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60 years together

My family celebrated my grandparents 60th anniversary this past weekend.

I’ll give you a minute to let that sink in:

60 years

Are you there yet? Comprehended how many years – how many DECADES – that is devoted to the same person. That’s 10 years more than double my entire lifetime!

To celebrate, my grandparents and their 6 children and their 6 spouses did a tour of our hometown stopping at each and every place my grandparents have lived in. My grandparents moved to my small hometown right after they married. They chose it almost arbitrarily as it was a central location for my grandfather’s job with the railroad.

It’s insane for me to think that they chose this town for nothing more than the convenience of its location when the town has become so much more to our family. Both of my grandparents were heavily involved in the community; my grandpa was on the school board and my grandma was once named “Mother of the Year” in the local paper. Today, a lot of my family still live in this small town and they are all involved in the community. My cousin coaches a hockey team, another cousin referees soccer and my aunt has been an integral part of the Relay for Life event held every year. For those that don’t live in town, myself included, we still visit as often as possible and keep up with the news through the rest of the family.

As a town that means so much to my family, it’s hard to imagine a time when we weren’t a big part of its history. But, it seems that time exists and my grandparents have just built their lives in a way that most people don’t remember it.

After the tour of their past homes, the “grown ups” joined the grandkids for dessert and celebration (I say grown ups because a good portion of my grandparents’ 16 grandkids are adults now). We sat around eating cake and talking about the past 60 years. My aunt brought a large box full of newspaper clippings. Apparently, my grandma has saved every newspaper photo and article that featured anyone in the family and quite a few that featured others not in the family. She had even saved clippings of my aunt before she had even started dating my uncle and become part of the family – it’s like my grandma KNEW!

I saw the newspaper photo of my mom in the prom court and read my parents’ wedding announcement. My brother’s hockey tournaments were all there along with my sister’s skating competition wins. I read my birth announcement and the article that the local paper ran about the play I was a part of in Grade 4 (I played Jiminy Cricket in an adaptation of Pinocchio).

It was really cool to be able to go through these old memories, some of my own and many of them not, with the rest of my family. But, it made me wonder, what will I sift through with my grandkids on my 60th wedding anniversary?

We live in an age of blogs and Twitter and YouTube and self-publishing. It’s cool to think of what it will be like to revisit these mediums of record with the next generation. Will we be trolling the Library of Congress‘ database to find tweets I sent? Will my grandkids one day read this exact post? Heaven forbid will they read something else I wrote that’s less-than-impressive and slightly embarrassing?

Thinking too hard about this may make me reconsider that tweet I sent about my solution to cleaning chocolate chips off the couch. But, I don’t plan to think too hard about it and just enjoy the idea of following my grandparents’ example and spending 60 years with someone I love.

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Planning for vacation is *almost* as much fun as the vacation itself

The days are booked off and the flights are paid for. It’s official, Matt and I are finally getting a chance to travel together.

Matt and I both love to travel and we’ve been very fortunate to have a lot of opportunities to do so. But, we’ve never had an opportunity to travel overseas together.

In fact, for the first year of our relationship, we were both so good at traveling on our own that we spent 6 of those 12 months apart. I spent 4 months in India and he spent 2 months gallivanting around Europe.

But, it seems after 6 years together, our time has come to upgrade our road trips and camping adventures to a vacation involving an airplane! We’re off to the UK in June and I couldn’t be more excited. We haven’t solidified our plans beyond the flights, but we are tentatively planning some time in London and then we are probably going to head to the Scottish highlands.

London is Matt’s favourite city of all time. He has visited a number of time with his family and on his own and he is super excited to be going back. I’ve never been to London and I’m really looking forward to him showing me around.

As for the Scottish Highlands, we kind-of, sort-of arbitrarily chose this area of the UK because of this:

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Why, yes. That is indeed the Hogwarts Express from Harry Potter. It’s a real steam train ride you can take through the Scottish highlands and it is supposed to be breathtaking.

We haven’t totally settled on the plan to go to the Highlands to take this train, but it’s pretty high on the list of things to do. This itinerary would also give us an opportunity to hike Ben Nevis, the highest point in the UK. That hike would be totally reasonable and not exhausting or terrifying at all.

