December 30, 2004
How do you rate?
Now for something a little lighter - my family would be proud:

The white trash in my blood will not keep me from becoming a doctor or a lawyer, but it will keep me from a good haircut and any sort of fashion sense.
A license to parent
It's very easy for me as a non-parent to make comments on the raising of children, when I've never had to do it myself, but the recent mauling of a 3-year old boy by dogs in his own home certainly does raise eyebrows.

This little boy was attacked and killed by 4 dogs - 3 rotties and 1 border collie - while his mother slept in adjacent room. The dogs were locked in a basement, but the authorities feel that the little guy woke up and let the dogs out. Dogs aren't quiet at the best of times, and if they were threatened or agressive, it would have been an incredibly noisy affair. The mother slept right through this! She was apparently told by the older children that something was wrong with her youngest. She found him close to death, and he died on way to the hospital.

As part of the investigation, the three surviving children were removed from the house by the Ministry of Social Services and are staying with relatives. Today, there was a hearing in the courts to return the children to their grieving mother. Several relatives spoke on camera that they had feared for the children's safety in the past, and had hoped in vain things would change. I am gobsmacked at that! If you thought a child you knew was in immediate danger, would you stand by hoping things would be ok? How could you live with yourself if it wasn't? Now, it may not be going to the authorities, but there are many other options available to help.

Without too much detail, we went through a lot of this with Shannon when she first had Hayley. It was not a safe environment for a baby. We, as a family, came together and made it a priority that Hayley was cared for. For them, it was simply the cost of living was higher than what they had coming in, even for essentials. There was never a thought of Hayley not being treated well, as her parents both worship her, but there was many other factors in their home they had no control over (other roommates involved in drugs, violence in the house, etc.) I love children, and the thought of being a mom stirs something inside me so deep, it's almost unimaginable. But, I will never have a child if I cannot provide a loving, stable environment for it. I made this promise to myself many many years ago, and while sometimes I wonder if I knew I'd end up being single for so long, if I still would have made the same decision, I know a child is not something I can handle in my life right now. My health issues would make it much too difficult and personally, I don't feel that to be fair to any future children when there are days I can barely take care of myself as it is. What is meant to be, will happen and I must put my trust in that.

Anyway, digressing away from my original point here...this poor 3 year old is gone, his siblings are horribly traumatized by seeing their baby brother killed, then losing their pets and now the mother is questioning why she did not provide a proper environment for her kids? Give your head a shake, lady! Having these babies was a privledge you took for granted. It is not a right! It's not about money, some of the poorest homes in the world are the most loving. When you have children, your whole life should come second to theirs and this lady unfortunately and tragically forgot that.

Playground battles
All this talk about what country is being the most generous and which ones are being 'stingy' just blows me away. It's like a bunch of 6 year olds in a sandbox arguing about who's daddy is the toughest!

The Tsunami tragedy is proving to be the single most paralysing and all-consuming disasters to happen in recent history. No one could possibly begin to put a price tag on could they when no one has even been able to fully assess or even see what havoc has been created in total?

To be arguing about dollars and cents right now is infuriating, childish and completely besides the point. What is needed right now is help, in the form of potable water, medical supplies, food and medical help. Take care of the small stuff and the big stuff will take care of itself.

The death total now stands at 125,000 and is still expected to climb to at least double that. For every person who was not lucky enough to survive, at least 10 more are either hurt, homeless or otherwise traumatized by the event. These people need immediate help, and while it's great to talk about forgiving debt and sending money, it's still a bit pre-emptive.

Much has been written about Canada's DART (Disaster Assistance Response Team) being terribly underfunded to such a degree that we couldn't even send them as we had no available planes. Laurie Hawn's blogs at Strong and Free are very well written and provocative. I agree completely with his view, and I don't even begin to assume that I have as much knowledge as he does on the subject. But today, I was pleased to see that the DART team has now left on commercial flights. Whatever the logistics end up being doesn't really matter. The people who can actually make a difference and physically help, are on their way rather than waving dollar figures around and expressing condolences.

Yes, Canada's funding to our military, to our disaster relief funds, to our coast guard and many many other programmes is woefully inadequate. But is this the time for our government to wring their collective hands and nod slowly that they wish more could be done, or is it the time to get things figured out and fix it? Large-scale disasters, natural or man-made, don't make schedules. They don't give warning. It happens and we must, as a nation who has a reputation for assisting others, jump in with both feet.

The last couple days, it seems most countries have been caught in some sort of reverse bidding war, each one trying to show up the other with their generousity. Meanwhile, the regions hit are barely holding it together. Bodies are decaying, water is preciously low, people need medical attention and food. Forget the politics for now. Take care of the moment. This is going to affect us all for a very long time. Right now is the time for action, not words.

December 29, 2004
Some good time-wasters...
to get your mind off some of the more serious stuff of late from Office Humour:

Harry Potter Characters (from movie stills)

90s Lyrics..

Sweet Wrappers..

TV Characters..

Simpsons one..

And more from:

December 28, 2004
Tragedy of a lifetime
I don't really have much to add that I haven't read on other blogs on the Tsunami tragedy. I have been glued to the news channels for the last 48 hours - with a brief respite to go get the CT Scan done today and I am just so terribly and deeply sad.

For another perspective, I've also been reading the South African news and the Australian news to get a slightly different view.

I can't even begin to comprehend these hellish numbers. At the time of writing this, it's now confirmed 68,000 have lost their lives in an instant (or at least we must hope it was instantaneous). So many more are hurt and traumatized. This will be something felt worldwide for at least a generation, if not more.

On a personal note, a friend called tonight and reminded me that our coworker, Jon was in Phuket for the Christmas break. Jon and I, to be fully honest, have never been close - rather the opposite, considering I caught him cheating on his wife at my boyfriend's apartment one night. But even still, it struck my heart cold. Even if he is a cad, I still hope he is alright. It certainly brings things home the story, and not just leaving it to numbers!

Logistically, though, how do you even begin to clean up? To remove all the debris, not even taking into account the bodies, but the general debris? All the cars/buses? The garbage? The animals? Just the general 'stuff' that must be overwhelming everywhere you look for as far as you can see? And then where does it all go? The cubic measurements alone would be staggering, more than what any general dumpsite could handle. Will it have to be burned? Will that affect the atmosphere? (Can you tell I haven't been sleeping well?)

I watch these videos as they come in, and think of all these people who were on their Christmas holiday or those that lived there and watched their loved ones, their homes and everything they held dear be torn away from them. But I can't stop watching. I can't turn away. I feel like I must understand, I must spend this time learning and trying to comprehend what this really means. Yes, I'm a news junkie, but somehow it seems disrespectful to turn it off and look away. Those people in Asia couldn't turn it off! I heard a news guy today mention that they had many complaints of the graphic quality of the videos. Sorry, people, but tragedies like this don't come wrapped up in a bow. They are awful, they are nightmarish, and yes, it is difficult to watch, but when we become complacent or turn away, we somehow lose the thought of how precious life is. And that is something we can never ever do.

It makes me wonder what would happen if this tsunami/massive quake happened on the West Coast of North America. Would we be equipped to handle it? How would society accept the mass burials/cremations that are happening in Asia? I don't know how well I would accept my mother or my niece being mass cremated! And who would come to help us? Would there be mass exploitation, like looting? I suspect it would be hell on earth here, but in a different way. Sure, we have more infrastructure, but with that, there comes a different society as well.

And as far as my little 'wicked triangle' theory went, there was a 5.8 earthquake off the coast of Alaska earlier today. So thankfully, my theory wasn't too tragic and there were no real damage caused, but the triangle did occur.

On a lighter note, I had a bad HSN moment. I bought this. I seriously need to get off this couch or my credit card is going to self-destruct soon. (And for the record, I also donated money to a Canadian relief organization helping in the Tsunami disaster too). Just to keep my life interesting, it would seem I've now come down with laryngitis. I thought I already felt like crap, but guess what? There's yet another level! You can imagine just how thrilled I am to know that I wasn't quite sick enough. Whatever lesson I'm supposed to be learning from this, I couldn't tell but I can say quite surely that I'm not a happy camper at the moment.

All right...bedtime for Bonzo.

December 27, 2004
Whole lotta shakin' going on!
Wow, this earthquake in Sumatra is incredible. So far, 22K people dead. And tsunami's that went as far away as Africa.

Since my mind always wanders to logistics (working too long in that area I guess...) I am left wondering what actually happens with that many casualties? I mean, it's not like there would be that many caskets just waiting to be used, let alone how much space that many people would take up. It's like an entire stadium full of people gone in an instant. And how do you properly move that many casualties before decay and the related issues set in?

The other thing that occurs to me is that there should be a third earthquake soon. These things seem to always work like some sort of wicked triangle. First, the one in Macquarrie Island, Australia, then up to Sumatra. The third one should either be towards South Africa or Mexico. My sister-in-law put it another way - if you break an egg and push the white on one side, the other side follows to some degree too.

It makes me slightly nervous too, living on the coast here. The water's edge is about 500 yards from my front door. The chances are slim, but it sure does put things in perspective when you see these news reports and the devastating power of water.

I think I may just have to spend a few hours at the casino today just to get away from watching the news though. My sister-in-law's dad won $5,000 on Christmas Eve, and then $500 on Christmas Day. He gave her $100 and with that, she won $1,500 yesterday. So we think it would only be right if we went and tried again today as it seems to be a bit of streak.
December 26, 2004
The end for another year
Well, it's over. So much stress, so much turmoil, and it went off more or less without a hitch. Exceedingly well, actually. Psycho SIL must have popped her Xanax as she was really sweet all night.

