Friday, February 27, 2009

Friends, Friday and Feelings

Friday -- the end of a long week. I think it is my most favourite night of all; a time to crash and relax knowing that the whole weekend stretches before me. Time to exhale. Fritz has already exhaled -- he is out cold on the couch beside me. On my other side, Kidlet is drifting in and out, exhausted after a stressful, action packed week of hockey, assignments, tests and driving lessons. The week was not without its merits.

I had dinner with J last night - my dear friend of more than 36 years. She is true, someone who I can pick up with regardless of how much time has passed since our last visit. She is my past and she tells me I am hers. We remember one another as children, shared dreams of being writers, mothers and having daughters that would play together. The last part about our daughters playing together didn't quite pan out - time and distance - however we were fortunate enough to realize our dreams. We were best friends from middle school onwards, we co-wrote for our high school newspaper, moved to the city to go to college and were room-mates. She was by my side when I married, and I by hers when she eloped. When my mother was critically ill in the hospital, J miraculously appeared at my darkest moment, a shoulder of solace. I tried to do the same for her when a year later her mother lay dying of cancer. Soul sisters.

For the next two hours over fresh rolls, Thai salads and stir fry, and two chilled glasses of wine we exchanged stories, philosophized, commiserated and laughed. I love the way J's wide smile takes me back decades, to a simpler, more innocent time. For a moment we are ten year olds again.

As I drove home, city lights reflecting in my rear view mirror, I tingled with sheer joy and peace. I marvelled how I have been so greatly blessed in this life with a handful of special companion souls. No matter what may come my way it's enough to know I am loved; I am not alone.

And for that I am supremely grateful. Hello weekend.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Don't Squeeze Steal the Charmin

Today was fairly uneventful. Don't get me wrong - it was busy, just uneventful. After work I played taxi driver for Kidlet getting her to her Cost Rica fundraiser and then hockey practice. Of course we had to contribute to the fundraiser - in the form of eating greasy pizza and the blandest linguine I have ever gnawed on. Yuck! But we make our sacrifices ... so our overly privileged children can go to developing countries to help their underprivileged children.

Now with Kidlet safely tucked into the arena for the next hour and half and Obama on TV addressing Congress touting the merits of his stimulus package ... the singular stand out event from today is sad - but true: apparently we have a thief at work. Everyone at my office received an email telling us that someone has obviously been stealing removing the toilet paper and paper towels and could we please stop or locks will be placed on the dispensers. We aren't talking high quality paper here -- it's pretty much transparent! I say if they are stealing that crummy paper, they must be in dire straits - so let 'em have it. Pathetic as the notion was, it provided fertile material for jokes and belly laughs for the rest of the day.

That just about says it all ... some days are just like that. Have fun - just don't steal the Charmin (and if it was Charmin -- I may actually think about it!).

Monday, February 23, 2009

Books - Shelved

Finally! My books have a home. After months and even years of having my precious books scattered about the house in random bookcases and stacked in piles in every room in the house, we finally bought a couple of bookcases and set them up in the living room. I spent the evening gleefully rounding them all up - laundry baskets full of books- and then organizing them with tender loving care. It was hard not to get sidetracked - flipping through pages, reading dust jackets and the random notes and envelopes I apparently stow between the pages. Hidden treasures. When I was a kid I had a habit of pressing 1 and 2 dollar bills in my books and I suppose old habits die hard.

I can't express the delight and enjoyment I felt tonight, surrounded by the books I love. I envision many hours spent getting reacquainted with old friends - and some new ones.

Now - nicely organized.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Love and Longevity

Today my mom-in-law (heart) and father-in-law have been married forty years. They got off to an early start, which means they seem far too young to have that number of years together. It got me thinking about relationships that last lifetimes. Some endure and mature' some flourish; some continuously evolve and some simply survive.

My parents were married to one another until my mother's passing. They too were married at an early age; they built a family and a life starting with nothing and with only one another to depend on. Like my beloved in-laws they overcame countless challenges by meeting them head on - together - as a team. I am always awestruck by couples who manage to keep the sacred oath, and no matter what life throws their way, they keep their love alive.

