Real Talk Thursdays: I watch too many murder mysteries

Does anyone else watch Dateline and 48 Hours Mysteries and Criminal Minds? Does anyone out there have a backlog of 26 episodes of those shows (combined, not each….as if that’s somehow better)? No? Just me? Well, let me tell you, don’t get started. If you do, you will turn an utterly innocent event into the most terrifying moment of your life.  You will be convinced that you and your boyfriend and his parents are about to be viciously bludgeoned to death in a peaceful campground in Washington State. In fact, as the event is happening, you will hear Lester Holt narrating the tragic story of your death, his measured and slightly lilting voice commenting on the irony of such a horrific event happening in a place meant to be a relaxing respite from the daily grind. It’s not pretty and it’s not worth it.

As you can tell, I had a bit of a scare last weekend, a moment in which I experienced legitimate terror even though there was actually zero threat to our safety.  We were down at the campground enjoying the great outdoors, chilling around the propane fire pit (fire bans are in effect everywhere here). It was around 10 pm when my boyfriend’s mother decided to go to bed. My boyfriend wanted to go for a walk to see if any stars were visible since it was supposed to be epic meteor shower season, never mind that it was almost completely cloudy. At any rate, we left the fire pit behind, and his father putting away the last couple of things in the shed. All was good, one might even say idyllic.

When we returned, my boyfriend’s father was no longer outside, so we turned off all the lights around the trailer and settled inside to get ready for bed.  We’d been in bed for maybe 20 minutes or so when I heard a shuffling noise outside that got progressively louder. At first, I tried to tell myself it was just a wild animal. But then there was a very clear sound of someone pushing something heavy on the deck. I poked my boyfriend “Hey, do you hear that?”. He mumbled and then fell back asleep. Then, even in the total darkness outside, I saw a figure move past the window.

My heart jumped ten feet outside of my chest. Someone was outside. At best, he had robbery on his mind. At worst, it was murder. The possibilities escalated quickly in the dark corners of my mind.  I poked my boyfriend harder and said “there’s someone out there!!!!”  He jumped up, I turned on a light inside, he yelled “HEY!” and it sounded as though the person outside was heading away from the trailer. For a brief second I felt relief that whoever it was was fleeing on foot, but still terrified that my perfect weekend getaway destination might be a hotbed for crime.

Then things got even scarier. My boyfriend headed for the door as if he was going to go outside to check things out. I watch enough murder shows: you do not go investigate the situation. You do not poke the bear. I was in the midst of telling him that he was not going out there when I saw the door handle wiggle. Someone was trying to get in our trailer!!!!!  That was it, I was in full-blown “we are about to get murdered” mode. I held onto that door handle like there was no tomorrow…because I feared there would actually be no tomorrow.

That was the moment when my boyfriend calmly said “Is that you, dad?”

And it was. Apparently, he’d still been out in the shed and we’d turned all the lights out and locked the door on him, so he had been stumbling around in the dark trying to find his way to the door to get in.  Regardless of the situation’s innocence, or my boyfriend’s mocking (as though he hadn’t at all contemplated that it was more than a petty thief, pft!), it took me a solid half hour to calm down out my terror mode.

Only once I was calm again, and as I lay in the quiet of the night, did I firmly vow: no more murder mysteries…

…at least for a while.

Triumphant Return of the Quest for Gelato Perfection

This was opportunity gelato, plain and simple, as in my boyfriend and I were picking up a birthday cake in a quaint little bakery somewhere in the heart of Bellingham when I noticed there was a chocolate and gelato shop next door. Had it not been for proximity, no gelato would’ve been consumed.  I should know better than to be tempted by a store that sells two completely different products. One of them is bound to be inferior. Though I can’t say for certain that the chocolate was any better, I can say the gelato left a lot to be desired.

Where: Chocolate Necessities & Gelato, Bellingham, WA

What I Had: Cherry Mania and Mascarpone

What Stood Out: I have no idea what is going on with me this year. I have never in my life been so tempted by cherry-flavoured anything, and now it appears to be my flavour of choice.  This was NOT my best cherry flavour experience.

The picture says it all. Disappointing. Texturally off.  Sigh.

Here’s the skinny:

The Mascarpone ice cream had good flavour, with more of a distinct mild cheesiness than I’ve had in many similar flavours. The Cherry Mania was indeed cherry-like, but completely unbalanced (i.e. way too sweet, and that’s saying a lot for a sugar fiend like me!). This is the most positive feedback that I have.

