February 28, 2005
Tulip Festival

Last Spring, we went to the Tulip Festival in La Conner, WA. Seeing my new blog design reminded me of some of the gorgeous flowers we saw last year and I thought I'd share. There's more here. Of course, there's a few of me too about 20 lbs. heavier.
Supporting friends

On Friday night, my niece, my nephew-in-law and I traipsed downtown to a extremely sketchy area to support our friends at their first gig.

I've known Nadia and Dan since they were in junior high. Nadia sang at my niece's wedding...she has a gorgeous voice. Deep and soulful. Full of promise. I hope with time she will really get somewhere with it.

Dan is a bit closer of a friend. He's my nephew-in-law's best bud, and we spend a lot of time together last summer when he was living close by. He'd lost his license (boys and speed, dangerous combination!) so I helped him out. Great guy...and part of me wishes the age difference was a bit less. In fact, he was practically living at my place when I left for Hawaii last year. Nothing has ever 'happened' but the spark is there. Just too damned young, though. And besides, the friendship with my niece and her husband makes me a bit reticent as I would not want anything to come between that.

This place was, um, character building. It's a dark, dank roadhouse-type joint that allows young and inexperienced talent try out their stuff. Sort of an open mike idea. Mostly, though, the clientelle they get are along the lines of Eminem-wannabes. When Nadia got up and started to sing a gospel tune, it was probably not the best choice. In fact, a heckler yelled 'STRIP!' as soon as she started. But she continued, and we did 'The Wave' for her. They went on to do John Lennon's Imagine and another beautiful song about missing someone. In fact, so beautiful I am going to have to find out the name of it. I felt so proud of Nadia though...in that rough environment, she continued to sing and the more people heckled her, the stronger her voice became. I teased her after that I'll keep the pics so she can remember where she started.

I am glad we went though. It was one of those moments that you realize that supporting friends is just so important.
February 27, 2005
Ever hear a song that just fits?
I heard a song this morning, that for some reason, I never noticed before. It's by one of my most my favourite artists, Amanda Marshall. Her voice is amazing to me...I could listen to her for hours, and I have. I have no idea when this was released or even if I've heard it before, but it hit a deep chord.

Wishful Thinking

I will wait for you
Like I promised I would do
Although it brings me pain
And you always knew
What to say to lead me to
Believe it's not in vain
I was safe and secure
When you were with me
But it only could last
'Til the day that she took you back again

So I get by
On wishful thinking
That when you come home
You'll want to stay
Give me your hand
Save me from sinking
Another day of wishful thinking

Sometimes it's lonely
And faith don't come easy
And dreams begin to fade
Then you reassure me
How good it's gonna be
When you come back someday
You said you'd be back
After you said goodbye
I have to believe that it wasn't a lie
And you'll be here again

I was safe and secure
When you were with me
But it only could last
'Til the day that she took you back again
Another day of wishful thinking
Give me your hand
Save me from sinking

Ugh, blame my melancholy on my Crohn's. I've not been able to keep food settling properly for 5 days now. Who knows, maybe it's the flu? But the end of the day - oh wait, there is no end of the day - I'm just feeling very weak and tired. I went to bed early last night only to be awake from 1am - 6am. So today has been a write-off.

Had a fun Friday night though...went to see some friends perform at a bar downtown. I'll blog about it later, after the Oscars.
February 26, 2005
(also known as Cloverdale)

Yesterday, while talking to Todd, he happened to mention his love of the show Smallville. I'm one of the few who has never watched the show (although that will be rectified soon, as my brother's been bugging me about getting with the programme).

Smallville is filmed partially in a local neighbourhood called Cloverdale. It's about 5 min. from my brother's house so yesterday, Shan, Jamie, the kids and I took a little drive down to take some pictures for Todd.

I thought I'd share them here though too, considering there might be other fans out there. The theatre is actually called the Clova, not the Talon and is currently showing 'The Aviator'.

And yes, news from his part of the world is good. Considering the story line on ER on Thursday night, I was more than a little relieved to hear from him. They've moved into their new homes, and he's got one roommate and a microwave. I had sent him a 'Support The Troops' package which included microwave popcorn, much to his appreciation. Of course, I also got royal hell for spending money on him right now. Whateva!
It's like my birthday!
I woke up this morning and opened my mail, and found Flirt's wonderful gift for me waiting. The amazing designer that she is redesigned my little spot in the Blogosphere. It felt like Christmas morning and I just absolutely LOVE it! It's perfect!

For those who do not know Flirt yet, go check her site out when you get the chance. She has a very unique site, and does graphic design as well through Blog Togs.

THANK YOU very much, Flirt!
February 24, 2005
Family wedding
We received the invitation today. Melissa's getting married to Mike on May 14. It's official.

My niece, Melissa is the oldest 'granddaughter'. Born in 1981, she inherited the red hair that one person from each generation gets. Thankfully, for her she was also lucky enough to inherit the curls too. Not that I'm biased, but she's a beaut. =)

Shannon and Melissa are as similar as chalk and cheese. While I love them both, it's hard to believe they are even in the same family. Melissa has had drive from early on and has made a great career for herself in a well-established hospitality venue. She was the youngest district manager in the Lower Mainland.

She met Mike a while back and while I haven't had the chance to meet him, I have talked to him on the phone and he seems like a great guy. The wedding will take place at a gorgeous golf course, with all the works. I'm so happy for her...she's worked hard for it all and she's only just begun to be successful.

So is it weird that now TWO of my nieces have beat me to the marriage alley?
Interviewed by Rebecca
Rebecca at Doxology offered to interview 5 of her regular blog readers, and I was happy to participate. These things give a great way to think a little about yourself as well as share things with others than you normally wouldn't think about. Here's Rebecca's questions for me:

1. We're both from the Lower Mainland. What place (park, building, etc) do you love to visit?

Locally, I'd have to say Garry Point Park. It's close to my house and has a very sweet little beach we often sit at in the summer. Also, often there's local singers that come and ply their trade. We have a memorial bench in the park for our lost loved ones, so it's a way to feel close to them. (Lower Mainland for those outside of the area is Greater Vancouver)

2. What would your dream job be?

Something creative, that allows me to work at my own hours and from home. I'd love to write a book on my family history (sort of Angela's Ashes-style), but don't have the confidence just yet. I love graphic design, but of course, know that it's a fierce world and lots of competition. Basically, any job that lets me 'think outside of the box' and doesn't offer a 2 hour commute is already a step up!

3. If you could be in a movie, what would it be?

Oooh, toughie! It'd probably be a bit of a romance, but with some depth to it. You know, tragedy, things going wrong, but for the greater good, things prevail. And I'd get the guy in the end! =)

4. What's your favorite book and why?

It's a tie. My favourite books are Bryce Courtenay's Four Fires, and Wilbur Smith's The Burning Shore.

Four Fires was an amazing book to me as it introduced characters I truly felt like I knew and could identify with. It tells the story of a poor Irish Catholic family trying to make a living in post-WWII Australia. The main characters reminded me very much of my cousins and their Dad my Uncle. It spoke of the POW Camps in Malaysia in WWII and the death marches that took place. The book moved me so much I ended up doing research into the camps and learned that it was not just a work of fiction, but had a lot of truth to it. To this day (I read the book first time two years ago), it haunts me and I often think of the characters as if they were real.

Burning Shore tells the story of a young and pregnant French woman, who travels across the continent of Africa in search of her husband. I read it long ago but the trials of the journey and the related drama came so real. When I went to South Africa, and saw the places Wilbur Smith spoke of in the books, it was a defining moment.

5. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

To be honest, there's not a lot. I'm pretty much at peace with who I am and in my offline life, I'm more or less happy. But if pressed, I would like to be more confident in my opinions. Most times I am, but I do find I censor myself at times when I am still working out my positions and don't feel confident enough to argue a point. I've found since I started blogging, some of my key positions have been strengthened and in some cases, changed completely just by reading up and becoming more educated. I would like to work on making more issue-driven posts...but that will come.

Oh and while we're on it, I'd like to be more outgoing and be able to meet people easier. I am pretty introverted and envy those who can just talk to new people easily. Online it's easy, but in the real world? Pah!

Well, those are my answers and now I leave it over to those reading - here's your chance to be interviewed by myself! First five people to respond get to play.
  1. Leave me a comment saying "interview me."
  2. I will respond by asking you five questions.
  3. You will update your blog/site with the answers to the questions.
  4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
  5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions. (Write your own questions or borrow some.)
Search Words
I have a subscription to SiteMeter that allows me to see what search words bring people to my blog. It's almost as fun as reading spam for the creativity.

