Monday, August 31, 2009

Goodbye August

Goodbye August.

Thirty-one days never passed so quickly. We had some good times ... a few birthdays, lots of family dinners and barbecues ... and a funeral. I said goodbye to someone special and renewed some family ties. I made a commitment to make the second half of my life be about service, and giving back. I started dreaming big again. I set an ambitious goal and starting making some exciting plans for next summer.

So as the blooms on the flowers start to wilt, the green in the leaves gives way to crimson attire and the year sheds its summer, I am both grateful for the gifts and filled with anticipation of what September will bring.
God I love living in a land of seasons - and the changes that are guaranteed. But then again, life has seasons of its own -- and as I feel the impending shift in breezes, I welcome them.
Goodbye August.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Getting Cold Feet - in August

OK - it's simply not natural to have cold feet (literally) in August. Yet I sit here indoors, sweater bearing, jeans wearing - in bare feet (rumour had it that it was still summer). And now I am going to have go in search of socks! I may have to grab a pair of those gloves with the missing fingertips as well so I can continue keying this post. Thankfully I can't see my breath ...

Maybe I am sounding a little cranky ... it could be I am resisting those not so subtle signs that the summer is quickly coming to a close and our days of leisurely, laid back, chillin' attitude are pretty much over. I just added Kidlet's hockey schedule to the website and her first tournament is the second week of September. Nothing more unnatural than donning a winter jacket in September to sit in a deep freeze for 90 minutes. When we were walking Fritz I notice the first maple leaves with a hint of red.

"Nooooo", I scream ever so silently as I fall to my knees clutching my chest. "Not yet! Pleeeze, I beg you -- don't go", I once again silently sob as the grief wells up in my throat.

OK, that didn't actually happen - but it could have! I am not quite ready to abandon my sandals, close up the pool, and trade my lazy days of summer vibe in for that "party is over lady and you better get your head in the game" attitude, required at work the moment summer vacation comes to an end. I am not ready to wear socks.

Which reminds me ... my feet are freezing; where are my socks?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sugar and Salt

Salt! I need it -- seek it. I rummage through cupboards and drawers with only a shred of desperation in search of something crispy and salty. Hubby reminds me of a bag of salt and vinegar kettle chips I had stashed on a shelf way up high out of Kidlet's reach. Eureka. I tear open the bag and carefully measure out only a handful (or two) of the chips into a cereal bowl. I place every chip onto my tongue and hold it in my mouth, slowly savouring and soaking up the salt. Sensing that my craving is close to being fulfilled, I make two more refill trips ...

Salt satisfied, the craving stirrings kick up again -- this time for something sugary. Back to the kitchen. I spot the leftover chocolate cake, and lift the plastic cover. I stare at the thick slice of double fudge icing adorned with flakes of shaved chocolate. I decide to give it a pass, and leave it intact -- and instead run my finger around the inside groove in the plate, collecting the icing, and putting finger to mouth - it melts. The sugary, chocolaty sweetness is like a rush of momentary ecstasy. I do this several times.

Then - as quickly as they came, my cravings desert me, leaving me feeling puffy, thirsty and satisfied. I'm done - until next month!

Friday, August 28, 2009

What Would They Say ...

I am sitting, laptop in lap, watching the Ted Kennedy's memorial service on CNN. As the parade of political colleagues, friends and family take the podium, it is fascinating to hear what qualities and stories about Teddy that they choose to share. There is a common thread ... his humanity, his booming laughter, his countless gestures of empathy and generosity, his love of family and his expressions of love. He is living proof that we do not have to become our mistakes and poor judgement - but rather we can choose at any time to become the best version of ourselves.

I imagine that tomorrow the political pundits will focus more on his political record and his personal scandals. But what is evident is that one's lasting legacy is what we have meant to others; what kind of friend we were; the love we expressed; the laughter shared and smiles; the hearts we warmed; our acts of kindness ...

I have lost a few special people, and I can tell you that the things I remember about them have little to do with their vocation or station in life. Instead, it is the warmth of their voices, the love and hugs I received, their listening ear, their unconditional, unwavering support.