In general, the “gelato” had way too many icy crystals to be considered true gelato. I couldn’t tell whether it was just ice cream, or whether it was stored at an improper temperature. The glass case housing the gelato had a great deal of condensation on it, so much so that I had to bend down and crane my neck to even read the names of the flavours in the back row. On top of that, the gelato broke my spoon. Now, I may be an aggressive consumer of sweets at the best of times, but even in my most enraptured gelato eating moments I’ve never broken the spoon.

I should learn that when gelato doesn’t look fantastic in the case, it’s probably not going to taste much better, but I feared that if I didn’t seize the opportunity I would never get back to my quest for gelato perfection. I’m sure you can tell this stop on my gelato journey was far from perfection. In fact, I feel certain that the Orange gelato, which looked heinous in colour and even stranger in texture, and which appeared to be puking itself out of its metal bin, was actually attempting to escape its fate as mediocre gelato.  Having experienced the gelato, I completely understand its plight.

ps. However, if you want a wonderful carrot cake, do visit Pure Bliss Desserts directly next door. I still regret not buying a salted caramel cupcake in lieu of the gelato.

Monday Musings: life lessons from the driving range

This weekend, we went to the driving range. Usually, this is not a happy experience for me. More often than not, I hack away at the ball and never seem to make any progress. Even when I try, my balls veer hard left or scuttle across the ground only to settle about 20 yards away. On this latest occasion, however, I hit ten times better than I ever have, most shots dead straight and even several good shots in a row (note: by “good”, I also mean good for me, which is still terrible by actual golfing standards).

When I considered what could’ve contributed to such a marked improvement in my shots, I knew it was more than just using my new hand-me-down clubs.  What really seemed to make the difference was slowing down my swing. In the past, I’ve tried to power through my swing as quickly as humanly possible, assuming that the faster my swing was the better my shots would be. As it turns out, the slower my swing is, the better the contact with the ball, and the better the shot. I was hitting balls higher and farther with less effort.

It occurred to me that perhaps I should give thought to what else in my life might improve with slowing down. Lately I have felt like I am constantly running from thing to thing. I get up, rush to get dressed and to the gym, rush through my workout, rush to get ready to go to work, work all day, battle rush hour, rush to throw together dinner and lunches and breakfasts for the next day, rush to pack my gym clothes and work clothes for the following day, rush to write a blog post, and then go to bed. Weekends aren’t always much better. That’s a lot of rushing. And it’s exhausting. I constantly feel exhausted.

How can I bring some of the benefit of moving slowly to my life? I need to feel like my life is less harried and rushed.  With a golf swing it is easy; it’s all about being slow, methodical and focused. In life that seems more challenging. However, I do believe that part of my feeling so rushed and overwhelmed is the mental clutter and chatter surrounding all the things I believe I need to do quickly.  What would happen if I were to pause, to focus on one task at a time? What if I could close myself off from the 9000 other thoughts that I have and just get that one thing done first? What if I weren’t always trying to do two things at once because I assume it’s faster? Would I actually get more done? Would I actually get it done faster? Would I feel less overwhelmed?  I don’t know the answers to these questions for sure, but I do think it’s worth testing this theory out.

TWIR #71: I need to pay attention

I said last week felt like the longest week ever and I may have been wrong, because this work week was only four days and it felt every bit as draggy as last week. On top of that, I lost focus during my training session and tweaked my SI yet again. I’m still convinced–and, I might add, my physiotherapist did not fully disagree–that work is not good for my body.

Activity: planned rest day
Relevant Stats: bitchy comments to major cellular carrier, check
Observations: We flew out to Alberta to surprise my mom for an early 70th birthday celebration, and then took her out to get her a smartphone because she’s wanted one forever and has been stuck with a flip phone. I’m proud to say she’s already a texting machine with a full grasp of emojis. Excellent. In the process, however, I went full-on bitchy customer on a very unhelpful cellular carrier staff member. I mean, seriously, we don’t have a lot of competition in Canada but there are choices. Sidenote: seriously, Canadian cellular plans are just over-the-top expensive.

Activity: “hike”
Relevant Stats: 5 km
Observations: I call this a “hike” because really we travelled at a slow pace and barely gained any elevation and were surrounded by hordes of other hikers doing the exact same thing.  Still, we walked in nature, which constitutes a hike in my mind, and also justifies post-hike nachos and beer.  Don’t judge, it was hot as hell and cold beer was in order.