This week's highlights are:

1. 'Mariane Pearl' naked pic - Um, dude, really? Well, I'm assuming dude here. Seriously, though, what brainiac thought that someone who lost their husband to a terrorist act called Playboy up in the next instance? And, why did that come up with MY blog?

2. 'manners of avoding to get pregnant' - You're not going to find the secret here, sweetie. Maybe even try a dictionary first?

3. 'mortaritaville' - Ok, fair enough. I did mention it once, but knowing that someone found my blog based on that sort of freaked me out and it's why I took the picture of Todd down. The person who did the search was in his home time zone and that was enough for me. For the record, I've tried to be ultra careful with stuff about him, including his name. 'nuff said.

4. 'oreos down syndrome' - huhwah???? Now what urban legend is this from? Do Oreos have some sort of chromosonal gene-splitting secret ingredient? Trust me, I am not the leading authority on this one.

It's really odd what people will search for and odder still what brings them to this little neck of the woods.
Running away...
The last couple days have made me realize I need to do one of two things, or even maybe both. Either get a job or run away for a few days. I would love to run away somewhere, anywhere right now but not exactly sure where it would be. Vegas has crossed my mind, but I can't find any friends that are available. 'Frisco is a plan...I have friends there but they have kids and part of my issue is that I'm at the end of my rope with family and babies. Maybe I'll just find a hole somewhere and hide for a bit.

Two incidents have pushed me to this edge...

One is Shan and the kids. I love them dearly, as any regular reader here knows. But Shan, on the less than complimentary side, is not very energetic. She is from the school of "If I ignore it long enough, someone else will take care of it". And we have, maybe too much. Alex, for example, is still not registered and does not have a birth certificate. Yup, it's well past the deadline but getting her to do it is like trying to make a cactus grow into a rose.

The night before last, Hayley's birthday, she phoned and asked if they could come for a visit. Little did I know that the 'visit' would be at 9pm and was basically a set up so that she could watch Law and Order. She and her sister arrived with two very cranky kids and promptly went off duty. Shan grabbed a Gameboy, a blanket and curled up on the couch. Jamie went to my fridge, made a few crude comments about my lack of 'name brand' pizza. Meanwhile, I set to looking after Hayley. She wanted to watch a movie, so I went to put it on and was told 'Go upstairs. We're watching TV'. Um, this is MY house, is it not?????? But we did. I figured I could get Hayley calmed down and relaxed, and hopefully she would fall asleep in my bed. This did not happen. We got upstairs, however, Lex was screaming. Not a little cry, mind you, but bellowing. For about 20 min. Finally, I came downstairs to find him shaking and crying while laying on the couch. His Mom engrossed in a computer game.

'What's his problem?' I asked.

'Oh, I don't know. But I've had enough of him today', was the reply.

So I picked him up and started walking with him. Within 5 minutes, the little guy was smiling and cooing contentedly in my arms. He started to fall asleep as I rocked him and you could feel his little body relax. Meanwhile, Hayley was getting wound up again. She had climbed to the top of my refrigerator and was going through the cupboards. I started reasoning with her, again knowing that reason and three-year-olds don't really mix. Somehow I ended up with this story about it being against the law to open cupboards after it's dark outside. Yeah, I know it wasn't perfect, but it was 10:30! I was tired, so was she.

The comment I get from the comatose peanut gallery?

'Gee, Auntie Sue, that's the best you can come up with. You don't have very good parenting skills.'

Pardon Me????? I'm not the one popping them out, and you can rest assured that if I did, I'd be a damned site more grateful than her about it.

Long story short, they left soon after. Conversations since have been, um, strained.

Which leads me to the #2 reason I want to run away. My Mom and My Aunt. They make the WWE's tag team look tame.

They've been taken to calling me about a dozen times a day. For no reason. Just a hi, how are you. The odd 'How's the job hunt going?' thrown in for aggravation. Thing is I haven't been feeling great yet but she won't hear it. If I say I'm not great, it leads to far too many questions and it's just easier to say fine, and get the lecture about lying.

Today my Crohn's has been particularly enjoyable, to put it lightly, so I've been reading a lot of 'Uncle John's Bathroom Reader'. The phone rang at 3:00 and it was my Aunt. I was indisposed. At 3:02, she called my cell. At 3:05, my Mom called. Again, I let it go to voicemail.

At 3:09, my Mom phones again. I answer finally.

'Where were you?', she demanded.

'In the bathroom, why?'

'Well, your Aunt has been trying to call you to invite you for dinner. And you did not answer. She was worried.'

Dammit, people, can I NOT have some private time? Groan.

'When's dinner?'

'Sunday night. She's ordering in Chinese'.

Queue thoughts of my Aunt ordering the food, yelling into the phone because she can't hear and they don't speak English. Then pacing the floor for the next 40 minutes while it comes. Once it arrives, she puts it into dishes and puts it in a low oven for another 30 minutes to 'warm it up'.

Then we have to eat crispy, over cooked MSG-ridden fast-food-style Chinese take-out. Followed by a night of pain as my delicate little digestive system doesn't really care for the choice.

'Um, sorry. I'm busy, Mom. It's Oscars. I'm going to watch it somewhere, don't know where yet'.

Her response? 'You can't tell her that! You'll hurt her feelings. Oh, it's like you are saying you got a better offer'.

What offer? I haven't technically had HER offer yet.

'Mom, I like to watch the Oscars with my friends. We do it every year. We just haven't decided where yet this year. Why is that so wrong?'

'It's not wrong, it's just disrespectful. Your Aunt wants you to come to dinner and you're bowing out because of a television show?'

So now, it's 4pm. If I don't call within a few minute, the calls are going to start again. And they wonder why I'm not destressed yet. It wasn't work that was stressing me out, I know that now!

Argh. I can't win. I need to book a flight to 'Anywhere but here-ville'!!!!!

update: I just called my Aunt. Forget Mr. Magoo, I have Aunt Magoo.

'I'm sorry but I won't be able to make it Sunday. I'm going to Leigh's to watch the Oscars'.
'You're watching who?'
'The Oscars'.
'Who's Oscar?'
'Not who, what. The award show'.
'Oh, I've not heard of that. Whatever. You do what you want.'

I GIVE UP!!!!!!
February 23, 2005
For those who cannot speak...
There has been much said about the Terri Schiavo case, and a good blog following the situation can be found at BlogsForTerri.

Much has been said about the case itself, but what comes to mind for me is what our family went through when my cousin passed away in 1997. She was 47, in basically good health and was mid-divorce when she got a bad flu. Lani was from a small town up north and had been in Vancouver for a course when things went haywire. She was hospitalized with pneumonia, which rapidly progressed. Within 9 days, she was gone. It was an absolutely horrendous 9 days, and as I'm sure anyone who has witnessed a loved one die, it was one of the hardest things I have ever been through. I am the only daughter in my family and Lani was her Mom's only child. Together, we were as close as the sisters we had never had. So watching my sister pass away tore me deeply and I miss her every day.

Lani had a stroke during her hospitalization. It was a massive stroke, which for all intents and purposes destroyed her brain. However, before she lapsed into a coma, she looked into our eyes with such purpose and fear, I will never forget. She knew then that she would not make it. I know that now, but as she was unable to speak, we could only guess what trauma she was trying to communicate to us. Mercifully, she passed away a few days later. Had she not, had her body somehow allowed her to live, we would be experiencing similar to what the Schiavo's now are.

Once her death was announced, her estranged husband came back into our lives. He had been an abusive man, and it had taken everything in her power to leave him some months before. 15 years of marriage to a man that made her life a living hell had left her deeply wounded. They had lived in a small town, where he carried on a promiscuous life and didn't care who knew it. When she left him, with the help of a woman's shelter, it took her absolutely everything to get back on her feet. When she got sick, she was taking courses to become a counselor, with the intention of helping other abused women to get the help they truly needed.

Of course, this did not sit well with The Frog (our pet name for her ex). He was a fairly public figure in their town and played his cards well. He contested her estate and said that they were intending to rekindle their relationship when she died. Not a smidgen of truth in it, but my cousin did not have a will, let alone any sort of power of attorney. All she had done thus far was to have taken his name off her pension and bank accounts, and drawn up separation papers. In a twist of fate, the person responsible for filing the pension papers forgot to follow through so while the papers had been signed, they had not been filed.

She was only 47. Why would she worry about wills and morbid things like that? Oddly, we'd had such a conversation during her last visit in Dec '96. She had told me that she was finally ready to do the paperwork and make her separation real. She urged me to make sure my paperwork was done too, as my ex and I were still attached legally at the time.

