Saturday, 15 October 2016

Safe or Sorry?

“Let’s take the trailer out for one more run before we kiss camping goodbye for another year,” I suggested to the RS.  “Let’s go to Tofino.”

Tofino, on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, is known for many things: fabulous surfing beaches, whale watching tours, funky ambience, good restaurants. Mild temperatures year round. At this time of year, tourists begin arriving for storm-watching season,  but that was not our goal. We wanted a quiet, relaxing time with lots of beach walks and reading

So we packed up and took off on Monday this week. It was a beautifully sunny day. Although the road to Tofino is twisty and narrow with lots of ups and downs, the trip was uneventful. The set-up took hardly any time at all. The campground had all the amenities, including wifi, was well treed and fronted on the beach. We walked there and watched the sun go down and congratulated ourselves on this good idea.

Day Two: another beautiful day. Another beautiful walk, this time around the lighthouse at Ucluelet. The interpretive signs told of storms and shipwrecks galore, but the sea was calm and blue. Ah, yes, this was the life.

Later that evening, we checked our e-mail and facebook. Uhoh. “This doesn’t sound good,” I said to the resident sweetie.

Announcements bordered in red, with lurid neon lines on weather maps, spelled out trouble. The remnants of Typhoon Songda were headed our way, and would be most felt on open West-facing coastlines. That's where we were.

We could expect winds gusting up to 100 km./hr. and 200 mm of rain over the next three days. There would be three storms, each becoming more intense, with the first hitting us on Wednesday evening. Anything not tied down would be prone to flying about, tree limbs might fall, and of course, there would be power outages.

Suddenly, this trip did not sound like such a good idea after all. We went to bed in a somber mood, and my sleep was disturbed with  dreams of downed power lines draped over our trailer ... or worse.  We were ready to pack it up early and get out while the going was good the following day. Actually, we were ready to run away from possible danger.

We are realizing, as we get older, that we are more aware of danger all around us. Just driving out to the Coast, pulling a trailer over narrow winding roads, is dangerous. Taking a walk on the beach or along an interpretive trail can be dangerous too.

The danger has always been there, but perhaps as we age we are becoming more aware of our vulnerability. Our instinct is to retreat, to run for safety. Don’t take a walk on that trail: a bear was sighted there a month ago.

Don’t climb on the rocks, you may twist your ankle. Don’t camp in the forest, a tree may fall and hit you. These are all very real possibilities – small chances, but real possibilities -- and as the saying goes, “Discretion is the better part of valour.”

Yes, but ... Unfortunately, each time we run away, our world becomes a little smaller. We won’t take the trip, we won’t sign up for the new activity, we won’t reach out to people we don’t know, or who are different from us, because, after all, we could get hurt.These experiences could spell danger.

In the morning, before packing up, we took one last walk on the beach -- the beautiful beach blessed by a rainbow.

We looked at each other. Hmm. Almost at the same time, we said, “Let’s tough it out.” We want to live in a world that holds challenges and surprises. There may come a time when our camping and traveling days will be over, when we won’t have the energy and resources to deal with challenges and surprises. But, hopefully, not for a while yet. Right now, we will tough it out, and enjoy!

Which is what we did. We weighed our choices, and opted for the challenge. We accepted the risk and hoped for the best.

The storm Wednesday night was much less severe than predicted, and on Thursday we had a great time walking on the beaches, outrunning the waves that smashed up on the shore, climbing rocks, and dodging the sporadic rainshowers. We watched surfers throw themselves into the waters, reveling in the excitement of trying to stand up on a board. We were happy campers.

Thursday night, the second storm hit, and it hit hard. It knocked down trees, one of which fell on top of  a camper’s car, knocked out power, turned tent poles into a pile of spaghetti.

The possibilities had become real. (But, we slept through most of it and emerged unscathed!)

Friday, we went home.

Did we make the right choice when we decided to tough it out? We think we did, but others would think differently.  What would you have done?

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Far from Perfect

The winter storms have come early. Late in the afternoon yesterday, we were battered by high winds and huge bursts of rain that rattled our windows and lasted all night long. It was a good evening to stay inside.

It was not a good night for the plants, however.  This morning, when we drew back the curtains, we saw the devastation. The dahlias and sunflowers that were still brightening our fall garden were bent and broken.

