About Rita Russell

Married for a very long time. Mother of 2 crazy twenty-something kids and 1 sweet yellow Lab.

My Very Own Carrie Fisher Flight From Hell

As has become our tradition, after the holiday crush and once we shipped the kids back to their prospective universities, my husband and I slipped down to Mexico for a week of sun and sand. And guacamole and margaritas.

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And it was needed. My husband, after a series of work setbacks and health issues, had morphed into Captain Miserable, Captain Doom and Gloom. Yes, he was certain the world was coming to an end and he was dying.

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No matter that I’m the one who just lost my dad a couple months prior,  and I’m the one who practically totaled my SUV while driving to a conference across town (the brakes failed and the SUV sustained over $16,000 worth of damage, but that’s another story)

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Nope, the Original Obnoxious One was experiencing the worst period of his life, so just before taking off, his family doctor prescribed some new medication to help improve his well-being. Initial indications were promising.

We arrived at our adults-only, all-inclusive paradise on its own private beach, just past the party scene that is Cabo San Lucas.  And the sun did shine and the water was blue and the food was delectable, especially the ceviche. And yeah, the margaritas didn’t suck.

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Until the third day.

By the third day, the meds kicked into overdrive and my dear darling husband could barely get out of bed. Captain Miserable blew back into town and he stuck around for a couple days until we figured out the culprit. Once he stopped taking the meds he began to improve, just in time to go home.

By then I had transformed into a stress cookie. I wondered if Captain Miserable was going to live? Would he be depressed and downhearted forever? Would he ever sort out his career woes or was I doomed to have him by my side, day after day, hour after hour, retired at only 55?! I considered every possibility in turn and agonized and worried and stewed over each. Because after all, that’s one of the things I do best…worry and stew and agonize. Just call me Chief Worrier and Caregiver of the World.

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We stepped on that plane after our week in the sun, tanned and newly svelte from not eating or sleeping. I had suffered from persistent acid reflux so hadn’t been able to choke down much food and Captain Miserable’s moans and groans and snoring kept me awake into the wee hours most nights. But I looked forward to returning home to our cold wet coast, and Franklinstein.

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I wasn’t hungry so I skipped the “meal” and went straight to the recent movie releases on the entertainment system while my husband snored not so gently beside me. Two hours into the flight I didn’t feel well. I felt like something was wrong, very very wrong. So I started googling my symptoms.

  • severe heartburn – check
  • chest pain like an elephant sitting on chest – check
  • pain running down arm – check
  • tingling fingers – check
  • dizzy & lightheaded – check
  • lower back pain – check

OMG I was having a heart attack on the plane just like Carrie Fisher?!

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Sure why not – what a way to start 2017!

I figured at this stage we were over California. Yep, let’s have a heart attack onboard a plane, land in Trump’s America (assuming they would even let us in) and kiss away our life savings to the American Healthcare System.

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Oh and by the way, my father and his father both died of a ruptured aorta aneurysm,  a rather rare heart condition which tends to be hereditary. I hadn’t been tested yet, so didn’t know if I was susceptible, but since I do have a blood disorder similar to hemophilia,  I didn’t want to take any aspirin. Ruptured aorta vs heart attack – what a choice!

My husband woke up and spoke with the incredible WestJet folks. Luckily for me, there was a doctor on board – poor guy! I managed to keep it together and not freak out or die before we made it to Vancouver. I did, however, cry and pray and promise to be a better person;  you will understand that this was not one of my better flights. To my supreme mortification and relief,  8 paramedics rushed me off the plane and drove us to the nearest hospital.

Several hours later they discharged me, after numerous pokes and prods and vials of blood and X-rays and ultrasounds…you name it, they did it.

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So what happened?

The blood enzymes indicated there had been no heart attack. The chest x-ray and ultrasound showed no signs of bleeding or tear in the aorta. So…

  • acid reflux?
  • angina?
  • exhaustion and stress?
  •  pinched nerve &/or damaged muscles?

Despite more tests and examinations the past few weeks by my family doctors and local specialists, we still don’t really know what happened. I had a very scary plane ride and a very stressful experience, but hey, I’m still here.