Of course, I'm having a little kidney attack again so I'm not up to a big long story tonight, but I did start up one of those photo pages.

You can see our holiday fun at:

Tonight was dinner at my Aunt's. She's a bit doddery and old now, so dinner is more us putting it on at her house but she thinks she's actually doing it herself. I went and screwed things up by going into a rather painfully acute attack during dinner. It was enough to freak my mother out - who was already fragile from the drama of the last couple days and I ended up yelling at her, and then immediately regretting it. It's just frustrating. These stabbing attacks are awful enough, but to have to be in front of people when it hits, just compounds the embarassment.

So in the end, I made my mother cry at Christmas. Don't I feel just bloody wonderful tonight? I have since apologized profusely and tried to explain my frustration was not at her, but at the situation. Still not sure if I got that point out clearly enough.

Then just as we were leaving, the Little One ended up with yet another nosebleed. It lasted a good 15 minutes and was terribly heavy. As you can imagine, it got everyone all the more riled up.

But there was good stuff today....I got some wicked deals on computer crap at the Boxing Day sales. A new video card (ATI 9600XT All-In-Wonder) for $175, regularly $399. A new scanner for my mother for $50, rather than $129. And a bunch of DVD-R's for $34.99/100. Ah, shopping always makes me happy.

Anyway, it's done. Now I've taken the pain pills and I'm done too. Tomorrow is yet another day.
December 25, 2004
Top Gun teardown
"I'm not going to sit here and blow sunshine up your ass"

That's still one of the best lines in any movie and one that's stuck with me all these years.

Hadn't watched this movie in at least 10 years so had forgotten some of the finer moments. Seeing it again, and I'm transformed back into that 16-year old girl watching it in a movie theatre back in '86.

I can still call myself an 80's chick though, as I can pick out a Kenny Loggin's tune at 40 paces. 'Playing with the boys'...a fine song I will need to add to my MP3 collection. And I nearly forgot how young Meg Ryan and Val Kilmer looked! They're just babies! And Tim Robbins was in this? Totally forgot that!

What is with all the gratuitous tighty-whitey shots? I'm not complaining, just commenting.

It made me start thinking about some of the lesser known 80's stars. What ever happened to Steve Ratzenberg? Judge Reinhold? Peter Scolari? Lori Singer? And what about the kid from "A Christmas Story", Peter Billingsley?
And a good Christmas to all!
As I'm sitting here eating chocolate and watching my Top Gun-Special Edition DVD, I'm happy to report that I was mistaken and this has been a pretty amazing Christmas so far.

Spending last night at my brother's place brought me into a pretty happy place. Hayley was precious with her gift-opening. Her manners are impeccable, although she did get a wee bit confused about who got her what. I got hugs and kisses for a few more presents than I was responsible for, but I wasn't complaining. And I was spoiled beyond spoiled. It has been a pretty lean few years for my brother's family and while they've never gone overboard, I was knocked to the floor by my gift. An absolutely breathtaking amethyst pendant necklace. Even just typing this up now and I'm getting all veklempt! They also got me the 90's Trivial Pursuit - can't wait to play that!

We had a little scare last night though. Hayley was beyond excited and took a running bellyflop right onto her Mom's tummy while Shan was laying on the floor. It knocked the wind out of Shan and she started having mild contractions. For about 5 hours, it seemed like we might have our own little Christmas bundle but they settled off this morning and she's feeling better today.

This morning, at my parent's I was again thoroughly spoiled by both my parents and my aunt. The Top Gun movie, lots of clothes, accessories for my Kitchenaid mixer and track lighting for my kitchen. I am still in awe. We usually don't go all out for Christmas...or rather, they don't but I usually do. It's not unsual for me to spend $75 on a person in my family, and in return, I get a stocking stuffer worth $10. It shouldn't matter, and it really doesn't but even still, it shocked me nonetheless.

My Dad loved his Tim Taylor special, a leaf-blower/mulcher and was already out hunting leaves by the time I was leaving.

Talked more to Todd and he's feeling a little more upbeat, although he's feeling bad he didn't buy anyone gifts. He was so focussed on this deployment that Christmas just sort of snuck up. Meanwhile, since he's one of the few left where he is, he's been pulling guard duty at the worst times. Like 2am - 6am shifts! Oh, well...keeps him out of trouble, I guess.

And in other things, I fedex'd the second package yesterday and it's already in Memphis this morning, so it would seem it's going to actually get there this time.

Of course, Mom's still depressed but ya can't have everything. If we just keep walking on eggshells until she gets drunk, we'll be fine.

Now it's back to Maverick and the gang. 5 hours of special features on this DVD too!
December 24, 2004
And so it begins....
So far, I think the best I can hope for at this point is to get through the next 72 hours without losing my temper or having assault charges against me.

Our Christmas is always somewhat bittersweet. We have, um, issues in our family. What family doesn't? It just seems that all those carefully bundled up skeletons come knocking at the closet door at this time of year.

Usually, I like to spend the week before the Main Event relaxing and having a sort of me time. My friends and I always get together on Yule, or December 21 and it's always a happy time. But this year was different. I haven't had a chance to recharge my batteries yet and am still feeling a bit on the yucky side.

It doesn't help that my Mom has been calling me every, oh, 45 minutes to see if I'm still breathing. If I don't immediately say "I'm fine", she's calling the ambulance. I had a little complication this week where I ended up with a hematoma at the site of where they took blood. I swear that nurse stuck the needle in and then ripped it to the left. All week, my elbow has been turning black and I was having a lot of trouble driving, or doing anything at all with my left arm (and I'm left handed). That bothered my Mom and it was all I could do to fend her off for me going back to the doctor about it. It's a bruise, I'll live!

So this morning arrived. I had a terrible night's sleep. Dreamt my Dad had died in a casino. Kinda freaked me out. When I called Mom this morning, she sounded off. Now it seems she's already started crying. Just great....this should be a fantastic holiday.

Turns out it was about my esteemed brother, Ray. For years wanted nothing to do with his family, mostly because he's an idiot and his wife is an evil incarnate who has p-whipped him for years. He spent a lot of time telling my parents how much he hated them for not being good parents - apparently he was raised by different people than I was. It got to the point that my Dad got so hurt that he decided to 'disown' him. But now that he's in his 40's and his kids are nearly grown, he's suddenly realized he's screwed up. Usually it comes out around the holidays. This morning, he called to ask my parents to visit this afternoon. My Mom had to say no because there would be no way in hell that my Dad would go. So instead, she's been crying ever since. I don't think Ray has any clue how much he hurts them on a regular basis, or even the fact that they're now in their mid-70's and both aren't in the best health anymore. If he tried this reconciliation crap during another time of the year, I'm sure he'd be left with better results. Now everyone's all got their knickers in a twist and we haven't really even begun yet.

I'm off in about 10 minutes for the first volley of the season. To my brother Bob's for a quick visit and gift drop-off ceremony. (Also leaving Ray's stuff there too) and then it is the main event as far as I want. Tonight we're having Christmas with Hayley. That's about the only thing that's going to salvage this holiday.

My Mom is also upset because I'm not staying at her house tonight. I just can't. I feel like crap and I am not sleeping well. I would rather pace the floors in my own home rather than somewhere else.

To top it off, Todd is really down. He chose not to return to his home during the holidays and is staying at the base. He figured it would be too hurtful to Bethany and since he had nowhere really to stay (that is a story in itself!), he thought it wasn't worth going. Great idea but now everyone else is gone and he's all depressed and bored. Last night he was so sad, and I just couldn't seem to get him to calm down no matter what I said. I said I'd call him tonight again, and that seemed to lift his spirits, but I guess it's just all too real for him now.

Let's just hope my Grinchiness clears and I can at least sort of enjoy this time. It just is too much hassle and stress! Anyway, Merry Christmas to all! Hope you all enjoy your holiday!

December 23, 2004
The songs of your life
A friend of mine recently tasked me with naming 5 songs that signified different points in my life. Not necessarily my favorite songs but ones that would instantly bring me back to a specific era. Sounded like an easy task but was actually quite hard to pinpoint those actual songs.

1. Summer of 69 - Bryan Adams

This brings me to my teenage years. Hearing this song reminds me of a field trip in Grade 11, when we all thought we were so cool and before we realized there could be repercussions to our actions. We were also the babies of '69 so the song seemed to be somehow about us. I remember the first time I saw the video and recognized it as being filmed in Vancouver. It seemed so bizarre, this was just before Vancouver really got to be known as Hollywood North and when 21 Jump Street was still just a few years away. The song also has a strong moment in my life when I was travelling through Europe. Most of the people in our group knew Bryan Adams was Canadian and kept teasing Leigh and I about it. There was one particular night in the south of France, after a few too many bottles of wine when she and I sung the song beginning to end a capella in front of a campfire. Oddly, I did not quit my day job.

2. Pour Some Sugar On Me - Def Leppard

This is my early 20's when I thought I was an adult but really wasn't there yet. The song takes me back one particular summer where every night was a different party. As most of my friends were working in the hospitality industry (read: restaurants) the nights would begin after most estabishments closed. We'd spend hours on the beach with bonfires or dancing up on the speakerboxes until closing. Part of me misses those carefree days, but I would never want to be there again. The world seemed to be revolving around us and we couldn't imaging having real responsibilities. There's a moment that stands out strongly for me when my ex-boyfriend, his best buddy and I sat staring out into the river while we discussed plans to open our own restaurant/bar called the Fuzzy Nerdz. Last summer, I was out with my niece and her friends and was brought back to that time when they too talked about their own bar. Time flies but it really just stands still.

