Posts from the ‘Fun’ Category

Day 18 of 100 Happy Days – Cozy Socks…

Day 18-100

Old, wooly, winter warfare socks, my cozy trackies, heat from the fireplace, and pablum on the TV…makes a tired guy happy….

Day 18 of 100 Happy Days

Days are busy. Early morning workouts, followed by commuting, then meetings, emails, briefings, questions, presentations, interviews….

And sometimes evenings are full; if you are lucky, it is with your best mate with dinner and laugh as you look into each other’s eyes lovingly, or a fun filled evening and drinks with friends.

Regardless of what it is and even if it is challenging and invigorating, entertaining and enjoyable, it takes energy and effort. To maintain that happy face, the telephone voice, the “I can do it” attitude, and to look like you have it all together can be exhausting some days.  Even in the best of jobs with the best of colleagues, some days and weeks can be draining.

And once home, you can put down the shields. You can take off the tie, slip off the shoes, and relax. Sometimes it is about crawling into a pair of sweat pants and cozy socks, and hunkering down on the couch to watch TV.  There is no pressure, no expectations, no demands…the mind can go into neutral, and recharge.

And the TV can be banal and clichéd and trivial…sometimes the mind needs the cerebral equivalent of junk food. It allows for defragmentation… it soothes…it relaxes… it lulls. The mind takes a nap while you don’t.

It is hard to be “on” all the time. Coming home, putting up the feet, and just doing nothing is sometimes just what is needed.  Sometime the thought of coming home and unwinding, kicking back, and loosening is something to look forward to and can make for a happy end to a busy day.

Enjoy your cozy socks and sweat pants watching Netflix, or slippers and pyjamas in front of the hockey game, or your tatty bathrobe and the evening’s shows…whatever makes you happy!

Later,

ASF

Advertisements

Day 14 of 100 Happy Days – Have a Hug, Old Man Winter.

Day 14-100

Day 14 of 100 Happy Days

It was -21*C in Edmonton yesterday. That was the air temperature. With the wind, it felt like -30*C.  That’s cold. That’s 10 minutes before exposed skin freezes. It was only 10*C colder on Mars…

I often wonder why Canada is populated.  Why didn’t the first settlers just say, “Damn it’s cold. Let’s move South”? Who knows, but they didn’t.  Instead they hunkered down in their sod huts, their layers of fur and toughed it out.

We sort of do a 21st century version of that, too. It is funny the coping mechanisms we use. Having lived all across Canada, I have heard all the catch phrases.

At least it is not -40*C for the 14th day in a row like on the Prairies,” they say in Eastern Canada.

At least were not getting hit by another blizzard like in the Atlantic Canada,” they say in Central Canada.

It’s a a dry cold!” they say in the West.”At least you can dress for it.”

Oh my, shut down the City…we got  1 cm of snow last night!”, they say in BC.

We use many strategies to deal with the cold. There are two extremes: to hunker down in your Snuggie, jam on the Netflix, and hibernate for a few months, or to kit up with super high tech materials and equipment and embrace the cold. I’d say that equal amounts of both are the best way to get through the dark, cold, Canadian winter.

There is some perverse satisfaction in having faced Old Man Winter, having stared him down – asking him to throw all he has at you – and coming out on top.

“Is that all you got, Jackie Frost?”

And as you warm up in the comfort of your house with the fireplace working overtime, the furnace humming efficiently, watching Netflix as the warm winter sun comes through the window, the fact that you took the cold on like a true Canadian creates that tiny aura of contentedness and happiness that comes with facing a little adversity.

Bring it on, Winter; I can handle it – I am a happy Canadian.

Later,

ASF

Day 13 of 100 Happy Days – In Vino Veritas

“Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.” ― Ernest Hemingway

“Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.”
― Ernest Hemingway

Day 13 of 100 Happy Days

Had the good fortune to be invited out for drinks tonight. Well, a few glasses of wine actually.

Wine. Vino. Wein. Vin. Vinum.

I am not sure when I developed a taste for wine. I drank it when I was of age, but I did not have a schmick about what I was drinking. I remember buying Rothschild’s Mouton Cadet when I was younger…I was a cadet at the Royal Military College and my rank was on the wine label! How bad could it be?

I suppose I developed a taste when serving in Germany during the tail end of the Cold War; I drank fine German wines like Reislings and Weissburgunders (Pinot Noire), Gewurtz Traminers, late harvest and ice wines and made my foray into the Old World French wine…Bordeaux, Beaujolais, Cremants. There were so many and they all tasted wonderful.

At some point in your life, you move from shooters and hard hitting spirits, and become a wine person. It’s no longer about getting hammered, drinking as much as you can or as fast as you can. It is more about enjoying, about socializing, about sipping and tasting, about pairing…meats, fruits, cheeses, nuts, chocolate.  Maybe it comes with age…

Now it is all about heavy reds…Merlots, Cabernet Sauvignons,  Prioriats and Malbecs.

Wine can shift a mood…turn bad into good, turn good into great; it is consumed by the glass, by the bottle, or occasionally, by the bottles.

