Thursday, December 20, 2012

Yes I Can!

So the weather here has been nuts! In the past 48 hours we have gotten roughly 2 feet of snow and it's still coming down as we speak. I love snow and it makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside, however it makes life a bit more difficult when it dumps down continuously. First of all, the snow plows can't keep up so the roads have been less-than ideal to drive on. I'm not a nervous winter driver so I will go out and drive around, but I'll go 60 in a 90 zone with no damage to my conscience for the drivers behind me. Shake and wave your fists at me all you want but I'm happy not dying today and I think you should be too. Second of all, the snow shovellers can't keep up either (aka, me!). I shoveled the driveway twice today and am saddened to see what has accumulated out there since the last clearing.

The third way the snow makes life a bit more difficult is that the trail that we walk every day to walk the dogs is covered with 2 feet of snow. I blazed the trail yesterday to begin the formation of the snow-trail but when I went back this morning I realized that no one else had been on the trail since so it was severely covered once again. I decided to not walk the trail and do a different walk (I was also pressed for time to make it to an early am dentist appointment) but decided that once I got back from town that I would strap on the snowshoes and get out there to make the path easier for my fellow dog-walkers.

So I started off my trek full of excitement and vigor. It was snowing profusely and while most people were hiding in their homes sipping hot cocoa and watching TV, I was going to face the snowfall, get a little exercise and take my dog for a much needed walk. I was full of determination of breaking the trail to prove that there are people out there brave enough to face the hard work ahead and that snow should not stop us from getting outside.

Now I am not highly experienced with snowshoes. I have used them a handful of times in the past, mostly when I was very young, but I had it in my head that using snowshoes makes it easier to walk in snow since they spread the weight of the person over a larger surface area. Right? Isn't this supposed to make it so that you don't sink so much in the snow? Not today! Well, if I wasn't sinking as much then that means that I was only sinking 1.5 feet vs. the 2 feet accumulated. Maybe the snow is too soft so sinking was inevitable, I'm really not all that sure, but what I do know is that about 15 minutes in I realized that I was way overdressed and I should not have attempted this journey on such a full stomach.

This walk that I was planning on completing usually takes me about 40 minutes if I don't stop to play with the dog or talk to a neighbour. About 20 minutes in I wasn't even remotely half way and I had to stop multiple times to catch my breath or remove an article of clothing to prevent overheating. I'll admit that I stopped on several occasions and contemplated turning back. This quick little jaunt in the snow was neither quick nor a jaunt. It was a slow and meticulous trudge in which every step had to be calculated to keep from losing my balance in the uneven terrain.

I almost admitted defeat. Almost! But not quite. Every time I stopped and looked at how far I still had to go, my heart would sink a little (even though it was beating ferociously but then I would think about how much my fellow trail walkers would appreciate the trail being beaten down and widened, and also how good it would feel to finish what I set out to do that morning. My mantra for the remainder of that hike was "Yes I Can" (and in the voice of Eddie Murphy) and onward I went.

As much as I thought I might die while snowshoeing today, there's a good chance I'll do it again tomorrow. Why you might ask? Because I survived and tomorrow I'll be able to do it a bit better since some awesome person already blazed the trail!

Plus I really want to do this someday.

Monday, December 17, 2012

These Are A Few

Rain drops on roses, whiskers on kittens....these are a few of my favourite things right now.

1) First of all, I want to give a HUGE shout out to whoever invented the dog harness that claps on the front of the chest. I have been working hard with Axel to get him to heel while walking but he's a stubborn creature who wants to meet and greet every person and every thing that is around him. I finally got so frustrated at his pulling that I threw him in the car and we drove to the pet store to try on harnesses for him. I decided on the Premier Easy Walk Harness and it has changed our walking experience dramatically. From the second I put it on him he never pulled on the leash again and he walks perfectly beside me. AMAZING! Sure he is incredibly grumpy and sulking for having to wear it and turns away when I try to slip it over his head, but it is a game changer for me. If you have any problems with your dog pulling while on the leash, go and buy one for instant relief.

2) Am I the only person who didn't realize that Lindt makes peanut butter truffles? You know those packages of Lindt truffles that has several flavours with several coloured wrappers? Well I got one of those and pulled out an orange one thinking that it was chocolate orange. After I bit into it and realized that it was actually chocolate peanut butter and my mind was blown. If there is a heaven and I end up there somehow, I'd imagine that it would involve oceans full of those things with me swimming through with a huge grin on my face and waterfalls of milk falling gently in the background.

3) The other day I was walking by Hanna Creek and saw that the icy water had formed gorgeous icicles around the thick ferns which overhang into the creek. I wish that I had my camera on me because it was so beautiful I know that I could have sold copies of that scene. The simple beauty of Mother Nature is most definitely one of my favourite things.

