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Maybe Later

Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow. That has pretty much been my mantra most of my life. When I was little, my Dad said I was lazy. But I think a lot of kids are told that. When you’re a child you’re caught up in whatever is fascinating you at the moment. Cleaning your room is not very fascinating.

Here I am, many, many years later, sitting down to write a blog because I don’t feel like cleaning my house. Some things never change.

We procrastinate for many reasons. Or excuses. Sometimes it’s because we just don’t want to face something. Like doing your taxes. Who wants to do that? And cleaning the toilet. Blech.

Procrastination can also be a sign of anxiety or depression, according to the experts. In that case, I imagine a lot of us are procrastinating right now, in spite of having more time on our hands. Being locked in your house with not much to look forward to, can do that to you. And there goes the excuse that things aren’t getting done because you don’t have enough time.

Not only that, procrastination can actually CAUSE anxiety and depression. Putting off the inevitable for any length of time allows it to hang over us and make us more miserable. And that, in turn, makes us even less likely to do what we need to. It’s a vicious cycle.

But under “normal” circumstances, what causes us to procrastinate? I’ll leave it up to the experts to go into more detail, but to make a long story short, it’s because we’re wired for instant gratification. I can either eat that donut now, or wait and reward myself after I lose 10 pounds. Hmmm.

I married someone who’s a “let’s get ‘er done” kind of guy, so we’ve had some obvious conflicts from time to time over the years. He told me a story about a fellow he worked with early on in his career who would always take the bull by the horns and get things done immediately. My husband respected that determination, so he tried to emulate it, and of course, attempted to get his wife and children to do the same.

And over time, wouldn’t you know? I have become more and more like that too. But not always.

For instance, I’m still sitting here rather than doing the housework. So I’m looking at the clock and giving myself 10 more minutes. I have ten more minutes to do what I enjoy before I have to go and do what I don’t.

Okay 20. Maybe 20 minutes.

As it turns out, we procrastinators are in good company. Leonardo Da Vinci was apparently someone who had trouble staying “focused”. You wouldn’t know it from the body of work he produced. But the story goes that it took him 16 years to finish the Mona Lisa.

I’ve seen the Mona Lisa painting in person and it’s not very big. 16 years?

And Margaret Atwood, whom we all know for her many novels, short stories and poetry, actually has trouble sitting down to write too. It usually takes her until 3 o’clock in the afternoon to get to it. She does that on purpose, apparently. So far, I’d say it’s working.

Which is why I’ve decided I’m waiting until 3pm this afternoon to get my house cleaning done.

Oh, shoot. It’s already after 4. Guess it won’t be today. Now, where’s that donut?

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Hit The Road, Jack

So, hey! Where are you heading off to this summer? I hope you didn’t make any big travel plans that you had to cancel. We were supposed to go on our very first cruise to Alaska in August. Nope.

A cruise would be about the last thing I’d want to take right now. A flight comes in second to last. I know people are out there flying, but not me. The most we’ll do is a road trip somewhere.

Come to think of it, I really enjoy car-cations. I’ve driven all over BC, across to Alberta, and even down the Oregon coast to California a couple of times. One of my favourite road trips was a drive with my daughter through wine country in the Okanagan in a rented Mustang convertible, listening to 40’s jazz music. Perfect.

And I love driving through the Rockies, something I’ve done several times. Nothing beats that.

A couple of people I know have driven most of the way across Canada. That is a massive feat. When you fly across this country, you realize just how enormous it is and how impossible it would be to see it all. But this year especially, a lot of us will be spending more vacation time within our own borders and back yards. I think that’s a great thing.

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A couple of years back, my husband and I decided that we would drive all the way up the east coast of Vancouver Island where we've never ventured in all of our years living here. Someone told us "Well, you know, past Campbell River you only see trees and mountains." Well, what's wrong with that?? I love trees and mountains. Isn't that what the wet coast is about? It turned out to be a great adventure and we loved Campbell River and places like Telegraph Cove and Port Hardy.

BC has lots of great places to visit. I prefer to drive through the smaller towns with funny names for streets, or silly town mascots. Like mascot Potato Jack in Pemberton, for instance. Or Peter Pine in Princeton. Apparently, Peter is of mixed race; his father was a pine, his mother a fir/spruce. And then there's Mr. PG in Prince George. He turns 60 this year!

