That expression, “one for the road”, has only been in use since about the 1930’s. It usually refers to someone having one more drink before departing a bar or party, which is not recommended just before getting behind the wheel of an automobile. In this situation, one would hope one’s friends would prevent that drink from being consumed.
The broader concept of being able to enjoy a cherished pastime once more before an occasion ended is perhaps more desirable, but also far more difficult to achieve. We often don’t know when good times will end, so guaranteeing a bonus round of fun is tricky at best.
The best philosophy, of course, is to live life to the fullest. “Carpe diem”, and all that. I am so glad I can say I’ve tried my level best to Carpe the hell out of every diem.
Eating seasonally is one simple way to employ the spirit of carpe diem: “ seize the day”. If you’ve tasted fresh garden tomatoes you’ll find it hard to buy them in the grocery store in winter.
Stopping to smell the flowers is another good practice. I don’t mean this figuratively; stop to enjoy a new blossom, a buzzing bee, a sunrise or sunset, or even a scent on the breeze. You won’t regret the time spent, I promise you.
Having a dog is the best way to make this philosophy part of your daily habits. They are masters of living in the moment, seeing the cup half full, and making the most of love – both in the giving and accepting of it.
I have been blessed with dogs as companions for most of my life. I am partial to Chocolate Labrador Retrievers, who are gourmands in addition to being zen masters. They have done more for me than anyone in ensuring I make the most of my life as it happens.
I had to say goodbye to my best brown girl of 13 years this week. Ella, my bunny bear, my silly monkey, my number one pal… she fell ill last week and just couldn’t recover.
We had a deal: she would give me a sign when it wasn’t fun anymore. After the scare we had this summer with her almost-drowning, I knew we were on the same page.
By Thursday she could hardly move on her own. Her breathing was shallow. She was on medication but I was doubtful it could fix that kind of malaise.
I got her somewhat comfortable in the living room, with a view to the field and the patio door open. I worked on my chores and checked her every few minutes. She was maintaining, but that was all.
I came to sit with her and she wagged her tail. She was panting, and shivering in places. That’s when I knew for sure that it was time.
When you care for someone, you want them to be well taken care of. If I was going to be trusted with sending my girl over the Rainbow Bridge, I wanted to say a proper goodbye. This was not by sending her away on her own.
Oddly enough, despite the fact that animals are not any significant factor in the transmissions of Covid-19, our neighbourhood vet won’t allow people into the clinic for any reason.
I am so thankful we knew a holistic vet who has a fabulous clinic in Kelowna. Dr. Moira is semi-retired now, but Pawsitive Veterinary Care is a top notch team of folks who care for animals and people. I can’t recommend them enough.
I have said goodbye to three Brown Girls in my life. It does not get any easier. The only redeeming part of the experience is knowing I was there to send them over to the other side.
Ella and I didn’t get “one for the road”. There was no chance for a last walk in the orchard or a last wrestle in the yard. But just a few days earlier we made time to go for ice cream at Paynter’s Market and I got some great pictures of her amongst the pumpkins.
We shouldn’t need a pandemic to remind us life is precious. If that’s what it takes to motivate you, so be it. But I can say even from something that just happens in any life, it’s worth your time to do the things you want to do.
I miss my Brown Girl. She was, quite literally, half my life. She got me up to go walking, she cheered me on while I worked out, she reminded me to drink my water, she helped me taste all my recipes, she listened to all my rambling… all the things my Hubby doesn’t do ( he is my other half, literally and figuratively).
It sucks to be left behind, to lose a friend. I hope Ella is with her old roommate, Simon the German short haired pointer – biting his tail the way she used to when they had the run of Rabbit Hollow. Me, I’ll just have to find my way forward.
It’s Father’s Day today, and I’m sad. I feel rather forlorn. You see, I grew up as a Princess, with all the trappings of a young girl in a magic kingdom. I had an idyllic childhood, full of happy memories in good times and lessons learned in tough times. Everything always turned out okay, and more often than not it felt that way because my Dad was the one to cheer me on or push me on. After all, he was the one who made me a Princess. The problem is, he’s gone now.
I miss my dad every day, but Father’s Day hurts in a special melancholy way. It makes me remember the myriad of things that my Dad taught me, and then the breath catches in my throat as I am struck with not being able to tell him or hug him to say thanks.
