The end, of the year….and the blog?

As you’re reading this, I’m most likely sitting in the middle of the Amazon rain forest, listening to the sounds of the jungle.

I’m told the animals come alive at night, and that the sounds that begins as a distraction becomes the white noise, the background music of nights spent in mosquito-net-covered beds.

I’ve had the shots–yellow fever and Hep A and B; taken the Typhoid medication and the malaria pills, and will know by this time whether I’ve had to take the altitude pills for my stay in Cusco, Peru. And I hope I’m where I’m supposed to be.

My new thing is to spend the end of the year someplace else–not at home.  Last year I went to southern California for just over two weeks; this year I’m in the southern hemisphere.  Last year, it was LA, Palm Springs, Phoenix and I managed to catch the second sunrise of the new year over the Grand Canyon; this year, I’ve seen Lima, had an incredible meal at the incredible Central; seen the Nazca lines, Lake Titicaca, the Sacred Valley and Machu Pichu and the condors of the Colca Canyon soaring on the thermals in the morning light.

I’m doing this for a few reasons. First, I love to travel and expect to be doing more of this in the future; second I choose times that are connected to or disconnected from my former career as a wife–holidays and anniversary dates are a good time to be someplace else, removed from what you knew before (I know others who do this and I truly believe it is a healing thing to do). Finally, my being away makes it easier for my son to make choices about where and when he needs to be where and when. My family didn’t make a big deal of holidays growing up (my mom had to work sometimes at the hospital on Christmas (eve or day) or New Year’s, so we just worked around it), but this side seems to find holidays a necessary uncomfortable activity–I guess it’s part of the celebration.

And, as I look back over what is different between last year and this year, I’m able to review this blog and use it as a sort of guideline.  

There were times when I wrote spontaneously, as things happened, such as getting stuck in the elevator or my visit to a club (apparently as an old lady) just two weeks ago; more times than not, I drew on things from the past. There were other times when I wanted to write–furiously–about something exciting or something that pissed me off, but I’ve held back until those things come to resolutions.

I think I enjoyed most the reflections of growing up, and those seemed to resonate with people who were reading the blog too. Nostalgia is a great thing.

But so is looking forward…and we head into 2019, there’s a lot to look forward to.  For me?  Hopefully more travel and continued fun at work (it’s great to truly enjoy your job and people around you, I know that now). A fixed French Door (a story for another day) and repair of the smashed plate glass window–the result of a collision between it and a good-sized bird, I believe (another story for another day for sure).  Some renos to my place, a wedding (not mine!), good health, and all that stuff.

The blog?  This is my 54th post–once a week for a year (plus a couple before I got started).  Sometimes it felt like work, and that’s not good. I don’t want to ever feel like I have to write.  I want to do it because I want to. 

I don’t feel like it ever found its voice–that I ever found my voice through it. So I’m not sure what I’ll do.  I’ll keep it open for now, and post from time to time–maybe on travel, maybe some more podcasting, maybe a different focus altogether.  Not sure yet.

But what I am sure of is that I wanted to thank you all for reading and following along, commenting when you had something to share.  That means a lot to me.

Happy New Year–all the best in 2019.  Hope to see you on line…and maybe I’ll eventually get around to talking about this trip….and tattoos….and the sad, sad world of on-line dating….


The worst email I ever sent

Once upon a time, and I have to be very careful about how I tell this,  I sent a group of people the worst email of my life.

Very few people know about it, and those who do are the people I can trust to laugh it off and move on with life.

I’m sure there are some who, if they knew–even though it happened many, many years ago–their heads would explode.

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Who killed the coyote?

I can’t really remember the first time I saw a coyote, but I can remember the last.

It was just last week, when I was driving to work.

He was by himself—a lone wolf, so to speak (pun intended), on the side of the road I take every day, a four lane stretch with a wide divider in the middle, and where I’ve seen quite a few deer, but never a coyote.

He was on the south side of the roadway, watching the cars and trucks speed by; he didn’t look like he was planning to dart out—just keeping a watchful eye on us.

He must have come up from the big park that runs from river bank, starting way down in the valley, and then up the embankment to the side of the hill the road cuts across. The park itself follows the river for two miles—maybe a little more; the wooded slope up to the highway is dotted with a handful of high end homes accessible only through a gate along a dirt road. A great place for wildlife.

On the other side of the highway, the embankment continues up to the hill where I live, and it’s clear to see at this point just how deep the river valley is.  Thousands of years of work by that river cut the valley to where it is today.

On the up slope, there are many, many more houses—whole community developments, and I think there are coyotes there too.

The ravines that run through the neighbourhoods are populated with all sorts of wildlife, and I’ve heard from friends with dogs about how their pooches have come back home with the unmistakable odor of skunk (once you get that into your nose, you never forget it), or worse, their muzzles painfully peppered with porcupine quills—and a trip to the vet for sure. So I’m sure the coyotes get over there too.

I’ve seen them near the university where I work, which also has some undeveloped land near the grounds.

On rare occasion, early in the morning, I’ve spotted them darting across the road as they head for their dens in the brush.

Nose Hill Park Sean Chu
Nose Hill Park, courtesy of Sean Chu

There’s also a very large urban park—one of the biggest in a city in North America—that’s basically the top of a large hill, a piece of bald-ass prairie perfect for a coyote.

