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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

 

On the street where you live...

We've had an awful lot of rain lately. Our neighbour, Mike, woke us up at 4:30 this morning to let us know that water was flooding into our crawl space. He's the last cottage on the lane and we're the second last cottage. He said he was woken by the sound of water gurgling in his furnace. His place was completely surrounded by water and he was also letting us know that he was evacuating to his parents place. He's got an SUV that sits higher than the water so he can make it down the lane.

Lise and I grabbed flashlights, put our rubber boots on and took a walk around our place to see how bad things were. Yes, water was all the way up to our well. Looking along the north side of the house we could see that water was flowing into our crawl space but while the ground was soggy right around the other sides of the house, the chickens were dry. We also checked the shed because that's where our furnace and hot water tank are stored and everything was dry there too.

The water had risen halfway up our driveway and all the way down the lane. From the way the wind is blowing it looks like the lake is blowing water right towards our house.

Now that it's light, I went out to see if the water had receded enough for me to get into the city this morning and took this video.
video

Mike's back now and I can hear he's running a pump to pump out his crawl space. We don't have any mechanicals down there but I wonder if I should go rent a pump too? I'm going to make some calls.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

 

Early Christmas present

Look what I found when I went out to the coop this morning:



Here it is in a cereal bowl next to a store-bought large egg to give you the scale:

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

 

Don't make me keep my bra on...

Let me tell ya, the first thing I do when I get home is pop that bra strap and free the hostages. I get out of my work clothes and basically put my pajamas on. All my close friends and family know that they are welcome to drop by anytime but don't expect me to be dressed. I only stay dressed if I'm expecting company.

That's why I've been particularly irked these past couple of days.

I need to have a telephone jack rewired and have had Bell Canada scheduled to come out and do the job three times this week. The first day I got stood up they told me that they had scheduled me for the next day. The second time they said they needed a senior technician to do the work and they didn't have one available. The third time the excuse was that the technician ran out of time and couldn't come until the next day.

These scheduling snafus, while irritating are not as irksome as having to wait around all evening wearing my damned bra until 9pm.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

 

Stuff

Lots of stuff has been happening with me. I was in a car accident and haven't been able to work or sit at a computer for awhile. My 49th birthday just occurred and the only thing I wanted to do I was physically unable to do so that sucked.

We finally got our chickens and I'll post some photos at a later date.

Speaking of stuff, I came across this site the other day. Please take a moment to click the banner below and have a look at the 20 minute film. It's pretty cool stuff.

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Sunday, September 07, 2008

 

Coop construction - day one

Today we started building the home for our chickens. We decided to go with the Catawba ConvertiCoop plans I had purchased online.

Our friend Vita came over to give us a hand and our friends Patty & Deb loaned us their miter saw - thanks to you gals we don't have to pick our noses with our elbows. Of course we'll be sending eggs home to them as soon as we get our hens settled and laying.

Here's a few pics of the construction process. There was only one tricky cut and that was the 60 degree cuts needed to make the peak of the coop. Fortunately the plans showed a little trick for making that cut.

We found the plans we not quite as easy as the designer says. While his cutting list is great, he describes the pieces as "trapezoids" and "parallelograms" which, geometrically are correct but for Lise and Vita who have forgotten their grade 3 geometry, this presented a small problem. Fortunately, being the visual learner that I am, I remembered my lessons and the difference between those two shapes. I know all my shapes AND colours! lol

My one suggestion to the plan's designer is that in the future, he include more pictures of each step and maybe a little drawing of a trapezoid and parallelogram to do his bit to decrease the rate of arguments and potential divorce amongst couples tackling little construction projects.

Today we got all of the major bits built, including the doors. Tomorrow I'm going to go buy some stain (now that we've agreed on a colour), and stain the exterior. Then we'll put the chicken wire in place and attach the hardware. The only remaining steps are putting together a wheel assembly I've been working on (but I have to find a pair of old lawn mower wheels for that), and buy/install water and feed holders.

We'll be getting the birds after next weekend. We're going out of town for a few days so we'll wait until we get back to get the birds.

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

 

A perfect weekend...

For me the weekend started on Thursday with the birth of my grandson. I came into work on Friday morning to finish up some things I had to drop when Jen went into labour, but I left at noon to stop in at the hospital then go home to prepare for the company we had been expecting.

We had planned to have my brother-in-law, Jerome, and his two boys, Sol and Nathan, down for the Labour Day weekend to make chili sauce, go to the Harrow Fair and get in some beach time.

Friday afternoon was spent chopping peppers, tomatoes, onions and celery then simmering cauldrons of sauce on the stove. We threw a few burgers on the grill and ate them in front of the TV watching DVDs of the Carol Burnett Show. An after dinner swim at the lake and a round of ice cream sandwiches nicely finished off the day.

Saturday was Harrow Fair day. I had already done the Comber Fair and the Corn Fest the two previous weekends so I wasn't planning on spending the entire day. My mission was to visit the poultry barn and find someone who raises the breed of chickens I'd like to have. Beyond that all I wanted was a corn dog and some chip wagon fries (you can't really go to a fair without having some type of fair food - it just isn't right).

On my way to the poultry barn I got distracted by a pen full of alpacas. What beautiful creatures! Lise and I are considering them for when we buy our farm. After talking to the alpaca lady I ambled over to the poultry barn and talked to the poultry folk. I found a man who will sell me some pullets so my mission was accomplished. A corn dog and fries in the pavilion then a detour to the local United Church's pie tent to pick up a couple of pies for supper (peach and blueberry) and I was on my way home.

I left Lise and the gang at the fair so I could get home to get things ready for the kids coming out for supper later that afternoon. Of course when I left the fair grounds was right around the time they were starting the parade so I had to navigate around all the closed streets and find a way around the town then back in again to stop at the hardware store for more canning jars.

Lise and the boys arrived just as the jars were ready to be filled. The boys were restless so Lise took them down the lane to the beach and soon Matt, Sue, Natalie and Eve arrived. Natalie is really into Hannah Montana. I had picked up a Hannah Montana magazine for her and couldn't wait to surprise her with it. She was thrilled and immediately put it away in their car so she wouldn't forget it. Sol and Nathan started showing Natalie their origami projects and Sue and I took a little ride into Amherstburg to look at a swing set I saw on sale.

I really enjoyed having that time alone with Sue. Now that I'm not taking classes with Matt and Sue is back to work I don't see them as often as I'd like and I really miss them. Sue's a smart, level-headed girl and a good match for Matt. I like her so much and I'm glad she's my daughter-in-law. We've both been single moms so we have a lot in common. We jawed all the way into A'burg but when we got there the swing set I saw was gone so we stopped at the dollar store for marshmallows and water pistols.