The Frog took every advantage of the situation. Once he found out his name was still technically on the pension, he sued us for her estate. Not that there was much, but it didn't matter. He smelled money and he went for it.

For the 18 months following her death, we were torn through the wringer by the legal system. Diaries were subpoenaed, every receipt had to be kept. I had to give a formal affidavit and went through a discovery trial as a witness to her intent. If losing her was not enough, we had to lose her again and again every single day while The Frog pushed on. My Aunt was absolutely emotionally destroyed by the experience. She had lost her husband only a year before and now had lost her only child. To this day, my Aunt has never recovered.

Finally, after many many months of prolonged agony, we gave in partially to The Frog. It was not what we wanted to do, but my Aunt was close to a complete meltdown. Her depression had gone from mere grief to requiring hospitalization. It was just easier in the end to pay him off and get out. And that's all it took. He got what he came for and walked away smiling, while we attempted to pick up our shattered lives.

I listen to this Florida story and I can't help but think 'There but for the grace of God, go I'. I can empathize with Terri's parents and family, as they watch her go through this, and have to deal with her husband, who seems to be bent on some political agenda. The man has moved on, he has children with a new woman and has been able to have a life. The fact he could even fall in love again is so highly offensive and disrespectful to his wife, and to her family. Can they move on? Can they conduct a normal life? I'll bet not. Their every day existence is consumed by the care for their daughter.

The one thing we learned from our heartbreak is that you are never too young to have a will, and a written plan for care if you are incapacitated. I tell all my friends to make one. It doesn't take long, and it's really not that hard. Accidents and illness befall us, and cannot be planned for. No one likes to think of our own mortality but death is a promise that is made to us the day we are born. We owe it to our loved ones to ensure that we do everything we can to ease the suffering they will go through.
February 22, 2005
Second Level Of Hell
Somehow I thought I'd be worse than that...

The Dante's Inferno Test has banished you to the Second Level of Hell!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Very Low
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)High
Level 2 (Lustful)Very High
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Low
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Moderate
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Very Low
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Very High
Level 7 (Violent)Moderate
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)High
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Low

Hmmmm...sounds nice, doesn't it? I think I visited there when I went to South Africa during the summer.

Take the Dante's Inferno Test
Honour Killing?
Or just an angry and psychotic Dad?

Not only did he drive a couple hundred miles with her bleeding to death beside him, he tried to say she did it to herself. Pretty talented that she could stab herself in her face after she was dead.

Poor girl...she was probably so excited to go see her boyfriend and thought her Dad was just being sweet driving her.
My hometown
This is where I live...well, or at least close to where I live.

I took this picture in August 2002, but it always brings me warm memories of beautiful summer nights.

I'm going to be quiet for a few days...I fell off the 'wagon' yesterday on the shopaholic front. I have been having a LOT of problems with my main computer system, and yesterday, I went into the computer store to ask for advice and walked out with this. She's a beauty and has already proved her weight in gold, by recording last night's 24 onto a DVD for me.

That, and I have to rearrange my old system to donate to Shan and Tom. Not to mention, I'm in the middle of a book I just can't put down....'The Mighty Heart' by Mariane Pearl. I love her writing - it makes me feel like she's a friend writing a letter to her reader. Her own love for her husband is so touching.

How did I ever find time to work?
February 21, 2005
Old stories
When my grandmother was in Ireland, training to be a nurse, she received this letter from her Mom. It's always been something that I've treasured. Reading it gives a glimpse into a family sadness in a much different time. This happened in 1918, when my Nan was 16. I have transcribed it below, along with all spelling and grammatical errors intact.

No 2. Lowfield
Balderton (Newark, Nottingham, UK)

My dear girl,

It is with much deepest regret I now sit down to rite these sad lines to you hoping it finds you & all quite well as it leaves us as well as can be expected. I am so poorly myself but I have been awful upset with loosing my dear little Charlie. he was All the World to me but Bless him his time had come. What made things worse Dr Hine had gone away on his holidays & we have

[upper corner] Will rite again to morrow XXXXXXX

Letter Page 2

had to have an Inquest over him if we had done murder it could not have been any worse for there was 2 policemen Coroner & all the others & then the Hospital doctor Mrs Sutton & Mrs Cobb witnesses it is costing us a terrible lot. I don't know what we are going to do yet we have buried him to day thursday but he never changed. he was the perfect little lilly. Well my dear, you ask me how he went off Dr. Hine told us a month ago nothing would cure him but I pullied him
Letter Page 3

through again & I had him in the Fields on Friday & I thought he did not seem very well on Sat. he sweated so but still he did not have any Fits. I quite thought it was the hot weather but I thought it would stop up with him & just as the clock struck 2 he had a fit & then he seemed to dose off in a sleep but he seemed to struggle for his breath & then I said to Rina [my grandmother's sister Irene] we had better call dad up & we hadn't hardly
Letter Page 4

before he died he went off like a little lamb. I am heart broken to think I have lost him. we have had him a nice little Coffin made for him and 4 boys to carry him. the neighbours all send him some nice Flowers & me & dad had a wreath made from us All. Well now my dear I must thank Auntie and Uncle [who my Nan was staying with in Ireland] for the Money they sent also you for thinking to same as we had not a penny to fly to & we have got to pay for the Fees of the Inquest so will you tell Auntie and uncle I will rite them to morrow. I am to upset to rite more so good night and God Bless you All. I am your loving heart broken Mam.

I used to have the funeral card that went with this, and it would seem the poor child, Charlie was just 4 years old. Family legend says he had epilepsy, or some form of seizure inducing illness. No one really knows for sure, and I would love to one day find out how to get my hands on the inquest papers, as I'm sure they are still held somewhere.

I always find these types of time capsules fascinating, and as I have time now, I'm starting to go through them and make some scans where I can.
February 20, 2005
Hayley's Birthday!

It was great night, a lot of fun was had. But tiring? Wow! I am so done right now!

More pictures here:
February 19, 2005
Little Man

I think my other picture gave the impression that Jonesy is a big cat, but he's not. He's actually pretty tiny as far as cats go...but Alex is still pretty wee. He'll be 7 weeks old on Tuesday.
Growing Like a Weed

Little Lex is already 12 lbs. and changing so much every day. I got my first smile yesterday, after I swore that he must hate me as he rarely even looks me in the eye.

We went to a friend's for dinner last night, and their new cat, Jonesy took a huge interest in him. I've never seen a more friendly cat, and he's only been living with them for 3 days!

Today, we're off to our bi-monthly American shopping fix. Target, Fred Meyer, Burlington outlet stores, here I come.
Surprise, Surprise!
Oh, look, Michael Jackson's lawyers, I mean....some anonymous source has leaked the transcripts to the trial here.

I used to think he was just mentally ill, not being able to distinguish right from wrong. Now, I'm thinking he's a manipulative psychopath. Being so concerned with what people think, he's drinking wine from Diet Coke cans? Everybody knows tin makes wine taste funny.
Which Desperate Housewife are you?
How ironic!

you're sweet and quirky, but sometimes a little too earnest to now everything
that's going on with the people around you. just be yourself and go after the
things you want, and the world is at your door.

Which desperate housewife are you? find out at tell-tale-heart!

February 17, 2005
Time Flies When You're Having Fun

Our little Miss Hayley-monster will be turning 3 on February 22. Where did that time go? So much has happened to us all in the last 3 years...a trip I never anticipated but could not imagine time without. I wrote back in November a bit of an abridged story of The Little One, but I thought it deserved a little expanding given this auspicious occasion.

Shannon has always been headstrong, and knew what she wanted. From the time she was a little girl, her life was about two things. Baseball and babies. Her parents had hoped the former would win out, but it was the second that would find her first. She had an amazing talent for pitching. Her skills were well-known in our area and she was scouted by universities across the US. Her cousin was actually picked up by the University of South Alabama, and it looked like Shannon was going to be following in his footsteps.

She had offers from 3 American universities when she graduated from high school in 2000. But every choice meant leaving her boyfriend and she just could not stand the idea. Tom had no interest in leaving Canada, and besides, would not have been able to work in the States so it wasn't an option. There were a lot of arguments, a lot of wringing of hands, but Shannon was adamant. She would not leave Tom, full scholarship or not.

They came home from a wedding in August 2000, deciding that it was time for them to move away to Tom's family home in Alberta. Being young and in love, they planned to move that night, but we were able to delay them for 4 days. Not having kids myself, I can only imagine what my brother and his wife went through, but I can say that we all felt like the rug had been ripped out from under us. The night they drove away was one of the few times I ever remember seeing my big brother cry.