And while it should be consumed in moderation, occasionally we take Oscar Wilde’s advice, “Everything in moderation, including moderation”. El vino did flow…in a David Brent kind of way!

There have been many painful mornings, and many declarations of “never again”. But the sweet bacchanalian temptation always brings us back for a glass of red, white, rose, sparkling, fortified, late harvest, or ice…and happy times.

Later,

ASF

Day 12 of 100 Happy Days -Old friends who pop in

Day 12-100

Great friends. like Lou, always bring a smile.

Day 12 of 100 Happy Days

Our transition to life after the military has been pretty smooth…in fact I think we have landed on our feet given that my departure was fairly quick due to a medical release after the heart surgery.

We are well settled and enjoying life, but….

One thing we have not been able to do is crack the social code on the outside. Though I have friends here in Edmonton and area, it has been ten years since I served here and the friendships, though still intact, are not as tight as when I was with the Regiment and the Brigade. A decade creates a lot of new opportunities, a lot of new demands, a lot of new experiences.

In my military career, each new posting unearthed a new series of friends…new relationships were started or old ones rekindled. There were meet and greets, and bbqs and Happy Hours and Mess Functions to meet new people or to be introduced to new people.

That is not so much the case in my new operating environment. Sure, people are friendly enough, but the dinner parties, the spontaneous kitchen parties, the afternoon beer sessions, haven’t materialized yet. Maybe they will over time, but there not here as of yet.

So when a great friend says they are popping into town from Ottawa for a night, and makes time to come for dinner, it is a special occasion. Even if it is not the knock’em down, drag’em out kind of night because we are older and there is a long drive to the airport hotel before a morning flight, it is still great to chat, to laugh,to hug.

Good friends make for good times; great friends make for great times.

Here in Alberta, the doors are always open.

Later,

ASF

Day 9/100 Happy Days -K’I play, too?

Day 9-100

Day 9/100 Happy Days

Twice a day, I walk the dog. We usually take a leisurely loop around the wetlands behind the house. In the summer we enjoy the scenery, the cattails and the trees, and try very hard to avoid the goose and duck poo.

During these walks early in the summer, I looked at the water and thought to myself, “I betcha that would make a superb ice rink in the winter.”  And I looked forward to seeing rinks pops up when the weather got cold.

Imagine my disappointment in October when the county officials put up signs warning that the any ice would be unsupervised and potentially unsafe. “Danger, danger!”, the signs screamed at all within eye-shot. I could not believe that in Canada, in the heart of the West, there would be warnings to keep kids off natural ice.  It just seemed un-Canadian.

And once the snow started falling and the thermometer dipped well below freezing for several consecutive nights, I noticed that the Canadian spirit could not be quashed. Forget that our boys bowed out early in this year’s World Juniors, there was ice to be freed of its snowy coat.

The rinks started appearing as if some jaunty ice leprechaun was dropping pond rink seeds in some sort of wintery magic. Several nice rectangular patches of marsh ice, cleared of snow the old fashioned way – by shovel and broom – bloomed spontaneously. And no sooner than they appeared that they were decorated by beautiful  4 foot by 6 foot rectangles that signalled, “Game on!”.  Canada’s passion, like, early life, found a way to appear from nothing.

These natural rinks are things of beauty.

Forget backyard rinks, this is the way old time hockey was played…on ponds.  Sadly, I have not been out on the ice yet…a strange, grown man invading a shinny rink teeming with kids is just odd – especially if none of those kids are his!  Part of me just wants to go out there and ask, “Hey, k’I play…I got a net?…”

The ice beckons me, offering me to partake in a little bit of Canadiana. Until I can get out there, the little kid in me is itching for a go.   Just the thought of being out there reminds me of my youth and happy times.

Later,

ASF

Day 5/100 Happy Days – Baby Faces

 

shaving 2

Day 5/100 Happy Days

Twice a year, you can always recognize the serving Army guys. They are the ones sporting the hockey playoff beards, the mutton chops, the goatees and other facial hair during the summer and most definitely over the Christmas break.  I am not sure if it is some sort of low-level mutiny, a full-scale rebellion, or just a desire to take a break from the daily ritual of dragging a piece of steel across their faces.

Facial hair – you either love it or hate it.

And if 1 December is an indication, I am guessing the majority are not fans. I have never seen such looks of relief on so many partner’s faces as when the Movemberites shaves of the 30 days of growth.

Since I was a young lad,  I have been gifted with the werewolf look (except on top of my head). I had to start shaving at a young age, secretly at first.  My father warned me that my silky, but ugly, adolescent boy-beard would gradually morph into unsightly, coarse stubble. This transition was the gateway to manhood.

I remember watching my Dad using his Noxzema shaving cream, a cracked plastic measuring cup, and a double edged safety razor to complete this daily ritual, seven days a week. It was so manly.

I know this does not make sense to many of you. Maybe you do not have a beard; maybe you have a beard but you can shave with Kleenex. Maybe you put milk on your face and let the cat lick off your beard. If that is your fortune, you probably don’t get it.

But to many of us, shaving has just become one of those grooming things we have to do – like putting on deodorant or flossing our teeth. What a shame!