We got back to the house just behind Jen, Phil, Khai and baby Tyson. Jen had been released from the hospital that morning. Little Tyson got passed around like a football while I tried to make the exhausted new parents comfy. Natalie, Eve and Khai changed into their swim suits, we passed out the water pistols, gathered the beach toys and off everyone treked, down the lane back to the beach. I stayed behind with Jen, Phil and baby and got them settled then made some lemonade and visited.

When the crew returned from the beach we all pitched in to set tables and chairs out under the big ash tree in the front of the house (yes, the one that's scheduled for removal). The corn was cooked, wine uncorked and the lamb nicely roasted so we sat down and toasted our growing family. As I sat at the table watching everyone laugh, talk and eat I couldn't help but feel like matriarch Barbara Stanwyck (aka Victoria Barkley) of The Big Valley.

Another after-dinner beach romp, bug spray, marshmallows and a fire and it was time to call it a day. It was then I wished I had a very big house so they all could have stayed the night. I know my kids are grown and have lives of their own but I still like to have them close. I enjoy them now, more than ever and I'm so proud of them.

I went to bed that night contented - no, I was happy and I was thankful. All those years of struggle and worry had led me to this very happy ending. I'm going to hang on to this feeling and store it away so I can revisit it on those days when I forget how wonderful life can really be.

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Sunday, August 31, 2008

 

Tyson's first day

Our Tyson's first day was filled with visitors. Of course I didn't waste any time making this little video tribute.

video

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Friday, August 29, 2008

 

Please welcome Tyson Jamal

My daughter Jennifer gave birth yesterday to a healthy 7 pound baby boy!

I enjoyed the privilege of coaching her through her labour helping her push her son into the world. What an experience it is to be there with your daughter as she gives birth. As I held her and reminded her to breathe I couldn't help but remember me giving birth to her and how life truly does come full circle.

Anyway, here is a little video of Tyson's first bath at two hours old.


video

I can't begin to say how excited I am to now have two grandchildren. Tomorrow I'll have my son and his wife and their two girls and my daughter and her boyfriend and their two boys here for a beach day and roasted lamb supper. Yeah, life is good.

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

 

Driving stick

For the past few days I have been driving my daughter's boyfriend's Honda Civic 5 speed. Why? Well, because Jen can't drive stick. Her boyfriend is getting another car in a few days - one with an automatic transmission -  so we've swapped cars until then.

Learning to drive a car with a manual transmission is one of those things, (along with power tool usage, basic plumbing and electrical), that I think every gal should know how to do. I learned to drive stick back in the 70s on a boyfriend's old Renault. He broke my heart but he also taught me how to do donuts in parking lots. See? There's salt and sugar in everything.

My first brand new car ever was a little 4 speed Chevy Chevette. When my step-father bought me  that car I hadn't driven stick in quite some time and was very nervous about driving it home. I can't believe I'm confessing this here but I actually made the dealership deliver the car to me because I was too nervous to drive it off the lot.

When it arrived at my parent's house my kid brother Ricky kept pestering me to go for a ride. My mom said she'd like to see me drive it too and asked if I could take her up the street to the grocery store at the mall. Gee, when your mom asks you to take her to get groceries, how can you say no?

The three of us piled in and although I stalled the car a couple of times going up the hill, we arrived safely. I stayed in the car with Ricky as he bounced around rolling down windows, turning knobs and pushing buttons while Mom went shopping.

About a half an hour later with the groceries stashed in the hatchback, I tried to leave the parking lot. I stalled that car 23 times in a row. How do I know it was 23 times? Ricky. 

Yes, my baby brother, with all the perverse glee of a nine-year-old boy, counted every single time - "That's 15, oh, 16, ha, ha, 17..." Finally a man walked up to the car and asked if everything was alright. I wanted to tell him that everything was fine but before I could say anything my mom piped up, "She just got this car today and doesn't know how to drive it." I could have died.

"I too do know how to drive it, I'm just not used to it yet," I defensively said. The man poked his head in the car and looked at my feet. "Well young lady, the first thing you need to do is take those cowboy boots off," he advised.

I balked, "What and drive in my sock feet?" "Yes," he said, "you need to feel the clutch."

I took my boots off and chucked them in the back seat at my kid brother. It took about five minutes of coaching but the stranger talked me through feeling the clutch and changing the gears. It was all coming back to me. Finally with a toot of the horn we were off and I never stalled that car ever again.

Now that's not to say I've never stalled any other manual shift vehicle. About nine years ago my brother-in-law taught me how to drive a semi. I stalled that rig many times while I was learning but he was so patient. I eventually got my semi license and was so proud.

Yep, knowing how to drive stick is a skill that comes in handy. The thing to remember is that the clutch on every vehicle feels different and that until you can feel the difference, you're best not to wear cowboy boots.


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Saturday, August 02, 2008

 

Worm Day

It's been raining so much over the last few weeks that we've been neglecting some chores around the Lair. When you have a long to-do list you start with the most pressing item first so today, since it's a beautiful day, we are going to construct a second bin for our worms.

We began raising worms (eisentia foetida) in April to get their castings to use in our garden. These critters lay tons of cocoons and basically double their numbers every 60 days. By June our worms had multiplied to the point where we needed to move them out of the series of plastic totes we had started with. We had also inherited a few pounds of worms from other vermicomposters who were splitting their bins. 


We were up to our wazoo in worms and needed to build them a better home quickly. From all of our reading, we wanted to try using a flow-through bin system and after looking at a few designs, we built our own.

My daughter's boyfriend gave us a couple of 55 gallon barrels and we thought they'd make perfect worm bins. The one flow-through design we saw was a vertical bin but we thought for our first flow-through we'd build a horizontal one.

We put the barrel on its side and with our jig-saw cut panels out of opposite sides. The panel that is the "top" of the bin was cut wider than the panel for the "bottom" of the bin. I found a length of wire store shelving at the Habitat Restore (I love the Restore!) and for 2 bucks it made the perfect grate for the bottom of the bin.



We had some scrap 4x4 lumber laying around so we made a little yoke to set the bin on.



It was starting to rain so it was time to move our new bin into the shed and get the bedding ready for the worms.  We lined the bottom of the bin with a couple layers of damp newspaper. Then we added a layer of shredded newspaper, cardboard and straw to prepare the bed. Next, was the worms. 


In preparation for the move to their new home, we separated the mature worms from their cocoons. We hadn't fed the worms for a few days so we knew they'd be hungry when we moved them.



We emptied our smaller bins of adult worms, castings and all, into the new bin then fed them our special blend of food. All of our kitchen scraps (veggies, fruits, coffee grounds & egg shells) are kept in bags in the freezer. About once a week we thaw the scraps and grind them up in a food processor so we have worm food for the week. The photo above shows the mushed up food layered on top of the layer of worms.

The final step is covering the layer of food with shredded newspaper. This helps to keep the fruit flies away and effectively covers any potential smell. 

