Life and all that goes with it... Archives

August 21, 2004

Daze off...

What is it about days off, anyway? They take forever to get here, and then phhhsssssst! The little suckers are gone in a heartbeat.

This week, I thought Friday would never roll around...'course, the clients from hell and beyond didn't help. You know, those people totally incapable of a positive thought, never mind a positive comment about anything, God forbid! What is it about the toxic playmates of the Universe? Don't they know that people run madly, like a herd of suicidal lemmings...{oxymoron?}....when they see these folk coming around the corners of their lives?

Had a couple in my office, looking at rentals...the conversation with the guy flowed sorta like this...

"So, you are looking for a rental for your family?"

"...uhhhhh, yeah......"

"Any thoughts as to what it should look like?"


"OK, let's try this...are you looking for a duplex or 4-plex...or would you rather have an apartment or a stand-alone property?"

".....uhhhhnnnn...don't care..."

See, along about now, I wanna pop him one...and I'm not a violent person...but here's this guy with the most darling children ever, and a really sweet wife. They're all spit and polish, spotless clothing, hair trimmed and brushed shiny-clean...and he's being a grog about this. They have just been transferred to town, they will be moving in the next 2 weeks, rental accoms. are next-to-non-existant here...and he's lollygagging...

"I have to ask you something here, Randy..." I breathed sloooowly..."What's the issue you have with this transfer?"

He uncoiled his Levi-clad legs, leaned forward, elbows on my desk and stared at me, hard and angry-like...

"I hate this town."

OK, that'll do it, fella...push one of my happy buttons and I'm heading for my soapbox, now!
Another deep breath, I leaned forward toward him, and asked him, "Why?"

"I grew up in Vancouver and out on the Island, just outside of Victoria. This ain't no Victoria."

Tears crowded the edges of his daughter's eyes, overflowed her lashes and splashed down her cheeks. She was clearly embarrassed and in an uncomfortable place for a small girl. His wife found a kleenex, hurriedly wiped her little girl's face and wrapped her in warm arms, hugging her tightly. Between the family's obvious discomfort with his behaviour and his painfully obvious displeasure at being transferred to a small town and no ocean within hollering distance, it started to come clear to me...a transfer he didn't want, a move he couldn't control and a home he hated leaving.

"There's a funny thing about this town," I told him. "If you used to live in a place you loved totally, with friends who treated you wonderfully and neighbors you got along with like'll find this town is exactly the same as that. And, if you hated the place you lived before, if you never managed to make even one friend, and the neighbors were complete and total bug-nuts, you'll find this town exactly the same."

A puzzled look flitted across his features...and I lost patience with him. "Here's the thing, if you think this town is the armpit of the Universe, it will be.....and if you think it's the best place you've ever lived, it will be that. You decide. I'm going to make a cup of tea for your wife."

As I stood up to make tea, his anger broke, and he laughed out loud...."That's sweet, ma' sound just like my mom there...that's how she talked to me...feels like home, a little bit now!" He came over to the counter, filled the kettle for me, and plugged it in. "Where do you keep the mugs, ma'am?"

...days off arrived, finally...along with a new understanding of people...sometimes when someone is angry and seems ready to rip my face off, it's not me he's angry's just life itself. A life he can't control or change to his liking...a life that's skewed sideways, in spite of his best efforts, rolling over him in the process...

...days off and I'm sitting with a glass of perfectly chilled white Orvieto wine, a huge dish of freshly popped and buttered popcorn on my lap...thinking about my last trip to my favorite beach on this ever-lovin' planet...

...days off, and I just spent a couple of hours with a friend, bouncing around the idea of a "Chicks Trip" to Nova Scotia next summer for all 8 of us, friends and best buds...

..days off, and I'm thanking all that is Holy that I live in a place I love, with friends and family who adore me and I don't have to move...ever....unless I choose it...or unless the gods conspire against me.....

...a gentle reminder that I occasionally get to my favorite
beach in the world...

October 9, 2004

River of No Return....

The first time I ever saw Marilyn Monroe in a movie....well, I can't remember when it was...I do remember that she simply blew me away. I was in my teens and feeling like the ugliest duckling in the world, and then I watched a movie with this feminine, fragile woman...blonde, beautiful and delicate. I remember thinking that if my chocolate brown hair was platinum blonde, I'd be happier with myself. On my next trip to the local drugstore, I spent some hard-earned babysitting money on 4 packages of Roux Water Rinse #o1...positive in my teenage innocence that if one package of this great stuff made a brunette turn blonde, then surely 4 packages would really make an impression!

Needless to say, not having the understanding I have today of what makes brunettes blonde, I mixed up the packets of powder with water, just like the directions water, the hotter the better. After smooshing it through my hair for the required 15 minutes, I quickly rinsed the crud out of my hair, towelled it dry and slowly peeked around the corner of the bathroom door to see my newly blonde hair in the mirror. Of course, my dark brown curly hair was still dark brown and curly...not a platinum blonde like I hoped it would be. Crushed, I threw the packages in the trash, set my hair in brush rollers and pincurls and sulked for the rest of the day. Marilyn Monroe was a lucky girl....obviously she had better luck with Roux rinses than I was having!

Following her career as I grew up, watching the movies she made, reading the movie trade rags full of gossipy stories about her and her hunky male co-stars, I became a fan. Not the stalker-type fan we read about today, but a loyal fan who disagreed with the movie mags and their tawdry stories about her. When I heard on the radio that she had died, I was saddened to hear that this fragile and beautiful woman was gone. She was 36....that didn't seem very old to me at my age then of 17. Over the years following her death, I watched her movies, read the books written about her and every so often wondered what she might be doing if she'd lived. If people had been more caring and less critical, if movie producers and directors had been more sympathetic and less harsh, who knows what she might have done with her amazing comedic talents and her wispy but crystal clear singing voice.

Last week, I was in the mountains at an art workshop...I'm an artist, and this was a 2 week vacation from real life for me. After one of the day's sessions, I was walking along the main street of the sleepy little mountain town and stopped in front of a shop to look at a large and very clear black and white photo of Marilyn, matted and framed in a brushed pewter frame. She was leaning against a horse, with her arm resting along the horse's neck, and staring just a little to the right of the camera, lost in thought...her face sad, wistful and lonely-looking. I walked into the shop and asked the clerk where the photo came from. "Oh, they're all over here," she told me. "You know, she filmed that movie just south of here...stayed at Becker's Chalets, bungalow 33, I think it was..."

"River of No Return"....Marilyn Monroe, Robert Mitchum and Rory Calhoun...I've only seen it once, a long time ago...and it was that movie that convinced me that Roux water rinses would make me a stunning blonde, like she was in that movie.

"Who's the photographer?" I asked the clerk. "Oh, one of the two old guys that used to own the photography business here. He sold it to this other photographer guy, who also bought all their negatives from the 40's and 50's," she explained.

I knew I needed to talk to the photographer, to ask about the photographs and find out the history around them. I found his name and phone number, called his home and spoke with his wife. "No, he's out on a photoshoot for one of the lodges here," she said. "But, you can come over to the house, if you like, and I can show you the photos...I've a ton of stories about Marilyn, when she was filming that movie here. The locals still like to share their memories of that year...pretty exciting stuff for a sleepy mountain town!"

We made an appointment to meet over coffee, and I drove to her house. After some pleasantries, she started telling me the stories and memories that she has collected from the older folks in from a fellow who used to own a dance hall...Marilyn came there after filming on the weekends, just to sit and listen to the music. Another story she collected from a local man who was a skinny, awkward 12 year old back then. He and his buddies had a mission to meet the movie star, and they hopped on their bikes, scoured the backwoods by Becker's until they found her out walking. After some chit-chat, the 12 year old got off his bike and let her ride it. He ran alongside her as his friends pedalled along behind...none of them believing that this was truly happening to them....

Story after story poured out of her, and I listened carefully and respectfully. It was obvious that she had collected these with care and they were treasures to her. She excused herself for a few minutes, and came back with a stack of DVD's that she had ordered...Marilyn's movies, bigraphies that have been made of her..."You must get this one, it's really good," she insisted, handing one to me.

After a few hours of talking, I made arrangements with her to carry their line of matted and framed photos in my business. It seemed to me somehow symbolic that, all these years later, I'm still interested, still in awe of the talent and humour that Marilyn Monroe displayed to so many people in this little town, while she filmed a movie. It is symbolic to me that today I have a collection of some the most beautiful photos ever taken of her. Some I'll sell, because the photographer has exclusive rights to the reproduction of the photos, and I can re-order some when I need more. But, one I'll give my daughter, as a thank you for her helping me while I was away taking the art workshop in the mountains. One more I'll give to my granddaughter, who works in that sleepy little town and is as intrigued with the stories about Marilyn Monroe as I am.

The last one I'll hang on my office wall, right across from my desk, as a reminder that some things in this world aren't real...platinum blonde hair, the glitter of Hollywood and most of all, the fame that people can was the very thing that hastened Marilyn Monroe's demise. I want to remember her as she was when these photos were taken at a movie set along the river...a young and hopeful woman of 27, alive, beautiful and fragile. It will help me to remember that things are not always as they seem...

October 19, 2004

Daze off....

So, several days into this art workshop , and I definitely know I love this! We've been painting in the studio each morning, then after lunch we take our brushes and head into the back country...hiking, climbing, boating or driving as far away from the tourist areas as we can get. I'm seeing glacier-fed lakes that are so icy-cold that I'd survive no more than a minute in the water, and then hypothermia...and the game's over. At least, that's what the backpacker among us cheerfully tells me.

I've been surrounded by the most beautiful range of snow-topped mountains...and been to places that few people ever go. I've been on a boat trip across Maligne Lake, past mountains with glaciers clinging to their Spirit Island. This diminutive and perfect island has been our instructor's favorite painting site for years...but changes in the lease agreement with our government department that controls and protects our national parks no longer allows us to stop there and paint. I have to settle for a 10 minute walk along railed paths, and a hundred photos, taken quickly because of the line-up waiting to shoot their photos.

I've spent an afternoon, wrapped in the warmest fleece jacket and wool sweater that I own, sitting in a make-shift lounge chair created by a depression in the rocks along the Snaring River. With my paints, water bottle, brushes, and assorted snacks spread around me like a picnic on the rocks, I've sketched, then painted...not a perfect one, but I know that I'll forever look at this small painting, and remember the cold wind, the autumn colors and the feel of the boulders warm from the sun.

Evenings I've spent after class, with my granddaughter. She's working here in this jewel of a mountain community...the view outside of her front door might come from any calendar in the gift shops along the main street. Mostly we eat at Earl's...Kennebuc fries, Thai green curry on jasmine rice, Forno chicken and roasted new potatoes, fresh asparagus and the ever-present crisp, chilled glass of wine. Funny, sitting here sharing a meal with this amazing young woman, my first grandchild. She's as tiny and delicate as an ivory Belleek vase, yet there is a strength and resilience in her that always makes me look twice. My mother-in-law used to marvel at my granddaughter's daughter...and call her, ever-so-lovingly, an "independent little stick". I think this apple falls not far from the mother-tree.

We've gone horse-back riding, shopped for a cluster of new wines for our shelves at a 2 story wine cellar...wandered for hours along the shops and stores, sometimes choosing a cheese for a snack or spicy hand lotion for a treat. One evening, we colored each other's hair. On her days off, she has graced me with her presence at my cottage and stayed over...jammie parties with my granddaughter!

The workshop is nearly over, and we've been gifted with the news that the lodge manager is allowing us to stay on after their closing day...with no charge! The housekeeping staff stock our cottages with heaps of fresh linen and an over-abundance of freshly cut firewood for our fireplaces. It feels like camping...only with the luxury of a fireplace, a warm place to sleep and running water!

Next year, I'll be like the 20 or so regular participants who come here to paint every year...I'll book 2 weeks off work, pack my car with all the necessary and not-so-necessary things and return for another time.

I'll head home tomorrow...rested, relaxed and rejuvenated. I've had 15 days with no alarm clock, no phone and no daytimer. It has been such a treat for me...I am ready to go home.

My painting companion at Horseshoe Lake...

Maligne Lake tranquility

Spirit first look at it

October 25, 2004

I have a good job....

Realtors...some people love us, some don't...
Guess that's what happens when life dishes out some really not-very-kind people to take care of you when you need help. I think I am a good realtor...not because I sell a lot, which I do...sometimes, and not because I get really nice letters of testimony, which I do...sometimes. I think I'm a good realtor because I love what I do. It's that simple...I love this job. Today, for instance, I got a call from a client who just bought the very first-ever spec home I've been priviledged to put on the market.

What's a spec home? One that a builder builds on speculation...speculating that someone may want to buy it. I've been looking for a great builder for a very long time, it feels like...and this spring, I called Dennis...a builder...and very nonchalantly told him I thought we should be working together. He said, "Hey! I was just thinking the same thing! When can we talk?"

I believe in it serendipity, whatever...things happening as they should, or as they are meant to. And this felt dangerously like flow to me! After all, I've been looking for a builder for, oh, I don't know...about 3 years, now? So, to call this guy, have him answer the phone on the first ring and tell me that he'd been thinking about calling me to tell me the same thing? Too freakin' weird, I tell ya!

After Dennis and I talked for a few hours, and his dad came to talk everything over in my office for another few hours...we have a handshake deal. That's my kind of deal...good old-fashioned down-home honor, integrity, trust...all that stuff. There isn't any other way to conduct business in my book. This was the way my grandfather did business for over 80 years, and it works...but only if the other guy has the same values and integrity, right? Dennis' dad says he always does business with a handshake. He figures the other guy might screw him, but he also knows that the other guy will only screw him one time. Good philosophy...I think I'm going to like working with these two!

So, here we are...Dennis, his father and I...with a handshake and a promise...and we are putting some really beautiful houses into the ground. Homes that I'm really truly proud to show to my that I can walk through with them and know that they are getting quality product.

A few years ago, I'd not have thought this possible...but it is a reality now, for sure! Funny what happens when I trust the Universe to give me what I's always far beyond what I'd choose, if left to my own devices. My own limitations come smack in my face, when I'm confronted with what is actually provided for me...and then I compare it with what I would have asked for, if I'd been able to design it. Never the same, it just never is...not even close. So, I've learned to ask for way more than I think I might possibly receive, and then turn it over to the Universal energy to decide what I'm going to receive.

Dennis is a bad boy, a sweet-talker and a charmer...he can talk his way out of a wet paper bag, I swear! Nothing pleases him more than being able to walk into my office, see a stuffy, arrogant client sitting in consultation with me, and say to me, making sure the stuffy client hears every word... "Hi, honey...I'm home!" Then he walks, snickering, into his own office, leaving the client sputtering and apoplectic...and me searching for a way to calm the waters he's so perfectly disturbed. Dennis just hired an assistant...not that he hasn't needed one for a few years. I've been ragging at him for months to take time off, take time with his wife and children, let someone else answer the bloody cell phone...and he's done it! Hired an assistant...and now has the problem of letting this new guy actually do some of the work!

We started building spec homes this spring...and Dennis' father and I named them after our grandchildren. I told him to go first, because his grandchildren are young, whereas mine are in, and around, their teens...and I thought it might not be very "cool" to have houses springing up in town, with their names pinned on the blueprints!

This first spec home was started early this year, and I had a buyer for it within days after the walls started going up. Some buyers can't see what the home will look like until it has been primed and painted...these clients not only saw what this home would look like, but what they could do with it while it was being finished.

They picked their colors for interior walls and exterior siding, picked their flooring, lighting fixtures, ceiling fans, bathroom and kitchen taps and cabinetry. Today, she called me and invited me to come for a tour! They take possession in 3 days, and it's almost finished...the carpenter is there putting the finishing touches on the pale, honey-colored oak cabinetry, the painter is applying the 3rd and final coat of persimmon in the well as the deep chocolate matte finish in the master bedroom. Kitchen lino that looks like an iridescent alligator's hide has been installed and looks....really, really nice!

The electrician is wrestling with the problem of the light fixture in the kitchen, over the island, being in the wrong place. Huge cardboard boxes, split open and laid out flat, form a sort-of sidewalk from the front steps to the street. We walked through, tipsy-toesing over and around an assortment of insulation pieces, chunks of electrical wire and open paint cans...and we both agreed this home is one gorgeous place...from the cocoa-colored bedroom to the toffee shade in the kitchen, this one's definitely a winner!

So, today was a good day in the life of this realtor...another happy homeowner with another gorgeous home.

December 8, 2004

Cold enough to freeze the brass balls off a monkey...

Crap! I hate this cold....
Winter I like...
Snow I like...
Cold...I hate it a lot!
Today we have a small bit of snow, and a windchill of -36 degrees Celsius...
That's right, boys and girls...minus 36 degrees.
There's a helluva wind blowing, and just getting from my office to my poor freezing car took every breath I had. The wind is so biting and nasty today, I wonder that anything can survive in it.

There were kitty prints in the dusting of snow on my front porch when I went out to bring in the paper at 7:00 A. M. today...who in their right mind lets a cat out in this miserable weather? Bet the owner's not running around looking for warmth in HIS bare feet, like this poor wee cat is doing.

And...the do they survive? They are so tiny, with legs not thicker than toothpicks, and they hop from branch to branch, feathers puffed out, singing their tiny brains out.

The weatherman is not standing outside to give us the latest forecast, I noticed. Funny how he's always out when it's sunny, raining, foggy, cloudy...not when it's
-36, though! The guy's go no jam, staying inside the studio today.

Still, here I am, inside our home, with the furnace cranked up to warm everyone...with dinner on the table, a warm woolen sweater and fleece slippers for extra insurance. I'm not working outside pumping gas or towing vehicles or loading accident victims into an ambulance in -36 degree weather, thank you very much...
guess I'll go and make a pot of tea for after dinner, sit down and eat a really hot meal and whisper a thank you for this luxury of warmth that I have...

June 19, 2005

's Funny How Times Slips Away...

I have been REALLY remiss in blogging lately...actually not just lately, but since way before I went to Italy...

It seems such a short while ago that I was planning this trip...looking for rentals, checking airfares, talking with my daughter about her taking care of the business while I was gone, talking with my son about meeting him in Toronto and flying to Florence with him...checking the Euro against the Canadian dollar and hyperventilating at the money lost in conversion...

It feels like only a few days ago that I was familiarizing myself with some poorly-pronounced Italian words, and hoping against hope that some kind and benevolent person in Italy would actually understand my disastrous attempts to speak their beautiful language.

That's the funny thing about time...when I'm on the before-side of something, it seems like it will never get here. Then, afterwards, on the behind-side of it, I wonder where the time went.

Time...a fleeting thing...I remember asking my grandmother a very thoughlessly worded question, when I was at the unthinking age of 24.

"What does it feel like to be old?" I asked.

She thought for a few moments and then looked me in the eye and said, "Well, it feels the same as when I was your age. That is, until I stop in front of a mirror and see this old woman looking back at me, and it always startles me...I wonder who she is, and then it dawns on me that it is me..."

I didn't get it, then, when she said that. I do now, and I wish with all my heart that there was a way to have a do-over here, to go back in time and ask my grandmother that question again, only with more kindness this time. Something like, " Would you mind telling me what it is like to be 82?" That might have been a more tactful way of asking, I think.

Time...measured by the ages of my children and my grandchildren. Not that long ago, my children were the ages of my grandchildren. It seems totally implausible to me that they are now 38 and 41. My babies, my little toddlers, my adolescents...where did that time go?

I was browsing through the big old trunk at the foot of my bed the other night, and found a stash of photos of my daughter and my son when they were 6 and 3. Within seconds I was reduced to sobs, kneeling on the floor beside the trunk and holding my hands over my face. It happens often, this wave of longing...I miss my kids when they were little. I miss holding them, rocking them, making birthday cakes for them, sewing countless outfits for them...I miss, most of all, the smell of their hair when they were falling asleep in my arms. It's not something I can do these days...hold them on my lap and rock them to sleep.

For a while I could have my "kid fix" by sitting and holding my grandchildren and rocking them...but even that time has passed. My youngest is 9 today, and he's too cool for a rocking with Mugga. He's way cool, and I feel blessed to get a prefunctory hug and on occasion, a kiss on the cheek. All of them are huggy-kinda kids, and they always grace my life with a hug and an "I love you, Grandma," every time I see them, so it's not like I'm totally lacking. Still, there's nothing like the feel and smell and sound of my kids when they were little, and I can't have a do-over on that, to my continuing sorrow.

So, the time that's passed since my last blog entry seems like a few days, and it's actually been over 2 months...I promise to be more diligent from now on, though...this is a good place for me to share my little stories of my life, with the hope that what matters to me will perhaps matter to you.

Time...a fleeting can't see it, you can't touch it, you can't smell or taste it, yet it is one of the most important gifts we have. Measuring it is only possible by man-made devices like clocks, calendars, watches, daytimers, sun-dials...and the only way I know to measure it after it has passed is by looking back over my memories and trying to capture my thoughts and feelings of that time that's passed.

June 26, 2005

Home is where?

Having made the decision to sell my current home and buy a newer one, I'm faced with the ever-changing emotions that go with this decision...
"Oh, damn! Maybe I shouldn't have done this!"
"Brenda, why can't you just be happy with what you have?"
"You realize how much work this moving thing is?"
SHUT UP, voices in my head...I know what I am doing...

Still, they niggle away at me in the quiet times, when I'm planning the landscaping of the back yard, the layout of the tree beds, the rugs for the living room...

What makes these voices creep up on a person? I think it's like anything else we do...when we begin, we don't have all the information we need at that time. The information comes, in dribs and drobs, as we proceed along the path of whatever it is we are undertaking. So, the not knowing, not having all the facts makes us a little unsure, a bit insecure and maybe a tad scared of this new pathway in our lives.

I've lived a lot of my years as a single mom, with 2 young children to take care of, feed, clothe, parent and provide a roof over our collective heads, as we managed to live an incredibly normal family life, considering the obstacles to that desired reality. I've also lived since then with that dreaded "single mom on welfare" syndrome, I think. There has never been a time in my life when I didn't have to struggle for enough money to feed and clothe everyone. In spite of that kind of poverty, I've also never given up trying, working, searching...looking for something better for me and my family.

From a stay-at-home mom, to a full-time working mom, sometimes holding down 3 jobs to make ends meet, I've become a really strong, very determined and forward thinking person...I'm not content to sit, waiting to have my ship sail into the harbour and some handsome captain rush up and rescue me...instead, I jump into a dingy and row out as far as I have to, in order to meet my ship halfway.

So it is with this new home...I have been struggling with the list of renos needed on my current home, and finally got it that there's a better way. All the renos that I was planning to incorporate into this great old house I live in are already present in this new home, so why not move there? That way, I don't have to spend all that $$$$ on hardwood flooring, new appliances ('cause mine are 30 years old), a much-longed -for fireplace, ('cause this new house has 2 of them) and the totally incomprehensible living in reno-hell for 6 - 10 months....argggghhhhh!

Then, an emergency trip to the QEII Hospital in Grande Prairie for a suspected blood clot in my leg changed my perspective a whopping 180 degrees. On the trip home from the hospital, after having prayers answered and finding out it was NOT what I dreaded, I thought to myself, "WHY are you planning this agonizingly long renovation process? Buy that other has everything you want and need and its only 10 months old!"

I'm not suggesting it was as cut and dried as that, but within the length of time it took me to drive home...about 2 hours...I'd formulated my plan! As I pulled into my driveway, I was already seeing the wisdom of this new idea! All it took for me to lick the envelope and stick it shut on this idea was a 3 hour talk with a good friend of mine who is a realtor and has been a bank manager for 11 years. By the time our conversation was over, the new idea became a reality, I called the owners of this new home who have it listed with me for sale, and asked them, "Would you mind if I bought your home?"

Needless to say, they were delighted! They have built this home with extreme care, added in a lot of extra features that most homes do not have and finished it in an incredibly professional way. I'm delighted, because all I have to do is pack and move several blocks away!

Today, while I was wrapping my cherub collection and emptying the old armoire that holds my cookbooks, I was thinking about those negative voices that plagued me for a few days after I made this decision. Strangely enough, they are incredibly silent today! That's a miracle in itself, 'cause they were shouting at the top of their collective lungs for a few days...

I'm going back to finish packing the fric 'n frac in the kitchen now, and I'm also waiting for the appraiser to arrive this evening. I'm paying for an appraisal and I'll sell the house for the appraised value...that way, there is no chance of anyone buying the house and feeling like they paid too much... voices....must mean that I finally have all the facts!

July 1, 2005

Now I Know What My Clients Go Through!

Buying a new home should be a happy thing...last Friday, after the miscellaneous financial persons at the banks had their way with me...and I don't mean THAT way, although I kinda think it would have been more enjoyable than what happened....I had one of those afternoons when anything that could go wrong, did go wrong.

See, 2 weeks ago, I called my local bank, asked the financial person to run me through their system for pre-approval for a mortgage or line of credit on this new house. Simple, hmmm?
You'd think so.

A day later, this financial person called me to tell me she was going on holidays, and she'd pass the file on to her manager. Simple, still? You'd think....

I waited almost 2 weeks, then called the manager to see where she was with this pre-approval stuff, and she stumbled all over herself apologizing for not even LOOKING at the damn thing...she's been soooo busy with her financial person on holidays! See, now it's not sooo simple, is it?

The next day, the financial person is back from holidays, she takes the file back, is humbly apologetic for the manager doing nada, fills out the documentation and then tells me she has to send it to the financial person at the bank in the next town, some Kim-chick, because she's leaving on holidays AGAIN! Not simple at all....grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

So, this Kim-chick now has the file, takes a day and a half, fills out some documents, calls me and tells me it is being sent to "head office" wherever-the-hell that is. It will be back momentarily, she assures me, but she'll have it transferred BACK to the manager-who-does-nothing at my local bank, 'cause SHE...this going on holidays! Surpriiiiise!

Does this sound like an efficient way to conduct business? If I ran my real estate office like this, I'd not even be able to sell an ant-hill to anyone.

So, my file is now sitting in some office "IN" basket, at head office. I have no idea when or where it will appear, nor whether or not it will be approved. Sure inspires confidence in a financial institution, doesn't it?

I'm taking the day off, soaking in a hot tub with a huge heap of epsom salts and some aromatherapy oil, drinking the last of my vin santo and eating the last 3 cantucci I brough back from Florence...that'll definitely help! Monday is another day and by then, the power that holds the planets in their orbits will hopefully spin these financial persons off this planet and send them to Mars, or somewhere. Simple, isn't it?

January 7, 2006

Just Wait, Darlin'! You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet!

Funny how something as simple as buying a new home and moving in can cause such a profound disruption in one’s life. It’s been 6 months since I wrote anything here for you, and I’ve been crosshatched severely several times by friends and my Slowtrav family who are impatiently waiting for me to get it together!

All I can tell you is that from the moment I decided to buy a new house, my life has been off the rails so badly that I wonder what the hell I was thinking! The decision came on the way home from having a CAT scan for some pretty serious stuff, and in the light of the spectacular results of that scan, I made an impetuous decision to buy a gorgeous new home.

