Saturday, January 31, 2009

Lending a Hand Up

Kiva - loans that change lives
Just saw a riveting BBC report called Beyond a Dollar a Day. It showed the importance of supporting entrepreneurship in developing countries if they are ever to climb out of the bottomless chasm of poverty. It referred to aid as "pain relief" but not a cure, and showed how micro loans can truly make a difference in people's lives.

This spoke to my heart. I discovered micro loaning a few years back when I became a loaner to It allows you to contribute money to an account and then lend it out in $25 increments to the person/group of your choice. The website is fantastic - and pulls you into the lives of people all over the globe who are trying to make a living and a life for themselves and their families. The loans are interest-free and there is no financial benefit to the loaner (i.e. tax write offs), however the benefits are immeasurable. The first thing that strikes you is how much more powerful a dollar is in the developing world than our own. My coffee allowance for three weeks can help complete a loan and instantly transform some one's life with possibility. It doesn't get better than that!

I have been giving electronic gift certificates to friends for birthdays that allow them to establish their own account. You can withdraw any/all unused and repaid funds at any time so it is definitely not a donation, nor is it charity. It is empowerment. Offering optimism and realizing potential where otherwise it may not be.

I find myself loaning mainly to women ... however I recently gave myself a shake and balanced my account with more loans to men - fathers and sons who also are trying to sustain their families.

An interesting note - in these tough economic times one would expect that the loans distributed to people in war torn, decimated countries (Sierra Leone, Somalia, Haiti, Iraq etc) would have a high default rate. That has not been my experience. To date, I have not had one default and curiously enough -- right now all six of my loans are repaying ahead of schedule. It's the way to go - lending a hand up (in addition to a hand out when needed).

Can you image what a billion dollar bail out could do??

Photo courtesy of

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Today was one of those days in which things were unravelling from the get go ...

It was a comedy of errors, mishaps, moments and trying situations. The day started with me ramming my Benzie through the 3 ft wall the snow plough left at the end of the driveway. I rammed it slowly so I could keep my muffler! The commute to work felt like a NASCAR event or should I say a Monster Truck event. I crossed myself and said three Hail Marys - and I'm not even Catholic. I went through the Tim Horton's drive thru and as I was reaching for my Tim's card, it slipped out of my hands and fell between the seat and console. I grabbed for my wallet which was in my purse, in my book bag - which was in the back seat. The clerk smiled politely and I smiled back through gritted teeth as I rummaged under pressure - a lineup of cranky cars waiting for their caffeine fixes.

When I say that we are all in need of some sunshine, I am not kidding. Spirits are in need of uplifting. Optimism is withering and people just seem generally downtrodden. What to do?
There are alot of cranky people at the office and there also seem to be many who are discouraged and frustrated. Surely it cannot all be chalked up to the dismal long winter - but what is the cure? It feels like things are generally unravelling.

Tonight I ended the day on a good note. I had dinner with my two amigos to celebrate the little one's 51st birthday. A year ago we were all on a catamaran in the Virgin Islands for her 50th. Corny - but I can hardly believe that a year has passed already. It reminds me how fleeting our time is in this earthly life and that each day must truly be valued as a gift. As sappy as that may sound, I can attest that when my mom received a new lease on life with the gift of a transplanted lung, each breath she took was a gift, and each day lived was a bonus to her. She reminded me to live and love each day fully.

And that is why I end each night blogging. It causes me to pause and reflect - and find the gift in each day. I think I found it today. There are dark days to help us appreciate the sunny ones; and special people all around us to remind us that we matter.

Good night - and good day - tomorrow (please?).

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Hodge Podge Day

Today I was able to roll out of bed, make coffee and work in my PJs. Yup! I worked from home. And quite coincidentally, I picked a perfect day to do it. Today was a snow day - schools closed, Kidlet home, hubby shovelling - you get the picture. And luckily - no commute for me! I worked on my business plan in my very messy office/spare bedroom/storage closet with my schnauzer on my feet. All of this cold weather and comfort food had me craving fruits and veggies. Inspired by a picture of a scrumptious salad that I spotted on Country Girl's blog, it had me rummaging through the fridge in search of salad fixings. The very nature of the berry, spinach salad is a contradiction to the stark bareness of winter. If I can't be in the tropics - I can at least get a taste!

Burned the toasted almonds darn it!

Much better! And the wait was worth the end result...

