Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Very Special Tree...

My mother turned seventy-three almost two months ago. She's always been a real go-getter and though she's gone through surgery for knee replacement and suffers with arthritis, she hasn't really slowed down.

When I was a young child, I remember it being my birthday. My mother and I were walking along Parliament Street when my mother asked me what I would like for my birthday. My reply was a watermelon. Yes, I was a very strange child and I really did want a watermelon.

Well, my mother, being ever so wanting to please, standing 4' 10" and weighing 87 pounds; bought me my watermelon.

We didn't have the cart that day as she really wasn't preparing to be taking home a watermelon. She carried that thing from Gerrard and Parliament to River and Dundas Streets.

Throughout the years, my mother and I have had our share of disagreements. Then again, it was only to be expected. We are so alike yet so different. I take after my mother in so many ways; her voice, characteristics and mannerisms.

But much of that ends when it comes down to our core beliefs, which we've butted heads over many times until we stopped trying to change each others point of view. But I know she's still praying for my soul.

Like many people, things have been tight since I'm been out of work. Barry and I decided together that having a tree was not a priority this year. We were both okay with the idea and viewed it mainly in a practical way.

Well, when I'd mentioned this to my mother, she would have none of that. My mother has a friend who works in a thrift store up the road. And at this time of the year, used artificial trees are often donated. She went there and purchased one at a great price.
And then my seventy-three year old mother, took it home on top of her cart which was already carrying groceries. She walked over 1/2 kilometre home like that. Thank fully she gave up at the steps and left it in a safe area on the main level.

The ball in this picture was Mollie's donation for decorations.
Barry and I drove to my parents apartment the other day to have a visit with them as well as get the tree home before anything happened to it, where it was sitting. My father recently had surgery for cancer and it was great to also be able to have a visit with them both.
Yesterday we had the energy to assemble our tree and decorate it. Now, in our home, decorating the tree involves Barry putting the lights on so he can synchronize them with the music and leaving the rest to me.
By the time we were done, I thought it looked very pretty and I still do. 
This tree has more spirit, more energy in it than any tree I've ever had; real or artificial. It's been loved for some time before my mother carted it home for us.

And if that isn't love, I don't know what is.

Thank you Mom. I love you.

Until next time...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Cat Named Troll...

     He came into our lives when I needed him the most.

     They called him Dustball as he looked a lot like a dustball, blowing in the breeze. I will never forget the day we went to the Oliver farm to choose one of Taz' offspring. They were all orphaned at two weeks of age as their mommy, Taz, was hit by a car.

     We walked into the milking barn, expecting to perhaps take home one of the two orange kittens. Suddenly this tiny little thing came running up to my feet and stopped to look up at me. He opened his mouth but there was only a little squeak. He really was the ugliest kitten I'd ever seen.

     I instantly fell in love and he came home with us.
     Dustball didn't have much of a coat. In fact his belly was completely fur-less and what pathetic amount he had on his tail, had to be trimmed off as he was covered in poop. He did live in a barn, after all.

     When the Vet first saw him, he guessed him to be about five weeks old. He was actually nine weeks old. None the less, he was too frail for vaccinations at that time.
Dustball spent his first months being fed kitten replacement formula that I would purchase from the Pet Hospital. He grew into a healthy cat with a beautiful coat.

     He also grew to be an ornery little bugger. The first time he bit me, I changed his name from Dustball to Dirtbag. He actually drew blood! Of course in our home, all of our furry family members have nick-names. They wouldn't be family members without them.

     As time went on, Dustball's favourite activity was to lie on the kitchen floor and attack our feet as we went by. My son then began to call him the Foot Troll, which eventually was shortened to the Troll.

 Troll in hiding
     He's a spitfire, that Troll. He's my rough, tough, little cream puff. He has the character I've never known in a cat. He wrassles with our dog, Mollie and even playfully swats at her tail. He's never shown fear in all of his seven years.

     A couple of years ago Troll developed his first Urinary Tract Infection. He was put on anti-biotics and the infection went away. For a short time. Not wanting him constantly on anti-biotics, I looked into more holistic ways to keep him healthy. For the most part, he did really well with very few episodes of distress.