It doesn't take alot of effort to stay married for a lifetime - in fact - it just requires the passing of time. It does however take alot of effort to have a marriage thrive for a lifetime. A marriage with longevity is truly wonderful; and a marriage built on a foundation of love, and love expressed is a gift and an inspiration.

So congratulations to MIH and father-in-law on forty years of marriage; and I wish them many more. And here's to those who live in love. Love and longevity -- what a pairing!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Crazy Sushi Night

Kidlet and Hubby went out for dinner the other night - Kidlet's choice. She picked a sushi place and even though we all don't eat raw fish, we counted on the fact there would be teriyaki and the usual tempura goodies. We must have all been overtired or something because we were giddy and silly from the get-go. It was crazy. The menu - being as unclear as it was - seemed to be overly expensive for Japanese, everything a la carte. I was complaining that we could have gone to another smaller place I know where the food was half the price and included all the courses.

Once we resigned ourselves to prices we set about supplementing the entree with the treats we love. The server talked Hubby into a really delicious BIG bowl of won ton soup and I ordered tempura on top of my meal. Kidlet ordered sushi in addition to her teriyaki chicken.

I almost died when the server came back with miso soup and appetizers for everyone. Yikes. Then hubby's mixing bowl of soup arrived along with a platter of sushi and another platter of tempura. I tried to hide my embarassment, nodding happily as she put the food down in front of us. There was enough food for 6 people -- and the entrees hadn't even arrived yet. Kidlet and I broke into fits of giggles and it worsened watching hubby's face contort at the first spoonful of soup. I wish I had had my camera with me -- oh I did -- just can't show his face! It was miso soup thinly disguised as won ton soup. more giggling and even a snort from Kidlet...

The best part was watching hubby try to politely swallow the won tons so he wouldn't hurt the server's feelings. my sides were splitting. We all relaxed when we realized we could just get the soup to go - no pressure. I can't remember the last time we were all together out having fun. Copious amounts of food; even more laughter and silliness. But then again, they don't call it Crazy Sushi for nothin'!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Revealed by Writing

I sit in front of my laptop, not knowing what words will emerge. I am on autopilot, making myself available for writing, and for the thoughts to materialise. I am often surprised at what comes forth. There is a deep need to express that of which I am obviously unaware.

Often when I go back and read passages and posts that I have written, it is though I am reading the words of someone unfamiliar to me. I learn much about myself.

Tonight I can feel loose threads swirling around me, not yet woven and coaxed into fabric. Perhaps this is optimism, or hope. Possibilities light dim corners and I can envision the tapestry of vibrant colour and images, soft to the touch - a work in progress.

Life is unfolding as it should ... and it is brimming with possibilities and potential. And now I am reminded of this - revealed to me by writing.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Happy in Heat

I am snuggled on the couch with the fire on, laptop in -- where else -- my lap, Fritz laying with his head on the pillow beside me. The wind is howling, sending spooky whistlings from my chimney. Hubby and I finally had a much delayed date night. Lately we have been missing our Wednesday night dates (Hump Day) but tonight, we went for Indian food and a movie.

There is something comforting about going to a favourite restaurant and having them smile knowingly at you, and then bring you your usual order. I think hubby and I may be a little too predictable. I love sitting across from him, tearing the naan bread and dipping it in the masala sauce between the chatter. That would be me who chatters ... hubby nods alot. After stuffing the last crumb of samosa and morsel of chicken tikka into my mouth, and declaring that I was full, we were off to the movies. It was my choice this time so hubby suffered through Revolutionary Road for me. Hubby's review,"This wasn't a chick flick. It was just depressing." Now I owe him big time and I foresee myself at a super hero or science/space feature sometime soon.

I have been chilled all day and the blast of frigid wind that blasted us when we came out of the theatre left me fantasizing about a boiling hot shower to warm my aching bones and muscles. And that is exactly what I did when I got home. Hot, steamy shower and fleece PJ's.