I don’t like to dwell on the past – you can’t live there. But I don’t want to forget “wonderful Daddy from Winnipeg” , as we used to joke should be his title. So if you’ll indulge me, I’m going to mention some of my favourite memories and learnings:
- Waking up to music he would play… I had a turntable in my bedroom and he would come down and put a record on to wake me up for school. Billy Joel, The Eagles, Supertramp, Neil Diamond, Nilsson. I still love “Dad rock”, as all that music is now labelled.
- Watching CBS Sunday Morning, together and then separately when I was older, but still sharing our love for the good news and the quirky discoveries in the world. I still watch, and often smile at stories I know he would have enjoyed.
- Marching to “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” – through the house, pretending to be like Mickey Mouse with his broom.. The whole family would march in a line, my brother and I swinging our imaginary brooms with great fervor and my Mom bringing up the rear (to make sure things didn’t get too crazy). We’d go down the hall and over their bed, even. It makes me smile every time I think of it.
- Eating the fried egg sandwiches he used to make me before early morning high school basketball practice. I wish now I had practiced even harder. I wish I’d known then that stronger arms would have helped my shot. But he cheered me on through my clutziness, and even bought season tickets to the Vancouver Grizzlies’ inaugural season years later, so we could watch games live. I travelled from Calgary whenever I could, and we saw Michael Jordan play!
- His sayings still get me through tough days – “Illegitimum non carborundum est” (don’t let the bastards get you down) and “optireculitis” (a condition in which your optical nerve gets tangled with your rectum, giving you a shitty outlook) . When I felt as though the world was against me, he would always say, “Who loves you, Kricky? Your Daddy does.”
- Our trip to Maui was full of great memories and lots of laughter. He hadn’t been well and the quality time was good for both of us. I was so chuffed when one of the last times we spoke he talked of how great that trip was…
- The Treehouse Bistro, which was the 2 directors chairs at the corner window in his West End apartment, was the place we solved all the problems of the world on many a Friday night. Now I have the chairs, and every time I sit in one I think of our great ideas, and the spectacular meals we ate in them.
- “Where’s the other 2 percent ?” – the answer to my declaration that I got 98% on a test at school. Then it was frustrating to be teased, but it made me tough enough to take the blows the world dealt me, and it made me want to push myself and improve.
- “Drive till you get there”. Learning to drive, a standard no less, was stress at a new level with my dad, who was an RCMP officer for a time as a young man. Thanks for keeping me safe, Daddy.
- “If you got it, flaunt it”. This wasn’t meant to be trashy, but rather to encourage my self-confidence. My dad knew I was the not the kind of kid who fit in, and he more than anyone helped me learn to be myself, and be proud of that.
- “Take 10 pictures for every one you want. Film is cheap.” Nowadays it’s even cheaper with digital pics, and I’m thankful to have memories recorded. I wish I had copies of more of my childhood photos!
I could go on, but perhaps the most important thing I learned, ironically, came from the fact that he got sick. For many years the doctors predicted he didn’t have long to live, so my dad did not sit back to save for a rainy day. He lived the Carpe Diem philosophy to the fullest he could. It shaped my life, and has been my motivation to strive for that balance in life we all hope to have.
I so wish we’d had more time together. But I am so thankful for all that I got from my dad. I might be a Princess without a kingdom but I am still a Princess. I can still flaunt it, I can still battle the dragons, I can still reach for my happily ever after. I know somewhere there is a soul out there smiling proudly. Who loves you, Daddy? Your Kricky Princess, that’s who.
Yesterday was a lighthearted day in the world of food – it was Pi Day (3-14, as in the mathematical value giving the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. ) In my humble opinion it was a construct created by some bored mathematicians trying to justify a bit of dessert, but hey, whatever floats your boat. I suppose one could say we make up for it with today’s significance, in the infamy of the quote from ancient Roman times that forbode the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 B.C. A psychic had told the Emperor he would not live past March 15th, and sure enough he was killed on his way to a Senate meeting. His death triggered a civil war.
Now I don’t intend to rain on anyone’s parade today – it’s Hump Day too, and I try not to add to the stress of everyday life but rather lighten it. So, hang on till the end and you will be rewarded, I promise. I just thought you might find it interesting that the 15th of March is a day prone to unfortunate events, to say the least. (All the more reason for rejoicing when we make it through, right?)