The sunflower was a goner, laying flat against the ground. This was very sad. It had had a hard life. We planted it in the wrong place to begin with, up against the house wall. It struggled to find enough water to thrive, and during the early summer, we pretty well wrote it off. It was hiding behind some climbing beans, and we forgot it was there. But lo and behold, when the heat of August arrived, it grew ... and grew... and grew. Early in September, we roped it to the downspout. When we left for a two week trip, it had reached the roof. When we came back, it had stretched its bonds and was leaning out over the grass, its many floral heads held on curved stems, stretching out and reaching  for the sun up above. Both the RS and I became the sunflower’s cheerleaders. We jerry-rigged a support structure to prop it upright, and found stronger, unstretchable ropes to hold it there. Its stem was now thicker than my arm, and its top was covered with dozens of buds and flowers.

In the secret language of flowers, sunflowers stand for happiness. That’s how we felt every time we saw it. You go, girl, I said.

But now, the storm had knocked out the supports, and the stem had toppled, pulling out the roots.
What to do?

This is what I did:

The bouquet of bruised flowers joins the last of our produce: imperfect apples and tomatoes not quite ripe. And all quite lovely.
 Sure, the flowers were battered and bruised, with torn petals and twisty stems. But together in that vase, if you didn’t look too closely at the details,  they created a bouquet that will brighten our Thanksgiving table. A perfect rose standing alone in a silver bud vase can’t compete with this gathering together of colour and vibrancy.

As I picked each twisted stem and put it into the vase, I admired its tenacity and thought about how much these happy flowers  can teach us about life. We are all of us a bit battered and bruised and torn up. We’ve had to struggle against adversity, and had the opportunity to grow and become stronger for it. Some of us even now are trying to stay upright as we fight the good fight. And yet, each one of us, with our scars and imperfections, is beautiful. Together we can bring joy to the world and to each other.

And for this, and for so much more, on this weekend when we celebrate Thanksgiving day here in Canada, I give thanks. For all of you, beautiful flowers in my garden, for all the crooked people trying to stand upright, for all the far-from-perfect people who surround us in our communities, who are willing to come together to be more than we are individually, I give thanks. Thanks a lot!

Here's Raffi's simple and yet beautiful song of celebration for all things:

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Crossing the River

We live in a home across the street from the Puntledge River, a river that flows out of glacier-fed Comox Lake and down to the Salish Sea. It’s an important, salmon-bearing stream; we can hear it roaring when the windows are open,  and we walk beside it almost every day. We love that dear old river.

Opa and Solay like to fish at the river. This photo was taken several years ago. They still like to fish there.
In our wills, we have  opted for cremation and let our kids know about our wishes. “It would be nice, however,” we told them, “if you used some of your inheritance money to buy a bench or plant a tree beside the Puntledge River in our memory.” They agreed. All in the future, which, we hope, is still long, long away. But one never knows. We all have to cross that river sometime.  What if the future arrives sooner than we think?

Our kids are wiser than we are. This summer, in celebration of our 45th anniversary, most of them came home for a hangout with Mom and Dad. They planned  the day and the meals for us – it was lovely. On the schedule was a walk at Nymph Falls Regional Park, a lovely rambling forested space criss-crossed with walking, biking, and horse trails, and fronting on the Puntledge River. A walk by our favourite  river, what could be better?

The little ones ran on ahead, followed closely by their parents, and the RS and I strolled behind, counting our blessings. We rounded a corner, and saw a strange sight: the grandies and a couple of their parents had created a human bench for us to sit on. A little presentation had been planned.

“We’ve been thinking about your bench by the river, the one you want after you’re gone,  and we thought you might want to choose the wording for a plaque now, before we pick it out for you,” said the oldest son. Knowing my family’s sense of humour, this was not a bad idea.  “Sit down and we’ll show you some possible wordings.”

He held out possible signs:

Wet Paint. 
Not exactly inviting.

Come unto me, all you who are weary, and I will give you rest.
True, but  sacreligious.. This bench is not Jesus.

(a rude Dutch expression, which cannot be reprinted. Absolutely not.

From here, you can watch the river’s downfall. 
Thumbs down: This bench is not meant to be a tourist guide.

For instructions on sitting, please see Comox Valley Manual 3.674
Yeah, right. I don’t think so.

In loving memory of  Al and Jessie Schut.
Aww, sweet! But perhaps a trifle boring?

And finally:

Feels so good to have a snuggle with a person that you love.
Ah, that’s more like it. This is a line in a song I have sung to my grandkids since they were very small. I told my kids I wanted it sung at my funeral, but maybe a plaque on a bench would do just as well.