One thing Shannon didn't count on was the cold. It gets absolutely stupidly cold in Red Deer. The moved just in time for the snow season and she had a very difficult time adapting. She was lonely and the only job she could get was working as a waitress. It was hard work, long hours, bitterly cold and she got very depressed that winter. We spent many many hours on the phone that time, and we bonded very deeply. I think it was over that time that she became less my niece and more my friend.

Tom proposed to her on Christmas Eve. He was so nervous and had phoned me half a dozen times that day because he was so worried that she'd say no. Tom, buddy, she moved away from everything and gave up everything for you, she's not going to say no!

By June 2001, she was pregnant. It was planned on her part. Not so much on Tom's. He had a child from a previous relationship that he had never seen and the thought of a second kid by 20 made him very nervous. But for Shan, she was lonely and did what so many girls do....and made sure that she'd have the little baby she'd dreamed of. Once the shock wore off the family, it was just a lot of concern for how they'd handle parenthood. The next few months took their toll on us all as we could only watch helplessly from far away, and not really be too involved.

We got the call at 2am on February 22 that she was in labour. She was 14 days overdue. I jumped in the car and was at my brother's house by 2:30. We chucked some stuff in the truck, and her parents, sister and I started off on what should have been an 11 hour journey. Looking back, I still don't know why we just didn't fly but at the time, it just seemed like driving was the right thing to do. Besides, first babies take a long time to arrive, don't they?

Just about everything that could go wrong did go wrong on that trip. My brother had a work-related injury that left his shoulder very stiff and sore, but he assured us he could drive. We got just past the valley when we were detoured by a mudslide. The detour took us redirected us nearly 5 hours from our main route. But we were happy, we were excited and it was just a small blip on the radar. Something I learned though is that Timmy Ho's puts their fresh donuts out at 5am and there is nothing better than warm Timbits on a road trip.

My niece, Jamie and I found out rather quickly that the backseat had a serious draft. Not something you want to find out as you enter into the northern climes in the middle of winter.

Around 6am, we got a call from my Mom. Things had progressed very quickly and Hayley Joleen Mary arrived at 5:43am, weighing 8 lbs. 2 oz. Cell coverage was sporadic so Tom had not been able to get a call to us, but was able to get Mom. We were bummed we couldn't be there for the birth, but thought we'd be in Alberta soon, so weren't too worried. Still, the mood in the car was jovial and excited.

The 5 hour detour made it slow. Consider a main highway being shut off and you can imagine the volume we encountered. 174kms this side of Revelstoke, we were stopped by an avalanche. It was about 11am by now, and we were getting hungry and tired. We'd been on the road since 2:30am with only a box of Timbits as our friends. It was a very large avalanche and nothing was coming or going. So we sat. And we sat. We told lame jokes. Then the highway patrol came by and told us the situation. We were actually blocked by not one, but three serious slides. Not only that, we were sandwiched in...there was no in or out and they couldn't tell us how long it would be. 3 hours passed, then 4. The highway patrol came by again, and told us they were considering choppering in supplies as it looked like we were stuck for the night.

Now, you can probably imagine the mood in the car. We were not happy campers and the thought of having to spend the night in the truck, especially with the frozen breeze whipping through the back doors was not a comforting. All the time, knowing the Little One was here and we couldn't get to Shan. To top it off, we were out of cell service so we were unable to get word to anyone that we were stuck. No one mentioned that we should have flown but the thought was there.

Just as it was getting dark, the police came by with good news. They had succeeded in blasting through the avalanche and we were able to get through one lane at a time. You would think that would have made us happy but considering now it was about 5:30pm and we hadn't eaten all day, not so much.

As we got into Golden for a long needed dinner, I was able to get through to my Mom and tell them what had happened. She had seen the slide on the news and had been worried, but she was more worried about the storm that was brewing in the Rockies. I assured her that the weather looked fine. A little cloudy but after what had already happened, I was sure we were through the worst of it. Heh. Yeah, don't speak too soon.

We entered the Rockies at around 8pm. It was dark. At first, the snow was beautiful. Hypnotic, even. Strangely calming. But it worsened within an instant. We hit a true white-out. I have never been, nor do I ever want to again, in such a blizzard but it was terrifying. My brother said little, but gripped the wheel with a ferociousness I had rarely seen. Through gritted teeth, he assured us that as long as we could see the car in front of us, we were fine. I am not a very religious person, but I did find myself praying in the backseat, huddled under the blankets. Then it worsened again...there was no car in front of us, not even the hood of our vehicle was visible. It was 10pm when we passed a truck we had seen earlier tipped upside down on it's roof. That was the final straw. It became obvious, that although a valiant effort, we were not going to get to our destination any time soon.

Canmore was just up ahead...the 'poor man's' Banff. At this point, we didn't care. As long as we were off the road. At 10:30, we pulled into the most beautiful lodge I think I have ever seen. To give you an idea of how deep the snow was, we had difficulty opening the doors of the truck to get out as it was about 6" higher than the bottom of the door. The lodge was just interested in getting people off the road, which in itself tells you how terrible the road conditions were. For $79, we were able to get a beautiful 2-bedroom suite.

Although we were heavy-hearted not to have been by Shannon's side, we were just thankful to be alive and off the road. My brother left for a bit and came back with a big bottle of tequila. None of us are tequila drinkers, but it didn't matter. We had been on the road for nearly 20 hours, through hellish conditions and we still had another 5-6 hours to go. We watched out the window as the snowstorm continued, but knew that Mother Nature had truly beat us. It was a tough fight but she wore us down.

The next morning, a little fuzzy headed and stiff from being in the car so long, we jumped back in for Round 2. The plows had been out and the road was cleared but snow piled up about 6' on either side of the highway. I had never in my life seen such large amounts of the white stuff and I didn't care to ever again.

It was uneventful as we drove through Calgary and then up to Red Deer. We arrived at the hospital at noon, just as Shannon and Hayley were being discharged. Of course, we had the carseat so they had to wait for us anyhow. There were a lot of tears, of relief, of joy, of just pure emotion when we entered that hospital room. I was given the honour of filling out her birth certificate and as I did, I felt very proud of my little niece. She was no longer a little girl but a Mom and she looked so incredibly happy. She looked at me with tear-filled eyes and said 'She's here...my daughter that I've dreamed of all my life is in my arms.' That moment is one of the most precious I've ever experienced, and even just writing it now makes my heart smile.

Holding Hayley that night in the hotel room, I was overcome with the feeling that my life would change too. That everything was somehow a little more colourful now. And I was right. I can't believe it's been 3 years, but in other ways it seems 20.

They now live back with Shannon's parents, which is a 45-minute drive from me. She and I are very close and every night I get a call from her to say goodnight. Her Mom and I speak several times a day on the phone and since I've been off work, I've been with them almost constantly. Sunday is her birthday party and she's having a Dora theme. Her present from me is the FisherPrice InteracTV, which likely will lose it's pieces within the month. Then next week is a new test....she will be staying overnight with me for the first time. I'm a little nervous but I think it's time to try. She's the closest thing I have to a daughter and I'm very very lucky to have her.
February 16, 2005
Why Googling is evil
What did we ever do without the internet? Without being able to search loads upon loads of information, and obsess about simple things?

Whether it be HTML coding, graphics or information about where Todd is, I can't stop! I did find a nice little 'cheat sheet' though for googling here.

With his blessing, I can now say that Todd is in Camp Anaconda, his new home for the next little duration. Apparently, it's referred lovingly by it's inhabitants as 'Mortaritaville'. We talked for 45 minutes last night. He still hasn't got the idea of the 11 hour time difference, but I can't say I mind that much. It is a strangely wonderful feeling to wake up to his call in the middle of the night and I slept better than I have in weeks after talking to him. Yeah, I got it bad.

Yes, the weather sucks there. It's muddy, it's cold, and he hears the mortars fall every day. He said that with such blase, like it was nothing. But I guess that's they way it's supposed to be.

Oddly, the mouse of their public computers seem to go missing on a regular basis. Why would someone steal those? It seems such an insignificant thing, and not worth the punishment it would incur for being caught. So that's his excuse this week for not sending me new pictures. I think he's just a lot more computer illiterate than he would like to admit!

So I've spent the night trying to find out other blogs related to Mortaritaville, without much luck. But I have found out that some soldiers were killed on February 1 there. Not all that comforting! This is going to be a long year!
A La Prochaine
In lieu of anything truly profound today, I thought I'd just share this email I got from one of my ex-co-workers, who is also embarking on his new adventure.


TAKE TIME for 10 things :

TAKE TIME to THINK – it is the source of power.

TAKE TIME to PLAY – it is the secret of youth.

TAKE TIME to READ – it is the foundation of knowledge.