The only time we have ever had any unpleasant smell was when we over-fed the worms and allowed the bin to get too wet. This was easily remedied by adding more dry bedding and waiting a few extra days between feedings.



This is what the under side of the bin looks like. Here you can see the layer of newspaper we lined the bottom with. In time, as the worms above eat and deposit their castings, this layer will decompose leaving a layer of rich worm castings to fall into a recycling box we've placed below.

Today our cocoons have hatched and we have a couple of plastic totes full of adult and baby worms. They are quickly outgrowing these bins so we're building a vertical flow-through bin for them. Here's what the babies look like:



We may buy a couple more pounds of worms just to get us up to the production level we want for our chickens. If all goes well, we hope that by this time next year we will have enough surplus worms to supplement our chicken feed next fall and winter. Not to mention mounds of rich vermicompost for our garden.

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Thursday, July 31, 2008

 

$300 houses

When I can't sleep at night I watch infomercials.

I think I've seen just about every ab-busting, steam-cleaning, crows feet-erasing, pimple-blasting, infra-red-roasting, hair-straightening, ice-crushing, scrap book-decorating, jewel-dazzling, trans-fat-eliminating, hepa-filtering, cellulite-melting, drop-shipping, internet-marketing, stock-trading and real estate-buying gizmo, lotion, potion, plan or scheme imaginable.

In those wee, small hours of the morning when I'm tossing from side to side, too tired to get up but too awake to really sleep, it somehow helps to know that somewhere out there somebody else is up, just like me, but with a credit card in hand. That's kinda perverse isn't it?

There's something about listening to all those testimonials from people just like me, who've gone down 4 dress sizes, tamed their nappy heads, took 10 years off their face and made $5,000 in one day that just makes me want to believe that indeed, all things are possible. Nothing gives my REM-cycle deprived brain more pleasure than hearing their affable claims of wealth, health and happiness.

At 2am this morning, after watching the 2 previous infomercials (one on the Shark floor steamer and the other on the Cricut - which I think is really cool in a Bedazzled, let's enter my two-year old in the Little Miss Sunshine pageant kind of way and something I'd be tempted to buy if I had small kids at home), I watched one about a real estate plan to buy houses for as little as $300.



This infomercial claims that you can buy houses in the US and Canada and own them free and clear simply by paying the back taxes on a defaulted property. Of course most people don't know about this little trick but you can learn how to make your fortune by purchasing the kit that will show you how.

During the program they showed photos of all types of houses and land that people had bought for mere hundreds of dollars then turned around and made a great profit when sold for their market value. As I watched the photos of the houses all I kept thinking was, "What happened to the people who used to live there?" If, as was claimed in the infomercial, there are millions of defaulted homes up for grabs, what happened to the people who once owned them? Did the Rapture happen when I wasn't looking?


Not only did the whole thing gave me a creepy House of Sand and Fog vibe but it reminded me of shysters selling Mississippi bottom land. Fortunately for Canadians, these tax sale property schemes aren't as easy as that infomercial would lead you to believe.

Yes, the bank and finance companies do foreclose and put properties under power of sale. People do loose their homes but the whole thing is a process that takes time and the owner has right up to the closing date to pay off the mortgage. Furthermore, lest they be sued, the bank must make every effort to sell the house for its true market value. Even in the cases where a property is being sold for back taxes, that amount is the actual amount of taxes due and not "pennies on the value of the property".

This morning I wondered how many cash-strapped, looking-for-a-better-way people dialed that 800 number to charge the $39.99 to their nearly-maxed credit cards. This morning my REM-cycle deprived brain got angry. Angry thinking about all those insomniacs who got duped. Angry about all those people who lost their homes to the greed of sub-prime mortgage speculators. And damn it, I couldn't fall back to sleep!

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Friday, July 25, 2008

 

Chillin' with my peeps....

Ok, don't laugh but this has been a childhood dream of mine - I want chickens.

Somewhere deep inside this city-born gal lurks a farmer. Maybe it was all those summers I spent on my uncle's farm mucking out horse stalls or sitting on my grandma's porch shelling peas that caused me to harbour this desire. I can't say where the desire comes from but I do know that I've been the happiest I've ever been since moving out to the Lair.

This spring Lise and I decided to take a part of our yard and make it into a vegetable garden. Out of those plans, and with much research, we decided to raise composting worms (eisenia foetida) to use their castings as fertilizer in our garden.

We started with a couple of plastic totes and a few pounds of worms and now we have a 55 gallon barrel in our shed brimming with beautiful worms. We're using the totes as incubators for the worm cocoons and baby worms and will be starting another 55 gallon barrel very soon. Our neighbours tease us and call us the worm farmers and ask when they can expect to see us taking the worms out for exercise.

We were a bit hesitant to tell the neighbours that we had worms (yuk, yuk) but when we told them about our little worm ranch, they smiled and said, "We're zoned agricultural so you could have a cow in your yard if you wanted to." At first I thought they were joking but when I dug up the tax bill and deciphered all the abbreviations on the page, sure enough, we ARE zoned agricultural. While a cow would provide all the manure we'd ever need to feed our worms, I think our neighbours would have something to say especially as soon as the wind blew a certain way. Anyway I started thinking - gee, maybe I could have those chickens I've always wanted.


Our property is more wide than it is deep so we don't have much of a backyard. Having chickens would mean trying to figure out a way to keep them in a small space. Since we have more room to the front and side of the house, I thought I'd like to put them there. When Lise and I talked about that we discussed how chickens, if left in one place, can quickly turn a nice lawn into a not-so-nice lawn. So that meant we'd have to find some way to move the chickens around regularly.

The other thing we needed to consider was all of the feral cats in the area. Sure, we could nail a little coop together and let the chickens free-range in the fenced in portion of the yard but that idea seemed too much like tying a goat to a stake in the T-Rex paddock.

We've spent the last three weeks looking for solutions and finally decided we are going to build an ark. In North America this type of coop/run design is known as a "tractor" but in Britain, they call them "arks".

We bought a set of plans from Catawba Convertible Coops upon which to base our design and then I saw The Henley and fell in love. So with graph paper and mechanical pencil in hand, Lise and I are going to design something that incorporates the features of both. We're already arguing about the colour - she wants to paint it blue and I want to paint it barn-red with white trim so we may have some arm-wrestling to do.

The Harrow Fair is being held at the end of August and that's where I'd like to find some hens, so I'd like to have our ark built before then. I'm not sure which breeds are available in our area but there are two breeds I'm particularly interested in: Ameraucanas and Barred Plymouth Rocks. I've already warned Lise that when we go to the fair I'll be spending most of my time in the poultry barn chatting people up.