It makes me wonder what about my own legacy. How have I treated others? What have I given - has it been enough? What would they would say ...

I think I have some work to do ... but for now, I will listen as "The Impossible Dream" is sung (one of my favourite songs ... something to do with it being one of the few pieces that I got to play some melody on my baritone in band).

Photo Credit:

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Season of Change

You could smell it in the air this morning. Just a hint; a barely-there whiff of autumn. And you know what that means ... summer is on her last legs and her days are numbered. It's last call.

This summer has been a season of loss, transition and change. The shape and face of our family shifted and is forever changed; several of my loved ones suffered turmoil and personal devastation; and Kidlet embraced her new found freedom that driving and her new job provided. She is bracing herself for her last year of high school and hockey - and emotions are running high. It's got me thinking about what her absence will mean to me and this house next year. Her transitions are also mine.

We sent my nephew off on his west coast adventure yesterday - it involved a slew of barbecued burgers, boiled sweet corn, and cake!
In the past few months we also lost icons from the entertainment and political worlds. Ted Kennedy's passing really hit home for me. I had come to respect and admire him as I followed his record in the Senate and his passing marks the end of an era ... and the dawn of another. I am hoping that his life will serve as an inspiration to the next generation to take up the fight for the greater good of humankind.

Change can be overwhelming and the unknown - a little frightening. But in all things, change is a certainty. I have found when we embrace it and seek the gifts it bears, the winds of change can take us into the unexplored waters of opportunity. We just need to be fearless, set the course, leave the harbour and enjoy the voyage.

So as we transition from summer and prepare to greet autumn, I have a renewed sense of optimism and expectation. And I welcome that familiar feeling like an old friend.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ready, Set, Goal!

The last little while I have been busy immersing myself in and drinking up everything Kenya, crystalizing my v i s i o n. It is coming to life for me - I swear I can taste Africa on my tongue.

I have been kicking around an idea and have decided to stop dabbling - and simply commit. I have a milestone birthday coming up this March (what I like to think is my halfway point). I want to mark it by raising $5000 to contribute to the Free the Children 100-School Challenge to help build schools in Kenya. When I was sharing this idea with Kidlet, she said she wants to participate too - to mark her milestone (18th) birthday that is coming up in February. So there - I said it! We want to celebrate our milestones by raising the $5000 before we take our trip to Kenya next summer.

I've just released it to the universe, and now the planning and work begins. I thought it was time to take my own advice ...

I just know we can do it. And we will.

UPDATE: I set up our fundraising page on the Free the Children website. We are calling our fundraising effort Milestones for Education.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Gotten Tomatoes

There they are ... lined up like little red soldiers, picked right from the vine. Green ones, pink ones, and blood red, ripe tomatoes. This is my favourite part of summer, when we reap the bounty of the growing season. Garden fresh tomatoes are the taste of summer, infused with all of the sunshine, warmth and heat of July. My dad's organic garden yields deeply coloured vegetables of gi-normous proportions (his compost is his special recipe). My tomatoes have more humble origins ... they come from a potted plant.

And the funny thing is, everything in the garden is ready at the same time - a rush and gush of fresh produce, coming faster than anyone could possibly devour it. Feast or famine. Needless to say, our window ledges are strewn with ripening tomatoes, I have been eating them like apples and including them as part of every meal and snack. Guess what? I think I have a canker - from all of those rotten tomatoes I gotten.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Blogged Down - In a Good Way

I've done alot of travelling today... it started early this morning. I found a new blog to read and one blog lead to another and before I knew it, I was lost lost in the words, colour and photos of fellow bloggers from around the world.

I met Karen from Border Town Notes who blogs from a small Botswana town. Her breathtaking images of African wildlife and panoramic vistas drew me in; I intended to just drop in and instead, I was hooked. Then I wandered over to Under the Botswana Sky to soak up more Africa ... my appetite only increasing. Finally I ended up at Lori Times Five. Where to start ... Lori has travelled (yes, to Africa amongst other places), parents five kids and blogs about life in a way that is authentic and full of heart.