TAKE TIME to HELP and ENJOY FRIENDS and FAMILY – it is the source of happiness.

TAKE TIME to WORSHIP – it is the highway of reverence and washes the dust from our eyes.

TAKE TIME to LOVE – it is the one sacrament of life.

TAKE TIME to DREAM – it hitches the soul to the stars

TAKE TIME to LAUGH – it is the singing that helps with life’s loads.

Eventually, TAKE TIME to WORK – it is the price of success.

Finally, TAKE TIME to PLAN – it is the secret of being able to have the time to take time for the first nine things.


We had our 'going away' dinner last night, and I'm a bit under the weather today as things did not agree with me. Am I the only one who gets migraines from Diet Coke?

It was a great night, full of tears and laughter and an amazing view of the city. The restaurant we went to, Seasons, is where Sarah McLachlan had her wedding reception. I've decided that I will too...of course, the chances of me getting married are slim anyhow so it's worth the dream!

A La Prochaine (Until Next Time)....
February 14, 2005
The danger of being cool!
My brother's wedding in September, 1977

Powder Blue tuxes with frilly collars - $99.00 each
Haircuts at Bowls-R-Us - $4.99 each
Getting your brothers to dress up like chimps - A 2-4 each and a bottle of tequila.
Having your mother make your little sister's dress with matching piping - $25

Your little sister waiting until just the right time to post your picture on the internet (when your grandkids are old enough to know you are no longer the Fashion Prince, and for all your police buddies who have never seen your wedding shots) - priceless

Heh. Heh. Heh. Too bad I'm too old for a swirly now...

For the record, my brother's ages from left to right, 20, 15, 19 (the one getting married), 22.
Stories of note
From the Seattle-Times comes a beautiful reunion story. Who said true love is dead? Oh, yeah, that was me...but I could be wrong. It's happened before.

Okie from LA has started a great project on his blog. (Thanks, Rebecca for linking it!) He's started scanning and posting love letters from his Dad to his Mom during WWII. There's only a couple there now, but what a beautiful gift to be able to share.
Don't you just love those friends who tell you straight up when you're being a freak? That's what I love about Leigh. Most times. Well, unless she strikes a nerve...then it's a whole different ballgame.

V-Day is here. You can't get away from it. It's on TV, it's on the radio, it's every-FREAKIN'-where!

These last few days, I have been anything but upbeat. Talking to Leigh, I thought to myself, damn it, I'm just going to say what's bugging me. Valentines Day. How profound, I thought, actually ADMITTING that I hate being single. And especially now, I've got this great guy (I hope!) except that he's in a bloody warzone. This year feels especially close to the surface.

Her response? 'You're a goldfish'

Hu-wah? A what?

A goldfish.

Apparently, every year at this time, I have the same conversation with her. Each time, feeling equally profound and honest, I bear my soul to her that I hate not having that special someone in my life.

Really? Do I really have the memory of a goldfish? Am I 10-Second Tommy?

Oh, nice, a rock in my bowl. Oh, look, someone put a rock in bowl. Hey, look a rock!

So...I started looking back at some old journals:

February 14, 1984 - Me and Jody are not speaking. For how long I don’t know. He says I stopped talking to him but because I like him so much, I said we stopped talking to each other. In science, our dissected fish had worms and Mark B made fish inerd pattie and top it off with caviar. It's Slave Day and was awful. Scott Laird said he’d be my slave but he didn’t show.

Who was the wicked school administrator that decided that Slave Day would be fun on Valentines' Day? I suspect Slave Day isn't done anymore either, these days.

February 14, 1985 - Well, I’ve been ‘single’ for 2 weeks. J and I broke up February 1 and in these last 2 weeks, we’ve cried, hated, loved, envied, got severely jealous. It’s been –ugh-. On the day we broke up, I spent the morning in the medical room thowing up. J came in and we kissed goodbye twice. He held me and I’m sure I saw tears in his eyes. I was a basket case. The afternoon I stayed home. Over this I have lost 10 lbs and now weigh 88 lbs.
But now I noticed I had a crush on Rob Devries. J didn’t like this and called me a slut in front of Rob. I could have killed him, but then I thought I could see his point. We’d only been broken up for a week so I laid off. Is Valentines Day ever going to go ok for me?

But the next year was better, except that I cringe reading it now. Tom was 19 (drinking age with a car!) and I was 16. Let's just say my parents were not pleased by this earring-wearing free spirit as much as I was:

February 14, 1986 - It is Valentines's Day! Tom showed up at 7:30pm and he had a red carnation. I nearly cried. I wasn't expecting anything. We went and hung out at the mall. I bought 'Rock Me Amadeus' on 45. We walked through the mall and saw J. I wonder if he's jealous of me. We went back to Tom's car and drank beer until my stomach felt shitty. I'm sure it was excitement. Then we went to the movie 'Down and Out In Beverly Hills' but spent most of the time 'cleaning each others teeth'. I luv him so much!

Nice metaphor, not!

A few years later and I was with my 10-year life drain. This one was from 1990.

Jason and I exchanged gifts today. I got him ACDC CD's, tickets to the Canucks, a pound of chocolates from Purdy's and dinner at Tivoli's. He got me a box of Smarties. Then we spent the evening watching the Faces of Death videos and his friends came over to play video games. I watched them until midnight and then went home.

Then we skip to 1999, when my boyfriend was living in South Africa and I was here. We were engaged at the time and he had planned on moving here soon after.

I'm very heavy hearted today, but not much I can do. I called Q at around noon his time. He was still sleeping from the night shift. Some girl named Kirsten was in the background. Apparently she's just a friend. I am not getting good spidey-senses from it, but he promised me he'll be here soon. He wasn't able to send anything for Valentine's Day as he's been working too much, but he did get my package of gifts. Mom and Dad took me for dinner, and Aunt Joe sent me flowers.

Bad enough you realize your fiance is cheating on you on Valentine's Day, but at 29, your best gifts come from your parents and Aunt, it's a bit of a slap.

Anyway, suffice to say, I have to admit I am a goldfish. Leigh was right.
February 13, 2005
Sedenary Sunday
I have been trying to figure out how to change my blog design for days now, and I think Web Divas may be in my future. I am so rusty - it's been a couple years since I did any webdesign and it's aggravating! But, in another note, I decided to try my hand at some buttons for my links - thank you, Flirt for the inspiration.

What do you think of this? The company does background checks on people - for example, a prospective boyfriend, etc. Canada's privacy laws are a little tighter than in the US, although I think it's just for lack of demand rather than anything else. I don't know that I would feel good that someone is checking up on me, but at the same time, this is a scary time. People often pass themselves off as someone they're not. I can think of half a dozen examples of girlfriends of mine that ended up in relationships with violent or criminally-active men and if they'd had the chance to know that beforehand, would it have made a difference? I guess it depends on the situation and what your intent with the information is.

Had a thought about Chuck and Cam again...what about her kids? Are they entitled to some sort of title now? And what ever happened to Prince Edward, and their preemie daughter, Louise? She was born in November 2003, but I couldn't find any news reports about her after that. Considering the rest of the family makes news every time they sneeze, I was surprised that Lady Louise hasn't had more interest around her.
February 12, 2005
Do they still do this in elementary school?

I used to love Sports Day in school. Not for the fact of the actual physical activity, as no doubt somehow I would have some klutzy little moment and end up in tears and tensored up, but for the Bike Parade. My Mom and I would always go over the top and I just loved decorating my bike. I don't think they do that anymore though....
And oldie but a goodie

  1. I can see your point, but I still think you're full of shit.
  2. I don't know what your problem is, but I'll bet it's hard to pronounce.
  3. How about never? Is never good for you?
  4. I see you've set aside this special time to humiliate yourself in public.
  5. I'm really easy to get along with once you people learn to see it my way.
  6. I'll try being nicer if you'll try being smarter.
  7. I'm out of my mind, but feel free to leave a message.
  8. I don't work here, I'm a consultant.
  9. It sounds like English, but I can't understand a word you're saying.
  10. Ahhh . . I see the screw-up fairy has visited us again,
  11. I have plenty of talent and vision; I just don't give a damn.
  12. I'm already visualizing the duct tape over your mouth.
  13. Thank you. We're challenged by your unique point of view.
  14. Any connection between your reality and mine is purely coincidental.
  15. What am I? Flypaper for freaks?
  16. I'm not being rude. You're just insignificant.
  17. And your crybaby whiny-assed opinion would be...?
  18. Do I look like a people person?
  19. This isn't an office, it's HELL with fluorescent lighting.
  20. Sarcasm is just one more service we offer.
  21. If I throw a stick, will you leave?
  22. Errors have been made. Others will be blamed.
  23. I'm trying to imagine you with a personality.
  24. A cubicle is just a padded cell without a door.
  25. Can I trade this job for what's behind door #1?
  26. Too many freaks, not enough circuses.
  27. Nice perfume. Must you marinate in it?
  28. Chaos, panic, and disorder --- my work here is done.
  29. Who lit the fuse on your tampon?
  30. Oh I get it... like humor... but different.
February 11, 2005
Let me get this straight...
The Florida birthing unit that made up the story about her newborn being tossed out of a window just floors me. Florida ALLOWS you to drop off a newborn baby, at a firestation (not quite getting that one...) if you don't want it. Why, oh, why would she feel the need to string up some half-assed story about the way she 'found' the baby? Did she think becoming a good Samaritan somehow absolved her of the rest?