Meanwhile, I'll be cutting up wood scraps trying to figure out if I can cut these angles with a protractor and circular saw or if I really need to rent a miter saw. If all goes well and we still have all ten digits in place, we could have next year's spider problem solved and be eating our own eggs to boot.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

 

Ashes, ashes, they all fall down...

The emerald ash borer has done some major damage to trees here in southwestern Ontario. I've read that 20 million trees are infested and will be killed by this invasive, alien species.

Just last week a crew from the township was in our area identifying trees to be scheduled for removal. Sadly, the big ash tree in the front of our house is one they have tagged. No word yet on when the cutting crews will arrive but we're not happy that we will be loosing such a beautiful tree and one which provides us with afternoon shade.



There is a small wood lot at the end of our lane where Lise does her bird watching. A family of red-headed woodpeckers lives in one of the ash trees in this wood lot and this tree is one of the ones marked for removal. On our stroll last night I must have counted 15 trees that have been tagged. Hard to believe that something smaller than a penny can do such damage.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

 

My first town council meeting


Recently the township circulated a letter to area residents informing us that they were holding a zoning meeting to consider the re-zoning of the agricultural land around us to allow wind farms to be installed.

I have no problems with having wind turbines in my area. Unlike some of my neighbours, I don't think they are eyesores (I actually think they are quite beautiful). Nor do I have concerns about noise or red lights shining in my bedroom at night, or even bird migration. I figure that if birds are smart enough to learn not to fly into trees and telephone poles they'll be smart enough to avoid flying into a wind turbine. It's not like the blades of a wind turbine spin as fast as an airplane propeller.

My concern was around the necessity for re-zoning and whether they proposed re-zoning to a light industrial category. The area I live in is a wine region and is also known for the type of soil we have to produce quality seed. Geographically, we are in the southernmost point in Canada. We have Carolinian forests and a climate unlike anywhere else in Canada. I moved here because I wanted to live amongst the vineyards, corn, wheat, tomato and soy bean fields. I like to see the jersey cows and paint horses as I drive to work. What I would hate is to one-day see a widget factory move in where a vineyard once was.

So off Lise and I trekked to the town meeting last night to learn more about what was going on. When we received the notice of the meeting I wrote the town clerk for more information and my request was responded to by the town planner. He answered many of my questions but since I had never been to a council meeting and hadn't had an opportunity to hear both sides of the debate, I felt it was important to attend.

My first impression was surprise at how small the council chamber was. I was glad we got there early because there wasn't enough seating for everybody who came. People were standing in the doorway, spilling out into the hall and with all those people crammed into that small room, it was hot.

The wind power company were the first presenters and I think they did a pretty good job addressing many people's concerns about the wind farm project. After they spoke and the councilors asked their questions, citizens who had asked to be put on the agenda, were given an opportunity to voice their position and ask questions.

Most of the people who came out in favour of the project were landowners who had agreed to lease portions of their land for the turbines. These folks, of course, have a vested interest as they will be receiving royalties for allowing the turbines on their properties. All but one of the folks who spoke in opposition came from a "not-in-my-backyard" place. They didn't mind the idea of wind turbines but didn't want to live anywhere near them. The one woman who did speak in opposition raised some valid points about safety and impact to the local agricultural environment and wildlife. Her arguments were well-reasoned and documented and the councilors put her questions to the power company representatives.

With amendments to increase the set-backs for safety reasons, the council voted in favour of granting the re-zoning application to allow the wind farm project to go forward. The re-zoning was actually a variance to the existing zoning category of general agriculture to allow the wind turbines as a secondary use under the existing zoning. So I'm pleased that the agricultural designation is preserved.

Witnessing this process though has been interesting. It illustrated to me how people really do fear change. Folks seem to be alright with change as long as it remains something "out there" and doesn't mean that they have to adjust anything in their lives. All of the objections I heard last night: my property value will fall, they'll keep me awake at night, I will see them from my house, this will kill the local tourism industry etc. were all examples of fear of change.

Wind farms may not be the panacea for eliminating our dependence on fossil fuel or nuclear powered generators, but it is a first step towards something more sustainable. It's one of the things we can do right now if only we have the courage to face our fear of change.

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

 

Message in a Bottle

I've been tagged for the first time in my bloglife.

Here are the rules:

You are about to send a virtual Message In a Bottle across the Blog Ocean. Leave a message in the sand or on the bottle. Write anything you wish. Be a pirate or a poet. Serious or silly. Anonymous or not.

What message would you like to send out to the universe?






Click here for a blank picture
Write Your message
Post it and let her know you did here
Tag 5 or more people
I tag:
JLee's Place
Drowsey Monkey
My Brain Hurts
Larry Hnetka Goes Hmm..
Rainbow Pastor

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

 

Having my first...

My daughter is expecting her first baby in August. Yes, I'm to be a Memé again. In going through some old file folders I found this little piece I wrote not long after having her.

I loved being pregnant. As my belly grew, I wallowed in the glory of all the preferential treatment I received and the mounds of pecan pie that I consumed. Visions of cherubs filled my dreams. My waking hours were spent decorating the nursery and devouring parenting books and while I fought a loosing battle with girth control, I developed a stout determination to be the best mother that ever walked the earth.

What could possibly go wrong? After all, they're only babies, nature's most adaptable creatures. It would be easy to get an infant on a reasonable schedule within two weeks right? Yes, those were the blissful days filled with pleasant dreams and anticipation of giving birth to the Gerber baby.

Someone once told me that when something seems too good to be true, it usually is - I went into labour three weeks early. Now most people know me as a cool and quite competent woman but I must confess that when my water broke, I lost it. Had it not been for the composed demeanor of the seasoned head nurse, I most certainly would have forgotten everything I learned in prenatal class.

Once I got it together again and resigned myself to the fact that this baby was going to be born before I got the garage to put the snow tires on the car, the delivery went well. Apart from a brief moment of respiratory arrest when they made the mistake with the epidural and froze me from the waist up instead of from the waist down, it was eight mercifully brief hours of labour, delivery in a regular hospital bed and back to the ward in time for supper.

After the delivery I was consumed with energy, ready to tackle anything that came my way and when they brought little Jennifer to me I nursed her like an old pro. Shortly after feeding time was visiting hour and with my cooing bundle nestled in my arms I held court like the Queen Mum. Exuding confidence I proudly exhibited my latest accomplishment and boasted that I felt so good that I felt like going home then and there.

Before I knew it visiting hour was over, my new daughter was finished her final feeding and was whisked off the the nursery until the wee hours of the night when she would be returned to me for another fix. I settled down in bed to rest and dream about which of her new outfits I would bring her home in.

The morning bustle of the hospital roused me with vague recollections of fumbling in the dark with a screaming infant - surely a nightmare. When the nurse came in with my baby I asked her if anyone got the number of the bus that hit me. She giggled, placed Jennifer in my arms and on crepe soles squeaked away to get the rest of the layette.