3. Come On Eileen - Dexy's Midnight Runners

Even though this is more of an 80's tune, this song represents my travelling years. It seemed to be playing in the background at the most perfect moments while I was away. A toga party in Rome on my birthday, in a small cafe in Capetown, and emanating from a pub in Brighton, England as me and two of my friends linked arms and swayed down the street singing at the top of our lungs.

4. With Arms Wide Open - Creed

A bit cliche, but it seems to embody our whole family pulling together for Hayley. I wonder if it wasn't for her if our family would be as close as it is today. I hear this song and am transported back to Shannon holding a 2-day old Hayley saying "Oh my god, she is really really here."

5. Live Like You Were Dying - Tim McGraw

This seems to be a bit overplayed right now but it is representative of my 'now'. Since my health started to go sideways, I've come to appreciate how special and precious life is and how tenuous it can be.

It's an interesting exercise and I can really say only 3 of the 5 above are songs that I would actually consider 'my favorites', but they still can be very powerful when I hear them.
And not the TV show.

On December 8, I mailed by ExpressPost a package to Todd at his deployment centre. It was an MP3 player, a bunch of disks full of music we both like, and some pictures of our time together in Hawaii. conjures up some quickness and well, some reliability. At the time, I thought I should maybe take the 30 minute drive and mail it from Washington state but decided it wasn't anything to be worried about. So I sent it from the local 7-11 (which has a CanadaPost outlet). I sent it with insurance, and clearly marked and was assured it would be there in 3-5 days.

And then began to wait. And wait. And wait some more. Checking the tracking site every morning, and no further information. I'm a control freak with stuff like this. I don't feel much trust at the best of times, and once something is out of my hands, I get nervous. Kept telling myself it was nothing to be worried about. With the busy Christmas, I told myself, it was just delayed.

Two days ago, I finally had to admit it's been lost. I called CanadaPost yesterday. I got a very helpful person but there wasn't much she could do. It seems there is no further information on the package after it being scanned into the machine at 7-11. She tried to assure me it wasn't lost, but she didn't sound too sure and well, it's now 2 weeks late. It's not looking pretty. She assured me they would look into it and get back to me immediately. Haven't heard yet.

So I decided, screw it, it's only money and went and bought a new mp3 player. They're cheap right now with Christmas and it turns out the manager at the local London Drugs, upon hearing it was going to Iraq, gave me a 20% discount. I spent today redoing all the disks, reprinting the photos, and rewriting my letter. I even baked some cookies with the intention of sealing them well, but they didn't turn out.

Todd's upset with me for going out and spending more money. He said it was a waste and he felt badly I had to do it, and he also figures that the first package is delayed and he'll get it any day now. Whatever....I wanted to get him something very badly and it really got to me that the first package was missing.

Of course, if I was wearing my tin foil cap, my mind would wander to the clerk who took the package but not without giving me a lecture about how much he disapproved of the US Government policies. But I'm not, I'm sure it just got mislaid somewhere. And the fact that it said "cd player" on the Customs documents surely didn't red flag anyone with sticky fingers. That couldn't happen. Oh no....

Now my decision is do I FedEx the second package? Expensive but possibly more trustworthy, and also only a 15 minute drive from here. Or do I wait until Tuesday, when the post office is open again in the US and take a drive across the border? I can't go tomorrow...Christmas Eve is already getting far too busy as it is.

Ah, this just annoys me so much. More than it should really.
December 22, 2004
Crystal Balls
There's a pun in there somewhere.

I don't even have the words here to start this blog and I even am debating whether to say anything. I'm so tired and emotionally drained tonight and have tried all day to put my thoughts together in an eloquent manner. It's not happening. So the next few paragraphs are going to be akin to verbal diarrea, for lack of a better phrase.

Yesterday's attack in Mosul pierced my soul. I woke up to the news yesterday of the suicide bomber, and the news of the many wounded and dead and felt a chill in my spine. I dreamt it two months ago. Image for image. I have done this a few times in my life, and it always makes me feel odd. But this time, I had told Todd of the dream when I had it as it had bothered me so. I had wrote it down in my journal. My dream was a little different in that it was an "invisible" enemy that had come in the barracks and blew up in the tent. The rest is pretty much what I'm reading happened.

I know what the perception is. It sounds looney. It conjures up visions of a little crooked woman sitting behind a crystal ball, beckoning the gullible for money. But it's just one of those things sometimes. Unexplainable. Part of 98% of the unused grey matter.

Watching the news unfold yesterday, I felt sick. Sick for those that were there and had to experience it first hand. Those that were left behind, the friends, the family, the children. And to have to wait to hear for good or bad, at this time of year is just so terribly sad. Many of those involved were from Fort Lewis, apparently. That's the base closest to here - down by Seattle, and I believe also the base they filmed An Officer and A Gentleman. As corny as it sounds, that is still one of my most favorite movies of all times.

Todd called last night. We talked for a long while and it was probably the first time I have ever heard him break that bravado and actually seemed shaken. He remembered that I'd told him of my dream, and I think that made him a little freaked out. (Yeah, you and me both dude!)

His training is going well and he should be in the sandbox towards beginning of February. He got the unit he was hoping for and is finding some real comraderie within his group. Friends, he says that will not only have his back, but be there for him for the rest of his life. The fabled Band Of Brothers.

But suddenly it all seemed so real last night. He's really going there. It hit me, but it hit him harder. I so wished I could hug him. To tell him it will be ok. But will it? That little voice inside my head is not so sure. Even just typing that makes me cringe.

I have a lot to learn about this role that I'm taking. It's not for the faint hearted and I know that I don't even scratch the surface to those that have their husbands and wives serving. Our relationship is still too new to ever compare it to those that have made a lifetime commitment. What transpires over the next few months will change both of us, either for good or bad. We will either come out stronger for it, or it will become obvious it was not meant to be. I don't have that answer. Already, in the short 5 months since we met, we have met crises and roadblocks that would have fizzled many other relationships, but that hasn't happened. So we go on. He takes his leave to the other side of the world, and I wait.

For what I am to learn here, it is not clear, but it is the path that I must follow for now.

UPDATE: I found a really moving account on another blog tonight about someone who was actually at Mosul during the attack.
Found a great travel map site here.

My world travels:

My US Travel:

My European Travel:

And I'm not proud of it, but my Canadian travel. I really should see more of my own country.

Don't get sick in BC!
Came home tonight utterly exhausted from a full day's work when I'm not really there yet. But the good news is I'm now done until January 4. Loads of time to get my feet back on the ground!

Flipped on the news and heard a terrible story about a 19-year old girl who died after being turned away from the hospital. She was taken by her family at 6am, only to be told that she had the flu and to go home. By 7pm, she was returned to the hospital but it was too late. She died of meningitis, which could have easily been treated had she been taken seriously on the first visit.

I thought what I saw was bad! How many people have to die or become invalid because of the sorry state of our medical care? What is the option? There's no choice when you become ill than to go to your local hospital. But if you can't trust that you will receive care, where does that leave you?

I feel sick at heart about this poor family, who must now go through Christmas after just losing their child. And to know it could have been prevented. The television news showed their tree, with her presents to her family all ready to be unwrapped.

At the end of the day, the government officials, the doctors, the nurses - they go home. But where are we left? Who do we have to complain to? And what if we do? Do we get a black mark against our name?

It's all just so scary.
December 21, 2004
How long is enough?
A little more local of a story now. In February 2002, police arrested Willie Pickton and charged him with the murder of 15 women. It's big news as this dude was completely despicable in his method. He picked up poor, downtrodden women - many prostitutes, and took them back to his farm in Coquitlam, where he killed them and apparently fed them to his pigs.

Since the arrest, the police and forensics people have gone through every inch of the farm, searching for strands of DNA to try and at least sort out how many women lost their lives in this way. Of course, as is common in Canadian justice, there is a wide-sweeping media ban. So most of what is known about this case is rumour and innuendo. I have heard stories of there being up to 100 women dead, and accounts of bacon and ham being sold off the farm containing the DNA of these people.

Now it looks like the trial will be delayed until 2006. It just astounds me! I cannot even begin to imagine what it must be like for the families of the victims, knowing that they must live in some sort of pergatory. Being fed tidbits of information while the lion's share is kept underwraps until the trial.

Meanwhile, Pickton lives in the jail. Charged but not tried. There's part of me that wonders what his defence lawyers might try to do regarding his lack of a speedy trial. By the time this goes through, the man will have lived in custody for 4 YEARS without a trial. If there is even a molecule of doubt in this case, and while I suspect that in itself is what they're trying to avoid, he will have an incredible case against those that have jailed him.

Every day, witness memories fade. Time erodes the evidence. Well, maybe not DNA, but all the other stuff. And with the public being shielded from most of the evidence, it gives us a sense of "out of sight, out of mind". It just really concerns me that the whole thing is being dealt with in a poor way. He's already charged with 15 murders. Would delaying the trial to be able to charge him with another 30 change the final result? The creep will be in jail the rest of his life anyhow!
You're not going to make us actually GO there?
I really hope I'm reading this wrong. Canada is going to be helping oversee the Iraqi election, but will only be sending a 'very small group' to the country citing security concerns.

