Monday, December 30, 2013

#179. or, The Clock is Ticking!

  I'm trying really hard here, not to be THAT guy.

  You know that guy. The one who goes on and on incessantly about something he gets to do, while the rest of you are left to suffer in your day to day lives.

  But I'm weak. And if I don't tell somebody, I'm probably going to explode, and that would be unpleasant. So I'm going to tell you, and imagine that you've all just shimmied your asses onto the edge of your seats, leaned ever so slightly, closer towards your screens, and are thinking, "What Ken?" "What is this news that has us all atither?" 

  OK, honestly, I know I'm lucky if you're here blurry eyed, on your 3rd cup of coffee, trying to get through your blogroll in your underwear. But I'm imagining atither, so roll with me on this.

  My winter holidays are less than a month away, and I get to escape this frozen wasteland I call home! (That last sentence used to be all caps, but I went back and changed it because I'm trying to show a little restraint here.) Also, I may or may not have dug my kids' used up Advent calender out of the trash, refilled it with the left over Pot of Golds, Scotch taped the windows shut, and put a palm tree sticker on the 25. 

  I'm a bit excited about this.

  My wife and I, along with young son, are jetting off to Cuba toward the end of January. Because there's nothing like 8 months of winter to make you dream of visiting one of the 5 remaining communist countries left in the world. Actually, it turns out, Cuba is in fact, quite the popular tourist destination for Canadians. And I won't be visiting with any political agendas, but rather, for the rum, cigars, ocean, sun, and sand. Roughly in that order. Also, I may have just pee'd myself a little bit there, imaging myself partaking of all of those things simultaneously. don't need to concern yourself with that.

  I have this countdown app on my tablet that's been ticking down since I started it, back in frickin October. And like the fireplace channel on the TV somehow mysteriously makes you feel all warm and cozy on the inside, some nights I've laid awake in the darkness, while my family slept, counting down the seconds, dreaming of dancing the Salsa and conversing in perfect Spanish with the locals.

  Unfortunately, the extent of my Spanish is "hola", and even though I have taken Salsa lessons in the past, I seem to lack the ability to move my body in rhythmic unison to the music. My hope is, that if I'm ever called upon to actually do the Salsa in a public setting, any retained knowledge I have on Salsa-ing will spontaneously manifest itself, and I'll be hip-swinging-ly awesome. Not to mention irresistibly sexy. In my imagination, that's how it's going to go down. Rum may play a part in helping me achieve that.

  Nonetheless, the clock is running, and barring mechanical failure or weather related flight delays, when the numbers hit zero, I'll be thrust back into my seat as the pilot pushes the throttle of the plane to maximum, to achieve cruising altitude. Then I'll tuck in my elbows to eat my cellophane covered airline breakfast with plastic cutlery, and enjoy my thimble full of complimentary champagne as we jet off to a communist paradise.

  It's so exciting!

Wheels up in 26 days.  Because it's fun to say wheels up!

  Until then though, there's much to be done. I have to try on all of my beach shirts, make room in my humidor for new cigars, figure out which flip flops I'm going to take, and see if I still fit into my shorts. I suspect, after all of the turkey, ham, and gravy I've consumed over the last week, there might be an issue with that last item.

   I may need to get onto some sort of emergency weight loss schedule to fit back into my shorts, along with building up my tolerance to Rum. Because after all,

  ...........the clock is ticking!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

#178. or, Christmas Eve

  I'd have to say I'm ready. Well, as ready as I'll ever be. Other than a little wrapping that I'll finish up today.

  I did manage to get some of my outside lights up, and even if most of my cords and displays are still in boxes, the yard does have a decidedly festive feel to it. There's been shows on TV, the last few weeks, about the Christmas Light Wars and people who go all out with bigger and brighter displays every year. One of the things I've noticed is, the majority of those displays are where most of the light stringing is done in t-shirts and sandals. I didn't have that luxury, so I'm taking a pass.

  My shopping was done last week. Earlier than usual, so I'm ahead of the game in that regard. I like to do my own wrapping, but I responded too quickly to one purchase, when I thought the girl behind the counter was going to ask if I wanted a bag, but asked if I'd like that wrapped instead. I didn't have the heart to stop her from finishing the job, so I guess I'll just add some ribbon and a bow, and call it an effort of cooperation.

  Last night my wife received simultaneous texts from the 2 older boys asking what we wanted for Christmas, so I'm not sure what's going to happen there. Some people thrive under pressure. Last day Christmas shopping is something completely different.