     Until the other day. I had no idea what I was dealing with and the only thing I can really say about my calls to the Pet Hospital yesterday is there was a big miscommunication.

     By today, Troll could barely move. He had to pretty much crawl to where he wanted to get. I couldn't watch him suffer any longer so we made the appointment to have him euthanized.

     Well to my surprise, the Vet we saw today was very encouraging as she talked to us about trying to save him. She got a catheter into him and the draining started.
     Our Troll is there for the night. He has intravenous as well as the catheter doing whatever they can to get him through this.

     Now if you've read this to the end, you will understand what a fighter this boy is. I'm not ready to let him go and I know he's not ready to let go either.
     Please...send him your prayers, positive energy, Power of the Paw or anything else to help Trollie get through. I know he's doing his part by fighting with everything he has.

Until next time...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

My celebration of the big 5-0

It seems that after such an extremely hot July that August has brought Autumn with it. Even my garden is reacting to the colder nights.

This August is also bringing in a special celebration for me as I will be turning fifty years old. It's really funny how fast that happens. One minute you're holding your new born baby and the next, you're holding your grand-child.

For years I've always detested birthdays. Maybe it's that I don't feel comfortable being the centre of attention. But all that changed when I turned forty. I learned how to say "No" and stick with it. And I learned to not allow myself to be drawn into other people's drama; something I still have to remind myself of at times.

But it left me often wondering what it will be like as I hit fifty. I've actually looked forward to it as I think of all the lessons I'm learning on this journey.

I was born with a condition called Ectodermal Dysplasia. I was very fortunate that I wasn't affected with many of the conditions that are associated with ED. However, I was born without roots for adult teeth and I remember how, that alone affected my self-esteem growing up. I could have also been bald. 

Many children lose their hair due to medical conditions or are never able to grow hair. Though I'm grateful for being able to grow my hair, it hasn't been easy. I've been growing it for over 10 years now and barely made it passed my shoulder blades. 

Since I started to grow my hair, I've had it all planned out that once it reached a certain length, I'd have it cut off to donate. At that time, I expected to be able to grow it a lot longer. But I do have Ectodermal Dysplasia.

Well here I am turning fifty next week, and am feeling very grateful that my hair kept it's natural Though my hair hasn't reached the length I'd hoped for, I'm realizing that if I'm going to be able to donate it, I'm best to cut it before I go grey.

And so I started to research organizations who I could send my hair to and found a Canadian Organization called A Child's Voice Foundation. As I searched through their website, I was very impressed with what they do. And when I contacted the foundation with my proposal to raise funds, along with my hair, the response and was fantastic and quick.

My hair cutting date is Friday, August 26, 2011. I'm hoping to raise at least Five Hundred Dollars (ten dollars for each year of my life) for the foundation. I'm almost at my half-way point.

If you would like to support me in my quest, I have an online donations page.
The next evening we will be celebrating by a great fire. It will be a celebration of the journey that I call life. If you're our friend, I hope you will join us.  

Until then....

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Pack Rats boots....

For the last few months, one of my biggest challenges has been trying to de-clutter our house.

I've got quite a bit of old crap in miscellaneous boxes but I also have the odd bit that I want to keep and some that needs to go to the 'adult' kids. A big job for the three of us is to take a weekend, to go through our basement and sort things into piles: Donation, Yard Sale and Garbage. It's going to be a big job but the biggest of it all belongs to my husband. I call him the Pack-rat.

What's funny; at least to me, is that he was born under the Chinese sign of the Rat. He LOVES cheese and; he's tiny and cute like a rat, not to mention his incredible intelligence. But I've been saying for a few years that there was a reason I didn't see his room until he was almost completely moved in with me. I cannot believe what this man holds onto.

Now keeping in mind that he's not only a complete geek; Barry has also spent 17 years in the Canadian Reserves. I remember when I used to trip over his 100 foot antenna. 
He really is a one of a kind.

