Monday Musings: getting my mom an iPhone was a terrible idea

My mom turned 70 this year, and 70 warrants a really good birthday gift. And so it came to be that we bought her very first iPhone.  I know, you’re probably thinking an iPhone sounds like a horribly impersonal gift, but hear me out: my mom has wanted a smart phone for years and she and my father had been suffering with a crappy flip phone for the longest time. She wanted to take pictures and send texts and look things up without hauling out a heavy-ass laptop and drive in Calgary without relying on outdated paper maps. So while it sounds like a terrible gift, I can tell you she was thrilled by it.

At first, so was I. I talk to my mom quite a bit over the phone, but it was nice having daily text conversations. But then, then she started sending me pictures.  And now, now I’m not so sure that getting her an iPhone was a good idea at all.

First, there was this:

My mom had baked mini chocolate cakes and wanted to show me. Being a lover of all things chocolate, I was jealous. I mean, they weren’t frosted which is a major faux pas in my mind, but they still looked pretty moist and delicious. Furthermore, at the time that I received this photo, I had zero cake options in my own home so I would have gladly accepted even unfrosted cake.

Then, there was this:

Okay, I know that doesn’t look appetizing. But these are amazing wok-fried chicken wings made with soy sauce and ginger and five spice and all sorts of other ingredients I can’t remember because I haven’t had them in years even though they are a total childhood favourite of mine. It was one thing to send me a picture of chocolate cake, which I am fully capable of making myself, and which I have been known to bake and eat entirely on my own (though not all at once, thankfully).  It is another thing to send me a photo of a nostalgic, childhood favourite that I have never once prepared for myself.  Strike two, mom.

But yesterday, yesterday my mom crossed a line with this:

What you are looking at there is a freshly baked peach pie. My mother, in case you aren’t aware, makes the best peach pie you have ever eaten. Her pastry is perfectly fluted, designed to lovingly cradle ice cream. It has been years since I’ve eaten this pie. Years. I look at this picture and start to salivate, and I swear to you I can almost taste it. Almost, because the actual pie is roughly 900 km away. This is the toughest photo pill to swallow, too, because I am actually incapable of making a pie. Pastry is my achilles heel. I have tried many a time and each and every time it has ended up with one of the many possible pastry fatal flaws.

With this last picture, not only am I beyond distraught that I am not jamming fresh peach pie into my face right now, but I’m also realizing what a terrible, terrible thing I’ve done giving my mother an iPhone. It’s true what they say: technology is not always a good thing.


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.

Throwback Thursday: Father’s Day Edition

Today’s throwback is in honour of rapidly approaching Father’s Day. As you may recall, I wrote a post in honour of my mom for Mother’s Day. It is only fair that I do the same for my dad, especially since he has played such a pivotal role in my love of hiking and trail running.

It is not an understatement to say that I owe my love of hiking and nature to my father. It is also not an understatement to say that it is nothing short of miraculous.  As children, my parents took us camping every summer, and camping often meant hiking.  As a child, little of this appealed to me. In fact, let me recount how I felt about camping and camping-related activities as a child:

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As you can see, my list of likes was few and my list of dislikes was many. Also note, one my list of dislikes was hiking.  It is not lost on my father that I am now the family’s biggest proponent (read: obsessive freak) of hiking.

What happened?

I believe my father was ahead of his time with subtle means of manipulating children into developing good habits. That sounds insulting, but I assure you it is not.  The best analogy I can think of is how, if your children don’t like eating vegetables, you’re supposed to repeatedly expose them to eating vegetables. Repetition, it seems, is a powerful means of getting children to accept and even like things.

I believe my father knew that if he exposed me to nature and hiking enough, I might one day grow to appreciate it. I don’t know that he knew it would take me until I was in my early 20s to like it, nor that it would take until I was in my late 20s to absolutely love it.  It shouldn’t surprise him that it took so long, though, as I have always been the world’s most stubborn child. I know he will not disagree with that statement. At any rate, all it took was twenty years of camping and being dragged up all sorts of trails to develop a passion for hiking a deep love for nature.

Even better, I am able to share this love of hiking with my dad at least a couple times a year. And though he thinks that I merely tolerate him on our trail adventures, whenever I hike with him I am reminded of just how similar we are. My father shares the same deep appreciation for an awe-inspiring view, for jagged and glacier-capped peaks, for fields of wildflowers in bloom, and for the magic of larch season.  We are both stubborn and won’t use our poles or wear braces on knees and ankles that, really, should always be braced, and we both get just a little bit hangry when we don’t eat enough on the trail. We stop constantly to take pictures, we always want to beat our last hiking time, we like to stand precariously close to edges (making my poor mother incredibly anxious), and we always want to keep going to see what’s “just up ahead.”  It is a wonder that we have survived so many a family hike.

Happy father’s day dad! I know that you’re proud to have instilled a love of hiking in me…even if it took twenty years!

I picked the picture that makes him look most hard I like that he's dressed like Indiana Jones.
I picked the picture that makes him look most hard core…plus I like that he’s dressed like Indiana Jones.