So we finally start getting our feet wet in the Iraq situation, but we're still on the fence. Yeah, yeah...sure, love to help, but as long as we don't have to leave our warm little offices. My gawd, we might break a nail!

Updating the story
A little bit of an update on my health. I had an appointment with the nephrologist today. It went very, very well. The guy looks a bit like Ryan Stiles but I think he'll be great. A big change from any experience I've ever had with a specialist before in that he actually listened to me and acted concerned. Ah, he's probably just new.

I have been booked for a couple of procedures over the next few weeks, including a CT Scan. He has no easy answers yet, but seems to feel fairly confident we will find the issue. He also told me I may have to have a small operation similar to an angioplasty but for the tube between the kidney and the bladder. Of course, it's still too early for any major decisions.

I also had an email from my boss today basically telling me to take today off and to stop worrying about it that much. So I did. And it's been great. I feel pretty damned fine tonight. No major pain and relaxing today has given me a lot of energy. It's been a while since I could say that!

I spent the day attempting to finish my Christmas shopping. I'm now down to just 1 left and it's my brother who's a 3XL type o'guy so it looks like Thursday, I'll go down to the Big and Tall shop and if that fails, there's a liquor store close by. I think I can be forgiven if my presents this year are not the entirely most thoughtful I've ever done.

Canada eh?
When I started this blog, one of my reasons was to give myself somewhere to vent about current events, local, national and international. Within my group of friends, I often have a very different view from the rest. I get very annoyed with many of the policies of my government, and I find I'm surrounded by many who are very apathetic. So far I haven't spent a lot of time doing that because of the other issues that seemed to be encroaching my time.

Take my current foray into the socialized medical system. I was apalled at the level of care at the hospital and the fact that there was no viable alternative. When I returned to work yesterday, I was met with open hostility by my coworkers, who somehow thought I was personally attacking their views by saying our system does not work as it currently stands. One guy said "Hey at least you're getting to use your tax dollars". Yeah, dude, I was just trying to get what was owed to me. I used to be proud of so much our country stood for. Our health care system as it was originally built saved countless lives and made sure no family would ever go bankrupt because of illness or accident. Healthcare became a right, not something for the more fortunate. Today, sadly, it is an embarassment. A reactive system destroyed by cutbacks and mismanagement.

Over the last generation or so, things have slowly changed. So many things have made Canada become less somehow on the international stage. Within our borders, our government seems to make such odd and really out there decisions that I'm left scratching my head. But I live in BC, the land of treehuggers and potsmokers. Of which, I am neither. I understood the more down-home values of those in Alberta any day than many BC'ers, sad to say. Since I met Todd, I have become more involved in understanding the Iraq situation, the type of training he does with the U.S. Navy and what this deployment is going to mean to us, I can't help but feel a side of me awakened and wishing that there were more Canadians who felt so strongly about standing up for what they believed in. I am very proud of Todd, and what he is doing. But I feel so often I can't say that out loud.

Don't misunderstand me. I love my country. So much it's within my very soul. I love hockey, lacrosse, Train 48, Trailer Park Boys and Canadiana enmasse. My bookshelves are crowded with Canadian authors, celebrating the culture we so tightly prize. I've downloaded the Molson anthem and put it on my favorite CD. My cousin's house has the obligatory moose antlers hung proudly in his hallway. And of course, every July 1, I have a big Canada Day party, cover my house in Red and White and have even been known to tie a flag around my neck like a cape. But somewhere along the line, it's like we lost the plot.

Last night, I stumbled on a blog about the Red Ensign Brigade. It's a group of Canadians that seem to feel the way I do. I'm still at the 'There's others?' stage, but it's been a great read. In part it reads:

"We've taken the Red Ensign flag as our symbol because we understand that while Canada has improved in many ways since the adoption of the new Maple Leaf, it has also disregarded some of what made it great in generations past. I'm not saying our country under the Ensign was perfect, or even close to it. The residential schools, the Japanese-Canadian internment camps, the schism over conscription - all occurred under our beloved Red Ensign as well. But that flag hearkens back to a time when Canada did more than it talked, both at home and abroad. Our 21st century Canada needs some of the old-time spirit in the national character as well. By all means, let's remember both the good and the bad of our history, the better to avoid its mistakes and build on its successes.

John McCrae wrote: "To you from failing hands we throw The torch, be yours to hold it high." This generation of Canadians stands on the shoulders of generations such as my grandparents'. We have been thrown the Canadian torch - are we holding it as high as we can?"

Another blog explains the Red Ensign Blogs a little more.

So in honour of this find, I think I'll post a few things on some of the Canadian stories hitting the news....Can you tell I'm off work today?

December 20, 2004
And now for something completely different
Since I have no real update from the weekend's events and am still a little under the weather, I thought I'd just shut up about it for now and try something different. Found this little list of stuff on another blog and figured why not.

Three names you go by:
Sue, Susan and Dude (comes from when I was a toddler and called myself Dudan...some things just stick!)

Three screen names you have:
cdnsue, suebrina and snapper (re: my photography obsession)

Three things you like about yourself:
My work ethic
Strong family values
I don't tend to dwell on the negative anymore than I have to.

Three things you hate/dislike about yourself:
My health stuff
Being clumsy
Shyness and introvertness when I'm in a crowd

Three parts of your heritage:
English, Scotch and Irish. All my grandparents emigrated in the '20s

Three things that scare you:
Loss of a loved one
Depth (like being in water and not knowing where the bottom is)

Three of your everyday essentials:
Toast and cranberry juice for breakfast
Hearing from friends/family

Three things you are wearing right now:
Grandmother's wedding ring
Striped socks
Trinity knot necklace

Three of your favorite bands/artists (at the moment):
Amanda Marshall
Travis Tritt
Great Big Sea

Three of your favorite songs at present:
She Will Be Loved - Maroon 5
Sand in my Shoes - Dido
Daughters - John Mayer

Three things you want to try in the next 12 months:
Travelling somewhere new

Three things you want in a relationship (love is a given):
Truth and honesty

Two truths and a lie:
I've been married before.
I have had a miscarriage.
My ex boyfriend was arrested for sexual abuse of a minor.

Three physical things about the opposite sex that appeals to you:

Dark complexion, eyes
Broad shoulders

Three things you just can't do:
Eat spicy foods

Three of your favorite hobbies:
Watching movies

Three things you want to do really badly right now:
Get my Christmas shopping done
Scrub my house from top to bottom
Feel better!

Three careers you're considering:
(can't think of any others, pretty set in what I do now)

Three places you want to go on vacation:
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Three kids' names:
Nimh (pronounced Neve) Rose
Aidan Charles
Lauren Olivia

Three things you want to do before you die:
Be married or at least have a committed relationship with someone I can trust
Be a mom (but only if the 1st happened)
Travel to Ireland to see where my family is from
December 19, 2004
The next step
My Dad took me to the hospital around 7:30. Had I known what was in store through the next few hours, I would have told him to wait the half hour, eat some dinner and then come, but the poor guy left without eating a crumb.

I arrived to a full waiting room, and was seen fairly quickly by a triage nurse who seemed to be extremely grumpy. I handed her the note I had been given by my doctor earlier, as I was having trouble speaking and focussing. 'What do you want me to do with this?', she snarled. I explained my doctor had tried to get me admitted earlier but after being told how busy they were, had spoken with the attending and told him my situation. She said she knew nothing about it and looked at me like I was just some snotty kid coming in for a cold. She found my heartrate was 190bpm and I had high blood pressure. She asked me if I had taken cocaine recently. WTF? No, idiot, I'm in pain! I hurt! I'm really wrecked up! Haven't had time to procure any street drugs recently, thank you!

She said, well, there's no beds here. You can either wait it out or go home to die. I kid you not! She actually said that. I couldn't tell if she were joking or being serious. So I went back to the waiting room, with a bowl in case I became ill again. In my company was a man with an end-stage malignant brain tumour who was having seizures, a woman who was in very serious pain and kept screaming and passing out and another lady who was covered in blood for some unknown reason. So we waited. When I could talk, I spoke to the others in the room. We became sort of kindred spirits in our waiting. The 'bowel' lady had been there the night before until 4am, and was discharged with a diagnosis of acid reflux.

For the next 5 hours, I laid in the fetal position on a hard wooden bench. Every hour or so, the triage nurse would come out to check us like some macabre Monty Python "I'm not dead yet" sketch. Some people would come in, many just took one look and left. On the floor of the waiting room, there were old bandages and other bloodied first aid things that people had discarded. It was absolutely disgusting.

Around 10:30, the triage nurse took my vitals again and declared that she couldn't figure out why my pulse was racing so bad, and remarked that she hoped I wasn't 'trying anything' to get in quicker. Like I somehow enjoyed being there? It went through my mind a few times to leave, but the pain was not abatting and I knew I was only delaying the inevitable.

My friend, Leigh came - she is really and truly the sweetest person in the world, and sat with me in the waiting room. She went off to pick up my Mom around 11:30 so my Dad could take a break and go home and have some dinner.

At 12:30, the admitting clerk finally said my name. I swear it had never sounded sweeter. They put me in a room in the ER, with warm blankets and I thought everything was finally going to be ok. They hooked me up to the monitors as my vitals were still very unstable, and declared I was in shock from the pain. No fucking doubt, people! An ER doctor came by and quickly examined me, declared me to be a candidate for surgery (What surgery???) but no real details. I was getting to the point of passing out so not much was making sense. They had to take a urine sample by catheter because my kidneys were not really functioning. It was the darkest sample I had ever seen. Finally, the order for morphine was given. My Mom asked if I was going to be kept overnight, and was told that no, I would probably be home in a few hours. It was like everyone was giving different answers and nothing made sense. I sent my Mom and Leigh home to get some sleep. No point keeping everyone up on account of me!