Dogs –especially the little ones–are a favourite target of these guys; in fact, someone just posted this on FB this morning:

coyote vest by amina ahktar
It might work…looks like a Mad Max dog….photo by Amina Ahktar

People around here are regularly reminded to keep their dogs on a leash. And maybe get some spikes.

Obviously part of the reason we see so many of them is that we’ve moved into their worlds.  I suspect the ones I see near work have a lot to do with the development of some of the grassy open spaces at the west end of campus, along the ridge with million dollar views of the Rockies.

But it’s not just there.  Communities seem to crop up overnight, and human-wildlife encounters are pretty much inevitable.

Last year, a woman was driving to the city when she hit an animal racing across the road; she looked to see what she hit but saw nothing and had to assume it had only been a bump or that whatever it was has screeched off into the brush to die.

It wasn’t until she was almost to work a half an hour later that someone stopped her and told her to check the front of her car. Before you  look at this picture, I’ll tell you that Fish & Wildlife came and got the guy out of the grill and he was in astonishingly good shape, and, after a short stay at a clinic, he was freed back into the wild and will hopefully live a long life by steering clear of the roads.

coyote in grill global news
Jeebus.  He was fine….probably not very happy, but he was fine…photo courtesy of George Know via Global TV

So…I’m not even sure how this subject came up with my friend Judith, who lives in California in the San Ramon Valley, which is about 25 miles south and east of Berkeley.  It’s a relatively dry, relatively warm area with lots of open space, lots of hills and lots of new neighbourhoods.

Back in August of 2016 a coyote was spotted in and around the area where she lives.  Reports were that it was really badly infected with mange and people were being warned to keep an eye out for it, to not try to approach it but to report any sightings immediately. And to keep an eye on their dogs and maybe get out the spike sweater.

(Sorry, the pictures in this story are worse than the ones of the coyote stuck in the car grill.)

A rescue group tried to capture it, but they never got the chance. They looked for that critter for several weeks, and although there were numerous sightings, they just couldn’t catch it.

Then Judith hit it.

Not on purpose, of course–no one wants to do that, but she was driving along on her way home from errands and it darted out from a median right into the path of her car.

She was understandably very freaked out by this–it’s terrible to hit an animal. But she was comforted by the cops who showed up and told her the animal was clearly suffering terribly from the mange. Didn’t make her feel 100% better, and didn’t prep her for the notoriety around town.

The story of the coyote’s demise made the supper hour news casts all the way up in San Francisco and the story showed up in the local papers too, of course.

Everyone was talking about the mangy coyotes’s demise; little did they know the person they were talking to and about was right in their midst. She’d be in the convenience store or the grocery store, even the local Starbucks, and for a while, the story of the mangy coyote and it’s fateful end was the talk of the town.

She tells me it still comes up from time to time as people recall those dark days of early fall two years ago, when a mangy coyote terrorized the streets of Danville and San Ramon, and met its mercifully swift demise.

And, just as she did then, she listens without saying a word.

For the record: Timmy was never in the well.

If you were to fall off the planet tomorrow, who would have to clean up after you?

None of us expects to leave our home in the morning and never come back.  But what if we didn’t?  What would someone find?

This is a reason to make your bed. And to take those clothes off the treadmill or chair or wherever you put them instead of the closet, and put them away–it really only takes a few minutes.  And clean the dishes in the sink. I mean what could be worse than a loved one or friend or, God forbid, a stranger coming into your home without you being able to utter “don’t mind the mess”?

Continue reading “For the record: Timmy was never in the well.”

It’s something to do with dead gophers….


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This one can read!

Have you ever been in a phase of life that found you taking a road trip, up or down or back and forth, on the same roads, over and over for a period of time?

I think we all probably have, whether that’s driving from the country into the city and back again, or vice versa, or driving between two cities for work, or even doing some sort of cross country trek to visit family or friends more than once.

It doesn’t really matter where that is in North America, chances are good everyone sees two things on these regular drives.

Continue reading “It’s something to do with dead gophers….”

Five albums to go, please!

When we were kids, there was one music store in town.  Mr. Hagedorn’s shop was right on Main Street, in one of those little, dark and crowded spaces that felt welcoming and homey, like going into someone’s living room.  And Mr. Hagedorn was always there, tinkering with something and ready to sell me the clarinet reeds I needed on a fairly regular basis.

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Driving the train

My mother doesn’t fly.  Never has, never will. She’s afraid of heights at every level. Airplanes, bridges, ladders–doesn’t make a difference to her–they’re all the same and she can’t do ’em.

That doesn’t mean she hasn’t gotten around (well, she’s 92 now, so her getting around days are kind of removed) but she’s managed to travel all over North America.

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Ten things to be grateful for…..

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A river running through the neighbourhood…..

This week on Facebook, a post came across my feed on Halloween; incidentally, I did not have any trick-or-treaters at my apartment, which was good, because I had no candy. I think children live in building as I have seen tiny bikes in the garage, but I can’t swear to it.  Maybe they belong to a grown up who just likes tiny bikes. Or a tiny grownup.

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The art–like the writing–is sometimes on the wall (or the street)….

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Van Gogh on view at MoMA New York

Whenever I go to visit another part of the world–even another part of Canada or the U.S. (because we all know how different the regions can be)–I like to to do two very specific things.

First, I head to a grocery store.  A big one–not a mom-and-pop shop, although those can be fun too.

I’m looking to see what people buy on a regular basis, and what I might try as well. Or not.

Continue reading “The art–like the writing–is sometimes on the wall (or the street)….”