I remember standing in the examination room for over 30 minutes, while the results of the test were being reviewed. The technician told me I was welcome to sit down and wait, but sitting was not possible, for the potential for tragic news made sitting an impossibility.

So, I stood. I paced. I walked to and fro and back and forth. I walked in every direction possible in that small, dark room. I walked and I prayed. “Please, God, let this be ok. I don’t want to have something that will kill me. I don’t want to die. I have so much more to do and see and try and look forward to. Please, God…..”

It’s not that I think I’m anything extraordinary, that God should wave a magic wand over my life and banish all negative and terrible things from it. It’s really not that at all. It is only that I love my life and the people in it, and …well, I’d rather stick around for a few years or 60, if it pleases you, God.

So, keeping that in my mind, I paced and prayed, talked without cessation and asked for the world. I asked for my world, as I see it. I asked that it not change dramatically and I asked that the return of the technician and the doctor who would assuredly follow her would not be something I’d rather not experience.

After a long while, the door opened, the room brightened as the technician turned on the lights, smiled at me and said, “Brenda, Dr. Talbot is here to see you.”

I thanked her. I looked into the doctor’s eyes and said, “Just tell me, just say it.”

He smiled and said, “OK. You are fine.”

That’s it. In those 4 small words, he gave me back my life and my happiness. He gave me back hope, delight and joy.

“You are sure?” I asked him.

“Yes, Brenda, I am definitely sure,” he replied. “You can go home now, drive carefully and we’ll see you in 3 months, OK?”


OK! You bet that’s OK with me, Dr. Talbot! It’s more than ok. It’s freakin’ marvellous!

In the car on the highway, driving home afterwards, I went back over the examination, the tests, the CAT scan and the results. Astounding, how my life can change in a few seconds…with 4 small words. So many people don’t get this kind of report, and here I am, one of those who does.

An hour into the drive home, I began thinking about the renovations I’ve been planning on my aging home. I thought about the cost, which was a lot. I also thought about the inconvenience and the 6 months of living in reno hell. I also thought about the gift I’d been given earlier, the gift of good news and good health, and I thought to myself, “Listen, girl, you don’t need the hassle of this reno crap. Why not buy Whallen’s house?”

Whallen’s house had been listed with my office for 4 months now, and it still wasn’t sold. It is inconceivable to me why no one has snapped it up, because it is beautiful beyond words. The owners found a show home in Calgary that they fell in love with and they bought the blueprints, called a builder and had the home built on a lot that backs onto the forest greenbelt.

The day they called me to list it, I fell in love. No, not with Brian Whallen, although he’s a very nice man! I fell in love with their home. Everything they had done, all the extras that they built into the home, each gorgeous feature…I loved it all.

Oddly, the house didn’t sell. I showed it with enthusiasm, because it had so many lovely features and a floor plan that I’ve never liked more in any other home I’ve seen. Still, the potential buyers walked in, looked at the stunning maple cabinetry, the black Italian ceramic tile in the kitchen, dining room, bathrooms and all entryways, the solid maple banisters and pewter spindles, as well as the 20 foot high wall of windows in the living room and they said things like, “Ohhhhh, there’s no oak?” They said things like, “Hmmmmm, BLACK floors? I don’t know…..” For some strange reason, they said, “It’s just ….well, sort of….ummm, too different for us.”

Idiots! How could they not love this beautiful home?

Good thing they didn’t. I went straight to the phone when I arrived home, I called the Whallen's and I asked, "Would you mind if I bought your home?"

She said, "Of course, we wouldn't mind!"

It was that simple. We talked about price, and about possession date and also about the initial and additional deposits that we were all comfortable with. I wrote the offer, they signed it and that was it.

Well, not quite.

The bank had a little something to say about it. They said, “Well, you already have a house, Brenda.”

I replied, “Yes I do, and I’m selling it and buying this one. What are you going to do to help me?”

They did lots.

First, they created the usual round of bank-type hassles for about-to-be homeowners. Then, after they got their collective stuffin' together, they approved my mortgage. In 4 weeks, I had financial approval, the conditions were removed and I owned 2 houses! Oh, yes, I owned 2, but I only wanted one, so I listed my first house and it sold to the second family who walked through it.

Today, I’m living in this house that I love. I’ve painted the feature walls a bold, deep merlot colour, I ordered and received exquisitely perfect new furniture and I’ve sent my 2 antique pianos to be restored. I’ve made a lot of changes in my life since that summer day last August, and I’ve discovered that being given your life back provides an incredibly luscious perspective that wasn’t there before. I think it’s called profound gratitude.

Today, I finally have time and energy to pick up where I left off with this online diary of mine. I have some unfinished business to complete, now. I have pieces written and stored in the draft format of this diary, pieces about my incredible daughter and my amazing 15 year old granddaughter that need to be edited and honed to perfection, before I can post them here.

I also have the rest of my life in front of me. I don’t know from day to day if it will be taken away from me in some way, either by a trick of fate or a reversal in good health. What I do know is that the long-ago day last August changed me profoundly. I live at full-throttle now, not holding back and afraid of “what might happen.” What might happen almost did, and for some glorious reason, the gods changed their minds, and for that I am incredibly grateful.

In return for that gift, I have promised the Powers-That-Be that this life of mine will not be wasted any longer. There will be no more “being careful” when it’s not necessary, no more “being afraid” when it really means “I don’t want to.” What there will be is as much enjoyment and awareness of each second, each minute. There will also be as much passion and joi de vivre as I can wring out of each 24 hours that I’m given.

I read a little bit a few months ago that went like this..."When people begin to tell you that you might just be gettin' a little too big for your britches, darlin', just smile at them and tell them, 'You ain't seen nothin' yet'"
That's how I'm feeling a lot these days...just wait, you ain't seen nothin' yet, trust me!

April 5, 2006


Seems like I'm pissed off at the banks and financial lending institutions a lot these days! I've been jumping through their hoops, dotting their i's and crossing their t's, 'yes-sir'ing' and 'you-bet, sir'ing'...all for noddings, it seems.

I have this brilliant idea, you see.
It's about creating passive income for myself.
Money that comes in without having to go to work, actively or physically, to get it.
Not free money, because it has a great deal of effort, blood, sweat and tears behind the getting of it. Rather, money that comes in to pay the bills and doesn't require my going out to a job to ensure the flow of it.

I want to buy a condo.
Maybe two.
Rent them to big companies who spend an inordinate amount of money each year on hotel and motel rooms for their consultants and engineers when they are in the area

I think it is a great idea.
The banks don't.

What do they know?
Well, they think they know what I can afford and what I can't.
Banks seem to have a system of weeding out the inventive and entrepreneurial among us, cutting us off at the pass before we can get up a full head of steam with our dreams and desires, our wishes and our needs.

I don't get it.
I just don't.
I know that I can make enough money required to make the mortgage payments on a condo if the damned condo isn't rented for a few months.
I know it, but the banks don't seem to know it.
My past track record doesn't mean twit to them.

"You just don't make enough money, dear."
How do you know?
I mean, how do you actually KNOW that?
You've not bothered to ask me what I make, never mind deciding this without having all the facts.

The other thing that cranks my handle just a little bit is this:
They want to know more about me and my life than they have a right to know. I mean, who cares whether I am single, married, divorced, living common-law, Irish, Italian, Maltese or deceased? Well ok, deceased, maybe...
What do any of those have to do with my ability to make regular monthly payments that are required to keep myself out of the boogey room with the collection agencies and the foreclosure gods?

If I had seventeen dependant children, three old Irish aunties and a 98 year old Italian godfather living with me, dependant on me for their daily bread, that might be reason for the banks to be concerned. As it is, I don't have another living, breathing entity living in my home with me, or dependant on me for squat.

I just don't get it.
I'd understand if I'd been through a bankruptcy or a foreclosure on my home, but I've not been, and that's a good thing, isn't it?

So, chapter one ends.
I've bitched and crabbed enough for tonight about banks and their infinite ability to get under my skin like a burrowing tick.

Tomorrow, I'm going baack into the fray, up against the big money lending institutions, hoping for one person who gets it that I know what I can and cannot do, what I will and will not be able to handle.

Tomorrow is another day.
Tomorrow is a day of surprises, hopefully.

Tomorrow is also a day of some very dear and very smart people hanging out their hand to help me, going to the wall for me and standing up to the banks for me. I wish it didn't have to be this way. I wanted to do this by myself, all by myself.

Instead, I have asked my friend and money guru for advice, and he's calling back later tomorrow with his wisdom and suggestions for another way around the barracades to financial independence that have been erected in my path to financial security.

Instead, I have also asked my other friend and high-roller investor to help me find a lending institution that believes in my strengths and abilities to handle this new path of real estate investing that I'm heading down in my life.

Instead of independence, I'm learning inter-dependence...learning to lean on friends and ask for their help. Independence comes easy to me, inter-dependence scares the hell out of me, because itr leaves me a little bit more vulnerable and a little bit more at the mercy of the four winds, than it would be if it were only me in this little boat.

April 15, 2006


This morning I went out to my garden and began the ritual of cleaning out the detritus of winter from the tree and flower beds. I love this time of I'm clipping off the dead, withered stalks of last year's growth, I see under the soil's surface the new shoots and new stems of my hardy perennials peeking through, as if to see what the weather's like today. After cleaning up the back yard beds, I moved to the side bed along the front sidewalk, and began cleaning it out. As I clipped and snipped I noticed the fresh new growth on my roses, in the branches of my weeping crabapple tree, and on the miniature cedar shrubs.

The last area I began to clean up edges the sidewalk as it joins with my driveway. Last year, I planted a huge, gorgeous hydrangea, dripping with round flower clusters in a delicate shade of mauve-pink, right beside the driveway. Because the hydrangea was an annual, I was expecting to pull it out of the soil, toss it in the compost and replace it later this spring with another freshly-blooming plant. So, I was totally surprised and more than a little delighted to see a dozen mint-green tips of new growth peeking out of the soil, right at the base of the old growth from last year!

Sitting back on my driveway, I looked closer at the new growth and smiled! Sometimes there are little miracles when you least expect them and this was one of those. I was so certain that this would be another bit of fibre for my compost. Instead, it is a little piece of sunshine in an otherwise grey and rainy spring day.

May 13, 2006

You're In Oil Country Now!

Ok, I know it...I love hockey!
Not the weeky games played over the regular season, although if I lived a little closer to Edmonton, I'd have seasons' tickets for every single Oiler's game, I truly would.
No, I mean this playoff that go into triple overtime and are tied til the last few minutes of the 3rd overtime period. That's totally ridiculous! It ended around 1:20 A.M., and the next day you could guess which of us stayed up til the last second of the last overtime period, when my beloved Oilers scored in sudden-death, setting the Sharks back a few paces.
I mean the game on Friday night...when the Oil were down 3 - 1, and then came back with 5....count 'em...5 unanswered goals to whip the Sharks 6 - 3.
6 - 3!
Can you imagine?
In playoff hockey?

That goal by Samsonov, as he skated out of the penalty was beaut! He really saved his ass on that one...coulda been the goat, if the Sharks had scored, but no, he walked out of that situation with horseshoes in every pocket!

Ryan Smith, gritty, grinding, groggy from the pain and the painkillers he's most likely taking by the mittful. After taking a clearing pass in the mouth from Chris Pronger in the last game, after scooping teeth up from the ice surface and spending the next few minutes getting several stitches in his lip, he came back and played the rest of that game and then was spectacular in this one. Not only played, he kicked some serious Sharkbutt!

On it goes.
Kids who are anywhere from 18 to men in their mid-thirties, this team's got it buff, for sure. They've grown, changed and have now become a solid team, both defensively and offensively. Craig MacT's doing a steady, strong job as coach, Charlie Huddy is behind the bench as well, and Kevin Lowe in the GM's smells sweetly of the Oilers' dynasty that I first fell in love with!

There's no point to this post tonight...just me ragging on about this team. Tomorrow night, there's a 5th game from the Sharktank in San Jose. It will be noisy as hell in there, and our guys will rise above the noise, and walk home with the next game ready to go in front of their hometown fans in the old library, as Rexall Place used to be called.

I'll make a bowl of fresh popcorn, pour a glass of wine and grab my snuggy quilt to curl up on the sofa and watch the game. I don't know what you're going to be doing tomorrow night at 5:00 P.M. If you've got any red Canuck blood flowing in your arteries at all, you'll join me!

July 1, 2006

Canada Day

What's it mean for those of us born in this country?
I think it means a lot of taking Canada for granted.
Taking for granted the space, the wide open country with miles between places and people sometimes.
Taking for granted the clean air, clean rivers and lakes, clean streets...although truth be told, it's not quite as clean as it used to be.
Taking for granted the freedom to say what we want, within reason.

Many things that we take for granted are valued and treasured by people who are new to our country. Like Sisheema...I met her today at our Canada Day celebrations at the Tourist Information Center along the banks of the creek. I gave her a chocolate cuppycake, iced with white frosting and embedded with multi-coloured sprinkles, I wished her Happy Canada Day, and she told me that she was new to Canada! She's only been here 3 days. Travelling from Kenya in Africa, she has arrived as a nanny for a family who lives across the street from me.

We talked over our cuppycakes, and she confided to me that she is already homesick...she misses her family and although this is a new and exciting experience for her, it is a struggle at times. I said that my doctor is from South Africa...Johannesburg, actually...and he always tells me that Canada is so sterile to him. In Africa, he tells me, there are so many different sounds, smells, colours, so much activity and so many people everywhere. Here in Canada, for him it is so much quieter, so much less activity and so much more empty space than where he comes from.

After she left my table, I thought about what it means to me, being born here and having lived here all my life. I don't have the answer yet. It made me think, though...about what I take for granted. There's a lot of that, I think. I know that we are blessed, I know that we are the luckiest of the lucky. What I don't know is what it would be like to not have this kind of feel fear all of the time, to sleep with one eye open and weapons by one's side. I can tell you without hesitation, I cannot imagine that kind of unsurety.

Having said that, I can imagine a little what leaving here would feel like. Every time I leave this country to travel on vacation to another place, I feel the tears welling in my eyes as we fly out of Canadian air space. When I am returning, it is always an emotional time when I see the coast of Canada pass underneath the plane and I know that I'm home again!

Canada Day.
A good day, sunny, cool breeze at times...loads of tourists and their kids, local residents and their kids. A day filled with music by HOJA!, the sounds of the kids playing games, the smell of the BBQ roasting burgers and smokies and the feeling of family among those of us who have known each other for years.
A good day, today.
A good day.

November 25, 2006


Winter in my part of this country makes for some horrendously cold temperatures and heaps of wind blown snow, stacking up like cord-wood against the house. Last winter, we had a mild and sunny winter, enough so that my annual hydrangeas, that would only be perennials in milder climes, actually survived and bloomed fantastically this spring!

Today, the temperature has sunk to an icy -26 C...with a wind-chill guaranteed to replicate -34C and colder. I came home from my office last evening, and as I was driving into my garage I decided that today and tomorrow, my weekend days off, are going to be spent inside my home, with the fireplace stoked to the gills and the hot chocolate and Bailey's ever-present. That way, I'm hoping to be cozily warm all weekend, and failing that, with enough Bailey's in my hot chocolate, I'll be too smashed to care!

There's a theory that living in this harsh, winter climate breeds hardy stock in our Canadian-born gene pool. I'm not sure that's altogether true, but I am sure that it creates a different kind of thought process for those of us who live with, and through, another winter season. This inhospitable weather forces us to adapt ourselves in more than one way.

First, we absolutely must learn about survival and what it takes to get from point A to point B and back again...without freezing our proverbial knockers off! If this lesson goes unlearned, there's not much more to say, except, "'Bye-bye!"

So, dressing for warmth...fleece works, wool works, polyester does not. I have a couple of pairs of winter boots that keep my toes roasty-toasty, no matter how low the outside temperature falls. A pair of Sorrels, the everyman's winter boots, in fluorescent pink and white with felt liners...these little babies keep my feet warm, no matter what! They are almost knee-high and weigh a few pounds each, so walking any distance can be an aerobic adventure, to say the least. But, on a bitterly-cold winter day, walking outside at all is a miracle, so I gleefully slide my feet into my Sorrels, go out to chop wood and cut kindling for my wood-burning fireplace. I spend about 30 minutes outside, axe-hacking the white birch logs to manageable quarters, and when I finally return to the warmth inside my home, my feet are not cold at all.

Then, there's my eggplant-hued Linda Lundstrom knee-high boots to match my eggplant-hued ankle-length wool-lined hooded parka. These little suckers are the lightest weight boot I've ever owned, and you know what? They keep my little toes warm! I have no clue what Ms. Linda does to make them so wonderful in cold weather, but they surely are.

Being hardy Canucks, we understand that doing anything outside in this weather is totally and completely insane. There are many people whose daily existence depends upon working outside in this weather...the guy who pumps gas into my car at the Petro-Canada, my son-in-law who works in the field for the oil and gas company that employs him, my neighbour who runs an x-ray unit for checking pipelines for flaws...these brave people must bundle up and leave the warmth of their beds about 5:00 A.M. every morning. Because of them and the job they do, I get to hunker down in my warm home and I appreciate every single second of their working hours!

Finally, as Canadians, we know without a doubt that the frigid days and nights will pass, the temperature will warm up and before we know it, we'll be fertilizing our lawns, picking up the detritus of winter and sharing a cup of tea over the back fence with our neighbours. My lawn will look like a slice of Ireland herself, my hydrangeas will miraculously have survived another winter and my willow-woven plants stands in my front yard will be encased in fragrant Sugar Daddy petunias, trailing canary vines and lapis coloured lobelia.

This provides a reminder for me...
Stay where it is warm, no matter what.
Work inside, out of the cold, wherever you can.
Nothing lasts forever.

I stay warm, by surrounding myself with warm-hearted people.
People who make me welcome in their lives.
People whose eyes light up when they see me and whose voices ring with a welcoming note when we meet.

I work inside, out of the cold by making my physical location as appealing and soul-satisfying as possible, rather than exposing myself to a work environment that is harsh and unpleasant.
A colour palette that soothes me when I step inside the door.
Furniture that supports my body and wraps me up in giant hugs when I sit down in it.
Food and drink that is as delicious to my mouth and as nutritious for my body as possible.

Nothing lasts forever.
Nothing lasts forever...the three most important words in the Universe. When I got it that nothing lasts forever, I immediately learned that my painful days will soon give way to joyous happy days, just as my joyous, happy days will give way to pain, eventually.

So, full circle...
Why the title?
A little story...
One of the men who used to teach at our school lived in a basement apartment, with windows that opened onto his front lawn. Having arrived recently from England, John had never experienced a Canadian winter before, and he was in for a rude surprise! Not only was the weather so incredibly inhospitable to him, his fellow teachers had a game they played when carousing in a Saturday night.

After several hours of serious partying, they'd wait until the wee hours of the morning, and then go to a fellow teacher's home and wake the unsuspecting person up, in a very rude and uncivilized manner.

One morning, very early, the party people crept semi-silently over the snow-covered lawns to John's basement window...looking in through the sliver of opening between the window and the frame, they saw him sound asleep. Scooping up several ice-cream buckets of freshly fallen snow, they surrounded his window, eased the window open wide and then tossed the snow onto John and his warm, cozy bed!

Instantly, John was awake. He looked around, then ran his hands over his snow-covered blankets, looked groggily up at the now-open window and his colleagues weaving loutishly on the front lawn outside, and bellowed, "SNOW! The BASTARDS!"
With that, he leapt out of his bed, pulled on his jeans and sweater, then let himself out of his apartment and joined his buddies for a few more hours of carousing!

John learned some life lessons that winter.
Stay where it is warm, no matter what...unless you smell a party going on without you!
Work inside, out of the cold, wherever you can...until your bed is so damned snow-cold you gotta move!
Nothing lasts forever...not even the winter snow on your sheets. Sooner or later, you just gotta go have a beer with the boys, while your bed dries out!

March 18, 2007

St. Patrick's Day!

From this Irish to the rest of the favorite Irish jokes!

An Irishman, an Englishman and a Scottish guy go into a pub. Each orders a pint of Guinness. Just as the bartender hands them over, three flies buzz down and, two, each of the pints.

The Englishman looks disgusted, pushes his pint away and demands a fresh one...the Scotsman picks out the fly, shrugs, and takes a long swallow.

The Irishman reaches in to the glass, grabs the fly between his fingers and shakes him as hard as he can, shouting 'Spit it out, ya bloody bastard! Spit it out!'

A funeral service is being held for an Irish woman who has just passed away. At the end of the service the pallbearers are carrying the casket out, when they accidentally bump into a wall, jarring the casket.

They hear a faint moan. They open the casket and find that the woman is actually alive.

She lives for ten more years and then dies.
A ceremony is again held for her and at the end of the ceremony the pallbearers are again carrying the casket.

As they are walking out, the husband cries, "Watch out for that wall, begorrah!"

Irish they were and drunk for sure and they sat in the comer of Mulligan's newly refurbished bar. Across the wall opposite was a huge mirror, fourteen feet long and stretching from floor to ceiling.

Glancing around the room Pat suddenly spotted their reflection in the mirror.

'Mick, Mick,' he whispered. 'Don't look now but there's two fellas over there the image of us!'

'In the name of God,' said Mick, spotting the reflection. 'They're wearing identical clothes and everything.'

'They are indeed,' said Pat. 'I'm going to buy them a drink.'

But as Pat started to rise from his seat, Mick said, 'Sit down Pat, one of them's coming over!'
As soon as she had finished parochial school, a bright young girl named Colleen shook the dust of Ireland off her shoes and made her way to New York where before long, she became a successful performer in show business.

Eventually she returned to her home town for a visit and on a Saturday night went to confession in the church which she had always attended as a child. In the confessional Father Sullivan recognized her and began asking her about her work. She explained that she was an acrobatic dancer, and he wanted to know what that meant.

She said she would be happy to show him the kind of thing she did on stage.

She stepped out of the confessional and within sight of Father Sullivan, she went into a series of cartwheels, leaping splits, handsprings and backflips. Kneeling near the confessional, waiting their turn, were two middle-aged ladies. They witnessed Lena's acrobatics with wide eyes, and one said to the other:

"Will you just look at the penance Father Sullivan is givin' out this night, and me without me bloomers on!"

Pat and Mike were doing some street repairs in front of a known house of ill repute in Boston. A Jewish Rabbi came walking down the street, looked the left, looked to right, and ducked into the house.
Pat paused a bit from swinging his pick and said "Mike...will you look at that! A man of the cloth, and going into a place like that in broad daylight!".

A bit later, a Baptist minister came down the street, looked to the left, looked to the right, and scurried into the house. Mike laid down his shovel, turned to Pat and said "Pat! Are you seeing what I'm seeing? A man of the Church, and he's giving that place his custom!"

Just then, a Catholic Priest came down the street, looked to the left, looked to the right, and slipped into the bawdy house. Pat and Mike straightened up, removed their hats, and Mike says "Faith, and there must be somebody sick in there."

Paddy was in New York.
He was patiently waiting, and watching the traffic cop on a busy street crossing.
The cop stopped the flow of traffic and shouted, "Okay pedestrians".
Then he'd allow the traffic to pass.

He'd done this several times, and Paddy still stood on the sidewalk.
After the cop had shouted "Pedestrians" for the tenth time, Paddy went over to him and said, "Is it not about time ye let the Catholics across?"

Mrs. Patrick O'Malley came into the newsroom to pay for her husband's obituary. She was told by the kindly newsman that it was a dollar a word, and he remembered Patrick and wasn't it too bad about him passing away.
She thanked him for his kind words and bemoaned the fact that she only had two dollars. But she wrote out the obituary, "Pat died."
The newsman said he thought old Pat deserved more and he'd give her three more words at no charge. Mrs. O'Malley thanked him and rewrote the obituary: "Pat died. Boat for sale."

Spanish singer Julio Iglesias was on television with British TV host Anne Diamond when he used the word 'manana'.

Diamond asked him to explain what it meant.
He said that the term means "maybe the job will be done to-morrow, maybe the next day, maybe the day after that. Perhaps next week, next month, next year. Who cares?"

The host turned to Irishman Shay Brennan who was also on the show and asked him if there was an equivalent term in Irish. "No. In Ireland we don't have a word to describe that degree of urgency,"replied Brennan.

June 10, 2007

I Really Don't Know Clouds At All....

Joni Mitchell's lyrics are playing in the background, sung by Judy Collins...
lyrics are such a funny thing...words that some songwriter penned a few years ago or a lot of years ago...they have the power to take me back in time to the very first time I heard a song or the last time I listened to a certain song without crying.

Last night we rented "Music and Lyrics" with Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore. What a delightful movie! We were laughing out loud from the very first frame...they have an incredible on-screen chemistry that is rare. His solemn and often sad characterization of a role is balanced perfectly by her 'sunshine and lollipops' nature. A delight to watch!

When was the last time you laughed out loud for a couple of hours straight, relaxing and enjoying a movie like this? Its been too long for me, so this felt like a gift from the angels. The soundtrack from the movie was full of nostalgic music and it was a lovely listen.

The Kingston Trio is singing "The Ballad of Tom Dooley" in the background, on PBS...I've immediately flashed back to a hot, humid Manitoba summer day, school is out and we are free for the summer! Walking east out of my home town, along a dusty gravel road toward the dugout at English's farm, we sang this song over and over, until our throats were raw...laughing and chasing each other through the summer heat and into the cold, muddy, bloodsucker-filled water at the bottom of the dugout.

What is it that makes the music and lyrics of any given song such a powerful trigger deep within our memory banks? Maybe it is a connection to our soul that happens when we hear a familiar song from long ago. Perhaps it turns a switch on somewhere deep within our subconscious minds, allowing the free-flowing emotions to have full rein in our hearts. Whatever it is, there's nothing like the flood of feeling-good or feeling-bad that flows when a song touches us.

Now, the Highwaymen are singing "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" and I am in awe about the timelessness of those words...haven't we learned anything since this was a hit in the early 60's?
Well, haven't we?
I guess not.

How else is it that the lyrics are as fresh in today's world of the war in Iraq and the conflict in Afghanistan as they were back then, with the Vietnam war ongoing...

"Where have all the soldiers gone, long time passing?
Where have all the soldiers gone, long time ago?
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards everyone...
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?"

Remember Peter, Paul and Mary's lovely version of "Lemon Tree?"
Or, Glen Yarborough's "Baby, the Rain Must Fall?"
Gordon Lightfoot's ballads...
...the Beach Boys' endless summers...

I wonder if there are popular songs today that will be remembered like these, half a dozen decades from now, when my grandchildren are my age. There are none that I can think of, but then I'm listening to 50 year old songs most of the time, so I'd not know what is current nor if it is any good, would I?

Funny how a song has this much effect on a person...
Funny, maybe...but I think I like it!
What are your favorite touchstones of musical memory?
Can you make a list of them and keep it in a journal somewhere?
I'm going to.

June 16, 2007

Push vs Power!

A few years ago, I bought an electric lawnmower from Home Hardware.
Because it was lightweight and I could start it easier than a pull-type gas-powered jobbie.
I got extremely tired of flipping the 100' cord overhead with every turn of my yard.