When I first met Barry, he always wore the most UGLY and old construction boots that were never tied and always looked like they should have been trashed years ago. Even when we were to visit his parents, he was told to leave those things at the door while I was encouraged to leave my shoes on.

A year or two back, Barry got himself a new pair of boots. It's not taking them too long to start taking on the look of his old pair. He wears them everywhere; unless it's not appropriate.

But he won't part with the old pair. They have some kind of meaning. Are all men like this??? I mean afterall, those are the boots he wore when he worked on the original 407 project. For all the jobs he's done, there are so many memories in them. So he makes excuses to hold onto them. "They may come in handy some time....afterall so many years ago, I cut out a piece for something to do with Drew's Drums...therefore, you just never know.

This year, I decided to put my creativity to work. It's a strange kind of year where there's very little, if anything that I want to put into my garden. Our life seems to be hanging on one of those cliffs and I'm looking to see what direction we're meant to go. 

In the meantime, I've had my seedlings growing inside of my home. I put two and two together and viola...

A use for both my husbands old boots and a couple of my seedlings....
This one now holds catnip. Being a perennial, I look forward to watching it grow around the boot.  
I can hardly wait to see his face when this one starts to bloom. It's a butterfly flower.
It's just one idea of many. For those of you who  are dealing with clutter or have dealt with it, I'd love to hear about your ideas. Or pop in once in a while to learn about some more.

Oh...and the best part??? He hasn't noticed them yet, muah-ha-ha-ha  ;) I have to laugh because as I'm closing and my husband is completely oblivious a few feet from me. And I'm listening to non other than "Modest Mouse...I think I smell a rat".

It's been a slice  ;)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Saying Goodbye Creatively...

There's an old expression I've never liked: "there are two thing you can count on...death and taxes". I don't really mind the taxes so much but I can honestly say, I've had enough of death.
I guess that's how it seems to go as we age but it's so damned painful. I believe our soul lives on in some way. Some people may refer to heaven or hell or an energy of sorts. I feel certain in my beliefs that our loved ones haven't really left us completely. And I also believe we will meet again. Of course there are those who do not believe that at all and I would never consider it my job to change what somebody else believes in.

As I'm hitting fifty this year, death has become something I feel even more strongly about. Or maybe it's just that there's been so much of it. 

What I find most intriguing is the many different traditions that we, as humans, hold. Options have become more varied and a service can be a final reflection of who we were in our human form.

There's even a company out there who claims to make a diamond out of your ashes. So much to choose from.

This time last year, we lost a dear friend. Susan was witty, colourful, and cared very much about nature. Due to her environmental concerns, Susan decided to be buried in a plain, pine box...very much as was done in the past. 

I did say that Susan was very colourful, yes??? We couldn't have her buried in such a plain looking box. The solution???

Environmentally friendly paints and a wonderful group of friends who were happy to provide Susan with all the colours of the rainbow.  The experience was incredible and when we were all finished, the plain, pine box was plain no more.

My Father-in-law recently passed away. He didn't have any real religious beliefs but my sister-in-law, who is in the Canadian Forces, as well as her husband, arranged to have their padre meet us at the cemetery today to say some words for my father-in-law. It was wonderful how she had the most wonderful readings and phrases that seemed to fit all of us.

It was a small, family affair and we also wanted to do something that we knew he would appreciate. 

My father-in-law always loved his brandy. My husband bought it for him every birthday. He never had the opportunity to open his newest bottle. So we brought it to him.

My husband poured some brandy into a flask. I brought my Quaich, or as my sister-in-law referred to it as "a friendship cup". My Quaich was a gift to me in 2008 from a dear friend in Scotland.
We passed around the Quaich so that each of us could toast my father-in-law and when it got back to my husband, he poured what was left in the cup over the ashes. It was very symbolic as my husbands father was a proud Scot and his brandy was his special treat. 

We left with the feeling that we had done what he would have liked. And in the end, I think that's what is really important.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Until we meet again....thank you Ken

I remember when we first met. I fell in love with your witty sense of humour and laughed at the stories you told, while your son just glared at you. He wasn't sharing our humour at all, which made it even funnier.