Jennifer was wide away and hungry. Our eyes met and at that moment she began to howl. Perhaps I should have combed my hair I thought. Oh well, maybe if I feed her she might like me better. Calmly I began to go through the motions of breast feeding and as I pulled my baby towards me the reality of the situation overwhelmed me. I was condemned. For the next eighteen years I was solely responsible for this child.

Instantly my bravado dissolved, I was utterly inept and it wasn't long before I was howling louder than the baby. I spent the rest of the morning sobbing into my pillow, inconsolable, trying to bear the disgrace of knowing that my baby was in the nursery being bottle fed.

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Monday, February 04, 2008

 

Good things grow in Ontario....

I was cleaning up my hard drive and found these photos I took at Parkdale Market when I was visiting my mother in Ottawa late last summer.

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Saturday, February 02, 2008

 

Winter 2007 at the Lair

Took these photos just before the holidays.

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The ghost of Tom

In my life I've loved three men. The last man fathered my two children. The second man broke my heart. I woke up this morning thinking of the first man I ever loved.

I met Tom when I joined the youth group at our parish church. He was seventeen and I was twelve. To him I was just another skinny little girl in the choir and while he was always polite, he never really gave me the time of day. Still though, I knew I loved him.

At twelve I knew a lot about love. I had already had two real-live boy-girl dates with Jerry, an older man of fourteen - one where we took his kid sister to see Bedknobs and Broomsticks and he paid and even held my hand when we lined up for tickets and the second when we met at the rink across the street from my old grade school to go ice skating. He bought me a hot chocolate, made me laugh and kissed me on the teeth. He even brought me home to meet his mom and we spent an afternoon listening to and talking about his Black Sabbath Paranoid album. I really liked Jerry and he was the first boy to ask me to dance at the school dance and the first boy to peddle his bike half way across the west end just to go bike riding along the river with me.

I remember reading somewhere that the ancient Greeks had three words for love. Philia, indicating a brotherly/friendship love; eros, for a romantic/sexual love and agape for an unconditional/spiritual love. I suppose in my twelve year old brain I entertained the notion of a romantic love with Jerry, I mean he did kiss me, even if it was only on the teeth, but in hindsight what I felt for him was the love of friendship.

With Tom however, it was different. I had a big crush on him. He played the guitar and was the leader of the guitar masses we had at church. He looked like a cross between John Denver and Cat Stevens and while I watched him hang out with the older girls I secretly hoped that one day he'd notice me. My fantasy of some day being Tom's girl was shattered the Sunday morning our parish priest proudly announced that Tom had decided to enter the priesthood. Now those romantic fancies seemed wrong - sinful even - and had to be purged. I left the youth group and didn't see Tom again until one summer day when I was sixteen.

I was walking down Bank Street in The Glebe in Ottawa when I heard someone call my name. I turned around and there was Tom smiling at me and just as handsome as he ever was. I stood there, astounded as he threw his arms around me and gave me a big hug. I didn't think he would even remember me and here he was, warm wide grin under a bushy moustache telling me how great it was to see me. Cars, buses rushed by, pedestrians jostled me, for all I know a dog could have been pissing on my shoe but all I heard, all I was aware of was Tom asking me if I'd go have coffee with him. Over coffee he told me of his experiences at seminary while I nodded and smiled. After about an hour he said he had a bus to catch, got up and was gone. I didn't see him again until the fall when walking down Elgin Street I again heard someone call my name.

For the next three years that's how it was with us. Tom would pop into my life from out of the blue. We'd spend an afternoon, a few days, a week together then, poof, he'd be gone. In those interludes he'd sing to me the songs he'd written, read to me from his journals, we'd talk about art, music, poetry and all things spiritual. He found himself dissatisfied with the Church, left the seminary and for a time wondered what he would do with is life. He felt he was called to some type of service but wasn't sure what that would look like for him.

With Tom I saw the movie Midnight Express and pondered Warhol's soup cans at the National Gallery. These were things I couldn't do with the fellow I was dating at the time - the second man I loved; man who eventually broke my heart. If I were an ancient Greek I would say that what I felt for Tom was a combination of philia and agape. The girlish romantic infatuation of a twelve-year-old was transformed into the love one has for a kindred spirit, a pal, a buddy, someone who understands your quirks and loves you for them. He knew I was dating (and later became engaged to) the other fellow and I knew he dated other girls and that was fine because I didn't see Tom as someone to be romantic with. He was, as Anne of Green Gables says, a bosom friend.

Tom never kissed me. Not until the very last time I ever saw him. We had spent the day together and in the afternoon ended up at his parents' place where he shared a couple songs he was working on. I had a date that night with my fiancee and it was getting late so he walked me to the bus stop so I could get home in time to get ready. We made small talk as we waited for the bus and just as it arrived, Tom took me in his arms, gave me the most passionate kiss I had ever experienced in my then, nineteen years and said, "I don't want you to marry him, I want you to marry me." The doors to the bus opened and I hopped on, deposited my bus ticket, plopped down on a seat and as the bus pulled away watched Tom stand at the curb until I couldn't see him anymore. Heaven forgive me but the one thought that went through my head was, "Oh no, now he's ruined everything." Somewhere in those years that we were chumming around together, without me knowing it, Tom fell in love with me and I didn't know how to respond. So I didn't. He must have called the house every day for the next two weeks and I kept dodging his calls until he stopped calling.

About two years later, when I had broken up with the fiancee and was dating the man who I would later marry and have children with, my mother phoned me at work to tell me that Tom had been killed. The account of his death was not clear but he either fell or was pushed off a twelve-storey building. I couldn't bring myself to attend his funeral but did, months later, visit his grave.

I often think of Tom, his music, his prose, his humour, his smile and the love I felt for him. When I think of him I can't help but wonder what would have happened had I had the maturity and courage to not get on that bus, to answer his phone calls, to see him one more time.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

 

Do you smell something?



Saw this news item about the most expensive perfume in the world and it reminded me of the film Perfume which I recently saw.




I wonder if this pricey scent is made from the essence of thirteen virgins.

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

 

Judgment at Nuremberg

This morning I caught the last 45 minutes or so of the court room drama Judgment at Nuremberg. At the Teach With Movies web site it gives the following description of the film:
This movie is a fictionalized account of the war crimes trial of judges and prosecutors who served the Nazis.

"Judgment at Nuremberg" depicts a watershed event: the first trials, based on principles of justice and international law, of the leaders of a country that waged aggressive war and committed crimes against humanity. The film is a gripping, searching and provocative look at the moral issues surrounding both the actions of the accused and the process of bringing them to justice. The film also explores the issue of whether ordinary Germans bore responsibility for the Holocaust.
I have seen this movie many times before, however, while watching the movie this morning, I was struck with how relevant the film's themes are today as we contend with our "War on Terror" and are living with the abomination of such things as America's Patriot Act, detainees at Guantanamo Bay, horrors at Abu Ghraib Prison and Canada's compliance with "no-fly" lists.

