Picnics in the car or in the trunk!

We get rare occasions to drive out with the kids and let them release a lot of pent up energy plus fill up on fresh air, and get some reprieve for ourselves before we burst a blood vessel! So last weekend, we had to pick up some essentials from Sussex that weren’t available in our city. The forthcoming drive coincided with a pleasant, sunny day, so we decided that the family could go along. It would be a long drive through beautiful scenery on either side of the highway. 

It sure was a relaxing drive over wide, uncrowded, and partly undulating roads. We could keep the windows partially open to let in the fresh, cool breeze and no one felt sick. Thankfully. There are two of us who have motion sickness. We were driving too fast for me to take pics along the highway. Neither could we stop en route for me to snap any memories. So I missed that bit. 

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We picked up what we needed and then decided to eat lunch. So we picked up food from the drive-thru at Tims and McDonalds; found ourselves a spot in the parking, and had a picnic in the car. There were these pretty picnic tables and benches right there but using them was out of the question. The three girls were super thrilled with this new spate of picnics in the car. 

And then, it was time to get back.

We settled down. Seat belts checked for the kids. All fine. Let’s go.

The car wouldn’t start. The battery was down. Shoot!

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It was early evening still. A search for help got us a guy who said he’d come down and boost the battery. The three young ones were the only ones thrilled about the stuck situation. They decided to play treasure Hunt (of all things) inside the car. Well, they managed to do a good job of hiding stuff and locating them. My woolen cap, pockets, handbag, nooks and crannies in the car… wherever they could hide an LOL, or a lil troll toy person, they hid it. If we were worried about how to keep them entertained, we needn’t have bothered.

Relief!

The man arrived in thirty minutes, and in less than five got the car going! We were back on the highway with three happy and spent girls. They were quiet (relief again!) and whatever small talk was made was little and low. They hummed and sang a bit with the radio, then the younger two dozed off.

Picnic in the trunk 

Before I started on this one, I wondered what to say – trunk, boot, or dickey. What I would be referring to happens to be called by different names in English in different countries. It would be a ‘trunk’ in North America; a ‘boot’ in England; and a ‘dickey’ in India. North America won the toss, so trunk it is.

The weekend before our Sussex drive, we had a fine evening at the nature trail park. This time, since it was planned, we had packed sandwiches and chips and picked up tea from Tims. Here, in the wide, open spaces, the girls could get out of the car and stretch their legs. They were not expecting a picnic so were very glad we had packed one.

It was cold with a chill breeze blowing. The sunshine was intermittent with large clouds obscuring the sun. Their father laid out some covers in the trunk and the three scrambled in with a lot of excitement. A picnic in the trunk was a new one for them. 

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I sipped my tea leaning against the car and watched the gulls sauntering about totally unafraid and unconcerned with the five unobtrusive humans. Or perhaps they didn’t hover above and around us because we weren’t feeding them! Then, one of them came gliding down, wings outstretched and landed a few feet away. It drew my attention as soon as it touched down.

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It landed on one wheel.. that translates to leg! Oh, dear! Whatever happened to its other leg, I wondered aloud. “They stand on one leg like cranes,” said my son nonchalantly. “No”, they don’t. Or do they? I haven’t seen any standing on one leg!” I was curious. 

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I sipped my tea and kept my eye on the one-legged gull. Just when I was sure it’s leg must have got tangled in something and broken off or worse it must have been bitten off by some predatory creature, it put down its other leg briefly, not quite putting it flat to hold the weight of its body. It swayed a bit. A minute or less and the leg went up again. It didn’t come down for the next fifteen minutes. My watch had provided me with an answer; it was injured. “I hope your leg gets well gull!”

We go out occasionally where we can get fresh air and maintain social distance too. But it’s not the same as before. We are forever alert and careful… no touching anything that’s around… no benches, railings, even tree trunks or leaves, and flowers. Not even the grass. Making sure to keep hands off our faces. Do we succeed all the time? No! Sometimes, by force of habit, unknowingly we touch the eyes, or cheek or… only to jump to alertness and wonder, if our hands had touched something it shouldn’t have before. There are these moments that lead to a small prayer.

