The Proposal

engagementIf there’s only one thing a guy has to get right in life, it’s a marriage proposal. Or at least, that’s my way of thinking. Bugger up a first date, it’s recoverable. Forget to change the oil, you can hire someone else to do that.

But you can’t bugger up a proposal or get someone else to do it.

Although, hiring someone to do it might be a great business idea I’ll have to think about.

Anyway, yes, a proposal.

It’s something you have to do yourself and you have to get three things right.

No. Three things perfect.

Blessings. Location. Ring.

How did that idea get into my head? Well, I blame my friend, Gord Watson. The bastard did the PERFECT proposal. Per-fect! He asked my best friend and fellow writer to marry him in a bookstore, perhaps her most favourite place in the world, on Salt Spring Island, which is, like, ‘their place.’ He got the most amazing ring. And made sure he had the blessings of everyone who was important in his girlfriend’s life.

And I wanted to do the same.

So first I made a list, cuz, if you’ve read any of my blogs, that’s how I roll.

four weddingsThen, I spent the last month talking to nearly all my friends, family, and not a few random people in grocery store line-ups about how and where to make a proposal. The perfect proposal. I looked up ideas on the internet. I watched hours of romantic movies. I laid in bed and thought long and hard about it for hours and hours.

And I heard or came up with a ton of ideas. A few had to be discarded. Apparently unicorns don’t exist. Apparently the Rock is ‘too busy’ to come out and take photos. Apparently, dolphins can’t be hired to bark out the words and NASA won’t send an astronaut to write something on the moon.


lightsSadly I don’t have the money to take the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world to Fiji and propose at night on a beach lit by glowing algae. I don’t have the courage to propose while bungee jumping together (though how I would even get the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world to do a bungee jump is a whole other problem.) And I don’t want to do anything too public, so the flash-mob dancing and singing All Of Me was out.

Oh, I wasn’t short of ideas. A proposal in the planetarium as the stars spun above us, a carriage ride in Victoria as the sun set on the ocean, me spending 4 years learning to play the guitar and then singing underneath a balcony she stood upon.

But they all had to be discarded for one reason or another.

And time ticked on.

While I stewed, I knew I had to do 2 other things.

First up, I had to ask her parents for their blessings.

Oddly enough, I wasn’t nervous about this at all. I love both sets of parents and get along great with them. I was pretty sure they’d be excited for us. With no fear in my heart, I asked one set of parents when they visited and went to see another set while the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world was at work.

I honestly don’t know what I would have done if they said, ‘yeah, ah, no, you jerk, we don’t want you in our family. You ask our daughter to marry you and we’ll feed you to the fishes.’

My guess, if they said no, I’d have to resort to bribing them with expensive alcohol. But, no worries, they were all excited.

However, I’m super bad at lying, so when the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world asked what I did the day I asked her dad and step-mom, I think I said something like,

“Ah, yeah, I went out and didn’t see your dad, I err, ah, went to get a haircut.”

“But your hair is the same.”

“Crap! I mean, ah, yeah, I ah, forgot my wallet and they don’t cut hair for free, you know. Hahaha.”

She looked at me kinda funny, but didn’t press the issue. Had she, it might have gone like this…

“So what was that about my dad?’

“Nothing, Nope, not a thing, no, didn’t see him at all.”

“But you were planning on seeing him or something?’

“Wait, what, no, that’s crazy. Why would I see your dad without you coming along?”

“Then why did you mention him?”

“Ah, hey, errr, uhm, is that the doorbell?”

“I don’t hear a doorbell.”

“Sorry, I got to run, I think I hear the ice cream truck coming.”

“It’s midnight.”

“I know, strange, right? I gotta check it out.” *runs out of room,*

But, it didn’t go that way. I got away with my stupid lie.

One thing down. Next up, the ring.

It was, perhaps, the most important part of the proposal.