I never cease to be amazed by the shrinking effect blogging has on the world. Gaps are bridged, ideas and thoughts shared, and we bond over the commonalities of the human condition. I can't wait to read the posts of my blogger friends everyday - I can always find a smile ...

On another completely different note ... we bought Fritz some "healthy, organic" dog biscuits. After reading the ingredients on the box, I was salivating. Couldn't resist. I tried one.

Hubby thought it was dumb. But then I saw it on the box. Saved!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Tell Me What I Want -- What I Really, Really Want

What do I want?
Sometimes that is the hardest question to answer. We have dreams of a better life, or the life we want to be living, but often those are thoughts we let drift around loosely, like fluffy clouds on a breezy day. We admire them. We desire them. But we simply shrug off that we can't have them - because they are unreachable.

Make a list
With lots of coaching, advice and practice I have learned that this is simply not the case. For years now I have been making lists of what I want in my life, what I need to change, what I need to do, and when. If big money was involved, I would scribble the amount (no matter how outlandish) in next to the goal, with the date by which I was targeting to achieve it. This was a regular exercise for me and used to make my husband very nervous.

Here's how it worked for me
I remember concluding that a pool was in order to give my daughters memorable summers while both their workaholic parents did their thing. I estimated that we would need 20K for the pool and landscaping. (I also penciled in another 13K to put 10% down on our mortgage). My husband went on record that he wasn't going into debt for a pool ... and where were we going to get the money for all of that?? I had no reason to think that we would have the cash ... but as my mom had taught me, I didn't limit myself in the dream. Instead - I wrote it down and internalized it. I could feel the desire churning in that special part of my being where my optimism resides.

Within months of making my list, our sales manager left my company unexpectedly and I was offered the position even though I had no sales or marketing experience. I was told that I wouldn't get a raise in my base salary as I was so inexperienced, but that there would be opportunity for bonuses if I achieved/exceeded my goals. That's all I needed to hear.

I worked out exactly what sales results would reap the financial rewards I needed to get the pool. The very first commission cheque I received was for $33,000 - exactly the amount I had earmarked for the pool AND the mortgage payment. Funny enough, even though I was absolutely over the moon to get such a lump sum of money - a part of me wasn't surprised. It reinforced what I had always been taught, and what I knew to be true.

Keep in mind
Over my lifetime I have created numerous lists. Once most of the goals became realized, I would retire the list and create a new one, carrying over any other unattained (but desired) goals. I think some of the most important things to keep in minds are:
  • don't get hung up on the dates - if you need more time, so be it. Don't use it as an excuse to abandon the goal.
  • don't be afraid to write down exactly what you want - or that it will be proof of failure. The failure is in not setting your sights for what you want, and trying.
  • don't limit yourself when you are setting your goals. Get to the core of what you want. For example, sometimes we may say we want a cottage, but what we really want is a peaceful place to recharge. The universe may have something bigger in store for you so just identify what you want - and not the form that would take (if you are not sure).
  • nothing is too trivial for the list ... I had getting my molars crowned on my list for years -- and it is still there.
  • sometimes we can't see how we could possibly achieve the dream -- but don't let that stop you from dreaming. Decide you want; write it down; internalize it; release it to the universe; and be mindful of ways to work towards it. Set a course and navigate in the general direction. Trust. You may just experience an intervention to get you the rest of the way.

No lecture intended
Sorry if this sounds like a lecture. The post ended up being so much longer that I intended. It's just that I have had such success with this and I wanted to share it with you. The first time it works, it will feel like luck - and maybe the second time too. By the third time, you will know that you are making it happen for yourself.

Honestly, the biggest challenge I have is dreaming up new dreams to add to the list. All of my dreams have come true. Really. And they can for you too.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Growing Up - Together

I am one of those fortunate few who can say they still have their best childhood friend in their life. I was barely twelve years old when this new girl from the city showed up in my grade six class - wearing the same outfit as me (my very attractive pantsuit was blue - hers was pink). Being the theatrical pre-teen that I was, I declared right then and there that she was destined to be my best friend. She didn't have a chance to consider any other candidates and if she was unsure, she didn't show it.