Now, I'm not very dramatic when I get sick, and rather, the more pain I'm in, the quieter I get. I think that's probably not the best way, as it would seem those that scream and cry seem to get looked at quicker. But it's just not within me to make a noise. Every sound is an effort when I'm like that. The nurse came in to set up the IV. He screwed it up and all I knew was he somehow made blood spurt out of my hand. I had never seen that happened before, but am glad I don't get freaked out by blood or needles as that would probably have done it for me. He said it was because my veins were collapsing. He ended up getting the line in my forearm in the end instead. Then he put the morphine and the bag of saline on and life began to feel a bit better. The lady that took my blood also had trouble and pierced my vein, so that I have an incredible bruise on my inner arm now.

As I looked around the room, I noted that the ER itself was no better than the waiting room for cleanliness. There were pools of blood on the floor as well as other liquids. When I attempted the bathroom, I found blood on the toilet seat. I am usually pretty casual about germs but I just felt gross. It was like thousands of bugs were crawling everywhere and it made me feel even sicker.

I didn't sleep. I was too freaked out. I didn't know if I was going to be having surgery or what was happening next. I closed my eyes but would keep almost one eye open to see what was happening. It was a busy ER. Apparently, this is the time for kidney stones as I could hear other people screaming about them in other beds. The lady with the bowel problem got worse. Apparently her "acid reflux" was actually a blocked bowel. At 4am, her bowel burst and she went into cardiac arrest. I heard them rush her to surgery and I did see her the next day so I know she made it.

The morphine was my friend. While the pain was still there, I didn't care and did float a lot. I was nauseated but thankfully did not get sick any more. I was so thirsty. My mouth was incredibly dry and I asked for even ice chips, but was denied as they kept telling me I was having surgery. For what, people? For the love of [insert diety here], what kind of surgery am I having?

At 6am, I was told I was no longer having surgery because there were no open OR's. I had xrays and ultrasound done. Then this medical student came in to examine me. She couldn't pronounce my name - and really, how hard is Susan? As she examined me, she seemed almost embarassed at what she had to do. I said to her, do what you have to, I can't take much more and you have to help. She was concentrating on my abdomen and my gallbladder area but I kept telling her it was my back/kidney area. She didn't listen. I said to her everything hurt and radiated from my back. She just kept asking questions about my bowels and asking if I had ulcers or maybe gas. Dude, if I had gas, trust me, I would have dealt with it myself and not come to this hell on earth.

I asked to see the real doctor. She bristled and said I was one of 9 patients with GI issues and he was too busy.

At noon, the doctor with his med students in tow came into my room and declared I was a mystery. That they were scratching their heads. Well, maybe if I'd been examined properly, that would not have been the case! I tried to argue but he made me feel like an idiot. I told him I was booked to see the urologist regarding kidney stones on Tuesday and suddenly, it was like he had his excuse. It was no longer his department! He said my gallbladder looked fine, and that he would discharge me so I could see the urologist. I asked why I couldn't see the urologist now, but he shook his head. Dr. Cron is very busy right now, poor guy is just about run off his feet, so you'll have to see him Tuesday. With a wave of his hand, he summarily dismissed everything I was saying and ordered the morphine withdrawn. I heard him tell the nurse that I was to finish my bag of saline and then the IV removed so I could go home.

The nurse came by and said it would be an hour or more before she could get back to take out the shunt. She turned the IV down to a slow drip. I asked her for some pain meds as my head was beginning to pound. She said no, that the doctor had not ordered any. I asked her to take the shunt out so I could at least go home and get some Tylenol. Again, she refused and said I'd have to wait until the bag was finished.

It took nearly 2 hours, and again I began to vomit because of the headache. At least I think that's why. When she finally got back to me, I was no longer very polite. When she had taken the IV out, I nearly leapt off the bed and ran out of there. My parents found me sitting on the curb when they came to pick me up.

The stench of the hospital, the trauma of the last 30 hours, and the fact that I was still not well and no medical person seemed to give a shit, had completely finished me. I came home, had some dinner and to be honest, I don't feel too bad. The kidney pain is very minor now, and they are definitely functioning. Not well, mind you, but they are anyway. I slept last night for 15 hours, dreamt a very movie quality dream about being in Hawaii and Todd having to deliver Skizzy in a Blackhawk helicopter. Yeah, drugs are good.

So now I wait until Tuesday. Hopefully things won't go so insane 'til then and I just have to do what I always advise my friends to do, and be strong when I talk to that specialist Tuesday. Not to hide anything and to be blunt that there is something wrong and it cannot go on.

Meanwhile, I missed Todd's call last Wednesday and I just wish so badly I could talk to him. I don't know if I want to tell him all this because when I told him about the stones, he seemed rather freaked out by me being sick and I don't want him to worry. He can't do anything, anyway. I just wish upon wish that I could hear his voice right now.
And so it goes...
I've decided for my own peace of mind, I need to vent about my latest excursion into medical hell. My brain is screaming NO!, NO! because usually it would be preferable to block it out and move on. I'll try to be somewhat discrete but the fact remains what's causing me difficulty is to do with some of our more delicate functions, so beware.

Let me first say something rather traitorous. I thought many times over the last day or so that I wished I was in the US as I probably would have been treated properly. Our medical system is a farce. It has been ruined by budget-conscious government officials, who obviously have never had to deal with anyone close to them being truly ill. Then again, even if they did, they'd probably get different care because of their position.

On Monday, I had that stone incident. Tuesday, I felt like I'd been beaten, but Wednesday and Thursday I was more or less fine, but tired. Very tired. And working a lot as we attempted to close the office down for 2 weeks.

On Thursday night, I left work late and hit a traffic jam that made my commute 2 1/2 hours rather than the usual 1. By the time, I got home at 8:30, I was the walking dead. I fell asleep shortly after. At 2am, I woke up in dire pain. Cramps, a whole world of hurt. I had to sprint to the bathroom, where I spent the next hour and 15 minutes alternating between vomitting and 'having bowel issues'. It hurt immensely. To top it off, I was aware that there was some serious pain in my lower back/kidneys but I was a little busy with the other stuff.

I woke up at 6:30, feeling very rough, shaky and done over. I began to throw up, etc., again, but I sucked it up, took a gravol and immodium and went to work. I don't have a sympathetic work group and I knew this close to Christmas, and with my boss away, it would be viewed dimly. I started popping the Tylenol #3 by about 9:30. My kidneys were on fire, and I felt so nauseated. Somehow I made it to a meeting at 1:00 but I knew I was in serious trouble by this point. I was starting to bargain with myself that maybe I should go back to the doctor and for me to admit this, was a sign in itself. At the 1:00 meeting, I could barely focus on what everyone was saying. I had to tell myself not to throw up on the table and was mostly quiet during the hour. As the meeting concluded, I said quietly to one of the other girls that I thought I was passing another kidney stone and apologized for not being myself. She seemed shocked I was still on my feet.

I got back to my desk, called the doctor and the next available appointment was 4:10. It was now 2:30 and that next hour seemed like an eternity. I started to cry. I am not a cryer, nor very dramatic so I knew if I couldn't control my emotions I was in trouble. My coworkers asked if I could come help them with the year-end boxing of the files and I said no. They probably think I'm a cow, but in all honesty, I couldn't stand up! I called my Mom, and she told me to get to her house immediately. Do not pass go. Leave. And she did so in that 'Mom' voice that you do not dare argue with. I turned off my computer and got up to leave, only to be doubled over by such intense pain I nearly puked right there in my cublicle.

I went over to Junior, our lead when my boss is away, and I was crying pretty hard. He tried to forbid me from driving but I wouldn't listen. I know he was being kind, but I couldn't think straight anymore and just had to get home if it was the last thing I did.

I drove the 45 min. to my parent's. There were times that I had to hang my head out the window and even talk out loud to myself to keep from vomitting or even passing out. Yes, I really should not have been behind the wheel, and there is no excuse for what I did. Thankfully, I did arrive at my parent's place safely. All I could say at this point was "It hurts. It hurts so much."

My dad drove me to the doctor. I somehow got upstairs to her office where the nurse triaged me in a room immediately. My doctor came in, started her examination and looked very worried. She told me she thought that I was possibly experiencing a ruptured gallbladder or something as serious and that I needed to be hospitalized immediately. She explained that any emergency surgery would be quick and minimal recovery time. She left the room to make arrangements at the hospital across the street. At this point, I started to shake a lot. Probably shock, in retrospect. And I was still vomitting. Of course, I hadn't eaten now in 24 hours so what was coming up was no longer food.

When my doctor returned, she was very upset. The hospital doctor had refused my admittance as they were overwhelmed. If I was to go to the hospital, I would be looking at a 6-8 hour waiting period before even being seen. She decided to give me enough Demerol and Gravol to knock me out, have my Dad drive me home and hopefully, by the time it had worn off, the hospital would be quieter and I would be seen. So she gave me 150mg of Demerol by injection and sent me for some blood tests so that when I eventually did go to the hospital, I would be taken care of quicker. I am very grateful for my doctor, and I know that honestly if she knew the aftermath of this, she would be sorely shocked and very upset with my treatment and lack thereof.