She's 38 years old! Not a child, herself, by any means. And now, forget hiding it from her family...the whole world knows! And she's lost her 10-year old child to Social Services! Where will this woman be 6 months from now after all the news reports end?

Ok, a creepy story from this neck of the woods - of course, I can't seem to find a link, but it's on our TV News tonight. A woman in line at a Saanich McDonalds restaurant felt a man behind her grab her hair, sort of touching it. Her immediate thought was it was someone she knew, but when she turned around, it was this older 60-70ish man sort of standing there looking at her. She confronted him, told him to stop, and he sheepishly apologized and left. She then ran her hand through her hair, and realized he'd cut off about 7"!!!! EWWWW!!!! And if that wasn't bad enough, there have been 3 other incidents roughly the same over the past couple months in restaurants and on buses locally. The police think the man is using a hunter's knife. Just so freaky....
I hate these kind of days....
I'm a pretty upbeat person usually, and it takes a lot to get me down. But here I am...definitely feeling it tonight. I guess I'm due, really. Maybe it's just a case of de-stress and part of the whole healing process. Who knows?

Been spending the last few hours searching U.S. Military websites, care package sites and support forums. I guess I'm really feeling the alone-ness tonight. Damn. I thought I had it under control. Just when I think I'm so accepting of this, I start missing him and it just gets so strong. And I get so annoyed at myself for being weak.

I guess the whole Hallmark Holiday is bothering more than I thought it would. I have always hated the day. Even when I have been un-single, my significant others have never been much into celebrating it. I talk a good line about how much it annoys me that a day has become so commercialized and false, that any chance is overshadowed by a requirement and therefore, not heartfelt. Truth be known...I'm just envious. Not a feeling I let myself feel very often, that's for sure.

Had a post-op check yesterday and the doctor is pleased. Apparently the discomfort is normal, and should be this way for a few more days. What's annoying is that I can't seem to walk very far without a fair amount of pain. It's been absolutely gorgeous weather and I just can't seem to get outside.

Tomorrow...tomorrow is another day! Yeah, Scarlett, ya got something there.

update: Isn't it sad how a 3-minute phonecall can totally change things? The Dude finally got a chance to call and say hi. Hearing is voice is like a damned heroin fix! And he's promised to send me a video email....of course, I'll believe THAT one when I see it.
February 10, 2005
A Serious Warning
From the Department of Homelife Security.

(warning: there's audio if you're somewhere unsuitable.)
The Prince and his Concubine
So Chuck and Cam are tying the knot, I hear. On April 8, apparently. Pretty sure I can stop holding my breath on the invite.

Apparently, she cannot be called Queen. My Mom thought they were going to call her the Prince Concubine. Consort, Mom, Consort. Although, I guess they're somewhat similar. Then again, Prince Philip is called the Queen's Consort, so it makes sense.

Honestly, good for 'em. For a woman who didn't send Chuck on his rather large ear after the whole Tampon fiasco, she must have some sort of bond. Besides, after 30 years of courtship, she can certainly have the medal for patience. They've had a trial by fire for a long time, and yes, he certainly was no prince during his marriage. But I think they've earned it, and even if they haven't, who are we to have an opinion?
First A to Z
Another from sweetmeme.

A to Z the first things in my life

I bought my apartment with my ex in 1994. I never actually lived there though, as things went sour just about 30 seconds after we signed the papers. He eventually bought me out. It would be 3 years before I ventured out to my very own apartment, a 1-bedroom classic with a little balcony and no space. I was the youngest in the building...not sure how that happened but it seemed like I found the only Geriatric Wing in the trendy part of the city.

Best Friend
First? Hmmmm....I guess that would have been Heather? We were inseparable between the ages of 4 and 13. We shared everything. Well, until she found boys at 13 and got knocked up. Of course, she went to 'live with an aunt' but we all knew why.

1987 Pontiac Firefly. I went to the store for milk, and ended up buying a car. The first major impluse buy I can ever remember. It was so poorly constructed, I would have been safer in cardboard.

10? [cringe] My parents thought it was so cute. He was the fair-haired 13-year old neighbour boy and we went to see "A Pirate Movie" with Christy McNicol. What they didn't know is that we actually didn't go to the movie, but went behind the theatres. I was much too curious for 10.

Tonya. Not a question. I hated that big-haired pompom queen. She came from the big city of Toronto and tried to steal all my friends. Told stories about me. Evil. Pure Evil. Of course, the vindictive side of me had to smile when I heard she was in re-hab for the 4th time for a coke addiction. And at our 10 year reunion, she was so looped she couldn't even stand up.

My Uncle Jack. I was 13. The day before he died I made an offhanded comment that I had never been to a funeral before, and then he passed away that night. I felt for a long time that I had somehow caused it.

My parents took me to Reno when I was 9. When the guards were looking the other way, I popped a quarter in. Was hooked from there on in!

Ugh. I can still remember the despair. I was 15. I thought he was my world. I completely lost it at school and can remember running through the hallway sobbing loudly, not being able to control the emotion. I thought my life was completely over. Such a drama queen back then!

13. Me and Tammy R. at my house on the last day of Grade 8. Knowing that my Dad measured what was left in the bottles (remember, I'm the last of 5...), we syphoned off 1/2" of each bottle. The result was an absolutely vile ditch-water coloured slime. We drank it through straws and then ended up at a boy's house and we'll just stop there except to say alcohol has never been my friend.

My Mom's bakery. I started by folding boxes and washing trays in the back. When I was old enough to work legally, I was out front serving customers. My mom was hard to work for, very strict, but I learned at a young age the importance of customer service and how to make change correctly. I was bookkeeping by 15, and it was a great way to learn by fire.

First? Oi! That was probably Greg, the kid down the street at about 6? Only because we'd seen his older sister and her boyfriend and we wondered what the fuss was about. Still couldn't figure it out. First kiss that was meant? Back to me at 10, and Darren who was 13. He was pretty cute, in retrospect. Too bad he ended up being a drug dealer.

First true love was related to the first heartbreak. I still remember feeling dizzy at 14 when we first met, and I couldn't believe he was talking to ME!

I think it was called 'The Black Hole"? It was some sci-fi Disney thing. There was also some other one, with a ginger cat that could talk. It was also Disney.

Dude. I couldn't say Susan when I was a toddler, but it came out Dudan. So Dude was born.

Overnight Sleepover
My cousin, Irene's. My family wasn't too big on the sleepover thing, so unless it was family or they were at my house, it wasn't happening. If it was at my cousin's, I would inevitably cry. She was 3 years old than me and delighted in telling me ghost stories until she scared me silly. 'Sue, you know that pillow you have your head on? That's the same one Aunt Betty was sleeping on when she DIED!' She still thinks it's hilarious.

We had so many, having the kennel attached to the house. My brother brought a stray home when I was about 2 named Buffy. She was most likely the closest to being MY dog I ever had. I was devastated when she passed away at 13.

Queer Experience
Heh? None here...been definitely hetero all my life. First idea that it existed was probably Billy Crystal's character in Soap. It never occured to me as controversial, just another way of life.

Road Trip
With family, to Disneyland in 1976. With my two brothers, my Mom and Dad. Without family, the ex and I drove to the Oregon Coast when I was about 19 or so. I felt so grown up, driving all that way. Of course, it rained the entire way and by the end I was BEGGING him to let us stay in a hotel just one night!

Speeding Ticket
17. 60kmh in a school (30kmh) zone. I cried. The officer felt badly for me, but not too badly. I still got the ticket.

14. He doubled me on his 10-speed to the drugstore so he could buy some rubbers. I may have been young, but I wasn't being silly. Yuh, like I said earlier, I was a curious child. Which is exactly why I stuck to my nieces like glue when they were that age. I only wish I had someone I could have talked to during that time.