I believe in snuggling. It’s a very healthy thing to do. The resident sweetie and I, in fact, both love it. Google tells me there is a saying by Virginia Satir, a respected family therapist, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.” We aim to surpass maintenance.

We agreed they could put this wording on our “memorial bench” by the river when the time came. Then they sprung another surprise on us: they’d all pitched in, got additional contributions from Al and my siblings, and our bench would be built NOW. The future had arrived sooner than we expected. Delightful!

The other day, the RS and my sister Sue with her husband Bob, went down for a walk to visit “our” newly installed bench. We sat and had a snuggle. We are thrilled.

It’s waiting for a visit from you, dear readers, too. Come sit and have a snuggle while you still  can. The future is now.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Unravelling Words

Warning: this is another “wordy” blog – exploring word meanings. If this sounds to you about as exciting as watching paint dry, you can stop reading now. Just tell yourself the crow has flown off into the wild blue yonder and you aren’t in any mood to follow.

The other day, in conversation with friend, I used the word “revelatory” (rev-e-la-tor-y) twice within a very short time, as in, “My summer was actually quite revelatory.”  Whoa! How pretentious of me! (Fortunately, my friend did not wince, roll her eyes, or turn away to find a more compatible conversation partner. Pretty revelatory of her character, I’d say.)

I wondered if  revelatory was even a word. When I got home, I looked it up. Yes, it’s a word. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, revelatory means  “making something known : revealing something in usually a surprising way.” Apparently, it was first used, but not often, in the late 1880s; now its use is increasing.  Maybe we’re living in a society where there are more mind-blowing, revelatory occurrences? Or maybe we just like using big words more. According to my friend Google, in the list of 86,800 most commonly used words in the English language, revelatory clocks in at 51,931, right after Nescafe and just before waterbus. Most popularly used word? The. Least common of the 86,800 words: Conquistador. (

Sorry, I’m running down rabbit trails, misleading you. Bad habit. Pretty revelatory of my character, I’d say. I’m like the dog that walks faithfully beside you until a squirrel runs past her.

Actually, thinking about creating a blog about the word revelatory has come around and bitten me in the derriere. I’m the person who was ranting a number of blogs ago about people using the word “utilize” when when the simple word “use” will do. Flashing the word revelatory around is pretty pretentious and pedantic – or pompous, in plain English. Oh, dear, I am like the crow who collects shiny things and caches them in a safe place, only I am collecting fancy words. Those shiny things are not very helpful to the crow, and big fancy words are often not useful if simple words will do. What is wrong with the word “revealing”, I ask myself? Revealing is a good serviceable word and will get the idea across without raising eyebrows.

Except ...  there’s that use of the word “surprise” in the definition.

Surprise – that little shift in the way you look at things that suddenly lets you see them in a new way. It’s a change in perception. For instance, I’m sure the RS looks in the mirror at least a few times a day, but earlier this week, he walked out of the bathroom and told me, with surprise in his voice, “I’m realizing that we are really getting old.” The mirror that usually revealed the common, everyday version of himself, suddenly became revelatory.

And revelatory was the only word that would do when I was looking at a photo that someone posted of me on Facebook.  Do people really see that when they look at me? Aghg. I thought after I lost those 30 pounds a few years ago I was well on the way to being svelte. Apparently not.

Revelatory is a good word when someone comes out with a Freudian slip. A Freudian slip is when you mean to say one thing, but something different comes out: you want to say another but out comes your mother. These slip-ups are revelatory of what’s living in your deep sub-conscious. Since this term was first described by Freud, you can guess that often Freudian slips pertain to sex: you say ‘brightest and breast’ rather than brightest and best; wish someone a sexcessful adventure instead of successful; ... well, I’m not telling you about my Freudian slips, they are way too revelatory.

On the other hand, “revealing” is perfectly adequate in many other situations.

Speedo swimsuits on overweight – well, actually, any weight – men are revealing. No surprise there.

Ditto for low cut blouses, skin-tight short-shorts, curtainless windows at night, and an interview with Donald Trump: revealing.

The dress I bought on impulse because it looked so good on someone else? When I tried it on at home in a better light, in front of a full-length mirror, oops. Way to revealing of my varicose veins and not-so-lovely knees. Not good. I keep it as a reminder of the dangers of impulse shopping.