My parents used to tell us that if we managed to have one "good" friend in our lives, we would be lucky. And I have been. J has been my college roommate, my maiden of honour (more than once), my writing partner and my soul sister. As close as we were, our lives often veered off on different paths and to different places ... but our friendship never faltered.

I drove into the city today and met J in the Beaches ... our old meeting spot. We took up couch space in Starbucks as we caught up on our gossip news. We strolled the hip little neighbourhood, ducking into shops, happily chatting as we enjoyed the unexpected sunshine. Yes, Mother Nature smiled upon us today and we had a perfect weather day. After lunch on the outdoor patio, we wrapped up our day with a final walk on the beach. Did you know that topless sunbathing is legal now -- and not just for men!

Everyone needs someone who knew them as a child - who carries their history and memories. We all need someone who knows our heart and our dreams; who finishes our sentences; who plays John Denver just to be reminded of you; and who has exceptional taste in pantsuits.

That someone for me is J.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Finally, In the Pink

Is there a full moon out there? I swear, this week was laden with conflict ... static was electric in the air at every turn. There was acting out at work, at home, on the highways ... tensions ran high, as did voices - slightly elevated but sub shrill levels. There was a dark energy in our midst this week. My boss complained of plumbing emergencies in her spanking new bathroom (s'long new tiles); my colleague's father-in-law suffered a sudden health issue and is fighting for his life; my other colleague had to bid her hubby a sad farewell as his work took him to a faraway land for two months; negativity swirled around ... I think it was airborne.

Road rage, divorce issues, money, business problems, emotional jags, anger, frustration and arguments - a venerable potpourri of yuck! Maybe it's the humid weather. Maybe we're all tired. Or maybe it's a season of valleys right now -- teaching us all lessons we need to learn. It got so bad that it got good -- everyone was making jokes about "what could possibly happen next" ...

This morning when I left for work the sky was aglow in pink ... the spectacular sunrise was a perfect host and greeted me warmly. I stopped a snapped a shot. It set the tone for the rest of the day. It reminded me that every day marks the beginning of a new life -- new choices for fresh starts; a clean slate. I'm not sure but I think some of that pink rubbed off on me, cause I swear I look a little happier, a little rosier and if you look closely, you will see my glow.

UPDATE: Just to make sure, all of the yuck was gone, Mother Nature roared and stormed through our region with some tornadoes in tow and cleared the air - but good! Twenty minutes later, the air was fresh, the atmosphere was stable and we were renewed. We were spared the tornadoes, but the people in the city north of Toronto weren't so lucky ...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Pocketful of Lucky

This morning when I put my jacket on I reached into my pocket and pulled out a ten dollar and five dollar bill. I smiled. This isn't the first time this has happened. I seem to have a habit of tucking little bits of money into corners, pockets and spaces ... to be found by me - just when I need it most.

Tomorrow is pay day - but this week I had spent my cash and even robbed hubby's change jar for the $1.45 for my morning Tim's. My little cache of cash was an unexpected surprise and it set a happy tone for the day.

I got to work nice and early, and wrapped up my overdue articles for this month's newsletter by the end of the day. You can't beat the feeling of finally finishing something you had been putting off (procrastinating) .... the cocktail of pure relaxation and relief gushes through your veins like a mental anaesthetic and for a moment, you can pause and revel in the peace.

I gave a quiet thank you to the universe ... you take such good care of me. Life is good ... and I am not sure if it is getting better -- or I am. : )

Photo credit: Life is Good

Monday, August 17, 2009

Time Traveling -- In My Dreams

I saw the movie The Time Traveler's Wife with my sister and daughters over the weekend. The story is based on a romantic notion -- being able to travel through time to visit people we love - from years before, and years into the future. The main character is able to get to know his wife as a small child and then visit his unborn child.

It got me thinking ... if I could travel in time -- either forward or back to some other place and space in my life, what would I choose?