I have noticed signs of strain on people's faces alot lately. I think the winter is getting to us all just a little bit and we could all use a heavenly dose of heat and sunshine. A respite from winter. I suppose I was looking for that in my summer salad and you know what - it cheered me up and lifted my spirits as only a good meal can do. It was a hodge podge day - mixed and strange. Fritz wouldn't venture out until his runway was cleared of snow; hubby couldn't walk him far because the forest is impassable; Kidlet was climbing the walls with cabin fever (making us - in turn - climb the walls) and the day lacked its usual routine. And that was not a bad thing -- just different. Fritz is poking at me to go to bed (he is a dog of routine)and I have said all that I have to share. So here's to another cosy snow day - that helps us navigate our long Canadian winter.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Enjoying the Journey ...

Tonight as I happily chomped on my stir fried veggies, my friend from Ottawa called me to lodge a complaint.

A while back he called me early one Saturday morning to share some exciting news; he was selling his old Victorian semi and buying a super cool loft in an old building in the downtown core. As we spoke, I found the link to the condo online and we walked through all of the features and rooms together; chatting - heady with the possibilities. Then my typically cynical friend started to get cold feet; he didn't want to get too excited just in case: "What if I don't sell my place? Something could happen ... The owners could back out ... " whispered his inner pessimist.

I offered up a heaping plateful of home cooked Lyn advice:

Let yourself enjoy this. Go with it!
Share and revel in the joy and anticipation you are feeling.
If something happens and the deal falls through,
you are going to be disappointed regardless ...
At least you will have had some fun.
Why deprive yourself of that?
(I apply that same logic to all of life's adventures -- including pregnancy. I could never understand how keeping it to myself for three months would make a miscarriage easier to bear).

Now - back to the complaint. He lost the deal. The owners of the loft he was buying were offered a firm deal and asked my friend to firm up his conditional (upon sale of his house) offer. My friend did not feel confident that he could sell his house in time (the offer on his house was conditional upon the buyers selling their house). Thus he did not firm up. Thus he lost the deal. Thus he called to complain that he wished he hadn't taken my advice. Cry me a river!

I reminded him of all of the fun phone calls we had shared, hypothetically decorating his new place, discussing the parties he would have, and how cool it would be to be withing walking distance to the Arts Centre. I heard laughter on the other end of the line and he finally relented. Yes it was, and had been fun! It had been an exciting few months. Music to my ears.

It's all about learning to love and enjoy the journey. The destination -- well that could be cool too. But if you never arrive - no worries. Life is unfolding along the way ... perfectly.

Now how the heck do I get this spinach out of my teeth??

Monday, January 26, 2009

Precious Connections

Just got off the phone with my Pops (in Florida). We spent a good hour catching up on politics (American and Canadian), the economy, the state of the various arms of the family, the weather (hey – we’re Canadian), and just having a good life chat. We do this usually twice a week. And some may wonder what we could possibly find to talk about for so long, and so frequently. I wonder sometimes myself how we do it. But it comes down to making and keeping connections. As we chatted tonight we agreed that most people have a need to know they matter and what they mean to others. Expressing these sentiments to one another can be powerful and life changing, especially for the person hearing them.

I have many people I maintain connections with – mostly because I am fortunate enough to have many who I love, and who in turn love me. Sometimes I spend an entire night on the phone with Pops, my daughters, my aunt or even MIH. It is time well spent. Of course my family are avid techie communicators … we all have Facebook profiles, as well as a family website. We readily share pictures and stories and I daresay that our family “lines” of communication rival CNN for speed, currency and accuracy.

For me, reaching out is an investment in relationships - family and friends. Speaking of connections, I recently made a very special one with a cousin of mine who I have never met. She lives on the other side of the country and yet, through the magic of technology, we are able to share stories, photos and information and get to know one another. This could never have happened 20 years ago … I think she even reads this blog on occasion. My ever-expanding circle of loved ones has become more important to me with each passing year. Each connection is a fragile, strand of precious silk that needs nurturing. Without our connections to loved ones, and sharing the human experience – what else is there?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Frozen Smiles and Toes

The temperature was -15C today and with the winds it felt - 27C. But that didn't stop us from heading down to City Hall for a skating party for my niece. If I had any initial doubts about going ... they vanished the minute I saw my niece's shining, wide smile. She was clearly loving having her cousins, brothers, mama and other friends and family together to celebrate her 20th birthday. As we donned our skates and I took to the ice, I immediately felt invigorated. There is something "survivalist" about skating in the depths of winter; a "we come - we conquer" kind of attitude.