With the Demerol in me, I had a brief moment of euphoria while getting home, and decided to go straight to bed and sleep it off. I wasn't really hurting too much (although it was still there) and I just fell into my bed. It was now 5:30. I didn't sleep, though. By 6:40, it was obvious the Demerol didn't help. The pain was back with a vengance and now I was vomitting blood. Dark blood too, so I know that it was serious.

I called my parents and said I needed to go to the hospital now. It was beyond anything I had ever experienced and I knew I needed serious help. I have to say though, that I pride myself as a pretty tough cookie and I don't usually admit to this so the fact alone that I was at that point was pretty scary.

Part Two on it's way...just gotta go fill the water bottle here.
December 18, 2004
Oh what a night!
And not in a good way.

I am just home after spending the last 30 hours in hospital on a morphine drip. They have now ruled out gallbladder but are still going with the kidney stone thing. It's a long story and I have very little left in me, except to say I have very little faith in our medical system and am sorely disappointed that I was left in the hands of medical students who couldn't even pronounce my name and led us down a completely incorrect path. I will write up the whole story, if for nothing more than getting it out of my system tomorrow hopefully.

In any case, I have not much fight in me. 2 shots of Demerol, then the morphine drip had put me in a very drowsy (yet, still painful) state.

I go back to the hospital Tuesday for more tests.

This MUST end soon. I hate feeling like this.
December 15, 2004
Molly The Monster

My 4-legged kid. Sometimes even she's too much work. I thought I understood border collies but they are a lot of energy in a very small package. I 'rescued' Molly in 1999 from a neighbour of my brother's who had left her tied to a tree as a puppy because she had become destructive. All she really needed was someone to pay attention to her. So she became my pseudo-kid.

She lives a very pampered life. Every work day, she goes to daycare which is at a local vets. For $10 she gets to play with the other dogs and get exercised so I can relax and not worry about it when I get home.

Last year's Xmas Present
The Beast, on last Christmas Day. Not spoiled at all!

However, she doesn't really like the couch. It's since become Hayley's bed when she stays overnight here. It's funny...Molly is not really fond of kids. But she lives and breathes for Hayley when she's here. Hopefully it'll be the same with #2.
December 14, 2004
Long day!
Well, I went back to work today but it was a struggle. Without the TMI, suffice to say, the stone has passed. Let's just hope it doesn't have friends. I thought I knew pain before, but I had no freakin' idea. These last 24 hours have been ROUGH! No meds really cut it and I know I probably should have gone to the hospital, but I really can't stand hospitals and the mere thought of it was stressing me out more. At least one thing about living alone is that no one sees the pain so I can pretend all is fine. Guess it's a double edged sword though.

Today I went to work but pretty much felt like a Clydesdale kicked me repeatedly in the back and gut. I walked like I was about 140 years old but I was there. I worked and tried to get my mind off things by keeping busy. A couple people were sweet and asked about me and seemed like they geniunely cared. Bless them.

I'm feeling fairly stressed about my Xmas shopping again, but my parents have been so sweet and did some running around for me today. I still have a mall trip coming but certainly wasn't able to go last night, nor tonight. There's still time, I guess...I just hate leaving things last minute.

So tonight I stopped at Blockbusters and bought the extended version of Lord Of The Rings: Return of the King. If a little bit of Aragorn-watching can't lift my mood, I don't know what can.
December 13, 2004
Shannon and Skizzy. She hates me taking pregnancy shots but I can't help it. She looks great to me and I'm just looking so forward to the new Little One.
Hayley and her parents
More of the backyard. It was very beautiful.
A private backyard where the owners have set up a mini-world with trains going through it. They accept donations for Spina Bifida and allow people to come through. Considering all the work that must have gone into it (20 years!) I would be too nervous to let the public in if it were me.
Checking out the Christmas Lights with her Bumpa.

Calling in sick
I hate doing it. It's something that I give myself a lot of crap for and that I have little patience for usually. But given the fact that I've been sick to my stomach since 3am and hurting a pretty great deal, I threw in the towel and called in. Of course, I'm sure they're all thinking I'm scamming....BossDude left Friday and with it being such a busy time of year, but whatever. Can't do anything about it. I stayed in bed until 11 - unheard of for me - and now at 12:30 pm just barely functioning after loads of Tylenol #3 and Gravol. It's now come clear this is another kidney issue again. I wasn't sure earlier, just knew that I was nauseated and hurting, but now the meds are in it's localized. So I'm down for the count tonight, I've got to be at least somewhat improved so I can go shopping on one of the slow night's of the year. Anyway, enough whining...moving on....

I'm missing Todd today again. I tell myself I'm in control, but truth be known, that boy has my heart more than I want him to. Hopefully he doesn't realize it, though. Gotta keep a little of that mystery and aloofness out there. I got an email from his brother the other day, saying that he knew of what was going on and pleading with me to give his brother a fair shake as apparently he's been through a lot lately (who hasn't?). He also told me that he would keep in touch with me in the unlikely chance that Todd is hurt while playing in the sandbox. I'm calmer about that though's sort of a fate thing. Can't do anything about it but now having a better idea of what his duties are while there makes me feel better. He's not going to be in a very tumultuous environment, so hopefully he'll just have to deal with boredom more than gunfire. One can hope! He moved yesterday to his new training centre so I suspect I'll hear from him once he's settled. I still can't shake the feeling that we have some sort of long-term connection. I know that for so many reasons, it shouldn't be true and if I were seeing me from the outside, I'd be giving me the lectures most of my friends are too. I guess time will tell. I try to be such a pragmatic person, dealing with facts and analysing situations, but honestly, I'm such a big fluffy marshmallow inside.

Last night, we went to my brother's for dinner and to see the Christmas Lights Train at their local park. Would have been fun, but for some odd reason, it is only open until 5pm. Thought that was so bizarre...what's the point of Christmas Lights during daylight? Sure, it's a rough part of town but with all the lights and people around, I'm sure it wouldn't be so bad. At least the drug dealers could see their money and little baggies easier!

So instead, we went just driving around the different areas and looked at houses with their Christmas displays. We saw Santa being pulled by two cows and a camel on one front lawn. Shannon pointed out something interesting with the 'Do They Know It's Christmas?' song...that they probably don't because Africa is predominantly Muslim. I think my odd thinking is wearing off on the girl. Ha!

Time for a nap, I think.
December 12, 2004
And then it hit me...Christmas spirit has arrived in a big upward smack up the side of the head. Not exactly sure what triggered it, but it's here. It might be the fumes from the hairdye I currently have in my hair though.

I started wrapping presents this morning and I phoned my family to invite them for dinner to help decorate my tree. I hate doing that alone. But that's not going to happen today anyway. Apparently we're off to my brother's to take the little one on the Christmas Train to see the lights.

12 days to go and finally, the spirit has arrived. Maybe Christmas will be ok after all...

December 11, 2004
The days you remember always
There are a few days in your life where you remember every second like you are still living it. Snapshots of time that seem to live on in some sort of infinite loop in your memory bank. Some are personal, like the time my Mom called from the back of an ambulance to tell me they'd been hit head-on and my Dad didn't look good or how I was with when my cousin when she died. Some are more localized, like the Tall Ships Festival in 2002 here when we had 400,000 people come to check out the beautiful ships and entertainment in my village. 4 days of amazing sights, but imagine 400,000 people in your backyard and well, it ain't all so sweet.

Then there are the moments of time that change history. Change your entire perspective and everyone around you. Those moments that generations of people talk about. I grew up hearing my grandparents tell me of seeing the Titanic in dock being built. They came to Canada on the ship just before the Titanic called the Teutonic. Thankfully, it's experience with icebergs was a little bit more fortunate. My parents would tell me stories of growing up in the Depression, of the War where my mom's brother fought, and later, of the day Kennedy was shot. How the world felt like it stood still that day, and the schools were all closed even here in his honour. My Mom was a news junkie too, but in those days, it was mostly print news and she has kept the newspapers from every major event since the 60's. Those are some of my most prized possessions.

In my 3 1/2 decades, my generation has experienced a few momentous occasions of it's own. One of my oldest memories is of hearing that Elvis died. I remember this well because I was in the backseat of my SIL's yellow VW Bug. Deb was driving and my other SIL (although she was just Girlfriend then) was in the passenger seat. The news came over the AM radio and my SIL freaked and swerved the car off the road narrowly missing a pole. Yeah, won't be forgetting that moment.

Others that stick in my memory like little frayed bookmarks include Lennon's death (although at 10, I thought it was the guy from the Odd Couple - Jack Lemmon), Mt. St. Helen's eruption (we heard the sonic boom here), and of course, Diana's death. That last one was a little more personal as I was in England about a week after her funeral and the flowers were still piled 3 feet high at the cathedral and at Buckingham Palace. The smell of flowers in the air as you walked close was overwhelming! We also drove through the tunnel in Paris and saw the skid marks still fresh where she and Dodi died. You could have heard a pin drop on that tour bus and I'm sure all 47 on the bus that day would remember it well.

This brings me to my point for today. September 11. A day that will always instill great sadness and coldness in me. Many have moved on and most people don't really even want to talk about it anymore, but it made deep marks in my conscience. Todd asked me the other day about how I remembered it. He didn't realize that other countries grieved along with the Americans, or that Canada was effected the way it was. I don't know if his feelings were indicative of most Americans or if my memories are not of a typical Canadian, for that matter. But that day plays in my head often. Oddly, I somehow seem to look at the clock when it displays 9:11 almost every day. Leigh does this too, and so does another friend of mine. We've tried to theorize that we probably look at the clock at other times but the other times don't register on our consciousness. Probably true, but it still seems to touch a nerve each time.