It is a unique rite of manhood!

As a 20th century man, I moved through a multitude of razors to achieve a closer and closer shave: first the disposable safety razors by Bic et al; then through the chain of cartridge razors – first the Mach series, and then Fusion series, and now I am wooed by the Pro-Glide FlexBall!.Oh, the money I have spent!

I have even tried the electric razor – but that experiment did not last long.

And I won’t even delve into the different types of creams – gels or foams, menthol or tropical breeze, tube or can  – or the pre-shave exfoliants, the post- shave balms, other razor burn soothers and the sometimes required step It is boggling.

Alongside the razors, the cream, and the various other products, I have adopted many different strategies to maintain the Army grooming standard. I am trying hard to forget the dry shave that many a man has tried while rouging it in the deep of winter – when warming up cold water and stripping off the shirt is just too manly to attempt.

I have tried hot shaving cream, hot towels, evening shaves, and shaving in the shower. For pure ease and convenience, plus the added benefit of spending time under soothing massaging jets, shaving in the shower is the winner – if you can find the right mirror that doesn’t fog and stays put!

I have always loved to grow outlandish facial hair when I could. To grow be Lemmy, the Fu-Manchu,  the Boer War Chops, or the Breaking Bad  has been fun – even if my wife and friends think I’m a nut!

After this Movember, I splurged for a relaxing straight razor shavette to smooth my bald pate and baby-faced cheeks. If you have not pampered yourself by fully reclining in an old fashioned barber’s chair, by having your face lovingly swaddled in almost too hot wet towels, by allowing liberal applications of facial pre-shave creams and hot mugs of foamy lather, by experiencing a slow, deliberate with-the-grain and against-the-grain straight shave, and ending with an invigorating facial massage – you are just not living to your potential!

It is the male equivalent of the pedicure and toe nail polish.  Expensive, yes – but I would argue, a periodic necessity!

During my time in the Army, I saw shaving as a necessity – something that had to be done, sometimes twice a day.  And even though I still can pull off the two minute panic shave to get myself to work on time, I believe that taking the time to pamper your face is important.

Occasionally you just need slow it down and to reconnect with males from yore. You need to wet the shaving brush, vigorously work up a lather in a shaving cream mug, carefully and liberally paint your face lovingly with warm , and slowly, deliberately and shave those whiskers off your face as you enjoy the unique sound of one thins steel blade dispensing with the whiskers in the traditional way .

In these hectic times, a slow, cautious, deliberate shave is a meditative experience that kindles thoughts of a simpler time! Something all we men deserve to be happy, happy!

Later,

ASF

Day 1/100 Happy Days – “Nothing new, Dad…”

A couple of years ago, I embarked on a little bit of narcissistic “performance art” that required a bit of introspection, a bit of creativity, and a bit of discipline, The project, 100HappyDays, was at times a chore, but I found overall it created a positive outlook as I searched each day for something that made me happy. As a result, I looked at things more positively – as opposed to negatively, avoiding focusing on things that made me unhappy. I truly did find it uplifting and judging by some of the feedback from friends, it struck a chord with them too. So starting 2 January 2016, I begin 100Days Part Deux. Indulge me! (for more info see  www.100HappyDays.com )

scan0003

Day 1/100

Just before New Year’s Eve, I hugged my daughter and watched her drive off with her lovely boyfriend to go live her life in Northern Alberta. Today, I dropped my son at the airport, knowing I will go many months without feeling a hug from that goofy Marmaduke-puppy of a man-boy. Saying goodbye to your kids is heart wrenching. It is a confusing maelstrom of emotions: on one hand, melancholy, self-pity, loneliness, trepidation, and worry as you see your “babies” challenge life head on without you. On the other, it raises a smidgen of envy, of much pride, of a sprinkle of excitement as you see them march off on their own, knowing that you have done well raising two tiny beings into confident, hard-working young adults.

Being a parent is a significant challenge. From the moment you accept the familial contract of pregnancy and child-rearing, with its evolution of roles – care-giver, teacher, coach, mentor, banker, counselor, confidant, friend – you pour your heart and soul to them and you love them more than life itself.

You feed them, you clothe them, you support them, you nurture them, you scold them, you guide them, you hold them when things go wrong, you smile the smile of a 1000 suns when things go right. You love them unconditionally with a love that is deeper than all of the earth’s crevices, and larger than all of the earth’s mountains.

I relish their every phone call, their every email, their every Skype chat, their every visit…even if the only things they yield are the contented silence of togetherness, punctuated by a brief “Nothing’s new, Dad, things are good here,” or a few lazy couch potato giggles. Just being able to talk to them, or even better, to hug them, is something you never quite get until you are a parent of older children – and something you wish you realized when you were a younger adult.

And if all goes well, the parent’s return on investment is huge – their smiles, their success, their happiness are all rewards of a job well done. As my Dad said to me when I was just starting on my adventure into adulthood, “Do whatever you want in life…just make sure you add to society and do not only take from it.” Sage words.

That is the grail, and proudly, that is just what I am watching my kids achieve.

Being a parent equals happiness; thanks Alex and Duncan!