  Nobody's sick! That's nice. Last Christmas was the Christmas of the vomit, but as we went to bed last night, we were all in good health. It's always nice when you're able to actually taste Christmas dinner. Looking forward to that this year.

  The thing I wanted to mention was, I watched A Christmas Story last night. I didn't get to see it last year, and for me, there's just something about that movie that makes it Christmas. I know it took place in the 40's and I grew up in the 70's, but so much of it reminds me of being a kid. The coal furnace in the basement, the heavy wool winter jackets and pants, the wringer washer in the corner of the kitchen. Things that aren't integral to the movie, but still catch my eye. 30 years before I was a kid, but I know all of that stuff.

  I remember there just being toys under the tree. Nothing electronic. We had a TV. It got 2, then 3 channels. And as I sit here writing this, a memory just tripped that the TV always worked better when the tree was up. It brought the humidity up in the living room up enough that my dad didn't have to get up out of his spot, walk across the living room, and smack the top of it, open handed, to stop the vertical hold from rolling across the screen so he could watch the CBC news.

  Sometimes, I wonder if my kids have a memory like that, buried deep in their brains. Just sitting there, waiting to be triggered by some nostalgic show. Some distant thought or event, that will remind them that their mother and I did our best to make their Christmas's as good as we could. I hope that those spots in their brains aren't used up memorizing patterns on how to navigate their way through virtual worlds on some game console.

  Hopefully those memories are there. Because Christmas is a time for memories. Old ones as well as new ones. And for what it's worth, along with the hustle and bustle of the season and trying to make everything perfect, it's the time of year that I remember my childhood more than any other. My childhood, my kids childhoods, and hopefully one day, the childhoods of my kids children.

  Because to me, that's what Christmas is all about.


Thursday, December 12, 2013

#177. or, I Need to Get On That.

  Hi, my name is Ken, and I'm a procrastinator.

  It's the 12th of December, and I don't have my outside Christmas lights up yet. There's no good excuse for it, other than it's Winter, and Mother Nature has chosen to hurl down Arctic hell and fury upon us. But as a Canadian, I believe somewhere, deep down inside of what I am, is hidden the expertise to survive prolonged temperatures well into the negative side of zero. Along with an ability to continue using my hands productively, long after my fingers have been reduced to little more than frozen stumps that have no real value, other than making my wife scream when I get into the house and try to warm them up by sneaking up behind her and slipping them into the back of her pants.

  That never ends well.

  But I haven't seen any sign of that evolutionary mutation in myself for quite a number of years. Unless, of course, you count ice fishing. Because if you include that, I turn into a guru of the cold, and can feel the gentle nibbling of a trout on a lure, at the end of 20 feet of 8 pound mono-filament fishing line hanging off my index finger, while sitting on an empty 5 gallon pail, on 3 feet of ice, at 25 degrees below zero. Apparently, putting up Christmas lights doesn't trigger that hidden talent.

  So, my wife has given me the ultimatum, if you don't get those fricken lights up by the end of the weekend, you might as well not even bother putting the damned things up at all! I'm paraphrasing there. She might have used slightly more colourful language to emphasize the urgency of the situation. And while the merits of that notion did, in fact, briefly drift through the icy caverns of my mind, it was quickly blown out of there by the next impending blizzard warning, on my Weather Network phone app.

  Truthfully, it's not like I haven't been thinking about it. Getting the Christmas lights up is one of the places I've been trying to go to when I'm laying awake in bed at night thinking about the crashing grain prices, or all of the snow I need to dig out of the corrals before I can sort and sell my calves. Then I recall, because I don't really take the Christmas lights down till May when the snow finally melts, and I see they're still laying out there, that the puppy ate the ends off of pretty much every extension cord I use, and all of those need to be fixed before I can start. Maybe it's all of the work I need to do prior to being able to put up my lights, that is preventing me from diving into that project.

  I'm a bit of a fan of grand, energy sucking, Clark Griswold-esque, lighting displays. It makes me feel all warm and cozy inside, and sets my heart aglow with the Christmas spirit. So I suppose, it's time I dig out my extension cords, try to salvage anything still usable, and start doing up my yard.

  Yesterday I began where I always do, by plugging in the giant star on the top of our grain tower. And as night fell, and I peered out the window through the falling snow to see how it looked, I saw that there are just enough bulbs burned out on the thing, that it more resembles a giant glowing flat tire than it does a Christmas star.

  That means I need to climb the 100 foot ladder with a bag of bulbs and replace those as well. Except, it's blizzarding right now, and it's pretty damned cold up there. It's supposed to warm up on Sunday.

  .........I think I'll start then.