Last year, I bought a rechargeable lawnmower from Canadian Tire.
I thought this would be the cat's meow.
It wasn't.
For starters, it has a cutting path of 12", for crying in my soup!
D'you know how long it would take to mow the average lawn with that teensy little thing?
Not only that, the huge and heavy rechargeable battery on top of the mower only holds a charge for about 30 minutes of mowing time and is incredibly heavy!

This year...yesterday, in fact...I bought a push mower.
That's right, a push motor, no rechargeable battery, no gas and oil to mix and match.
A mower that is silent, except for a gentle whssss-ing sound, so I can mow when I want and no one in my neighbourhood is going to come screaming down the alley because I'm waking them up on a Saturday morning!

I stopped in at Home Hardware to pick it up.
I stood and talked about the joys of this kind of mower with a few of the staff at the store who also own one.
These staff members are also women.
They also love their push mowers!

We came to an agreement that the mowers should be painted pink!
Some of the proceeds should go to Breast Cancer Research!
Do you know how many women would buy a push lawnmower then?
Scads, I betcha!

It's 9:00 A.M. Saturday.
I'm going out to mow my lawn, now.

I hope it works, that it isn't too difficult to push
I hope I love this mower as much as the staff at Home Hardware love theirs.
If I do, I'm going to paint it pink!

The Law of Dominoes...or The Power of a Single Piece of Paper

The law of dominoes states clearly that there is a 100% chance that one domino pulled out of order in a row of stacking dominoes will cause the whole damn thing to collapse like a house of cards.
You know when you were little, how you'd make a line of standing dominoes that ran from one end of the dining room table to the other? Knock down the end domino and guess what happens? They all fall down, like at the end of Ring-Around-the-Rosey!

Here's the deal in my life today...
I have a client who has bought a house in town and has also sold his house in the city.
The owners of the house that he's purchased here have also bought another house in another town. That's a whole line-up of deals all hinging on each other, dependent on each other closing on time and in proper form.

The first deal in the line-up, the purchase of my client's home in the city has a little problem...and now every single deal after that is teetering and tottering and stressing out every attorney, realtor, buyer and seller in the queue! Aiiiiiiiya....

My job often consists of babysitting, calming, counselling, caretaking, smoothing-over and putting out fires for my clients. In this case, I'm doing all of the above. We are now 5 days past legal possession for the first deal, and it's still not solved...attorneys are working overtime, becoming increasingly more cranky as each hour passes. Sellers are anxiously waiting the next work from their realtor...that'd be me...and buyers are pacing floors in a variety of locations, waiting for the green light that lets them begin the process of moving into their new home.

What's the problem?
A single piece of paper is missing.
One single letter-size page of printer paper.
Now, between the development officer for the city and the attorney for each client, there is a crushing rush to create a solution that will keep everyone and everything from disintegrating completely. That's the power of something as small and supposedly insignificant as a sheet of paper that is 8.5" X 11".

It amazes me that something as insignificant as a piece of paper with a few words and numbers on it can cause 5 deals to screech to a halt, a dozen lives to be interrupted momentarily. A little bit of wood pulp controls the well-being of a dozen people and directs their lives for a few days...that's stunning to me!

What's the solution to this real-life issue?
Apparently, it will be a cash holdback, arranged by the attorneys who are representing my client and the buyer of his house. Money talks, it appears.

By Monday morning, all will be well in the land of Oz.
Movers will be busy, buyers will be happy, sellers will be counting their shekels, attorneys will be knocking back a few cool ones and the realtor...that'd be me...will sink into a chair in her office, breathe a huge sigh of relief and set up the dominoes again.
I think there's a lesson in all of this, a reminder for me and for all of my clients in this transaction...we're not in charge of our Universe. No matter how hard we try, how fast we talk or how much we believe we are, we simply aren't the boss here. We might as well get out of the driver's seat, because we're sure not driving this car.

About the time that we begin feeling a little smug and self-satisfied that we're managing to control our lives quite well...and aren't we the goodie-guy to be managing to do that...along comes life, in the form of a sheet of paper, and SWAAAAACK! We get one of those right upside the head, rendering us helpless and neutralizing any position of power that we mistakenly thought we held.

A lesson that I continually must re-learn.

"Things work out best for those who make the best of the way things work out." ~ Unknown

June 24, 2007

Soldiers then...soldiers now...

I went to a funeral today.
My friend's husband passed on Monday, after a long and painful inch-by-inch death from cancer.
The family is wrung out completely...physically, emotionally and spiritually.
His wife, their 5 daughters, their grandchildren and a beautiful little great-grandchild were present. He was a well-loved husband, father, brother, grandfather, great-grandfather...his family crafted a lovingly-presented tribute to him today.

We gathered together in our community hall.
We were each given a red Remembrance Day Legion poppy to wear, in honour of Ken's years of military service.
Our mayor's husband piped in the Royal Canadian Legion Honour Guard Colour Party, followed by one of our local RCMP detachment members dressed in traditional red serge, then the fire department in full dress uniform and a number of Legion members in uniform. The longest-serving Legion member carried an oak urn, bearing a scarlet poppy inlaid in the front of the wood. He set it down carefully and respectfully in the center of the array of Ken's military treasures, displayed on the table at the front of the hall.

As the Legion Colour Party and family members approached the front of the hall, one by one they gently set their brilliant scarlet poppies on the oak urn. Soon, a brilliant scarlet heap of poppies covered the urn, spilling over onto the white cloth underneath.

You see, Ken was a soldier.
He was in active military service for many years, a national award-winning sharpshooter, he served in several war zones around the world. When he was away, his wife raised their 5 daughters mostly on her own. Their family sacrificed so much when he was out there protecting all of us and our way of life in this country and in this world.

As the family took turns speaking about their loved one and his military service, it became crystal-clear to me that Ken's years of soldiering are now being repeated by other young husbands and fathers, serving in Afghanistan, Iraq and other Middle East postings. I found it so ironic...we are celebrating the life of a good soldier, and there are other good soldiers in other countries, still fighting...

What, then, has changed?
Since Ken enlisted, is the world very different at all?

Our soldiers are still fighting the same enemies that his battalion faced in the '50's and 60's. The names and faces may have changed, but the enemy remains much the same, I think. A few days ago, I heard of three more Canadian soldiers dying in Afghanistan...victims of a hidden roadside bomb. Three more families who have lost sons, fathers, husbands, brothers. I wonder what it will take so that no other family loses someone they love with all their hearts...

As the service came to an end, the family invited everyone to join them at the back of the hall, where several family friends were uncorking bottle after bottle of good champagne! Pouring the liquid sunshine into glasses, they asked us to help ourselves. Then, we gathered in a huge circle around the hall, as the youngest daughter invited us to join in a toast to her father.

Everyone raised their glass of bubbly and shouted, "To KEN!" We drank every drop, and then laughed out loud as his youngest daughter tipped a bottle of beer to her lips! She made a huge face, then explained to us that the beer was a tribute to her dad, because he loved his beer ever so much better than any champagne!

I'm home now.
I'm safe.
I have good food to eat and a warm bed to crawl into later on.
I think about how more of our soldiers are preparing to go overseas to help the Afghani people. I think also about my friend's family tonight, missing their loved one, a soldier also.
I feel such gratitude for their courage and conviction, their devotion to serving their country.
Soldiers then...soldiers now. God bless 'em, one and all.

June 28, 2007

School's Out!

Today's the last day of school...the kids are out, racing down the hill to get soft ice cream at the drive-in and brain-aching Mr. Freezies from Winks. Their parents are stocking up on Motrin and Advil at the Medicine Bottle, plus a few 2-4 packs of Molson brewskies, several 6-packs of Mike's Hard Lemonade and many bottles of wine at the Oasis Liquor Store, to fortify them against the coming 62 day summer vacation.
1488 hours of children at home.
89, 280 minutes...
5,356,800 seconds of agony, waiting for the class bell to ring in the fall.

I don't know how they do it...teachers, I mean. They have our little progeny for 10/12ths of a year, every year, for 12 or more years.
I'd be nuts.
I'd be completely looney-spooney mad.

My family are mostly teachers, God bless 'em.
I have a couple of very good friends who also are teachers, and I have no idea how they maintain their sanity in that environment.
It's not the kids, although God knows, there are some of the little suckers that warrant closed-quarter confinement.
No, it's not the kids.
It's the politics, the record keeping by the ton and the hundred and one other jobs that teachers are asked to do, after they've finished teaching our kids.

They are at one time or another nurse, psychiatrist, pet hugger, puke-cleaner-upper, bandaid hander-outer and general all-round parent-in-absentia for the kids in their classrooms.
So it's fitting, I think, that teachers get a couple of short breaks at Christmas and Easter, and then a lusciously, lovely, long 2 month break right smack in the middle of spectacularly sunshine-splashed days of summer.

When better to recharge their batteries, recoup their strength and regroup for the coming school term, I ask ya? When better than in the most wonderful days of the year...

So, pour a brewski, tip back a cold Mike's Hard Lemonade and raise your glasses high to those intrepid men and women who brave the classroom daily and wade into the chaotic fray known as teaching.
Here's to ya, my lovelies...cheers!
Na zdrowie!
Gan bei!
Here's mud in your eye!
Have yourselves a good'll roll by all too fast.

July 30, 2007

Some summer thunderstorms that we've been having lately!

Holy thunderin’ lightnin’, have we had some gut-bustin’ summer storms over the past few days! It’s like the sky is angry as hell and in a huge lather over something. I know the daytime temperatures have been scorchers, anywhere from 35 - 40 degrees Celsius (95 – 105 degrees Fahrenheit ), so that accounts for some of the turmoil in the skies. Still, this consistent line-up of daily and nightly storms is an anomaly for our area. Oh, we get a few good blasters every year, but this year the storms are becoming an all-too common occurrence, with ever-increasing intensity. I checked out the weather networks and I’ve read through a lot of websites to find some answers…here’s some of what I’ve learned.

Thunderstorms are weather patterns that includes thunder, lightning, rain and often hail, as well. Sometimes, tornadoes are also a by-product of the weather disturbance of a thunderstorm.

The electrical charges in the clouds are caused by fast-moving air that separates the water droplets in the clouds and the resulting electrical charges build up and cause huge electrical shocks, sometimes as high as 100 million volts of electricity! Yikes! I cannot imagine what that must be like, can you? I think a shock from my toaster is horrific…can you imagine 100 million volts? That’s totally beyond my comprehension.

Did you know that lightning strikes the earth approximately 100 times a second? It is thought that the energy generated by the thunderstorm is greater than the explosion of an atomic bomb. That’s amazing to me…and a little scary, also.

Thunderstorms usually last between 30 – 45 minutes and a dying storm can trigger a second storm, so when you notice the storm abating, don’t relax! There could be another one on the way…and then another after that! Funny how the storm seems to last a lot longer than half an hour when I’m in the house or driving in the car in the middle of that storm.

Thunderstorm clouds are dark in colour because of the water accumulating in the clouds. Sunlight doesn’t pass through the water-filled cloud as easily as it does through a cloud containing very little moisture. See, the thing is this…the surrounding clouds that are lighter in colour make the water-filled clouds look much darker by comparison, so we observe the thunderclouds as being much darker than the surrounding clouds!

Have you ever noticed that thunderclouds look darker in the distance than they look as they move overhead? Because we can no longer compare them side by side to the lighter clouds, they appear lighter in colour as they pass overhead. Steve Czarnecki, senior technical staff member for Lockheed Martin, suggests that a great science experiment for school students to conduct would be to use a light meter to measure the brightness of far-off clouds and compare that to the brightness of clouds overhead to show that our perception of the cloud colour is affected by the brightness of the surrounding clouds. Interesting, huh? Very interesting…

So, that’s the Honeynuts Cheerios recap of my research tonight…I’m heading to the library to find a great book on weather and thunderstorms in particular…maybe that will also ‘enlighten’ me about this amazing phenomenon!

Some summer thunderstorms that we've been having lately!

Holy thunderin’ lightnin’, have we had some gut-bustin’ summer storms over the past few days! It’s like the sky is angry as hell and in a huge lather over something. I know the daytime temperatures have been scorchers, anywhere from 35 - 40 degrees Celsius (95 – 105 degrees Fahrenheit ), so that accounts for some of the turmoil in the skies. Still, this consistent line-up of daily and nightly storms is an anomaly for our area. Oh, we get a few good blasters every year, but this year the storms are becoming an all-too common occurrence, with ever-increasing intensity. I checked out the weather networks and I’ve read through a lot of websites to find some answers…here’s some of what I’ve learned.

Thunderstorms are weather patterns that includes thunder, lightning, rain and often hail, as well. Sometimes, tornadoes are also a by-product of the weather disturbance of a thunderstorm.

The electrical charges in the clouds are caused by fast-moving air that separates the water droplets in the clouds and the resulting electrical charges build up and cause huge electrical shocks, sometimes as high as 100 million volts of electricity! Yikes! I cannot imagine what that must be like, can you? I think a shock from my toaster is horrific…can you imagine 100 million volts? That’s totally beyond my comprehension.

Did you know that lightning strikes the earth approximately 100 times a second? It is thought that the energy generated by the thunderstorm is greater than the explosion of an atomic bomb. That’s amazing to me…and a little scary, also.

Thunderstorms usually last between 30 – 45 minutes and a dying storm can trigger a second storm, so when you notice the storm abating, don’t relax! There could be another one on the way…and then another after that! Funny how the storm seems to last a lot longer than half an hour when I’m in the house or driving in the car in the middle of that storm.

Thunderstorm clouds are dark in colour because of the water accumulating in the clouds. Sunlight doesn’t pass through the water-filled cloud as easily as it does through a cloud containing very little moisture. See, the thing is this…the surrounding clouds that are lighter in colour make the water-filled clouds look much darker by comparison, so we observe the thunderclouds as being much darker than the surrounding clouds!

Have you ever noticed that thunderclouds look darker in the distance than they look as they move overhead? Because we can no longer compare them side by side to the lighter clouds, they appear lighter in colour as they pass overhead. Steve Czarnecki, senior technical staff member for Lockheed Martin, suggests that a great science experiment for school students to conduct would be to use a light meter to measure the brightness of far-off clouds and compare that to the brightness of clouds overhead to show that our perception of the cloud colour is affected by the brightness of the surrounding clouds. Interesting, huh? Very interesting…

So, that’s the Honeynuts Cheerios recap of my research tonight…I’m heading to the library to find a great book on weather and thunderstorms in particular…maybe that will also ‘enlighten’ me about this amazing phenomenon!

August 8, 2007

Pull the Plug

Alright, y'all can laugh all you want.
I just spent the last 4 days with no home phone service and no internet, either!
Quelle surprise...I was bereft without my phone.
The internet connection was not such a loss for me, but my phone line?
Hai-YA! It was agony.

My TELUS repair tech, Mike, came to my home today and after a long time poking and prodding in the phone box inside my breaker panel, he found the cause of the problem...a 'wet' line! Apparently, the connection from the gas meter's direct-internet line to their head office, that allows them to 'read' my meter without actually coming to my home, had moisture inside the external wrapping and it caused my phone line to go dead.

It was an interesting few days...I had no idea how attached to my phone line I actually am.
There were no long conversations over a cup of tea with my friends, no chats with my daughter about her day and...oh, telemarketers! No interruptions at dinner, just as we're sitting down to eat! That was a lovely side effect for me, and although I didn't miss those calls, I was totally delighted when Mike told me he'd found the problem and fixed it.

It started me thinking...what would we do without our daily connections to our friends and family? That's the juice that helps me make it through, sometimes. Just calling a friend or my son or my daughter, hearing their voice, hearing an 'awww, that's so sad. What can I do to make it better?' over the phone...that's enough on the worst of days.

There are so many ways of staying connected these days. E-mail, e-cards, phone calls...both cell and land line...fax, courier, post office snail mail, bus freight, flower excuse for not letting someone you love know that you're thinking of them. And, letting them know can save their life, sometimes. At least, it does that for me, often.

I know there are retreats that you can go to, where there are no phones, no cell phones allowed, no TV, no radio, no CNN! I understand why people seek out that kind of serenity, that kind of unplugging from the everyday life and the interruptions of phones and faxes, of bus freight arriving and courier deliveries.

I also know how meaningful staying connected can be. I think there's a fine balance between the two. For me, I'd rather stay connected to my human lifelines than to unhook, unplug and detach, to get away from those lifesaving connections. I never knew that about myself before. This time doing without some of those connections reinforced that for me, very strongly.

So, long story short...if you've been unplugged, disconnected from someone who really matters to you, and more's to the point, who you really matter to...think about getting in touch. It just might save someone's life. You never know who might be affected by the sound of your voice or the sight of your e-mail.

"The life I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and that in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place my touch will be felt." ~ Frederick Buechner

October 6, 2007

Keep your fork...the best is yet to come!

You know those emails that people send to each other that tell you to hold onto your fork? Some are told by an elderly aunt, some tell the story of a preacher and a few are written about family members with a terminal disease.

The story is usually about someone telling other people to keep their fork after the main course at a community meal, potluck dinner or church social. When the meat and potatoes have been eaten, the idea is that you have to keep your fork, because dessert's on the way, and you need the fork to feed yourself dessert!

My daughter has a girlfriend, Shanta, whose grandfather was in a concentration camp in Germany during WWII. He always hung onto his watery, skimpy meal after another, one tragic day after another, one horror-filled week after another, in that terrible place where he spent so many days and weeks and months of his life.

Somehow, he managed to survive the death camps and the gas chambers with his fork in his hand. When his family asked him why he so stubbornly held onto his fork through all of that wretched time, he replied, "Well, you see, as long as I kept my fork in my hand, I believed that there must be another meal coming."

His granddaughter has framed her Opa's fork and it hangs on a wall in her home. It reminds everyone in her family that there are much worse things that could be happening. It also reminds her that even if those much worse things actually happened, it's more than possible for everyone to survive.

My daughter tells me that when she receives yet another "Keep Your Fork" e-mail from a well-meaning friend, she can't help but remember Shanta's Opa's fork, hanging on the kitchen wall in a delicate shadowbox frame.

"A grandfather is someone with silver in his hair and gold in his heart." ~ Author Unknown

November 13, 2007

An Australian Definition of a Canadian - Written by an Australian

An Australian Definition of a Canadian...
written by an Australian dentist

An Australian dentist wrote the following editorial to help define what a Canadian is, so people would know one when they found one. I love this...and it is the truest definition of this undefinable nationality that I've ever read!

A Canadian can be English or French, Italian, Irish, German,
Spanish, Polish, Russian or Greek.
A Canadian can be Mexican, African,
Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Australian, Iranian, Asian, Arab,
Pakistani or Afghan.

A Canadian may also be a Cree, Metis, Mohawk, Blackfoot, Sioux, or one
of the many other tribes known as First Nations people.
A Canadian can be an Eskimo,

A Canadian's religious beliefs range from Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu
all the way through to none. In fact, there are more Muslims in Canada than in Afghanistan.
The key difference is that in Canada they are free to worship as each of them chooses.

Whether they have a religion or no religion, each Canadian ultimately answers only to God, not to the government, or to armed thugs claiming to speak for the government and for God.

A Canadian lives in one of the most prosperous lands in the history of
the world. The root of that prosperity can be found in the Charter of
Rights and Freedoms which recognize the right of each person to the
pursuit of happiness.

A Canadian is generous. Canadians have helped out just about every
other nation in the world in their time of need, never asking a thing in
return. Canadians welcome the best of everything, the best products, the
best books, the best music, the best food, the best services and the
best minds. But they also welcome the least - the oppressed, the outcast
and the rejected.

These are the people who built Canada.
Canadians are not a particular people from a particular place.
They are the embodiment of the human spirit of freedom.
Everyone who holds to that spirit, everywhere, can be a Canadian.

"Keep your stick on the ice, boys!"

November 18, 2007

It's Almost Christmas!

Well, maybe it's not quite Christmas, but there's only a few weeks left!
The Sears Wish Book has been paged through a few hundred times by my grandchildren. I finally have over half of my gifts purchased and the Christmas cards are sitting on the bottom step of the stairs...hopefully, that will encourage me to begin writing them soon. Knowing the season is just around the corner, I've been thinking back over the years about other Christmases in the past...

Christmas traditions...every family has them.
I started a few of my own, like lighting candles for our family members who have passed, to let them know we've not forgotten about them. It is a way to include their memory in the rest of the festivities.

Christmas grandmother made it every single year. Steamed in quart sealers, set in her canning kettle, then served hot with huge dollops of vanilla ice cream and her best ever brown sugar caramel sauce. 1000 calories a serving, I swear. I learned to make it, then continued her tradition. Now my daughter makes it for Christmas dinner.

Brown sugar grandmother made 9" x 9" cake pans full of the sweet stuff. She would boil the daylights out of the sugar and butter and cream, then beat that by hand for a few minutes until it began to thicken. Then, quick as a wink, in would go a huge pour of real vanilla. One more stir and then out of the saucepan and into the pan. YUM!

Christmas Eve service at the United Church...always, on Christmas Eve, we'd dress up in our Sunday-going-to-meetin' clothes and spend the evening at the old stone and stuccoed church, singing all of the traditional Christmas carols and listening to the story of Christ's birth read by our minister.

Those are just a few of the lovely memories that surface every year around this time.
The closer it gets, the more often the memories come. As we move closer to December 25th, I know more memories will come up to be savored.

"Away in a manger, no crib for His bed..."

January 28, 2008

Life Explained

A boat docked in a tiny Mexican village. An American tourist complimented the Mexican fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took him to catch them.

"Not very long," answered the Mexican.

"But then, why didn't you stay out longer and catch more?" asked the American.

The Mexican explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family.

The American asked, "But what do you do with the rest of your time?"

"I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a siesta with my wife. In the evenings, I go into the village to see my friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs. I have a full life."

The American interrupted, "I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you! You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat."

"And after that?" asked the Mexican.

"With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers.
Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant.
You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City , Los Angeles, or even New York City! From there you can direct your huge new enterprise."

"How long would that take?" asked the Mexican.

"Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years,"replied the American.

"And after that?"

"Afterwards? Well my friend, that's when it gets really interesting," answered the American, laughing. "When your business gets really big, you can start buying and selling stocks and make millions!"

"Millions? Really? And after that?" asked the Mexican.

"After that you'll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends."

The moral of the story is this....
Know where you're going in life. You may already be there.

January 31, 2008

Catch 22

I have a fantastic attorney working out of my office. He drives from another city to provide legal services for our community.

He's an amazing guy, recently married, with a brand new baby boy that is the center of his life, along with his gorgeous wife.
He's a dear friend of mine and someone I would trust with my life.

The man is absolutely loopy about his little boy.
Last December, he booked a vacation for him and his family. They spent 2 weeks in the Dominican Republic at a gorgeous resort so his wife could take a break, laze by the pool and sleep in each morning, while he took care of his darling son.

This guy is deeply involved in his community, coaching lacrosse and working hard as a volunteer for several good community organizations.

Why am I telling you all of this stuff, about an attorney that you don't know, and aren't likely to meet? Here's why...
Yesterday, he and I were standing and chatting with my front office person, talking about travel. The conversation rolled around to the lengthening process of going through airport security these days. My attorney friend said that it's always a long, painful drawn-out process for him, if he is traveling alone, but it isn't that way when he travels with his lacrosse team.

I asked him why it would be different when he travels by himself.....then it dawned on me.
His parents are from Lebanon.
His ancestry is Lebanese.
I was stunned silent for a moment.

I expressed my shock and sadness that he is treated this way when he travels alone, and he shrugged, saying quietly, "That's the way it is." He looked at me for a second, smiled a small sad smile, then turned and walked into his office.

I'm left with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.
I understand the reasons behind the intensive security at airports.
I appreciate that same intense scrutiny, when I'm traveling by air.
I never thought about it from this perspective before.

This man is a loving father, a great husband and a dear friend of mine. He's being subjected to that scrutiny at security every time he travels alone.
The same security scrutiny that makes me feel safer when I travel makes him feel...I'm not sure what it makes him feel...
I only know that today, it makes me feel sad and chagrined, that a person who I know to be one of the best of the best gets lumped into the mix when these security issues arise in today's world. A few years ago, he was able to travel freely, with no extra attention paid to him.
In today's world, things are different.

I struggle writing this, because I don't know the words to express how I feel about this happening to my's a catch-22, I think. Part of me is delighted that security has been stepped up, and then another part of me is sickened because the very thing that I am happy about has made another person feel terrible.
I have no answers...

February 7, 2008

Days Off, and Other Lovely Things

The joy of being self-employed is the ability to take days off whenever I want. No boss to tell me I can’t take time off, no time card to punch and no accountability for taking the odd petite vacation.

So, here I am in Vancouver for a lovely 6 day break…albeit a conference for my company coincides with this trip. That legitimizes the trip, if legitimization’s necessary.

The hotel gave me a huge and spectacular 11th floor room, overlooking the harbour…wrap-around windows allow me to go to sleep with the night lights of the city casting a soft glow over the walls. There is even a floor-to-ceiling wall-to-wall window in the tub/shower area…and, yes, I close the blinds before showering!

I’ve slept late in the morning, stayed up late at night.
I’ve spent the day with a friend, devouring a delish dill cream cheese/smoked salmon/watercress/onion and ground pepper panini at Thomas Haas’ little hideaway.
After the panini, we shared a perfect mango mousse cheesecake and a pear almond tart, finishing the meal with a large café latte for her and a steamed vanilla soy for me.

I’ve spoiled myself with a soothing hot stone massage and a perfect pedicure. I have a facial coming up in a couple of days. This is decadence for me…time for myself!
Time with no distractions to nibble away at a string of precious days off that I’ve carved out for myself.

Today, I walked along the seawall, found Cordera’s Seafood Café, and treated myself to a Seafood Wok with Fried Rice and a pot of green tea.
Tomorrow, I have 2 sessions that I will attend at the conference, then I’m taking the night off to have dinner with friends.

These are not huge and lavish things that I’ve done for myself. In my world, though, they are more than enough.

February 9, 2008

What a Lovely Evening...Too Much Prosecco, Too Little Time!

What a lovely evening!
Janie made the best lamb stew ever, Ann and Scott went to Thomas Haas for an out-of-this-world lemon lemon tart, I brought 3 glorious bottles of prosecco and Sheena and Terry provided the warmth of their home and the kindness of their family for us to share this lovely evening with each other.

Laughter filled the rooms, hilarity and innuendos flew about like lemon drops in summertime. Between Nigel and Scott's repartee breaking everyone up repeatedly, the beautiful squatters' delightful tales of hospital visits gone awry and Sheena's wicked sense of humour, I've laughed my heart out and my stomach is sore from all of it.

Once, during the evening, I excused myself, went upstairs to the bathroom, and after washing and drying my hands, I spotted a tube of Sheena's delish hand creme from her amazing store, At Home. I squeezed out a more-than-generous dollop, anticipating the soothing feel of the lovely stuff...only to discover upon spreading it over my hands that it was actually....toothpaste! Was that the prosecco? Hmmmm, I like to think not!

