Monday, August 12, 2013

10 days on the Road: Random Observations

It is true. Every word of it.  People from "down east" are the friendliest people in Canada. I'm certain also that with this fuzzy friendly warmth one enjoys little privacy at the same time.  We would be having a meal and planning out the next leg of the journey, only to be overheard and joined in our conversation whether or not we had asked for any advice. It is endearing and alarming at the same time.

We went to a McDonalds in Vermont to have a coffee. Every person in the building was morbidly obese except one really old man and a little boy who looked to be about 2. Those Big Macs looked so tiny being consumed by such large people. My body image and self esteem skyrocketed for about 15 minutes.

Americans, as it turns out, are pretty nice people. I have come to realize that it is not their fault that they are so ignorant about anything outside their own borders. I realize now that it is really the big American machine that I don't like: "We're the world's super power and we don't really have to care about anyone or anything else". That trickles down to everyone who lives there but has not had the benefit of an education about anything beyond who and what they are.  Sort of like brainwashing. It is actually quite sad. And while bigotry and hatred manage to exist everywhere, it is easy to see why it can be so prevalent in the absence of education. Just smile, wave the flag, sing God Bless America and DON'T ASK ANY QUESTIONS! All that said, it is too easy to mistake a $20 for a $1 because their money is all the same colo(u)r! It was fun, but I'm glad to be on my own side of the sandbox again.

Everybody thinks Quebec drivers are the worst.  I beg to differ.  When one is barrelling at crazy speeds along the highway on two wheels with nothing beyond a millimetre of leather for protection it is also true that one becomes hyper-aware of the actions of those on four wheels with whom we must share the road. Ten days, three States, four Provinces and 5,000 kilometres later and the verdict is in: Ontarians are the most selfish and narcissistic drivers I have seen on the roads anywhere. In the States, the Eastern Provinces and even Quebec for the most part, everyone drives in the right lane on a two lane highway, and they use the passing lane for... get this... PASSING! It is a thing of beauty to watch how smoothly traffic flows.  Return to Ontario and everything changes.  On a two lane highway, EVERYBODY sits in the passing lane, including the blissfully oblivious moron who is doing 90 in a 100 zone.  Everybody behind him is road raging and getting angry, riding up his tail perilously close, flashing high beams and I can feel the temperature rising on the pavement. Finally giving up, everyone screeches into the empty right lane, racing up a few car lengths and cutting someone off to get back in the passing lane. It is the whackiest phenomenon I have witnessed.  I think "Canada's Worst Driver" should focus on Ontario.  When there was road word and one lane was closed in Nova Scotia, everyone merged nicely, each one let one in and the delay was minimal. The same lane closure in Ontario has idiots racing up the shoulder to cut in, because god knows they had somewhere important to be that HAD to be more important than where everyone else was going.

The Cabot Trail is a completely disappointing experience on the back of someone else's motorcycle.  Now, I guess I should be grateful that I was able to see this stunning little corner of the earth, but I did not have the opportunity to experience it. Unless you're a motorcycle rider this probably won't make sense, but half of the joy of the journey is experiencing the curves and turns. As I sat on back and mostly looked at my own reflection on the back of a big black helmet, I imagined how awesome the riding must have been, but I didn't experience it.  All that way, and I did not get to ride the Cabot Trail. This will count as one of the biggest disappointments of 2013.  On the bright side, fresh lobster and crab was an amazing experience! Repairs to re-build a clutch are, apparently, universally expensive.

Restaurants are over rated. I love eating out when I've been cooking all week, but I couldn't eat out every day.  I like my food the way I like it. When I want it. In the quantity I want it.  And, I don't care if I don't have french fries for the foreseeable future. Talk about an over rated food group!

Waterproof and water resistant sound very similar.  They are not at all.

For all the beauty I witnessed in three States and four Provinces, it occurs to me that Ontario, when seen with the fresh eyes of someone who has been gone for over a week, is about as beautiful as any place I've been. However, Bradford is as dumpy looking as the day I left. What's with our downtown? Can't anyone afford a few cans of paint?