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Whether we stick to the Scottish Highland plans or head off to Wales or Ireland, I don’t think it really matters. Whatever we decide to do will be awesome. But, if you have any suggestions of places to go in the UK, send ’em my way!

Let’s try this again

I had an adventure today.

This past week was a big fat disappointment in the realm of Mother Nature. She had us all excited for spring and the first flowers were beginning to come up and the snow was all gone and then BAM! we were whomped with another blizzard. It snowed and snowed and snowed some more while everyone double checked their calendars to confirm that it is indeed the end of MARCH and not, I don’t know… FEBRUARY. Apparently, Mother Nature lost her calendar. Or, maybe there was just an especially attractive Mr. February and she never switched over to the less-than-stellar-Mr. March.

If this was the case, I completely understand her hesitation.

Regardless of what Mother Nature was thinking, we had snow and it was (hopefully) the last snow of the season. Instead of moaning and begrudging this climate conundrum (as I had complained plenty throughout the week on such subject), I went tobogganing.

I think if more adults went tobogganing, they would have a lot more respect for children.

Here are a few things I noticed on this toboggan adventure:

  • Holy crap it’s scary. It was never that scary as a kid. You are hurtling your body down a slope with nothing but a flimsy piece of plastic between you and the hard, icy ground. There are so many opportunities for disaster, it’s shocking there aren’t more toboggan-induced deaths throughout the winter.
  • Getting up the hill is WAY harder when you’re an adult. Kids seem to fly to the top of the hill as if all of the sugary hot cocoa they’ve been drinking has magically given them wings. Adults, on the other hand, slowly trudge up the hill huffing and puffing and regretting that sugary hot cocoa they drank because having it sit in your stomach is only adding more weight to your load.
  • Snow is not nearly as thirst quenching when you’re an adult who just conquered the Snow Mountain of Doom and Terror as it was when you’ve just had the fastest, bestest slide of the entire day.

Despite all of this – perhaps because all of this – tobogganing as an adult is just as fun (or more so) than it was as a kid.

P.S. I know it’s been 6 months since I’ve posted. I decided to take a bit of a break but I think I’m ready to come back to the blogging world now. I may not post as frequently as I did a year ago, but the time feels right to start writing again so, let’s try this again.

My family can dance harder than your family (but probably not better)

Excuse me…. is this thing on?

OH! Hi there. Long time no chat. I wish I had some awesome reason why I’ve been MIA these past few weeks. I wish I could tell you it was because I went on some awesome last minute vacation to Maui or because I joined a roller derby league and got my hands smashing in and can’t type. But no. I have no good story. It just got really hot and I got tired and sitting with my heat-emitting-computer on my lap to type up posts was less appealing than eating a popcicle. In my world, popcicles are not to be eaten in the presence of electronics. In fact, it’s best to eat them over the sink or outside.

But, I do have a few exciting tales to tell of the past little while.

This past weekend my big brother tied the knot with his long-time high school girlfriend. They have been dating for 10 years and they are absolutely perfect for each other in the way that OMG she will put up with all of your annoying tendencies and she’s awesome! Marry her! Don’t let her get away!

The wedding ceremony was in my parent’s backyard and it was absolutely perfect. The reception was at the vineyard that neighbours my parents’ place. They recently built a reception hall there and it was also perfect.

The days leading up to the wedding were full of mani-pedi appointments, tux rental fetching, MC-prepping (my sis and I MCed the event) and calming my mother down. The morning of the wedding found me in my parents’ backyard at 8am with unbrushed teeth and still in my pajamas setting up 168 white chairs around the “wedding tree”. Now, this sounds like a horrendous time but considering my cousin (the best man)’s insistence that we all start the morning with “WEDDING HIGH FIVES!” everyone was actually in a good mood and it all got set up in less than an hour.

My brother stayed pretty calm throughout the day and save for some time spent pacing through the house, he held everything together.

The ceremony was beautiful.

The reception was a blast. My family likes to party and this wedding was no exception. I did a Russian jig with my cousin’s new man, I watched my aunt and uncles have a dance off to Michael Jackson’s Billy Jean and I attempted to two-step with my cousin with minor success as neither of us really know how to lead.

The night closed out and I walked back through the vineyards to my parents’ house and the party continued on the back deck. I called it a night at 3:30am but I’m told that my dad, sister and cousin didn’t pack it in until 5.

