Happiness Rocks!

again from the land of rocks…lots and lots of big, stupid, f#@$ing rocks!!!

week, another job. Two, actually. Our first was a deck repair for the elderly
couple who live almost across the street from us. The second was a bit of a
surprise. A frantic phone call, a plea for help, so-and-so recommended you, an
offer of a cash bonus, and next thing you know we are rearranging our jammed
schedule to fit in another Nice Fence…stat! Not just a Nice Fence, though, a
super, extra-delicious, bonafide primo, sock-knocker-off-er, fence. Why?
Because our client is the owner of Purcell Timber Frame Homes and this fence is
going to be at the front of his business – his showpiece. Yikes!

guys build the most beautiful timber frames and ship them all over the world.
The one they’re working on right now is for a house in Hawaii. Pressure? Yep.

first challenge was the ground.

thing Nelson has lots of is rocks. Spirits were high as we carefully plotted
and laid out our string line for the 108 foot fence. “108? That’s my lucky
number!” exclaimed the owner when we told him the length. Apparently it has to
do with the number of beads in some sort of Buddhist thing…only in Nelson. But
it didn’t take long for our smiles to invert. As we dug, each loud “CLANG”
signaled another troublesome rock, and there were innumerable clangs. With
shovels, a pinch bar, much grunting, and lots of sweat, we wrestled the beasts
from the ground, our curses getting more colourful with each hole.

I never
knew 2 feet could be such a long way down.

brings me to this week’s subject: Happiness. Yes, you read that correctly.
Happiness is something most of us seek but where, when, and how we find it is
often a mystery. Of course there are different types of happiness – the short-lived
laughing fit, the deep satisfying pleasure of a good life, the joy that comes
and goes with an event like Xmas or a birthday – but that doesn’t matter to our
memories. Five minutes or five years, we never forget the truly happy moments
in our lives.

happiness is our goal, why do we so often fail to achieve it? We have all had
the experience of looking forward to a good time only to find ourselves bored
silly, or worse. Conversely, I’m sure you can name at least one time you were
dreading going to some function, some party, or luncheon, or meeting, or
something, only to have a fantastic time, a memorably happy time. I would even
go so far as to say, most of the good times we anticipate let us down, whereas
the unplanned moments, the impromptu get togethers, the surprise visits, turn
out to be the most fun.

Years Eve tops the list for me as some of my biggest let downs. It took me a
number of years to realize the hype about New Years was just that…hype. I
always dreamed of going to one of those big, fancy events downtown with live
music, balloons, and champagne, (they always look so fun in the movies), but
eventually clued in that sitting in a room with a couple hundred strangers
wearing uncomfortable shoes was no one’s idea of a good time. Still, year after
year I eagerly anticipated the last night of the year, and, without fail, was


I think
the year was 90 or 91, and I was working as a cocktail waitress at a nice
neighbourhood pub in New Westminster, while going to university. The end of the
year rolled around, my boyfriend was scheduled to work New Years Eve, and I’d
had it with the whole deal, so I volunteered to work that night, too, feeling
cranky and despondent. Well, the place was rockin’, all the regulars were there,
and just before midnight the boss waved all us waitresses over to the bar and
poured a row of shooters for us to toast with. After the countdown she told us
that if any customer bought us a drink we could drink it…and we did. What a
party! We danced, we drank, we got monster tips, and it was about 4am when the
taxi dropped me off at home. It was about 5am when the taxi picked me up again.
The boss had rented a limo; we all climbed in, in various states of tipsiness
and exhaustion, and motored downtown for the annual polar bear swim. (I would
say that it is a good idea to be slightly intoxicated before leaping into the
frigid Pacific at 6am). My New Year’s Eve ended sometime around dinner on
January 1st.

That was
one of the best New Years Eve’s of my life. It is also one of the happiest
memories I have of that turbulent period of my life. Happiness came to me when
I least expected it to.

And what
about this: Have you ever found yourself laughing in the middle of some
horrible experience? Can you recall a failed dinner, a vacation where
everything went wrong, a day at work so hellish you wished it were Monday
again? And yet, when you recall the memory, or share the story with friends,
you find yourself laughing? Hundreds of other days, seemingly pleasant,
stress-free days, slip away from you forever, but that day, that horrible day sticks and continuously
brings a smile to your face years later.

For Prez
and me, our horrible day began in the Loreto airport, in Baja, when we arrived
to catch our Canada 3000 charter flight home.

Loreto airport is small. How small is it? It’s so small you have to go outside
to change your mind. Bud-ump-bump.
Um, where was I? Yes, very small airport, and so it was very strange to arrive
shortly before our flight and find the building empty. We checked the board and
there were no flights posted. We called the Canada 3000 toll-free number and
just got some recording that, basically, said, “Piss off, we’re not telling you
anything!” Finally the guy who worked at the chip counter, (which was always
out of chips), asked us if we were waiting for the plane and informed us it
wouldn’t be coming today. We asked him when it was coming, to which he replied, “I think the plane never come.

