Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Blanket Fort Is a Wonderful Thing!

“Coulda been the Bailey's. Mighta been the wine. Coulda been the 3 or 4 chip bags. I dunno but look at the mess I'm in! My fort is in a shambles. The clamp fell on my head. Me oh me oh my! Wasn't that a party!
This parody of the Irish Rover’s famous song was sung by my daughter early this morning – right off the top of her head, after four hours sleep and slightly hung over from helping me polish off a bottle of Baileys during our St. Patrick’s Day Sleep Over last night. 

My guests arrived at about eight o’clock and, the feasting began almost immediately.  We needed something to wash down with the celebratory spirits that we did start imbibing immediately.  There were chips and tacos and dips and chocolate and cheese fingers… We never did get to the pizza or the shrimp, but that’s okay because now we’re just that much better prepared for Geek Night this week. 

Who's that wee leprechaun?  And
where is her gold? (It's in her heart, of course!
To add to the festive ambiance, we also had sufficient amounts of St. Patrick’s Day swag to ensure that everyone could – and would – have no trouble with the Wearin’ o’ the Green.  Hats and feather boas and hair doodads and matching shamrock lounge pants were dispensed and donned.  And then the games began!
We started with several hilarious rounds of Taboo, a word game that, like Password, has one member of a team trying to get the other member of the team to say a specific word without saying any of the ‘taboo’ words that would make it obvious.  Not any kind of easy as it sounds!  The game was close, but once the spirits began to take real effect we moved on to a battle royal between The Jalapeno Bolognas and the Irish Didlos (yes, that’s Didlos, not the other word that you’re thinking of!  But don’t ask me what it means or how it came about) in a game of Backwords. 
Bizz and Miake, festively greened!

Liz all decked out for St. Patrick's Day
Backwords is an iPhone app game that involves each team recording a series of words or phrases in a variety of categories.  Taking turns, each team listens to the recording backwards, then attempts to re-record what they hear before playing that backwards to try to figure out what the original recording was.  A timer forces you to act quickly and listen carefully.  But it doesn’t always help.  If a team chooses to take a hint, their points are halved.  That is if they even get points.  Two minutes goes by fast when you are laughing too hard to hear, let alone record what you hear before time runs out. 

It was getting close to midnight when we finally deemed it time to start constructing the blanket fort.  The last time I built a blanket fort was for my grandchildren on the occasion of my granddaughter’s first birthday three years ago.  Before that, the last time was several decades ago and I have to say that half a bottle of Baileys on top of a distinct lack of practice is not conducive to sound blanket fort construction at all.  Furniture got moved, blankets got spread out; we even commandeered the cat tree for support!  The weak spot, where the blankets met in the middle was of great concern to us all.  Safety pins were suggested, but I had a better idea.  Clamps!  We could use wood clamps to secure the blankets to the backs of the wing chairs.  I thought it was brilliant.  My daughter/mechanical engineering student found the notion dubious, but was just tipsy enough to retrieve the clamps anyway.   The result was a cozy little hideout in the middle of the living room.

Building our blanket fort
Once inside, we realized that if the cats decided to walk across the fort, we were all doomed.  Their weight on the blankets could be enough to tip the wing chairs over on top of us.  Some of us worried that the clamps would not hold and could fall on us.  I was just drunk enough not to care.   (Yep!  I was indeed on the losing Irish Didlos team.  In case you were wondering.)
I still maintain that wood clamps have
a place in blanket fort construction and design.
Oliver hanging out with us in
the blanket fort
No one could think of any ghost stories to share, so we gossiped, made shadow puppets and continued to laugh into the wee hours of the night.  Oliver and Willow were fascinated with the fort and joined us under the blankets.  Only once did one of them attempt to walk across the roof, but, discovering that there wasn’t much supporting him, quickly and dramatically leapt off, leaving the roof sagging, but intact.  When we finally crawled into our sleeping bags and settled down for a nap, the fort was still holding up.  Good Enough Construction may just have come through for us once again.
Willow nestled in with us (and plotted
to bring down the fort after we were all asleep.)
At about 3:30 I woke up and discovered two things: 1) my friend, who had elected to sleep on the couch/bunk was no longer there (though her snoring told me she wasn’t too far away); and 2) there was a gaping hole in the roof of the fort where the blankets had separated.  Since I was awake anyway, I crawled out of the fort and made my way to the bathroom for a pee.  While I was doing that, I discovered a third thing:  sleeping on the floor was not popular with my bones.  I reasoned, as only a person who has consumed a fair bit of alcohol and has only had an hour or so of sleep can, that I could spend the rest of the night in my comfy bed, get up before everyone else, crawl back into the fort and pretend that I had been there all night.  Yes!  It was a plan.

On my way into the blanket fort
And, as plans so often do, this one went awry.  A couple of hours later, Oliver and Willow decided that it was playtime and the fort was the play thing.  They managed to do just what my daughter had predicted and tipped one of the wing chairs over on her.  The clamp did come loose and fell on her as well.  So, she abandoned what was left of the fort and repositioned herself on the couch, which had been earlier abandoned by my friend.  There’s no way that she could not have noticed that I was not there.

Graciously no one gave me a hard time about it. 

By 7:30 the coffee was brewing as heartily as the hangovers.  (Actually, they were fairly mild – the hangovers, not the coffee.  That was delicious!)  If I’ve learned anything from this experience, it’s that Baileys is probably not the best choice of spirits to indulge oneself in to the point of tipsy that I achieved.  I still maintain that wood clamps have a place in blanket fort construction and safety pins do not.  I now plan on investing in a package of clothes pins, however.  A recent childhood flashback reminded me how useful they are when building blanket forts, for unlike safety pins that can rip blankets, clothes pins hold firmly, but do let go without damaging anything.  I plan on testing this theory out over Easter while my niece is staying with me.  (I hope she likes blanket forts.)

