Sunday, 31 August 2014

Poker face

Awesome long weekend family poker day but first lunch with good friends and a little visit with my pal Augie.

I get to stay with Augie while his people go on vacation this winter so you can expect lots of bully pics then. He is such a sweetie.

I really missed my good camera today especially in Henry and Marcia's beautiful back yard.

I had a special place in the shade of Henry's trained grapevine.

My view:


Let's never speak of it again.

Poker night almost always has a health food challenge component. Tonight's was sea-buckthorn

It's good but a tad on the sour side.

Right Ava?

She enjoyed it a lot more in smoothie form.

We got a little over zealous with our toasting.

No problem, we had plastic cards.

We had a super Jim tonight.

But TJ emerged the winner!

We missed Todd who is working in China for a bit!


Some of you remarked on the garlic coke picture yesterday. Turns out that's sounding pretty normal compared to these.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Exercise in empathy

Yesterday I had an interesting experience at the water park. I was sitting on a bench underneath where the people wait to get on the purple side when I heard a splat. I didn't think about it much, just assumed it was a seagull making an offering. I remember being vaguely grateful that it didn't hit me and then kind of noticing that it wasn't white.

A minute later my bare arm was covered in what could only be warm saliva from above.

My initial reaction was to yell sarcastically - "Thank you very much I love you too."

I kept looking up and sure enough a 12 or 13-year-old boy was popping his head over the edge. Armed with my long lens I kept taking his picture.

I suggested he didn't want to do that again and that I now had his picture on my camera.

He smiled charmingly and said that I didn't have to keep taking his picture he wouldn't do it again.

I'm not at all sure that it was him and not some of the other kids he was with. But I do know that it was his turn next. Kind of a gross truth or dare thing.

I get it, I'm a funny looking creature at the water park. What with my large size and especially with my all-encompassing hat, and in the water I'm almost fully dressed as a guard against the sun.

What made it an interesting experience for me is that the kid and his sisters were Middle Eastern, probably Muslim by their dress.

Please keep reading before you formulate your comments. I beg you.

I don't want to hear any hate. I don't want to hear your thoughts about immigration. I didn't before this episode, and I don't after. I will delete them.

I'm not looking for praise either, just maybe a little reflection next time somebody ticks you off.

I admit that it took me a while to marshall any empathy as I sat there with spittle on my arm waiting for Emily to go down the slide, keeping an eye on the air above.

Nobody was happier than me to get in the pool again into the chlorinated water where there are actually probably a lot worse things happening.

But I just kept thinking that revenge is such a useless, hopeless, exercise in futility and that I have lived my life free of the sting of racism. I have never had anyone hold me down and spit in my face literally or figuratively day after day after day.

Did I have an unpleasant experience? Yes. Would I put up with it from the same kid again? No. But I'd still try to talk rather than hate.

Hate is mostly built from bricks of fear and it makes for a rickety wall.

I want to do my best to live a life of empathy and even though my initial reaction was sarcastic, it is also true.

I love you kid.

I feel that it's the most important thing I can do to improve the world even just a little bit.

But wait, what if it had been a blue-eyed blonde kid acting on a dare?

Hmm harder to find empathy there for sure. I do know there would have been more fear to make a report - of being sued by a helicopter parent for taking the kid's picture and suggesting he was in any way less than perfect!

I'd like to think I would work my way around to empathy eventually :-) And in any case no matter colour or creed the smartest kids in the world become waaaay less intelligent when on a mission to impress their friends.

This post is dedicated to my dad who walked a mile and everyone's shoes before he spoke.

Sometimes that was annoying when you were mad but mostly it was inspiring.

Friday, 29 August 2014

So long for now blue bucket

We said goodbye to our summer at Bingemans today.

I did it by going down the wilder number two side of my yellow slide. It was awesome and I took a full snoot of water despite my puny attempt at holding my nose.

Emily graduated out of occupational therapy for her thumb today so she was able to go on this slide too as well as the tummy racing one.

She didn't actually make it down on her first attempt. It's been her nemesis slide for two years.

But Matt showed great form.

Caleb was mostly hidden from the camera.

Emily had no trouble with the purple slide.

Then she bravely gave her nemesis tummy slide another try.

She didn't see much of it but she did it!

I'm a proud aunt!

Meanwhile back at the chairs there was an industrial popcorn accident.

Which required some serious seagull chasing.

Hungry enough to eat the sign:

Once more under the blue bucket for the road!

First time I wasn't close enough.

Second time was the charm!

Sure has been a fun summer! Big thanks to the staff at Bingamans. Friendly and courteous with a great lack of the attitude we encounter at indoor pools. They just let us have fun.

Harry was surprisingly sporty and ready to walk today. In fact I thought I was just going outside to take pictures of chippies and he dragged me on a walk before I could put on my shoes.

But I had my camera and I guess that was more important.

When we are at the back of the building across from me Harry decided to approach some people sitting outside. He is a chatty Cathy when he is out and about. One of the ladies went inside as we approached. And another lady told me she went inside because she is afraid of cats.

If you think it was easy to get mr. extrovert who has never met a stranger moving away from that patio you have another think coming!

I was surprised but I get it. If you've been a attacked by a cat that makes a big impression.

So I will try to be more aware of that as I walk him. I do think though that Harry is a pretty good ambassador for his species. And I hope seeing him on a leash would be a little less threatening.