And the sting of the frigid air in my lungs and the tingling in my cheeks brought me back to my childhood when I would walk 4 blocks to the outdoor rink in my skates and then home again with wooden feet. The needles and pins that would come with the thawing out of those frozen feet - my mother rubbing them vigorously between her hands - would end in howling and tears.
OK - it's been about three years since I've skated so I was a little slow out of the gate. Wobbly at first then stronger - around I went. The girls propped one anther up, lending an arm to those who needed it. My Elmer Fudd hat was a hit (thank you to sister 2 who gave it to me). I looked hot in it -- OK -- I felt hot in it!

We teased and chided one another as we skated by. About half an hour into the skate the complaints of frozen fingers, toes and noses started. We braved a few more laps and then we started dropping off like flies - making a beeline to the warmth of the changing room.

Now as I sit by the fire - my tummy full, my toes warm and cheeks still aglow - and the drowsiness from a satisfying day spent in the sunshine, I say a silent thank you. A day spent with people I love and another memory to share with my future gra ... oops - best not to be presumptuous.

With rosy cheeks and a warm heart I bid you good night.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Hit Me With Your Best Shot

In our family January is a very busy birthday month. I tried counting backwards nine months to see what is so exciting and fertile about April... mmm season of procreation it would seem! I digress! My dad, my brother in law, niece, ex mother in law and father in law all have January birthdays, which makes for a month of wall to wall family get togethers.

Tonight was PapaP's (father in law) turn. We celebrated his 62nd birthday at a nice upscale steakhouse. Hubby's family is alot smaller than mine so it is important that we all be there to share these milestones. PapaP is a complex character. He can be both charismatic and inappropriate - all at the same time. He says it as he sees it - no filters - which can be unnerving when you don't know him. He reminds me of horse radish. The heat can freeze your brain and then afterwards, its flavour becomes addictive. I am not sure how he would feel about being compared to horse radish ... but I am sure he would prefer that to sauerkraut!

He is lovable person who is wild about his kids, and of course his Shar Pei, Mr Tibbs. He delights in planting big sloppy kisses on hubby's cheek (kind of like how Tibbs does to others) - hilarious considering hubby's shy, reserved, guarded nature. Hubby is well loved and so am I. I have always felt that MIH (mother-in-heart) and PapaP were marital bonuses. Tonight we celebrated and delighted in one another's company. Lil sis in law - AKA Lil Martha (as in Stewart) - kept us laughing - not only with her hilarious recounting of tales but also her humorous way of being. Love her...

I am what you would call a cheap date. I feel every ounce of alcohol I consume. Tonight I somehow reverted to 18 (yrs old). I had 2 glasses of wine and then 3 shots (in miniature ice cream cones) of Panama Jack. Not exactly sure why ... I could blame it on the neighbour and his wife who invited themselves over ... or on PapaP who begged off his shot claiming antisocial feelings about the neighbours ... or on the fact that I hate to waste good food -- and drink. Anyway, the net result was that I lost feeling in my teeth and knees. Hubby drove home. End of story!

I have to hit the sack. The birthday whirlwind continues with a skating tomorrow for my niece who is turning 20. It should be fun -- chilly with sub zero temperatures -- but fun!

And the fun will continue. On February 9th we celebrate the birthdays of my sister, my nephew and Kidlet. Which begs the question: What is so exciting and fertile about May???

Friday, January 23, 2009

Private Pity Party

I'm having my own private pity party. Pour me (more wine!). Poor me - my head hurts. A headache has been chasing me all day and it finally caught me! I have to complain here -- the dog is sick of listening. Suffice to say - this will be a short post.

Lucky me - I had the day off so my weekend started today. In fact I've been confusing today with Saturday all day long, and was delighted to discover (watching the news) that I have 2 full days in front of me. I think a four day work week is perfect, and if I could afford it, I would choose a short week in a heartbeat.

For now, I will finish my glass of wine, take another Motrin and watch an episode of Battlestar Gallactica with hubby before turning in. The pity party was short lived. I feel better already just knowing that when I wake up tomorrow - I have the whole weekend to enjoy.