This brought us to breakfast.   Green pancakes with fresh fruit and whipping cream, turkey bacon and scrambled eggs!  So yummy.   Following that we set our minds to completing a crafting project that I cannot reveal in this blog so as not to spoil the forthcoming surprise that is in store for other friends and co-workers.

I learned some time ago how important play and laughter really are.   The birth of my grandson reminded me how easy it is to become so wrapped up in obligation and life’s grown-up foibles that fun becomes just a distant memory, a thing lost like childhood to the passing of time.  Not so!  Play and laughter are just as important now, no matter how old you are, as they are in childhood.  Be silly.  Dress up.  The child never really goes away and loves to come out for some innocent fun as often as it can.  It may require a foamy or an air mattress now that its bones are not as forgiving as they once were, but believe me when I tell you:  a blanket fort is as wondrous at 50 as it is at 5!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  May your blessings outnumber your troubles and happiness surround you all of your days.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It

I am not a project, some broken thing that needs to be fixed.  I am a human being.  A person!  I have thoughts and feelings, likes and dislikes, wants and needs, intelligence and experience.  I am not perfect.  Not by a long shot.  But I think that I deserve at least a modicum of respect for who I am.

There are people in my life who seem to think that I could use a little improvement.  (Can’t we all?)  I’m certainly not going to deny that there are things about me that need tweaking – to say the least!  I’m impatient.  I have a bit of a temper.  There’s that wee superiority complex thing that continues to haunt me now and then.  I procrastinate more than I should.  I’m fairly opinionated about certain subjects, though I do try to see the other side of things and accept them. 

On the flip side, I think that I have a good sense of humour about most things.  I love to learn.  I think I’m pretty creative (although that adjective is clearly lacking).  I’m affectionate and caring.  I’m empathetic, though not often very sympathetic.  I’m forgiving, though I don’t forget.  I take responsibility for my actions and have learned to admit when I make mistakes. 

Recently a dear friend of mine told me that she thinks I’m one of the most educated people she knows.  That went straight to my ego, inflating it with a pride that I have to admit was sadly ridiculous.  I wondered later, when the swelling subsided, if she realizes how much she has to teach me.  Does she see in herself how amazing she is and how much she has to share?  Just being around her lifts my spirits.  Her dazzling smile brightens everything!  And her deep connection with nature… Well, I think that is just brilliant.  I want to learn from her.  Having people like her in my life gives me strength, lifts me up and energizes me. 

There are many people like her in my life.  People who teach me the most extraordinary things.   People who inspire me.  People who, just by being my friends, give me hope, are supportive, make me laugh and accept me for who I am.  My incredible daughters with their unlimited talent, my best friend whom I love so much just for putting up with me, my fabulous MIL with her zest for life and adventure, my FIL who is the salt of the Earth – a good man with a good heart, my staff who help keep our little library flowing smoothly and brimming with creativity.  My grandchildren who have given me the gift of playfulness back.  There are two very special friends from high-school to whom I owe so much for their strength and wisdom and continued love.  There are colleagues who make my job just that much easier with their support and understanding.  There is another special lady (in a pirate hat) whose fearlessness inspires me.  There is my family who taught me that diversity doesn’t have to be adversity. 

And then there are the people who want to change me, control me, take away my soul and encapsulate it in a mold I cannot and will not fit into.  This handful of people has decided that they know what’s best for me and have made it their objective to show me the error of my ways.  Little do they know how much they have actually taught me.  Little do they know how much they have inspired me to stay on the path I have chosen.  They have taught me to be true to myself, to stand tall and stand up for my convictions, to express myself as myself, creatively.  They have given me a gift as precious as the loving support I get from others; the gift of grace.  For without their challenges, I could not have learned how deeply connected we all are.  I could not have learned how the Universe balances light and dark, peace and war, love and hate, good and bad.  And for that I am thankful.

It’s easy to get our hackles up when we think we have the answer and suddenly discover that someone else has a different answer to the same question.  (I do it all the time!)  Yet if we take the time to listen, to try to understand, it’s just as easy to see that we are looking at the same thing; we’ve just approached it from a different angle.  If one person walks up to Michelangelo’s David from the front and describes it to another person who has walked up to it from the back, the other person is going to hear a vastly different description from what she or he is seeing.  Yet both are looking at the same thing.  It is multi-dimensional.  Until you walk all the way around it, you cannot appreciate, let alone see it, completely. 
What else are we not seeing when we only
view things from one side?
(That is a rhetorical question!  Ha-ha)
There are lessons in different points of view.  They are invitations to come around to the back and see things from a new angle.  It’s okay to prefer the front, or the side, or the top… yet to deny the back exists or the description of it is valid without actually going to take a look… well, that seems to me like a very self-limiting thing to do.  That is what creates discrimination, fosters judgement and indulges prejudice.  I want to see the back, the sides, the top and the bottom before I choose which angle I will favour.  (At least to the best of my ability!)

I have no doubt that the people who are trying to change my way of thinking are doing so from a place of caring.  I am willing, at least, to give them the benefit of any doubt there may be.   I am neither flattered nor offended (anymore) by this attention.  I am grateful to them for sharing their perspectives with me and showing me that there is another angle, another play of light and shadow, to consider and, possibly, incorporate into my own practice.   Still, my practice remains my own and I invite them to come around and just take a quick look at what I see from the side I stand on.  I am happy to share what I think, what I know, and maybe with a bit of understanding they can accept and respect and honour my imperfect self as not broken or in need of fixing.  Maybe they can see something of value to incorporate into their own practice.  And little-by-little we can, even through our variety, come to a place of unity.  Of Oneness. 

Brightest blessings!