Unchaperoned Concert
Huey Lewis and the News. Age 18. We drove there in the backseat of my ex's cousins pimpmobile. I felt really cool that night. His grandmother left us with the advice 'Don't let anyone stick you with a needle while you're there!' Yeah, hardly...

Visit to Another Country
Well, since I live 20 minutes from the US border, probably pretty young.

Westward Migration
Considering I pretty much live in the same place I was born, um, never? But if pressed, I now live on the western-most part of the Lower Mainland.

Well, I had a heart condition at birth so pretty much immediately. I also had pneumonia at 4 so probably then too.

Yoni Tree
No idea what that is.

Zombie Movie
Oh, school band trip, age 14. They had a VHS machine...of course, back then, it was so cool! Not many people did.
February 09, 2005
My world as I see it...
As I get down to my evening blogging ritual, I came across my regular blog buddies talking about a writing exercise at the particular ordinary. Far be it from me to turn down a challenge, I welcome you all into my 3-D world.

I sit on a fluffy, well-loved navy chesterfield in my living room. Years of sitting on the far right side have left an ever-so-slight deepening on the cushion. It fits me. It's where I find my solace.

To my immediate right, my creamy phone sits in wait. Will he call? Hmmm...it's just before 8am in his world. He's probably just having breakfast, or maybe he's doing his morning exercises. Is he thinking of me? I don't let myself get lost on the answer. I'll hear soon...I always do. He'll feel badly for not being able to call sooner. It amazes me that he even thinks he should - his life is so ever changing now. His will is not his own.

The remote controls, the evil brains of my entertainment centre glare up at me calling me. The main one is my cigarette. My bad habit. When I sit relaxed, it is envitably in my hand, while I mindlessly flip through the guide. 57 channels and nothing on. What about 157, 257? It never changed. Only became more consuming. Over time, it became a ceaseless habit. I had to surf. It felt strange to sit through commercials, and when I have guests over, it's a conscious effort not to grab and surf some more.

Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the entertainment centre. I like watching television. I know that's against the trend these days, but I enjoy it. Whether it be trashy entertainment, or something more philosophical, I will watch anything. For the moment, it's the new episode of 'Lost'. I can't get enough of that show. It reminds me still of my Hawaii trip, and I wish I was back there.

I'm covered by a blanket. It's navy plaid. It's warm. It's comfy. It makes me feel like I'm safe. I sit with my legs tucked under me, my blanket tucked around me and my laptop on my lap. The laptop? I thought it was such a luxury when I first bought it 3 years ago. I had the main system in the office upstairs, but wanted something portable. When we went to see Hayley when she was born, I bought it so I could transfer the pictures to the waiting family as quickly as possible. Now it's the extension of me. I sit endlessly every night, surfing, blogging, typing. I can't imagine not having it and it's little wireless link to the outside world.

In front of me is the coffee table. Ahh, the coffee table. Funny story, there, you see. It's my one and only thing I got in the 'divorce'. Was it '91? '92? It's fuzzy now but I was working as a temp at a furniture importer. They were pleased with my work, but they couldn't afford to keep me. So they plied me with furniture. This beauty is a heavy sucker. It's carved oak, with glass inserts. I was so thrilled at the time. It was more than we could have ever afforded, but when I got it home, the Boy laughed. He told me I was screwed, that the thing was garrish and gross, and he would not have it in his home. So it went into storage. When we split a few years later, it was the first thing sent back to me. It's now here out of necessity rather than anything else. I haven't found anything better and it does what it needs to do.

The top of the table is littered with the remnants of my recent week of an extremely sedentary life. My journal's here. I write in it when I have a random thought. Sometimes that births something more meaningful, mostly it doesn't. There are books. Lots of books. I buy them often, but rarely take the time to read. There's magazines, and children's books (Wanna read 'The Potty Book for Girls'?), and DVDs I've been meaning to watch. Too many things to do, not enough hours in the day. How did I ever work?

Behind me is my favourite piece of art. It's by Carl Brenders and it's called One To One. The wolf in the painting watches you as you walk, and feels so real you can almost hear his breathing.Brenders is a fantastic artist and his detail is second to none. I have been a loyal fan of his work, and have several of his paintings throughout my house. One To One was my first though, and has a special place in my heart.

Now turning my head to the left, my eyes gaze down to the dog's bed. Molly doesn't fit in it anymore, like she did when she was a puppy. She still tries though, but it's now just a matter of her getting in, turning circles, clumsily trying to lay down and then getting annoyed, just to lay down right beside it under the curtain. Her best toys have migrated there....she has dutifuly brought them over time and it's now overflowing like some pre-teen girls bed. I swear I'll come home one day to posters of Justin Timberwolf tacked above.

The recliner lies just beside the door. It's draped in the afghan my Nan knit me when I was 8. Was that really nearly 28 years ago? It's been my security blanket since. If I was sick, and that's been often, it's the one thing I need closeby. I let no one touch it. Well, except Hayley. She's allowed, but it's the first time I've ever let anyone near it. She is one special little girl.

So many knick-knacks around. It would take ages to describe them all. There's lighthouses, candle holders, and pictures. The pictures change often, depending on what is close to me at the time. For now, I have a picture of my 4 brothers and I. First and last time we had been together in the same room in probably 10 years. It was taken in 2001. Everyone laughed at the time when I insisted on that picture, but now that we haven't been able to be in the same place again, it's cherished. Below that, is the Hayley shrine. The new Walmart special with her pink little outfit and her fake smile. She's not one to have professional pictures taken. Beside that is one I took of her last year. With her purple Gap sweatshirt, and matching purple sunglasses, she is the trendiest toddler on the block. Too bad, the spaghetti sauce in her hair didn't match.

My gas fireplace is on. It makes the place seem so cozy. So warm. It's my ritual at night. After dinner, I flip on the fireplace, gather my laptop and curl up on the couch for the evening. It's what grounds me.

Hallmark Day is coming up....

You Are A Romantic Realist

You are more romantic than 40% of the population.

You tend to be grounded when it comes to romance.
Sure, you can fall hard... but only for someone you've gotten to know.
And once you're in love, you can be a total romantic goofball...
But you'd never admit it to your friends!

Yeah, I'm tough as a marshmallow.
Rock lobster
I was greeted rather early this morning by a friend calling to wish me a Happy Chinese New Year. It's hard to miss the signs around town today. The lineup to get into the local Buddhist temple is stretched around the block, people streaming in dressed in their finest clothes. A lot of traditional Chinese dress...gorgeous deep reds, and gold.

I was born under the sign of the Earth Rooster. Every time I hear that, I think of Rock Lobster. Don't know why, just do... According to my friend, when it's your year, it's always an especially lucky one.

This year is the Year of The Wood Rooster. Earth and Wood, gotta be good right? Looks like it might be. According to one site:

Long live change! You'll want to discover new horizons, but see to it that your energy is directed toward precise objectives. Thus, in your work, beware of imprudent behavior! Heartwise, instead of putting your mate on tenterhooks too often, try to reassure them.

I realize you can read anything you like into these, but they're a lot of fun, as long as you don't take it too seriously. Now, if I could only find a good Tarot reader, I'd be great. I can read Tarot for others, but have never been able to do mine well.

In other news, I signed up for two online courses today, both related to Creative Writing. I figure I should spend some time learning about writing, as it seems to have been something that's allowed me a great way to de-stress over the past few months.

Also, it's Little One's birthday on February 22. She'll be 3. I've been asked (roped into?) helping organize a Dora The Explorer fiesta. Anyone have any ideas on that one? I'll have to do some research.

I did too much yesterday and earlier today, so I'm on the convalescence couch for the rest of the day, methinks. So much fun when your body hits that rubber band and snaps back with force.
Browser browsing brouhaha
Another time waster from Sweet Memes. Can you tell I'm procrastinating on the web design?

What you do is type in every letter of the alphabet in the URL address line of your browser and whatever comes up, you put on here. Somehow, I thought this was really neat.

A = Your Dictionary
B = Physical Review B Homepage
C = CNet.com
D = D-Link Systems
E = E! Online
F = F-Secure
G = Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation
H = H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online
I = ITools
J = Jennifer Lopez (oh, gawd, kill me now! Please tell me my niece has been online again!)
K = KDE Homepage (no friggin' clue what this is!)
L = European Union Online (and this is under L?)
M = Texas A&M University
N = Blue Web'n
O = O'Reilly Computer Books
P = PFlag
Q = Q4Music
R = R Project for Statistical Computing
S = Hoover's Online
T = ATT Online
U = WhatUSeek Network
V = Welcome To Bobby
W = G O P.com
X = X.org
Y = Yahoo! Messenger
Z = HealthAtoZ

Ok, in all honesty, this has got to be the FREAKIEST exercise I've ever done! Out of the 26 sites above, I think I've only ever been on 3 (E,Y & Z, for those keeping track). What is with the other ones? Why in the heck would I ever be on GOP.com? I'm Canadian, for Cripe's sake!