Before I knew it, time to leave...the evening reached an end all too soon for me. After sharing a perfect meal, some amazing conversation and soaking up a home full of love and laughter, I feel ready to take on the world. With lovely people like these in my life, what more could a girl ask for?

February 15, 2008


We can all be a friend, if we're careful and loving.
We can all have a friend, if we're deeply blessed.
I have some fantastic friends.

One of these friends gave me the title for this blog.
She ends most of our conversations with these words..."So, that's my story, and I'm stickin' to it!"
She's brave, funny, full of love and generosity.
She's my truth teller.
If something negative or confusing is going on in my life, I can trust her to tell me the truth as she sees it.
Most often, that's also how I see it.
Only through her words can I actually see the truth in it all.

Another very dear friend is the person I go to when I need clarity in my life.
When things look like everything's been jazzed up in a blender, I call her and she sorts through the sad tales that I share with her and she finds the golden nuggets in the center of it all, hands those to me on a silver platter and I'm back in the groove again.
I don't know how she does it, but it works for me, every single time.

With my money-conscious friend, I've learned more than I ever wanted to know about my money and my personal finances.
With lessons on RRSP's, GIC's and the TSE, I now understand the best way to take care of my finances and I can do it myself.
When I'm making little of something that has happened to me and it needs making much of, he will sing my praises to me in stereophonic sound and then shout, "Just OWN it!"
And, I do.

Friends are what God gives us in apology for some of our family members.
Friends make a bad day better and a terrible day bearable.
"My friends are my estate," Emily Dickinson tells us.
Wise words, and it couldn't be said any better.

"There are some things you can't share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them." ~ J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

February 19, 2008

Blogs, and Then Some...

My friends on my favorite travel site in this Universe, Slowtrav, have made a pact with each other to blog every single day for a whole month!
Holy crapshoot!
They are all guts and glory, these bloggers.
That's a lot of writing.

The thing is this. I'm not sure that I have that much to say that anyone would want to read.
Also, it takes a huge amount of time for me. My penchant for editing, rewriting and spell checking triples the time it takes to write a piece for my blog.
And then, what if I miss one day?
Is that a failure?
Will they throw me out of the blog-a-day club?
I'd hate that a lot!

Still, I wish I'd been in the front door when they started this, the 1st of February.
Maybe, I'll jump into the pond with them the 1st of March...what do you think about that?
Brave, aren't I?

February 22, 2008

Mexican Haciendas!

I just arrived home from an interesting evening with a realtor, a lawyer and a developer from Mexico! I'm a realtor, this was a walk on the wild side for me. These good people are hip-deep in a gorgeous condo development on the west coast of the country and I might have some clients interested in buying a condo or 3. This was an education session on life in that area of Mexico.
I learned so much!

I now know that the health care system in Mexico is fantastic, for the most part, and the stuff we hear constantly on the news only represents about 1% of the whole picture. The realtor's husband was in hospital for major surgery, spent 37 days there and was treated with kid gloves. She was so happy with the doctors and the nurses, and with the bill at the end of the stay.
That's right, she was not billed a single peso above their own local medical insurance coverage.

We also learned a huge amount about purchasing property in Mexico...the rules and the law that guides a purchase. It's easier than I thought, but not simple as in Canada. Ther attorney that was present gave us loads of good information and advice. I think I'm actually becoming knowledgeable about this!

I have a few photos of the computer-generated interiors and an exterior front elevation drawing...I'll post a few for you!


Dining Room...

Living Room...

Master Bedroom...

February 24, 2008


I love the Oscars.
I love them, love the red carpet pre-Oscar show, love seeing the gowns and the tuxedos, the hair and makeup. I love it all!

I've been watching Oscar for years. I have so many memories...
I remember the streaker who ran out behind David Niven!
John Wayne was heartbreakingly ill when he presented the Oscar for Best Picture in 1979.
Barbara Streisand's see-through pant suit was not that see-through. I still don't know what the fuss was about.
Cher knew how to sock 'em to the establishment...great costumes, both times!
Sally Field discovered we really loved her.
Julia Roberts enjoyed the feeling to the ultimate!
James Cameron really felt like the "King of the World.
Jack Palance pushed up a bunch of times...what a guy.
Cuba Gooding was so thankful.
I laughed and cheered as Roberto Benigni seat-walked across the rows of chairbacks to get to the stage!
Sacheen Littlefeather picked up Marlon Brando's Oscar.
Rob Lowe certainly cut the rug with Snow White.
More funny moments than I can remember from Billy Crystal and Robin Williams.

I'm sure there will be many more memorable and hysterical Oscar moments in the future...I'm looking forward to next year, already.

"John Wayne made his last public appearance on the April 9, 1979 Oscar telecast. Before announcing the Best Picture winner, he spoke to the assembled, 'Believe me when I tell you I'm mighty pleased that I can amble down here tonight. Oscar and I have something in common. Oscar first came to the Hollywood scene in 1928. So did I. We're both a little weather beaten, but we're still here and plan to be around a whole lot longer.' " ~ Oscar website

February 28, 2008

American Idol...David Archuleta's Imagine...

This young man may walk away from the pack. He's spectacular!

March 1, 2008

One of Those Days...

This was one of those days.
You know the kind...a day that would have been good on any other day.
Except for this...
Stupid people turned this day upside down, inside out.
Stupid people doing stupid things, making everyone else's day a mess.

I love my job.
I love my job, with the singular exception of the times when someone with very little common sense turns my day inside out. Today was one of those days.

It's a simple thing to do your job, handle your own case, carry your own load of ka-ka.
Isn't it?
Really, truly, isn't it?
Apparently not, as was evidenced today.

All week, I've been cleaning up after another person, picking up her slack, hauling in her anchor, taking care of my own business as well as hers.
I know the rule about carrying your own suitcase and leaving others to carry their own for themselves.
That rule goes out the window when I'm wearing the hat for my clients, because my job is to do the best for my clients, even when that best includes carrying the whole load for myself and for the other realtor, as well.

Without going into the gory details, I will leave you with this little scene...after picking up the slack for over a week, carrying the load for everyone, I was pushed to the breaking point this afternoon and flipped out! My front office person heard a string of four-letter friend-getters that was surrounded by enough thick blue smoke to choke a horse!

After blowing my cork, swearing profusely and stomping around in my office for a few minutes, I went back to the front desk, apologized to my front office person for my profanity and for having subjected her to my pissed-offed-ness.

The darling girl laughed out loud, then said, "No problem! You were only saying out loud what I was thinking inside of my head!" We both laughed about it, then we both went home for the weekend.

Now, after a luscious comfort-food dinner of my favorite foods and 5 delish Dark Concerto biscuits for dessert, washed down with a glass of Oyster Bay chardonnay, I'm chillin', not cranky and relaxing, finally.

Do I understand what happened today? Of course.
Do I understand why stupid people are so.....stupid?
Nope, not even close.
Seems to me it is pretty simple to do your job and take care of your own kettle of corn.

Bottom line?
Take care of your own business.
I still don't understand why that's such a complex idea for some people to grasp.
Do you?

"The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." ~ Unknown

March 2, 2008

Winter Storms...

Yesterday, I went to Whitecourt, a 45 minute drive along a 4 lane divided highway. No reason to go, I just wanted to 'get out of Dodge' for an afternoon. It was a sunny warm winter day, when I pulled out onto Hwy. #43 and headed south.

My trips to Whitecourt are measured by the hills I drive up and down along the way. Heading down the steep, dangerous and accident-prone slope of Iosegun Hill, I was settling in for a relaxing drive, Andrea Bocelli's latest CD blasting from the luscious Bose sound system in my Denali.

As I reached the bottom of Iosegun and began the steep, curving ascent up the far side of the hill, I noticed a line of semis in front of me on the divided 4-lane...braking, slowing, stacking up one behind the next. Reaching the crest of the hill, I could see around the bend of the highway ahead of me. Cars, trucks, semis with full loads, backed up and stopped, as far as I could see.

I pulled in behind a semi hauling a flat deck and snuggled beside a semi that was pulling a full load and a pup. Wondering what the cause of the traffic lineup was, I looked ahead. Just more trucks, cars, semis and their loads.

Truckers were leaving their rigs and walking along the shoulder of the highway toward the front of the line of waiting vehicles, like some flood of lemmings heading for the cliff. Not wanting to join them and freeze my ca-hoonies off in the crisp winter wind sweeping along the ditches and the deep dark forest beside the road, I turned on my heated seat in my SUV and settled back to wait.

Luckily for me, I'd stopped at the library before I left, so I had my weekly stash of magazines that I like well enough to read, but not well enough to buy. Pulling Oprah from my bag, I cuddled down deeply into my heated seat and began to browse. After learning as much as I could about the fastest way to lose 45 pounds and the easiest way to look 20 years younger, I looked up from my reading and saw a group of truckers walking back along the highway. Rolling down my window, I asked, "What's going on up there?"

One of the men stopped to tell me what they'd seen.
"Looks like some crazy was tryin' to outrun the cops," he drawled. "That ol' spiked belt sure put a stop to his plans."
"Spiked belt? They had to use that?" I replied.
"Yeppers, and the cop told me it worked perfectly, until the guy hit it with his SUV, blew all 4 tires and sideswiped a semi," the trucker explained.

"Sheeesh! Is anyone hurt?" I asked.
"That crazy in the SUV...they're waiting for STARS air ambulance to airlift him out. He's in critical condition and we're gonna have to sit here until they take him out of the vehicle and clean up the mess he's left on road up there," he said, tears forming in his eyes, his hands shaking as he tried to light a filter-tip cigarette.

He left, shaking his head and wiping the tears from his cheeks as he walked unsteadily to the shelter of the cab of his truck. I settled back into my warm seat, turned the music up a little and thought about what might have caused this guy to try to outrun the cops. Not a good idea, especially with spiked belts, juiced-up cop cars and a radio link from one detachment to another along this highway. If the RCMP don't catch him along this stretch of highway, their members at the next town will. Not the smartest decision this guy's made today.

Finally, the line of traffic started to inch ahead. As I passed the accident site, I saw a dark blue SUV sitting in the center of the right hand lane, windshield shattered, both front doors blown off the vehicle and the engine resting in the driver's side of the front seat. That would have hurt some, I think, shaken by the devastation on the road. The semi sat in the ditch, jack-knifed in half, and the driver seemed unhurt, as he stood by his cab talking to the RCMP officers.

Driving much more slowly and carefully than I'd been before, I thought about what makes someone take that kind of chance while driving. Likely anything from fear to false bravado.

Arriving in town, I parked in front of the theatre, locked my car and went into Theodore's Comfort Zone for a pot of tea and a bowl of soup, grateful for my life and my safety this cold wintery Saturday afternoon.

"Time is a companion that goes with us on a journey. It reminds us to cherish each moment, because it will never come again. What we leave behind is not as important as how we have lived." ~ Captain Luc Picard, Star Trek: Generations

March 3, 2008

Lufthansa Landing...Horseshoes Up the Ying Yang on This Flight!

This is a heart-stopping video of a Lufthansa flight landing today at Hamburg in stiff the pilots struggle to bring the plane in on target.
Then the wind plays havoc with the plane, the left wingtip grazes the runway and the pilot pulls the plane up and out of danger, to circle the runway and lands successfully on the second go-round.
Many people saying their prayers on this flight, I think.
Many prayers were also answered.

"The strength of the turbulence is directly proportional to the temperature of your coffee." ~ Gunter's Second Law of Air Travel

March 5, 2008

Jim Carey's My Hero

I love Jim Carey.
I love his huge heart and his enormous sense of humour.
I love the story about a 10 year old Jim Carey sending a letter to Carol Burnett, asking to be hired for the Carol Burnett Show as a sidekick to Harvey Korman and Tim Conway. When he told about receiving a rejection letter from the show, he said, "I felt like I'd made it! A letter from Hollywood? Wow!"
I love how he and my son look like they are twins who have been separated at birth.
Most of all, I love Jim Carey because of something he said tonight on an interview on Entertainment Tonight Canada.
He was speaking about the new movie, Horton the Elephant Hear a Who, in which he is the voice of Horton. He talked about reading Dr. Seuss books to his partner Jenny McCarthy's 5 year old autistic son. He was asked if the little boy likes the Dr. Seuss books...his response was enchanting...
" I'm not sure if he actually gets it that he'd being read The Grinch by the grinch!"
That's why I love Jim Carey.

"My report card always said, 'Jim finishes first and then disrupts the other students'." ~ Jim Carey


A Perfect Day


On my way home from work tonight, I was driving along Kaybob Drive, the sun roof open and Boyzone cranked on my luscious Bose sound system. The sun was shining hot in my window, the cool still-winter breeze cleaning out the inside of my Denali. Then, my fav song on Boyzone's CD started...
No Matter What.

No Matter What...I adore this song.
It could be a love song performed at a wedding, or a spiritual piece for a church service when you want to speak about God, as you perceive Him or Her to be. I cannot maintain dry eyes when I listen to this music.

What it created for me today was a perfect moment, in perfect weather and in perfect unison with the world around me. For a few minutes, I felt like I was truly in the beam...standing in the eyes of Heaven.
Have a listen...see if you love it, also.

March 6, 2008

Mr. Lawson

Mr. Lawson is a client of mine.
He's 87 years old.
He grows corn that is 12' high, sunflowers that top the tape at 14' every single year and peas that grow 8' high, producing the most abundant crop ever seen in this area.

Mr. Lawson calls my office every few days to talk. He always greets us with this question, "Is this the land of the kind and gentle people?"
How can you not be kind and gentle to this man? I ask you, how?

Today, he stopped by for a visit. He's already planning this year's garden in his mind. He knows exactly how many rows of each vegetable he will plant, the days he will begin to sow his garden and which kind of seed he's going to buy.

Mr. Lawson is looking for another place to live. He's been in the same home for more years than I can remember. There is an oversized apartment building popping up right next door to his tiny bungalow and he's feeling the dark shadow of the problems that will come with more apartments next door to his side yard...already he has had middle-of-the-night drunks attempting to park, and driving their cars into his fence which borders the apartment parking lot.

He's s simple guy. All he wants is a quiet, safe place to rest his bones. I'm looking for something for him, with all my heart. I want him safe and sound. At his age, he deserves that, at the very least.

As he left my office this afternoon, he stopped, turned around and said softly, "Oh, one more thing...I have this tiny little kitten living with me now. I want a place where he is welcome. He's my friend, you see. He talks to me every morning and sits with me at night when we watch TV together. So, I can't dump him like some people do. I want a home for the two of us, if that's ok with you?"

If that's ok with me?
Mr. Lawson, that's the most ok thing that I can imagine for you.
I'll find a place where you both are welcome.
I will, I promise.
Some place that sits smack in the center of the land of the kind and gentle people.

"There can be no other occupation like gardening in which, if you were to creep up behind someone at their work, you would find them smiling." ~Mirabel Osler


March 7, 2008

More snow...


Doesn't this look inviting?
That is my Intrepid, stuck to the wheelwells in a huge dump of snow last January.
Wet, heavy falling faster than I could shovel...this is what happened when I tried to park my car.
Winter in my corner of the Universe.
Welcome to my world!

"Winter is nature's way of saying, 'Up yours.'" ~ Robert Byrne

March 9, 2008


There's nothing more to say on the subject of cats than this...enjoy!

March 10, 2008

The New Missus

I met a guy in my office today who came in to ask about a rental property. I've known this man for many years. He took the rental list that I handed him, then looked me straight in the eye and said,
"I have a new Missus."
"Oh," I replied, wisely saying nothing else for the moment.
"Yes," he continued. "My old missus looked at me one night at supper and said, "I don't want to be your missus any more.' "
"Wow!" I replied, unable to think of what else to say to him.

"She's gone to be the missus for Robbie Simpson, now," he continued.
"I have a new missus. She's a lot younger. That's good. I like it."
"Uh-huh," I said.

"So, we need a new place to live, the new missus and me. We'd like to look at this place for rent," he told me, pointing at one of the addresses on the rental list. "We're all coming to look. The new missus, meself, my old missus and Robbie, her new mister. She wants to see where the kids will be staying when they are staying with me."
" I see," I replied. "All of you?"
"Yes," he said, "All."
"OK," I whispered. "OK."
"Good," he said, laughing. "Don't worry. We are all friends, now."
"OK," I told him. "Alright!"

He smiled, then left the office. Over his shoulder as he left, he looked at me, laughed and said, "It's all good, darlin' it's all good!"

This must be what my grandmother meant when she'd look at me and my friends, shake her head and say, "Ho, Lordy, the times sure are a-changing, darlin'!"
They sure are, Grandma...they sure are!

"Love: a temporary insanity, curable by marriage." ~ Ambrose Bierce


March 21, 2008

Who Inspires You?

Paul Potts inspires me.
Someone sent me an e-mail with this Youtube link in it...I watched Paul auditioning for the British talent show, Britain's Got Talent, and was in tears by the time the piece was over. Watch it, please. See if it inspires you to take a leap of faith and do something you've always wanted to do, in spite of how scared you are.

Wednesday night, I was privileged to go to his Edmonton concert. This humble and gifted man, an ordinary guy like any one of us, brought his mug of tea onstage, set it on the small table by the piano, and explained to us that it isn't possible to separate a Brit from his tea. He was getting over a bad cold, so he drank copious mugs full of hot tea to comfort his throat throughout the concert.

Wandering through his wonderful repertoire of lusciously performed songs, he wove each song to the next with stories and personal images told in a wry and self-deprecating fashion. By the end of the nearly 3 hour concert, we were on our feet, giving him a well earned standing ovation, another encore and another standing O!

An amazing performance from an amazing man. An inspiration for me, because he had the courage to put himself on the line, in the face of some pretty huge obstacles and he won!
He won.
Here's lookin' at you, Paul!

April 22, 2008

I've Learned...


I've learned that, no matter what happens,
how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.
I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles four things:
a rainy day, the elderly, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.
I've learned that, regardless of your relationship with your parents,
you'll miss them when they're gone from your life.
I've learned that making a 'living' is not the same thing as making a 'life...
I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.
I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands.
You need to be able to throw something back
I've learned that if you pursue happiness, it will elude you.


But, if you focus on your family, your friends, the needs of others,
your work and doing the very best you can, happiness will find you
I've learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.
I've learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one.
I've learned that every day, you should reach out and touch someone.
People love that human touch -- holding hands, a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.
I've learned that I still have a lot to learn.
Angels have walked beside me all my life--and they still do.


April 25, 2008

The Wooden Bowl


You will remember this story of The Wooden Bowl tomorrow, a week from now, a month from now, a year from now. A lovely story that reminds us all of our own fragility...

A frail old man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law, and four-year-old grandson.
The old man's hands trembled, his eyesight was blurred, and his step faltered.
The family ate together at the table. But the elderly grandfather's shaky hands and
failing sight made eating difficult. Peas rolled off his spoon onto the floor.
When he grasped the glass, milk spilled on the tablecloth.

The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess.
'We must do something about father,' said the son.
'I've had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor.'

So the husband and wife set a small table in the corner.
There, Grandfather ate alone while the rest of the family enjoyed dinner.
Since Grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food was served in a wooden bowl.
When the family glanced in Grandfather's direction, sometimes he had a tear in his eye as he sat alone. Still, the only words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled food.

The four-year-old watched it all in silence. One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor.
He asked the child sweetly, 'What are you making?'

Just as sweetly, the boy responded, 'Oh, I am making a little bowl for you and Mama to eat your food in when I grow up.

The four-year-old smiled and went back to work.
The words so struck the parents so that they were speechless.
Then tears started to stream down their cheeks.
Though no word was spoken, both knew what must be done.
That evening the husband took Grandfather's hand and gently led him back to the family table.

For the remainder of his days he ate every meal with the family. And for some reason, neither husband nor wife seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped, milk spilled, or the tablecloth soiled.

" Be extremely kind to the elderly, the sick and the very young, because you'll be each of these at some time in your life."

May 2, 2008

Casts and things...


I hate ice.
Snow and ice.
Rain, when it falls on the snow, and freezes the whole damned mess onto the pavement in front of my home.

It snowed here last week, a late-in-the-year snowfall to remind us that we do live in a 4-season climate.

Getting out of my car in front of my home after work on Thursday, I slipped and fell down hard on a sheet of ice and snow on the street.

As I slammed down onto the ice-coated pavement, my right foot caught on an ice edge, twisted inwards sharply...the pain was instantaneous.
That nausea-inducing pain immediately followed the loud snap that I heard at the same instant my foot turned inward and collapsed under the force of my weight!

Luckily, two of my friends were at my home, shoveling the snow off my driveway, and they rushed to help me. They also slipped and fell on the icy street, and finally we managed to stand upright, together.
I slipped and fell...again.

The doctor, nursing staff and x-ray tech were fantastic.
After x-rays, my doctor gave me the happy news that there were no broken bones.
"Good bones, Brenda! You have GOOD bones!", the medical staff exclaimed, again and again.

Rather than a break, I had severely sprained my ankle, causing major damage to the tendons and ligaments, as well as a gigantic amount of internal bleeding and bruising.

My doctor sent me home with a cast on my right leg, from my toes to my first cast ever.

"The fleas of life ~ you know, colds, hangovers, bills, sprained ankles and little nuisances of one sort or another.” ~ William Styron


May 3, 2008

Naps are a Necessity of Life


Little sleeps in the afternoon, around 1:30 P.M.
My grandmother was a great believer in naps.
Right after lunch, she'd clean up the lunch dishes and put away the leftover food, wipe the table and the counter clear of crumbs, sweep the floor and then head towards her bedroom.

Behind the closed bedroom door, she removed her fine daytime hairnet, replaced it with a sturdy heavy-duty night-time hairnet, lowered the window-blind, wrapped herself in her plaid wool laprobe and sitting on her bed, she'd gently lower herself to the mattress, relaxing in the very center of her 3/4 bed.

After closing her eyes, she would always raise her right arm and cover her eyes with her forearm to shut out the remaining light in her bedroom.

At exactly 3:00 P.M., my grandmother would wake up, get out of her cozy nest of bed-and-blanket, remove her sturdy heavy-duty night-time hairnet, replacing it with her fine daytime hairnet, raise the window-blind, straighten her bed coverings and open the bedroom door.

Straight to the sink, filling her old aluminum tea kettle to the brim with fresh-drawn cold water, she would set the kettle to boil on the old round-cornered Monarch stove. As she waited for the water to reach tea-temperature, she would fill a small china plate with her home-made date turnovers from the old green and white checkered cookie tin, choose her favorite china cup and saucer that her sister, Edna, had given her years ago and place everything on the kitchen table.

When the water threatened to bubble up and escape through the crooked spout of the kettle, she would rescue it from the heat very quickly, pour the boiling water over the heaping of tea leaves in her old brown china teapot, then set the pot on the trivet in the center of the kitchen table.


While the tea steeped, she walked to the refrigerator, opened the door and brought out the fresh cream skimmed from the morning's milking. Taking it to the table, pouring a fresh cup of hot, strong Lipton's tea into her china cup and stirring in a couple of spoonfuls of thick sweet cream, she picked out the fattest and chubbiest date turnover, placed it squarely in the center of another of her little china plates and was then ready for her daily ritual of an after-nap afternoon cup of tea.

Today, knowing my grandmother's penchant for sweets and anything sugary, I often wonder if her nap was a way for her to justify her petite pig-out afterwards. After a nap, a girl needs nourishment, after all!

More than likely, it was her way to escape from the world for a short while each day. Time just for her, without interruption and without fail. My grandmother really knew what she was doing, I think. Especially with the date turnovers...

“You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother.” ~ Unknown


May 20, 2008

This Is Not About Travel...It's About Teddy Kennedy

Like the rest of the world, I've just learned that Senator Edward Kennedy has been diagnosed with a malignant brain cancer. Shock, sadness, heartbreak...for this man has been to the wall, been through the fire many times and is still standing. No one in my memory has lived through so much tragedy.

Ted and his siblings have changed the face of politics as we know it, and the face of humanity as we experience it.

His older brother, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, was an amazing person who opened doors for so many people in his years as a senator and a president. I so clearly remember the exact moment when I heard that he'd been murdered.

I was 18, married and expecting my first child. I'd just made lunch, then put my feet up and was settling down for a little afternoon nap. When I turned on the TV, I saw the news flash across the black and white TV screen...

"As The World Turns” was on, and the day's program was interrupted by a news bulletin. Walter Cronkite said:
“Here is a bulletin from CBS News. In Dallas, Texas, three shots were fired at President Kennedy's motorcade in downtown Dallas. The first reports say that President Kennedy has been seriously wounded by this shooting.”

I was in total shock and disbelief.
President Kennedy?
Someone shot him?
How is that possible?

Then the fatal follow-up news:
“From Dallas, Texas, the flash - apparently official - President Kennedy died at 1:00 p.m. Central standard time, 2 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, some 38 minutes ago.”

Something in our lives died that day, along with this man who, with his wife and their young children, had caught our attention and made us watch what was transpiring in the political landscape in the United States.

I remember watching the next few hours and days on TV...scenes of John's younger brother, Robert, accompanying his widowed sister-in-law and his brother's casket back to Washington. I cried as I sat stunned, seeing Edward, the youngest child in the Kennedy family, walking with his other brother, Robert and his sister-in-law, Jackie. I remember that he looked like he had been struck dumb, like he was going through the motions...he'd just lost his big brother, in the cruelest kind of way.

Wednesday, 5 June 1968...I was sitting in the dining room, visiting with a girlfriend and we saw the news on TV, this time in colour, announcing that Senator Robert Kennedy had been shot while campaigning for the Democratic nomination for President.

Sooner than we could imagine, the news came that Senator Kennedy had died from his wounds.

Another state funeral, another brother who had been murdered, long before his natural time to die.
Another image of Teddy Kennedy grieving another heartrending loss.
An image of Teddy giving the eulogy for his older brother, Robert.

Today, hearing the news that Ted Kennedy has a malignant brain tumour, my mind flashed back to all of the collective images in my memory of his loses...John, Robert, Jackie, his dear nephew, John Jr., his mother, Rose, his father, Joseph, and so many more.

I wonder if the cancer growing in his brain might consist of a culmination of all of the energy and pain from the horrors and gut-wrenching sorrows he's had to deal with in his life.
Who knows?
Who knows.

God speed, Teddy.
God bless you and keep you real good, now...y'hear?

“The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dreams shall never die.”
~ Edward Kennedy

August 14, 2008

Elvis Lives! No, really...


Nobody sings Glory, Glory Hallelujah like Elvis.
Nobody sings My Way like him, either.
Or, That's Alright, Mama...
Or, Suspicious Minds.
Or, How Great Thou Art...

In a few days, it will be the 31st anniversary of his death.
As on other dreadful days over the years, I remember exactly what I was doing when I heard the news.
...doing inventory in the municipal library in my home town...
I heard it on the radio.

Elvis Presley dead?
No, not Elvis...
"It can't be," I thought.
He'd been a part of my life since I was 10 years old and it seemed impossible that he'd died at 42.

But, the radio station was playing all of his gospel music, in between the news broadcasts of his passing and the updates from Memphis. So, it must be true.