Burt Lancaster plays the character Ernst Janning a German judge who is on trial for condemning innocent people during the Nazi regime. Janning is pretty stoic throughout the proceedings but as he watches the court room events unfold, he is compelled to give an explanation for his actions. In one of the most stirring moments on the film, Janning rises in court to give his statement:

"There was a fever over the land. A fever of disgrace, of indignity, of hunger. We had a democracy, yes, but it was torn by elements within. Above all, there was fear. Fear of today, fear of tomorrow, fear of our neighbors, and fear of ourselves. Only when you understand that - can you understand what Hitler meant to us. Because he said to us: 'Lift your heads! Be proud to be German! There are devils among us. Communists, Liberals, Jews, Gypsies! Once these devils will be destroyed, your misery will be destroyed.'
It was the old, old story of the sacrificial lamb. What about those of us who knew better? We who knew the words were lies and worse than lies? Why did we sit silent? Why did we take part? Because we loved our country! What difference does it make if a few political extremists lose their rights? What difference does it make if a few racial minorities lose their rights? It is only a passing phase. It is only a stage we are going through. It will be discarded sooner or later. Hitler himself will be discarded... sooner or later.

The country is in danger. We will march out of the shadows. We will go forward. Forward is the great password. And history tells how well we succeeded, your honor. We succeeded beyond our wildest dreams. The very elements of hate and power about Hitler that mesmerized Germany, mesmerized the world! We found ourselves with sudden powerful allies.

Things that had been denied to us as a democracy were open to us now. The world said 'go ahead, take it, take it! Take Sudetenland, take the Rhineland - re militarize it - take all of Austria, take it! And then one day we looked around and found that we were in an even more terrible danger. The ritual began in this courtroom swept over the land like a raging, roaring disease. What was going to be a passing phase had become the way of life.

Your honor, I was content to sit silent during this trial. I was content to tend my roses. I was even content to let counsel try to save my name, until I realized that in order to save it, he would have to raise the specter again. You have seen him do it - he has done it here in this courtroom. He has suggested that the Third Reich worked for the benefit of people. He has suggested that we sterilized men for the welfare of the country. He has suggested that perhaps the old Jew did sleep with the sixteen year old girl, after all. Once more it is being done for love of country. It is not easy to tell the truth; but if there is to be any salvation for Germany, we who know our guilt must admit it... whatever the pain and humiliation."
Here is Lancaster's brilliant performance:



Spencer Tracy played the head of the tribunal, Judge Dan Haywood. Throughout the movie as he interacts with the German people and in particular in his interactions with the widow of an executed German officer, played by Marlene Dietrich, you can see his struggle to understand the evidence of the atrocities presented in court in light of the warmth and nature of the Germans he meets. He can't seem to grasp how a people with such love of life and song could allow such things to happen and claim they didn't even know they were happening. I see Janning's statement as the point where this juxtaposition becomes clear to him and this chilling realization is reflected in his comments at the trial's verdict:
"Janning, to be sure, is a tragic figure. We believe he loathed the evil he did. But compassion for the present torture of his soul must not beget forgetfulness of the torture and death of millions by the government of which he was a part.

Janning's record and his fate illuminate the most shattering truth that has emerged from this trial. If he and the other defendants were all depraved perverts - if the leaders of the Third Reich were sadistic monsters and maniacs - these events would have no more moral significance than an earthquake or other natural catastrophes.

But this trial has shown that under the stress of a national crisis, men - even able and extraordinary men - can delude themselves into the commission of crimes and atrocities so vast and heinous as to stagger the imagination. No one who has sat through this trial can ever forget. The sterilization of men because of their political beliefs... The murder of children... How easily that can happen!

There are those in our country today, too, who speak of the "protection" of the country. Of "survival". The answer to that is: survival as what? A country isn't a rock. And it isn't an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for, when standing for something is the most difficult! Before the people of the world - let it now be noted in our decision here that this is what we stand for: justice, truth... and the value of a single human being!"
The verdict is indeed chilling and Tracy delivers it with the aplomb and skill of a seasoned actor:



But while the performances of all of the actors in this film were stellar, it is the themes of the film from which we can draw meaning and which rung a bell for me today.

In a post-911 world we too live in a "Fear of today, fear of tomorrow, fear of our neighbors, and fear of ourselves." We too have leaders who would tell us, "There are devils among us. Once these devils will be destroyed, your misery will be destroyed."

In our fear to be thought of as less patriotic, in our fear of once again being targeted by those who hate us, many sit in silence and say, "What difference does it make if a few political extremists lose their rights? What difference does it make if a few racial minorities lose their rights? It is only a passing phase. It is only a stage we are going through. It will be discarded sooner or later."

But this way of thinking only perpetuates the very evil from which we seek to protect ourselves. In our paralytic fear we've allowed the very principles upon which our democracy was founded to become corrupted. I think these last few word's of Judge Haywood's verdict should be not only etched in our hearts and minds but retained to galvanize us to rededicate ourselves to the principles we have held so dear:

"A decision must be made in the life of every nation at the very moment that the grasp of the enemy is at its throat, then is seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient, to look the other way, only the answer to that is: survival as what? A country isn't a rock. And it isn't an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for, when standing for something is the most difficult!"

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

 

Extreme product testing

I seem to remember when I was growing up an ice cream treat called the Nutty Buddy. I don't think I'll look at a chocolate dipped, peanut encrusted ice cream cone the same way ever again. Man, even I cringed watching this video.

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

 

Bass Pro

I have a blog buddy who lives in the great state of Kansas and is an avid angler. Every time he goes on a road trip he finds some excuse to visit a Bass Pro shop. He always speaks of his visits with such glee I figured that Bass Pro must be some kind of Disneyland for outdoors-folk. I had never been to a Bass Pro shop but my nephew Marc works at the shop just north of Toronto. So on our recent trip north, Lise and I stopped in to check the place out.




It truly is a Disneyland for outdoors-folk. They have an indoor shooting range, fish ponds and steam with real trout, every kind of hunting, fishing, boating or camping gear you could imagine. We didn't have a lot of time to look around but I did get a good shot of Uncle Buck's plane.



Oh yes, and one more shot. Alan,this one's for you my friend:

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

 

Creepy...

When I saw this news item I thought of the movie Bug and the very scientific principle that the severity of an itch is directly proportional to its reach.

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

 

Dear Santa...

My oldest grand daughter Natalie has just finished typing out her letter to Santa. She had a little help from mom but this is pretty much verbatim:


Like many thousands of children in Canada she will be mailing her letter to:
Santa Claus
North Pole
H0H 0H0
Canada

Canada Post has an entire page set up for Canadian children who wish to send their letters to Santa and if they send them in early enough and if they include their return address, Santa will answer each child's letter. Remember though that this is a busy time for Santa so if you want him to answer you, send your letter in as soon as possible. Details are on the Canada Post web site.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

 

Right on!!