About 75% of these sites, I've never even HEARD of them before or even anything remotely connected to them. Like the Physics page? Apparently my computer is a geek and has been having quite an online existence without me.

Welcome to Bobby? How stalkerish sounding is that?

Seriously, if you've got an extra 10 minutes, try it on your own browser. Trust me, it'll astound you...

Dude, you're an idiot...
It's a game, buddy! This somewhat deluded bloke in England just took his offspring out of the genepool.

I wonder if he gets free tickets to the next game, or at least some sort of logo'd cushioned seat to sit on when he gets out of the hospital.

I'm sure his girlfriend's pleased...
February 08, 2005
Unique Experience #1
Tonight, as I mentioned earlier, I had the pleasure of seeing Veronica Tennant speak as part of the Unique Lives and Experiences lecture series.

Madame Tennant has had an extraordinary life...or really two extraordinary lives. The first half of her career saw her as a Prima Ballerina in the National Ballet Of Canada. By a young age, she had illustrious dancing career that saw her dance with some of the world masters the likes of Nureyev and Baryshnikov. I have never had much of an interest in classical dance although grew up knowing a fair amount as my best friend in elementary school later became a professional dancer herself. So I knew of Veronica Tennant but never really thought much about her.

In 1989, Veronica changed careers and became highly involved in filmmaking and bringing knowledge of arts to the masses. She hosted a show on Canadian television which showcased the arts from across the nation, be it ballet, cowboy poetry or ice sculpting in the high north. She also became an Honarary chair for UNICEF and it was for this work that she was awarded the Order Of Canada, the highest honour in the country.

What impressed me most about this woman was not just her determination, her drive, but more the fact that she just seemed so down to earth. Like she was just one of us. She wasn't any more special than anyone else, and in fact, often felt quite insecure in her earlier years. Her husband was university-educated, yet she was not, and it bothered her. Criticism was taken deeply and she spoke of her frustrations of her own physical shortcomings. Veronica made her point clear, that we need to embrace change and live in the now. Upon being told that her teenage years should have been the best of her life, she responded 'No, now is the best time of my life. My NOW'. She urged us to live for the moment, to believe in ourselves for our own uniqueness and to accept our own shortcomings as beneficial rather than detrimental.

One quote that stuck with me tonight was "If you see a glass half full, grab it and drink it down, and start all over again''. Very profound, and it struck a chord with me. I have been given a new chance here and the world is my oyster. Now it's just about finding that pearl. I encourage everyone reading this tonight to take a look at what you have and be thankful for the uniqueness your own life offers. Live in the now, live for you!
Wish me luck...
Ok, I'm about to embark on a redesign of this site. I have great visions in my head, but not a lot of experience. But now that time is on my side, it's time to learn a new trick.

Don't be surprised if things go temporarily haywire for a bit but we'll see....ya gotta at least, try right?

But for now, I'm off for dinner with a friend and then to Veronica Tennant speak as part of the Unique Lives series. This was one I was not originally excited to see but doing a little googling on her, I'm now really looking forward to it. She sounds like an extraordinary lady.

And yeah, I'm still hurting from yesterday but such is life. To be expected, I guess.
February 07, 2005
Little soldiers
Today, I had an interesting look into the world of the urology unit at the local hospital. Yup, today was [drumroll, please] Cystoscopy Day!

I arrived, slightly freaked at the thought of a 20" tube going where tubes don't go. The doctor had given me some Valium to take, but I didn't in the end as I was sure it wouldn't really be that big o'deal, right?

At admitting, I caught the eye of a VHD (Very Hot Dude) checking in. Forgetting completely why we were there, I gave him a smile. Turned around the corner to find that VHD was actually checking in Grandpa. [music screeches to a halt]

We're all just numbers, right? So the admitting clerk looks at me and VHD Sr. and starts peppering us both with questions as we're apparently both there for the same test. I cringe as I feel VHD's glance while I mention my, um, #1 problems. The clerk hands us our gowns and slippers, explaining it LOUDLY and slowly as if speaking in a foreign language. Then he points to two cubicles where we can change. VHD Sr. slyly looks at me and asks if we can share the same one. Um, no, I'm on my own on this one, thanks. VHD shot an icy rocket glare at Grandpa, and then excused himself and left.

Into the separate presto-chang-o-cubes, Grandpa and I go. I go about my business, quietly folding all my stuff into small piles. Can I fold my own laundry this nicely at home? Not in this lifetime! Then Grandpa starts to have trouble. Out under the divider, shoots his gnarly yellow-toenailed foot. Have we not seen Dirty Dancing, folks? 'This is YOUR space...This is mine'. Then his bag-o-catheter juice comes undone and flings to the floor. By this point, I'm outta there, Gap-folded clothes done or not.

I am directed down a hallway to the chairs where there are about 10 others waiting. Trying to look as dignified as I would wearing a Vera Wang, I sit in my chair, cross my legs and begin the wait. Of course, people watching being my next favourite sport, there was a lot to keep my interest.

I was the youngest by about 50 years. The couple beside me were nervously eating candies as they waited for his test. I thought, how sweet...so nice to see her there supporting her aging husband. He was in a wheelchair, apparently getting to some sort of stage of dementia. Or at least I hope. Until suddenly, he looks up and says 'Ginnie, where'd that Chinaman chap get to?'. Not using his inside voice, he continued to rally on about the Chinaman and how he needed to get his act together and work on his catheter. Cue the rest of us politely looking away, trying not to hear. An Asian family waiting actually got up during this time and disappeared for a while.

Dignity, people, is it that hard?

Then a man leaves the procedure room, and I can only describe him as Fat Bastard from Austin Powers fame. Trust me when I say, hospital gowns are not one-size fits all. The poor man was wearing what ended up being no more than a micro-mini, and he did NOT have the legs for it. He was reunited with a lady that I swear looked like Olive from On The Buses. I had long forgotten that old BBC show from my childhood, but suddenly it was being replayed in the hallway of the hospital. Imagine stong Scotch accents as they wrestle with his clothes...

"Ae tol ye ye shuda brought the big pahnts."
"Well, if ya'd just lop your gut up a bit I'm sure I could get it on ye"

Slowly, the people ahead of me went in and came out clutching their backsides and covered in soaked gowns. Yeah, can't WAIT for it to be my turn.

The intern came out and said 'Well, sweetie, we're keeping the best for last. Give the doctor a treat.' Let me tell you, that is NOT what you want to hear when you're about to be laying in stirrups for the world to see.

Finally, it was just me and Grandpa left. He moved down and sat across from me, obviously looking for a friendly face to chat with. I understood, as it's never fun to be in there, and especially when you're by yourself. So he started telling me about how much he hated to be getting old, and that he knew he worried his son (guess he had VHD rather later in life). I commiserated. I nodded, and empathized as he told me all about his medical woes. Then he told me he was Veteran of the 2nd World War. Giving it an opening, I mentioned my guy was currently deployed in Iraq. Well, that opened up the floodgates. War stories galore, home fires burning, you get the picture. Anyway, as I look at him, I realize he's now relaxed a bit in the chair and well, back to that hospital gown issue. 'Basic Instinct' only works for Sharon Stone.

By the time I was called in for my go, I had already been witness to some pretty delicate visions, smells and beyond.

The good news is they were able to find the source of my problem rather quickly. I did not have to endure the kidney biopsy either, as it was not required. My issue was a bit of a scar tissue vs. plumbing disorder and the best news, I guess, is that they were able to do the surgical procedure right then and there. Because of the layoff, the doc felt that we should just get this done rather than rescheduling. The bad news is it was pretty damned painful. I felt like I was giving birth without the birth part. The nurse held my hand, while I did that stupid deep breathing crap. Still not sure how that is supposed to help, but not like there is another choice. In the end it was like a 45-minute continuous pap test. I'm now relegated to a 1 week recovery and should be back to normal in 2.

The fantastic news is that they are almost positive that the issue was the blocked kidney and NOT lymphoma that was being bantied about. When the doctor said that, I nearly lept up and hugged him. Of course, while attached to 3 feet of tubing, my leash didn't really allow me to do so.

So onwards and upwards from here....but that's enough for tonight. My mom's tests came through very well too, but that's enough for tonight. Very tired now.

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
  • July 2005
  • August 2005
  • September 2005
  • October 2005
  • November 2005
  • December 2005
  • January 2006

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