I’ve realized that sometimes I need to let go of my Chief Worrier and Caregiver of the World hat and relax – at least sometimes. So I’m back to exercising

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and meditating

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and hanging out with my dog.

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And Captain Doom and Gloom? He has a great new job and is happier and more relaxed than he’s been in years. Thank goodness! Now if I could only convince him to meditate, I know he’d feel so much better.

.

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I’ll have to get one of his clients to work on him – they usually have more luck than I do.

But you know, after everything that’s happened, it’s still a wonderful world just as Louis said.

Really!

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Somewhere Over the Rainbow

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Four months ago my father died.

Quickly and unexpectedly.

Dad was 82 and yes, he’d had a good life, but we all wanted more; after all, he was the healthy one, the caregiver for my mom. She’s the one with breast cancer and brain tumours and mobility issues. Dad was the blue-eyed jokester, the daily walker, the outdoors man, the artisan woodworker, and the artist.

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self-portrait Sad Clown

He taught me how to paddle a canoe silently and slowly, quickly and powerfully, forward, backward and side to side. He patiently, over a long period of time, taught me how to ride a bike. He attempted to teach me how to drive a car, but finally sent me to a professional for both our sakes. After many hours of instruction and practice I eventually passed the driver test, although to this day my husband and children don’t quite understand how that ever happened.

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He tried to teach me to fish but had much better luck teaching my son as I wasn’t fond of worms, his preferred form of bait. dad&alec.jpg

He taught me how to make the World’s Best Fudge from his super-secret recipe, much to my daughter’s everlasting delight – of course now she makes it better than I do.

Dad was the curious one, the one who read the newspaper all the way through, the one who watched the nightly news and discussed world events.

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He was master of the game – solitaire, bridge, cribbage, rummikub and more. grandpa-kids_0005-2

He was also the organized one who assembled  all of the pertinent legal and financial information, listed and annotated it and placed it in a small wooden box for safe keeping.

Dad was the magical dog-whisperer long before Cesar Millan claimed that title. When I was growing up in small town Ontario, Dad trained Sam and Piper, our two black Labrador Retrievers, to heel off-leash on either side of him and walk that way for miles. And when they came to a park or a field, he’d let them run but they always came charging back when he called. No treats were required – they simply wanted to please him. And there was no barking unless there was a darn good reason, like a stranger entering the house unannounced. Sam and Piper were followed by many other wonderful dogs over the years.

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Photo by Jaromir Chalabala/Shutterstock.com

Dad was the careful one who lived within his means and saved money for retirement and beyond. Way beyond. Yet he and my mom thoroughly enjoyed their lives together,
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and their many lunches and dinners out (neither one liked to cook).Tim Hortons was their favourite spot for coffee. And of course doughnuts. While money was never plentiful, they never ever complained about not having enough.

He was the one with the musical ear, who could tell whether the piano was in or out of tune when Mom’s piano students plunked and struggled their way through scales and exercises and sonatas.

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But now when I just won’t can’t do something – like clean up after my dog or move a heavy box  – who will call me Helpless Hannah?

And when my temper gets the better of me and I become cranky and angry – usually with one of my children for a very good reason – who will quote Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

There was a little girl,
            Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
            When she was good,
            She was very good indeed,
But when she was bad she was horrid.

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Or when I’m out walking dodging dogs and kids, who will say to me for no reason whatsoever,

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Fuzzy Wuzzy drawing by GH-MoNGo

I suppose this rhyme long held a special place in my dad’s heart as he himself didn’t have much hair after the age of 30 or so. Same with my husband…who knows what will happen with my son?!

Perhaps my husband and kids will  read this and perhaps they’ll take up Dad’s mantle. After all, somebody needs to keep me on the straight and narrow. Somebody needs to remind me to have a little fun every now and then.Somebody to tell me that this too shall pass.

In the meantime, I know that Dad is Somewhere Over the Rainbow, throwing sticks and balls for Sam and Piper and the other dogs, who are all ecstatic to be reunited with their friend and master.

Really!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wanna start a fight!