Which leads me to ... I am snuggled on the couch with the fire on, laptop in my lap, Fritz laying with his head on the pillow beside me. The wind is howling and rattling the windows, but I am safe and warm in my cocoon. It's been a wonderful day. Thank you.

P.S. Bet you thought this post was about Fritz - and not me, huh? : )

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

It's been that kind of day -- just want to stay in my shell,
in the hot sun.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Books + Journals + Time = Contentment

Add Image I started out looking for the book I am reading ... excavating the bookcase in my bedroom, uncovering lost treasures. Misplaced earrings; my infant immunization record (funny what we use as bookmarks!); loose photos holding frozen moments; even an envelope with my baby hair enclosed. I let myself go ... losing myself in the dust, memories and thoughts - and the other stack of books under my night table (thus the dust!).

I found an old friend -- my gratitude journal. I flipped through the pages randomly at first, grazing the handwritten pages lightly - a starter before deciding on an entree -- I turned back to the first page and devoured each entry. I recognise the handwriting but the words belong to someone else. Intriguing. Each page was laden with riches to be grateful for: my clean, soft sheets; the invitations to cuddle with (9 yr old) Kidlet; the smiles of my daughters; the hot cup of tea that follows dinner .... it went on and on ... My last entry was February 11, 2006.

I started out looking for the book I am reading ... and I found a better one - a book of countless reasons to be grateful. I was gently guided and reminded and now I will add many new entries. I just love nights like this, tranquil and peaceful. And for that, I am truly grateful.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Wall

There are times when it seems that there is a wall - an invisible barrier between me and the person I am trying to communicate with. Words bounce off the barrier and return to me message unopened. Tonight the barrier sits planted firmly between Kidlet and I. We are (trying) to discuss her course selection. She says "hurry up - I'm listening - say what you need to say". I say, "turn off that computer and carve some talk time with me". She rolls her eyes. I sigh heavily and tell her I don't like her attitude. More rolling of the eyes and frustration in her clearly mounts. (OK, it's mounting in me too!) We are both tired, frustrated, and a little more than slightly exasperated with one another.

It's definitely a good night to take a time out. When we hit the wall, it's better to regroup, call it a night, and start over with a new day. Sad thing is, I miss the simpler times when talking was easy. But as I have learned, this is all part of raising teenagers, and as with all things, this too shall pass. Good night!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

House Calls

Yesterday as we gathered around, sipping our wine and catching up, the topic of calling came up. The kind of calling a mother (or in my case, a daughter) does to check that her loved one is alive and well. My hubby's sister recently had a medical emergency caused by inhaling some stain repellent she was spraying. In addition to the residual health effects my sister-in-law is experiencing, hubby's mom (MIH) is also experiencing residual effects - shock and awe over almost losing her daughter. Since sis-in-law lives alone, MIH has been calling her several times a day to ensure she can breathe OK and that she is alright. Sis-in-law is finding it too much.

When MIH finished talking, my eldest daughter, who lives down the street in her own condo, piped up that if she died, no one would find her for 4 days. I was shocked that she said that and quickly replied with "of course I would!". She smiled at me and said no - she had calculated it. I don't phone her every day and even if I did, and didn't get an answer, I wouldn't worry anyway. There's some truth to that, and sometimes I think I don't worry enough. MIH would be over in a flash no matter the time or day. And her daughter isn't crazy about that.

My daughter on the other hand would probably love it. I tried to explain that it isn't that I don't care about her and her sister (who also lives on her own) ... I have just tried to give them their own space; I didn't want them to feel that I am in their faces; I don't want to be the one who when they see my number come up on call display, they roll their eyes and sigh before picking up the call.

But my daughter's comments gave me cause to pause, and rethink my approach. As I have said, I am not wired for worry, but I should be wired for concern and caring. And when you have loved ones who are on their own, it's a good thing to make regular house calls - rolling eyes or not!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

I Heart You

"Happy Hallmark Day".