It didn't take long at all for you and Mrs. D. to welcome me into your family. I've always looked forward to our visits; especially when we would all sit down stairs, by the fire, while you and Mrs. D. would share more stories.

And I'll always think of you when we play with the Wiiiiiiiiiii.

Your wit and intelligence showed through as did your many talents and I can certainly understand how Mrs. D. fell in love with you.

You were a wonderful father and grand-father.

I just want to make it clear that my only reason for saying this is NOT just that you delivered your first child, on your own, at the age of twenty-one. That alone says much about you. Then there are the many stories of canoe trips, camping trips, travel and sadness.

And my own experiences.  

I will always carry with me memories of you telling me stories that Barry didn't want repeated; you and Mrs. D. and the amazing relationship you both had; how you would translate all the English humour for me to understand it...I always thought it was so sweet and didn't have the heart to tell you I could understand it just fine.

Of course there were the times you would act grumpy even though I could see right through you. I can't tell you how many times, I've told Barry he reminds me of you. That is a huge compliment to both of you.

The day before our wedding. I was a bag of nerves and the tasks I had that day didn't help. You were like a father to me. I will always remember you telling me "Eat!!" as I was blabbering away at the table, holding onto my sandwich.

And Barry will never let me forget you telling me the day we were married that there were no refunds or exchanges.

I feel honoured that I had the time to get to know you as my father in law and thank you; not only for welcoming me into your family but for your part in delivering and raising a wonderful, sensitive, witty, intelligent son.
I know you've not truly left us but it saddens me that it will be some time before we meet again. I miss you already.

In the meantime, I'll be watching for you in the night'll be the star with the cutest wink.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Has anybody seen my brain???

After spending two years in isolation, I've been really working lately on getting a life again. If you read my last post, you'll get an understanding of how worked up I get making my way into town for an appointment. 

I can't understand how much of my independence was lost and, living rural with no car still; I find it interesting just how challenged I've been feeling.

I had an appointment with my doctor in Whitby today. The fun actually started when I was convinced that it was on the Wednesday. That would have made it yesterday. 
Yesterday came and I remember my husband, Barry telling me before he left for work that he had checked the time. I also remember checking the calendar.

Now in all fairness to both of us, we had just spent a very stressful weekend with Barrys parents and a serious health issue that I won't talk about right now.

Sure enough...yesterday Barry came home from work early to get me to my appointment. To my astonishment, we arrived 24 hours and 6 minutes early. We were both sure I must have written it down wrong but when we arrived back home, I checked....all three calendars. 

And on all three read very red ink...THURSDAY APRIL 21, 2011 @ 4:15.

So as we looked at our options, neither one of us liked the thought of Barry taking more time off work and I'd been checking out the Go Schedule lately and thought it might be a good idea to give it a try. 

As I went through the schedule, I saw that with two transfers (Oshawa and Whitby), I would be taken directly to my clinic. The only decision I had to make was between where to board the bus (Peterborough or Cavan). I decided I was in the middle and chose Cavan. 

That was my first mistake.

My second and worse mistake was trying to navigate the Go-Train from Oshawa to Whitby, without carrying on to Ajax. I saw a lot of the Whitby station...from closed doors. It turned out there is construction being carried on at the station and they're not opening doors from certain cars. Only they don't tell you until you're on your way so you have a whole ONE STOP to try to get to the right car. 
Needless to say, by the time I actually made it to the clinic, my husband had just pulled in to pick me up....after working until 5. 

So... I can now expect to be anywhere from 24 hours and 6 minutes early to two hours late. 

Needless to say, I have to reschedule that one and hope I can still remember who I am by then.
It's a damned good thing I can claim old age now.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Pity Party....

We all have them....a week when it seems that nothing goes right, no matter how much we try.

Well this has been one of those weeks. There's no point in going on about every little thing this week but what really didn't help is that I had to go to the hospital for a test yesterday. Nothing life threatening; I can be grateful for that. It's the trip into town that does it to me.

Funny; this kind of goes with my post just prior to this when I talk about how independent I've always been. Growing up in Toronto, I was used to taking the Toronto Transit everywhere. But as I said...things have changed.