The perfect ring.

ring or pcBeing a guy, the perfect ring would double as a watch and would likely have laser beams built in. But, apparently, women have different ideas. So, less about if it has a built-in bottle opener and more about the sparklies.

Luckily, I didn’t have to do this alone. I brought over my best friend (the one who’d received the perfect proposal) and she helped me brainstorm what would be the most amazing ring (that I could afford, since the most amazing one I saw cost about $3,000,000.)

It was hard. Harder than I thought. There were so many choices. Sooooooo many. I’d have been better off if there was only a choice between the black stone and the blue stone, kinda like how I bought my Mustang. You can choose blue or black…

But no, much to my horror, there’s cuts and styles and sizes of bands and lots of bling or no bling and…

And I wanted to get it right and get it right with the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world not there to tell me what she would love.

In the end, I found the perfect ring, though. It would look beautiful on her finger. She could be proud to show it to her friends. It was all sparklie, a little different from most rings, and wonderfully elegant.

That done, I only had the actual proposal to finalize.

I looked back at our special places. The place we had our first date had gone out of business. Oh, it was still a coffee shop, just a different one. Our first real meal together was at the Keg and I didn’t want to have to stumble out of a booth, get on my knee while waiters dodged around me with sizzling steaks.

But there was a place. Kind of our place. Like Salt Spring.

IMG_7696Whistler. In the fall.

And there was one adventure we hadn’t gone on there. (More if you count winter adventures, but I didn’t want to wait for the snow to fall.)

I phoned and booked the adventure.

I picked up my ring.

I reserved a hotel room for us.

I prepared my little speech inside my little head. I listened to 300 songs to find the perfect one for her.

Then waited until the day arrived, so nervous I couldn’t sleep for a whole week, even waking up at 4 am on the day, today, Oct 3rd.

Would it be PERFECT?

Would she say yes?




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Top 5 Things To Do In Oregon

We didn’t come close to doing it all, but if you happen to be near Lincoln City, here are a few suggestions.

  • 1IMG_20150827_125246_hdrDune buggying. Ok, this is a no brainer. If you are anywhere near any place that has dunebuggy tours, go on one. Go on the wildest one. Zip up and the over the dunes, slide-slip down a slope, skid over a crest, and watch in amazement and horror as some bright spark decided it was a good idea to picnic in a dune buggy and ATV area.
  • IMG_4209Visit a beach. Cannon Beach. Florence. Lincoln City. Any of the beaches are fantastic. Build a sandcastle or dig a canal. Bury someone in the sand, preferably for fun and, you know, not to dispose of a body. Dare the waves to knock you off your feet. Surf. Feel the salty spray on your face. Listen to the thunderous roar as waves crash onto the rocks.
  • IMG_7441Ok, I get that the cheese factory might not be everyone’s most amazing adventure, but you can eat your weight in cheese samples, you can watch them cut cheese into blocks for hours and they make the best grilled cheese sandwich anywhere. And while you’re nearby, check out the hangars at the NAS air museum. Plus, you get to say Tillamook to your friends. A lot (if they annoy you.)
  • IMG_7398Wander a seaside town. Oh, there are so many, but on this trip, I loved Newport with its sea lions. Eat fish and chips. Check out the little gift shops. Smell the tar and wood. Listen to the sea lions croak. Watch the ships come in. Listen to the gulls.


  • IMG_7425Go for a hike. Hey, even if you’re not a hiker, there’s something for everyone!

Even if you get a bit lost along the way, there’s so many amazing walks, from the simple to the complex, from the easy to the challenging. Try one.

Hey, that’s not all. There’s outlet malls, museums, glass blowers, farmer’s markets, more quaint towns, even an old movie theater or two. The fun is in the discovering and exploring.

Dune buggy: Sandland Adventures

Hikes: Drift Creek Falls, 10 Best Hikes on the Coast, Lonely Planet Hikes.