I'm glad to be home. Until I am restless again.....

Friday, June 14, 2013

Signing off....

I read some one's post on Facebook that Nelson Mandela died today. Hmm? Really? I mean, I'm pretty connected to the world by this iPhone of mine. Alerts sound when there is breaking news on CBC; I'm on twitter off an on all day... how could I possibly be so out of the loop?

OMG Nelson Mandela is dead, I said aloud sitting in the basement on the computer. Andrew, who spent some time in South Africa last fall, said "I have to call my friends there and see how they are". Lauren looked like she was going to cry.

But as soon as I said it I realized it didn't seem right.  So I checked I opened twitter. Nothing. I went back and found the link on FB and clicked on it. It lead to a retraction on the Deutsche Welle website.  "Retraction: Nelson Mandela 14.06.2013 - We regret that due to a technical error our report of Nelson Mandela's death was unintentionally published. It has now been taken down".

It had not really occurred to me, but I guess it makes sense that every media outlet on the planet has the story ready to go save and except the actual time of death.

As often occurs, this indent caught my attention in the quirky way that things do, and I 'googled' the phrase "reports of my death...." to discover the misquotation of Mark Twain:"the rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated", when in fact, he said, in response to the first inaccurate account of his demise in 1897: "the report of my death was an exaggeration". There would be a second report of his death in 1907, well in advance of his actual death in 1910. 

There is a website which lists premature obituaries and there are quite a few! Many people I have never heard of have apparently died before they died. As well, George H.W. Bush, Joe DiMaggio, Fidel Castro, Dick Cheney and Barrack Obama must have just about choked on their morning coffee when reading the paper only to discover they were, apparently, dead.

The most amusing to me was reading that text messages circulating of Baroness Thatcher's death almost had Prime Minister Harper issuing a statement of condolence, only to discover that  Baroness Thatcher was Minister John Baird's cat.  Lady Thatcher did not leave us until 8th of April this year.

So off my mind goes, taking this in two completely different directions:

First: It is obvious but bears repeating. Do not believe everything you read on the Internet.

Second: (This is the big one). Not that I'm well known, but in the event that my obituary was being written in advance, ready to go live on the Internet at the moment of my death, what would it say? In other words, am I living a life that I am content not to have to defend -  because I really can't  -  when I'm gone? Can I stand behind every word and every action? Was I true to myself? Did I have integrity? Lord knows I have not led a perfect life, and I have no illusions that there will be people who say "Oh my god, she's dead - that's terrible" as well as "Oh my god she's dead; hmmm what should we watch on TV tonight?"  If I wrote my own obituary and tucked it away to be found after my death, would anyone recognize me through my words? Or would my self perception be out to lunch? I have written about this from a slightly different perspective a while back, and it is amusing to me how the lessons I need to learn most keep making themselves obvious to me in the most roundabout of ways.

Self examination: It seems to happen every time I feel changes coming. It's almost like I have to keep checking on myself so that when the page turns to the next chapter, I have it all together and I move forward as a whole person, with determination and a clear mind. I have no idea what it is, but I feel it and it leaves me edgy, and needing to re-group.

When Nelson Mandela does finally leave us, the world will be a different place. It will be sadder, but better because he was here.

Will the world be a better place because I was here?

Friday, May 10, 2013

It has been a while....

I just realized that I have not written a blog entry for over a year. No wonder I'm messed up! I'm happiest when I'm creating and somehow, somewhere along the way, part of my creative being has atrophied for lack of use.  This isn't good. It must be addressed.
The challenge is that I'm sitting here staring at the ugly blank screen and I can't think of a single thing about which to pontificate in the way I love to do.
In the meantime, I'll just rant for a few minutes, perhaps inspiring me to come up with something worthy of the energy.
One of my greatest fears: atrophy - of my mind, my spirit and my soul.  I need to find passion again. I'll be back, better than ever. And then beware.
In the meantime, at least I got the juices flowing again.
Sooner than later.. may it be so ;)