It appears that we are slowly but surely getting into the groove of living with restrictions of a different kind. Of fears of a different kind. Of anxieties of a different kind. When will things go back to the normal we knew? Or is this going to be the new normal? To be honest, I am not going bonkers thinking about it. I have settled into a routine, more or less, and the WFH situation is not new for me. If there is one thing that I am concerned about and pray for, it is that we are well and safe. That is my prayer for the world too!

I hope, when this difficult time has passed, I can look back on these memories with joy and thank God for bringing us through it safe and sound.

A Ferry Ride To An Island

“We’re going to an #Amusement #Park this Saturday.”

“Where?

“On an island.”

“An island?”

“Yes. It’s not too far. We’ll be taking a #ferry ride.”

“Okaay… How do you have an #island with no sea around?”

“It’s a river island.”

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Clicked from the ferry as we approached the Amusement park at Centre Island.

Satisfied with this info, I wondered what I’d do at the amusement park and all its rides. To see me on a normal day, of which, thankfully, I have many in the continuum of ‘good’, ‘not-so-good’, ‘better’ days, you’d wonder why I was skeptical about the rides and my inability to enjoy one if not all.

Well, my condition is unpredictable. I could be walking, bending, and doing things normally… and then, just like that, I’d be laid down with a lumbar disc issue which would leave me unable to walk, sit up or even turn myself on my side in bed; not to mention, the excruciating pain. And then, not to be left behind, are a cervical disc and knees that like to surprise me now and then. So every action, even though I am careful, can trigger terrible consequences. Although I am careful, things can go wrong with the most simple turn or bend I make.

So, I decided I’d be the official #photographer and resort to people watching to keep occupied and humored. I wasn’t disappointed. One encounter with a young couple and a grandma with her little grandson makes me laugh even now.

I was sitting on a bench and eating nachos while the rest were doing the rounds of a few rides that they had still to go on. A young, Indian couple with a cute little dog, a 5 month-old pup, sat beside me. I picked up a conversation about the pup. Soon, a granny, whose grandson was crying sought the pup as a good diversion for the little boy; it worked. He stopped crying and she swapped stories with the couple about their respective pets. Just as I lost interest in their conversation, the grandma turned to leave, her purpose in speaking to them being achieved. The pup began yapping at her back and she turned and waved to it. It wagged its tail. Then she turned to leave again and it yapped.

The young man apologized for his pup and explained his barking like this:

“He doesn’t want you to go. He wants to talk to you.”

“Yes, yes, I know,” she said.

“But he can’t talk, you see. That is why he is barking,” the young man elaborated.

The smile on the lady’s face froze and a glazed look replaced the warm one. I could see that the lady wasn’t sure how to respond to that. Was he daft or did he presume she was daft?

She nodded her head briskly and walked away.

I was indeed at the Amusement Park having my own #funny, #laughter #rides!

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Dashing Through The Snow

“As I took my children sledding this morning, I watched them fly down the hill – aiming for the jump and flying in the air. Getting the wind knocked out of them as they landed hard then climbing up to do it again – relentless and brave. 
I took a moment to be happy they are young and innocent and appreciate the simple thrill of going fast down a hill. I pushed my own nervous inclination aside and instead of saying “Be careful!” I said “Aim Straight!” Then I let them go down the jump again and again because in this world, we need to be relentless and brave and I need to be sure they don’t unlearn it.” 
― Elizabeth Tambascio

I can’t upload videos here so I’m uploading the pics. 

Getting the younger two ready for their first sledding experience. M aged 4 and Z aged 2+
I worried that Z would be scared… I needn’t have. She was excited and not a bit scared. Neither was M!

Back in my home country, my first experience of snow came when we moved from our country home in Punjab to the capital of Punjab & Haryana: Chandigarh. A small city then, in 1971. A brief about Chandigarh:

(It was one of the early planned cities in post-independent India and is internationally known for its architecture and urban design. The master plan of the city was prepared by Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier, which transformed from earlier plans created by the Polish architect Maciej Nowicki and the American planner Albert Mayer. Most of the government buildings and housing in the city were designed by the Chandigarh Capital Project Team headed by Le CorbusierJane Drew, and Maxwell Fry.  