Our Place: Admiral’s Beach Retreat

What to see and do: Near Lincoln City

Tillamook Air Museum. Tillamook Cheese Factory

Cannon Beach, Lincoln City, Newport Beach

Trip Adviser Oregon Activities

Thanks to everyone who read about this little adventure. Thanks for the feedback and positive comments. If you like the blog, please follow it or share it or like it on facebook. :)





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Oregon Wrap-up

We made it home without having to stop to buy books or bras. Looking back, we did so much on that adventure. Not great, epic things, but there were so many little moments that I’ll remember. Not all those moments are worthy of a blog, but they are worthy of mentioning.

The keeners gather early for Holes

The keeners gather early for Holes

We watched Holes as an entire family in the great theater room, a fantastic movie with pitch perfect plotting. But imagine seeing it while sitting in super comfy leather chairs, a drink in its drink slot, a big screen in front of us, surround sound all around us,The Oldest watching intently, his mind analyzing the structure, the characters, his enjoyment level, preparing his review for everyone. Fun times.

“It’s a movie. Disney. The one where the parents are dead.”

We played Heads-Up where one person put a word on their head and had to guess what it was based on the clues from their team. Playing with adults can be fun, sure, but add a few kids and it’s a whole other game. Lots of giggles. Lots of tense moments as one team battled the other. LOTS of shouting and waving and miming things like Jafar or Jurassic Park.


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We played in the surf. We played pool and foosball. I put exactly 1 piece in a puzzle. We fought the ocean tides and waves while holding hands. We heard sea lions bark and gulls cry. We watched herons swoop and soar, and kites flutter in the setting sun. We laughed around the kitchen table, the dining room table, outside on the deck. We ate and drank like kings of old.

There were incredible sunsets. Crashing waves. Picturesque beaches. Quiet moments on the deck. A family picture taken for future generations. All these are below.

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There were frisbies thrown and lost.
One brave soul hunted in the Cliffside salal and prickly for hours trying to find one. Glowing bocce balls were thrown in the dark. None were lost.

Nobody made me go eat in another room. No pranks were pulled on me (and there were a couple of guys there who were more than capable of pulling off a good prank, one of them even using one of the grandma’s cameras at the last get-together to take pictures of everyone’s bums.) No one was mean or unwelcoming. There were no fist fights, except a small one by the boys over something one of them did while playing pool (the details are still sketchy to this date.) No one got angry. Everyone had their space when they needed to nap or read or have some quiet time. Apparently there were introverts there, too.

For 6 days, I got to tell stories, and in turn, hear stories. I got to know nearly everyone better. I found out amazing things about their lives. IMG_4219I listened to the little things that made them happy. Or sad. I learned more history about the family, though I think I’ve barely scratched the surface. I wanted to learn more.
And, hey, I got to spend a week with the woman I love to death and her wonderful kidlings.

How lucky am I?



My thanks to Darrin Lee and other family members for taking these amazing photographs!








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Top Eight Things To Threaten Your Passengers With While Driving

If I was a better step-dad, I wouldn’t have to resort to threats. But, hey, they’re a IMG_4349part of my repertoire and I’m not afraid to use them.
We had a lot of driving to do so it was sometimes necessary to haul out the big dogs when my passengers were not sleeping and became rambunctious.