Sometimes I have had dreams - that are so very vivid - of me as a child with my mother. I can see us now, walking in the cold forest, both of us bundled in our red, hooded coats - hers trimmed in black, and mine in white.

After my mom passed I had many dreams in which I would be so delighted to see and hear her voice once again. I would tell her how much I missed her and how we were all managing without her. She would mostly smile but I could feel for a few moments, her quiet, calm demeanor. When I awake from a night of these dreams, I am as satisfied and refreshed as if I had visited with her in person.

I can't travel in time, but I have my wonderful dreams to sustain me and enrich my life - and for now, that will have to do.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Be-Early Birthday

We are celebrating hubby's birthday tonight -- a few days early. Being the shy, low key guy that he is, he wouldn't appreciate being the topic of this post. He is a privacy fiend, and luckily he doesn't read blogs. So don't tell him and things will be peachy keen.

We're gathering at his favourite Chinese food restaurant - a place with nostalgia (for hubby) and really good chicken balls.

It seems a little strange to celebrate on a day that isn't really your birthday, but as you get older you realize it isn't the date that is important as much as an opportunity for a clan cluster to celebrate with you. Without the clan or cluster, it's just another day.

So hubby, I won't post your picture, but I can imagine your beaming face when that shiny new Porsche gets delivered ... just kidding. That won't be for a few more years yet. I can imagine your glowing smile when you look around the table and realize that alot of people really love you alot - even more than those light, crispy chicken balls.

Happy Be-Early Birthday Hubby, from someone who loves you even more than you love Schumacher or Beethoven.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Laundry Therapy

Does anyone else enjoy doing laundry like I do? It is my favourite household task and I actually look forward to it. There's a certain meditative quality about it ... the gathering, sorting and folding. It's guilt-free TV time - folding the contents of three really big laundry baskets piled high on the couch, into individual, uniform, stacks of wearables (from jeans to unmentionables).

It is a satisfying task - transforming piles of uglies into fresh, clean smelling stacks of pretty. With laundry there is a beginning and an end. The nanny we had for the kids for a year when they were little had served in Belgium at one of the embassies, and she was a cleaning/laundry master. She taught me to fold underwear into perfectly uniform packets that tacked in the drawers perfectly -- just like in the stores.

So tonight as I folded, contemplated and watched Nights in Rodanthe (for the third time), I felt a certain contentment and peace. My family will have nice clean clothes to wear and I can once again see the floor in the laundry room. And hey - it's cheaper than therapy.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A Song & A Prayer -- And I'm There

What is it about music that takes us back? The sounds of familiar strains can equal instant transport back to another time and place.

As I write this, Neil Diamond is on TV performing in a New York concert. I didn't plan on watching ... the phone rang and as I came back into the room I could hear it ...

I am I said ...
[flashback 32 years] I am sitting on the floor of our rec room with my sisters, my mom perched, feet tucked under her, in her red comfy chair that had arms wide enough to accommodate a kid on each side. Love at the Greek is on TV and my mom is singing along with every song. OK -- we were all singing along.

Me and you are subject to the blues now and then, but when you take the blues and make a song, you sing them out again ...
[flashback 33 years]
Bouncing up and down to the music in the seat next to my first boyfriend, in his beat-up 19 fifty-something GMC pickup as Song Sung Blue blasts on the radio. I think I was singing as I bounced.

Hands, touching hands, reaching out, touching me, touching you ...
[flashback 20 years] My mom, sister and I are at Maple Leaf Gardens at a Neil Diamond concert - we did it for our mother. My mom is on her feet, arm outstretched, flicking her Bic to her hearts content, swaying and singing to the music. It was her first big concert -- and just maybe we danced too -- just a little.

Sweet Caroline ...
[flashback just a few years ago]
My two amigas and I are at the Air Canada Centre with the thousands of other aging fans - many past their prime - but dressed as if they had a personal date with the Diamond. We are seeing him - one last time. Maybe we shouldn't have. His act had gone very Las Vegas and his flirting with the middle aged, Lady Clairol groupies was more than a little disconcerting ... Yikes.