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I got a brand new attitude
And I’m gonna wear it tonight
I wanna get in trouble
I wanna start a fight

Ever have one of those days where you wake up feeling tired and grumpy and each and every little insignificant thing  morphs into a massive soul-destroying catastrophe.

And you wanna start a fight?

Things like…

listening to your husband’s snoring all night, every night

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having to stay inside and work on a long-awaited gorgeous summer day

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going into your bathroom and finding no toilet paper, the toilet seat up, your husband’s nail clippings on each and every surface of your bathroom, except in the toilet or garbage and wet stinky towels on the floor

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the way the dog moans and whines and looks at you even after you’ve fed him and he’s done his business outside

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discovering you have no coffee beans or milk in the morning and your usual routine includes 2 triple shot lattes

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learning that your daughter has been so busy working her four puny 6-hour shifts a week that she hasn’t had time to sort out a couple minor administrative matters that will allow her to graduate from university with good marks

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So you send the 5 second email on her behalf and are then livid with yourself for cleaning up her mess. Again!

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that critically acclaimed, multiple award-winning book you’re reading sucks swampgas – a technical term my kids use

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And you have a unwanted, unwelcome birthday coming up just around the corner, which everyone in your family will probably forget anyways

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Okay, so I had one of those days yesterday and rather than yell or kick the dog or hit my husband over the head, I decided to do something positive –  I decided to meditate. Yep, that’s right. I have officially gone over to that weird side – the one where the hippies (like my daughter) and the lazy dropouts (her friends) hang out

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as well as movie stars like Hugh Jackman and Clint Eastwood, celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Jerry Seinfeld and CEO’s like Arianna Huffington and Larry Ellison.

So this Terrible Awful Mother decided to do it – I mean there must be something to it if it`s good enough for all those folks. I should mention I have been attempting to meditate on a somewhat regular basis. But some days I don’t can’t find the time and some days I try but I can’t keep physically still, let alone focus my mind. Recently I’ve been working through Oprah & Deepak’s 21 day meditation experience called  Getting Unstuck: Creating a Limitless Life! Sounds good right? – I figure I could use getting unstuck and a limitless life sounds pretty darn amazing.

So yesterday I was determined to do it. I went into my office, closed the door and clicked on the guided meditation.

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I sat comfortably in my chair, listened intently to the discussion, got into the zone and repeated the mantra when…

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my husband, the Original Obnoxious One, kicked in the door, yelled howdy and shocked me right out of hard-fought focus

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And started to laugh uncontrollably and loudly. For a very long time.

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My response ?

Na na na na na na na, I wanna start a fight
Na na na na na na na, I wanna start a fight

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I hadn’t told the Original Obnoxious One about my meditation attempts because I knew this would be his reaction. And that he’d intentionally bother me during crucial zen moments. He just wouldn’t be able to help himself.

And he couldn’t. But as for me?

So what?
I’m still a rock star
I got my rock moves
And I don’t need you

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Yep, meditation works wonders for me! How ’bout you?

Really!

Song lyrics courtesy So What by Pink

Anything you can do I can do better

Irving Berlin wrote the song for the musical “Annie Get your Gun”, but I find  this video featuring the Chipmunks (courtesy ktCATSbone ) encapsulates the sentiments in a more meaningful, more relevant manner for today’s audiences.

Yes, Anything you can do I can do better has been a way of life for my family as long as  I can remember. Originally my daughter, the Hippie-Dippie Wildchild was the one trying to keep up with her older brother, The Obnoxious One.

Anything you can do I can do better
I can do anything better than you

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No you can’t

She tried to outdo him on everything, like Halloween costumes

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except I clearly won as the Wicked Witch 😉

and then declared she loved Killer, the dog, way more than he did.

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poor Killer doesn’t look too thrilled with either

My kids tried to outdo each other while on a beach vacation for the prize of silliest-looking and the best skin (after the mask).

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three-way tie

 

As they grew older their antics didn’t stop – just morphed into bigger and more ridiculous sibling rivalry.

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They competed to see:

who was the loudest and most obnoxious? – usually my son, The Obnoxious One but sometimes my dear darling hubby, The Original Obnoxious One won the hotly contested battle

who was the weirdest? – definitely my daughter, The HIppie-Dippie Wildchild

who had the better worst tattoo? –  my son’s was totally overshadowed

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The Obnoxious One’s Tattoo

by my daughter’s, much to my dismay as I am SO not a fan of tattoos.  Sorry folks.

