Ryan Seacrest has somehow toned down Kelly’s manic level of enthusiasm to a more personally palatable level.

No matter what’s caused the shift, the horrifying part is that I now find myself organizing parts of my morning around the show. I’ll pause it when I go to check on laundry or refill my coffee mug.  If I’m watching another show on Netflix around the same time, my internal alarm clock goes off just shy of 9am, and I’ll pause what I’m watching–even when it’s good stuff like the new season of Master of None–to get to Kelly and Ryan. I scan the digital guide to see who the guests will be before the show starts, even though I’ll watch regardless of who’s on the show. I’ve even Googled the backstory of hosts and how Ryan and Kelly ended up as new(ish) and permanent co-hosts. Yikes.

It’s concerning for a number of reasons, the most alarming of which is that the show is just not good.  Despite both hosts being veterans in the business, there’s this sort of awkward and not-very-polished vibe to their conversation.  It’s sort of like watching a train wreck, but also sort of endearing like watching kids in a school play who are trying really hard even though they really suck.  Their guest interviews are so incredibly short and sometimes it’s like they haven’t done the legwork to prepare properly. They have flubbed the title of TV shows that their guests star in, and they’ve even said the wrong last name of one of their guests. They read questions from paper.  At times I’m horrified that I’m still watching, and I contemplate changing the channel, but I never pull the trigger to select another show.

Sure, you might say that 9am isn’t exactly prime time for other television viewing options, so maybe I’m just settling for the best of what’s available. The reality is that there are about a million other things I could be doing, like looking for work, writing, reading, watching Netflix, cleaning the house, going for a walk, researching prospective employers and clients. The list goes on and on. But no, instead I find myself truly engrossed in and hopelessly addicted to Live with Kelly and Ryan.

I hang my head in shame.

ps. Except you better be sure I’ll still be watching on Monday when their guest is our very own Prime Minister Trudeau…

Yes. This.

 

Trail Tuesdays: walking in the spiderwebs

Can I tell you about something that fills me heart with even more terror than the thought of being attacked by a 500 lb grizzly bear, that has caused me to abandon hiking plans a full 2.5 km into a trail, and that makes me look a crazy, skittish, jumpy freak on the trails?

Ready for it? It’s walking through spiderwebs.

I know it’s ridiculous for a grown adult/outdoor enthusiast to have such an irrational fear of not just spiders but also their empty webs. I live in a place where there are incredibly, incredibly few (in fact, I’m not sure there’s really any) deadly spiders. Those empty webs are just as bad as they serve as a powerful reminder of terrifying spiders’ existences. Plus, I loathe that feeling of wispy strands of spiderwebs clinging to my flesh, invisible to the eye, harmless, and yet so incredibly icky.  I try to remind myself that spiders are good for the ecosystem, that they mean me no harm, that their webs are just their way of catching a mid-day snack.  All of that works only as long as they stay off my trails.

Particularly in early mornings, when few if any hikers have passed through a trail, the risk of spiderweb encounters is at its peak. But even when trails are crowded, I have been amazed at how quickly new webs are spun. It’s like spiders don’t learn that it’s not really worth it to work their magic across well-trodden paths. As a result of this unpredictability, I’m always on watch and always at risk of making an utter fool of myself. Here are just a number of ways in which I have embarrassed myself when encountering spider webs on trails:

–Forced my father or friends to walk ahead of me for significant portions of the trail for the explicitly stated purpose of knocking down spider webs.  The taller the person, the more likely I am to rope them into lead hiker/spider-web-killer.

–Walked for several kilometres swinging my fully-extended hiking pole up and down in front of me like a crazy person to try to knock down any spider webs that may be in my path.

–Shrieked such that friends have been certain I was actually being attacked by a ferocious forest beast. In fact, once when I was a child, my father actually got angry with me for doing this. I was off playing in the woods by our campsite when I passed through a spiderweb and screamed bloody murder. My father ran through the woods convinced I’d suffered some legitimate injury or attack only to find me perfectly fine (aside from the emotional trauma, of course). Apparently it’s super uncool to cry wolf in the woods.

–Repeatedly thrown small branches or rocks at the spider and his web in an effort to knock it down so I can continue without fear of the spider/web potentially landing on me.  This sounds simple and straightforward, and yet I’m so afraid of getting close to the web that I end up throwing both rocks and branches from such a distance that the branches don’t reach the web or the rocks veer off target. You do not want to know how much time I’ve spent employing this tactic.

–Stood there for five minutes having an internal argument with myself about whether I can possibly continue on the trail. I am embarrassed to admit I have turned around before…after hiking 2.5 steep kilometres…when I only had one day for adventuring in the area. In my defence, this was a mammoth spider smack dab in the middle of the trail and about the fourth of its kind I had encountered in the last kilometre alone, all of which I’d had to “clear” with the aforementioned stick/rock throwing technique and under extreme emotional duress.

–Had a minor panic attack and proceeded to spend the next ten minutes furiously trying to dislodge a spider from my person (with no evidence to confirm that a spider was even on my person). Imagine something akin to the running move in Flashdance.  Actually, let me provide a better visual, which is Chris Farley doing the Flashdance dance in Tommy Boy.  In other words, it’s not pretty.

What I’m really getting at here is that, if I could have a super power, it would be to make spider webs in my path magically disappear, without harming the spiders of course.  Also, I would happily accept a permanent hiking lead/spider-web-knocker-downer to be at my beck and call for the remainder of hiking season.

ps. One last sad fact: I was going to insert a picture with this post but even the Google image screen of spiderwebs was too terrifying a prospect.