That's the first thing I said to my hubby this morning when we awoke. We both chuckled. Thankfully we are on the same page for Valentine's Day... we keep it simple and light hearted, but we do acknowledge it (our love) in our own way. This is where hubby's creativity really shines.

Last year he bolted downstairs to the kitchen while I showered and when I left for work, he handed me a container of hot breakfast to eat at work. When I opened it at the office, I found light fluffy scrambled eggs and heart shaped toast! He got a 10 on the cute score.

This year I bolted downstairs to lay out his Hallmark card beside the little heart shaped box of chocolates I got for him (I know, not original, but he loves his chocolate), only to find the homemade card he had for me displayed on the table with three roses he crafted out of red tissue paper. Ahhhh. Got to love that man!

Had Kidlet's birthday dinner today. We had a feast and a buffet of our favourite people. I think she thoroughly enjoyed it which made all of the cooking and preparations worth it. Hubby and I had quality time in the kitchen chopping and peeling and I resisted all but once offering valuable seasoning tips. Maybe more than once ... the roses almost got recinded.

There is something so satisfying and soul filling to see people you love eating the food you prepare for them. Often hubby has dinner on the table for me when I get home and it warms my heart. I always tell him that nothing says "I love you" like dinner.

On that note, I will sleep well tonight grateful that I have someone special to say those all important three words to ... I heart you!

Friday, February 13, 2009

One Day Off (Work??)

Today was my day off but don't get the wrong idea ... it was super, uber busy - "multi task" was my middle name! It was (almost) all things Kidlet. We are having her family birthday dinner tomorrow and I really hadn't done anything to prepare, knowing I had this day free ha!. There were presents to buy, groceries and wine to get, and an ice cream cake to secure. A couple of cupcakes rounded the birthday errands out on a sweet note.

We have a birthday tradition in our family that the birthday girl gets to pick their favourite foods for the dinner. Last year Kidlet requested homemade potato leek soup and tacos. : ) poor guests

This year she requested the same soup (her favourite), roasted potatoes, chicken skewers and the spinach-berry salad. Phew! No supplementary menu required this year!

I always throw in a sweet potato or two for colour and added flavour. The turmeric doesn't hurt either.

Well the soup is made and everything else can wait until tomorrow.

I haven't forgotten that tomorrow is Valentine's Day ... I call it a Hallmark holiday (not to sound too cynical), however when you are in love and have a sweetheart, it's kind of cute to have a special day to express those romantic notions. So, all cynicism aside, I feel grateful to have the sweetest, softest teddy bear to call my sweetheart. So tomorrow, when I ask him if he'll be mine -- I'll smile cause I already know the answer. blush

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Girl Talk

Today was one of those "headbanger" days at work - you know, the kind of day where offbeat humour escalating to sheer giddiness is the only salvation of sanity. Lots of rolling eyes, heavy sighs then sudden bursts of (nervous) laughter ...

It was like I wore an invisible shield today (remember Maxwell Smart had that clear dome that would drop down from the ceiling to create a completely private space?). It's as though negative remarks were bouncing off me with little or no effort. Nothing could spoil my day (not that anyone was trying to ... I am surrounded by happy, funny coworkers). Maybe part of it was that I knew I was meeting my 2 amigos after work for dinner wine. REMEDY AND RELIEF! We make a gruesome threesome! For almost 22 years we have been meeting for dinner every 4-6 weeks, not to mention sharing trials, tribulations and travels. Years of girl talk!

Tonight we munched on crunchy coconut shrimp, nacho chips and E and I split a steaming plate of fajitas. S satisfied her craving for a juicy burger, warning us that she was starving when she saw us staking claim to her fries. We chattered about our day, exchanged family updates, threw in a couple of "whatever happened to ..." stole a few of S's fries (who wasn't as hungry as she thought), and talked about what we may plan for our next milestone birthday getaway.

