For Dad

My father passed away suddenly on Monday, Jan. 23. At about 4 a.m., the morning before his funeral, I sat down and wrote this. 

img_0278

When my parents bought their home in Douglastown, some 26 years ago, my mother was horrified to find their new yard a happy home to many garter snakes.

Mom could hardly bare to enjoy her new property, with the thought of so many slithering beasts hiding in the grass. My father could not abide that.

Saint Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland. Patrick Joseph Lynch drove the snakes out of Douglastown.

Painstakingly, over the course of many weeks and months and years, my Dad captured each and every snake he spotted in the yard and transported it into the woods and across the creek—with the assurance that a narrow stream of rushing water would keep us separated from the serpentine terrors.

In the interest of creating a truly snake-free environment, snake removal was, on at least one occasion, a service Dad also provided to the neighbourhood. When next-door neighbour Dewey, a little queasy about snakes himself, found one curled up under the hood of the truck he was working on, it was Dad he talked to and Dad who relocated it to its new home across the creek.

And sure enough, Dad’s perseverance, stubbornness and his pure labour of love to make his bride happy in their new home succeeded. Snakes are now a rare sight at their home on William Street.

Except for the occasional one hiding in the woodpile…

It was a summer day many years ago. Chris and Dad were piling our winter’s store of wood in the basement. Mom and I were upstairs. We must have been cleaning or baking – that part we can’t remember.

What does live in our memories is the sound of Chris and Dad’s voices from the basement rising up through the vents in the floor. Strands of a conversation.

The topic? A snake had been spotted and was now hiding in the woodpile.

Chris and Dad’s solution? Don’t tell the girls.

What harm could it do, they said.

Surely it couldn’t get upstairs, they reasoned.

Mom and I marched down and busted up their plan. The four of us moved every single stick they had piled: two of us carrying wood from one pile to another, two of us standing guard with brooms.

We found the snake. Hiding in the last stick of wood, of course. And much to the satisfaction of my mother and me, Dad quickly vanquished the intruder.

Some of the snakes in the neighbourhood were much less terrifying.

Last summer, our neighbour Dewey – the one who shared my and mom’s aversion to all things slithery—returned home from work. Heading toward the house, he spotted a snake sunning itself by the corner of his garage.

In an act of bravery, Dewey went to the shed, grabbed a shovel, and quickly beheaded the snake.

My father watched all of this gleefully from our window across the street.

The snake, of course, was a rubber one Dad had found in my old stuff. He laughed heartily when he told me the story of how he had planted it in Dewey’s yard as a prank. He was, in ways like this, just a big kid.

In so many other ways, he was the measure of a man.

My father worked hard his entire life. He was generous of his time and spirit. There was nothing he wouldn’t do for those he cared about. And while he never expected anything in return, it’s a testament to the caring relationships he nurtured that his generosity was so regularly and so fully reciprocated. His neighbours became friends and his friends were like family.

Since my mom and my dad retired, thankfully, they both had the chance to work a little less hard. They marveled at the life they got to enjoy. Long quiet mornings reading, cooking supper together, putting their feet up in the evening. They felt and practiced pure gratitude for their many blessings.

Nothing made my father feel more blessed than family. One of his greatest joys was when Chris, Nicholas and I visited home for a weekend. Nothing was better than the five of us gathered on the porch or around the kitchen table or the dartboard, sharing good conversation and many laughs.

Nothing was better than that—except maybe sharing that warmth with anyone who stopped by the house. He was always quick with an invitation to share a meal or a drink.

I know my father was so proud of us. He joked often about how the buttons on his shirt were going to pop off because his chest was so puffed up with pride.

These last few days, hearing so many stories about the man my father was—strong, principled, stubborn as all get-out, sure, but loving, neighbourly, caring. Well Dad, it’s my turn to be button-popping proud.

I’m so proud to have had you as my father. I’m so proud to be your daughter. I love you.

Advertisements

Ooops…

Update: OMG! It seems to be back. No sudden movements, anyone. It could disappear again in the blink of an eye… On a completely unrelated side note, I’m backing up everything. Right. Now.

Hey! Guess what I did?

I deleted my whole effin’ blog!

Yep. Sure did.

What I wanted to do was just change my username to match my blog name: “MostlyHealthyLiving.” I did that (I think…), but also managed to simultaneously create a brand new empty blog where my full-of-content, slowly-growing blog used to be.

So… yeah.

Trying to figure out what to do with that.

So far, I’ve:
1. Called my husband in near tears

2. Put it out into the Twitterverse:

3. Posted an SOS in the WordPress forums over here.

4. Frantically copied cached versions of my posts from Google so that I can maybe re-post them at some point in the near future if there really is no way to recover the blog that used to be.

Any tech-savvy folk out there who might be able to come to my rescue? I’ll be here, at my desk… not crying…

What now?

In 2008, this happened:

University Graduation

May 2008 - Graduation from STU, Fredericton, NB

Followed one year later with this:

Engagement ring

May 2009 - He put a ring on it, Victoria, BC.

In 2010, we almost lost our damn minds making this happen:

Wedding day

August 14, 2010 - Got hitched, Miramichi, NB.

And in 2011, thirsting for more insanity, we got one of these:

Our First House

October 2011 - Mr. and Mrs. First-time Homeowner, Fredericton, NB

Which begs the question, what now?

It’s New Year’s Day and, as per usual, the promise of this fresh new year and all the potential it drags along with it has me plotting and planning a path to the new and improved me.

It’s a compulsion. Every year, after a week sustaining myself on gingerbread men, sugar cookies and coffee laced with Bailey’s, it suddenly seems like a good idea to start anew.

