Saturday, May 30, 2009

It's a dog's life

Earlier today, I was watching our dog Sherry as she laid down on our deck and enjoyed the sun. A little later, she came in and laid down on the living room floor. Then out again to the deck. Not a care in the world!

Meanwhile, I had been up early, brought the car for servicing, prepared breakfast, washed tons of dishes, gone grocery shopping... I will trade places with Sherry this moment.

"Ang sarap ng buhay ni Sherry, (Sherry has a great life)" I said. She's not leading the proverbial dog's life.

All six of us at home dote on Sherry. She has us wrapped around her fingers, I mean, paws. When she lies on her back near anyone and opens up her legs, we give her a tummy scratch. When she's sleeping, we know only too well to let sleeping dogs lie.

Tummy scratch!

We see to it that she has water and food in her bowls. She has treats that makes Markus salivate.

We take her for a walk, at her pace. When she stops to smell the grass or the hydrant, we too stop.

Walking with Sherry at Green Timbers

We talk to her affectionately. "Excuse me, Sherry." Excuse me? We often rub her fur and say how adorable she is. We understand when she has PMS.

In return, she delights us.

Sherry has changed the dynamics in our house. She's a great stress reliever. She makes us feel good. She amuses us with her antics. She's a pleasant company at home or outside. She's a good distraction. Who knows how many times she has kept us from snarling at each other?

Recently, I received the following email that made me chuckle:

Inner Peace

If you can start the day without caffeine,
If you can always be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains,
If you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles,
If you can eat the same food everyday and be grateful for it,
If you can understand when your loved ones are too busy to give you any time,
If you can take criticism and blame without resentment,
If you can conquer tension without medical help,
If you can relax without liquor,
If you can sleep without the aid of drugs,

...Then You Are Probably The Family Dog!

So who's leading a dog's life now?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

NOT a walk in the park

If you love the mountains or you love hiking, you'll love British Columbia. They are all around. That's why we love it here. Supernatural British Columbia indeed!

Hiking is one of my favourite outdoor activities. My hubby enjoys it too and has gone to more hiking trails around here. Hiking is a good form of exercise, brings us close to nature, provides scenic views, and is free (except for minimal parking fees in some places).

Very early today, my husband and I drove about 1.5 hours to Squamish, north of Vancouver. We wanted to hike up Stawamus Chief, "the second largest granite monolith in the world" according the the BC Parks website. It was a lovely morning. The forecast was sunny, ideal for spending the day outside.

We arrived at the Shannon Falls National Park while the sun was still at the other side of the mountain. It was still very chilly.

Walking from Shannon Falls to Stawamus Chief National Park next to it.

Just before entering the forest, we saw this warning sign:

"Caution: This is NOT a walk in the park. Many hikers have been rescued from this trail. Lost hikers. Injured hikers. Hikers stranded after dark..."

"Not very comforting," I muttered. "At least they were rescued," MrB replied.

"The trail is extremely rough," the sign continued. "Steep stairs and ladders. Slippery rocks and roots. Short sections requiring the use of hands. Drop-offs and cliff edges..."

Good there was no mention of bears. I fear heights but I fear bears much more.

I felt slightly uneasy as we entered the forest. There was no else except me and hubby. Where are the hikers?

We reached a wooden bridge by the waterfalls and stopped for some photo shoot. I remembered this place. We had been here before. So this was leading to Stawamus? We did not go very far at that time because Gabriel and Markus were still quite young. I felt it was not safe for their age.

After this point, we started seeing more people. They came up from a different trail starting from the Stawamus Chief parking lot perhaps. I was glad to see them.

The hike became more and more difficult. I stopped often to catch my breath. I told my husband to go ahead and just wait up for me every now and then. I didn't want to rush myself.

As a precaution I walked with other hikers who were about as slow as myself like those two men in their 60s who were chattering all the way up. Their conversation, which I couldn't help overhearing, took my mind off the trail.

The trail is mostly rocky after the waterfalls.