Poor me no more! Pity party is officially over.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Power of Influence & Love

If I was looking for inspiration after a somewhat uninspiring day, I found it in the movie Slumdog Millionaire. In the film, a contestant in the Indian version of "So You Want to Be a Millionaire" is arrested for suspicion of cheating after answering all of the questions correctly. During questioning the contestant reveals how events and moments from his life shaped his future and imparted wisdom.

It got me thinking about how we are shaped by our early beginnings - childhood - and the people in it. They help influence our thinking, our values and how we perceive ourselves. In grade school my music teacher convinced me that I had talent; that I could be a featured soloist of the band - if I practiced daily. Funny thing was, I only knew 4 notes on my brass instrument! But - I had a destiny - a talent. I lugged that baritone (small tuba) home and treated my saintly parents to daily random collections of notes! I worked hard and got to be very accomplished and a soloist - all because someone else thought I had greatness in me.

Years later, that very same teacher laughed when I told him how he had inspired me with his belief in me. He confessed that at the time he thought I was tone deaf and pretty much hopeless but -needing a baritone player for the band - he said whatever he thought would get me practicing. A lifelong myth - debunked! But it showed me the power others can yield - if we allow it. This can work both ways - positively and negatively. I shudder to think of the consequences if that same teacher had suggested that I drop music ...

I think the same principle applies to love. We learn how to love from those who loved us as children. My parents were generous with their love to me and my siblings, raising us in a home filled with affection and love expressed - between our parents, and shared amongst us. Hugs and kisses were bountiful and as a parent, I imitated those expressions with my own children. Unconditional love can make everything seems possible and strengthen our armour of self worth.

But what of those who are not so fortunate? They navigate life's rocky channels without the confidence of knowing; but rather, hoping - accumulating know-how with earned experience.

We learn how to love and if we are very blessed, we get taught by the best. I am grateful I was.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Gafuffled, Bemuddled Kind of Day

I am tired tonight - and I was all day long. It was the kind of day that by 11 am I was looking for toothpicks to prop my eyelids open and visions of PJs danced in my head! Maybe it was Obama hangover, or maybe I am just emotionally spent.

It was a strange, befuddled, mucky day. Dropped threads, bent truths, emotions that ran the gamut, and odd encounters. Some days are just like that. After the euphoria of last night, the offbeat unravelling of the day was anti climatic. Call me Canadian - but I can't help feeling that our bitter cold winters played out mainly in the dim and darkness take their toll on our psyche and overall well being. I joked with our VP today when he asked how everything was going ... told him that it wasn't anything that a Caribbean vacation couldn't fix. I actually wasn't joking.

Now in these final moments before I turn in for the night, I sit by the warm fire, Fritz the schnauzer cuddled in beside me on the couch and kidlet chillin' on the other sofa and I feel peace settling in. We need this odd days to fully appreciate the better ones. Just like we need the frigids of winter to appreciate the sunshine of summers.

Life is good. I have people who love me and people to love. I have a dog, husband and kidlet to cuddle (actually she isn't as cuddly as she used to be). I have a community - a sisterhood - at work and a job about which I am passionate.
I have purpose.
I have alot.

And now that I have counted my blessings, and let the gratitude seep into my very being I am ready for rest. Thank you for yet another day - mucky and yucky, peaceful and serene.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

History Made - At Last ...

What a day! What a historic day!
Butterflies in my tummy when I awoke this morning. And in the wee hours as I got ready for work I was ticked that I hadn't had the foresight to book a vacation day today so that I could stay home glued to my set. Instead I was glued to CNN's and CBC's live coverage. Don't get me wrong - I squeezed in a bit of work too!

Today is one more, step on the steep stairway leading to change.
As you can imagine talk of the inauguration dominated our office, and my fellow Obama fans and I couldn’t help but answer the call of the swearing in ceremony. The streaming video didn't work out so well so my frustrated colleague who lives close by tore out of the office to watch the rest of the ceremony on a reliable TV. She called out an invitation to all as she departed ...