  1. If you don’t stop saying, ‘are we there yet?’, I’ll take the longest possible route home and stop at every bookstore along the way. And buy a book.
  2. Stop sticking your finger in your brother’s ear or we’re stopping at the bra store and you’ll have to help your mom pick out bras.
  3. If you give the bikers the finger, again, we’re going to give you a hug and kiss every day when we drop you off for school. AND we will shout, ‘We love you, pumpkin-wompkin, lovey beans!’ at the top of our lungs. Don’t think we won’t.
  4. If I have to ask you to turn down the music one more time, I will sing the Sound of Music. In my Julie Andrews voice. This sound has been known to make dogs howl and the Taliban confess.
  5. One more complaint that we did nothing for a week and I’m going to start pontificating about history, starting from the Trojan War.
  6. If you ask me what pontificating means once more, we’re going to download a vocabulary game on the iphone and do us some schooling.
  7. Whoever farts, again, and giggles about it, has to watch Dumb and Dumber. Wait, what, you want to? Ok, then. Right. It’s a marathon of Glee. (ok, this was said by the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world and it may have included me.)
  8. Please stop kicking the back of the driver’s seat or we will post every embarrassing picture I took of you at the Oregon Beach mansion. (FYI, the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world stopped kicking the back of my seat right away.)

It’s not easy going on long road trips, but I think we managed to make this one a success, despite the highways being gridlocked from the fires, despite spotty GPS service and despite no one going to the bathroom before we left.

IMG_4316In truth, the bar is set pretty low. As long as we get back alive, I count the drive as a success. Plus, on one of the trips, we stopped and ate at an old-fashioned drive-through. A&W. How cool is that?

What do you do on a long ride so you don’t murder your passengers?

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oregon dunes family pictureThe one thing we HAD to do was go dune-buggy riding. It’s kind of like going on a roller coaster but with a lot more sand in your butt.

I’d hope we could go to Arrakis, but I’ve been told it doesn’t really exist. So, we chose the dunes outside of Florence. Oregon.

We’d done our research. We’d watched videos. We’d found out what was the best company. We’d booked our adventure. We were good to go.

The weather, well, that was perfect and most of the family was joining us on adventures, even Baba, though she’d chosen to go on the touring dunebuggy, as opposed to the bad-ass, up the side of dunes, and fly over the top of them, one.

on the dunesNow, I could try and find the words to describe it, but we had a go-pro installed on someone’s head, so why not see what we saw. FYI. The person screaming like a little girl is not, in fact, me, despite what people may have said.




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Planes and Blimps and a Guppy

Day 5 Oregon the airplane museum

2 museums in one day? How would that work out?

airmuseumWell, to be fair, one was more a cheese factory than a museum, but I’m sure you can hear the boys’ eyes rolling when they knew they still had to see a plane museum BEFORE they could go back to the mansion and play foosball or dare the ocean to drown them.

So we tried to make it as interesting as possible.

Here’s the top 5 ways we tried to make it more interesting.

  • I told them I’d not go all Joe-history-professor on them. I lied, as I can no more shut up about history in a museum about history than The Rock cannot post pictures of him working out. (Think of it like the old scorpion and the frog story. No matter what the scorpion says, he’ll start reciting boring facts about the past and kill the poor frog.)
  • We told them it was in a hangar for blimps. We may have said there’d be a blimp inside. I can’t remember. But it made sense, right. What kind of blimp hangar wouldn’t have a blimp?
  • When we drove by the hangar on the way to the cheese factory, we pointed at it and made all sorts of oooooh and awwww – Noises like you’d make if you saw the world’s largest ball of string. Or a real UFO. (We hoped it would pump up the cool factor.)
  • Enthusiasm is infectious so we made sure to be uber enthusiastic. OMG, they have an airplane engine piston from the plane that the maker of minecraft once touched. (We may have exaggerated the hangar’s connection to Minecraft.)
  • We offered ice cream at the end. (Though, to my continuing surprise, the boys HATE ice cream so what I mean is popsicles and cyclone treats.) It’s like me being able to survive 2 hours of the Phantom Menace by being told we’d all ritually kill George Lucas afterwards. It’s all about the rewards.

In truth, it wasn’t so bad. Hey, we had Baba still with us and anytime we have Baba, we have more fun. She’s just like that. I hope I am that adventurous and fun when I’m 60, let alone 90ish.

IMG_4287They did have a blimp but I think my car was bigger. The boys were entirely underwhelmed.

They had a small collection of fighter/bombers and once The Youngest could see where the cannons were, he was more interested.