Despite the rapid succession of major life events (see the above), I feel I’ve become stuck, sedentary, stagnant.

Need some “for-instances”? Here comes the boom:

Over the past year, I’ve become hooked on TV. I’ve spent more hours that I can count, curled up in my sweatpants, watching Grey’s Anatomy, The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, Community, Parks and Recreation, Desperate Housewives, House, Glee. Hell, I’ve even stooped to the level of Jersey Shore and Teen Mom – both 1 and 2, I must sadly admit.

And no, I still haven’t unpacked my workout gear since we moved into the new place. It’s been a cool 3+ months since my last run. Yikes. And it’s not like I’ve been compensating with at-home workouts. The inch of dust on my Turbo Jam DVD speaks for itself.

And indeed, it is also true that I’ve cooked almost nothing in my new home that required more effort than opening a frozen pizza box.We got a Costco membership in 2011. Ready access to bulk pre-made food coupled with the chaos of renovating our new house makes a great excuse not to cook.

(And yes, now that you mention it, I’ve also spent over a year shirking my New Year’s 2010 pseudo-resolution to keep up with this blog. Because, you know, who the hell has time for it when you’re trying to keep up with Snooki and the crew?)

Luckily for my rapidly diminishing muscle mass and IQ, it’s now 2012 and 2012  will be different.

Which again begs the question, what now?

Well, now I guess I start working on making it different. And I guess I start today.

I guess you could call this, the public outing of my unsavory habits, a first step.

And I guess, if you’re willing to bear with me, you can stay tuned for step 2.

This weekend, I wore spandex and ate sardines

So hot yoga didn’t work out.

Oh, I showed up.  Bright and early and spandex-clad. Unfortunately, too many other spandex-clad keeners got there before me and the class was full.

Boo.

However, the friendly receptionist-type person gave me a free class pass redeemable at a time of my choosing.  Which I fully intend to use in the near future.

Although, I must admit the place freaked me out. As soon as you walk through the door, hot air bitch-slaps you across the face. That’s right, I said “bitch-slaps.” Not very zen, I know. I may need to work on that before my class.

Next thing you know, people start streaming out of the classroom looking like they’d just gotten out of a bath. And I suppose you could say they had, if you consider sliding around in pools of your own sweat a bath.

Then you notice that the men are wearing only spandex short-shorts and the women what appear to be bikinis, and you think, “Sure, I can’t blame them because the damn room is over 40 degrees.” But then you start to think about the bending and the stretching and the contortionism that takes place in the class and you start to wonder if you really want to see 99%-naked strangers do that kind of thing.

You also notice how most everyone is tall and lean. At first you think, “Wow, these people must subsist only on celery and wheatgrass.” Then you remember that the room is 40 degrees and the truth is probably that these people actually eat nothing but butter but it isn’t a problem since it melts right off in those 90-minute torture settings. In fact, it’s probably not their own sweat they’re bathing in; it’s probably melted fat.

Yet, there are several people I know — good people, sane people — who swear by hot yoga. So contrary to what the above rambling might suggest, I am keeping an open mind and I am following through. For now, let’s just list Mini-Resolution#10 as pending.

I can, however, check off a couple other Mini-Resolutions, starting with Mini-Resolution #5: Try Sardines.

They looked every bit as disgusting as anticipated but tasted a lot better. Dr. Weil said he enjoys mashing canned sardines with mustard and diced onion to make a “tasty spread.” Although I thought he was likely playing it fast and loose with the word “tasty,” I decided to adopt his method.

He didn’t lead me astray. I served up the tasty sardine spread in a whole wheat pita with some spinach and alfalfa sprouts. I used Dijon mustard and (luckily) that was pretty much all I tasted.

I think the key to enjoying sardines may be to avoid tasting them. Also, to have someone prepare them for you. I did not enjoy looking at these oily fish nestled in — I don’t know what you’d call it; their own greasiness, maybe? The label said it was spring water but I think that was a little far-fetched.

Overall, I must admit I was impressed by these greasy little nutritional powerhouses. A full can — which in sardine mash pita pocket form did me for two lunches — was only 130 calories, had 1.5 g of those heart-healthy Omega-3’s, 17 g of protein and a whopping 110% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin D.

That’ll teach me to doubt the gospel according to Dr. Weil.

I also ticked off Mini-Resolution #9: Ask Dr. Weil, firing off my question about partially hydrogenated oils and whether manufacturers have to label them as such. Keep your fingers crossed that he actually answers it; he gets hundreds a day, his website says.

I was also planning on asking him about Becel but found that someone beat me to it.

In 8 Weeks to Optimal Health, Dr. Weil advocates against using margarine and says that if you must, must, must have some kind of buttery-type spread, just go for the real deal and use butter (although he hopes you’ll use less of that as well).

His reasoning is that margarines are typically made with partially hydrogenated oils and thus contain trans fats. I’ve got a tub of Becel in the fridge, however, that contains no partially hydrogenated oils and no trans fats. It’s sitting on the no-no shelf, but I had been wondering if it might actually be okay.

Survey says…

No.

Says Dr. Weil:

“While [it] may be better than most margarine … my views about margarine remain unchanged. It is still fat, mostly unhealthy fat, and a highly processed food. The less processed food you eat, the better.”

True enough.

And with that, it’s tally time!

Days to go: 345

Mini-resolutions to go: 255

NBRWJK88ABH2 <— Never mind this. I’m attempting to up my blog’s visibility by getting it listed on some sites, and…well, I’d explain it to you but I’m not sure I quite get it myself.