Revealing and revelatory: both good words, depending on what you want to say. Personally, however, I enjoy a good revelatory experience once in a while to shake me up a bit, and I realize that I actually did have a revelatory summer. I got shook up a bit, and that’s a subject for another blog.

Conclusion: writing about revelatory was a revealing experience. In the future, I should be using “revealing” and “revelatory” in their correct contexts. No use complexifying things.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Not so Rich and Famous

Well, I finally did it, dear readers. After publishing 135 blogs and chugging away at CrowDayOne for three years, I signed up for a workshop on blogging to find out how it’s supposed to be done. When I first started this blog, I was flying by the seat of my pants, and really, it’s still a wild ride every time I sit down to write. Maybe I was missing something?

The ad for the free webinar course showed up on my Facebook page, and I couldn’t resist. The young man who was giving this talk  had grown his blog readership from zero to a zillion (okay, I exaggerate) in just 18 months. Wow! Imagine that! He said we could do that, too, and he’d tell us how for free. We could even sit in our jammies in front of the computer during the presentation. Technology is amazing, isn’t it?

It was a good presentation, and I learned a lot. Not just about blogging, either.

I learned that bloggers need to have a platform – the foundation on which you stand, and from which you speak. It’s what really engages you, and what you want to share with the world. The teacher named 5 common platforms, and hey! I recognized myself in one of them: the Artist. The artist has a love for beauty, and tries to find it everywhere. She wants to open her audience’s eyes to the beauty, too – the beauty in nature, in relationships, in personal growth, and so many more life arenas. So I’m an artist! Who knew? Well, I guess I have known, but sometimes it is hard to name the thing you are; it seems somehow presumptuous. But of course it is not. You are who the Creator created you to be.

 Life Lesson One: Claim your name. Be who you are.

Next: I learned that if I was willing to do the work, I would see the results. I too could have 100,000 readers, said the teacher. He listed the tasks: build an e-mail list, follow and interact with other, more famous, bloggers; network with them, offer to do guest posts;  give away something for free (like webinars). In other words, knock, knock, knock on every door, and if the doors open, walk on through. Hmmm.

So far, I have done very little of the work to increase readership. Why not? There’s this little niggling voice in the back of my head that says, “Answer the question, Jessie. It’s important.” And so I have been noodling about it as I went about the daily grind this week: vacuuming, canning, laundry etc. What is it that I really want in life? Why do I do what I do (in my case, writing a blog almost every week)? Would “success” make me happier, or would it unnecessarily complicate what I already have? I began blogging to fulfill a dream and to give myself a challenge; I often feel compelled to write, and consider it a calling. Is that good enough? Whew, these are hard questions but worth wrestling with. Who knows what seeds I am planting as I struggle with these questions, seeds that will sprout and grow – in my life, and perhaps also in yours, too.

Life Lesson Number Two: Avoid avoidance. Answer the tough questions.

The third point my webinar teacher  presented was the money angle. He quoted Walt Disney: “We don’t make movies to make money, we make money so we can make more movies.” In other words, it’s okay to turn your love into your life’s work, and it is not grubby to ask money for the thing that you have that others want. (He then proceeded to try and sell us an on-line course that would help us, too, become full-time bloggers with a zillion readers, books to sell, and fame and fortune, a bargain at only $200. I didn’t buy it.)

I agree with him: it’s okay to ask for money. Some websites and blogs are amazing, and if someone works hard to put it together so I can learn and grow, I’m willing to pay for it. But speaking personally, I don’t need to be paid for what I do. In fact, I do not want to be paid for what I do. At this stage in my life, I’ve found that it’s all about giving things away – possessions of which I have too many, and a bit of  rudimentary “elder’s wisdom” that I’ve accumulated over the years. I think that if you’re a person of a “certain age” you’ll know what I mean. Giving brings its own joy and that is reward enough for me. 

Life Lesson Three:  Do what you love first of all. All else is a bonus.

I signed up for a webinar on blogging, and ended up learned lessons about life. As we Canucks say, "Beauty, eh?"

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Harvest Gold

This summer is moving way too fast for my liking. The flowers are beginning to die, and there’s a lot of dead garden waste in the compost. Decay is in the air.

We had our last meal of peas last week, and the pea vines are destined for the compost heap.
 But, there’s a good side: it’s harvest time.