I have so many memories that are coloured by his music...
...I was 10 years old when Love Me Tender hit the charts, and that was also the first Elvis movie I saw. I remember the older kids at the movie screaming when he sang, screaming when he walked and screaming when he smiled. I remember wishing they'd shut up so I could hear him singing!

...My about-to-be husband was a singer in a band with his best friend and they sang every new Elvis song in perfect two-part harmony. My favorite was always Are You Lonesome Tonight? Second favorite...Can't Help Falling In Love With You.

The funny thing is there is this crazy perception in the world that Elvis Presley was more a guy with an addiction than a guy with a string of successes, but the truth is that he remains one of the top selling recording artists, even after his death 31 years ago.

Consider this...
...Elvis starred in 33 successful films.
...He has sold over one billion records, more than any other artist.
...He earned gold, platinum or multi-platinum awards for 150 different albums and singles, which is far more than any other recording artist.
...He was awarded 14 Grammy nominations, of which he had 3 wins, from the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences
...He was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award at age 36.
...He was named one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Nation in 1970 by the United States Jaycees.
...He sold out countless tours and performances in Las Vegas.
...Elvis' total album sales in the United States had climbed to 100 million copies, up from a previous tally of 80 million.

He had the most amazing voice coupled with the best sense of musicality and an absolutely perfect one can top him, in my opinion.

So, 31 years later, I can tell you it's true!
Elvis least, he does for those of us who adored his music and thought he was the hottest thing since friend peanut butter and banana sandwiches!

"Adversity is sometimes hard upon a man; but for one man who can stand prosperity, there are a hundred that will stand adversity." ~ Elvis

August 21, 2008

Olympic Gold, Silver, Bronze...


Beijing Olympics 2008
An interesting happening, this year.
I'm more a fan of the winter Olympics, but having said that, I've also been watching the summer Olympics occasionally, just to keep in touch.

Here are my Gold Medal performances, regardless of what medal they won:
~ Usain Bolt - 100 metres, 200 metres - simply amazing!

Photo credit - The Sun, UK

~Eric Lamaze - Equestrian Individual - What a guy! He's overcome so many obstacles and now, a gold medal for his perfect round on Hickstead. Lovely way to end his Olympics in Beijing!

Photo credit - CTV News

~ Ian Millar - Equestrian Team - finally! Ian's in his 9th Olympics, and this is his first medal! Persistence pays off, eventually.

Photo credit - CTV News

~ Simon Whitfield - Men's Triathlon - He's a gritty, gutsy competitor I'm very proud of him!

Photo credit - CTV News

And, now, for my special Boo-berry Olympic Gold Medal:
~ Dr. Jacques Rogge - He disapproves of Usain Bolt's celebratory dance, after blowing the end out of the stadium with 2 record-breaking races. Now, I ask ya, what better way to spice up the sometimes mundane and boring programming than by having a young guy with infinite talent letting the world know he's over-the-moon with his gold medals? Jacques, baby...take a Midol, get some sleep and you'll feel much better, I'm sure.

"It means a lot for me and my country," Usain Bolt said. "I spoke to the prime minister on the phone and he told me everybody is in the streets!"

August 26, 2008

Viagra! They're Sending ME Viagra Promo Ads!

So, I ask you, what the hell is this all about?
I'm receiving emails from some guy called Gene Audria.
He's sending them to the_boss @ my service provider's email address.
He wants to give me such a deal!
" Free CialisViagra For you! You Will get Free Pills with any order purchase juo 85 "...whatever that means.
How do these guys get our email addresses and who ARE these guys?

I can handle the phone solicitations that come daily to my office phone. I have a built-in BS detector when the caller begins his canned promo speech, "Good MORNING, and how are YOU this fine morning? Is the person who makes the budgeting decisions available to have a conversation with me this glorious morning?"

That's about the time I ask, "What are you selling?"
He often responds, "Wow! You are GOOD!"

That's the best part of the conversation, because it's at that point I tell him that I'm in no way interested, I want my name taken off the call log in his company and then I hang up.

I often wonder how these guys make a living, if everyone's like me, cranky and completely not cooperative. What's the purpose?
Same thing with the Viagra email...what's the purpose for that intrusion into my private email program?
I simply don't get it.
Do you?

Quotes that might make you laugh...
"A new viagra virus is going round the Internet. It doesn't affect your hard drive, but you can't minimize anything for hours." ~ Joan Rivers

"I am a sexual machine now.
Raring to go every second of the day.
I'm human Viagra. I am Will-agra." ~ Will Smith

"I'm taking Viagra and drinking prune juice - I don't know if I'm coming or going."
~ Rodney Dangerfield

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Say what you want about Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, she's a rule breaker, a strong and ballsy woman. I found it fascinating to watch this woman's journey reaching up to the ultimate height in the political world of the United States.

She told us tonight in her speech for Barack Obama that her mother was raised in a generation where women had no right to vote for a president. Today, her daughter Chelsea can introduce her own mother as the woman who ran for the presidency. What a dramatic shift in time. Changes happen and sometimes they seem to happen slowly, unnoticed. This brought it home for me, hearing that three generational paradigm shift.

Amazingly, that's the reality of the changes that have happened over three generations in our world. I'm proud of her and I admire her immensely for taking the long walk to freedom for so many other women in the world. I know that she didn't win the ultimate position that she sought, but I also know that she won far more than the Democratic nomination for the presidency.

What she won was the hearts of women who cannot stand up for themselves, women who don't have the strength to take a stand and help themselves to a better life. These women are forever lifted up on the wings of her own strength and they will be stronger internally for having listened and absorbed a little bit of what she has to offer.

Good on ya, Hillary
I'm convinced. You'd make a hell of a president!
Next time, time.

"You show people what you're willing to fight for when you fight your friends." ~ Hillary Clinton

August 28, 2008

Barack Obama...A Nice Guy...

I don't live in the United States.
I'm a Canadian, not an American.
Still, I've been caught up in the Democratic National Convention just as surely as if I lived in Savannah or Des Moines, in Fargo or San Diego.

I like Barack Obama.
He seems like a genuinely nice guy to me.
Not flashy, pushy or hard-sell.
Just down-to-earth and ordinary.
I like that about him.

I know, I know, anyone who reaches this level in the stratosphere of the political system doesn't get there by selling newspapers or bagging groceries at the market. I understand that he's a senator, a politician, and he has experience in this field, so he's not a guy next door who happened to step into the fray last week.

I admire him and his family immensely.
Good people trying to do good things.
Nothing wrong with that!

"We need to internalize this idea of excellence. Not many folks spend a lot of time trying to be excellent." ~
Barack Obama

August 30, 2008

John McCain...An Interesting Choice

I remember the news articles about John McCain's capture and torture by the Viet Cong, during the Viet Nam war. I wondered at the time how anyone survives that kind of horrific trauma, torture on a daily basis over a number of years.
Physically, he lives with some grim reminders of that time.
He is unable to raise his arms above shoulder level, for example.
I think that anyone who could survive that kind of nightmare must have a special kind of grit and courage. I also think that should make a strong character, a good character to serve as president, perhaps.

So, I was a little shocked to hear of his choice in a running mate, Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska. That's not to say anything about her as a person. What bothers me is choosing a running mate, you must find a person who is not like you, but one who has strengths that you don't have, so a running mate will fill in the spaces in areas where the presidential candidate is lacking.

For example, Barack Obama chose someone who is outspoken and vocal, who is able to call a spade a spade, whenever needed. Joe Biden is in-your-face and verbal, where Obama is quiet and softspoken. A good partnership, in my opinion.

This choice for McCain is interesting, because the governor is like him in so many ways...both are anti-abortion, both support the freedom to bear arms. I think it would have been a better choice to pair up with someone who has strong counterpoints to strengthen the areas where John McCain might be lacking.

Oh,'s just politics.
How often I've seen someone do something that makes no sense, and then get elected to a position of power, nonetheless. People do what people do.
Who am I to say what McCain should have done?
We'll see what this partnership brings, as the weeks go by.

“War is wretched beyond description, and only a fool or a fraud could sentimentalize its cruel reality.”
~ John McCain

September 2, 2008

Hydrangeas Galore...


Hydrangeas, one of my favorite flowers in this world.
There is no fragrance, no syrupy sap dripping from the blossoms.
Hydrangeas remind me of an elegant lady of the king's court...looking so beautiful that nothing else is required.


When we were in London and France this summer, the hydrangeas were in full and luscious bloom.
Along the sidewalks in London, on the way from the bus to our hosts' home...
In front of the Tourist Information Center in Chartres, France...


I've planted several hydrangeas in my flower beds.
The climate here isn't perfect for those tender tootsies of the flower world, but you know what?
Every single year, they bloom in grand profusion for me!
They bless me with their graceful and exquisite presence.


Dragoons, I tell you the white hydrangeas turn rust and go soon.
Already mid September a line of brown runs over them.
One sunset after another tracks the faces, the petals.
Waiting, they look over the fence for what way they go.
~ by Carl Sandburg

September 5, 2008

Have You Seen This Amazing Child, Charice Pempengco?

Charice is fantastic!
She's only 15, sings a duet with Andrea Bocelli, The Prayer, sings on Oprah's show...
This darling little girl has a voice like Whitney, Mariah, Celine...
David Foster has been tutoring her and was the link to Oprah for Charice.
Check it out.
She's amazing.

"A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song." ~ Maya Angelou

September 9, 2008

Hoo-hoo! Lots of Controversy on All Fronts Tonight.....

I read a very well-thought-out post on Jane's blog tonight and posted the following comments for Jane.
You can read her thoughts here...

Here is a link to another good woman's thoughts on her blog post about this craziness...this is from Diana:

So, here's my perspective, from the north side of the 49th...

Aiiiiiy, carumba!
Can a cautious Canuck comment?
Can I take up a few minutes of your time to hear me out?

I've been in the political ring for 12 years. That is only municipal politics, but still...
Here's what I know for sure...being mayor of a town or city in NO WAY qualifies a person to be the Vice President of any country. Trust me on this, in no way. This is like jumping from Grade 3 into 4th year med school.

After 12 years of serving the taxpayers of my community, I was asked to allow my name to stand for MLA in my riding for our provincial government, a similar position to a senator in the U.S., I think. I refused, based on the irrefutable knowledge that I was ill-equipped to take that position.

I'm a fairly bright, intelligent and thoughtful woman, as some of you know. So, it's not that I feared my own intelligence was lacking!
Not at all.
What I knew in my heart that I was lacking was governmental experience at that level of government. I knew I could not serve the electorate with anything close to an experienced mind.

So, with that as my background, I feel like I have some experience which allows me to have an opinion of some value...I seriously question the selection of Ms. Palin as the Vice Presidential running mate for John McCain of the Republican party, and not because of her family, her belief system, her faith or her hairstyle.

I question it for these 2 reasons:
~ Her obvious lack of federal government experience. That can only be acquired by serving as a congresswoman or a senator.

Imagine a newly-minted governor like Arnold Schwarzenegger taking the Vice Presidency. He's just not there, yet. Cool as Arnold is, he's just not there.

The intelligent progression would be from mayor to governor to senator and/or congresswoman. Then, and only then, would it make sense to take a crack at the Vice President position.

~ Here's the other thing...when seeking a person to work on a management team, the most valuable person to choose to complement your strengths and add strength to your weaknesses would be someone different from you, not someone who has the same beliefs and the same characteristics.

When people choose someone like themselves to support them in a political or management position, nothing changes.

When they choose someone who complements their character, strengthens their weaknesses and provide cover-your-ass strategies in the areas that they are weakest, then they have formed a great team. A complete team, rather than a one-sided and unbalanced combination, which occurs when 2 people who are the same are put into a management or political position.

Just like in a great marriage, I think. Each person in the marriage gives strength to the areas where their partner is lacking, thus making a stronger and more stable partnership.

Anyway, I'm getting off my soap box, before someone pushes me off...that's how I see it from this side of the border.

And, before anyone thinks that I'm anti-Sarah, let me reassure you, I'm not. What I am is anti-inexperience, particularly as a resident of a country that is a neighbour of the country that she might be Vice President of, and possibly President does not leave me with a very safe feeling, knowing that someone with such an immense lack of experience in top-level government workings just might be in charge of dealing with the leaders of some of those countries that scare the hell out of me, in charge of dealing with them if push comes to shove and the President's not available to take the steering wheel.

Thanks for posting this thoughtful topic, Jane. Good job!
Most people don't have the whizzies to bring this out into the open. Good for you!

"Courage is fear that has said its prayers." ~ Dorothy Bernard

September 12, 2008

Soon, I'll be painting in the mountains, again!

Maligne Lake

Every fall, for 2 weeks, a group of intrepid watercolourists get together in the Rockies, those stately and beautiful mountains that run nearly the entire length of our continent from top to bottom.
I'm blessed to be able to study with my favorite artist, Gregg Johnson. He's absolutely amazing...Gregg has been teaching art in a high school in Edmonton for 35 years, and has retired, only to take on another group of artists who love him to bits.

I'm packing my art supplies, making 1/4 sheets of paper out of full sheets of 300 lb. Arches cold-pressed watercolour paper, taping them to Corplast backboards, counting my tubes of paint, checking my stash of brushes and my collection of images that I've printed from my photos over the past year. Hopefully, one or two of those pictures will become paintings during these lovely 14 days.

Some very fast en plein air mountain studies that dry way too fast!

It gets really cold at night in the mountains, so I am also packing a few layers of fleece vests, jackets, mitts, scarves and headbands. Along with my collection of fleece, I'll include my hiking boots, weatherproof jacket, wool socks and several pairs of wool mitts with sheepskin lining that have fold-back tips to allow my fingertips the freedom to hold a brush in the crisp autumn air.

Medicine Lake in the fall...

I'm so happy to be taking this time away for an indulgence like this. It's good for my soul. Spending time with other artists in the most beautiful place on this planet...what else could be better?

Spirit Island from the shore...

Maligne Lake scenic view of the mountains lining the shore...

“When I was a child, my mother said to me, 'If you become a soldier, you'll be a general.
If you become a monk you'll end up as the pope.'
Instead I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.” ~ Pablo Picasso

September 14, 2008

Saturday Night Live! Tina Fey is a better Sarah Palin than Sarah Palin is...

Check this out...I was laughing out loud, and I'm not even voting in this election!
Too funny!
Happy September, everyone!

September 15, 2008

Migraine! Damn...

I haven't had a damned migraine for ages.
Thought that I was finally past that...NOT!

Just a few minutes after 4:00 A.M. this morning, a migraine woke me with a slam. It felt like this...


Get up, find a yoghurt in the fridge, eat it quickly.
A buffer for the 400 mg. Motrin to follow.

Back to bed, with a steaming hot microwaved PitPac wrapped around my neck.
Close eyes, try to relax...nightmare thoughts roll through my mind while drifting in and out of sleep.
Scary stuff.
It felt like this...


At 7:00 A.M. I give up on sleep.
Get up, eat another yoghurt, take another 400 mg. Motrin.

Back to bed. Finally, blissful sleep.
Waking at half past noon, I realize that the Motrin's broken the back of the migraine.

I have no idea what caused this one. Usually, I can figure out the trigger and actually have become quite adept at knowing ahead of time what the precursers are and then taking the steps to avoid a full-blown migraine.

This one caught me unaware, for certain. Now that it's over, I'm feeling a little less nauseous, a little stronger and a little more like myself.

Weird, just plain weird.
I'm happy it's on the way out and happy to be without the blinding pain.

Just venting, that's all, just venting...thanks for listening.

“Patients with migraines know precisely when and how often and how long their headaches strike. They often come in with long lists. When you have a patient with lists, you have a patient with migraine.”
~ Unknown

Now, I feel like this...


October 13, 2008

Politics Explained...

A little boy goes to his dad and asks, 'What is Politics, Dad?'
Dad says, 'Well son, let me try to explain it this way:
I am the head of the family, so call me The Prime Minister.
Your mother is the administrator of the money, so we call her the Government.
We are here to take care of your needs, so we will call you the People.
The nanny, we will consider her the Working Class.
And your baby brother, we will call him the Future.
Now think about that and see if it makes sense.'

So the little boy goes off to bed thinking about what Dad has said.

Later that night,! he hears his baby brother crying, so he gets up to check on him.
He finds that the baby has severely soiled his nappy.
So the little boy goes to his parent's room and finds his mother asleep.

Not wanting to wake her, he goes to the nanny's room.
Finding the door locked, he peeks in the keyhole and see s his father in bed with the nanny.
He gives up and goes back to bed.

The next morning, the little boy say's to his father, 'Dad, I think I understand the concept of politics now. '

The father says, 'Good, son, tell me in your own words what you think politics is all about.'

The little boy replies, 'The Prime Minister is screwing the Working Class while the Government is sound asleep. The People are being ignored and the Future is in deep shit."

"A politician should have three hats. One for throwing into the ring, one for talking through, and one for pulling rabbits out of if elected." ~ Carl Sandburg

October 17, 2008

My Favorite Restaurant Has Been Sold...the Food's TERRIBLE!

I stopped at my favorite local restaurant for dinner tonight.
After a long day of shopping for furniture for a condo, I decided to treat myself and let someone else make my dinner.

I ordered my usual, Chicken Souvlaki.
The server delivered it to my table after a very long wait, which was unusual for this place.
It just didn't look right to me, so I took a small taste.
That's all I could taste.

It looked like the skewers of chicken had been rolled lavishly in a heap of ground pepper.
Tasted like it, also.

I tried the salad.
Room, wait, it was warm!
That's definitely unsafe to temperature salad dressing!

After a few small bites, I admitted to myself that it was going to be an inedible meal. I called the server over and explained politely to her that this was not up to the usual excellent souvlaki served here.

She looked at me as if I had just grown a second head and informed me that SHE loved the souvlaki.
Wrong answer.
I repeated my comment that this was not their usual delicious souvlaki, and I asked if there had been a change of ownership.

"Yes," she confirmed, "There has been."
I knew something was different.

She asked if she could bring me something else and I declined.
I'd lost my taste for something to eat.
She brought me the bill.
To my surprise, she'd deducted $10 from an $18.75 dinner receipt.
I looked at her, realized that it was useless to argue with her, paid the bill and left the restaurant.

Later tonight, I mentioned this to a client and he said they'd had the very same experience there and will not be going back.
Too bad!
This was my old reliable and's just another restaurant that serves mediocre food.

"Red meat is not bad for you.
Now blue-green meat, that’s bad for you!" ~ Tommy Smothers

October 20, 2008

Photohunter - Family! Happy me!

This week's Photohunt is...Family!


Happy Birthday to me,
Happy Birthday to me,
Happy Birthday, dear Brenda,
Happy Birthday to me!

Today was a fabulous birthday for me.
My day started with a phone call from my dear friend, Sophia, wishing me a quick Happy Birthday, before she went to work.
My beautiful daughter, Mylene, called shortly afterwards to wish me a Happy Birthday and we had a lovely before-we-both-leave-for-work conversation.


When I arrived at work, my front office person Crystal, had decorated my outer office door with balloons and Happy Birthday banners.
When I walked into my office, she had also decorated my counter with balloons and Happy Birthday banners, and a lovely gift rested on the countertop in a very pretty bag.

When the mail arrived a little later, several cards tumbled from my brother, Edward; another from my sister, Leah; one more from my Aunt Margaret; yet another card from my wonderful friend, Lola Jean...a stash of love and good wishes for me.
Then, Sophia stopped by just before lunch to give me a perfect present, a luscious gift certificate to my favorite art supply store, Delta Art. I get to go shopping at Delta!

After dinner, my son, Michael called to wish me Happy Birthday and we had a nice long conversation about living in Burgundy, buying property in France, my new condo building and life in general.


When the call ended, I discovered there were 3 new messages on my voice mail from people who had called to wish me Happy dear friend, Eleanor; my son-in-law, James and my Aunt Margaret.

Then, my 12 year old grandson Bryden called on his own to wish me a Happy Birthday.


Right after Bryden called, his mother/my daughter phoned me to let me know that my granddarling, Taryn, tried to call and couldn't get through, because I was talking on the phone to Michael! (Yes, you're right, that's the Paris granddarling, Taryn!)


Her husband, my son-in-law James, could also be heard in the background of my conversation with Mylene, letting me know that he'd called to wish me a great birthday. What a wonderful family I have!


So, this day has been full to overflowing with the love of these amazing family members and best friends who cared enough to take a moment and make my day so much brighter by their simple act of kindness and love.
I am so blessed.

Yesterday's Photohunter topic was Family.
I was struggling with it because there are so many loving people in my family and I wasn't sure how to include everyone, not leaving anyone out.
This day became the conduit for me to write about those people in my life who love me and support me; and even more special, they are the people who allow me to love them.

"My family.
We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another's desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together." ~ Erma Bombeck

That thread is love, Erma, love.


October 27, 2008

Good Friends...


I had dinner with my dear friend, Lady Eleanora, tonight.
We've been friends for so many years I cannot remember not being friends with her!
We met at a time when we were both going through huge changes in our lives and we just clicked.
Some ethereal bond was formed in those early days of our friendship and it has only grown stronger and deeper over the years.

We are polar opposites in many ways, although that is one thing that gives our friendship wings, I think. She's careful and cautious, I'm carefree and a careful risktaker.
She's detailed and organized, I'm anything but!
She's dainty, tiny and delicate. I'm tall, larger and more substantial.

Merle Shain wrote that friends give each other what the other one is missing, and that's very true of Lady Eleanora for me. From her I get clarity, crisp and clear as a spun glass ornament. I can dump out my troubles on her kitchen table and she'll take a quick look and sum it up in one fell swoop, breaking it down into bite-sized pieces, so I don't choke on it. Rather, it becomes bearable, palatable and manageable for me, and I can walk forward with the reins between my teeth, ready to take on the world.

Tonight, her darling husband dropped us off at a lovely Italian bistro in their neighbourhood. I thought he was going to park the car and join us, but instead, he was heading home and allowing us together time, without him. What a lovely man she lives with...he knows what matters to her and gives it to her. That's love, I think!

After a bottle of Pinot Grigio between us, delectable bruschetta, pasta for her and insalata for me, mango sorbet for her and tiramisu for me...and a ice-cold glass of limoncello for each of us, we are stuffed to the gills and slightly less than stone cold sober. Her husband picked us up at the bistro's front door and delivered us safely home. We so needed a designated driver...

I'm quietly delighted for her that she has this good man in her life, to cherish her and delight in her personality and her very kind heart. I'm equally delighted that he has this lovely woman in his life, to treasure him and feel safe in his company. There's nothing better than knowing that my dear friend is in such loving and protective hands.

Being around them gives me hope...
...hope that there are more good and loving relationships out there, in a world where unloving couples abound
...hope that the world still turns on an axis of love and kindness
...hope that people like my friend can find people like her husband to walk beside forever.

Thank you, Lady Eleanora, for being my friend, and for loving me without condition or restraint.
You make my life immeasurably better by your presence.

“Friends are like windows through which you see out into the world and back into yourself.
If you don't have friends you see much less than you otherwise might.” ~ Merle Shain


October 29, 2008

Dentists and Other Painful Things...

I had an appointment today with my favorite dentist in the Universe, Dr. Ivan Ongaro.
He's been taking care of my teeth for over 30 years.
There are more than a few similarities between us.
I love Italy.
Dr. Ivan was born in San Giorgio al Tagliamento, Venice, Italy
I took my training for my pilot's license with the same instructor and at the same time that Ivan was taking his night flying instruction.
I'm a watercolour artist.
He's a sculptor.
He traded me some great dental work for one of my limited edition prints.

We have the best conversations about art, flying, painting, sculpture.
So, going to my dentist has a lot of very good possibilities for me.
Going to see Ivan is a double-edged sword, however. As much as I love our conversations, I HATE those damn needles that he insists on giving me for local anaesthetic.

A little segue...
Needles and I don't get along.
At all.
I have been known to turn green, then white, followed by a desire to faint. I sweat profusely, my tummy feels extremely nauseous and I often cry copious get the picture?

Here's the thing.
Ivan is a professor of dentistry at the U of A, teaching in the faculty as well as doing research on new technologies in dentistry, so it's not like he doesn't know what he's doing. Currently his lab projects include research in laser assisted caries detection, remineralization, ossification and needle-less dental analgesia. So, why is it such a struggle for me to relax in his very comfortable dental chair and let him do what is needed?

I've been dreading this appointment for over a month, since a slab of tooth sheared off the back of one of my lower front incisors while I was in Jasper. The thought of those needles jabbing into my tender little pink gummies makes me want to gaaaaaack! Today, when I was leaving my office to make the dreaded drive to Ivan's office, my Crystal smiled and patted me on the shoulder and reminded me, "You'll be fine. Really, you will!"

As I settled into the chair in Ivan's office, I scrunched a few kleenex into a wet ball in my sweaty little hands. I was not looking forward to that freezing at all. Following a few minutes of chit-chatting, he lowered my chair, placed his mask squarely over his nose and mouth and picked up his tools.

After a brief inspection of my damaged tooth, Ivan exclaimed, "Well, this will be an easy fix, Brenda. AND, we can do it without any anaesthetic at all!"

Can you believe it?
I could hardly believe it myself.
No freezing, no needles, no pain and no pukey tummy!

It was a 30 minute process of him sandblasting my tooth, cleaning the dust off the rubber dam in my mouth, packing the magic elixer into my broken tooth, curing it with a little black light and shaping it to fit my normal bite.
Finally, after no time at all, he was finished.
Finished, with no pain.

Once he had completed his work and his assistant had cleaned the dust from my face, Ivan and I talked about a number of interesting things. He's reading a great book called Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond. It's a fascinating look at why the world's history evolves differently in different parts of this planet. I'm going to read it. Here's a bit of information on Guns, Germs and Steel and an interview with the author, if you are interested. You can read about it here:

I just finished reading Three Cups of Tea and he'd never heard of it, but will look for it.
I'm now reading The Book of Negroes and his wife is currently reading it.

He just found a very intriguing website, DNA Tribes.
Here's what happens...order a DNA swab sample kit from them, then send them your DNA sample in the form of a mouth swab from the inside of your cheek. Using "genetic material inherited from both maternal and paternal ancestors to measure your genetic connections to individual ethnic groups and major world regions," this company then sends you a PDF file showing where your ancestors came from.

Ivan completed a DNA swab test, mailed it in and just received his results. Although he was born in Italy of Italian parents, his DNA test showed that he is primarily Zimbabwean, Egyptian and Turkish with a smattering of Greek, Cypriot, Mongolian and a few other tribes thrown into the mix. Italian was at the bottom of the heap! I think I'll take a look at this interesting website. If you are interested, check it out at

What a blessing this day turned out to be!
No freezing for me, an interesting new book to read and a great conversation with an extremely good guy, my favorite dentist, Dr. Ivan.

"Happiness is your dentist telling you it won't hurt and then having him catch his hand in the drill." ~Johnny Carson


October 31, 2008

Anyone Else Tired of Political Coverage on TV?