My body is not what it used to be; obviously or I wouldn't have been going for this test to begin with. And I was stressing out further as the time came for me to leave.

One thing I did do for myself was to find out if anybody would be home that afternoon so that I could go by for a visit with my sweet, adorable grand-daughter. Emmy will be three years old in July and is constantly amazing me. She is blessed with intelligent, wonderful parents who take the time out to teach her constantly. And though she has very little 'other' family members, she knows how much she's loved by each one of us.

Well yesterday was my big day. I had to be out the door by nine o'clock to catch the ten o'clock bus into town. It wasn't until I was going through my bag at the hospital that I noticed my camera was not in it. I hadn't left my bag unattended once.

I remembered (or so I thought), putting it into a certain 'safe' pouch with a velcro folder in a zippered compartment. I've always been extremely safe with my camera. It's my passion.

At the same time, I remembered how much I was rushing to get out the door and decided that I must have pulled it out and forgot to put it back.

Now, much of my anxiety about getting into town is just that; getting there. It's an hour long walk to the nearest bus stop and as I've said, my body is not what it used to be. My 22 year old son suggested I take the short-cut across the train tracks, which made perfect sense. What I hadn't realized was how difficult the journey would be as I was constantly stumbling.

But I managed and after my test had a wonderful visit with Emmy and my daughter-in-law, Caroline.

It wasn't until evening, at home, when I came to the conclusion that my camera was definitely missing. I didn't sleep well last night and decided this morning to hook up Mollie and we'd cover my tracks; so to speak.

We walked all the way, including the tracks but no sign of my camera. It was on our way home that I found it on the other side of the road, just off the road. It was crushed; obviously been hit by a car. And I have to say that I was just as crushed.

We got home after our three hour walk and I fell asleep on the couch feeling sorry for myself.

When my husband came home, I recall him telling me that the memory card was gone. I find that a bit funny considering somebody had to have picked my my camera, open the compartment that holds the card and my batteries, then close it back up again.

Unfortunately for whomever took the time to do that, the only pictures left on there were of our furry critters and the card worked about 80% of the time for me.

When I think about the big picture, I can't help but think of my son's journey to the bus a couple of hours after mine. He came across a dead cat on the side of the road...just a young one. And afterward he had the task of passing this news onto the owner of the cat.

In the big picture, as much as I miss it; my camera can be replaced.
My dog and our cats cannot.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Woman Discovers Fire...

I remember a time in my life when I was very independent; insistent to never have to depend on a man for anything.

Somehow over the years, that changed. It's not even worth my time to go over the old stuff and the beliefs I've formed over the years that were not my beliefs to start with. Not to mention how my body likes to remind me day after day. Getting older does that, doesn't it???

Today started out like one of those days. It's very sunny outside but the wind is cold. And once again I woke up with nothing to fuel up the furnace. It really is nobody's fault, unless I want to blame my own circumstances; which is a useless process that only slows me down.

There are thing's I've learned to deal with and other circumstances where I've been realizing that I wait to be rescued. Not knowingly, of course but I have at least one dear friend who was once again, going to take time from her busy schedule to try to bring me warmth.

Jo is getting married. She doesn't need this and I knew if I put my mind to it, I could get the fire up and running.

While I let Mollie out to do her 'biz', I ran around the tree line, looking for dead branches. I then found that there were also dead parts on the outside of the fallen tree and they seemed to be great for getting it going.

Mollie enjoyed helping me collect it all, of course.

As for starting the fire, I'd watched Barry do it enough times that I figured I should be able to do it by now. I obviously couldn't do it exactly the way Barry does it as he uses wood that he buys on the way home.

I had none of that and so I used whatever I could scrape up.

Well, wouldn't you know, my fire started lick-a-dee split. And it lasted pretty good...until Jo got here, of course.

We still had a great visit and were able to talk about what I need to do...which I will have to start after I clean myself off as I seem to have developed an itch from something in the back...YIKES!!!

But I've got one kick-ass fire!!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Behind Closed Doors...