Sometimes you just can't go back - but you can let the music take you there.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

We Are Not Alone

I have no solutions to offer
I have no wisdom to bear
Only a hope and desire for
An end to your despair.

- Lyn of Lifepixels
Friends share ... some more than others.
We've been through it all together -
love, death, pain - the whole darn thing.
When one of us is hurting -
we all hurt.

Sometimes words do not suffice and
all we can offer is
a soft shoulder,
a caring heart
a listening ear.

Sometimes we have to be still in the silence
in the moment
in solidarity,
in friendship
in sisterhood.

Sometimes, it has to be enough
to know that we are not alone.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Shreds and Strands

A disjointed, oddball day ... weather wise and in other ways too.

Fritz's bandage came off today and he promptly rediscovered his sickly looking right paw. He was licking it as if it were a banana Popsicle (my favourite) so I had to put a sock on it. He has succeeded in soaking it right through. That can't taste good ... And another thing - how come it cost more to "re-examine" and remove his bandage (5 minutes) than to replace the bandage (10 minutes + new bandage)??

Sun. Clouds. Humidity. Torrential rain. And a 6 degree drop in temperature from start to finish on the commute home. Messy and strange.

Couldn't understand why my fresh air vents were emitting really hot air in spite of dropping temperatures and highway speeds that usually coax some cool air. Oh -- I HAD THE HEAT ON!
Wonder when I thought I needed that ... since it's been 30 degrees Celsius for the past few days.

Spent the entire night inputting Kidlet's hockey schedule into the team website ... and then the team manager emailed me to ask if he could be made an web administrator so he could get stuff added. Let's just say it got me off my keister.

Anyway - my blogging time had to be shared with the hockey team website. Where did the night go?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Tidbits and Updates

Lots of little bits of news from the tank ...

Fritz the flying schnauzer is almost healed and will be getting his third generation fluorescent bandage removed tomorrow. He's milked it long enough AND he desperately needs a bath.

Kidlet worked her first day in her first ever job. Phew! I am counting on her falling in love with pay cheques.

Kidlet's hockey season starts in two weeks and I just got the tournament schedule to post on the website. Gee, I better get my arena-wear ready so I can look my very best as I frequent those hallowed venues dedicated to Canada's national sport. Hello fleece-lined jeans!

Adventure Girl has opened an Etsy Shop to sell her painted works of art ... but I'm not allowed to talk about it until she gets better stuff posted. She's really come a long way since her first painting ... Stay tuned!

Hubby retired our 120 gallon saltwater aquarium - no easy task! That water, salt and sand had to go somewhere ... so now we have a beachside pool! Nemo and Boss (his two surviving, beloved fish) have a new home in a 29 gallon biocube. It's small enough to fit into hubby's cave so he can enjoy them as he works his compu-wizardry magic.

And finally -- as with all of life's mysteries ... there was a nugget of goodness that came out of my uncle's funeral last week. We reconnected with aunts, uncles and cousins we hadn't seen in a very long time -- some as long as 15 years. It was as if we had never been apart; we hugged, we caught up, we marvelled at our beautiful children, we reassured one another that we all looked great and that we hadn't changed a bit. : ) We left the hours of sadness with a sense of renewal and optimism for our family ... and that is the gift of life -- regeneration and renewal.

So that's it in a nutshell. I am off to renew myself -- with some shut eye!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Africa -- In My Dreams

I dream of going to Africa -- not only for the opportunity to photograph the breathtaking vistas, encounter exotic animals up close and personal, and witness a never ending sky flooded with stars; I dream of experiencing the people who live there -- members of the Masai Mara tribe and the city dwellers. I want to see and understand how they live, their challenges, their social structure, and their joys and pain.

I had planned to go this past July but it didn't pan out. Now I am resetting my compass and setting my sights on next summer. Kidlet says she's in and now my sister wants to join us too. I am hoping our other sister will throw caution to the wind and join us as well. I just know it will be a life changing experience, and if we all shared it, it would bond us in ways we could only imagine.