Shimla was the temporary capital of East Punjab until Chandigarh was completed in 1960.) (source Wikipedia)

Chandigarh wasn’t very far from Shimla, a hill station and the capital of Himachal Pradesh in the Himalayan foothills, which sees heavy snowfall. The roads were fairly good, even back then, and every year, we’d keep an eye for the news of the first snowfall. Daddy would call the driver, Jaspal Singh, and we’d leave home very early. It would be only for the day. We returned in the evening! All we did was play in the snow. And, of course, we loved the drive. I was a teenager then. All snow-related experiences ended in my early twenties.

I moved away to a desert area and I got to know sand dunes and arid zones.

Decades later, I worked in a residential school (aka boarding school) in another hill station that experienced heavy snowfalls, but I never got to live the winters there. Residential schools closed for about three months in winter. By the time we returned, the snow had vanished even though the winter lingered!

Z gets in front and M climbs on behind. I thought it was a crazy idea… one of the kids would tumble off and get hurt! (age gap/generation gap…LOL)
As I watched, I couldn’t help feeling quite proud of this little one as she settled herself. She made herself comfy and secure. It was her 1st ride!!.
 Aly sat and watched them, patiently waiting her turn on the higher and steeper slopes on the other side.
 They weren’t done. Kept trudging back and sliding down again and again.

Fast forward to the present; I have snow all around me for months and I am not as keen about the snow as I used to be. It stays too long here and I can’t afford to ignore the consequences of walking out alone. What used to be a comedy when we fell, rolled or tumbled down a snowy bank or slipped on ice, will be a tragedy now 😀 #idontlikelongsnowywinters

But I do enjoy getting out to watch the kids when they go sledding. As long as I have an arm to steady me, I’ll walk on snow and dare the hidden ice beneath!

The Britt’s Pub & Eatery beckoned as I tried to keep warm and not 
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clicked pictures of the surroundings.

Though I was tempted, I thought better of getting into Britt’s. I wanted to sit with the kids and hear their experiences and share their joy over some hot chocolate and tea later at Tims’s, closer to home!

Back at Tim’s, I listened to their endless chatter and basked in the glow of their joy.

A tired but happy bunch.

                                                 Thank you for visiting my blog!

 

 

On The Threshold Of A New year

I’m not one to make resolutions at the beginning of a new year. There was a time when, against my nature, I would copy my peers and make a list of resolutions…and never look at that list ever again. And even if I thought of my resolutions, it was just a fleeting thought which I’d push away with amusement.

My resolutions come up, in ones or twos, throughout the year. Some of them through learning from my experiences, of what I should resolve to do or never do. This works for me. It also gives me the time to work on them, if I tend to slack off a bit. A list at the beginning of the year never works this way for me! I guess I am a tiny part of a vast majority in this.

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Clicked by me in beautiful Vina del Mar.

Most New Year resolutions remain scribbles in a journal. I’ve met a few who feel awful that they haven’t been able to do anything on their list. That defeats the purpose of why one makes New Year resolutions which, I believe, is to make you feel good at the end of the year. That you’ve accomplished something…satisfaction at achieving an aim; a goal, by ticking off things on your to-do/to-be list.

This is one of the reasons why I do not make a list of New Year Resolutions. It puts a strain on me to tick off things on the list and takes away much pleasure and enjoyment of doing things. Makes it too regimental or mechanical.

So, here I am, looking forward to 2017 with expectations; some great, some small. A lot of hope, and some dreams! God willing, I shall realize the best of all my hopes and dreams and expectations.

On that note: Here’s to another year and another chance to set wrongs right, to do what has been left undone, and love more, care more.

Make new friends, travel to new places, try something new; learn something different.

Change what has to be changed, in ourselves too, and become a bit better as we improve things.

Revel in the blessings of family, long-time friends, God-given provisions for our needs – food on the table, clothes on our backs and a roof over our heads, with a bit of change left over, jingling in our pockets…enough to fulfill some wants too!

For children and grandchildren, for health, and available help.

From a place of gratitude for a year full of blessings – for help in difficulties, restoration of good health, reassurance when situations bogged me down and for material comforts too – to a place of hopefulness, faith, and the firm belief that God will be with me just as He was in the year that the world is ringing out…

I stand at the threshold of a New year and look ahead with joy.