When faster hikers caught up with me, I stepped aside and let them pass. "Good morning," they greeted me. Sometimes they said, "Thank you." I got several greetings mostly from men, old and young alike. What a polite bunch these Canadians.

Whenever we came across a good viewpoint, we stopped to rest and soak in the sights and sounds.

We were not even one-third of the way to the first summit and I was already exhausted. I was sweating. I did not expect the trail to be that difficult. It was not as steep as the Grouse Grind but the trail was "extremely rough" indeed.

When we reached a junction, we decided to take the trail to the first summit, which was closer. We thought we would do the second summit later. I overheard some guys saying that the first summit was just around the corner. First summit it is!

"I thought it was just around the corner," I told hubby after we had been walking a long time with still no sight of our destination. Must be a corner in mountain terms.

The last third of the trail posed a different challenge. Twice we had to hold on to chains to help us climb. We also climbed two ladders. "The view up there better be worth all these," I said.

Finally, we saw the Howe Sound and snow-capped mountains from a distance. The sight was breathtaking. Definitely worth the hard climb!

But we still had a section to climb. The rocks have disappeared. Instead, it was just one massive rock that we need to scale to get to the top. The surface was rough so traction was good. But there was hardly anything to hold on to. A little unnerving especially for someone who doesn't like heights. Can't go back now.

As we reached the summit, we were thrilled by the scenery. Really awesome! We found a nice place to sit and enjoyed it all.

Even though we were nicely seated on a safe spot, I tried hard not to imagine falling off the cliff. Occasionally, I felt my knees tremble as I watched people walk around as if the summit was flat or just a few feet from the ground. How can they get close to the edge? That is so not safe.

After having climbed for about two hours, we were not about to come down so soon. We decided to linger, eat our packed food--beef jerky, trail mix and burger sandwiches. I even did a sketch of the Second Peak across from where we were.

I had another reason for not wanting to go down yet. I was still mustering the courage to do so. I wanted to get used to the heights. I wish there were a helicopter that can take us down. Or a gondola...

After more than an hour, we were ready for the descent. I was encouraged by the number of people going up or down, including children. But I was glad we did not bring our own children or things would have been different. I would have been freaking out if they wandered farther than 10 feet from me. Don't go there!...Come back here...Stay away from the cliff!!!

I found going downhill more difficult than going up. I struggled with the ladders. "How many more steps?" I kept asking as I very slowly brought each foot lower.

I felt the pressure on my knees, legs and feet. I could feel them shaking. I thought I was going to have foot cramps at some point. Fortunately, I did not.

Along the way, we saw a guy who was rock climbing. I stopped for a while to watch what he was doing. This is something I can never do and would never have done even in my youth.

After hiking down more than two kilometres, we were back in Shannon Falls Park. We were exhausted. We spread out a mat on the grass and laid down. Aaaahhh, this is so good! The Second Peak will be for another time.

My legs and body will probably be very sore tomorrow and the day after, but that's all right. We had a good hike. It gave us a high!

I don't think I would want to go hiking again within the next month. Not this kind anyway. For now, I will be happy just to take a walk in the park.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Seek and find

Two days ago, I blogged about looking for a missing SD card at home. That night, I continued searching in likely and unlikely places. Pencil holders. Basket of due bills. Recipe box?

SD card, where are you? Pleease God help me find this thing!!!

Even as I was feeling frustrated, I was glad to find things that I had been looking for at some point, or things I might need in the future, or things that have no practical use, but considered precious by my sentimental nature. Like two more temporary teeth. My sons' baby molars.

I was about to give up when I decided to look again in one of the small compartments of my escritorio. I lifted a receipt and there it was. The SD card!! I was ecstatic. I literally sang and hopped for joy.

I FOUND IT!!! It felt good to find something I was sure I had hidden. And it was not even worth that much.

But have you experienced looking for something you have absolutely no memory of hiding?

Let me tell you the story I mentioned in my previous entry.

Many years ago, back in the Philippines, my young family occasionally experienced lean times for different reasons. This incident I'm blogging about is one of those lean times. I can't remember exactly why money was tight. Maybe it was one or a combination of these factors:

We moved into our own house in Quezon City that was still unfinished. There were many improvements that had to be done using whatever savings we had.