The good news is that because the trip has a large volunteer component, the facilitators allow fundraising to help pay for the trip. That makes it possible for my sisters to participate if they so choose. It offers options.

So now I am back in planning mode - saving my dollars to fulfill a dream -- my dream of Africa.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Treasure Hunt

Can you tell I was rummaging again? Look what I found. I started off with the best of intentions ... to simply scan and digitize a few cherished photos to commit them to eternity. One storage box lead to another - and before I knew it, I was in full blown excavation mode. I uncovered all sorts of forgotten treasures ... notes I wrote my girls when they were teenagers; notes they wrote me; more of my mom's faded trademark lists; Kidlet's preschool artwork (artist credit for the visual on this post); and a host of expired passports, health cards and drivers' licenses. I even found the little brown envelope bearing the contents of my thin, blonde ponytail from my first haircut.

Ultimate puttering! There is something cathartic and freeing in letting go of one agenda and letting the time take us where it will. I succumbed and for a time, I lost myself in the smells of stale pages and photos and the memories that were quickly ignited with every treasure.

I started out to preserve some history and well, the treasure hunt was a whole lot more fun. Cause isn't that what nostalgia is ... remembering the past without reliving the pain.

Friday, August 7, 2009


A flash of harmless lightning,
A mist of rainbow dyes,
The burnished sunbeams brightening
From flower to flower he flies.

- John Banister Tabb

Hummingbirds fluttered into my life without any coaxing from me. I remember sitting with my mom on the step of their summer home, only to have a hummingbird suddenly appear and hover right in front of her, for what seemed like minutes. It was the strangest sight - and one that stuck with me ... From that day forward, I felt a shared connection between hummingbirds
and my mom.
After my mom had her lung transplant and she cleared her 3 month post care, she left me a note on my pillow thanking me for my help. She said I wasn't unlike a hummingbird, flitting from flower to flower, spreading life and vitality. It was the greatest compliment I ever received.
Over the years people have given me beautiful hummingbird gifts - stationary, crystal birds, chimes, keepsake boxes, and most recently - a beloved west coast native print of a hummingbird (thanks west coast cuz).

I read somewhere that the hummingbird represents abundant life and joy. I also read that the hummingbird is the only bird that can fly backwards - a reminder that the past can't be changed but it can teach lessons. Supposedly the hummingbird comes when it seems that what needs to be done is impossible and teaches how to find joy in any circumstances.

If so - I am glad the elusive hummingbird showed up when it did. I can't think of a better symbol of how I want to live my life. Now I am going to flit off to bed!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Long Term Investment

He's just laying there, staring at me. He sighs heavily, his eyes - watery, full to overflowing and I swear he seems depressed. His sad, heavy eyes ask me "why?" and he succumbs to the heavy plastic cone. Today he discovered his blue bandages and started gnawing them - thus the return of the cone. I feel so cruel ... and just about now I wish he could speak English, so I could explain.

I won't lie -- when the vet handed me the bill that equated to amount I had saved for the Boston vacation I didn't end up taking - I was utterly shocked -- even speechless (unheard of for me!). But there wasn't an option -- Fritz needed the care and he is part of our family. I was just lucky (and grateful) that I actually had the money in pocket.

It got me thinking about health care and the number of times over the years that I took my children into a clinic, doctor and hospital emergency room -- without a second thought. I had no cause to pause. My babies needed care and I didn't have to check my bank balance to decide if I could afford it.

Our neighbours to the south of us do not have the same luxury. A critical illness could spell financial disaster for those without insurance or means. As an eternal optimist, I hope some form of universal health care will pass in the U.S. so that all may have access to excellent medical care.

To my American friends -- be fearless - be bold - don't be afraid to choose the "me to we" path; EACH give a little so ALL may have... it can work!

He is still staring me down -- this adorable scruffy, furbag we call Fritz -- AKA -- our long term investment.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Dog Gonnit!

Poor Fritz! Our whirling, twirling bag of fur (AKA our schnauzer) hurt his front paw while on one of his frenzied escapades on the weekend. Hubby said it happened in a flash - fitting since Fritz does everything in a flash. Our tough little guy didn't make a peep though ... just limped along on three legs as he gingerly dangled his sore paw.