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU! May you be blessed!

 

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Diwali…the festival of lights

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We celebrated Diwali on Sunday. Diwali, basically, is a Hindu festival, however, it is celebrated by many other people of other faiths as well. The Hindus have a religious connection and perform pujas (religious worship of goddess Laxmi, the goddess of wealth) while the others, celebrate the universal belief that good, ultimately, triumphs over evil. They celebrate the essence of the festival. It also signifies light…the internal light that dispels darkness (evil) in any form, hatred, avarice, bitterness, ignorance, and brings joy, peace, and prosperity. So, generally, everyone joins in the festivities of bursting crackers, eating special sweets and food made particularly on festivals. It is also holiday time in schools and offices. There are gaily lit and decorated malls, restaurants and other places where various activities are available that kids and family can take part in…fairs, exhibitions, new movie releases, you name it. So, everyone is in a joyful mood and enjoys the festival in different ways.

Traditionally, diyas (earthen lamps) are used to decorate the house. However, the modern way is to use tea lights and electric lights. The cities, especially in the northern and western areas, where it is celebrated most, look beautiful as every house is lit up, the Malls, the markets, and shops are all decorated and illuminated. It’s a bit like New York or any such city in the US, at Christmas time, I suppose.

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Rangolis decorated with flower petals and tea lights.

My daughter-in-law celebrates Diwali and so, we had the entrance of our home illuminated. We also had rangolis. Rangolis, again are a traditional thing. They’re made as wet or dry paintings/designs using a white material like chalk, sand, paint or flour. Even paints, colored rice-water, gypsum powder, colored sand or dry colored powders. Often materials like seeds, grains, spices, leaves or flower petals are also used either as the only element or in combination with other materials. Modern materials like crayons, dyes or dyed fabrics, acrylic paint are also becoming common, allowing for brilliant and vibrant color choices We couldn’t do any such thing here. So, I decided to make re-usable rangolis on hand-made paper sheets (that was last year) and having preserved them well we were able to use them again. The hand-made paper was the color of the floor, off-white, and once the flowers concealed its taped edges…it looked like the real deal! The tea lights added the rest.

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Re-usable rangolis painted on very fine hand-made paper.

She even cooked us a meal which is made customarily in her home at Diwali. Delicious! The traditional sweetmeats were also on the table. A party at a friend’s place, Diwali gifts for the kids…and we notched another Diwali on foreign shores.

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The Diwali centerpiece on the dining table

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Diwali mithai (sweets) Green: Pistachio barfi, Yellow: Besan ladoo (chickpea flour ladoo) and orange: Moti chur ladoo (also made from chickpea flour)

Campo Granja Educativa Con Con- The Petting Zoo

This visit isn’t a recent one. I didn’t have this blog at the time we visited, but I came across some pictures of our visit and here they come. The ‘petting’ zoo, as the name implies allows the children to pet certain animals like a kid or a bunny. They are also encouraged to feed some, under adult supervision, of course! One does have to be careful with the geese…and some very hungry goats and alpacas.

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The zoo is spread over a large farm and has a good number of domestic animals and birds. I’m not sure if ostrich comes under the tag ‘domestic,’ though! It’s a nice place to spend the day with kids. They have a small eating place and an area where one can hold small parties…like birthday parties!

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Apart from this, there are other interesting features like showing kids a live beehive and how honey is extracted. Allowing the kids to pluck ripe fruit off the trees…three per child…and no employee from the zoo stands around to check. They trust you.

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There’s the horse wagon ride around the farm as well. Adults enjoy it as much as their kids do!

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And cable rides too for the older kids.

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Then there’s a traditional oven where fresh bread is baked and each child is given three rolls of hot, soft, buttered bread in brown paper bags. The aroma of baking bread enhances the experience by highlighting the ‘Campo’ (rural) surroundings, besides, one is quite hungry by this time and ready to take a bite.

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And while the kids played and ran around enjoying the fresh country air and open space, some of us relaxed among our feathered and four-legged neighbours, some went a shopping for little mementos at the tiny shop on the campus.

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Before we knew it, it was time to drive back home. The little ones were flushed with joy and that signed off the outing as a huge success and a day spent well.