Activity: unplanned rest day
Relevant Stats: shameful experiences on the chipping green and driving range
Observations: Good grief, I am certainly not making any progress on the golf front. I meant to work out after we flew home but by the time we ran our grocery errands and did our food prep for the work week, there was no workout happening. I settled for some time at the golf course, but other than sweating from heat and from the anxiety of nearly launching a ball right at the stranger next to me, it most definitely did not count as a workout.

Activity: personal training session
Relevant Stats: 60 min.
Observations: It was going all fine and well until I got distracted during a kettle bell dead lift and lost my form. There went my SI and then the rest of the workout was modified. The good news is that even my modified workouts these days are legit. I no longer have to downgrade to barely moving, and simply lower the weights and eliminate the negative pull-ups and other hanging exercises (which I personally consider to be a huge win). Still, I was pissy about it because, well, it’s been a solid year and a half and I’m f’ing tired of this nagging injury. Ahhhh, that felt good to let out.

Activity: spin + stretching/core
Relevant Stats: 30 min. spin + 10 min. stretching/core
Observations: I blame the prowler sprints for this terrible workout. My legs were dead. I got stuck on the spin bike that feels 100 times harder than any other spin bike and this half hour sucked the life out of me. I was also cranky as all hell because I dragged my ass out of bed ridiculously early, encountered unusually heavy traffic and got to the gym 10 minutes later than usual. I dread the rapidly approaching September and all the increased traffic volume it brings with it.

Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 50 min.
Observations: While I avoided any single-leg loaded exercises, I didn’t take it easy today, particularly on my arms. They were done like dinner by the end of the workout.  Then I went to visit my dear physiotherapist, who I haven’t seen in months, and who battered my tender soft tissues like a sadist. At least I got the laser treatment at the end. I love those laser treatments with all my heart and long to be able to afford my own one day. It’s only $30k. Easy peasy.

Activity: spin
Relevant Stats: 45 min.
Observations: I admit that I half-assed the first ten minuts, but then my body miraculously woke up and the rest of the ride was smooth sailing. Okay, ‘smooth sailing’ might be an overstatement, but it was okay. I was also pleased to see that yesterday’s laser treatment  seemed to have taken the edge off my SI pain.

And so the week has come to a close, and I am left feeling disappointed by my progress yet again. I am certain that my fitness is regressing by the day, yet I feel minimal motivation to change that. On weekends, in particular, I want nothing more than to lounge aimlessly, clutching a glass of wine, and dream of the day when every day is the weekend. Happy Friday.


Monday Musings: never say never

I’m occasionally a fan of being overly dramatic. I have a particularly high tendency to say things like “Ugh! I’ll never {insert any totally plausible action here]!”  The expression never say never is designed for people like me. More often than not, I do exactly what I say I’ll supposedly never do.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m with you on this one Bieber.

Over the last few years alone, I have a lengthy list of never-do’s that have turned into my reality:

  • I’d never be interested in golf and I’d certainly never choose a round of golf over hiking
  • I’d never date someone in the suburbs (it’s true! my entire relationship right now is based on a major oversight on my part)
  • I’d never live anywhere but in the city centre
  • I’d never move to the Okanagan
  • I’d never quit my job without something else lined up
  • I’d never buy real estate when I could just rent
  • I’d never go back to working in a traditional, corporate environment
  • I’d never be willing to do the rush hour commute from the ‘burbs

See? I told you it was a long list. This is the danger of saying never. What I’ve realized for me is that “never” really means “not right now”. I could never (see? there’s that word again!) have predicted my circumstances would shift so dramatically over the last couple of years, and how much that would impact my priorities. Everything from my relationship to my injury to my career insights to the real estate market have caused major ripple effects.  Suddenly the things that used to be never’s seem not only perfectly logical but also overwhelmingly exciting.

There’s so many other never-do’s that I still live with, yet I’m considerably more cautious with them than I used to be. I cannot predict how my priorities and goals will continue to shift. What seems like  a never-do today may once again be the most compelling of choices a year or two from now. So while I may still utter the words from time to time, I’ll do so knowing that it’s pure drama and maybe, just maybe, I’ll do just that thing when the mood strikes me.

Mid-Week Tangent: the bitter truth about trail tuesdays

Every week when I sit down to write posts, I am reminded of the fact that my Trail Tuesday posts have all but disappeared. Why? Because I haven’t hiked a single damn trail the entire month of July. That’s right, me, the so-called hiker, hasn’t hiked a single step for an entire month. I am as surprised as anyone. This kind of hiking hiatus hasn’t happened since my pre-Banff days, which was a whopping 8 years ago. Even last year when my sacroiliac was barely holding it together, I managed to hit the trails at least weekly.