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this tattoo was originally just the phrase from “Dear Prudence”, until she added the tiny sun. Sigh.

And food? When The Obnoxious One came home for the summer after his second year of university with severe sensitivities to gluten and dairy, the Hippie-Dippie Wildchild just had to become vegetarian and ultimately vegan to differentiate herself and outdo her brother. Preparing a healthy meal for the four of us became such a Herculean feat that I soon gave up – and cooked only for my hubby and I. After all, we’ll eat just about anything as long as it’s spicy and fresh and flavourful and homemade and …

By the way, after feeling sluggish and generally lousy for many, many months, the Hippie-Dippie Wildchild finally succumbed to eating seafood a couple weeks ago, and even some meat. Hallelujah!! ‘Cause it’s kinda tough being a healthy, energetic vegetarian, let alone vegan, if one doesn’t eat beans or nuts.

At all.

The latest? Years of competition, heated debates and massive arguments have been replaced with a bare-bones tolerance, a delicate truce between The Obnoxious One and the Hippie-Dippie Wildchild.  Almost. Although I never know when it will blow up completely

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and utterly.

But for now they seem to have found a new source of “fun”, a new opportunity to show off.  Now they compete to see who can buy the most ridiculous, most useless present for their dad,  a conservative business lawyer and senior partner with one of the largest law firms in CanadaAs mentioned in Our Very Own Goddess of Green, for Christmas the Hippie-Dippie Wildchild made a generous donation on his behalf to the British Hen Welfare Trust .  The Original Obnoxious One is now the very proud sponsor of Sky and Sparkle, two thankful British hens who are enjoying the great outdoors for the first time ever .british hen stuff

This lovely donation is the gift that won’t stop giving, because every couple of months he receives something quite lovely, such as this beautiful notebook and two charming greeting cards

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and this fascinating update on Sky and Sparkle’s return to health and happiness

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aren’t they handsome hens!

as well as this informative magazine.

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I do have to wonder though if the postage to send these fine items from the UK all the way to Vancouver BC costs more than the original donation amount?!

For Father’s Day not only did my son The Obnoxious One come home for a great 10 day visit from London, England (first time we saw him since Christmas), but he managed to snag a delightful Father’s Day gift for The Original Obnoxious One. This gift was so thoughtful and so relevant that the Hippie-Dippie Wildchild just couldn’t resist checking it out herself.

 

At the end of the day I just can’t imagine why my children are so competitive and try so hard to outdo each other. Perhaps it’s in their genes. Way, way back in the Dark Ages their father and I met at university in a second year Philosophy class in Logic. Every week the prof gave us quizzes and of course we always checked to see who received the better mark.

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I did of course!

Really!

 

When I’m Sixty-Four

I’ve been obsessing over numbers lately. Yes, it’s a C.P.A. thing (my other profession), it’s tax time, and it’s also spring.  You see during the past month or so:

  • my dad celebrated his 82nd birthday

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  • my son turned 23 far away in London-town during exams

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  • my daughter, the Hippie-Dippie Wildchild,  much to our horror became legal everywhere when she turned 21
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  • my husband, The Original Obnoxious One, reached the grand old age of 55IMG_0415
  • and my hubby and I celebrated our 31st wedding anniversary
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So I am feeling rather tired from all that celebrating and a little…ancient.

 

Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m sixty-four?

Also The Original Obnoxious One and I saw Sir Paul McCartney in concert when he passed through Vancouver in late April. There was a lot of press and social media about the fact that Sir Paul is 73 – for good reason.

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courtesy thebeatles.com

He was incredibly energetic and funny and warm and of course, a Musical Super-Power. I’ve never seen him in concert before so this was quite the thrilling experience for me. A great big tick off the old bucket list.

But back to the ageing thing.

When I get older, losing my hair
Many years from now,
Will you still be sending me a valentine,
birthday greetings, bottle of wine?