We were sending Gino and Mickey to a private school.

MrB left his high-paying job at a publishing company that gave him various perks and a car loan, and decided he'd rather work in Christian organization even if it meant slashing his income by three-fourths that paid just enough for monthly car payment. Perks and rewards were in heaven, from heaven, or both. (We suffered financially for a time while he was at this job, but it opened the door for us to go to Canada. And we met people who would become among our dearest friends today. Paid off big time.)

Me, I was not gainfully employed, as defined by the National Statistics Office. This meant I worked long hours and was on call day or night, losing sleep, and doing an endless list of household chores, but not earning money.

One morning, after my husband had left for work, I rued about the fact that we had no money. Payday was in two days. MrB probably had enough to take him to work for the next couple of days, but what about the food at home? The fridge was practically empty.

One lunch, there was nothing in the fridge but one chayote. I decided to stir-fry it with a few garlic cloves and a little onion. For extra nutrition, I added malunggay leaves I asked from our neighbour's tree. I had never tried this but did it anyway. That and rice would be lunch for Gino, Mickey and myself.

After it was cooked, the dish looked uninteresting and tasted worse. To condition the boys into eating my concoction, I told them we were eating what I called Mommy's Special. We started eating enthusiastically. The enthusiasm waned with every bite. We didn't say anything. In my head I was saying, Yuck!

I thought about our predicament. This cannot happen, I said to myself. This cannot happen to a child of God. We must have something. You promised. You said You will supply all our needs. You said our children will not go hungry. This cannot happen! How can this happen? I was talking to myself and to God.

And so I did something totally by faith. I went through my drawers and old purses firmly believing that I should have money somewhere. Even if I didn't remember ever keeping cash anywhere, I kept looking anyway. I flipped through my old diaries and appointment notebooks. I checked files of paper. I went through bags and wallets.

Finally, I saw an old wallet I hadn't used in ages. As I looked through it, I saw a 50-peso bill tucked in one of the pockets. Yay!! Thank you Lord!!! I was not disappointed. God never disappoints though we don't see it like that all the time.

That money was enough to tide us over until payday. I believe some time back, God led me to leave some cash in this purse for this very reason.

Seek and you will find. Believe and you will see.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Hide and seek

I think you might relate to this. You hide something so well that even you can’t find it when you need it. Sounds familiar?

That’s what happened to me last night. I bought a digital camera that was the same brand as the one that broke on New Year's Eve. I chose the same brand because I wanted to use the same SD card. Think savings.

Unfortunately, I could not find the broken thing. Nobody knew where it was. I kept looking. No camera.

This morning I looked around again. I hate it when this happens. I get obsessive and will keep on searching.

I hear people, including me, say, “Huwag mong hanapin. Lalabas din yan pag di mo hinahanap. (Don’t look for it. It will surface when you're not searching.),” which was what happened to Gino when he misplaced a notebook days before an exam. He kept looking and looking with no success. This weekend I found it in one of the clothes hampers while I was checking out something else. Too late for his test though.

But with the missing broken camera, I didn’t feel like just sitting it out. I wanted to test and start using the new one and the old card. I checked my escritorio, the bookshelves, bins and boxes... Finally, I checked a plastic bag with miscellaneous items. FOUND IT! I was relieved to see the camera.

But wait. The card wasn’t there. I quickly remembered I had removed it in January because the camera might go missing. Besides, I was concerned that it might also stop working if kept inside the camera that broke after wallowing in fruit salad.

I have totally forgotten about it. Where could I have placed it? It should be in my drawer where I keep precious items like my sons’ temporary teeth. Why would I put it elsewhere???

Tonight I will keep on looking again.

Maybe I should start writing down notes to self for things that I hide for whatever reason. “Hid SD card in middle drawer… Hid chichiria in the shoebox... Hid money in brown purse…” I think this will reduce the time wasted on seeking.

Oh, this brings to my mind a good hide-and-seek story. I’ll write about it later.