Did you know that March 15 was the day in 1917 that the Czar Nicholas II abdicated the throne, ending a royal dynasty in Russia that had lasted over 300 years? To make matters worse, he and his family did not get to live out their lives happily in exile; they were taken captive and executed a year later. The same day in 1939 is when Germany invaded Czechoslovakia. Things certainly went downhill after that.
Weather phenomena of nasty proportions have taken their toll on the Ides of March as well. In 1889, a cyclone sank six warships off the coast of Samoa. Over 200 sailors died. In 1941, a blizzard blew through the American Midwest; at least 60 deaths were related to the storm. The world record for rainfall on a single day happened on March 15, and NASA announced the alarmingly fast decrease in the ozone layer in 1988.
With all of this historic data – and more – I deemed it necessary to invoke another ancient quote:
carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero
You have likely heard the first part of this quote from the Roman poet, Horace. It usually translates as “Seize the day, trust not in tomorrow”. I agree that Horace’s intent was not to scare people into thinking about death, but rather to take action and make the most of one’s life.
With that in mind, I’ll remind you that it’s #WineWednesday (yes, that really is a thing). If you’re not a wine drinker, you can still toast your good health with your beverage of choice – craft beer, artisan cocktail, home-pressed juice, even a glass of Coke – or filtered water – will do the trick. It’s the action that counts. If you can, support a local business and try something fun. We are very fortunate in the Okanagan to have many wineries and breweries as well as distilleries with wonderful libations, and there are more in other parts of British Columbia. If you’re interested, here are a few references:
- licensed Okanagan wineries (this site has more information on the rest of BC as well)
- BC craft breweries map with links to individual websites & social media
- BC distilleries map with links to individual websites
And, in the interest of being a responsible drinker and also enjoying life to the fullest, I suggest you add some food to your celebrations. Cheese is lovely with wine, or beer. The folks at Bright Cellars have a wonderful website with a Cheese Quiz that might help you choose (and if you live in the U.S. you can join their cheese club!) Or perhaps some veggies and dip? if I do say so myself, my Hummus recipe is pretty darn good. Even if you’d rather skip ahead to dessert, make the most of it – Chocolate Soufflé fits the decadent side of life, but if you need something more practical, Chocolate Wacky Cake can be whipped up in a jiffy.
However your day is going (or went, depending on when you read this), it’s always worth taking a moment to breathe in and rejoice. I myself feel extra fortunate, since food and drink are most often shared. That gives me one more reason to celebrate; being around a table with others is sustenance on another level.
Isn’t it interesting that the day proceeding the start of Lent is seen in some places as an all-out binge, as if to signify that one should load up to make sure that there are minimal regrets whilst one is supposed to abstain from those excesses in life? Or perhaps the idea was to give you something to think about on those long pre-spring nights, knowing how good life can be and pondering the value of what is missing and how those blessings enrich our lives?? Well, without sounding too crass I hope, I would like to suggest that whichever way you take Mardi Gras, (or Fat Tuesday as it translates to English) you should take advantage of a day that encourages you to enjoy life and share that joy.
Wouldn’t it brighten a mid-February evening to have the family dress up for dinner and show off their outfits the way the bourgeois used to strut their stuff inVenice cafes? Or perhaps you would prefer to turn up the music (and maybe the heat) and adorn everyone with beaded necklaces? You could play New Orleans jazz and march around the living room, or go more exotic and add feathers – it’s like Rio! Trust me, it won’t take long before everyone is in the spirit of things… and then there is the food and drink, of course.
It’s okay – you have spent the last six weeks trying to live up to your new resolutions and improve your routine, so don’t you deserve to cut yourself a little slack? Skip the gym for a day or two and burn off that energy by dancing! Cook up your favourite specialties, or look to the traditional items for Mardi Gras – various kinds of donuts and fritters, crepes or pancakes; the King cake with a hidden figurine (whoever gets it in their piece has to host the next party!); sparkling wines are good, cognac works too, or even fun cocktails will work! After all, this is one of those times when the philosophy of “carpe diem” applies to the fullest extent. If your life was over the next day, what would you most want to do?
It seems to be a reminder we need often but heed rarely – to live life to its fullest, and enjoy each moment for what it brings.
Even if you can’t take much time to live on the edge and get into the spirit of Mardi Gras, think about splurging a little bit on something and do it without guilt but just for the sheer enjoyment. (You can always feel guilty tomorrow!)