Take our zucchini. (Yes, please, take them.) Why do we do this to ourselves? Have we forgotten the utter boredom of trying to work our way through half-a-dozen baseball-bat-sized Zees in other years? Sigh. Time to get out the Zucchini Cookery Book (copyright 1978, when Z was the new exotic wonder food.) Its cover proclaims, “Buried in Zucchini? ... if you try all our Wilderness House recipes [70!], you will use 93 pounds of Zucchini.” Oh, goody.  I don’t care what exotic name you call it – Zucchini Gazpacho, Zucchini Salerno, Zucchini Mousseron – it still all tastes like zucchini to me.

Then again, it’s part of the harvest. I love that word. It conjures up all kinds of memories. When I was a little girl, harvest time on the farm meant that crews of neighbouring farmers circulated farm to farm to help each other bring in the harvest.

 It also meant a whole lot of extra mouths to feed  on threshing day, and there was a fierce competition amongst the neighbourhood women to see who could provide the best meal. The men, hot and sweaty, would give themselves a quick wash outside under the pump before sitting down. Bowls of potatoes and vegies, pickles, roasts with gravy, and applesauce circulated; plates were heaped high.

We kids were waiters and watchers; this feast was not for us until after everyone had eaten their fill. And everyone knew that the highlight was yet to come: pie. Raisin pie, apple pie, lemon least three different kinds. My mom and her friend were awfully nervous  – they knew only simple Dutch cooking.  Would their meal meet with approval? They probably didn’t realize that every other woman on the circuit was asking themselves the same question, and every man around that table was revelling in the best meals they’d probably get until the next harvest rolled around.

Another memory that’s associated with Harvest is canning. The RS has been hovering in the kitchen this week, watching me canning up a storm. He’s scratching his head, commenting, “You’re working too hard. It’s hot. Why are you doing this?” “I’m enjoying it,” I tell him cheerfully. (I know my man: he’s feeling guilty, because “it’s too hot to do anything today”, and so he’s watching the Olympics. I let him stew in his guilt juices – I’ll get something good out of this! Maybe even dinner out.) He watches me a bit longer, then a light dawns: “You’re writing a blog, aren’t you?” My man knows me, too. Busted. Goodbye, dinner out.

When the children were younger, when I was a full-time homemaker, I used to preserve boxes and boxes of fruit – peaches, pears, cherries, applesauce. It was what you did to feed your family. Mom did it too. How eagerly we waited for the call announcing that the peaches were ripe in the Niagara Peninsula. Our family squeezed into the Volkswagen early the next Saturday morning to make a day of it. We’d do fun thing in the morning, have a picnic, and then it was time to do some serious buying. One bushel at full price – peaches that could last for a few days, for mom to can after the weekend. And one bushel of cheap, cheap "seconds": falls, bruised and almost overripe. Mission accomplished, the Volksie headed home FAST, my sister and I slurping on peaches in the back seat, juice dribbling all over. Those cheap “reduced for quick sale” peaches were deteriorating by the minute, and mom had to get them canned that very evening. I have memories of sweat pouring off mom’s brow and steam filling the already hot kitchen, as bottle after bottle emerged from the canner, later to be lined up on the basement shelves and consumed with pleasure all winter long.

I don’t can every year, but the garden has been productive this year, and truly, I do enjoy it. There’s an element of nostalgia, I’m sure, but there’s also the satisfaction of knowing that our food is not going to waste. We planted those seeds and tended them with care. Now it’s time to carry the harvest over into the winter months. With every mouthful, we will remember our blessings. I love seeing all those bottles lined up on the shelves: pickled cucumbers, beans, and beets; peach chutney; 3 kinds of jam. And more to come. What bounty!

“You know, I think we’re in the harvest years of our lives,” I comment to the RS when he comes back to see if I’m STILL working. He grunts. “Now you’re getting heavy,” he says and quickly scuttles  back to the den, to the safety of the Olympics, before I can begin pontificating his ears off. I guess you, dear reader, could do that now too, if heavy is not your thing.

But if you’re still reading, let me explain. In Backyard Parables, gardener Margaret Roach writes about the stages of her garden, which parallel the stages of life, starting with Conception, in January–February, when you order seeds and make plans, and Birth, as the first green shoots  push through the soil. Youth comes next, when everything grows so fast. In the season of Adulthood full potential is reached. And then comes Senescence, which signals that the cells are beginning to die. Decay begins, and that could be a real downer, especially in life which is not as vigorous as it used to be. Good news though: it is accompanied by the joy of  harvest. At harvest time, all the work you’ve put into the garden – and into life – is coming to fruition.
The garlics (70+ heads) are hanging up to dry for winter storage.

and with tomato sauce yet to come...