I've given up watching the coverage of the upcoming U.S. election on CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, CTV, CBC, FoxNetwork...I've been on political overload this year, with the Canadian and U.S. elections running neck and neck, right on top of each other.
I often wonder what the candidates will talk about after it's all over.
What will they fight about?
Do you think there is an better person or a wiser politician?
Are they all the same, under the skin?
And, who cares, really?

I'm all for political jokes at a time like this. After all, what better than a little levity to break the monotony?
Try these on, see if you get a chuckle out of 'em!

The recent Canadian federal election was too close to call.
Neither the Conservative candidate nor the Liberal candidate had enough votes to win.
There was much talk about ballot recounting, court challenges...but a week-long ice fishing competition seemed the sportsmanlike way to settle things. The candidate that caught the most fish at the end of the week would win the election.

After much back and forth discussion, it was decided that the contest would take place on a remote frozen lake in northern Manitoba. There were to be no observers present, and both Steven Harper and Stephane Dion were to be sent out separately on this isolated lake and would return at 5 P.M. that day with their catch for counting and verification by a team of neutral parties.

At the end of the first day, Steven Harper returned to the starting line with ten fish. Soon, Stephane Dion returned with no fish. Everyone assumed he was just having another bad hair day and hopefully, he would catch up the next day.

At the end of the second day, Harper came in with twenty fish and Dion came in again empty-handed. That evening, Jack Layton got together secretly with Dion and said, '"Stephane, I think Steven Harper is a low-life, cheatin' son-of-a-gun. I want you to go out tomorrow and don't bother fishing. Just spy on him and see if he is cheating."

The next night, after Steven Harper returns with fifty fish, Layton said to Dion, 'Well, tell me, how is Steven Harper cheating?'

Dion replied, 'Jack, you're not going to believe this, but he's cutting holes in the ice!"

Katie Couric: "What other Supreme Court decisions do you disagree with?"

Sarah Palin: "Well, let's see. There's...of the great history of America rulings there have been rulings, there's never going to be absolute consensus by every American. And there are...those issues, again, like Roe v Wade where I believe are best held on a state level and addressed there. So you know...going through the history of America, there would be others but..."

Couric: "Can you think of any?"

Palin: "Well, I could think of...of any again, that could be best dealt with on a more local level. Maybe I would take issue with. But you know, as mayor, and then as governor and even as a Vice President, if I'm so privileged to serve, wouldn't be in a position of changing those things but in supporting the law of the land as it reads today." ...unable to name any Supreme Court decisions other than Roe v. Wade, Katie Couric's interview, CBS News, Oct. 1, 2008

...and my favorite...
"Oprah Winfrey's in the middle of a big scandal, because she is refusing to have Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin on her show.
The friction started because Palin said if she's elected, she'll be the most powerful woman in the country. And Oprah said, 'The hell you will!'" ~ Conan O'Brien


November 4, 2008

Let the Celebration Begin!

So, the 44th President of the United States.
President-elect Barack Obama.
Very nice.

Barack Obama in his mother's arms...

Tonight, I had the lovely privilege of being invited into two chat rooms to join my friends who live all across the U.S., in various locations in Italy and other countries around the world. We chatted, laughed, joked and watched the election results roll in.

I was more than prepared for a very late night, but it was over almost before it began. Currently, the posted results are 338 - 156 for Obama. The majority came in really early in the evening, and there was great happiness, joy, overflowing of emotion from everyone in both chat rooms. What a delight to be included, even if I'm not a resident. It was amazing to feel like I belonged. I did not feel even a smidge like an outsider. That's the beauty of community, I think. People who care about each other include each other.

I have been a part of a larger whole tonight, participating in a small miracle of sorts.
In the afterglow of the CNN-announced Obama win, I watched the TV coverage of the crowd in Chicago's Grant Park, while they waited for President-elect Barack Obama and his family to arrive. I witnessed some very touching scenes...
~ Rev. Jesse Jackson standing in the crowd, his finger pressed firmly against his mouth to still the trembling in his lips as the tears coursed unstopped down his cheeks.
~ Oprah Winfrey, leaning on the shoulder of a friend, struggling to maintain her composure as the tears ran in rivulets over her cheeks and onto her hands clasped underneath her chin.
~ An older man, in his 80's I'd guess, standing with a younger woman, his hand shaking gently as he wiped tears from his eyes.
~ Two beautiful young women standing closely together, smiling broadly as they swayed side to side to the music playing before the President-elect arrived.
~ A group of young men, singing along with the music, watching the stage impatiently as they anticipated the arrival of their hero, this man who they've chosen to believe in, to support.People caring about each other including each other.

This is a beginning, a new start, for a country plagued by years of financial struggle, devastating war and attacks from afar. It is also a fresh start for the rest of the world, because the tenor of the Universe's energy has changed with this man's election. Even before he opens his mouth to speak, the energy around this country has already softened and become more compassionate. God knows, the citizens of his country deserve a break, a respite from the last number of years of one crisis after another.

Barack Obama with his grandparents...

So, here's to you, President-elect Obama!
May God bless...
May God bless.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." ~ Margaret Mead


November 5, 2008

People Who Care About You Include You...

Last night was a magical experience for me.
No, I didn't win $1MIL in the lottery.
It wasn't great sex or having a pound of fine chocolate all to myself.
I was invited by some friends to sit in on the discussions about the election in the U.S. that were going on in a couple of chat on my travel site, Slowtrav, and the other on Pauline Kenny's Slow Europe travel site.

The U.S. election was well underway, by the time I arrived.
Many people from across the U.S. were in those chat rooms, talking about the election process and sharing their emotions and feelings about the road ahead as it unfolded in front of them.

With a pot of tea and a stack of snacks beside me, I signed on and began to chat with everyone about what was happening, how the votes were rolling in and who was ahead in what state.

Please remember, I don't live in the U.S.
I live in Canada.
So, it was with amazement that I soon realized that I was a part of the process, rather than being an outsider looking on. These lovely people in chat were so welcoming, bringing me into their conversation and sharing their thoughts with me, that it only took a few moments for me to feel like I was at home!

That was an amazing thing, because I actually hesitated to sign on, fearing that I'd be interfering, in the way, of a very personal discussion.
Not so.
We were together, talking about the outcome we hoped for and the emotions we were feeling as the votes came in, pointing to a resounding win for President-elect Barack Obama.

We celebrated the final results, cheering and crying together, via the internet. It took a bit of time before I understood one thing...this election has not only been a good thing for the country to the south of mine, it is going to be wonderful for the world at large.

There is a surge of healthy, positive and loving energy surrounding this man and his family. I'm not saying he's Moses, able to part the waters. What I do know is that he seems to have a good heart and a loving soul and that will make the difference, I believe.

Dear God, bless him and keep him safe.
Lord knows, he'll need all of the help, heavenly and otherwise, that is available to him.

Thank you, my friends in chat, for making me feel at home!
Enjoy this wonderful new course that you and your country are about to begin.
I'll be watching and cheering as you go!

"If the people cannot trust their government to do the job for which it exists - to protect them and to promote their common welfare - all else is lost." ~ Barack Obama


December 10, 2008

Beach in a Bag...

We had the best day today!
I've been asked to provide a reward each month for our elementary school's Clean Classroom Award. This was my first award day, and it was excellent. I asked my friends on Slowtrav for ideas and one of the members gave me the Beach in a Bag idea. A winner, for sure!

This month, Mrs. Hailes' Grade 2 classroom won the Clean Classroom Award. I made arrangements with her to arrive after recess with the makings for their Beach in a Bag.
I took large bowls of the following food snacks:
Organic granola - sand
Raisins - rocks on the beach
Round tortilla chips - beach blankets
Pretzel sticks - driftwood
Pepperidge Farm Goldfish crackers - fish in the ocean
Cheerios - lifesavers
Mini-Christmas oranges - beach balls

Then, because you cannot go to the beach without a picnic, I took the following items for snacks:
Graham Teddies in small-person packages
teeny-tiny nickel-sized S'Mores from Ritz Crackers
Miniature wholewheat crackers from Ritz Crackers
2 Litres of fresh-pressed apple juice
2 Litres of 2% milk
I gave each child a huge paper napkin to use for a canvas to create their own private beach, and to provide a quick clean-up for them, after they'd eaten their beach!

What fun!
These kids jumped in with both feet, filling their little ziplock bags with everything they chose to use, then spreading out their huge paper napkins over their desktops and going to work to build their own personal beaches.

I walked up and down the aisles looking in amazement at their beaches...some had used the driftwood pretzel sticks to divide their napkin into a water area and a beach area. Then, they placed the fish in the water area, arranged some Graham Teddies relaxing on their Taco chip beach blankets on the granola sand, surrounded by the raisin rocks and orange beach balls. Wonderful imagination, wonderful kids!

As they ate their beaches, floated their goldfish in their apple juice and stuffed themselves with the granola, raisins and other goodies, I read a funny beach story to them. They must have had a great time, because they swarmed me with a lovely group hug after the story was finished!

Wish I'd taken a camera, because photos of the beaches they made would have been cool.
Still, the kids had a very cool experience, I had a superb group hug and everyone went away happy.
So, no photos?
No big deal!
What a stellar day.

"maggie and millie and molly and may
went down to the beach (to play one day)
and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn't remember her troubles,and

millie befriended a stranded star
who's rays five languid fingers were;
and molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:and

may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.
for whatever we lose (like a you or a me)
it's always ourselves we find in the sea.” e.e. cummings

December 15, 2008

The Sack Lunches

Photo credit - CBC Canada
The bodies of Cpl. Mark McLaren, Pte. Demetrios Diplaros and Warrant Officer Robert Wilson were returned to Canada on Monday.

Someone sent me this piece in an e-mail today.
I thought it was very apropos, what with 3 more of our beloved Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan yesterday. I know many young men and women who have gone to Petawaw, Ontario for basic training. I want all of them to come home alive and well...

The Sack Lunches

I put my carry-on in the luggage compartment and sat down in my assigned seat. It was going to be a long flight.
'I'm glad I have a good book to read. Perhaps I will get a short nap,' I thought.

Just before take-off, a line of soldiers came down the aisle and filled all the vacant seats, totally surrounding me. I decided to start a conversation.
'Where are you headed?' I asked the soldier seated nearest to me.

'Petawawa. We'll be there for two weeks for special training, and then we're being deployed to Afghanistan.'

After flying for about an hour, an announcement was made that sack lunches were available for five dollars. It would be several hours before we reached the east, and I quickly decided a lunch would help pass the time..

As I reached for my wallet, I overheard a soldier ask his buddy if he planned to buy lunch.
'No, that seems like a lot of money for just a sack lunch. Probably wouldn't be worth five bucks. I'll wait till we get to base. '

His friend agreed.

I looked around at the other soldiers. None were buying lunch. I walked to the back of the plane and handed the flight attendant a fifty dollar bill.
'Take a lunch to all those soldiers.'
She grabbed my arms and squeezed tightly. Her eyes wet with tears, she thanked me.
'My son was a soldier in Iraq. It's almost like you are doing it for him.'

Picking up ten sacks, she headed up the aisle to where the soldiers were seated. She then stopped at my seat and asked, 'Which do you like best - beef or chicken?'

'Chicken,' I replied, wondering why she asked. She turned and went to the front of plane, returning a minute later with a dinner plate from first class.
'This is your thanks.'

After we finished eating, I went again to the back of the plane, heading for the rest room. A man stopped me.
'I saw what you did. I want to be part of it. Here, take this.'
He handed me twenty-five dollars.

Soon after I returned to my seat, I saw the Flight Captain coming down the aisle, looking at the aisle numbers as he walked, I hoped he was not looking for me, but noticed he was looking at the numbers only on my side of the plane. When he got to my row, he stopped, smiled, held out his hand, and said,
'I want to shake your hand.'

Quickly unfastening my seatbelt, I stood and took the Captain's hand. With a booming voice he said,
'I was a soldier and I was a military pilot. Once, someone bought me a lunch. It was an act of kindness I never forgot.'
I was embarrassed when applause was heard from all of the passengers.

Later, I walked to the front of the plane so I could stretch my legs. A man who was seated about six rows in front of me reached out his hand, wanting to shake mine. He left another twenty-five dollars in my palm.

When we landed, I gathered my belongings and started to deplane. Waiting just inside the airplane door was another man who stopped me, put something in my shirt pocket, turned, and walked away without saying a word. Another twenty-five dollars!

Upon entering the terminal, I saw the soldiers gathering for their trip to the base. I walked over to them and handed them the seventy-five dollars.
'It will take you some time to reach the base. It will be about time for a sandwich. God bless you.'

Ten young men left that flight feeling the love and respect of their fellow travelers. As I walked briskly to my car, I whispered a prayer for their safe return. These soldiers were giving their all for our country. I could only give them a couple of meals.
It seemed so little...

"A veteran is someone who, at one point in his life,wrote a blank check made payable to "Canada, for an amount of up to, and including, my life."
That is honour, and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand it."
~ Unknown

December 19, 2008

Things I Have Done...

Eiffel Tower, July 2008...

Thanks, Kim!
I'll give this a try...

1. Started my own blog ~ done!
2. Slept under the stars ~ done! Many times.
3. Played in a band ~ done! Drummer for a country rock band called Black Ridge ;-)
4. Visited Hawaii ~ Many times, 20+...the best place for restorative healing in the world!
5. Watched a meteor shower ~ Absolutely!
6. Given more than I can afford to charity ~ Most of the time...
7. Been to Disneyland/world ~ Nope, no desire to go...let someone else take those little goobers!
8. Climbed a mountain ~ A small one, but a mountain, nonetheless!
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sung a solo ~ Once, only...never again!
11. Bungee jumped ~ Not even close! (Translation: chicken!)
12. Visited Paris ~ 2 times, planning the 3rd.
13. Watched lightening at sea
14. Taught myself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning ~ Pork roast with salmonella, I think.
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown my own vegetables ~ Gardening most years!
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France ~ Twice. She sure is small. That surprised me!
20. Slept on an overnight train ~ Yep, took my kids to Manitoba on VIA Rail
21. Had a pillow fight ~ Many, with my kids!
22. Hitchhiked ~ NOT!
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill ~ Not often enough!
24. Built a snow fort ~ Lots and lots...makes winter more fun!
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse ~ Every time they occur!.
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset ~ Ahhhhhh, yes...
31. Hit a home run ~ A few!
32. Been on a cruise ~ Not even close! Deep water, remember?
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person ~ Yep, gorgeous! Wet, if you get too close.
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors ~ Not yet, but soon.
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught myself a new language ~ A little Italian, a little more French.
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied ~ Very liberating, don't need much!
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David ~ Ohhhhh, yes!
41. Sung karaoke ~ Unfortunately, yes...ewwwww! Not good.
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant ~ A few times.
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight ~ Yes, the very best experience.
46. Been transported in an ambulance ~ and survived to tell about it!
47. Had my portrait painted ~ Yep, London this past July.
48. Gone deep sea fishing ~ Urrrrrps, too much water motion for me!
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling ~ You gotta go UNDER the water to do this, right?
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater ~ lots of 'em, in the '60's and '70's
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business ~ On my 3rd one...this is the best one!
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching ~ Waimanalo, Hawaii and the north shore of Cape Breton Island
63. Got flowers for no reason ~ Happened on Tuesday!
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma ~ Can't. Cancer survivor, so they won't allow me to donate.
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a cheque ~ Once, when the bank double-dipped my mortgage payment!
68. Flown in a helicopter ~ Not yet!
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy ~ Books count? Lots of them, fortunately!
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar ~ Gaaaack!
72. Pieced a quilt ~ many times...takes patience and time, lots of time.
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car ~ Once. Won't do it again...gently-used is better, cheaper!
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had my picture in the newspaper ~ A few times...never a good one, though!
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating ~ Years ago, on the farm...chickens.
88. Had chickenpox ~ yes, 9 years old. Itchy, fever, felt crappy; some scars where I scratched!
89. Saved someone’s life ~ Yes, in my salon, a woman who went into seizures. Scary!
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous ~ Wally Amos of Famous Amos cookies, walking Lanikai beach, early every morning!
92. Joined a book club ~ Yep, joyfully for over 13 years now!
93. Lost a loved one ~ Way too many...there's more of us over there than are left here, now. That's a sobering thought.
94. Had a baby ~ The best thing I've ever done! They are amazing, both of them!
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit ~ He lost! The judge threw it out of court, saying, "Don't waste my time!" :-) :-)
98. Owned a cell phone ~ Do, now; have for calls!
99. Been stung by a bee ~ Too many times! Owwwwiiiieeeee!
100. Rode an elephant

“When you go in search of honey you must expect to be stung by bees.” ~ Joseph Joubert

Chartres Cathedral flowers, with this hungry French bumblebee scooping up the pollen!

December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Votive candles in Chartres Cathedral, Chartres, France...

Christmas means many things to me.
A few favorites that come to mind this evening ~
~ Christmas carols like O Holy Night
~ Christmas traditions like a row of taper candles on the mantle, one red candle for each family member who cannot be with us at Christmas, one white candle for each family member who has passed, and so can only be with us in spirit
~ Traditional food at grandmother's Christmas pudding, steamed for hours in the oven, then served screeching hot with a large scoop of real vanilla ice cream and topped with thick, rich brown sugar sauce; real Scottish shortbread with butter, brown sugar and flour and nothing more

Rich steamed pudding stuffed with raisins, currants, figs, cherries...

~ Christmas phone calls made first thing on Christmas morning to my friends who live in other areas, to my family who are away from home this time of year
~ The smell of Christmas oranges as I peel and section them before eating each small succulent slice
~ Gifts arriving by bus and by mail, packed in cardboard boxes and sealed with duct tape from my brother, placed inside white CanadaPost mailing envelopes and sent by ExpressPost from my sister
~ Fresh fallen snow, heaped against my front door, blanketing the rose bushes in my front flower beds


Between my family, my friends and my clients, I'm so well looked after at Christmas. I'm so blessed to have these loving people in my life, to call and wish me Merry Christmas, to cook a delicious turkey dinner for me to enjoy...truly, I am spoiled completely!

Wishing you a wonderful and peaceful Christmas season.

"And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so?
It came without ribbons. It came without tags.
It came without packages, boxes or bags.
And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before.
What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store.
What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more." ~ Dr. Seuss

December 27, 2008


The driver's side of my granddaughter's dad's truck...

My granddarling was involved in an accident a few days ago. Her father was driving, she was sitting in the passenger side and her boyfriend was sitting in the back seat, behind her father. They were going downhill on Dahl Drive in Whitecourt when a vehicle coming up the hill hit a patch of black ice and slammed into the side of their truck.

My granddaughter's dad had no place to go...the oncoming vehicle was on one side of them and the guardrail on the other, so there was no escape.

The impact blew the topper off the truck, ripped open the driver's side of the passenger compartment as if a giant can opener had torn into it. The truck slid approximately 40 - 50 yards further down the hill after impact. It came to a stop with only the rear driver's side wheel hooked over the guardrail, preventing the truck from sliding further into the ditch.

My granddaughter's boyfriend hurried out of the vehicle, then helped my granddaughter to get out through the window. Then, they went to help her father who was trapped inside of the cab, with the compartment wrapped around his legs and feet.

This is the driver's compartment with the door ripped off...

Pry bars in the back of the truck, a Christmas gift for my second granddaughter, were ripped from the packaging and used to attempt to free her father. They also tried to assist the driver of the other vehicle.
Both drivers were finally rescued by the fire department using the Jaws of Life.

After several hours in the hospital, everyone was released and sent home for many long hot baths, Tylenol3 and assorted anti-inflammatories.

They've all had some good sleeps, they've rested, napped and used heating pads in profusion. Little by little, the aching, soreness and pain is lessening. The bruising has started to turn to purple to dark greenish purple...bruising from the seat belts tightening upon impact across their chests and abdomens and the airbags exploding into their faces and chests. Seatbelts and airbags saved them from much worse injury and in doing so, caused injuries of their own.
No's a good thing they were belted in.
Seatbelts are mandatory in our province, thank goodness.

A rear view of the driver's side of the truck...

This is no one's fault.
At least, there's been no indication that this was anything but a no-fault accident.
Icy conditions on the road caused one vehicle to slide into another.
That doesn't make it any less emotionally stressful.
What it did was to make us all a lot more appreciative and a lot more grateful for each other.

Today, we spent the afternoon together, snacked our way through the sweeties and salties that my daughter had prepared for everyone and we opened our gifts from each other.
More than anything, we all felt a surge of blessedness for the safety of everyone involved in this accident.

This is the other vehicle that slid into their truck. Notice the windshield impact shattering from the driver's head...

"The best car safety device is a rear-view mirror with a cop in it." ~ Dudley Moore

January 1, 2009

Happy New Year...

Happy New Year to everyone!
Happy first of January...happy today, happy tomorrow and happy every day thereafter.

Like a butterfly that some people chase endlessly, day after day.

Delayed happiness.
That which, if only we were to attain, we'd live everafter happily.
Delayed happiness leaves us always chasing the end of the rainbow, looking for the ideal state of mind that will bring that happiness to us.

What if we were to consider for a moment that happiness is here already?
Living inside of us already, waiting for our own recognition.
For some folks, that's hitting too close to the bone.
Accepting this idea means giving up their ever-present state of un-happiness that they carry with them like a badge of courage.

The truth is, happiness is here already, and all we're required to do is to acknowledge it, accept and enjoy it. Is that too much to ask, I ask you?

People who have been through a lot of pain and who have suffered many heartbreaking losses in their lives find happiness easier to acknowledge, because it takes so much less to make them happy. They know what unhappiness feels like, and they need very little happiness to appreciate the lack of pain that the presence of small things can create.

The appearance of a star in the evening sky, the smell of an orange as the peel is removed...simple things that bring joy and happiness because they signify the absence of sorrow. I know some of these easy-to-make-happy people, and the common denominator in all of their lives is the pleasure they can take in recognizing the small things that allow them access to the happiness that exists inside.

I also know a few of those for whom happiness just skids on past, missing them by a hair.
Those people are always in a negative and fearful mode, always seeing what makes them sad and unhappy. The common denominator that I notice among these dear souls is their abject refusal to admit that anything at all could give them constant happiness of any kind. There's always something missing in their lives, no matter how much they actually have. They see the lack rather than the plenty.

"My job sucks."
"His mother doesn't like me."
"When will I 'meet' someone who loves me?"
"How come you make more money than I do?"
"I'll be happy when..._____(fill in the blank)."

There's always something that they place as a barrier between them and the very possibility of their being happy for a moment, for an hour or a day.

The thing I know for sure is this...
Happiness is inside of us already.
All we need to do is be aware of its presence and be willing to believe that we deserve to feel happiness.
Simple as that.

There's a great quiz on Oprah's site to determine your level of happiness. It has been developed by Ed Diener of the University of Illinois
Take this test and see if you are actually a happy person, or if you are a person who needs the addition of some happiness in your life.
Here's the link:

"'If you scored somewhere in the middle, happiness expert Dr. Robert Holden has some advice on how to live a more satisfying life. Dr. Holden says the key to being happy is overcoming destination addiction, which he defines as living in the not-now.
"It's always about tomorrow, so you're chasing more, next and there," he says.
"You promise yourself that when you get there, you'll be happy.
And I promise you, you won't, because you'll always set another destination to go for." '

Be happy's all there really is...

January 3, 2009

Broad Shoulders, High Hopes...

There is a lot of hope being placed on the slender shoulders of one man these days.
A high number of expectations rest squarely on him, creating an often unwieldy load for one person to carry.

I'm talking about Barack Obama.
President-elect Barack Obama, to be more precise.


This man will be sworn in as the 44th president of the United States on January 20th, in a ceremony that will be watched by more people, I think, than have ever watched the inauguration of any other president in the history of the country.

Many people who are citizens of the United States are looking forward to this man's presidency with such hope and anticipation, looking for a new way of life to become visible in their world, as his presidency unfolds.

Many people who live in my country, neighbour country to the north of the United States, are also looking forward to the new president taking office...we live with the hope that he will bring with him a new understanding of our country and a new way of looking at us as friends and neighbours and not as adversaries.

We hope that this new president will be one who can acknowledge that our country has value in the larger scheme of things. We also hope that he will change the political temperature of his country to create a willingness to walk together side by side with ours.

Is it fair to him that we heap so many expectations on one person?
Not likely, but what else can we do?
He's there, he's real and he's got the job, so now we wait to see if he will be a fresh breath of clean spring air that will blow through the corridors of power and clear out the old ways of thinking so predominant among the old boys' club.

I'm not criticizing that old boys' club.
Far from it, for they have done the job in the best way that they knew how to do.
I'm just saying that it's about time for a change of water in that vase of flowers, don't you think?

So, I'm sending all of my prayers Heaven-ward for President-elect Barack Obama, for his beautiful wife, First Lady-elect Michelle Obama, and for those darling girls of theirs.
Please God, keep him safe, more than anything else.
Then, if You have a few more moments, God...would you please bless him with the strength and wisdom needed to stay the course and be true to himself, especially if it comes to pass that the rest of the world loses faith in some of his ideals and parts of his vision.

Thanks, God.
I knew You'd hear me on this.
I also know that You see just how vitally important this man is to the world. Not just to his country but also to the rest of the world. So, make those shoulders strong and able to withstand the weight placed upon them. Hold his hand and hug him closely to Your heart when he needs it.
We've all been hoping for a miracle.
I think we just got it, with his election!

"Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time.
We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek."
~ President-elect Barack Obama

~ - Christmas card image from the Obama family

January 6, 2009

Now 3rd Hand Smoke Can Kill You...


Once upon a time, not that long ago, people started smoking because their friends smoked.
No one knew it was dangerous, harmful or health-threatening. They just thought it was cool.
Kids smoked in Jr. High and learned to inhale within the first few packs.

Smoking while eating was not given a second thought, smoking while getting a haircut or seeing the family doctor...who also smoked while treating the patient...was perceived to be just as normal.


No one had a clue it was wrong...people smoked in the car while driving, in the nursery while bottle-feeding the new baby. Women could be seen having a cigarette or two while shopping for groceries, men often smoked while filling their car up with gas at the local Esso station and a few smokes would get anyone through a stressful situation like a flat tire on the car or a heavy rainstorm that washed out a family picnic.

Today, it seems astonishing that we were so completely ignorant of the dangers involved with sucking all that smoke into our lungs. Today, people rarely smoke in their own homes, very seldom smoke in someone else's home and never smoke in a public building. Smokers are required to be a prescribed distance from the entrance of any public place before they light up, and for sure, they cannot smoke inside any public space.

How far we have come.
In a few decades, I can imagine a somewhat startled young person looking back at some vintage antique store magazines from the '50's and '60's..."You mean that people put tobacco in paper, then lit it and...smoked it? What were they thinking?"
This must be what they call evolution.
I'm all for it.
Before you get cranky at me, let me confess, I'm an ex-smoker.
Today, I still cannot believe that I smoked without knowing it was an unhealthy choice.

I thought it might be interesting to take a look back at the old ads for cigarette brands, to see how they were crafted to make smoking seem like a treat, like something that was really good for you. I've posted a few of my you remember them?

"Remember, if you smoke after sex you're doing it too fast." ~ Woody Allen



January 10, 2009

All About Me Meme...