As I walked to my car I marvelled at this exceptional circle of people I have accompanying me on this journey of a life. My tummy was full and my heart overflowing.

And better yet, I get to do it again next week when I meet my dear friend of 37 years, J for dinner and more girl talk. Blessed am I!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Winter Break

Can you believe how mild and downright balmy it has been this week? It's as if Winter took a break (maybe went to Florida?) and Spring popped in for an inpromptu visit. I left the house this morning bundled in my winter coat with (momentary amnesia) my usual winter props - gloves and scarf, and armed with my ice scraper - only to walk out into a wall of misty damp. But no cold. I am obviously programmed for winter and forgot to press reset. Even my car looked like it was bathed in sweat!

At the end of the day, as I walked out of my office to my car, I took deep breaths of the fresh springlike air and smiled. I gave a silent thank you for this reprieve from the deep freeze and I couldn't help but notice my step was just a little lighter.

I guess even winter needs a break when it gets to be too much!

Stubborn snow stakes its claim.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tagged Virgin -- It's My First Time!

Update: My blogging inexperience innocence is showing. I now know the meaning of tag-free and meme-free sites. Apologies to any who I tried to include in this. It seemed interesting and harmless enough ... but like I warned you, I'm a tagged virgin.

Thanks to Ribsy the Whippet for tagging me. (I think -- I'll let you know)

If you feel like learning more about your blogger mates (or want to risk alienating others), just link to your tagger and add these instructions on your blog:

  • Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog - some random, some weird.
  • Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blog.
  • Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

7 things you should know about me - or not

1. I can touch my nose with my tongue and use my toes to pick things up.

2. I once painted my youngest sister with red lead paint (hey I was a kid ... but she still looks a little pinkish).

3. I love politics, and when I was a teenager, I had a poster of our Prime Minister (Trudeau) hanging over my bed. Maybe I was a little weird ...

4. I used to write a column for our high school newspaper called Gertie's Gossip - and no one (especially NOT the cool kids) knew it was me who was Gertie. [Correction: my best friend Jill knew.]

5. I wake up happy. I go to bed grateful.

6. I eat things that have expired past their due date. I also eat bruised fruit, the white part of the watermelon, grape seeds, plum pits and apple cores. My version of a high fibre diet.

7. I talk very, very fast -- and alot! Or so I have been told. I remember recording a 30 second radio commercial in class in 11 seconds. The prof said we had to work on that!

Tagging (six only): EVENTRYHUS, My little place on earth, Chronicles of a Country Girl, Ramblins ..., [Carrotspeak]

Monday, February 9, 2009

Faces of Freedom

Studying the Faces of Freedom

I have become captivated by a blog I stumbled across -- Fieldnotes, a blog that reports on the field activities of the UNICEF effort around the globe. Real time, first hand accounts of the grave, desperate situations in the world.

Check out the Faces of Freedom photo exhibit that is part of RugMark’s “Most Beautiful Rug” Campaign to end child labor. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF is the national co-sponsor of the tour of photographs taken by U. Roberto Romano during visits to India, Nepal, and Pakistan. The shots take you behind the looms and inside the lives of children who have been forced to weave carpets for export to the United States and other countries.

This is blogging at its best ... sharing this undiluted information with the global community and maybe affect a change. View the slideshow in the post above and prepare to be moved.

Birthday Song for a Trio

February 9th is a very meaningful day for me and the women in my family. You see my mother, sister and I all had babies on February 9th. My other sister shares her birthday with Kidlet and nephew. Needless to say we have much to celebrate and we eat alot of cake!

Today is Kidlet's 17th birthday. She was a complete surprise, a spontaneous bombshell to her father who would only believe I was truly pregnant AFTER I saw a doctor. Having already birthed two daughters, this pregnancy felt different some how. Baby was super active, determined and thankfully allowed me the luxury of keeping my overall shape from behind - hanging nicely out front like a basketball. There wasn't alot of morning sickness, no double chins or swelling -- I was convinced this one was a boy. Hence I routinely referred to baby as Jake.