I’m still recovering from that night. I think it will take another week to be rid of the aches and pains that come with dancing your butt off and and I think I need another few night of sleep before I feel “fully rested”.

So, what has everyone else been up to? Anyone joined any roller derbies?

A little less summer-y than summer should be

I love summer. Who doesn’t really? Do you ever hear anyone say “You know, I’m not such a big fan of summer.”? No. Because everyone loves summer.

But this summer has seemed a little lacking.

Yes it’s been hot. Yes it’s been sunny and yes I’ve worn my fair share of summer dresses. But, for some reason, this summer doesn’t feel all that summer-y to me.

I think I’m still adjusting to this whole real-world, grown-up phenomenon in which you don’t change jobs for the summer. I’ve been in my current job for 2 years now and I started pretty much right out of university. Despite this, sitting in the same cubicle in July as I was in March seems strange to me.

Prior to this whole real-world, grown-up biz-nass, summer meant a change of pace. Summer meant school was out and camp was in. It meant I woke up and put play clothes on instead of school clothes. It meant hours walking fields looking for bugs. Summer meant going to the beach on weekends and catching up with old friends.

Now, summer means putting on the light-weight skirt instead of the darker more fall-appropriate dress. It means open-toed wedges instead of tasteful pumps. Lunches are spent escaping from the frigid air conditioned office to the patio where you can shirk your cardigan and bare your shoulders.

For me, this summer has been lacking the dirt and grit that I grew up with. All through high school and university my summer jobs were outside jobs. I was a camp councilor who would marvel at that fact that I was being paid (albeit not much) to have sponge wars with 8 year olds and to mediate ice cream sundae eating contests – “whoa! That was a spoon-use violation! 20 second penalty.”

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When I wasn’t working at summer camps I had jobs in agriculture outside in the field. I drove around in a truck, walked through soybean fields scouting for bugs and disease. I dug up roots and identified weeds. I chatted with farmers and quickly changed from the pop to the country radio station before pulling into a farm house. I helped plant research plots and raced around on an ATV mapping fields of seed corn.

Before the real-world, grown-up biz-nass came knocking, I spent my summers with dirt under my finger nails, grass stains on my shorts and my hair pulled back in french braids.

I don’t miss it all. I love my job and the work that I do in that cubicle totally makes up for the fact that I’m in a cubicle. I love that I can sport coloured nail polish not to hide my dirt-stained fingernails but because I think it’s cute. Now when I get a tan, I know I’m not going to see it wash off in the shower as it wasn’t a tan at all just a fine layer of dirt.

But, I do miss it a little bit.

I hope to get some of it back soon. We’re heading to Matt’s family cottage in northern Michigan for a weekend. I plan to spend a great deal of time reading on the dock with my SPF 45 but I also plan on getting sweaty paddling the canoe and sandy in the dunes. I hope I get to see some of my tan wash off in the lake and I plan on sporting a french braid at least one afternoon. I also won’t shy away from a few grass stains or an ice cream sundae eating contest.

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a Wedged Bear in Great Tightness

While I was reading before bed the other night, Matt skulked around the apartment on the hunt for something to read.

Unlike my love of respectable series, Matt doesn’t read a lot of fiction. He reads a lot of what I would consider history textbooks. But this evening, his biography of Hitler just wasn’t cutting it. So he traipsed to the bookshelf to find a book and eventually plunked down beside me.

Within no time, he was interrupting my reading with laughs. I roll over to find him reading an old Winnie the Pooh book. The section he was finding so amusing was when Pooh was stuck in Rabbit’s front door. This was his favourite part:

“Bear began to sigh, and then found he couldn’t because he was so tightly stuck; and a tear rolled down his eye, as he said:

‘Then would you read a Sustaining Book, such as would help and comfort a Wedged Bear in Great Tightness?’

So for a week Christopher Robin read that sort of book at the North end of Pooh, and Rabbit hung his washing on the South end…”

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Now this little excerpt would not be as important had I not read the following headline in the Globe and Mail, one of Canada’s most prominent National newspapers the next day:

Bear with head stuck in jar eludes wildlife officials

Apparently in Northern Ontario a young bear got his head stuck in a pickle jar. Now, my immediate reaction was to laugh but truly this must have been a very scary ordeal for the bear. He couldn’t eat or drink.