What we started at our desks - we finished in a boardroom - all five of us (our boss-lady included) sat fixated at the images and words that rolled out before us. Misty eyes and a solemn sense that we were sharing a moment bigger than all of us ...
What a day! What a historic day! I have no more tears to shed. My heart is filled with gratitude that in my lifetime I bear witness to this momentous day ... the day that the impossible became possible; and the day that the world rejoiced in the knowledge that as one - we can prevail.
Image from screen shot of CNN coverage
"This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed -
why men and women and children of every
race and every faith can join in celebration
across this magnificent mall, and why a man
whose father less than 60 years
ago might not have been served
at a local restaurant can now stand before
you to take a most sacred oath."
- President Barack Obama

There were times when I thought I couldn't last for long
But now I think I'm able to carry on
It's been a long, been a long time coming
But I know a change is gonna come,
oh yes it will.
- Sam Cooke

Monday, January 19, 2009

Tears for Cheers - Obama

My personal Obama-rama continues. Yesterday I watched the We Are One concert shown on HBO. I taped it for Kidlet and ended up watching it again with her last night. I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that for the entire show my emotions randomly ranged between lump-in-my-throat to teary-eyed to ugly-uncontrolled crying. I was profoundly moved. This whole Obama thing has mysteriously connected with me on a very deep level. I couldn't help but notice that each and every performer wore huge wide smiles and unrestrained and utter joy.

Tear-inspiring moments
  • The shining faces of the mosaic youth choir grooving and moving to the music;

  • Bruce Springsteen opening the show with The Rising - backed by a choir of cathedral proportions;

  • Hearing Bettye Lavette's mournful A Change Is Gonna Come (it's been a long time coming) duet with Jon Bon Jovi (powerful lyrics being sung by a woman who lived them);

  • Heather Headley singing My Country on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on the same spot a black woman sang it in 1933 for the Roosevelts AFTER being denied entry to an event because she was black. Heather Headley's misty eyes and expression showed she got the momentous nature of it all;

  • The sheer magnitude of the crowds, the occasion, and the visible hopes invisibly tattooed on the faces of each person in the crowd;

  • Pete Seeger the living legend singing This Land Is Your Land and seeing a dream of his come to fruition.

My heart is full to overflowing. We need this - humankind needs this collective uplifting. What we do with this injection of hope and call to action is up to each one of us. The images, words and music that has clogged the airways and the networks has me recalling black and white images from the sixties that weren't so positive. Images from the news of assassinations, violence, riots and funerals, have stayed with me even though I witnessed them as a small child. It has me thinking about the pain, anguish and humiliation endured by people through the ages and of the times I have felt ashamed to be white.

In my lifetime I can only recall a few rare moments in history in which the world has shared a collective emotion, or cause - i.e. assassinations of great people such as Gandhi, Kennedy, Martin Luther King and even the death of Lady Diana. The Boxing Day tsunami and the tearing down of the Berlin Wall are two other notables for me. I am certain that I will remember the election and inauguration of Barack Obama as one of those rare flickers in time that optimism and hope was stirred in the hearts of the world -- at least in mine.

Once what were shed as tears for fears are now tears of cheers and renewed faith - in Obama -and in humankind.

P.S. To be continued ...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday Ice Screen

This is a perfect day -- a lazy, have-no-plans day - my favourite variety! It snowed all night and poor hubby was shovelling for almost 2 hours this morning. He has a different take on the snow. While I am all bundled up, drinking hot tea by the fire, expounding (writing) on the beauty to be found in the winter scene - he is breaking a sweat (not to mention his back) over a shovel. Thanks hubby.

Hubby came with me on a photo-find drive this morning and we drove to our favourite spot down at the harbour. I am always in awe how the harbour transforms from a bustling hub catering to boaters, tourists and locals who love their waterfront - into an icy, desolate vastland for ducks and geese who forgot to migrate south.

It was a special hour for hubby and I, looking and photographing the beauty in the ice and snow. Hubby was disappointed that he didn't have bread with him (he hadn't expected the birds to be there) and warned me that the next time he was bringing bread along to feed the birds - even though we aren't supposed to. He is my Dr. Doolittle. We didn't have to look hard to see beauty in the overcast grey morning. And that is like life -- if we just pay attention -- we will see a world filled with beauty -- and it is almost always found in small moments and simple things.

I have included a few of my shots in this post ...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Beacon of Hope

Well - following the election drought, we are finally getting our Obama fix once again. I can't remember such anticipation and feeling of hope and optimism surrounding a political (or any) event. The excitement is quickly building to fever pitch ... and we are holding our collective breath to see how it will culminate and where it will lead. Are we setting our expectations so high that neither the inauguration nor the presidency could possibly meet them?