About 18 years ago I had laser eye surgery; I was extremely near-sighted so afterwards this meant I could see clocks and computer screens and drive without peering through 3 inch thick lenses . It totally changed my life for quite awhile.

But then I turned 50 – ouch.  I actually needed reading glasses – purchased from the local drug store – to read the newspaper at night. And then during the day. And then to read anything at all. But I’m not the only one.

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The Original Obnoxious One and Franklinstein

And I even have bifocal sunglasses for reading outside!

Sigh.

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Shhh! Don’t tell anyone those are reading sunglasses.

Recently while walking Franklinstein in the woods not far from where we live, I ran into an old colleague, a girl from back in my C.P.A. articling days. We walked and hiked together, chatted up a storm.When I whined about turning older and becoming near-sighted, her response was:

Look Rita. Yes, I need reading glasses too but here’s the thing. In the morning when I get up and look in the mirror (sans glasses) I think I look amazing – no wrinkles, no grey hair on my head and no hair on my legs.All is good!

Of course the reality is just a wee bit different.

My friend does have a few wrinkles – after-all she has 2 boys roughly the same age as my kids and has been married for almost 30 years. She does have quite a number of grey hairs on her head as her hair is naturally quite dark and she doesn’t dye it. And she does use reading glasses for absolutely everything.

So then I felt a bit better – someone else was suffering just like me!

You’ll be older too.
Ah, and if you say the word,
I could stay with you.

Except I don’t have the issue of grey hair, because I have very expensive blonde highlights in my mousey brown baby-fine hair. Hairy legs – shockingly yes whenever I put on my glasses and look at them. Otherwise who knows?!

And the drug store near me carries all kinds of cool and colourful reading glasses for folks like me – I should know because at any given time I have at least 4 at the house. One pair for upstairs, one pair for downstairs, one sturdy  pair for reading in bed and one floater pair.

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courtesy peepers.com

And by the way,  The Original Obnoxious One also has several pairs of readers lying around the house, and at the office and in his gym bag, and in his briefcase.

Most of the time I don’t really think about the whole aging thing. I’m active –  I walk Franklinstein whatever the weather and we dance together regularly,IMG_1431 (Edited)

I do Pilates, I  eat healthy for the most part and I smile. A Lot. Except when I don’t. Like when I’m reading or concentrating or writing. That’s when The  Original Obnoxious One lets loose with his own unique brand of obnoxiousness.

Each and every evening.

Rita, what’s wrong? Smile! You look sad..or miserable..or angry. Be happy!

Here’s the thing. Nine times out of ten I am happy. I’m not miserable or sad or even angry – unless someone in my family did something incredibly stupid.

Again. You know who you are!

But l do have wrinkles (a couple)  and gravity does weird things to my face.

Okay, I confess, I have RBF – Resting Bitch Face.

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RBF

Get over it!

Really!

 

Lyrics of When I’m Sixty Four courtesy thebeatles.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh the Places You’ve Been

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courtesy Oh, The Places YOu’ll Go by Dr Suess

Somehow you’ll escape
all that waiting and staying
You’ll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing

When my dear darling husband, The Original Obnoxious One, suggested we travel to Japan, I agreed  with one caveat – we had to spend several days afterwards at a totally chill beach resort. And since we were already halfway around the world in Asia, the place I chose was this:

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We had stayed at a Six Senses Resort a couple years before in Vietnam and it was magical. What’s not to love – architecture in harmony with natural surroundings, private villas complete with private plunge pools and butlers, incredible fresh local food, sustainable water and waste practices, and prices not as steep as you’d think, especially in the off-season.  The Six Senses Samui in Thailand did not dosappoint not one little bit, not when the main pool looked like this:

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And the view from our bed looked like thisDSCN0860

Even though the weather was hot and it was humid, which we usually find unbearable, somehow, we managed to survive. We had lattes in the morning  – not Green Eggs and Ham – and Sex on the Beach – the drink – in the afternoon.We dined on the hill, DSCN0925

we dined on the rocks,DSCN0872

we dined wherever and whenever we could.

And it was heavenly.