September 11, 2001. I woke up early as we were having a "company day", a sort-of play nice and bond outside of the regular duties kind of event. It was being held at a local movie theatre and we had to meet there at 8am. Usually my day doesn't even start until then. So I set my alarm for 6:30am. I woke up and as I do every day, I flipped on the TV and saw the WTC smoking. It was the oddest sensation, and my brain didn't want to even take it in. Then I saw the smoke rising up in Washington, DC from a distance. I thought, I don't can't see New York from Washington! In 1999, I had traveled to DC for a friend's wedding and we'd taken a side trip to New York. So these images on the screen weren't just familiar sites, I'd been there! I'd flown over the Pentagon and I'd stood in the lobby of the WTC (we didn't have time to go to the top). It just didn't make sense.

I stood transfixed to the screen, as so many of us did. I saw the second plane make it's perilous trek. I couldn't comprehend it at all. I remember feeling so confused and scared. Very scared. Just after 7, I called my Mom and the first words I could spit out were 'Turn on the news. The world has gone mad.' My brothers apparently also called her soon after. It's strange. No matter how old you are, you still need to hear your Mom's voice sometimes.

Driving to work, I felt physically ill. I turned on the news radio and heard the newscaster saying "It's collapsing right now. It's 7:27am here, 10:27 there, and the tower has collapsed. Nothing seemed real. Everything seemed just wrong. I didn't want to go to work. I didn't want to play nice with everyone else. I wanted to stay home, and stare at the TV screen. I thought about my friends in New York, and in DC and wondered how they were and if they were ok.

I arrived at the movie theatre, and met two coworkers and told them the news. They hadn't been listening to the news and had no idea. They both looked ill and one was a Middle Eastern fellow and I'll never forget his words..."Life will never be the same again." In the movie theatre, our president came to the microphone and said they had considered canceling the event, but instead decided it would be good for us to bond under difficult circumstances. Then we stood for a minute of silence. Many people were crying.

The event of the day was a photo scavenger hunt. I wasn't part of the team but instead stayed behind to help with the organization. Because I wasn't at my desk, I was unable to get in touch with my American friends and that weighed heavy on my mind. I called my Mom throughout the day and heard the updates as they came in. Things like '40,000 dead' and that there were more than a dozen planes missing. Of course, these later ended up to be false but at the time, there was a feeling of this being the Armageddon. When airspace was closed, planes began to be diverted to Vancouver and other Canadian cities. There were CF-18's in our airspace circling and our airport was becoming deluged with stranded Americans.

While we waited during the day, we began to hear stories from our colleagues. One staff member's husband was talking to a broker when the planes hit and they were cut off. Another staffer we later found out visited WTC on her vacation just the day before. Our HR Department started doing a head count of who was where in our company. Although we are a Canadian company, many of our execs and employees are American and it affected many of our group personally. It was great to see how much our company did for those of our group (and their families) that were stuck and no expense was spared to ensure they didn't have more trouble than needed.

In the afternoon, another friend and I decided to try to find a television. We had been getting updates from people who called in but we had to see for ourselves. So he and I went through the mall by the theatre and finally found a tv in a sport store. He and I sat there on the shoe bench, watching the tv with a group of about 30 people and tears just dripped like rivers. Everywhere you looked, people were crying and one thing that struck me was that everyone looked so pale.

On the way home, I drove past the airport as I do every day. But this time was different. There were so many planes on the tarmac I wondered how they could even land anymore. I tried to take a picture with my digital camera as I drove past but it didn't come out well. Later, I heard there was approximately 200 planes parked there and I wouldn't be surprised. I drove past the Salvation Army church and there were busloads of stranded travelers streaming in the doors. The radio announcers were pleading for people to help anyway they could, be it extra blankets and pillows, or to offer beds. Hotel rooms were fully booked and many people had to sleep on the floors of churches and school gymnasiums. I felt guilty that I couldn't help with extra room and I felt so bad for those people who were stuck.

The worst of all was hearing these people were coming off planes diverted here and had no idea at the time what had happened. They had only been informed that they were not landing in whatever city they had been expecting and that they were in Vancouver. So most were only going on very limited knowledge and were in a strange city with no idea when they were leaving.
I heard from my friends in the States. They had some terrible stories to tell. Ian, in NY could smell the fires burning from the WTC. J's brother in NY had fled the area close to WTC and found his friend walking down the road, dazed and splattered with blood from someone who had jumped. A friend was working on Capitol Hill and when it was targeted, they were told to get under their desks and stay there. Her daughter was at daycare on the floor below and she was forbidden to go to her. That decision still shocks me to this day, and I can't imagine how traumatic it must be to think you're about to die any moment and you are unable to get to your toddler when she's so close. Another friend actually saw the plane as it hit the Pentagon. He still goes for counseling for that as it brought his long-buried 'Nam dreams back to life.

The next morning, during my commute to work, I was late because the Armed Forces were on the highway by the airport spot checking the commuters. It scared me. I didn't want to have a world where I had to go through checkpoints just to go to work! That next day at work all we did was surf the 'net to find more stories about what was happening. We heard the stories of people trapped alive in the wreckage, of them calling on their cells and emailing. I still don't really know if those stories ended up being true or not but it fed that helpless feeling that all of us felt. I thought about my NY experiences. Of meeting these NY firemen when we were lost and them teasing us about being tourists...I found out later that particular station lost 3 men. I thought of all the firemen and policemen and thought about them being guys like my brothers. Good men, with families, just doing their job. Then I realized, with some horror, that one of my vendors I'd been talking to on September 10, was actually in the WTC. I only knew her first name and although I haven't seen her name as a victim, I do wonder if she made it out ok. I also thought about what it would have been like to be on those planes, and know that you were going to die and there was nothing you could do about it.

Another thing that haunts me from the newscasts are the sounds of the firemen's alarms as they lay motionless. That wee-ooo, wee-ooo sound. I knew instantly what it was and it made me cry inside. I phoned my fireman brother, whom I rarely spoke to, and told him how I felt.

On Friday of that week, the day was declared a National Day of Mourning. At work, we all left our desks and went outside where an American flag was raised in honour of our American coworkers and those that had lost their lives in the attack. They played the American national anthem and even though it was not our own, we felt a kinship with our southern neighbour.

Over the next few weeks, I did different things to process the events. Of course, I read every piece of news I got my hands on, I watched every show I could, I wrote a lot in my journal and I made a CD of a bunch of 9-1-1 tribute songs. I made them for my friends too. A friend from work got married a couple weeks later and it happened to be on the day we invaded Afghanistan. On that day, my friend's family was at the wedding from South Africa and they had no idea if they would be able to go back as the flights were still being delayed and cancelled left and right for security concerns.

My parents went on a cruise around this time too and they had a bomb scare on the boat in LA. There was a report of terrorists boarding a ship and it had to be checked out. My mom said they were all herded off the boat into a holding area of the docks in LA, while men with big guns stormed the ship. Thankfully, it turned out to be a false alarm.

As time went on, the rawness dissipated, but it has not been forgotten. I bought books telling stories of the survivors and those not so fortunate. I read lots of websites, some compelling, some just drivel but all showed different perspectives of what had happened. Yes, other countries experience terrorism on a much more frequent scale, but that doesn't make this any less tragic. The conspiracy theories kind of get to me too. Like the Pentagon friend SAW that plane and nothing is going to make me believe otherwise.

The world definitely did change that day. For not just the US, but for other countries too. It was big blow where people did not expect. And I don't believe for one minute that it couldn't happen again. The saddest part, though, is that it will happen in the least expected manner and at the least expected time. These theorists that try to predict really can't hold water. Anyone can create a scenario, and security can try to be tightened up, but when someone wants to do harm, it will happen and a way will be found.

It makes me very apprehensive about traveling too far these days, although I have relaxed a lot in the past year or so. I went to San Francisco in May 2002, when there were still security guards with big guns stationed at all the airports. We saw the National Guard mobilized at the Golden Gate bridge and I remember wanting to run, run as far away from that bridge as I could. I was deeply unnerved by the number of soldiers on the bridge, and only later found out there had been a direct threat that day. When we left San Francisco, we saw an abandoned bag on a bench at the airport. It had a tag with a name of a person from Kenya. We called the security guard and they were very swift in closing down the area and removing the bag. Very nervous times indeed.

A lot has been said about terrorists coming in from Canada and it makes me feel sad. There are terrible people who wish to do harm in every society, but they are not indicative of the general group. And besides, when we cross the border into the US, we go through American customs - not Canadian. So if there needs to be tightening up, maybe the US Customs should be looking in the mirror. I have noticed we are asked many more questions going through now than before, and I don't mind at all. Go ahead, ask away. And sure, I'll open my trunk for you if you ask. If that's what it takes, it's a small price to pay.

So when Todd asks if I 'remember', well, yes, I do and I do so every day. I also remember what happened in Bali for the Australians, and in Madrid on 3/11. This is a very scary world, and we need not get complacent or to let these tragedies fade into the distance of time. And yes, I did save all the newspapers too.
Sibling Rivalry at it's roots
Have to share a Hayley story from tonight. I was talking to Shannon on the phone and she was laying on her back on the bed. Hayley was quietly 'reading' her books beside Shannon.