I think not! Humankind is thirsty for optimism and hope; for a reason to go on; a reason to dream. We are ready to believe that the impossible is possible; that the monumental challenges and problems facing our humanity and planet can be solved by our collective knowledge, creativity, energy and desires. That the broken can be repaired or reinvented. The common denominator here is the concept of the “collective”. Barack Obama’s speeches and addresses are riddled with references to “we”, “us”, “everyone” and “all”. He is inclusive. He is a beacon of hope for the disenfranchised, the outsiders and the sideliners. He is a symbol of the best of humanity – diverse, dignified, exemplary, intelligent, imperfect, grounded … I could go on forever.

A leader is someone people want to follow. Let’s face it – there is a presidential machine that can conduct the business of the president. But I have always felt the importance of a leader – a president or prime minister – is their ability to have and communicate a vision that unifies; who inspires others and moves society to create a better version of itself. A leader must light the fire in hearts and mobilize nations.

This morning I sit anchored to my TV watching Obama board the train to his future. If you asked me why tears flowed down my cheek, I couldn’t answer. All I know is that my heart is full, my emotions are running high to overflowing, and that my faith in humankind is renewed. I am hopeful. I believe. And this shiny new leader is a beacon of hope to me and many.

Friday, January 16, 2009

At the Car Wash

People aren't the only ones that are affected by the ravages of winter. My little black Benzie Jeep was completely encrusted in white road salt - the price we pay for non-slip highways and melted snow. Like all responsible Canadians who try to wring every last mile out of their car by taking good care of it - I try to take a car wash adventure every few weeks. Benzie has alot of personal vanity and pride and likes to glisten. Here are some shots from yesterday's adventure that show we can find beauty just about anywhere we are willing to see it:

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Culturally Canadian

Years ago when my daughter was in grade school she came home on a mission: she was supposed to bring food to school that represented her heritage. Dilemma? What was her heritage? Being fifth generation Canadian, she had countless choices ... Irish, Scottish, Jewish, Russian, Romanian, French, mixed with a little German, Swiss and even a dash of First Nations. She complained that she didn't feel much like any of those things and I insisted that she was Canadian. Dilemma #2 - culturally, what would represent "Canadian"? She ended up bringing a Toblerone chocolate bar to school to represent her Swiss heritage -- and it was a huge hit with the kids!

We've seen how TV depicts Canadians as beer guzzling, donut stuffing, tuque wearing, eh-saying nice people. This morning on my routine run through the Tim Hortons drive thru it occurred to me that this very act is as Canadian as it gets! Maybe there is a strand of truth in the stereotype. We Canadians do love our coffee! At lunch my colleagues invited me for a lunch time walk -- to the Tim Hortons. Does that qualify as exercise??

As I stood in the long lineup (everyone had the same idea) I noticed that the once young faces serving behind the counter have been replaced by more senior ones. The times are definitely a-changing.

Back at the office as I sat munching on my chicken salad sandwich and sipping my medium, double cream, single sugar coffee, my desk -- littered with Tim Hortons cups - was a testament to my daily devotion. I think I drink way too much coffee!

Not sure I would go as far as saying I am proudly Canadian about my Tim's addiction; however I think I can safely say that it may culturally Canadian. I can't believe I just said that ...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Canadian Deep Freeze

In keeping with Canadian tradition - I will complain marvel at the weather. It was darn cold today and when I left for work at 6:30 am, the plunging -22 degree Celsius temperatures had my car seat frozen rock hard. I was grateful when Benzie started without so much as a hesitation and I gave a silent prayer of thanks for having upgraded to those nifty seat warmers. I turned on the radio and listened to the morning show hosts comment and jest about the cold. We Canadians really talk about the weather alot!

To my surprise, my windows were still frozen shut after half an hour in the car and I had to step out of the car to grab my coffee in the Tim Horton's drive thru. (Embarrassed - I give a quick wave to the other cars behind me in the lineup.) I thought of those who are not fortunate enough to have a warm place to lay their head or even escape to for respite from the freeze. Lucky me! As the day wore on the added element of blowing snow doubled the time to drive home. Thank goodness for Satellite radio - 70's on the 7. I was so cold when I got home I kicked it up a notch - foregoing flannel for the fleece PJs. Cosy! All night the news shows and channels discussed the freezing cold temperatures; a parade of images of people bundled up and disguised against the cold. Poor Winnipeg was -49C; Ottawa was -23C. At least we warmed up to -11C!