We wandered along the resort’s private beach,
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we swam and we kayaked in the clear turquoise waters,DSCN0863

and we talked to the wonderful locals who worked there – our butler, our servers, our housekeepers. Those hardworking folk were always smiling and happy and laughed at my hubby’s silly jokes and catered to our every whim as we started the long and challenging process of unwinding. My iPhone even died so our daughter couldn’t reach us to complain and shriek about the cold weather or her lack of friends at school or her courses or any other earth-shattering issues.

It’s opener there
in the wide open air. 

But it wasn’t all fun and games you know.

Nope, not for us.

I put The Original Obnoxious One to work and enrolled him in a Thai cooking class at the resort. All that chopping, all that tasting, all that sauteing – quite a demanding proposition, especially combined with the gorgeous outdoor setting.DSCN0885

Surprisingly enough he got more right than wrong, so the slave-driving chef gave her love, thumbs-up, grudging acknowledgement.DSCN0883

In the end The Original Obnoxious One somehow created such amazing culinary delights and was so proud of himself  that he became almost insufferable, and rather…obnoxious! DSCN0887

To this day I have not heard the end of what a great “cooker” he is.

Next I decided The Original Obnoxious One required a serious tune-up, an arduous physical transformation, so I forced my reluctant hubby to undergo the dreaded Thai Signature Treatment, which just happened to be for two people. At the place of our doom

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courtesy Six Senses Samui

we were presented with white cotton pajama-like tops and bottoms for our own protection. No oils. No aromatherapy. Just damn hard work.  For an entire hour each of us submitted to the battle-hardened warriors who thrashed and pummeled us. Those tough veterans poked our muscles, stretched our limbs and contorted our bodies into poses never seen or even imagined before . And yes, it was extremely scary – at least for The Original Obnoxious One who moaned and whimpered and screamed yelled screeched over the course of the daunting procedure. When the horror ended my hubby thanked the sweet little Thai ladies professional masseuses and proclaimed the treatment the best massage of his life.

With banner flip-flapping,
once more you’ll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

Now it was time for him to torture me – a happy marriage is all about equal pain and suffering compromise after all. So he dragged me on several treks around the island, along unfortunate garbage-strewn beaches (yes, really)DSCN0895

roads choked with mopeds and trucks and fascinating colourful temples.

And after those terrifying forced marches we enjoyed our home away from home that much more – well at least my dear darling husband certainly did.10580943_10152713416644400_2647866384709508617_o

And sure enough,  The Original Obnoxious One finally found his long-lost mojo .DSCN0890

Until the next time we return. We met some Brits who spend a couple months suffering at this same spot year after year. Ahh…to be so lucky! In the meantime we’re planning a trip to Portugal in the fall, and I’ve found the perfect Six Senses there. Really!

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. There are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.

 

 

 

 

Green Eggs and Ham

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courtesy Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss

After several days of massive Tokyo crowds, illegible city signage, non-stop neon lights and those high-tech multi-functional washlets with heated seats, we escaped to the countryside. As mentioned in my last post, Oh the places you’ll go my husband, The Original Obnoxious One, made all the travel and accommodations arrangements for this trip to Japan – or rather his people did. After speaking with friends and colleagues he decided we should stay at a ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn. Ryokans are generally located in scenic areas, near mountains or water, and feature tatami-floored rooms with foldaway futons, communal and private baths, elaborate multi-course meals and multiple rules and regulations.

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Our first stop was the Aura-Tachibana in Hanoke, an easy two hour train ride from Tokyo. And the Japanese train system is amazing – clean, efficient and relatively affordable. But once we arrived in that tiny town and started to look for our ryokan, we couldn’t tell left from right or up from down. Yes, we had detailed instructions multi-coloured maps but…

jeg

courtesy iclipart.com

After bumbling around for an hour or more we dragged our bags and carry-on items up the steep hill, around a couple hair-pin twists to the Aura-Tachibana. By the way, our Japanese is almost non-existent despite what The Original Obnoxious One likes to believe, and the receptionist’s English was very, very rudimentary. After 30 minutes of trying to communicate, the most we could understand was that we could leave our bags at the front desk but couldn’t check in to our room for several hours. We even phoned our super-duper problem-solving incredible travel agent back in Vancouver. She yelled at the local ryokan rep in English with a heavy Mandarin accent  (we could hear her across the lobby) but was ultimately unable to convince them to let us stay.Why? We never did figure that part out.

