Sunday, April 26, 2009

I Won the Lottery!!!!

The lottery numbers for the Super 7 came out on Friday. But I'm giving myself just one more day of fantasy, just a few hours more to pretend that my numbers came up and I can now buy that Cheez Whiz-coloured Ford Mustang convertible. Ten of them, in fact.

Sometimes when I'm awake in the wee hours of the morning, fretting about this or that, that one $5 lottery ticket turns it all around. I think it's worth the price. Lottery tickets are one of the few items that have actually become more in demand since the downturn of the economy. Everyone is hoping for that quick fix...just win the lottery and hell, I won't NEED a job!

I've been buying them for years, just one a week, $5 and that's it. Recently I won $10 and a free play, and that was very satisfying. Not exactly millions, but satisfying. I'm sure if I added up how much I've spent over the years, it would amount to quite a bit, maybe even a shocking amount. Let's see: $5 x 52 weeks, times how many years? Nah, never mind.

I don't like to think about the statistics. I think people come up with them just to depress us all. I don't care if my chances of winning could be compared to being one grain of sand on a massive beach, or that I have a better chance of getting killed in a car accident or struck by lightening. Who comes up with these depressing statics anyway? Party poopers.

Then there's the story about the 8 Lottery Winners who Lost Their Millions. I know I just put a link to the story, but do yourself a favour and don't read it. Why would you want to find out how stupid people with a lot of money can be? You wouldn't be that stupid, would you? Or finding out how greedy friends and family might become if they found out you had all that money? Who'd really want to know that? Reality is for suckers.

Part of me is excited and the other part dreads walking up to the ticket checker (I always go to the machine first to check my ticket, in case the lottery clerk turns out to be a liar and a thief!) to find out if I have won. Most of the time I get a "Sorry, not a winner." Which of course means, "YOU ARE A LOSER!!" One time, I brought my ticket to the clerk when the machine wasn't working. She had a bit of an accent, and she told me I'd won a free play...then I swore she said "You won the extra." I stared at her and my heart leaped "I won the extra?????". "No," she said, dashing my hopes and making me feel instantly stupid, "You WANT the extra?". Crap.

Although my fantasy does include a Cheez Whiz-coloured Ford Mustang Convertible, most of the time I just lie there and imagine the faces and responses of my family and friends as I hand them a big, fat cheque. I like to think about the people I'd help, and the joy it would give me to do something for them. I go through my list of people, one by one, and eventually I drift off to a wonderful sleep with a little smile on my face.

Five dollars to win the lottery each and every week is a small price to pay, no?


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Eagle Eyes

A few years back I remember it was quite a phenomenon when you could watch anything "live" and "streaming" on the web, and on one occasion I heard about an eagle's nest where a camera had been placed close enough so that you could see the eggs and watch them hatch.

I love birds. I'm not a birder, but I love seeing different ones and looking in my little book to identify them. I love their calls and their colours and I especially love eagles. When I'm on the ferry from Swartz Bay to Tswwassen and it heads through Active Pass, a kind of narrow pass between two islands half way through the trip, I look for eagles sitting in the tall trees along the pass. Sometimes they're circling high above on a sunny day, catching the updrafts and soaring.

The year that I discovered the eagle camera, unfortunately, none of the eaglets hatched. Hundreds of people were watching and some of them were posting on a forum, so sure that they had seen an eaglet, but it was not meant to be. This year a friend who lives in Iowa, sent me a link to the Hancock Wildlife page which is only a few miles away from where I live, in Sidney, BC. I was again mesmerized as the little white eggs turned to fluffy, grey eaglets. Three of them! It's rather unusual to have three eggs hatch, usually there are only two and often one of the two eaglets becomes rather dominant and the second often dies as a result.

But this year there are three. The above video was taken as the parent eagles returned to repair the nest before the arrival of their eggs back in February. Spring is a reminder of renewal, rebirth, hope, and all good things. As much as I would love to live in a place that is warm all year 'round, I would miss the feeling of newness that comes with the return of spring. Just listening to the birds on the Hancock Wildlife website makes me feel better about everything.

Happy Spring :-)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Book of Questions

I'm sure we've all come across that Book of Questions that has been around for awhile, or those board games where players ask each other profound questions and then have to guess who came up with what answer.

I came up with a game for a gathering I was at recently, where I had each participant write down five things that the others in the group may not have known about them, and we had to guess who matched up to what. It was great fun. But it's easy to ask those questions or write down those events when we are past them or when we are sort of detached from the reality of them. The real challenge comes when we actually have to face a life-changing decision or do we know what to do?

My husband has had to face this in the last few months because of his job loss...does he go for whatever job comes up next because he needs the security of a regular paycheque, or does he sacrifice in order to do what he loves? He has worked for many years in an industry that is now imploding and where there are fewer and fewer opportunities, so the chances of him surviving by doing what he has always done is not as much an option anymore. But he loves it. So what does he do?

We have a mortgage and we have a city in which we would love to stay and eventually retire, but which doesn't present many opportunities in his field. We have two adult children who still live at home...what if we have to move to another city? Will they move with us? Or do we just get a smaller house so we don't have a mortgage over our heads, take whatever work comes along and stay in the city we love?

One life-changing event, the loss of a job, can create all kinds of dilemmas or questions or "opportunities" depending on your attitude! This past week was our 25th wedding anniversary and since we didn't really want to spend the money on a more elaborate vacation, we went back to the city where we grew up and spent a couple of days doing some things we both enjoyed. We had a lovely dinner with our family and although it was low key, it was fun. We also visited a company where my husband may have an opportunity to work, and this, of course, brought about all of those questions again. If he was offered the job, would he want it? Would we move? Would he commute? What would life be like?

It is unsettling to be in this position, but on the other hand it could also bring about positive things that we haven't even thought about yet. This is the truth of it: we have no answers, we can only do the best we can, follow our instincts and never have regrets.

Isn't that true anyway? Whether we are facing a life-altering event or simply trying to get through a tough day, it all comes down to the same thing: do the best you can and this too, shall pass. When life is humming along nicely, it's easy to get complacent. It's also easy to assume that life is going to continue along the path you've set out for it. But as John Lennon once said, life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans. Who would have expected that earthquake? How could we have known that this person would suddenly die? We couldn't.

What we have learned recently is the importance of relationships, not just close family ones, but friends too. What has touched us the most is how people have unexpectedly reached out to us in this difficult time. And we have also realized the importance of having each other. In a sense, the greatest gift we received on this, our silver anniversary, is a closeness we haven't had since we were first married. Not that we have had a difficult relationship by any means, but you discover a lot about each other when you're faced with big challenges.

When I was much younger I lamented the fact that there is no Life Book where you can look up all of the difficult questions and find just the right answer. That would be too easy, wouldn't it? On the other hand, sometimes you just have to take the risks, throw the dice and live with whatever you get.

And don't worry if you can't answer all of the questions.