Me on the front lawn, in front of the farm home where we all grew up...

This meme was stolen from Kim's blog, What I Really Think, who stole it from Palma's blog, Palmabella's Passion, who stole it from Marta's blog, Postcards from the Trail. A long line of thieves here! I'm in good company, then.

Yes, my mother named me after the little girl who lived next door to my Great-Aunt Edna and Great-Uncle Fred.

Two nights ago, when I finished reading The Secret Life of Bees by Susan Monk Kidd.

Absolutely! Lefties have amazingly creative writing styles. ;-)

Yes! Joyously, yes!
Children - 2 Grandchildren - 5 (Sounds like an Oiler's game score!)

Of course! I am my own best friend.

Sometimes, not a lot.
I use it mostly when someone steps on my toes or behaves rudely to me or someone around me, and they don't listen when I've spoken to them the first time. Sometimes it is necessary to bring out a bigger stick...

Amazingly, yes, in spite of repeated hospitalizations for tonsillitis when I was little.

Nope, not in this, or any other, lifetime.

Hot rice cereal cooked with assorted dried fruits, almonds, pecans, walnuts for Omega 3. Serve with a huge heaping spoonful of demerara sugar and vanilla soy.

(Deep sigh....) Yessss, Mommy...

My shoes with my feet inside, standing at the entrance to the labyrinth in Chartres cathedral, Chartres, France

I'm very strong mentally, emotionally and spiritually; I'm less strong physically, as each year passes.

Haagen-Daaz Sticky Toffee Pudding

Their eyes...I get a good sense of a person's character and soul by looking into their eyes.

Pink, always.

The barely-noticeable but ever-present signs of slowing down physically as I get older.

My grandmother and grandfather, my mother and my brother...every single day.

Pale pink leather moccasins...wearing these slippers feels like walking in bare feet

My gluten-free hot rice cereal with cranberries, apricots and raisins, a glass of fresh apple juice and my vitamins.

CBC radio's As It Happens, about the conflict in Gaza

Royal purple!

Vanilla, early summer mornings, apple pie, fresh bread baking, scent of pine and spruce in the mountains



NHL hockey.
Oilers, of course.



Nope, can't. My eyes dry out way too fast with contacts in 'em.

Toast with liquid honey and cinnamon, and a cup of hot vanilla soy milk, with lots of Bailey's in it. LOTS.

Sappy endings, only...I like to sleep fear-free!

A Mighty Heart with Angelina Jolie

Pink with brown and copper sequins and a hot pink cotton-knit hoodie

Both, for different reasons.

Both, in profusion.

Anything that doesn't have mincemeat or any kind of melons in it.

When Christ and His Saints Slept - Sharon Kay Penman
The 13th Tale - Diane Setterfield

My RE/MAX balloon logo is on one, Slowtrav logo is on the other, my laptop has no mousepad, so I use the desktop!

Larry King Live, John Edward's Crossing Over, Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan

The sound of my children and grandchildren when they talk! Mmmm-hmmm!

Neither! Not a lover of Stones or Beatles at all.
Ask me about Elvis, though...

Venice and Santarcangelo, Italy

I have a pilot's license.
I'm very intuitive, psychic like my maternal grandmother. Seems that I've picked up where she left off when she passed.

Toronto, Ontario - St. Michael's hospital

Canal in Venice...

January 14, 2009

The Perfect Job...

Here's my dream job!
Take a look...tell me you'd not want to do this!

Here's some tough competition for the job...

...and, finally, the website crashed, because so many people were checking out this fantastic job!

Happy job hunting!

"A lot of fellows nowadays have a B.A., M.D., or Ph.D.
Unfortunately, they don't have a J.O.B." ~ Fats Domino

January 31, 2009

There's No One As Irish As Barack O'Bama....


My heritage is Irish all the way to the core.
How pleased I am to learn that President Barack Obama is of Irish heritage, as well!
I'm not kidding you,'s the skinny on this:

Moneygall is a small village in County Offaly, Ireland.
It has a population of approximately 300 people.
There is a Roman Catholic church, five shops, a post office, a national school, a police station and two pubs.
President Barack Obama's great-great-great grandfather, Falmouth Kearney, emigrated from Moneygall to New York City at the age of 19 in 1850 and eventually resettled in Tipton County, Indiana.
Kearney's father had been the village shoemaker, then a wealthy skilled trade.

An Irish band, The Corrigan Brothers, have written and recorded a fantastic song in tribute to President Obama. He was suitably impressed with their music and invited the band to perform this song, which is already an internet phenomenon, in the day parade on the Irish American float, and also at President Obama's official Inauguration Party. How totally cool is that?

And, now for this great song, No One As Irish As Barack O'Bama!
Turn up the volume and enjoy.
Here are a couple of versions. I love the cartoon, with the Secret Service agents doing a passable "Riverdance!"

This is the cartoon version, karaoke-style...

Here are the Corrigan Brothers with their hit...
I've posted the lyrics below the video.

No One As Irish As Barack O'Bama
~ The Corrigan Brothers

O'Leary, O'Reilly, O'Hare and O'Hara
There's no one as Irish as Barack O'Bama

You don't believe me, I hear you say
But Barack's as Irish, as was JFK.
His granddaddy's daddy came from Moneygall
A small Irish village, well known to you all.

Toor a loo, toor a loo, toor a loo, toor a lama
There's no one as Irish As Barack O'Bama

He's as Irish as bacon and cabbage and stew
He's Hawaiian, he's Kenyan, American, too!
He’s in the White House, he took his chance.
Now let’s see Barack do Riverdance

Toor a loo, toor a loo, toor a loo, toor a lama
There's no one as Irish As Barack O'Bama

From Kerry and Cork to old Donegal,
Let’s hear it for Barack from old Moneygall;
From the lakes of Killarney to old Connemara...
There’s no one as Irish as Barack O’Bama

O'Leary, O'Reilly, O'Hare and O'Hara
There's no one as Irish as Barack O'Bama.
From the old Blarney Stone to the great hill of Tara
There's no one as Irish as Barack O'Bama

2008 the white house is green,
They're cheering in Mayo and in Skibereen.
The Irish in Kenya, and in Yokahama
Are cheering for President Barack O’Bama.

O'Leary, O'Reilly, O'Hare and O'Hara
There's no one as Irish as Barack O'Bama

The hockey Mom's gone, and so is McCain
They are cheering in Texas and in Borrisokane,
In Moneygall town, the greatest of drama
For our famous President Barack O'Bama.

Toor a loo, toor a loo, toor a loo, toor a lama
There's no one as Irish as Barack O'Bama

The great Stephen Neill, a great man of God,
He proved that Barack was from the Auld Sod
They came by bus and they came by car,
To celebrate Barack in Ollie Hayes’s Bar!

O'Leary, O'Reilly, O'Hare and O'Hara
There's no one as Irish as Barack O'Bama.

February 2, 2009

Eight Plus Six Equals...A LOT of Kids...

By now, everyone's heard about this news story, I'm sure...
A single mom in California gave birth to octuplets a week ago.
She also has six other children at home.
That makes fourteen children to feed, clothe and educate.
To love, hug and bathe at night.

I'm waffling, sitting on the fence with this one.
I don't make judgments about the choices that people make.
Sometimes, their decisions make me smack my head on a wall, but I know I'm not in their shoes, so it's not in my sphere of relevance to take a position on one side or the other.

Still, this one gives me pause, if only for the welfare of the children.
I've been a single mom and those two beautiful children of mine were quite enough, thanks!
At the end of the day, there were many times when I really had to stretch my reserve of lovin' energy to be kind and nurturing with my two darlings. I cannot imagine having the where-with-all to have enough left over at the end of a work day to give in equal shares to all fourteen of the little hummers.

I wish her well, send prayers to her and her children.
I hope they strike it rich, get a book deal or an exclusive interview that pays really well.
I hope with all my heart that she and her children are loved and supported in every way possible.
...and I want you to know that I'm quite happy and content with my little brood of two, thanks all the same!

“A baby will make love stronger, days shorter, nights longer, bankroll smaller, home happier, clothes shabbier, the past forgotten, and the future worth living for.” ~ Unknown

A few of my much-loved motley crew, courtesy of one of my two darlings, very early last Christmas morning...Merry Christmas, Mugga!

February 5, 2009

What the....?

Many news stories yesterday made me question the workings of the human mind.
What makes someone make a decision that irrevocably changes their life and the lives of so many others?
I understand small errors of judgment, side-stepping off the path and getting lost in the tall grass for a few minutes. That happens to everyone, every so often.

What I don't understand are those enormous detours from life that some people choose to take.
Here's an example...
A beautiful 12 year old girl goes missing a few months ago from her home in New Brunswick.
We, the compassionate viewing public, collectively gasp. Our hearts go out to the frantic, brokenhearted mother as she pleads on national TV for her only child's safe return.
Teddy bears, flowers and tearfully-written notes are being left at a makeshift memorial.
Candles are lit, prayers for the family are sent heavenward.
We wait for better news, hopefully...

Last night, CBC News reports that the mother has been arrested, charged with first degree murder, and now sentenced to life in prison for the murder of her child. The mother's live-in boyfriend told her to choose between him and her daughter.
She made an incredibly wrong choice...boyfriend in, daughter out.

Instead of allowing this beautiful little girl to return to her father's home, the mother drove her only child to a lonely deserted back road, forced her out of the car, knocked her down on the roadway and strangled her. The mother's confession in a police sting operation revealed the daughters last words..."Mommy, don't..."

The child's father is in shock.
His daughter had been living with him and wanted to go back to her mom's home to try living there again. His feelings of guilt and responsibility for saying yes to her request are almost palpable.
No one wins in this sad situation.

This is inconceivable to me.
Being told to choose between my children and anyone else on this planet would be a no-brainer.
Kids would win, hands down every single time, no question.
More's to the point, the one who asked for me to choose would be out on the doorstep, faster than a speeding bullet.

So, I sit here in disbelief, with no point of reference to understand this tragic situation.
I wonder what kind of mind it takes to make this twisted and cruel choice.
I also wonder what kind of mind it takes to force this choice upon another human being.
That beautiful 12 year old girl had no chance and she had no choice in that unfathomable situation.
What a tragedy.

February 7, 2009

What Kind of Metal Are You?

Thanks, Kim...I'm poaching your topic!

What Metal Are You?

You Are Copper:

You are provocative and challenging. You help people realize who they really are.
You live a very balanced life. You always take time for love and art.

You are both a powerful and generous person. You always have time to give back.
People find you to be incredibly ethical and loyal.

I've read this to a few friends and they think it sounds like me! That's cool.

Check it out and let us know what metal you's the link!

“My ignorance of science is such that if anyone mentioned copper nitrate I should think he was talking about policemen's overtime.” ~ Frederick Donald Coggin


February 8, 2009

Cardiologist Time...Tests and All...

A fat package of documents arrived in the mail for me today.
It's a schedule of tests that I need to have done for a heart problem that's been getting a little worse as I get a little older. I've had these same tests a few times over the past while, but they have been done sporadically...different specialists have been in charge of my file and it's become a bit chaotic, with a test here and a test there and no continuity.

So, my darling doctor has referred me to his favorite cardiology consultant clinic. The package that arrived today gives me the complete 2 days' schedule of bloodwork, MIBI test, stress test, rest test, Echocardiogram...the works!

My girlfriend asked me if I'm scared.
I thought about it for a few minutes and said, " Nope, I'm not."
She wanted to know why.
I replied, "It is what it is. There's nothing I can do about it, except do what the specialist has requested."
That's true, and there is no fear or apprehension, at least not yet.

I do feel blessed beyond the beyond. I have the ability to recognize that something is not right, to seek out medical advice and I have a full range of specialists and lab techs to take care of me. What's to worry about, then?

So, although I have been diagnosed as having WPW Syndrome...Wolff Parkinson White appears that there may be some other weird things going on with my heart.

I've made arrangements to stay with a very good friend in Edmonton, while I'm having all of the work done. She's a perfect person to be there for me...she's kind, compassionate and is a director for the Alberta Cancer Board! That means that she has all of the knowledge about all of the specialists that I will be seeing! How totally cool is that? Feels like there is a lot of flow going on here, with everything falling into place so nicely with the test schedule coinciding with her being available to take care of little old me!

That's the skinny, the long and short of it.
I'll post more as I know more. Maybe some of what I am dealing with will resonate with someone reading my blog and it may help that person to recognize a problem that they may be dealing with.

"It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."
~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery

What Was He Thinking....

What was he thinking?
That's the question being asked on Fox News after Michael Phelps' apology for being caught out smokin' weed.

Here's what I think about that question...
Who cares?
I mean, who really cares?

It was a private party and some smart-ass with a camera took a candid photo and gave/sold it to the press. Phelps is entitled to his privacy, in my opinion. He is a 23 year old guy, who has trained his butt off for every hour of every day over the last ka-zillion years.

Then, he won enough Olympic gold to make everyone in the Universe happy, and now he's on some down time. It's not something that I would choose to do at a party, but if he chooses to, then that's his business, as an adult making his own decisions. He'll have to live with the fallout. Leave the guy alone, I say!

What was he thinking?
Maybe, just maybe he was thinking, " Whew! Now I can kick back, hang with my buddies and relax, finally!"
He's entitled.
In spades.

“Sometimes I'm asked by kids why I condemn marijuana when I haven't tried it.
The greatest obstetricians in the world have never been pregnant.” ~ Art Linkletter

February 9, 2009

Forest Fires...and Comfort Food...

Today was an exhausting day.
I spent the entire day putting out forest fires at work.
Forest fires set by other people's inability to do things right.
From the first person who came through the door this morning to the last person who walked out of the office tonight, it was a roller-coaster running on OPE. Other people's emotions!

It's weird how I can begin my day in a great mood and then lose it totally, after dealing with a string of cranky and unhappy people. It feels like each one sucks a quart of energy out of my soul, and by the end of the day, I have nothing left to give to anyone, not even to myself.

All I want at the end of this kind of day is to drive home, park my car, close and lock the door behind me and shut out the entire world. Then, after shedding my work clothes and wrapping myself in the softness of fleece 'n flannel, I want comfort food by the bucket.
So, today, that's just what I did!

After changing into my after-school clothes, I made a delicious and comforting dinner...a huge, steaming-hot bowl of fresh vegetable soup that I made yesterday, topped it with a handful of shredded mozzie cheese and made a tall stack of well-buttered flax bread toast. Lemongrass green tea in my favorite mug and a pot of liquid honey for the leftover toast finished my meal off quite nicely. There's something about soup and toast that wraps me up and hugs me, every single time. No idea where that comes from, but it always works.

A few hours later, now...I am restored, refilled and re-energized.
I've filled my tummy with healthy comfort food and watched my favorite TV show, Keifer Sutherland's 24.
I've talked with a couple of friends and wrapped my daughter's birthday gifts for her special day on Friday.
Now, I feel better.

It's amazing how easily we can be drained by negative and toxic people.
It's equally amazing to me how little it takes to top up the tank, again.
Thanks to my good friends, my loving family, my fridge full of yummy food and my very soft fleece 'jammies, I think I'll survive.

I wish there was a sure-fire way to stop those energy vampires from sucking out every last drop of vitality.
Can't I just pull a Jack Bauer and slam 'em up against a wall somewhere? Really hard, too. That'd fix 'em!

No, I guess not.
That's why he's a TV hero and I'm just a person living my life without the big screen hoopla that surrounds Mr. Bauer. That's why he's a superstar and I'm a regular Joe. He gets to smack them around, and I get to sit here trying to figure out how to stop them from doing this another day.

"Toxic people are those people around you that literally suck the life out of you when you're with them. You leave them feeling utterly drained of any positive energy, and find yourself thinking about all that is wrong with your life instead of what's right. They never have a kind word to say about anyone, and inflate any little issue into a catastrophe that affects only them." - Laurie

Looking forward to celebrating my darling daughter's birthday this coming Friday helps...


Dreaming of castles in Ireland helps...


Thinking about azaleas in Savannah helps...


February 14, 2009

I Love You...


Happy Valentine's Day!
February 14th, every single year.
Valentine's Day.

I always think of the words, "I love you!" when I hear "Happy Valentine's Day."
My kids and I end every conversation with those words.
It seems like a great way to wind up a phone call or a visit.
Strange, because I didn't hear those words when I was little...

Growing up on a farm in the wheat belt of the Manitoba prairies, my farm family was more concerned with making sure the crops came in and the cows got milked than they were with telling each other, "I love you." Rather, love was shown in the food prepared by my grandmother for the kitchen table. It resonated in the way my grandfather bragged me up to his neighbour, "She's so smart! This little one can count by two's...and she's only four years old! Can you beat that, Willie Norton?"

Love was quietly present in my good Sunday clothes that were hanging on the doorknob of my bedroom door, freshly pressed and clean as can be, waiting for me to slip them on for our Sunday trip to church and Sunday School at the Blaris Church, a country structure on a corner crossroad that held maybe forty people.

Love wasn't verbal, it wasn't heard and it wasn't written in lacy cards from the drugstore, but it sure as heck was present in every single thing that my family did for each other. From the smallest tender touch on my cheek to the largest roast beef dinner on the table, each member of my family passed the word along to the next person in need, just by the way they treated each other.

I may have not heard those words as a child, and sometimes I wondered why it didn't happen. But, now, as an adult with a little more understanding and a lot more wisdom, I know for sure that my family told each other every day in the way they treated each other, "I love you, indeed!"

Happy Valentine's Day...

"Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place." ~ Zora Neale Hurston

Webweaver Clipart

February 15, 2009

Stuart McLean's The Big Things Are in the Small Things...

Stuart McLean.
Vinyl Cafe.
Every single Sunday at noon...he's the source of much good humour and many wise words.

Stuart writes amazingly funny and poignant stories, shares them with his listeners on CBC's Vinyl Cafe each Sunday...listening to radio stories reminds me of being a small child, sitting cross-legged on my chair, in front of the small radio on the kitchen table.

Years ago, The Lone Ranger was my favorite story. It always stopped me in my tracks when I heard the theme song blaze out of the little radio. Today I know it as the William Tell Overture. Back then, I believed it to be The Lone Ranger actually galloping towards me, through the radio.

Stuart McLean doesn't have a grand overture for a theme song, but he has a way with words that makes me laugh and cry, every single time I listen to his weekly program.

Today, he talked about life being lived in the details, not in the grandiose plans that we make for our lives. He shared a story about a friend of his who obsessively-compulsively planned her life, down to the nth detail, yet one night at a friend's house for dinner, she met a guy.

A few weeks later, they are getting married, and Stuart commented on the way that his friend's new life path didn't come because of her penchant for a well-planned lifestyle. It came, instead, from a small unplanned dinner at someone's house. Her life is changing in a major way from a small detail...dinner.

Nothing profound, nothing magical.
Just a funny and well-spoken guy telling stories that he writes. He's created an entire family through his Morley and Dave stories, which I can enjoy over and over from his collection of books and CD's. They are basic and ordinary tales of a family living a basic and ordinary life. Yet, somehow Stuart makes them glisten with a myriad of minute details...small things...that give these folks life and breath and believability.

If you want to listen to Stuart's stories, there is a link on his website for the CBC in Canada and for the US radio stations that carry his program. You can also hear his show online, on Sirius radio, by downloading podcasts...he's everywhere!

Stuart also has started a Story Exchange on his website. Send in your stories and he'll listen to them and read a few of the best on his show. How does he know what makes a good story? He used to teach writing in the Journalism program at Ryerson Unversity in Toronto!

I've sent in a few pieces, so we'll see what happens.
Who knows? Maybe, just maybe one of them will be good enough to make it onto The Vinyl Cafe.
That would be a big thing for me.

February 16, 2009

My Daughter's Birthday Update....

The photos have been sized, cropped and emailed back and forth between our homes today.
I thought you might like a little update about my daughter's birthday...

I started her special day by ordering the delivery of a balloon bouquet for her at work.
They make a great frame for her beautiful face!
I love this photo.
A lot!


Then, I stopped for a few carnations to top off her gift...


After racing home from work, then making and baking a cake, quick-cooling it in the deepfreeze, filling it with lemon curd and smothering it with whipped cream, I packed, cake, gifts...into the back cargo area of my Denali and drove v-e-r-y slowly to her house, not wanting any harm to come to her fragile cake.
I know you've seen this photo before...


I found the perfect gift for my daughter! It is an ornate sweet stand from our favorite shop, Jean Guy's Theodore's Den. I also included a very old china dinner plate from my china cabinet that belonged to her beloved Grandma English. This plate fits perfectly on the dessert stand. I loved watching her reaction when she was opening her gift and seeing her grandmother's delicate plate...


Some photos were taken by my granddarling.
Others were taken of my granddarling while she was taking photos of us!


"Our birthdays are feathers in the broad wing of time." ~ Jean Paul Richter

February 19, 2009

Needles and Pins...

You might remember this, last April, after a dastardly fall on snow-covered-ice in front of my home...

I finally caved in and made an appointment with my acupuncturist.
I've been struggling with the leftover effects of my sprained ankle from last April. I've found it gradually more difficult to walk, with hip pain and 'banding' pain in my calf and ankle. It feels like a tensor bandage wrapped really tightly around my ankle and calf, and the banding is pure pain when I walk.

I don't do well when I'm not able to get around, so this has tested my patience to the nth degree.
Cranky? You know it!
Crabby? No doubt.

Continue reading "Needles and Pins..." »

February 20, 2009

More Needles and Pins...

Better and better!
An update to let you know that my acupuncture treatment yesterday has helped.
Thank goodness.

If I told you 25% better, would you believe me?
I listed an acreage today, and the elderly gentleman who owns it saw me getting gingerly out of my vehicle when I arrived. I explained a little of what I've been dealing with and told him about my acupuncture yesterday.

"What? You're kidding! I cannot understand how sticking needles into someone makes LESS pain!"

He has a point.
But, still, it does work for me.
I also have another appointment next Tuesday for more of the same, and hopefully it will knock off another 25% of the worst of the worst.

It's late, the day has been over-long and I'm ready for a warm bed and a good book.
I'll keep you up-to-date about this stickin' of needles into my body.

"The art of medicine consists in amusing the patient while nature cures the disease." ~ Voltaire

February 21, 2009

Connie Talbot...

While we are on the subject of talented people, listen to this young sweetheart, Connie Talbot!
She was on Britain's Got Talent, Simon Cowell's other show. I think she came in second place.
What a darling!

Oh....yeah, Simon loves her!!!

February 22, 2009

Oscar, Oscar...

Photo credits - BGE

Hugh Jackman hosts this year.
Wishing him well, and I still miss Billy Crystal.

My favorite to win, please, God...Mickey Rourke.
There's nothing like hearing about a guy who had it all, then dumped it because he didn't think he deserved it and he had no idea how to play the game in order to keep it.
He's said that, given a second chance at being in this world, and knowing what he knows now, he would rather not be born at all.

That's a wrenching heartbreaker for me to comprehend...the world is brighter because of his presence and I think he's totally not aware of his own value. His beloved chihuahua just passed last month, after being his support and his main man for18 he's living on his emotions, and his work will be better than ever. I hope he finds happiness and peace, because he's earned it in spades.

My next favorite to win is Meryl Streep, because no one can reinvent herself better.

Meryl Streep and her baby daughter...

Finally, if Bobby Downey could win this year, my wishes would all come true.
Robert Downey, Jr. has more talent in his baby finger than most actors have in their whole body of work.
He's been up on the top of the world and down in the bottomless pit of hell, and his work is now inventive and fantastic. Like Mickey, I hope he also finds only sunshine for the rest of his life.

Bobby Downey and his beautiful wife, Susan Levin Downey

"All I am hoping for is to be able to work-I think my best work is still ahead of me-I think all that I have been through in the last several years have only made me a better, more interesting actor. " ~ Mickey Rourke

February 24, 2009



Another acupuncture treatment today.
Simply amazing.

This time, there was less inflammation in my hip muscles, so the good doctor asked if I could tolerate more than a few needles, like the last treatment.

"Sure, " I replied, bravely, courageously, with bravado, however false.

"I'll be placing three needles here at your waist, then four more right here in your hip, and then another ka-zillion of the little suckers running in a straight line from your thigh to your ankle, buried deep into those inflamed and tender muscles!" he replied.

Well, no...that's not what he said, but he COULD have.
He lined 'em up and marched 'em down the entire length of the outside of my leg.
From my hip to my ankle.
One thin little needle after another.
Fourteen in all.
I am a hero.
Capt. Sully Sullenberger has nothing on me.

Again, he hooked up the electricity to each needle, loaded the charge for half-power, because I now have more tolerance for the intense feeling that it creates. He turned on the huge heat lamp and covered me with a heavy, warm flannel blanket.
Again, he placed a little bell in my hands, in case I needed to ring for him, turned out the lights and wished me goodnight.
Again, I slept.

Once my 45 minutes of deep relaxation acupuncture was over, my doctor then removed the needles and gave me a lengthy acupressure session. He found that my ankle was out of alignment, as a result of my fall last April, so he popped it back into place.
It felt better instantly.

Finally, he placed a length of herbal-infused plaster onto my leg, from my ankle to my knee. He explained that the herbs will reduce the inflammation in my muscles and tendons...also a residual from my sprained ankle. I bought a large roll of the herbal plaster and will use it faithfully for the next few weeks.


I'm home, now.
It's almost 9 hours since my treatment and there is a marked improvement in the degree of pain I've been living with...better by about 50%, I'd say.
I'll see how it is tomorrow, but I have to tell you, tonight it is amazing!
What a relief to not be in constant pain.

Needles in muscles and tendons stops pain.
I don't understand how it works, I'm only delighted that it does.

"The art of medicine consists in amusing the patient while nature cures the disease." ~ Voltaire

April 2, 2009

i-Phone by Apple...My Son Will Be Happy, Now...

Photo credit - Apple website

I finally have an i-Phone.
My son's been recommending that I buy Apple.
I talked with several i-Phone owners and after hearing the rave reviews, I bit the bullet.
Calling Rogers to order my i-Phone was the easiest part of the transaction.

The phone didn't arrive in the promised 3 - 5 business days, as Rogers said.
It took over 2 weeks, because the courier company sent it with my mailing address on the bill of lading.
The courier carrier couldn't deliver it to my mailing address and called to tell me so.

I asked them to write my street address on the package, but no, they insisted that I call the original courier company and ask them to call the current courier carrier and make the change that way.
They did and the phone was sent out to my office.

It finally arrived!
Shiny, white and new.
I can turn it on, I have been able to charge the battery with the slick wall plug that doubles as a computer cord and I can slide the screen to the unlocked position.

That's the limit of my discovery for tonight.
I've tried to activate the phone. I cannot.
I've tried to pinpoint my trip tomorrow to Grande Prairie for my acupuncture treatment. I cannot.

So, it's fine with me that I've been able to do the baby steps that I've accomplished so far.
There's always tomorrow night for another online lesson in i-Phone use.
I think I'll call my son and ask him for help.
He'll love walking me through the process!
He's a techie at heart, so it will give him great pleasure to help his techno-dinosaur mom crank up a new i-Phone!