What to do and where to go?!

We meandered back down the hill, through the town, to the river where we had a lovely view of a couple of homeless guys washing and urinating. 018b36c0ceaa3289a8d94304340fc9a61f4615205c

Of course it was Sunday so very few stores or restaurants were open. Apparently Hanoke’s claim to fame is its hot springs, natural beauty and view of Mount Fuji. We couldn’t find any vistas in or around town of Mount Fuji and the homeless folk  were not exactly naturally beautiful. Maybe our hotel accessed the hot springs for its communal baths?! But Hanoke is close to Tokyo so it provides a quick and easy get away for families and couples. Especially couples. 😉

Basic RGB

courtesy clipart.com

After walking around in circles for a few hours we climbed back up that mountain and were shown to our room. We were one of the lucky ones there, with our very own private hot tub and view of that same river we had now come to love.015389d32a64abb9823faea18f36cc8d0f4e615f8f

My husband was a little more adventurous and actually ventured out of our room in order to soak in the communal hot springs and baths.

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The Original Obnoxious One heading to the baths – doesn’t he look cute?!

Somehow the thought of parading around naked, with my (mostly) blond hair and mottled menopausal body towering over of a bunch of cute little Japanese ladies did not fill me with joy and pleasure. So I stayed in our room and studied the official instructions of how to behave and what to do and not do.

But the fun was just beginning. As the only non-Japanese folk at dinner and breakfast the following morning in the large dining room, we weren’t the least bit nervous or uncomfortable until we were presented with this and this.ryokan breakfast

Okay let me confess something right here, right now. I will generally try most any food most any time most any where except at breakfast. Yes, it’s true – I am a wimpy cowardly breakfast-eater! Give me cereal and milk or yogurt and fruit or eggs  but that’s it. Plus of course a latte. I will travel miles and miles for a latte in the morning – just ask my most patient parents.  A regular boring cup of coffee just doesn’t cut it. I know, I’m spoiled but I blame it on the never ending rains here on the wet coast, November through March.  The Original Obnoxious One is much more accommodating – if its edible he’ll eat it, regardless of colour, texture, etc. Imagine my unmitigated pleasure upon gazing at this adorable delicacy at 8am :

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Dried Horse Mackerel – even the name is “interesting”

Those eyes hypnotized me and not in a good way. But  I did take my chopsticks and attack  this fishy fish and made it look like I sampled the delights when in reality I tried to remain calm – I only screamed and gagged in my imagination! In fact, at that moment I sympathized greatly with this character:

i do not like

courtesy Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss

Just exchange green eggs and ham for fishy fish and jam .

I survived only to relive much of the experience again in our ryokan in Kyoto, the Hiiragiya, minus the delayed check-in and homeless absolutions. At least in Kyoto breakfast and dinner were served in our room by our very own geisha-girl/butler,

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Ahhh…where to begin.

so no one else had to observe my attempts at poking, prodding and fumbling with chopsticks. There were a few more choices so I could avoid the fishy fish for breakfast. And I could find a latte close to our hotel without too much trouble. Plus our dinners were absolutely exquisite in appearance.

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and tasted pretty good.

i will try

courtesy Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss

The Original Obnoxious One was in heaven – he loves this kind of stuff. But he was most proud because the staff congratulated us several times on having the best room in the ryokan –  the best because it had the largest private bath.

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There was also another large room with a long counter and double sink.

Of course the beautiful views of the private courtyard  and gardens didn’t hurt. In fact the Hiiragiy Ryokan was quite a special place – small and intimate, run by the same family for six generations, beautifully maintained and centrally located.  And it has even been updated with modern amenities like wifi. Once I got past the morning menu terrors, I really enjoyed wandering the street and lanes of Kyoto – lots to see, especially in the old part and even the most touristy sections were gorgeous and fascinating.

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But I will say that I was rather relieved to leave Japan for Hong Kong and then Thailand, where I could anything under the sun for breakfast, including eggs!

i like green eggs

courtesy Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss

Really!