4) SPA Resource Coconut Hand Cream. I love this hand cream. I have a tube of it on my nightstand and lather the hands up before I turn out the lamp. My hands feel so soft and rejuvenated in the morning and for a chronic hand-washer at work, this is a major relief. It's a fairly cheap product too which gives it an extra bonus of greatness.

5) One of my favourite things right now is actually a person. One of the guys who works at the restaurant with me who is one of the dishwashers there, he always has one earphone in and sings along to his music while he works. The thing that makes him so great is that he a flat and incredibly tone deaf singer but still sings quite loudly along to mostly new and old-school rap music. He doesn't care that we all hear him and that he sucks. He just sings along while doing his less-than-glamourous job and entertains us all while doing it. Yesterday he was singing "Baby Got Back" so I did all of the back-up singing as I wrapped cutlery.

6) Free shipping. Gotta love it! Buying your stuff online and finding out that you get free shipping is just awesome. Unfortunately it makes you feel the need to buy more.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Uncle Frank

Frank and Danaya, 1986
On Sunday, December 9th, I was working at the restaurant in Castlegar and it was about 8:30pm when I clocked out and got ready to head home. As I put on my coat, a man sitting at the bar who had been talking on his cell, closed his phone and told myself and the bartender that the highway to Trail was closed due a 2-car accident involving a fatality. He said it would be a couple hours until they allowed vehicles through and I was frustrated at the idea of being stuck in Castlegar for some time. I found out that I could make it to Genelle before reaching the crash scene (where my sister lives) so I drove there, hung out and watched Dexter until the road opened up. As I approached the site of the accident, my heart was beating furiously and I allowed only a brief glance at the broken cars and numerous emergency vehicles taking up the majority of the highway. When I passed by and got back onto the open road, I thought to myself, "Some poor family's life is about to change in a terrible way." What I did not know is that it would be my family facing an inconceivable tragedy that night.

My dad's brother, my Uncle Frank, was heading to Castlegar that night when, whether it be the slick snowy roads or another reason we may never know, his car went into the other lane and was struck by an oncoming vehicle. In the short time it took me to drive from my sister's house to my house (about 6-7 minutes) my dad got the phone call telling him that his younger brother, the youngest child in the Kotyk family, had been killed that night. The unthinkable news hit us like a wrecking-ball to the stomach. How could such an amazing and devoted man like Frank be suddenly taken from his wife, children, family and friends? How could this be real?

Unfortunately it was real.

Frank and Dad
When you're a kid and the relatives come to visit, there's little real conversation between adult and child apart from trivial chatter about topics such as school or toys. As you get a bit older, you begin to sit with the adults and listen a bit to what they're saying, but never really become part of the conversation or know the inside jokes or back-story behind their words. But when you become an adult, you all of a sudden start to interact with your aunts, uncles and grandparents as adults and get to know them as the people they really are. You can begin to put yourself in their shoes and relate to their experiences and point-of-view and appreciate them in a way that you could never do as a kid. I have spend the majority of the past 5 years away from my family but whenever I would run into Uncle Frank on the street or sit and talk with him at a family gathering, I always enjoyed our easy-going conversations. The last 3 days, my sisters have spoken to me about their experiences with him and agreed at what a genuine, agreeable and good-hearted man he was. Pam's office at work is right next to his so she spoke to him nearly every day and laughed over how he liked to burn his toast. Amy told me that she appreciated that she got to know him more the past year since they became neighbours when he bought a property just up the street from her and dropped by her place from time to time.

Grandma and all the Kotyk kids
I've been enjoying sitting with my family listening to funny stories about him in his younger years and getting to know him through their experiences. If there is one thing that I know about my uncle is that he made my dad happy. Whenever Frank arrived to a Christmas Eve party or any family function, my dad became jovial and their conversation always became loud and full of infectious laughter. Then if you add the two sisters into the mix, you'd might as well get them their own room because the four of them together entered their own noisy world of jesting, laughter and shared stories.

My grandfather was lost to a car accident many decades ago, so having another car accident take the life of another family member is just overwhelmingly unfair. Especially during the holiday season. No time of year is appropriate to lose a loved one, but it's hard to get in the Christmas spirit right now.

So how do you say goodbye to a loved one? Is this even possible? They say only time heals all wounds but it's hard to believe that my family will ever be able to heal from a wound this big. The funeral is in 2 days and even though no one ever wants to attend a funeral, they are helpful for those who are grieving and there will be so many stories about Frank given by his family, friends, members of his church and everyone else whose life he has touched.
Frank and Dad again

Rest in Peace. You were taken far too soon but your memories will be kept and shared by us all. You'll be greatly missed.