Wildlife officials were looking for the bear to try to help him get unstuck.

Fortunately, there was a new headline yesterday:

Jarring ordeal over for bear whose head was stuck

Apparently the wildlife officials never found the bear but a canoeist found the jar in question with claw marks and tufts of fur inside. The bear, it seems, found a way to escape.

My only hope is that this bear had someone to read him a Sustaining Book, such as would help and comfort a Wedged Bear in Great Tightness while he was stuck in such a pickle.

Duck parades and cotton fields

This past week I had the great opportunity to travel for work. Now, I know that for some, traveling for work is all about the hassle of airport security and small bottles of shampoo but I don’t travel for work that often and those shampoo bottles are still a novelty I stuff in my bag anxiously awaiting for the hotel staff to replenish the counter with new ones (I swear, they appear like magic!).

This wasn’t my first work trip but it was certainly an exciting one. I was off to Memphis, Tennessee for a whorl-wind tour of press conferences at the Peabody Hotel and farm tours in Arkansas (I work in agriculture, yo. Have I told you that before?).

For me and my vanity, the most challenging part of the trip was figuring out how to pack. I was only gone for 2 nights and 3 days and I was traveling with a group of people. Therefore, I didn’t really want to have to check any luggage. I envisioned myself waltzing into the airport with my carry-on and whizzing by all those schmucks waiting to get their bags checked.

But as many seasoned travelers know, there are rules about traveling with liquids, aerosols and gels. What would I do about my HAIR PRODUCTS. I was going to MEMPHIS with curly hair in the middle of JULY! I need several products to calm my frizz on a regular day, how would I manage with soaring temperatures and 80% humidity!

I scoured the pharmacy shelves the night before I departed desperate for a hair solution that would meet the airports 100ml bottle restrictions. I ended up settling with some sort of scrunching gel product for curly hair. For a girl who swears by the volume-enhancing and touchable outcome of mousse, this was most definitely a second-rate product.

But, when no one else in my group checked luggage, I was relieved at my prudent hair taming choices.

We arrived in the birthplace of Rock n Roll with little fanfare. The farm tours took us across the Mississippi River into Arkansas and it was a real eye-opener to drive through some of the small towns there. Small town-Arkansas seems to really be struggling with lots of failing infrastructure and boarded up homes. It made me ever more grateful for how good small-town Ontario has it.

In seeming direct contrast to the trials of rural towns in Arkansas was the green fields of cotton, soybeans and sorghum and the blinding lights of Memphis.

The conference was held at the Peabody Hotel and although we stayed in a very nice hotel down the street, the Peabody was truly spectacular. The hotel’s main attraction is the ducks that swim in the fountain in their lobby. Every day the ducks parade in on a red carpet after taking the elevator down from their home on the roof at 11am (I wish I could sleep in till 11). I was lucky enough to watch them parade out at 5pm as they walked the red carpet home for the evening.

Apparently the whole duck thing started back in the 1930s when 2 men were out hunting. Back then it was legal to use live decoy ducks and after a bit of Tennessee whiskey they decided that it would be more fun to place their live decoys in the Peabody fountain instead of bringing them home to the farm. The prank didn’t have the outcome they expected when the ducks pliantly stayed put and hotel guests oohed and awwed.

I joined past generations and did my own oohing and awwing as the Duck Master led them home. Yes. The Duck Master. That is a job that exists in real life.

I was also lucky enough to spend some time on Beale Street in the evening and enjoy a pint while listening to a live blues band. To be honest, Beale Street wasn’t quite what I expected. It had more of a college party vibe and less of the sophisticated blues vibe that I was expecting. Either way, it was pretty weird for me to be legally drinking a pint in the middle of the street. I kept looking over my shoulder expecting the cops to come shut the street party down.

Fortunately, I left the city with no police record and our flights home were equally uneventful.

I’m excited about more travel opportunities for work. I would really like to see more of North America. There are so many places in both Canada and the US that I would love to visit!


Hi There!


I'm Claire. I like to write about ridiculous things.

I love chocolate but don't think cheese and cake belong together.

I often wish it was socially acceptable to wear glitter before 10pm.

If you want to chat, email me at clairesuzanne1 at gmail dot com.

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