Tired of a political party who simply promises a chicken in every pot? Well how about a party that promises pot and weekly orgasms for all?

Yep, Canada's Rhinoceros party is back. Party president Francois Gourd says, "We are a Marxist-Lennonist party - based on the philosophy of Groucho Marx and John Lennon." Their motto: From party to party till victory. How inspiring is that?

Learn more about their platform by visiting their website at neorhino.ca. Much of their web site is in French but they are looking for a good anglophone and translator to work with. So if ya know of anyone...

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

 

Moo...

More cow capers today when, while driving through the drive-through at McDonald's, the tail gate of a trailer opened allowing a herd of eight cows to escape. People in the town of West Haven, Utah called rounding up the cows "Operation Hamburger Helper".

The poor creatures probably planned their escape after watching the movie Fast Food Nation. I know after seeing that movie, if I were a cow, I'd run too.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

 

Ewwww....

I can't think of anything more disgusting that this. The more I hear about these horror stories from China's manufacturing and food production sectors, the more I suspect any products we import from there. If anything, these stories have made me an even more avid label reader.

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

 

Holy cow!

I once had a stone fly off from behind a truck and crack my windshield. Scared the crap right outta me. Can't even imagine a cow.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

 

Happy Birthday Mom

Today, October 26th is my mom's birthday and she sits in an Ottawa hospital awaiting placement in a nursing home. She's recovered well from her stroke but remains disoriented and confused. As time goes on, she will become more confused and remember even less. She has already forgotten much of her past and I know that one day she will even forget who I am.

So while I still can, I believe it's important that I remember for her. I know that everyone says this about their moms but my mom was an incredible woman. No, she didn't discover a cure for cancer or solve world hunger or peace but she was incredible because she swam against the current of her time and tried to live her life differently. Her life may not have turned out as she would have liked and she did suffer greatly but along the way she had some pretty cool adventures.

I'd like to share one period of her life with you that had a tremendous influence on me throughout the years.

My mom was a from a Francophone community in Northern Ontario. Her father didn't believe in educating girls beyond grade six - why does a girl need an education when all she's going to do is change diapers? My mom argued with my grandfather and managed to stay in school until grade eight. After that, she would sneak out of the house to attend high school. I'm not sure if she managed to finish high school but when she was nineteen she started taking courses in typing and shorthand. By then World War Two had ended and she left home to find work.

One of her sisters had found a job in Ottawa working as a chambermaid at the historic Chateau Laurier hotel and mom left home to join her. Soon, her typing and shorthand skills landed her a job with Blue Cross in Toronto so she moved to Hogtown and lived there for four years until she accepted a transfer to a Blue Cross office in New York City.

I'm not exactly sure how long she worked for Blue Cross but her next job was to work for a man named Archie Bleyer. Mr. Bleyer had once been the band leader for Arthur Godfrey and in 1952 had started his own recording company he called Cadence Records.

Mom always fondly remembered Andy Williams, Phil and Don Everly (she said they were always polite, sweet boys), and Dorothy, Carol, Janet and Jinny of The Chordettes. Mom had friends in the secretarial pools of other record labels like RCA and Capitol and the gals used to swap disc jockey pressings of the 45s and albums of the day.

When my mom was pregnant with me, the gang at Cadence had a baby shower for her and all the label's stars were there to congratulate her. She left Cadence Records to stay home and be wife and mother but I always got the feeling that she missed the music business. But she hung on to all the records she collected while working for Cadence and these were the records I listened to growing up.

In our house we listened to all kinds of music from rock 'n roll to country, to pop, to big band, to classical. I grew up appreciating all kinds of music and it's small wonder that today I find myself married to a musician.

So to celebrate my mom's birthday here's a little video of a song she used to sing to me. Happy Birthday Mom!

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

 

Time and colour blindness

Last year, in my blog post Speak your mind even if your voice shakes, I wrote about an incident that happened at Pride where the emcee made a comment in reference to a Black performer about "not seeing colour". I received a couple negative comments in response to that post and couldn't help but think of that incident and the responses I received here when I heard an interview of Nigerian writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, on this morning's The Current on CBC radio.

Towards the end of the interview she speaks about her experience of coming to study in the US. When asked if she was surprised by the evidence of institutional racism in the US she said it was eye-opening for her. She said that she didn't know she was Black until she moved to the US and that living in the US means knowing that one is Black and that Blackness comes with so much baggage. She goes on to say that she believes that America's approach to race and class isn't honest, that there is a myth that everything is alright. She says that the myth that we live in a colour-blind society is a lie and that we shouldn't pretend that race doesn't matter. Hmm, looks like I'm not the only person who feels that way. You can listen to her interview by clicking here. You will need Real Player installed on your computer to listen to that file.
******
Today, October 24th, is Take Back Your Time Day. Take Back Your Time Day is a project organized by an alliance of academics called the Simplicity Forum and members of Cornell University's Center for Religion, Ethics and Social Policy.

From the website at www.timeday.org:
TAKE BACK YOUR TIME is a major U.S./Canadian initiative to challenge the epidemic of overwork, over-scheduling and time famine that now threatens our health, our families and relationships, our communities and our environment.
Some of their mottos are - More time, less stuff. Time is a Family Value and Medieval peasants worked less than you do.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

 

Job Posting

I'd apply but I already have a job so I'm passing this job lead along. I hear they are looking for a few good men. Sure hope they can find 1000 men who will measure up.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

 

Had a little visitor today

My daughter-in-law Sue borrowed my car this morning so she could go down to the Ministry of Transportation office to write the exam for her D (truck) license. Sue's dad works for one of the local waste removal companies and has encouraged her to get her truck license and apply for a driving job for when she comes off maternity leave in March. She's a gal after my own heart, seeing as how I hold a D class license with a Z (air brake endorsement).

Anyhow, after passing her written exam she brought the car back to me and surprised me with her tiny passenger.

Here's little Eve at grandma's office at the Local. I think she'll make a fine shop steward one day.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

 

The Ghost of Birthdays Past

Since birthdays are a time of reflection, I thought I'd share some photos of my past birthdays.


Here I am with my mom. This was taken not long after we came home to our apartment on Coster Street from St Francis Hospital in the Bronx.
Mom was 33 when she had me and I was her first.














These are my parents. This was taken when I was 2-1/2 months old. I'm not exactly sure where this picture was taken but from what I remember of the furnishings, I think it was taken at my godmother's house in Brooklyn.









This was my first birthday party! We had moved from Coster St. to a house on 222nd Street not far from White Plains Rd in the Bronx. I was five years old.