I'll let you know what I learn to do tomorrow.
I would consider making a call a ripping success.

“What a lot we lost when we stopped writing letters. You can't re-read a phone call.”
~ Liz Carpenter

April 3, 2009

Depression Cooking with Clara

I found these delightful and informative Youtube videos, starring the most amazing woman, 91 year old Clara, a senior who lived through the depression. She brings back all of her favorite food from those years.
We can learn a little something from this wonderful woman, I think. If you want to see more, go to Youtube and search for Clara...I hope you enjoy listening to and watching Clara's videos as much as I have!

Pasta With Peas...

Clara Cooking Breakfast...

“No one can possibly have lived through the Great Depression without being scarred by it. No amount of experience since the depression can convince someone who has lived through it that the world is safe economically.” ~ Isaac Asimov

April 4, 2009

i-Phone by Apple...Baby Steps...

Photo credit -

Today, I uploaded all of my contacts into my shiny new i-Phone.
That's a lot of work!
I spent an hour or so trying to figure out how to do that, and then, like a house afire, I went to work, my fingers blazing a trail across that teensy weensy keyboard.

Now, I want to figure out how to connect the i-Phone to the internet.
Sounds simple, if you are computer literate, but I'm so not good at this.
I think I've forgotten my password for getting into my computer.
I have a username that is not my usual one, and I cannot recall what the hell I used for a password.
I've looked everywhere in the computer that I know how to look, and no luck.

So, here I sit with an i-Phone and no way to access the Apps store!
That's my definition of pure torture. Having something to buy online and not having a way to do it. Like being in a cheesecake cafe and not having any cash to buy a slice!

I've called the computer genius, my son.
Left a message on his cell.
He hasn't called back so that means he's either busy or hasn't stopped laughing at my inabilities yet.

Tomorrow, I go back to work and I better be able to use this new phone so my clients don't see me as totally inept. In spite of my awkwardness with using it, I do love this phone, mostly for the possibilities that I see, rather than for the actualities which I know.

"The telephone is a good way to talk to people without having to offer them a drink." ~ Fran Lebowitz

April 5, 2009

What Gives You a Feeling of Awe?

There was an interesting program on CBC today, and the one thing that stood out loud and clear for me was this...when people get goosebumps, it is most often related to the feeling of awe that sweeps over a person about something that is happening at that precise moment.

It made me think of all of the things that give me goosebumps, that give me that feeling of awe.
I thought I'd make a list of them before I forget what they are.
I thought I'd share this list with you, if you'd like to read it.

~The faces of my children and my matter how short or how long a time it has been since I have seen them, it never fails to give me that feeling of awe, when I see their faces, their never fails.

~The sound of my heart beating when I'm lying quietly in bed, reading...this muscle in my chest cavity keeps on ticking day and night, week after week, year after year...that's definitely awesome to me.

~The knowledge deep inside that there were so many loving people in my childhood who held me up and helped me to see my own value, when the rest of the world was so willing to show me that I had none at all.

~The sound of crashing thunder in a gut-busting prairie thunderstorm as it rips across the landscape.

~The incredibly high surf on the North Short of Oahu at Sunset Beach, when it smashes in from the far distant breakers and wipes out every single thing on the sand, then with a sweeping about-turn, takes everything out to sea, again.

~The sound of complete silence.

~Andrea Bocelli singing.

~Andrea Bocelli and Celine Dion singing The Prayer, with that money note near the end.
Goosebumps every single time.

“A friend who is far away is sometimes much nearer than one who is at hand.
Is not the mountain far more awe-inspiring and more clearly visible to one passing through the valley than to those who inhabit the mountain?” ~ Kahlil Gibran

A couple of great videos of the surf conditions at Sunset Beach, Waimea Bay and Makaha, Oahu...awesome!

May 4, 2009

A Wonderful Kreativ Blogger Award for My Blog...

Today, I received an e-mail from my dear friend, Barb, giving me this fantastic award for my blog!
Barb's blog, Follow My Bliss, is one of my favorite places to go for a warm and serene moment of bliss in my otherwise hectic life.

This is the first blog award I've ever received, so it means a lot to me...she likes me, she really likes me! Sally Field would be proud.

Barb has asked me to list seven things I like and then she wants me to nominate seven other bloggers for this award. That should be a cakewalk! There are so many fantastic blogs out there.
I wish I could nominate all twenty four of the blogs I read regularly. But, alas! Only seven.
Here's the lovely award that Barb bestowed on my blog today...


Now, seven things I like:

I like my children and my grandchildren.
There's nothing sweeter than hearing their voices on the phone or at my front door.
Today, while I was soaking in a bubble-filled jetted tub, my daughter stopped by to say "Hi!" I didn't hear her ringing the doorbell, so I missed seeing her beautiful face and spending some time visiting. I was really disappointed!
I like my daughter, Mylene, and my son, Michael, so much that I call it love, actually.
I like and love and adore my grandchildren, Shonelle, Tristan, Taryn, Keiran and Bryden.
I even like them enough to ask each of them to name one of the five buildings in my condo project.
I love them enough to ask them to travel with me and I like them enough at the end of the trip to consider asking them again.

Continue reading "A Wonderful Kreativ Blogger Award for My Blog..." »

May 7, 2009

Bernard LaChance...Gets His Chance...

This is the feel-good story of this year, I swear!

So, then this happened...Oprah and Gayle heard about Bernard, and guess who showed up to talk with him?

Is that not the coolest thing possible?

And, later in the week, Bernard appeared on Oprah's show, with his parents watching via live webcam! Read these pages, it is the nicest kind of story. We need more news stories like this, don't we?

You go, Bernard!

"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I'll try again tomorrow.:"
~Mary Anne Radmacher

May 8, 2009

Happy Mother's Day...I'm Mother of the Year for 2009!

My friend Barb sent me this cool video today!

Brenda is Mother of the Year for 2009!

You can forward this to anyone you like, and add their name in as Mother of the Year.
Probably as close as I'll ever get to being in the newsmedia spotlight.
And, yes, as the headlines read...George Clooney DID ask for my autograph and my Lasagna Recipe!

Happy Mother's Day!

"A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie."
~Tenneva Jordan

May 10, 2009

Celebrity Apprentice...Joan Rivers!

I love this show!
This year, Joan Rivers won...she's the new Celebrity Apprentice. She beat out Annie Duke.
Not bad for a 75 year old woman, I think.
She has such stamina and tenacity. I only wish for that kind of strength.

Here are a few favorite moments from this year's finale...
I loved Tom Green poking at Annie when he said, " You've let her get under your skin. Under your skin. Under your skin. Under your skin."
Over and over again, until she finally stopped bitching about Joan Rivers. That was a treat, because she really expended so much negative energy complaining about Ms. Rivers.

I think Joan's strategy to get under Annie's skin worked perfectly. It threw her off her game just a little, and it was enough.

I also loved Donald Trump telling Annie Duke that she had no idea whether her friends were Mafia or not.
This came from Donald, after Annie's constant complaining about Joan calling her friends Mafia.

My best friend doesn't like Donald Trump.
Her husband doesn't like him, either.
I disagree with them, because I have learned a lot from him, by listening to his business philosophy and by reading a couple of his books about business.

He's struggled with this show over the years, but this year it has risen above the rest and they are already re-signed for 2010.

Why do I love this show?
I find it interesting to watch how various personalities cope with the pressure.
Some don't.
Like Clint Black or Jesse James.
They refuse to engage in the process. Instead they just skim along the surface, coasting on everyone else's wake.
Others engage too much.
Like Annie Duke.
She took everything personally, refusing to step up above the nitty gritty that went on.

So, thanks for the entertainment this year, Mr. Trump! It was quite a ride.
Congratulations, Ms. rock, girl!

"He has such an ego. If he went to a bar, he'd pick himself up."
~ Joan Rivers about Clint Black

May 16, 2009

Mending Bridges...

One of my very good friends has done something that was extremely hurtful to me and I've been unable to move past it. I have a rule of thumb that I live by...if someone does something nasty to me once, that will be the last time they get the opportunity to do it.
Hurt me once, shame on you.
Hurt me twice, shame on me.

My friend called me yesterday about something work-related, and after the topic of work was exhausted, we slid into a easy conversation about life in general and our lives in particular. He said hesitatingly that we never see each other any more, and I heard him say softly, in a small and fragile voice, "You never call me anymore."

There was a silence for a few ragged heartbeats...then I agreed with him.
He's right.
I don't.

I told him that I had been thinking about that very thing and I was wondering if he'd like to have lunch with me today.
He would.
Very much.

I started to tell him about some of the cool things that are happening in my life and he asked me to save them for our lunch conversation.

We met for lunch and our conversation felt as easy as sliding on an old pair of slippers, comfortable and flowing along effortlessly. Before I knew it, it was time to leave.

After we said goodbye and hugged each other, I drove home, thinking about the hurts and wounds that we suffer and how we keep peeling the scab off the pain, far longer than is necessary. Holding on to our past hurts is a kind of revenge. We think that if we keep rolling that hurt around in our mind, taking it out and polishing it once in awhile to make sure it still shines with our pain, somehow we gain revenge over the person who wronged us. The problem with revenge is that it is like drinking poison and thinking it will hurt the other person. In the long run, it is our own guts that become ravaged from the harsh acid of payback.

It's been over a year since my friend caused me such deep pain that I thought I'd never find myself moving past it. Yet, in one simple phone call, I moved through the gate of forgiveness and into the brilliant light of starting over.

Am I over it totally?
No, for sure I'm not.
I'll be cautious with him for awhile, until I feel confident that he understands that what he did was hurtful, that I see him being more caring and kind.

But, I'm in a far better-feeling place than I have been when I was stirring around in a huge pot of look-what-he-did-to-me soup. Something shifted inside of me with that one phone call and I feel lighter and sweeter because of it.

"How you treat me is your karma, how I react to it is mine." ~ James Van Praagh

My lesson for the day...
"No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted."
~ Aesop, in The Lion and the Mouse
Aesop was a Greek slave & a fable author, and lived from 620 BC - 560 BC.

May 17, 2009

Beach in a Bag...

The beginning of the beach in a bag...

I've been asked by the local Elementary School to provide a Clean Classroom Award for the students on a once monthly basis. I am honoured to be invited to participate. I love little kids...they are so pure and sweet, they've not acquired any artifice yet, they see you for who you are and accept you in that same fashion.

I agree to do this, as long as I can make it a nutritious and healthy snack for the children, rather than the previously-supplied gigantic bag of candy. The vice-principal who calls me agrees quite happily! So, I start looking for a healthy but totally fun thing to create for my little ones.

I post a question on my Slowtrav food forum and my Slowtrav friends give me scads of great ideas. Amy, one of our esteemed moderators on Slowtrav, suggests Beach in a Bag. I love the idea that she gave me and decide that this could work for us.

Continue reading "Beach in a Bag..." »

May 30, 2009

Jammie Days...

Finally, the weekend is here!
Could this week have been busier, nuttier?
I don't think so.
It was not a bad-busy, though.
It was all good.
All good.

That's the difference between me today and me a few years ago, I think.
Back then, I'd have been reduced to tears with all that landed on my shoulders this week.
Today, I simply adjusted my schedule, eliminated all unnecessary tasks and realigned my week so that it could hold all of the items that had to be taken care of.

I started by placing the have-to's at the top of the list and moving the want-to's down to the bottom.
I called a few people who had previously asked me for something or other this week, and I explained that their requests would have to wait until next week, when I would have the energy and the time to help them properly. They were fine with it and thanked me for letting them know!

One woman said she'd rather know right up front that someone didn't have the time to help her, rather than saying yes and feeling no. Often, she has had people come to help her when they didn't really want to be there. She told me that she always feels that negative energy and knows that they really don't want to be with her. So the whole time is a dark and negative time, rather than being positive and light.

I learned a lot about myself this week.
I learned that even though a hectic week feels like it will never end, it does.
I also learned that I have the ability to break down what is overwhelming and repackage it into more manageable bite-sized pieces, without really thinking about it. I just did it instinctually.
And, most of all, I learned that I am more than capable and able to cope under pressure than I thought possible.

Now, it's definitely jammie time.
A day in my jammies with a hot steamed soy chai latte in my hand and a few phone calls to return to my family and friends.
A day to write out a few birthday cards and wrap a gift for my almost 19 year old granddarling...
A day for myself.

"It is only when we silent the blaring sounds of our daily existence that we can finally hear the whispers of truth that life reveals to us, as it stands knocking on the doorsteps of our hearts."
~ K.T. Jong

My son spending alone time in Amalfi...just looking...

June 5, 2009

Why I Love Cats...

This black and white tuxedo cat makes me laugh until I have hiccups!
Dare you not to laugh...

Cat Rules # 45
Humans have three primary functions: to feed us, to play with and give attention to us, and to clean the litter box. It is important to maintain one's Dignity when around humans so that they will not forget who is the master of the house.

June 14, 2009

Daze Off...

I need a vacation.
I've been working for 15 days straight without a day off, and I'm smashed.

With a farewell party for a friend last night plus running my butt off moving a water sprinkler every couple of hours for newly installed sod at a property I'm looking after...this weekend's shot and I'm exhausted.

Funny how sometimes we have oodles of time on our hands and twiddle our thumbs for something to do.
Other days, we run ourselves into the ground trying to keep up with our to-do list.
That's what I need.
A little busy and a little rest every single day.

I caught a nice break this afternoon. When I arrived at the property ready to move that damned sprinkler once more, I discovered that the neighbour had done it for me! She walked over to the yard, and said,
"You go home, take some time off and I'll water the yard for you. Now, get out of here!"

I left, laughing. This is my kind of afternoon...nothing to do and several hours in which to do it!

“How can there be so much difference between a day off and an off day?”
~ Unknown

June 17, 2009

Summertime and the Livin's Easy...


This glorious creature has been hanging on my front door for the last week. Every day, when I go out of my home to go to work, he's there.
At eye-level, completely still, motionless, ethereally beautiful.

Little antennae, like miniature feathers...


I am stunned that he remains on my front door, day after day after day.
My neighbour says he's clinging to the warm spots on the house, the areas that are in sunshine most of the day.
I have no clue what kind of moth he is, nor what he's doing here.
What I do know is that I feel especially blessed that he's graced my home with his presence.

Look at the fur on his back.
He's just amazing to me.
Am I a little over-the-top about a moth?
A simple moth?


I don't know how long he'll stick around.
I hope he's here for a long while, but if he needs to leave and morph into another form, then so be it.
A lovely creature, indeed...


"Between our birth and death we may touch understanding, as a moth brushes a window with its wing.”
~ Christopher Fry

June 23, 2009

Bill Maher...Is He or Isn't He?

Nobody makes me laugh more than Bill Maher, when he's on a fantastic roll.
Whether he's on his soapbox on his own show or cracking up Larry King...he's just a fabulous satirist.
I might not always agree with him but I always cheer loudly for his right to speak his mind.

Tonight, he was goading a guest because of her wiffle-waffle ways.
Then, as fast as you can blink, he did a complete 180, twisted his opinion about and played devil's advocate! Too funny. Blew her furry little mind!

"We need more people speaking out. This country is not overrun with rebels and free thinkers. It's overrun with sheep and conformists." ~ Bill Maher

I struggled to find quotes of Bill's that wouldn't offend the delicate ears of you, my faithful readers.
I gave up after 10 minutes.
There aren't any.

"The jury could get the case as early as next week, but the defense says they just want to introduce one last-minute load of crap." ~ Bill Maher

He's a huge Obama supporter, but he hesitates not to give him a kick in the butt if he thinks it is deserved.
He's not wacky-religious, he's very opinionated and he's a truthteller.
The world could use a lot more Bill Maher's.
That's my opinion, for what its worth.
A lot more.

"If you think you have it tough, read history books."
~ Bill Maher

June 26, 2009

Standing Up For Myself...

Why is it so difficult to stand up for myself in some situations?
I'm not sure, but I do know that it is.
Today, I had to speak my mind with a couple of people with whom I work, and it was the toughest thing for me to do.

I've been sorting through the day to see what the trigger was for me, and I think I've figured out.
I've been working with this guy who not only wants to have everything go his way, but also wants everyone else to agree with him, have all of us tell him that he is right. Then, and only then can he finally relax. Only then will he finally stop...stop talking, stop trying to convince others of his position and stop pushing, pushing, pushing.

Today, I pushed back.
It may not have been the most graceful self-defence in the world, but at least I did it.
We were discussing the way to bring a project to completion and there was one sticking point. I personally didn't care what the solution was, so all I wanted was to make a decision and get it over with.

There were several times during this long phone call that I felt like I was being treated very disrespectfully and dismissively whenI was sharing my opinion with them. I took a deep breath and said so. Although no one responded to me, and truly, I believe that no one heard me, the point for me was in saying it out loud for myself. I was not saying it for anyone else's benefit, simply for my own.

After over an hour, I gave up. Telling the others on the phone that I had to go, I assured them that I'd be fine with whatever decision they made. Then, I said goodbye very nicely...and hung up.

Later on, I received an email from the guy who had arranged the call and who was looking for universal agreement with his perspective. Apparently, the phone call continued for another half hour before everyone agreed with him. Then, and only then, was he content to end the call and go away happily.

The moral of this story?
Pick the hills you want to die on.
Today, this was not one of those hills.
Rather than getting into a disagreement, I recognized the futility of that path, chose to leave the discussion quietly and with no fuss, and let the dust settle anywhere but on me.

Was that the right decision? For me, it was.
I felt stronger, peaceful, more relaxed and very much alive after making this decision, so that tells me it was right for me.

I'm sure there are folks who will disagree with my way of dealing with an unsolvable situation. That's fine.
I'm ok with that. What I'm also ok with is that I did what was right for me and that makes me feel very good inside my soul right now.
Very good, indeed.

"But you now, you wear your soul on your sleeve, exhausting your energy, propping yourself up on a tree, mumbling, or bent over your desk, asleep.
Heaven gives you a form and you wear it out by pointless argument.
The perfect man of old looked after himself first before looking to help others."
~ Chuang Tzu


June 28, 2009

Britain's Got Talent...Demetrios and Lagi Demetriou

Demetrios Demetriou and his son, Lagi -

Britain's Got Talent...
She certainly does!
If these videos don't make you laugh til you pee yourself, then you're not awake at all!

Here's the first appearance of Stavros Flatley and his son...

Stavros Flatley

Here they are, again...hil-freakin'-larious! They made it to the Final of Britain's Got Talent:

This is an interview with the Flatley father and son team....just good ol' salt-of-the-earth folks:

Here's their website...enjoy!

“I'm not an egomaniac like a lot of people say. But I am the world's best dancer, that's for sure.”
~ Michael Flatley

July 1, 2009

Happy Birthday, Canada...142 Years Old Today!

Photo Credit - Maple Key Camp

Happy Canada Day!
Today is my country's 142nd birthday.
Barely a teenager, compared to other countries.

One of the joys for me on Canada Day is watching the televised celebration from Ottawa, our country's capital. Besides the hundreds of thousands of people who show up festooned in red and white from top to bottom, there is always a group of new citizens to our country who want to be sworn in on that day, becoming Canadian citizens on Canada's birthday.

This year, there were 2,000 people who were sworn in, in various cities and towns across the country. In Ottawa, 142 people from 42 different countries became new citizens on Canada's birthday. I love this kind of story...people who choose to live here, who want to live here and feel blessed to be a part of this country.

Those of us born in Canada often take for granted the physical beauty of this country and the amazing freedom we enjoy, in living our lives as we wish. Only someone who has experienced a difficult life in another country can truly appreciate the lifestyle they enjoy when they move here. So, the best parts of any Canada Day celebration for me are the televised swearing-in ceremonies across the country for all of Canada's new citizens.

Photo credit - Banff, AB Canada Day

There are other lovely traditions that are a part of the annual Canada Day party in my home town...we have an all-day blow-out party complete with a parade, a free BBQ for all of the people who are a part of the celebrations and an opening ceremony with the Royal Canadian Legion veterans. There are pony rides, a petting zoo, the local celebrities' dunk tank and kids' games for every age.

I have provided Canada's birthday cake for the past 7 years. Cutting and serving a line-up of delicious chocolate, lemon and vanilla layer cakes to the hundreds of people crowding around my table is a fabulous part of the day for me. Wishing every single person, "Happy Canada Day!" as I hand them their choice of cake is totally cool for me. Cutting and serving so much cake is a huge chore, so I've switched to cuppycakes in the last couple of years. Much easier to serve to my hungry guests!

This year, we added an art show to our Canada Day. The organizers were concerned that no one would participate, but they found themselves swamped with gorgeous pieces at the last minute. I schlepped four of my large framed watercolour paintings to the gallery, and was blown away by the quality of the art on display. Everything from photography to oil paintings, watercolours and scratchboard work, exotic masks and jeweled bonsai trees...amazing!

I'm home, with 'jammies on and my slippers warming my feet. The crowd is just now warming up for the evening, ready to kick up their heels at the family dance and enjoy the midnight fireworks...I can already hear the band from my house! Later, just as I'm about to fall asleep, the fireworks will explode and wake me for a moment. Tomorrow, the town crew will clean up the party area and take down our huge blue and white tent, packing it away for another year. Then, there will be no signs left of the fabulous party that took place today.

Next year, we'll do it all over again.
More people will be sworn in as new citizens and I'll hand out another few hundred cuppycakes. Canada will be another year older and hopefully, we'll all still be here, healthy and happy, ready to enjoy the party!

"What is a Canadian?
A Canadian is a fellow wearing English tweeds, a Hong Kong shirt and Spanish shoes, who sips Brazilian coffee sweetened with Philippine sugar from a Bavarian cup while nibbling Swiss cheese, sitting at a Danish desk over a Persian rug, after coming home in a German car from an Italian movie... and then writes his Member of Parliament with a Japanese ballpoint pen on French paper, demanding that he do something about foreigners taking away our Canadian jobs."
~ Anonymous

Photo credit - AOL News

July 11, 2009

The Carousel Principle...What Goes Around...

Lessons in Karma...


I love it when the world turns evenly on its axis and I get to see someone reaping the rewards of their own bad karma. A friend of mine calls it the Carousel Principle...what goes around, comes around. I call it schadenfreude.
Loosely translated, that word means taking heartfelt delight in the misfortune of others.
Philosopher and sociologist Theodor Adorno defined schadenfreude as “largely unanticipated delight in the suffering of another which is cognized as trivial and/or appropriate."
Translation: watching someone get what they so richly deserve.
The question is...who are we to decide what another person deserves?

I read an ancient story about a knight and his 12 year old son living in the time of King Arthur. They were sitting around the huge dinner table with the other knights of the castle having a bite to eat, when the father took a dislike to something the son said or did. With a huge mawl of a hand, he backhanded the young lad, sending him sprawling onto the rushes on the dirt floor. The son's nose was bloodied and began to swell immediately.

The child did not cry, did not make a sound.
He picked himself up, drew himself up to his full height with great dignity, returning to his place at the table.
He then turned to the knight seating on his other side, punched him a good one in the nose and then whispered to him, "Please pass it along, sir. It will get back to my father, soon enough!"

I love this story.
Karma has a funny way of returning again and again to the sender.
Sometimes it takes the long road home, but make no mistake about it, it always gets there.
That's one of the reasons that I do my very best to give out kind and loving energy to most people I meet.

It is said that karma returns tenfold to the sender.
If you give out good karma, you get it back tenfold.
If you give out bad karma...guess what you get back? Tenfold!
I would love to have that kind and loving energy returned tenfold to me, and I live in hope that it does.

I would not want to be standing within a country mile of those folks who send out dark karma when it is returned tenfold to them. I want to be on the other side of the Universe, so I don't get splashed with the tidal wave of their toxic backwash.

The Carousel Principle.
A very good principle, indeed!

My favorite inspirational Irish blessing seems to fit perfectly with this post...

May those that love us, love us.
And those that don't love us,
May God turn their hearts.
And if He doesn't turn their hearts,
May He turn their ankles
So we will know them by their limping.

"How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours."
~ Wayne Dyer


September 8, 2009

Long Time Gone...Back, Now!

Nope, I didn't disappear from the face of the earth, my peeps!
I know I've been absent from my beloved blog for a couple of months.
I sincerely appreciate everyone checking on me, phoning and e-mailing me to make sure I was alright. That was so sweet of you! It helped to know that you cared and that you missed me. Niiiice!

Just a few health issues that needed my full and undivided attention. I didn't have the energy left over to blog and so, along with a few other lovely things in my life, blogging was set on the back burner for awhile.

Now, I'm back with a vengeance and I'll be bothering you with my funny, slightly sarcastic and heartfelt stories again.

Wow! This has been an amazing summer, full of a rainbow of things for me to do.
I have been going for acupuncture on a regular basis. I highly recommend it.
Even to skerdy-cats like me, who tremble and faint when having blood work done in a lab.

Needles, lots of needles stuck into my body at various places.
The good thing is that these needles are hairlike and very thin.
They don't hurt.

I've been treating a few physical ailments with this ancient form of Eastern medicine and really truly, the needles work! It's a partnership between 3 medical doctor, my doctor of acupuncture and me. Together, we've created a healthier human being. That's gotta be nothing but good.

The bottom line is this...I'm responsible for my own health and it is my job to get out there in the hard cruel world and find out what is available for me. There is a ton of information and help available, and all I had to do was get going and get discovering. I did, and so far, so good!

So, here I am, back on my blog and I promise to catch up with all of the articles I haven't written for you and all of the jokes I haven't told you, yet.
Thanks for your patience over the past couple of months and thanks for checking in!
You need to helped me more than I can tell you.

One can pay back the loan of gold, but one dies forever in debt to those who are kind. ~Malayan Proverb

September 11, 2009

The Leaves Are Changing Already...

Autumn colours in Sant'Elena, Venice, Italy

I love my area of this planet, partly because we have all four seasons and we have them in spades. There's no doubt when each season arrives.
Each one shows up with a flourish.
Each one shows up, stomps her feet and announces her presence with trumpet fanfare.

I spent a few weeks in October in Venice a couple of years ago, and one of the things that surprised me was that autumn showed up right behind me. Followed me into town, literally.
Surprised me, because I never thought of a country in the Mediterranean having all four seasons as noticeably as we do in Canada.
But, in fact, Italy cycles through the seasons just like here.
Maybe not as radically announced, but nevertheless, present.

The first traces of autumn in Venice became very visible very quickly, as the leaves changed colour from green to russet to orange and red and gold. I particularly noticed the vines covering the walls by a cathedral in Sant'Elena...

Autumn leaves gracing the brick walls near the cathedral

As the vacation in Venice came to an end, I took a last long walk around the city, taking photos of the fall colours and letting the beauty of this city soak into my soul.

When I arrived home, I found that autumn had crept into the countryside around my home town while I was away! The colours weren't as brilliant as in Venice, they weren't as varied, but they were still breathtakingly beautiful. And, they were the colours of my home...

Autumn leaves beside Medicine Lake, near Jasper, AB ~ Jasper National Park

"Bittersweet October.
The mellow, messy, leaf-kicking, perfect pause between the opposing miseries of summer and winter." ~ Carol Bishop Hipps

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