Believe it or not, Saskatchewan is on my bucket list. I want to stand somewhere where I can look around 360 degrees and see forever. Some people think that's boring. Not me. And who wouldn't want to drive through little towns like Goodsoil or Choice Land...obviously good places to grow things.

Or Esterhazy. I wonder what they grow there?

Then again, maybe we'll end up being tourists in our own town. Sometimes you forget how many great things there are to see and do right where you live. There will be some protocols in place, of course, but we can handle that.

And we have our mascots here in Victoria too. There's Marty the Marmot and Harvey the HarbourCat, both always fun to see.

Which reminds me. Has anyone seen Mr. Floatie lately?

Maybe he's just social distancing.

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Goat Fund Them

Moe the cat.

In this picture you’ll see where my cat Moe sometimes waits for me. I work in the basement of my home, so she often lies on the steps leading upstairs, staying there until I am done for the day.

The reason she is wearing a towel is because my daughter put it over her when they were upstairs, and Moe forgot to take it off. Well, I’m making excuses for her. She literally dragged that towel with her to the steps because she didn’t know how to get it off herself.

Cats are weird, aren’t they? Sometimes hilarious. As are dogs and parrots and pot bellied pigs, and, well, pretty much any animal. That’s why we can’t get enough of the YouTube videos chronicling their antics. They are delightfully entertaining, especially lately. For those of us who have pets, thank goodness they’ve been around to help us through. Dogs have been equally as happy to have us home, though I’m not so sure about all cats.

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At different times in my life, I’ve had a dog, three budgies and four cats. I’ve laughed at their antics, and scolded their bad behaviour, and I’ve cried like a baby when they’ve died. I can’t imagine having lived without them all.

There has been a greater demand for pet adoptions in the last couple of months on the island, for obvious reasons. Animals make us happy and we need that right about now. Every time I watch Pet CHEK on CHEK News on Sunday evenings, where they feature different pets every week up for adoption from the Victoria Humane Society, I want all of them. Every one.

A couple of days ago, I got an email update from another animal organization through their Goat Fund Me (not a typo) campaign. The Beacon Hill Children’s Farm has been in existence for 35 years. They opened their barn doors just a couple of years before my children were born, and we visited them often, especially in the spring. My girls even volunteered there when they were in their teens.

It wasn’t until someone posted something in my Facebook news feed recently that it occurred to me that the kids might be suffering too. Goats, I mean.

This year, the farm had only been open less than a week when it was decided that it should close its doors because of the virus. When the story first came to light a couple of months ago, the hope was that sometime soon it would be able to open again. But now they have made the difficult decision to stay closed for the foreseeable future.

The only problem is that they still have a lot of costs: feed for over 100 animals, veterinarian bills, hay and sawdust, even insurance and phone bills (the roosters’ early morning long distance calls really add up).

Peanut Butter, the miniature horse, turns 29 this month. She needs some dental work done and has some health issues, but she’s looking forward to her cake. There are pigs, rabbits, ducks, geese, and alpacas too, all needing food, bedding and attention.

You pay by donation to visit, but that won’t be happening for some time yet. So that’s where we can jump in and goat fund them to help them get through the next few months.

Some day we’ll all be able to hang out at the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm again, and watch the kids in boundless joy jumping up and down on the rocks with reckless abandon.

Goats, I mean.

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Glamping In The Garden

Last week, the BC Parks’ website and their phone lines were swamped with people trying to make reservations for campsites all around the province for the spring and summer. Some friends of ours have a fifth wheel, and they spent three hours just trying to make one reservation. Eventually, they managed to book a few campsites on Vancouver Island, with dates spread out over the summer and into the fall. Camping is their joy.

Well, it’s not really “camping” in a fifth wheel…it’s what they call “glamping”.

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I am not a camper. I can't afford one of those big rigs so I'd be the one with the tiny, poor excuse for a tent, the moth-infested sleeping bag and the rusted propane stove. Nuh uh.

I understand the back-to-nature thing. I love my walks, even when they're not in the forest or by the ocean. But I find the most peace and joy in my own yard. My own garden. On a spring or summer weekend evening, you will find me wandering around it with a glass of wine in hand, inspecting and admiring my work. That's my glamping.

Just as I am not a camper, I was not born a gardener. My Dad, however, had a knack for it and was known around our neighbourhood for his beautiful landscaping and neatly trimmed lawn.

I started out more like his father, my grandfather, who bought an apple orchard from a guy in Peachland in the late 1920s without knowing the difference between "dormant" and "dead" trees. As it turned out, half of them were dead and he'd been swindled. Yeah, I was more like that.