This is
how we learned Canada 3000 had gone bankrupt and left thousands of passengers
(like us) stranded. Unfortunately, we were the only people on the entire flight
who weren’t staying at a hotel so our travel agent had no way of contacting us.
Now we were stuck, and Prez had to be back for work, pronto.

With the
help of Chip Stand Guy, we managed to book the last two seats on a charter
flight going as far as La Paz. From there, we figured we could rent a car and
blast to Cabo where we could get the late flight to L.A. and then home.

At the
La Paz airport we dashed to the rental car booth and tapped our feet
impatiently while the agent slowly, and methodically, filled out the forms. You
wanted to scream, “Look, we’re not
applying for a mortgage, we just need to drive a couple hundred miles!!
” When
the forms were complete he escorted us out to the car with a map. Time was
ticking away. “Now,” he began, as he
passed us the key and pointed to the map, “…the
nearest gas station is here…
” Gas station? The fuel tank was completely
empty! Arrrrgh!!!

up, we raced to the highway, keeping a close eye on the time. Very quickly we
realized it was Sunday and every resident of Baja was out driving…at 30 mph.
When we hit clear stretches of road, Prez used up what was left of that rental
car’s life span. It was only my last minute cry of “COW!!!”, and Prez’s
excellent driving skills that saved us from near disaster.

person who designed the rental car return parking lot at the Cabo airport did
so specifically to make our lives as frustrating as possible.

missed the flight.

there was another one that was late, so we could get on!

At 10:00

Oh well.

post 911, the airport security crew was stupidly vigilant. They confiscated my
really nice, really expensive tweezers (just in case I threatened to pluck the
captain’s eyelashes or something), and then told us we couldn’t take our
fishing reels in our carry on bags, we’d have to check them. What?? Why?!
Because we might use the line to strangle someone, (well, you better take our
shoelaces too, Einstein!). “Can we carry
them on if we take the line off?
” The answer was yes and when we finished
removing all of our very nice, and very expensive, fishing line it looked like
we had gillnetted the security desk.

consisted of the last taco left in the cafeteria, which was closing, of course.
It was a chicken & chicken bone taco – heavy on the bone, light on the

arrived in L.A. at the same time a 747 of French people did, which made the
customs line up interesting…and long…and sllllllloooooooow. It was near 1 am
and our flight to Vancouver was at 7am so there wasn’t much point going to a
hotel. Tired, hungry, and cranky, we bedded down on the coziest patch of carpet
we could find. Who knew they like to drop the temperature in the airport down
to near-freezing at night? Having come from the scorching desert we had only a
sweatshirt and thin pants for warm clothing. Huddled together to stay warm we
drifted off to sleep…for 3.4 seconds, at which time the gas-powered floor
buffer powered up next to our heads. Cribbage and coffee until check-in. Sigh.

taxied down the runway; Vancouver was less than 3 hours away, bed less than 4
or 5. All was right with the world and we could relax. Then the captain’s
voice, which was oddly somber, crackled over the intercom. “Ladies and gentlemen, I’m sorry to tell you
this but I have to report that a plane has crashed in New York. We don’t know
if it was terrorists, we’ll keep you posted.
” And a second later, more than
a little freaked out, we were taking off.

The rest
of the trip was uneventful, (all five hours of it), and the crash of the plane
in New York (not due to terrorists) helped put our sufferings in perspective.
We had a few good chuckles during that horrible trip and even now I am smiling
as I write.

the happiness we derive from difficult times comes from the closeness we feel
with our friends and family at those moments. We are like soldiers, banding
together to fight a common enemy. And this week, the enemy was rocks.


Oh look what I found, sweetie! A rock!

Prez: “Wow! You’re lucky.”

Prez: “We need something to hold down the tarp on
those bags of cement. Hmmm, what can we use? If only we had some rocks

Hey, I’ve got an idea to make this easier!
So, we take some dynamite and put it in the hole…

helped, immeasurably, to return home, muscles screaming, tired as we’ve been in
years, to hear the mellifluous voice of Becky “Mountain Momma” Rippel on our
answering machine telling us to come over for Greek ribs. Not the first time, I
must mention, that she has saved our cold and tired selves from a bleak dinner
of spaghetti with tinned pasta sauce.

is tricky, elusive, often fleeting. We struggle and sweat to find it, likewise
to hang onto it, and often don’t appreciate it until it’s gone.

sometimes, happiness is as simple as a plate of Greek ribs shared with good

What’s the worst time you’ve ever had that makes you smile?

next week, I hope this finds you healthy, HAPPY, and lovin’ life!


p.s. – I really like the video you see below – kind of eerie but very creative. Enjoy

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