Some plants – and some parts of our life – aren’t all that productive. But here and there you will find evidence of abundance, beautiful, complete, and awesome.

And abundance? Well, that’s harvest gold, better than any Olympic medal. That’s worth celebrating.

Saturday, 30 July 2016

A Lesson from the Princess

When you get around to shaking the family tree, sooner or later out tumbles a  “character” – the unique family member that makes you laugh out loud or shake your head in despair, someone like Calvin in the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes, or Rumpole’s wife Hilda whom he called “She Who Must Be Obeyed.” Family characters have a way of making you sit up and take notice. You feel more alive, more challenged, more on your toes in their presence.

I have just finished spending 10 days with a little Schut family character. We’ll call her She Who Will Be Heard. As the youngest of three girls in a very busy, focused and vocal family, this six year old has learned to express herself in no uncertain terms. She has strong opinions on food, clothes, and people, and isn’t afraid to voice them. “That’s weird,” she says, looking at a highly-tattooed woman sitting beside me. “Why would someone cover their bodies with tattoos, Oma?” With arms akimbo and eyes flashing, at least once a day, she tells the world, “That’s not fair!” – and often she’s right. It’s just not fair that the bigger kids can run faster and be better at games than she is. If she could rule the world, things would be different. Because not everyone listens when she speaks, she’s gotten into the habit of leaving little notes around the house with messages or questions, such as, “Why do boy rock stars have long hair?” and a list of fat-free foods such as marshmelows, and tree top gumys (I think she was creating a menu for the family!) She Who Will Be Heard suits her exactly, but we’ll call her Princess for short.

She is six-going-on-16 where smarts are concerned, and she has her Oma wrapped around her little finger. Oma knows it, but Oma’s heart is captured, so she’s helpless. Well, you'd be in love with her too if you found this note on your pillow when you woke up from a nap:

Besides, Oma has also learned that if she listens to this little one, she will learn lots.

Seeing the world through a six-year-old’s eyes is a distinct privilege. The basic premise on which my princess  operates goes like this: WOW! This world is exciting! HEY, LOOK! HEY, LISTEN! (But not necessarily to adults who shout commands and warnings.) HEY! LET’S TRY THAT! (Which is why the adults are shouting commands and warnings.)

Last week my princess taught me something I hope I never forget, even when I am ancient and feeble and yes, forgetful. It happened when I took the five grandchildren to the swimming pool all by myself. (The RS doesn’t like swimming pools – “you gotta get wet there.”) Sometimes Omas can drop their grandkids off and sit and read while the lifeguards take over, but if you bring a 6 year old, the rules say you must be within an arm’s length of the child at all times. Oh, well,  I like swimming.

The other four children were totally independent and having a blast. I, however, was figuratively tethered to my princess, who loves pools and swimming almost as much as she loves being heard. I had my job cut out for me – there was even one heart-stopping moment when I lost sight of her as she chased a ball – or was it a tube? Or a flutter-board? Or all three? Sure, why not all three?

Well, we had fun. We tossed the ball, raced on flutter-boards, took rides on the tube, sat in the hot-tub (phew, thanks, I needed the rest), stood under the sprinkler, jumped the waves, and did it all over again. By this time the other four were jumping off the diving board and the starting blocks in the ‘big people pool’, making giant splashes and loud screeches of delight. The princess and I decided to go and watch for a while.

“Would you like to try that too?” I foolishly asked. “If you are there to catch me,” she retorted. So I had to jump into the deep end and be there for her. The jump was successful, but the princess decided jumping into deep water wasn’t her thing. Once was enough. “That’s okay,” I said as we walked back to the hot tub, “we can try it again next year, and maybe you’ll like it better.” She nodded, but was uncharacteristically quiet.

We found a seat in the warm water, and then she turned to me with an “Aha! I get it!” look on her face. “Oma, every year, as you get a little older, you get to try new things,” she said excitedly. “Each year, you get to try something new. Isn’t that great and wonderful?”

Ah, yes, it is. Yes, it is.

Wow! Look! Listen! Experience! Try something new. Get excited. And grow, keep growing until you’ve used up all your time here. And make sure that old people who sometimes forget that – like your Oma – hear the message loud and clear.

Thanks, Princess!

We rented a suite which featured this amazing Jacuzzi tub. I invited the RS to join me, but he said no ("you have to get wet, don't you?) My princess and I had a lovely time together.