The hangar itself was nothing short of amazing. IMG_4266In only a few months, they built this towering hangar out of wood. Despite the rain and mud, it was started in Oct 1942 and finished in Aug 1943. Today, it would be started in Oct after 20 years of environmental reviews, and would take 15 years to complete to governmental regulatory standards, then be mothballed due to changing technology.

IMG_7460They did have a few hands-on exhibits. They tried out cockpits for a helicopter. A fighter. A trainer. And a replica of one of A7 Corsair cockpit. I think they bombed all the kids who’d ever been mean to them.

The Highlights, well, first up was something called a Mini-guppy. I kid you not.

IMG_4271It looked like someone had gotten a cargo plane pregnant. I suspect the MiG. We were able to go inside and marvelled at how much it would have been able to carry. (FYI: it’s 32,000 pounds, which is about what I weigh after a spaghetti supper.)

I loved seeing the WW2 aircraft, the legendary Corsair (anyone old enough to remember the TV show Baa Baa Blacksheep???) and I was surprised at how small the C26 C Invader was.

So it wasn’t a complete disaster. Baba had been through WW2 and anyone who did doesn’t have romantic notions of planes and bombs and war. I respect that. I doubt it was the most amazing thing she’d ever seen.

IMG_7452For the boys, though, and the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world (who probably wanted to see it as much as I would want to get my nails done), it was a quick tour of historical artifacts and an amazing look at what could be done when you’re at war with someone.

But it all paled in comparison to our next big adventure… the dunebuggy ride.






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Oregon Day 5 – A Cheesy Adventure

IMG_7439There is no reason a cheese factory should be any fun. I mean, it’s a factory. It makes cheese. It’s not like you’ll be seeing the cirque du soleil. Or a real hobbit.

But it’s one of the MUST-SEE things in Oregon.

Here’s why we made the drive with Baba.

The Top Five Reasons to See the Tillamook Cheese Factory

  • You kinda have to if you love cheese. It’s kind of like if you love cars, you’ll like a car factory. The Prettiest-girl-in-the-world wishes they had a Dwayne Johnson factory, where they, you know, made Rocks. But that science is not yet with us.
  • IMG_4258They give free samples. Lots of free samples. You could pretty much eat so much you would never poop again.
  • It’s mesmerizing watching them take the huge bricks of cheese, cut them into smaller bricks, then cut them into smaller bricks still, then wrap the bricks, label the bricks, and finally pack them up in boxes. IMG_4241I can’t explain why. It like why some people like Star Wars the Phantom Menace. It defies logic. They just do.


  • IMG_4246They use Monte Python’s Holy Grail to help explain why cheese is cool. However, I would have gone with the cheese sketch, something that still cracks me up.
  • It’s totally family friendly. There’s interactive displays for the kids. Nerdy history stuff for me. There’s cheese to sample. Elevators for those that hate stairs. IMG_7442Picture spots where you can be a cow or a farmer.  Or a nifty weird car to sit in.IMG_4264




So, here’s the thing. One of my great discoveries in life is that doing stuff with others is way better than doing it alone. No, I’m not talking sex here, I’m talking adventures. Doing the laundry. Shopping. You know… life.

IMG_4251And on this outing we had the kids along with us – which always gives me a different perspective on whatever we’re doing – and Baba. She made the trip a billion times better by sharing even more of her history with us (as it related to milk, dairy and cows.)

Yup, it was the best time. Young and old multiplying the experience and making it so very memorable.

IMG_4260At the end of the visit, we did what all good cheesy visitors do. We ate cheese sandwiches. HUGE grilled cheese sandwiches. With pickles (that Baba approved of.) I won’t lie. They were the best grilled cheese sammiches I’d ever eaten. Simple. Buttery. Cheesy.


A great way to spend an afternoon before we headed off to look at planes.

And now for something completely different…


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