We tried all of the home remedies ... soaking it salt water, treating it with alcohol, keeping it wrapped and clean but today we had to come to grips that it may be something more than a broken nail.

So Kidlet drove while I held Fritz close -- and off we went to our neighbourhood vet. He knew something was awry. And I felt like a betrayer as I muzzled him so he could be examined. And even worse - when the vet took carried him into the operating room while I took care of the "paperwork". They explained that they would be giving us pain killers for which I said I was very grateful -- as I was sure they would help numb the pain of the bill. Apparently the pills are for the dog. Bummer.

Anyway - now I sit in waiting for my scruffy little furbag to return home as a conehead and I am sure alot less wired.

I do not consider myself a dog person ... but I can't explain either why I teared up - just a little - when they carried him away and he gave me the saddest, cutest dog face ever. I think maybe I love him - just a little - dog-gonnit!

Update: Paw not broken -- just a "de-gloved" claw that was indeed infected.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Birthday Boy

My parents used to say that the best gift they gave my siblings and I - was each other. They were right.

Growing up with two younger sisters (close in age) and a (baby) brother made for a frenzied, busy, loud household. We had the usual squabbles and jostlings - natural in a family with 4 kids within a six and a half years span, but we also had a lot of mischievous fun and adventures.

I remember that moment 43 years ago when my mom told us she was "expecting". By then I was quite familiar with the terminology and knew that I could look forward to the red smock top she would wear with the black turtleneck. My sisters and I hoped that this final addition to the family (confirmed by a conversation between my mom and her mom overheard from my station on the stairs) would be a brother.

Our wish was granted ... and the cherub faced, blue-eyed, baby brother with a crown of blonde curls grew to be our quiet anchor; the calm voice of reason; our Switzerland. With the six and a half year age difference between us, we had little to battle - with the exception of the tampon- throwing high jinx he pulled when I brought a new boy home OR the hidden tape recordings he would make from a strategically placed microphone under the couch where I sat with my boyfriend. Pesky little brother who really should've pursued a career in espionage.

Despite some of the typical little brother stuff, he grew into a generous, gentle spirited man with an off beat sense of humour who I am certain is loved by all who know him. He has a unique relationship with the mother of his son, and together they have dedicated themselves to the parenting and the well being of their son. It works for them. And it works for their son.

My brother always seemed comfortable in his skin -- even as a child. As a teen he and his pals seemed to outwardly delight in being anything but status quo. He has continued to be a man of conviction and is true to himself, comfortable in his choices. I have always respected him -- and that feeling has grown into outward admiration. I am not sure if being raised in a household of women has helped shape him in some way, or made him the sensitive person that he is but I can tell you that having him as a brother has been a gift to all of us.

As I grew into adulthood, I finally understood what my parents had meant ... the best gift they ever gave us - was each other. My sisters and brother are my built-in best friends; we are there for one another with open hearts and unconditional love.

So today on my grown up baby brother's birthday, I celebrate the gift that is him! And thanks mom and dad.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Well, Hello August

I missed greeting you yesterday when you arrived. You really should have called first. I also welcomed July when she arrived however as it turned out, she was not the gracious guest that I had expected, and she bore gifts that - although were appreciated by some (farmers) - were not appropriate for summer vacation!

She held promise of sunshine and warmth and blue skies but instead cloaked us in torrential downpours that fell from rumbling skies. She offered little variety and obviously does not adhere to the philosophy of "all things in moderation" or that there can be too much of a good wet thing. It was disappointing however to let her go ... her departure marks the halfway point of our beloved summer season.

So now it's your turn August. Dazzle us with your charms of summer. Wrap us in your heat and don't be afraid to shine. We Canadians get but a taste of a season in which all living things - plant, animal and human - blossom and spring forth with renewed vigor and sway in the sweetness of sunshine. We get a mere appetizer to hold us over the many more cold, dark days of winter. So be generous August. Show us your stuff. Put your best face forward. And I promise, we'll invite you back again.