I had all sorts of plans for getting back to trail shape in time for summer, for hitting the trails regularly. The weather’s been gorgeous. I live closer to some of my favourite local mountains. My nagging injuries have been staying (relatively) at bay. All the necessary ingredients were there for the taking, and I partook not even once.  I can rattle off a list of excuses a mile long, many of which are totally legit. I was away house-hunting two weekends of the month. I had my birthday weekend. We had a community garage sale. All of this is true. But the real bitter truth, the toughest pill to swallow is the actual truth: I haven’t felt like hiking this month, nor this season in general.

When the thought of hiking crosses my mind, instead of being excited, instead of madly researching what trail to explore next, I quickly squash the thought altogether. I’m tired from starting a new job.  I don’t feel fit enough to navigate the types of trails I love. I don’t feel like getting in my car and driving after dealing with rush-hour commutes Monday-Friday. It feels like there’s a million things to do related to moving. The allure of fresh air, epic scenery, unobscured vistas, none of these currently competes with my desire to be still, to relax, to be totally and completely sloth-like lazy.

I don’t know if my hiking mojo will return this summer. Maybe once the chaos of new job, house sale, finding a temporary home and finalizing all the small details for our new home dies down things will change. I still have a couple of months to seize the hiking season. But if I don’t, if my mind and body continue to tell me to chill out, I’m going to try not to beat myself up every Tuesday when I have no trail stories to tell.

Monday Musings: Change, change and more change

Pull up a chair and let me tell you some of the big things on the horizon that I’ve subtly alluded to over the past couple of months but never really talked about. Behind the scenes, we’ve been quietly working away at some big-time moving and shaking. It’s been exciting, exhausting, stressful and, at times, utterly overwhelming.  But mostly it’s exciting.

We are moving! To the Okanagan! The heart of wine country (in Canada, at least)! Lakes! Rolling hillsides! Slower pace of life! Yes!!!!!

I don’t even know when or how it all started. At some point while I was still on my work hiatus, we got the crazy thought “what if we sell our house and move to the Okanagan?” It seemed like a pipe dream at the time, but slowly we started investigating the situation. On a wine weekend, we hopped into an open house smack dab in the heart of wine country. While that particularly property wasn’t the right fit for us, it was the small action that set us off on a path to full-blown can-we-actually-do-this research.

Now, not even two months later:

  • I’ve started a new job for which I had to negotiate a trial period of working in a different region.  The jury’s still out on whether it will actually work, but we’re going to give it a whirl.
  • We’ve staged, listed and sold our current house and have to be out October 1st.
  • We bought a new house that won’t be ready until February 2018, which means…
  • We’ve been on the hunt for a temporary rental to carry us between our move-out and move-in dates.
  • My partner in crime has resigned from his job and will wrap up work in two short weeks, at which point he’ll start looking for work in our new ‘hood.

There have been a lot of stressful weekends driving up to the Okanagan on a moment’s notice. There’s been a lot of last minute cleaning in preparation for showings (thankfully the real estate market is ridiculous here and our house sold lightening fast). There’ve been a lot of mid-day phone conversations about upgrades and offers and counter-offers. There’ve been flurries of emails to mortgage brokers, realtors, relatives, rental agents, and prospective employers. So yeah, we’ve had a lot of stuff on the go in a short period of time.

Chances are things won’t slow down much for the foreseeable future. While it’s tiring a lot of the time, and certainly gets in the way of consistently blogging, it all feels like the right move (pun intended) and I couldn’t be more excited for the future.  Change is rarely easy, especially when you combine multiple major changes all at one time, and yet sometimes it’s exactly what you need to align your life with your priorities.

We’ve wanted a number of things to shift in our life. We’ve wanted a slower pace. We’ve wanted to have a life that doesn’t revolve around stressful jobs that pay well but don’t necessarily hold personal meaning.  We’ve wanted to be closer to some of the things we love (golf, wine, new trails for me to explore, etc.). We’ve wanted to get as close to mortgage free as possible so that we have more time and need less work to do more of the things we love. We couldn’t envision any of that happening here in the Lower Mainland. While the move isn’t going to instantly satisfy all of these wants, it will get us considerably closer in the short term. In the long term, it creates the ideal conditions for a life we’ll both love.

So for now, even in the midst of the stresses and annoyances of moving (ugh, moving, am I right?) I am trying to remind myself of all the positives on the other side.  Bring on the change!