Botticelli....The Three Graces
I remember when I first really got the urge to work with women who have lived with violence. I was in my thirties and at the end of my own violent marriage.

I graduated from college in 1995 but it took another 6 years to land my dream job. For me, it had the best of both worlds. I was an outreach counsellor for women who had lived with abuse. I loved the work as well as the freedom of driving to several outlying areas.

I still remember my first few days of starting out. The boss-lady showed me my desk and handed me the Policies and Procedures manual to read. Between the manual and an outdated 40 hour course for volunteers, that was the training I received to prepare me for counselling.

I was NOT prepared at all; in fact, I was quite green. I did everything I could to understand how to do what I needed to do and, do it right. I'd say, I did pretty good considering the circumstances but I never felt good enough and that never changed.

I carried out my role the best I could for over seven years. Unfortunately, in the end, there was nothing left of me.

Through those years my health began to decline to the point when I could no longer carry on. But my eyes and my perception remained very clear.

Working for a not for profit organization has it's ups and downs. I won't speak for all agencies but I saw a lot of corruption, hypocrisy, favouritism, bullying, lies and a real lack of boundaries.

Eventually I learned that the boss-lady's priorities were not for the clients but for her to boost her own ego. During my last few years, I'd wonder why she pushed me for my yearly stats when I knew she was boosting them anyway. This of course, would make it even more difficult to top last years stats.

From the outside, the agency gives the appearance of a great place to work. We looked like one big happy family. But behind closed doors it was anything but. If we were a family, we'd be considered a very dysfunctional one.

I hadn't been working at the organization for very long when I started getting phone calls at home, insisting that I show up at the boss-lady's drunken parties. This became quite regular until I fell out of favour with her...thank goodness!!
As there were virtually no boundaries. It was not unusual to be partying at the boss-ladies home with members of our volunteer pool and board members (staff and volunteers were not to mingle during private time). Most of the board members had been on the board for years and the boss-lady had them wrapped around her fingers.

The boss-lady always liked her alcohol and though she hid in her office during Centre Events and I can't remember her ever speaking in public on the Centre's behalf; she never had a problem going out to one of her drinking establishments or fighting with her partner in the middle of the street.

After a few years I secured our own outreach office space. The boss-lady had talked for years about wanting a satellite office. Once the space was confirmed the boss-lady made every point of letting me know that this was NOT a satellite office but just office another community.

She validated her statements by making sure I never had a land line or internet connection. Many days, I was unable to make or receive calls with my cell phone. This was not only frustrating but also considered a safety risk to me.

I loved my new space though and even managed to create a food cupboard for the people I saw. It made me feel good every time I filled that cupboard but my body would pay the next day. I eventually bought myself a cart as the organization refused me. It did help somewhat but eventually my body gave out.

We had a very strict safety policy...or so the binder said. This also went completely downhill over the years to where it didn't make a difference half the time if anybody knew I'd made it home at night.

Staff meetings stopped and there was no support what-so-ever for the front line workers.

I had quite a few high risk clients...people who I felt needed more than I could give them. But that's not how it worked. I needed numbers for the funders. I always felt like I was just treading water.

It all came to a close at the end of 2008, when I had a work related incident while on outreach. What made it worse is that I realized once again that safety procedures had not been followed at the office end and; had I been killed that day, which was a good possibility, nobody would have known.

Naturally there was no support from the boss-lady with the heart of steel and when I left, I was not only dealing with this recent incident but the fall out of the last seven years. I was very bitter and it took me a long time to let it go.

This is not one of those "Poor me" blogs. Quite the contrary. I'm really happy now that I had that experience. I made a few good friends who remain my friends to this day and I learned a lot about myself.

I learned that I do have what it takes. I also learned to give myself more time in relationships for building trust and to never again give my power to anybody.

Life is a journey and it's filled with important lessons. What is really important is that we learn from them and become stronger.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Goodbye tree...

Thank you tree...

For providing us

with beauty and light...

unconditional Love...

and warmth...
bringing all of your

beauty, light,

love and warmth

into the new year.