Suddenly there's a bunch on noise on the other end of the phone, and Hayley's laughing in a sort of evil cackling (Who knew a 3 year old could cackle?). Shan says 'Hayley, WHAT are you doing?'

And I hear this little voice say 'Just punchin' Skizzy'.

Damn, the little boy isn't even born yet and his sister's already tormenting him. Shannon is going the have her hands full! [grin]
A week of mayhem
As Christmas creeps (no...sprints) closer, this last week has been all consuming. I had intended to continue my blog addiction but had to quit cold turkey as work stuff took over. We recently bought another company, and at the same time had an audit by the folks that look for fraudulent activites a la Enron and Worldcom. What it meant to me was the rewriting of major policies, which I posted a little about a little while ago. This week the new document was signed off by our CEO, but not so smoothly. THREE times it got rewritten and retooled for the webpage by yours truly. A 14-page document with tables and links is not fun to redo from scratch as a daily ritual. We don't have any fancy webpage tools so I'm html-ing it from Ground Zero on Notepad. I worked 14 hours on Tuesday, 11 hours on Wednesday and while Thursday and Friday were *only* 8 hours, they were the kind of days that you have to book yourself into a meeting just to go to the bathroom. The good part is I do get overtime pay, so Mama Needs a New Ipod. =)

The good news is the policy is complete, posted and in effect. And BossDude has left the country for the next 3 weeks. Now, I can breathe....and get the damned tree out and decorated.

Christmas is, well, getting under control. 19 presents required....14 now purchased. A supershopper sprint to the mall Monday night got me ahead of the curve for now. I had ideas for the rest but have to wait until Monday or Tuesday night as I refuse to attempt the malls during the day this time of year.

The kidney thing....not so bad right now, but then again, I'm taking Tylenol #3 every 4 hours and I swear the beans are better than a clock. By 3 1/2 hours I can start to feel the ache and by 4, I need the pills. During the night too. So be it...I seem to be managing now although yesterday I did have a brief moment where I felt a little down about it. Sucked it up though and moved on.

I hold my friend, Leigh in high esteem for her ability to hold back the drama and deal with life in an amazing manner. She faces life with a smile and a strength I've rarely seen. Whenever I feel the 'poor me's' knocking around in my head, I think of her and she gives me the power to go on.

I'm working on a bit of another downer blogpost...Todd asked me the other night what happened here on September 11 and if we even noticed it happened? I was a bit surprised at the question, really. But I tend to forget we live in different countries and our views and perceptions are different. He thinks of it as a solely American event, while I see it as a bit more global. So even though it has been written about to death and then some, I think it's time I put my experience of the day down to 'paper'.
December 05, 2004
Where is the time going?
Let alone the fact that it's bloody DECEMBER already, Christmas is flinging towards us like a train with no emergency brake. I am still pretty bah-humbug, but I have to admit, grudgingly, that the 'spirit' seems to be creeping in by osmosis.

I came home the other night from work - late again, but that's another story - to find my house dripping in Christmas Lights. Apparently I had been visited by the Xmas Light Faeries (AKA Mom and Dad). They knew I'd been feeling under the weather so were sweet enough to come over and festify (it's a word!) the place.

Then last night, I looked after the Hayleymachine while her parents went to decorate gingerbread houses at a friends. I tend not to do the gingerbread houses because I have a weee bit of a problem with perfectionism and end up just getting annoyed that the vision in my head doesn't match the globs of icing in front of me. But it works out well. Hayley is just at that perfect age now to enjoy the moment and if little kids can't bring the spirit out in this Grinch, I don't know can.

We watched Rudolph - the original Burl Ives classic. A first for her and to see it through her eyes was fantastic. The Abomnibubble Snowman was her favorite. And when I left she wouldn't let go of the DVD case so it would seem it's hers now.

Other than that, I stupidly decided that this whole kidney stone stuff was over the top. From what people were describing, a pain worse than childbirth - not that I would know - wasn't jibing with what I was feeling. Yeah, the pain was bad but childbirth? So I stopped taking the meds and painkillers yesterday morning. Suffice to say, I was put soundly back in my place at 4am this morning when the pain was so bad, I actually got sick to my stomach. Maybe that damned doctor does know a thing or two. And speaking of which, my appointment at the hospital with the urologist is December 21. Just in time for Christmas....which considering wait lists, is pretty damned quick. It made me happy but a little freaked at the same time.

My mom and I are on our way to the States today for Xmas Shopping. Hopefully the border lineups won't be too bad. Mom's been kinda down lately as her health isn't the greatest - she has emphysema and severe osteoporosis so she has a lot of pain. On Friday night, she gave me a ring that was my grandmother's. It is just beautiful. 3 opals set in yellow gold. I immediately put it on and will never take it off again. I am already wearing my grandmother's wedding ring so it completed the set.

Todd update. The boy is definitely trying to get my attention, but I'm feeling a bit jaded. He called Thursday, as I mentioned and then he called THREE times on Friday. Dude, I can't miss you if you keep calling every two hours. Of course, since then I haven't heard from him again... Reading up on blogs yesterday, there was the report of one of the milbloggers getting hit by an IED attack. And I want to not be some freaky chick, but hell. This whole stuff really worries me and I try very hard to keep up with the information, to read all I can and to understand, but at the end of the day, who's going to let me know if he gets hurt? I asked him to make sure that someone is aware that I need to know and he said he'd 'find someone' but hasn't come back about who. Of course, I don't get a lot of understanding here. My family just remembers how hurt I was when I didn't go to see him and don't let me forget it. I tell ya it's a bit of a braincheck when I got a lecture last night from my 22 year old niece. It wasn't that long ago I was picking her up off the floor - when did she get so wise and allknowing? Anyway, it's not like I'm completely oblivious to the situation but I'm just not sure where I'm going with it. Day by day I guess.

Well, thanks all for your good wishes on my comments. I really appreciate it! I had better get ready now to go do some serious shoppin'.

December 02, 2004
Another day, another malady...
So I haven't spent a whole lot of time on here talking about my health. One reason is I get tired of even thinking about it, and sometimes I just need find somewhere it doesn't infect.

I haven't been feeling good lately. Quite a bit o' pain in the kidneys, actually. But some days it's no big deal, and some days it hurts like freakin' hell. But it's been busy at work, and with everything else going on, I've been just pushing things aside. I figured it probably had something to do with the damned Crohn's and since the oh-so-helpful doctors have been somewhat lacking in the ingenious suggestions category, I figured whatever.

Then Monday I had another moment of a little tenderness, and not the good kind. Spent a few moments close to tears in the private bathroom at work. So I said, screw it, and called the doctor.

Tuesday I went to see her and well, it seems it is a little more serious than I gave it credit for. It would seem that apparently I have kidney stones. And they seem to be on the commute. I went and had a test done to confirm, along with a crapload of prescriptions to make life a little more enjoyable.

Yesterday was fine, felt great and then today came and more ouchy-ness. I took the codeine pills so I could stay at work, and called the doctor's office around 4 to see if the results came back. The nurse answered and when I said my name, she asked me to hold and immediately the doctor came on the line. This is probably only the second time in my life this happened - I mean doctors don't tend to talk on the phone - they want you to come in so they can bill you. Well, the test results came back to show the presence of uric acid stones (sp?) and she's now booking me into the hospital for further tests and a CT scan. Of course, knowing our medical system of late, it'll probably be next June before I get in. It's kinda freaked me out. Yeah, I hurt but I really figured it was UTI or something.

But I must admit it's kind of a little martyr badge when my coworkers have been off for colds and sore throats while I've been at work doing their jobs and mine, while boulders have been hurtling down my nooks and crannies. Heh. Ok, that's maybe a stretch, but still makes them feel a bit like shit for not sucking it up a little.

In other news....Todd called tonight from the base. He arrived for his combat training yesterday and I now have a number I can reach him at whenever I want. Bethany's getting teased at school unfortunately. Some little redneck kid has been telling her that her Daddy's going to be killed by a grenade. It's just so sad that there will always be bullies and nasty little kids. I had hoped that we'd evolved a bit. So he was pretty torn up about leaving her when she was so freaked out. At least she can call him too for the next little bit. Poor wee thing, though.

Definitely buoyed my spirits though, and I didn't even tell him about this stuff. What's the point? Nothing he can do about it, and no point worrying him needlessly.

It's funny...I tell myself that I don't need to hear from him and that if he never called again, it wouldn't matter. But then the days go by and it takes about 10-12 days to get me feeling all screwed up and having him creep into my thoughts like a virus. And then, just when it gets to that feverpitch, I hear from him. Am I letting myself get too deep again? Argh. Can't even be bothered to think too much about it.

Well, it's getting late and I'm sleepy so over and out....

Vancouver, British Columbia
A patriotic Canadian full of visions of a better Canada, random thoughts and a lot of hot air. Who am I? A struggling writer and photographer, who looks forward to a better Canada. I read. A lot. I learn. A lot. I push myself. A lot. The world is a small place, and getting smaller every day. I'm proud to have friends in every corner of the earth, and abide by the old adage that there are no strangers, only friends we haven't met yet.
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Turning thirty and a half
  • July 2004
  • November 2004
  • December 2004
  • January 2005
  • February 2005
  • March 2005
  • April 2005
  • May 2005
  • June 2005
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  • August 2005
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  • October 2005
  • November 2005
  • December 2005
  • January 2006

  • The WeatherPixie