Heat Wave

Vancouver is under an unusual (and frankly, quite unbearable) heat wave. The air is so still that the sky is getting hazy from the pollution. We are beating all sorts of records. It’s not often, here, that you get temperatures in the 30s for one or two weeks in a row. People are not used to it, nobody has air conditioning, pools are not a-plenty… So today, while I will be sitting in my air conditioned office with a fleece on, I will have a thought for all who suffer from the heat. Especially my neighbor who just gave birth (to a beautiful girl) and will now be stuck with a breastfeeding baby boiler on her for what will, no doubt, feel like 24 hours a day.

I also have a though for my best friend who went on a cruise in the South because she couldn’t put up with the rainy summer they were having in Quebec. She should have come to visit us: it would have been cheaper, yet just as warm. A tiny bit less exotic maybe, but she could have taken a ferry boat instead of a cruise ship…

In the meantime, we are putting our spray bottles to good use. Our apartment is quite warm, so a lot of our neighbors meet up in the courtyard, where it’s a tiny bit cooler (or if not, there’s always the water hose). We had supper there last night with everyone. We may be warm, but at least we have a community spirit!

I would be looking forward to winter if it wasn’t that everyone will then be complaining about the rain and the cold!

66 years of marriage

Zakary’s great-aunt, whose life we celebrated last Thursday, passed away one month shy of her 90th birthday and a few days before her 66th wedding anniversary. The elderly couple lived in an assisted living facility where they had their own apartment and were relatively self-sufficient. Although a bit slower than he himself wishes he was, Zakary’s great-uncle is still all there mentally, and his wife only lost some of her wit in the past few years. They were loving and he took great care of her. They would walk hand in hand wherever they went.

Celebrating the long life they spent together, the daughter they raised, the grandchildren they adored, the work they achieved, made me wish Zakary and I make it that far. On our 66th wedding anniversary, I will be 96 and he will be just short of 94. In these days and ages, it is totally possible we could make it there. Or we may not. I hope that if we do make it to this ripe old age, we will still be walking on the beach hand in hand (and making our children swear under their breath because they would prefer us to sit quietly in the shade). If we make it there, I hope I will be speaking French with my great-grandchildren.

Out of the frying pan and into the fire…

We had to go to Kelowna on an unplanned trip  last week. Zakary’s great-aunt passed away and on Thursday, her birthday, we attended a celebration of her life. Our son did us proud: we were able to stay for the whole ceremony and he only made a few loud comments that I’m sure everyone accepted as just another proof that life goes on. He was cute. He was fun. It’s almost a pleasure, now, to travel with him. He charmed everyone and probably took everyone’s mind off the sadness of the moment. Zak’s great-uncle (the husband of the deceased) even spoke French with him. His parents were both French-Canadians, but noone has heard him speak French in a long time… He won’t speak French to me, but he spoke French to our son as he played with him. They were really cute together.

We don’t usually go in the summer because it’s way too warm. Right now, we are in the middle of an ultra-dry summer that sparked several wildfires. Kelowna is an oasis of irrigated orchards in the middle of the desert. It was hot and dry in the sun (luckily, our rented car had air conditioning). We saw the traces of one of the fires, the clouds of smoke coming from another, it rained ashes on Thursday, and on Saturday we witnessed two lightning strikes during a thunderstorm, one of which lit a fire.

But all in all, it was a wonderful holiday. We celebrated a long and full life (the deceased was a month short of the 90th birthday), we met loving family members who spent some quality time with our son, we picked apricots, we picked more apricots, we froze apricots, we dried apricots, we made apricot jam… Did I mention we picked apricots? Zakary’s grandmother’s orchard has a few apricot trees that were loaded with fruits. Of course, I don’t like apricots. Go figure. But I can’t wait until our September trip when it will be time to pick grapes, plums, apples and pears. Now we’re talking!

And on our way back, we found out that a warm spell is heading towards Vancouver where it should be in the mid-30 degrees all week. Argh!

Of roles and gender…

Now that I’ve been back to work for almost a year, I’m ready to come clean. The real division of labor in a house is not between man and woman, but between the person who stays home and the person who works. When I went back to work, I thought that the housework would be more fairly distributed when I worked because I was used to being home so it would be easier for me to pick up the slack than it was for Zak when I was home. That’s bull. After a while, a very short while, you lose track.