I wasn't sure what I would do with a boy -- my sister had one and I was mystified by all that baby projectile peeing stuff. Even though I have a younger brother I feel that our household was one of women and girls. My grandmother and aunt (she was only 6 years older) lived with us, and I was surrounded by sisters, aunts and now - daughters.

I chose a colour of the sky for Jake's room and counted down the days to his arrival. Two weeks before his birth, I had a dream in which my baby spoke to me (telepathically, without moving its lips hey- it was a dream!). She told me that she was happy she picked us and couldn't wait to be born. In turn I blurted out "you're a girl!" and her mouth turned up at the corners ever so slightly into a smile. When I awoke I remembered the dream and began a fast and furious search for a girl's name. Baby's dad was confused .... "but you said it was a boy!"

My due date was February 6th. I hedged my bet on the possibility that baby could be born on my sister's birthday. I found a name that started with the first three letters of my sister's name and one that means "dark" in Gaelic. When I went into labour early in the morning of February 8th I was convinced she would have her own birthday. Stubborn as she was, reluctant to leave the comfort of her own womb, she was properly yanked and made her debut in the wee early morning of February 9th. I gained instant membership to a very exclusive sorority (or should I say morority).

My dark little Kidlet was an unexpected pregnancy gift - a precious treasure (as I call all of my girls). She united a family and showed her father the endless depths of his love. She gave me a rare opportunity to parent mindfully and creatively and to be a better parent than I had ever been. She tested my devotion and challenged me to make the difficult choices ... She has brought endless laughter and joy to our family and made her parents proud with not only her achievements, but her way of looking at the world.

I have the common complaint of all mothers ... where did the years go? What happened to that little cherub faced, mischievous little girl with high tops and a baseball cap askew?

Today she is on the cusp of womanhood and will soon be facing important decisions about her future. But for one more day, let her be a carefree teenager, full of hope and optimism. Let me hold on to this, my baby's birthday and just for a moment, let me glimpse into those same chocolate pudding eyes as she blows out her candles.

Happy Birthday Sis.

Happy Birthday Nephew.

Happy Birthday Kidlet.

Feel the hugs.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Flash Backs and Digging In

I am having major flashbacks. Talk of unemployment and lay offs have dominated the news for weeks now and last week's numbers of lost jobs in both the US and Canada were shocking - and worse than anticipated.

The long wirey tentacles of these statistics have far reaching affects and inevitably, the reality of them have penetrated the lives of my family members. My sister's 26 years of service to the phone company offers little shield from impending lay offs. Her husband's newspaper job hangs in the balance - uncertainty from recent mergers - and now purges. My brother also works for the now same huge communications conglomerate - with over 20 years service as a sound technician in the TV arm. His future there is tenuous as well.

On Friday my eldest daughter, with only a few years into the working world, experienced layoffs first hand. She was thankfully spared however the remaining office workers were asked to entertain a work sharing arrangement supported by the government. They would work greatly reduced hours and be paid by their company, and the Canadian Unemployment Insurance program would supplement a portion of it. This is supposedly to keep all somewhat employed. She will grow up quickly now.

All I could offer her was practical, real world advice:
to dig in, minimize and reduce any unnecessary spending
and preserve every dollar possible.
Put away for harder days ahead.
Think creativity how to make more money
to supplement her income.

Flash back to 1983 ... Times are reminiscent of the early 80's when I was just starting out; unemployment in Canada was over 12% and mortgage interest rates were also over more than 12%. Success and prosperity seemed to perch high on unreachable mantles. Funny enough, it was during that year of economic crisis that at 23, married with one kidlet and another on the way, we bought our first home - a tiny detached bungalow in a tired neighbourhood in the city. The 1940's wallpaper may have been drooping, but it was all mine (ahem -- the bank's and mine). My then-husband and I made a little better than minimum wage.