Fritz the schnauzer doesn't seem to mind the cold. If it is raining - he refuses to go out no matter how much he has to relieve himself. But no matter how cold, he barks to go out, and once released, he trots like a prince around his maze of paths that hubby shovelled for him in the back yard. At least there is one contented Canadian.

Someone at work commented how we Canadians always talk about the weather - just after we had spent 20 minutes discussing the cold weather and how it is even too cold for your nose to run in these sub zero temps).

In the summer:
It's so humid and sticky.
This rain is relentless.
We haven't had a nice weekend all summer.

In the fall:
Did you hear that wind? I thought we were going to lose our tree??
I can't remember it getting so damp and cold so soon.
You can smell winter in the air.

In the winter:
Too much to mention.

In the spring:
Can you believe this rain? It feels like we are in England.
When is the snow going to melt?
I can't wait for summer!

But right now -- we are in a deep freeze and it hurts to smile. Now where did I stash those fleece lined jeans....

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Starry Eyed

For Christmas, Kidlet gave me tickets to see the Dancing With the Stars tour. She and I are self-confessed fans and it was a regular date every week to watch it together. A rare night out with Kidlet. After many adventures in parking (or trying to find it) during rush hour in the city core, and the unexpected sight of a man openly urinating in the train station vestibule as he pontificated about the summertime [Kidlet - "Mom -- don't looook!"] and after fighting the sub zero temperatures and winds, we made it to the venue.
The search for good parking robbed us of a restaurant meal, so junk food gobbled over an empty counter/garbage can had to suffice. I snapped shots as kidletsmiled and rolled her eyes. Cute.

Loved the show! Loved her face as she watched it. Cherished the time with her -- even if it started off a little rocky. We both need to become better listeners.

We didn't dance with the stars last night, but I swear we had them in our eyes.

Thanks Kidlet.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Warming Chilly

A cold snowy day like today had me looking for comfort food. Hubby wasn't too hungry for dinner as he had a late "healthy lunch" so I took the opportunity to cook something that he is not too fond of --- chili! I'm a messy cook. I find chopping fresh vegetables, the fragrance of herbs and spices and the homey cooking smells comforting and relaxing. Fritz was my loyal sous chef, standing faithfully by to eat any random piece of vegetable that ricocheted off my knife. Hubby agreed that I am a messy cook but agreed that as long as the cook cleans up after herself, it's not a bad thing. Who wants to have the distraction of wiping and washing when you are chopping and stirring!
The end result was hot, spicy and delicious - and I was chilly no more!


Had some rare one-on-one time with Kidlet last night as we made the 40 minute drive to her hockey game. She was happily chatting the whole way, filling me in on what's been happening in her life lately. As she enthusiastically (she takes after her grandfather) retold her stories to me, voice rising and falling with the twists of the conversation, I couldn't help but smile to myself. Life through my teenager's eyes brings me right back to my own youth -- and reminds me that while some things are very different - some things never change. My heart warms with these now-not-so-frequent opportunities to just "be" with her. My other daughters are now grown women and I learned that this time with kids at home is far too short and fleeting. They taught me how truly precious this "mothering" time is - and to see it as a gift. Kidlet came along many years after the first two treasures and I felt then that I had been given an opportunity to experience motherhood fully and consciously.

Kidlet is facing the fork in the road. She has so many talents and gifts and so many options. We had a wonderful conversation on the way home that continued in the driveway -- and into the house. Her face was lit up like a Christmas tree and her hands waved in concert to her words as she reviewed her options, fears, concerns and observations aloud. I was but a witness to the whole conversation as she sorted through it all. She said that most of the choices she faces are isolating -- no one can really help her choose. She has to live her choices - and the choices are many.

I can remember that time in my life -- the bridge to anywhere spanning before me. Stresses of schoolwork, deciding what I wanted to do with my life, what career, what school to apply to ... a large burden for a young person at the threshold of adulthood. She seems so much more composed and self assured than I was at the same age.

She is aware of the environmental bubble she has been raised in and has a yearning to break free, discover her authentic self and make changes in the world.