When I was home, I used to find it slightly annoying when, on weekends, Zak would ask me questions all the time. What do I give our son to eat? At what time should I put him for a nap? What do I pack for the day? I kept thinking, can’t he figure it out by himself? I just want a break here! Well, of course, when I went back to work he figured it out. And now I find myself asking him what I should give our son to eat, at what time I should put him for a nap, what I should pack for the day or what needs to be done around the house.

I would certainly figure it out if he wasn’t there. But since a toddler’s schedule changes regularly, his needs for diapers, snacks, etc. evolve, I do tend to ask Zak. And I’m sure it must be annoying, but it’s really hard to avoid. He is the one who cooks supper, so he knows what’s not in the fridge that I should buy for supper. He knows how much fruit gets eaten through the week. He knows where everything is in the house. He knows what needs cleaning the most – he spends so much more time there than I do! He knows how much clothes our son goes through a day, and therefore how much we should pack on a trip. And although I try to do as much as I can in the evening, it will never equal what he puts up with every day. Especially on days when our son is a brat (yup, it happens)!

So for all you moms out there who think that men are jerks because they don’t help you enough, hear this confession of a working mom who cannot seem to manage to help her husband enough… and try to be patient!

Roaming

Saturday night, we put our son to bed and went back to other occupations. Zak was doing dishes, I was at the computer. All of a sudden, I heard a small voice that sounded an awful lot like that of my son. I figured it was neighbor’s kid in the courtyard. But then I heard it again.

- Hold the hand to go downstairs!

Yup. It was my son who had managed to open his bedroom door for the first time, and he was nicely waiting at the top of the stairs for us to help him come down (as we ask him to do since he tends to tumble down otherwise). When we climbed up to join him, he said:

- Baby nap all done! I go downstairs now.

It was 8:30. I put him back to bed and shut the gate at the top of the stairs, just in case, and he stayed there.  Until 3 in the morning, when he opened his door again and then opened up ours. I slept through it, Zak pretended he was sleeping and our escape artist went back to bed without even trying to wake us up. Until 5:30 in the morning, when he came back to see if we were awake. We both pretended, and he slept for another hour.

Last night, we heard him rummage with the door, but I guess he was too tired to successfully open it up. He managed to do it, however, at 6:30 this morning. But it was a decent wake-up time so we all got up with him.

Let’s just hope he gets bored of this game soon. It’s not too bad here, but we are supposed to go to Kelowna for a funeral soon, and we wouldn’t want him rummaging through the house where we’ll be staying. Of course, that’s if we can go there despite the wildfires raging through the area. But that’s another story!

Defiance

Tidbit of conversation to show how defiant our soon-to-be 2-year-old is becoming:

- No, Baby, you cannot play with that, I say as I place (the phone, a kitchen knife, my friend’s iPod – it must have happened a 100 times with 100 different things) higher, thinking it’s now out of reach.

He extends further and grabs it, or gets a step stool, or climbs in another way to reach it.

- No, Baby, I said no, I say while prying the contentious item from his gripping hands.

- Baby sais yes!, he replies with a frown while tightening his grip.

I have to say, it’s hard to keep your cool under these conditions! I know, it’s just the beginning!

We’re back!

After two weeks in Quebec, we are back in Vancouver today. We had a wonderful time, although we’re glad to be back home. It was great to see my extended family, some of whom read this blog so it was weird because they knew a lot of things about my private life that I didn’t expect people to know… I mean, obviously I can’t expect things I write here to be private, but I never really think that people are actually reading. Knowing that they actually are makes me even more committed to continue, but we’ll see how long my resolve lasts!

We had a lot of fun with everyone, and our son did really good given the circumstances. Let’s say that in the last few days he acted a little bit more like a 2-year-old than we would have wished, but he was calm in the plane, he slept quite well despite changing houses all the time and he allowed us to actually enjoy the holiday a lot more than last year. He was also a lot more social than one could expect given that we don’t have a lot of friends or family around most of the year. He doesn’t need us to be around and was quite content to go play with my friend or some family member even if we were not within sight anymore. I really appreciate that he doesn’t need us to be there all the time.

But most of all, I need to thank Zak. He really spent a lot of time doing boring stuff so that I could enjoy my holiday and my family as much as possible. He spent a few hours yesterday repacking all of our luggage while I chatted with my brother and mom one last time, and that’s just one of a thousand exemples. He was wonderful, as always. He also had terrible pain when the plane landed, which had not happened the last few times we flew, and he got some sort of food poisining, so he’s pretty miserable right now. I hope it goes away quickly.

I’ll be back soon!