I wonder now how we did it ... we were lucky in that our menial jobs were relatively secure; that coupled with the fact that we didn't spend anything on entertainment, vacations, dining out or much of anything else other than mortgage, gas and food made it possible for us to eake by. I was fearless and naive. I remember calling the bank after I received my first annual mortgage statement showing that we owed alot more than we borrowed. Why weren't our payments showing up? The patient lady from the bank explained that in the first few years, you only pay interest...

Now, once again, the tide has turned from excess and prosperity to insecurity and fear. Statistics representing broken dreams, tumbled lives and hardships are aimed at us constantly. And it would seem too trivial to say that these times of tumult will eventually subside; that this downward cycle will eventually spiral itself down to a point where we can rise again. I have a feeling that when we do - we will rise renewed and different; stronger, wiser with a knowlege that we are truly a global village and that challenges must met and problems solved as humankind.

Until then, I think we had better hunker down, dig in, hold on to those hard earned dollars - and, those of us with jobs - count our blessings.

Now - can you give me a hand getting down off this soapbox??

Friday, February 6, 2009

Together Time

Just got off the phone with Sis who just returned home from a long awaited vacation with her husband and teenager. Her voice sounded tired (they got home late and the unpacking, laundry ritual was in progress) but contented. The week together had accomplished the goal - to give them time together as a family to bond and just BE. They got reacquainted with one another - and (thankfully) they liked what they found.

Family vacation time is underrated. I was fortunate enough to have many memory-moulding holidays with my children. At the time it was often a daunting money sucker but I can say with complete honesty that I have never regretted a penny spent on a vacation. Any one who is a parent knows how quickly those years pass; the opportunity is finite and fleeting. We learn things about ourselves when we are removed from our daily routines and entertainment outlets. We actually have to talk to one another. We argue; we laugh; we sing; we tease; we complain; we share. Many years after the fact my girls and I sit around chuckling over vacation adventures, reliving precious - priceless - moments. Nothing can beat the power of a shared experience.
If you ask any of us what our favourite memory is, we will all answer the same: the night we dined on a rooftop in Santorini, Greece, full moon floating over the caldera, fire fly flickers and twinkles from the other cliff side-clinging rooftops, and Greek music drifting in the background. It was a magical moment and we all knew it. I told them that night that "it doesn't get any better than this".

But you know what -- it can and does. Together time -- for all time.

(Now I am off to my together time with hubby (what was that I said about family time??) - so I better shut down this vacuum cleaner and laptop. Yes I was multi- tasking!)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Breathing Easy

Time to exhale.

It's the end of what seemed to be a long week. How is that?? Today was my Friday. (happy sigh) Tomorrow Hubby and I are having a mini vacay -- his Christmas gift to me. We are heading up north for a night at a resort and then lunch on the snow train. How sweet is that?

Hubby has been working long hours for the past few months down in the cave (he works out of the house) so I am really looking forward to some quality time with him. No computers. No phones. Just him and his smile. Although he may sneak his Zune in there somewhere ...

With Kidlet off with her dad to an out of town hockey tournament and eldest daughter dogging sitting Fritz, we're home free; a guilt free weekend!
For now, at this very moment, I lean back in my soft place and take a deep breath and ever so slowly, e x h a l e.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Worry-some. Worry-none

To worry - or not to worry. That is the choice.

I was taught from the time I was a young child that worry is a pointless emotion; an energy sucker. My mother used to say that when we worry we often imagine the worst case scenarios - which, in reality, are the least likely to occur. More often than not, the worst does not happen.

I am not wired for worry - sometimes to a fault. Years ago on a Caribbean vacation when our then 17 year old daughter was out with some kids she met and was still not back in our room by 4 am, her father was frantic. We split off to go in search of daughter; he was borderline hysterical with thoughts that she had been murdered in a foreign country. I on the other hand had a sneaking suspicion this was a girl on the loose who lost track of time. I headed for the beach and within minutes ran into her on the pathway, happily chatting with her new pals as she strolled along towards the room. I was spared the emotional upheaval and histrionics. Her dad- not so much.