As I kissed her gleaming smiling face goodnight, I gave a silent prayer of thanks for this beautiful person who is passing through my life. And I took peace in the confidence that Kidlet will make any choice she makes - be the right one for her.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Pain in the Backside

The weather the past few days has been sketchy at best – raining, slushy, icy, freezing rain. You get the picture. Last night, while I sat waiting for a red light to change I got rear ended. It happened so quickly. I have never been involved in an accident - and had no idea what to do. I handled it badly – or maybe I should say – I didn’t handle it at all. I was so concerned that this older man’s car was mashed up and that he seemed distraught that I barely looked at my car, and instead busied myself with helping him collect all of the scattered pieces of this bumper and grill. My bumper looked scraped with a little dent but it was hard to see in the dark.

I handled it poorly:
  • He didn’t want to put it through his insurance so I didn't even get any of his insurance info

  • I asked to see his driver’s license but only wrote down his name and address

  • My pen didn’t work and I only had a credit card receipt to write on

  • I helped him remove the evidence

  • I could have documented the scene with the digital camera I always have with me

  • I didn’t make one call

After the accident I continued on to the mall to do my errands. When I got home, Kidlet (who is in driver’s training) briefed me on the proper procedure – so I would know for the next time. Lesson learned.

How embarrassing is that?? Anyway, this whole thing is just one big pain in the backside – for me and Benzie (my car)!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Canada's Pride and Gold

Canada FlagAs I called my Dad last night to say my birthday wishes personally, Canada was facing off against Sweden in the junior hockey world championships. Kidlet was perched in front of the TV, snacks in hand, waving me into the other room to talk. I wasn't in there a minute when I heard her squeals and cheers. (Was there really only one kidlet in there??) Canada had already scored a goal and I was barely through the first pleasantries of my call. Dad watched the game from Florida, probably out in his lanai, with the TV volume turned down as he chatted with me.

We talked for over an hour as if I were sitting in his lanai with him. When I hung up Kidlet accused me of making him miss the big game. She couldn't buy that he would prefer a birthday call over a championship hockey game.

Much to our delight the young Canadians dug deep and brought home the gold for the fifth time in a row. I am not sure why hockey stirs up our Canadian pride but the sight of the over sized Canadian flag being passed around the stadium in Ottawa could bring a tear to a glass eye. We Canadians tend to be somewhat reserved - and not such flag wavers as our neighbours to the south. If we need a reason to wave our flag -- the win last night game us a golden one! AT the risk of bragging -- I say -- in a not too reserved way -- way to play Canada!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Celebrating My Dad

Today is my father’s 72nd birthday. As I write that number I feel so grateful that I still have my father in my life as well as the most wonderful, meaningful relationship with him. He defies the age – with an energy level that would rival a 30 year old and a zeal and zest for life that is unmatched by anyone I have ever met. He is a living example of a person who lives every moment of life fully and mindfully. He is enthusiastic about the world and events around him. He can spot a red tailed hawk or roadside deer from the driver’s seat. He derives joy from growing and nurturing the plant life in his garden whether it be his climbing beans, roses or tropical fruit. He loves to cook and preserve the food he grows. He loves to share the experience as much as he does having it. He is like no other.

He is a large man – tall and strong. At 72 his blue eyes are clear and he still has more blonde hair than gray. He is what some would call an overachiever. He has done most everything – and excelled at most. He has been an athlete, a university graduate, an educator, a school principal, a politician, an outdoorsman, a naturalist, a coroner, a justice of the peace, a boat captain, a business owner, a hunter, and a mayor. He is a middle child, father to four, grandfather to eight, and has been a husband to two - and is the core of our family. He has helped change the world we live in – in ways too many to recount. He gives more than he takes. He is a dreamer and visionary and with the exception of not competing in the Olympics, he would probably say he has fulfilled his dreams. One might say that he talks alot - he is a master communicator and storyteller. Recently he started writing and preserving those stories and memories. Maybe he'll add author to the list!

Most importantly to me, he has continuously evolved as a human being. He has allowed himself to be changed by his experiences and continues to surprise me with his willingness to consider and embrace new ideas. He has shown that we are all works in progress and if we so choose – we too can continue to grow. The possibilities are endless. Through his example I have learned many things - including the importance of reaching out to others and maintaining connections. He diligently works his way through his phone book regularly, checking in with friends and family members - and not with those five minute calls either. His calls are the equivalent of an hour-long visit often touching on philosophy, politics or the events of the day. He is a great friend to have and I am proud to say he has become one of my best (friends).

So on this day – my father’s birthday – I would like to tell the world that my dad is not only an inspiration – he is tops! Happy Birthday Pops!