When my husband and I bought our first house, I didn't know the difference between a weed and a...well, pretty much anything else. I'm sure I killed numerous legitimate plants for no good reason other than I didn't know what they were. Whenever my Dad would visit us, he would help me out by weeding and cleaning the yard up. But I was pretty useless.

By the time we moved to our second house five years later, Dad made the decision that we were on our own with the yard work. Our new house was on a corner lot and had SO many more flower beds and a lot more lawn. I don't blame him for bowing out.

Everything in the yard was a mess for years as our daughters grew up. Finally, one day we decided that we would focus on fixing it up, and we hired some garden pros to give us some tips and advice. I remember the couple well. They were British, probably in their 60s at the time. But mostly I remember the look on their faces as they took a look around. "Holy crap. Amateurs." is the expression I saw.

They wrote down some names of things, bushes and plants, and gave us some advice on our fence and how we might re-think our lawns, and then left it to us to figure the rest out. I kind of took the position of head gardener, while my husband took over care of the lawns.

I could not propagate for the life of me. I spent gobs money on all kinds of plants, and promptly put them in the wrong spots, and then forgot about them, thinking they would take care of themselves. Dead, dead, dead. I didn't know a perennial from a pollinator. But I persisted. I dug up the dead stuff and started again. I tried different plants in better places. And I weeded. And weeded. And weeded. And then, slowly, my gardens started to blossom.

Over time, I've not only come to terms with my garden, I've come to love it. Mostly, I've become much better at taking care of it. And now my next door neighbour has garden envy. Just the other week, she was outside chatting with me while I was working in one of the flower beds. She said "I wouldn't know what a weed was if it hit me in the face! How do you tell?"

I thought about it.

"Well, I think of a weed as pretty much anything that I don't want," I said with a smart ass smirk.

"That's good! That's good! I'll remember that!" she laughed.

She's an amateur. But I have finally taken root.

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The Grand Re-Opening. Sort of…

I made the decision a couple of weeks ago that this would be my week to venture back into teaching guitar. I teach out of my home, so I pretty much had to decide for myself how things might be changed around to allow for the protocols that need to be in place now; physical distancing, keeping everything clean and disinfected, and signage to remind students of everything they needed to do, too.

When you’ve been doing things a certain way for 30 years, it takes a fair amount of brain function to change it up, but I think I’ve figured it out. I’m sure there are a lot of people, especially in smaller businesses, who are doing their best to wrap their heads around this new reality. We’re in different times.

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One of the first things I did was go to the WorkSafe BC website where they have a section called “Returning To Safe Operation” for businesses and facilities opening up, to know what protocols need to be in place. I downloaded some posters to use as signage, I marked out the proper spacing between myself and my students on the floor in the studio. I bought new music stands that are easier to clean, got cleaning supplies ready, and I worked out a plan for students to follow when they arrived back. I even recorded a video to send to them so they could see what changes I was making and would know what to do when they got here.

I emailed them all and sent a link to the video.

So far, so good.

About half of my students have returned, which is more or less what I expected. Some of them would have been in classes of 3 or more, and so far, that’s too many people to have together in my small studio yet. Maybe one day soon.

Some students are more nervous than others, or not ready to return for various reasons. I understand that. It’s been rough for a lot of us.

And some may never return. I’m prepared for that.

I’ve been rescheduling returning students with a little time in between each one so I can clean and disinfect between lessons.

So they come in the door, they sanitize their hands, they leave their guitar cases out in the waiting area, they bring their guitars and music into the studio, they tune on their own or with my help, and we begin to play. Then we start to smile a little as the music kind of lifts us up. We can’t help but share some of our stories in between songs. It’s a little like coming back to life.

I’ve been thinking about all the students, clients and customers that have been returning to different businesses this past week. The conversations they must be having, the laughs (behind face masks in some cases!), the getting back to something that almost feels normal. For small businesses like mine, our clients are not just our source of income, they sometimes become good friends. I’ve been teaching some of my students for 10 or 15 years.

These are relationships we’ve all been missing.

For those of you with small businesses or who are self-employed like me, I’m rootin’ for you. If we do everything as we’re told by those in charge, over time it’ll get better. Even if we have that dreaded second wave, I think we can anticipate what to do, and ride it out.

And thanks to my students who’ve done everything the way I asked them to.

Some of them even practiced a little 🙂

IJ