My family member has some health issues and is getting medical attention to figure them out. We talked about what could be causing the symptoms and in the course of our conversation she said she wasn't going worry - there was no point; it wouldn't change the outcome. She was right.

Sometimes there are things we can do, actions we can take to affect the outcome but there are also things that happen to us that are completely beyond our control. Today Kidlet's dad texted her to say he would be late picking her up, and when she got a second text from him further describing the bloody scene, (he said his shirt was so bloody that he looked like he had been beat up) her concern escalated to worry. She began furiously "Googling" nose bleeds and rhyming off possible disorders ... tumours, infections, allergies. My heart melted for her - that she took the worry on. When I gently urged her not to worry, she said she had to worry about him, cause he doesn't.

It sounds trite to suggest not to worry. But really, to worry is to waste. It bears no fruit; it accomplishes nothing but rather, it depletes and destroys confidence and hope. Better to take whatever action is necessary and then release that over which you have no control. The universe is unfolding as it should.
Kidlet was going to the hospital with her dad so he can get checked out and I told her to call me if they need my help - or anything else. I want her to understand that you can only do what you can do -- do being the operative word. And she is doing that. I want her to worry not - and be empowered.

I am going to get my empowered self to bed now. I hope she is OK. Did I just worry???

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


It was a beautiful day. Cityscape cloaked in virgin snow - for only a moment - giving way to sinful slush. Branches weighted with the accumulation. I surrender to the winter. I am embracing it, wrapping myself around its freshness, frigidity, and stillness.

Stubborn leaves that refuse to surrender to winter ...

Benzie the car was sad because her fresh-from-the-carwash shiny coat got overshadowed, or should I say snowed under. The window art does not reflect my shift in attitude towards the winter. I am contented and feel lucky to live in a land of four seasons. I just have to keep reminding myself that!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Momentary Vacation

Groundhog day. Wow. Can I really get excited about whether a groundhog predicts 6 more weeks of winter or not? We all know that we are in for 8 more weeks of the cold and snowy stuff - at the very least. I find my thoughts drifting ... transporting me to a tropical isle of pristine sand, sun and sea. I swear I can taste the salty, ocean breezes. If I didn't know better I'd go as far to say my hair is swelling from the humidity. And then there is that sudden craving for pineapple - and the drinks that are served in them with a nice long straw. Ahhh ... the feel of silky sand between my toes and tiny beads of sweat rolling down my skin. The sun is strong and hot; good thing my lounge is underneath the shade of a leafy palm. Almost time for a plunge in turquoise waters.

The phone is ringing and the dog is barking. Reality beckons. I am home from my momentary vacation. But you know what? I am breathing a little slower and a little deeper. I am content, peaceful, and rested. And I swear a little sun kissed!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Ode to Fleece

It's been a weekend of out of town girls' hockey, frigid arenas with no heat and blowing, snowy drives. As parents debate the virtues of watching the game from the warmth of the restaurant-with-a-view, the outside viewing galley or standing rink side (for optimal informal coaching), I smile to myself - for I have my secret weapon: my fleece-lined jeans! Sure, they add a few pounds and make me appear a little fluffier, but they are a dream to wear on those wooden arena benches. Definitely not suitable for clubbing. That thin layer of cosy, soft comfort against my skin, harbouring every bit of warmth generated creates a heavenly barrier for the derriere!Cosy is the name of the game and anything that makes an hour and a half game more bearable enjoyable is mint!

It got me thinking about fleece and the person who invented it. He/she are single handedly responsible for bringing instant comfort to millions around the world. Their handiwork is evidenced everywhere ... hockey moms huddled on benches swaddled in fleece blankets; dads in fleece jerseys, and kids wearing mittens and hats cut from the same fuzzy cloth. As for me, I defrost after a game in my fleece PJs. Yup -- fleece is the new flannel.

I don't know who I can thank for this wonderful invention but if I could nominate them for some kind of Nobel prize, I surely would - for I'll never be cold again (at least not in an arena).