My next birthday party was held after we moved to Canada in our home in Ottawa. I was twelve and the dress I'm wearing here is my mom's second wedding dress.
It was the 70s - dig those bell bottomed sleeves!




This was my 33rd birthday. I think everyone should climb a tree when they turn 33 don't you?





This was my 35th birthday. This was my androgynous neo-feminist period. Thank heavens I grew out of that!

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Mid-life

Well, today is my birthday. How do I feel? Well, the chorus of this song written by Merle Travis, sung by Tennessee Ernie Ford and released by Capitol Records on this date in 1956, says it all.

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

 

What's up Doc?

Time for catching up...

My shoulder surgery went well. I wish they had sent me for this arthroscopic surgery a year ago. I'm going to physiotherapy three times a week and doing very well. Thank you all for your well wishes, notes and flowers. The more concerning problem has been my back.

My GP initially thought I had a pinched nerve but since the numbness in my legs has not resolved and I've experienced some numbness in my face and tongue, he's sending me to see a neurologist in a couple of weeks. Then I'll go for an MRI and see if anything beyond old age is to blame.

Along with the physiotherapy for my shoulder I've been getting physio for my back. This requires that in between visits I do "homework". I've got a set of dumb bells to work out my shoulder and a set of exercises I do for my back. I can do most of these exercises from my bed and as I move from one exercise to another I have to switch from lying on my back to lying on my stomach.

If you are a woman and over 40, here's a scary thing to try:
Take your bra off. Get on all fours. Look down at your breasts. When I did this two words immediately leaped into my head - plastic surgery!

Moving right along...

I'm back to school. My son and I are taking night school courses at the local college. We're in our second semester of the CCNA program, working towards our Cisco certification. So two nights a week I get to have supper with my son, daughter-in-law and visit with my grand daughters, Natalie and Eve. By the way, I've added more photos of them to my Flickr page and you can see them by accessing the Flickr badge to the right --->

I just can't say how much I am enjoying being back at school. I absolutely love lab nights. Every Thursday night we have labs where we get to play with the equipment. I'm a real gizmo fiend and love anything with buttons, wires and stuff. Give me some computer components and a manual and a problem to solve and I'm in my glory. Right now we're learning how to configure routers so we use a command line interface to do that. Some people are intimidated by this but this brings me right back to my DOS and early linux days.

This class looks like it's going to be even more fun that last semester's class. Forgive me but as a mom I have to brag a bit about my son. He was the only student in the class to get 100% on the mid-term exam. I didn't do as well. I got 99%. It's a challenging course as there is so much to remember. The concepts are easy to grasp but it's the shear memorization of little bits and pieces that is daunting. That's why I like the labs so much. Since I understand the concepts, applying them practically is easy and fun.

On the automotive front I've had a problem with my car now. I have a 2002 Chrysler Sebring and since it is a newer car than Lise's and in better shape (yeah, after recently spending 800 bucks on it), I like her to take my car when she has to work in Chatham which is an hour away. This past Wednesday she took my car and got about 10 minutes away when the car started to over heat. She had to call her clown partner to pick her up so they could continue to work.

Initially, we weren't sure if the problem was the thermostat or something more serious but when Lise had the chance to look at it later we discovered that it was the water intake housing that was pooched. It was easy to replace, just 4 bolts and 3 hoses but it was a dealership item so that cost another $156 for the part. Amazing what they can charge for a hunk of plastic with 4 brass bushings, two silicone gaskets and a sensor.

While I was at the dealership I took the opportunity to ask them about the intermittent flashing oil light I've been experiencing. About eight months ago I freaked out when I came to idle at an intersection and the oil light started flashing. When your car's oil light comes on, that's never a good thing and usually means you don't have long to pull over somewhere and call CAA.

I took my car to Lise's boyfriend Mark who tested the engine compression (it was fine for which I was relieved because I really didn't want to have to shell out for an engine rebuild) and changed the oil sensor for me and all was well. That is, until about six weeks ago when the light started flickering again. It was weird because the light only flickered when the engine was hot and idling at about 500 - 600 rpm. Once the engine revs got above this, the light went out.

So while at the dealership picking up the housing I asked to speak with a service advisor about the oil light problem. They told me it was a simple fix (something to do with running a wire from the oil sensor to the engine block) and that they had the same problem with the Intrepids. They said a service bulletin had been issued for that problem with the Intrepids so they knew how to fix that bug. When I first had the problem I called the dealership to ask if any service bulletins had been issued for my car with that problem they said there wasn't one. Now they say one was issued for the Intrepid. That's dumb because both the Intrepid and my model of Sebring have the same 2.7 liter engine.

Sometimes I think I should have apprenticed as a mechanic instead of becoming a welder-fitter. Back then it was unusual to see a woman in a trade and I had a very hard time finding work. Still though I don't regret learning a trade or later learning to drive a semi as the experience has made me less intimidated about taking things apart and putting them back together. When I was in middle school I wanted to take shop but they made the girls take home economics. I thought that was dumb. I already knew how to cook and stuff, what I didn't know was how to fix things. I thought that the boys should take home ec and the girls shop so that each would know enough to take care of things themselves.

I have more studying to do for my driver's licence. I let my AZ licence go and downgraded to a DZ licence. So I can't drive a semi but I can drive a dump truck. It's license renewal time and I have to write an exam to keep my DZ status. I've been putting off doing this because I doubt I'll ever drive commercially again but Annie at the local licence bureau is encouraging me to keep my DZ status and take the test. I suppose it's easier to keep my DZ than earn it all over again should I ever want it back. So I'll be studying for that exam over the next couple of weeks.

Anyway, that's what's been going on here at the Lakeside Lair. Hope you all have a pleasant weekend.

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Favourite cartoons

Whirl, whirl twist and twirl. Jump around like a flying squirrel. It's Saturday morning and time for a cartoon. This cross-dressing rabbit was one of my favourites growing up. Bugs is my hero! (grin) Enjoy.

Hillbilly Hare

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

 

What was the big deal?

Sure, our numbers may be growing but out of a population of 33 million there are only a little more that 7,000 married same-sex couples in Canada. So what's the big deal? Did the sky fall or something?

According to Statistics Canada's latest census results, gays and lesbians are marrying more than straight people are. The number of common law, single parent and same-sex couples are surpassing the "traditional family" here in Canada. Stats Canada says that more straight folks are choosing to "shack up" rather than get married. Hmm, makes you wonder who holds the moral ground here eh?


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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

 

Post Op...

Gee, did somebody get the number of the bus that hit me? I feel pretty lousy today so I plan to stay in bed, take pain meds and veg out with the TV. Tomorrow I start physiotherapy and I'm so glad that I didn't arrange it for today and had the presence of mind to give myself one day to just recover.

The operation went well and for the most part uneventful except for that when I was in recovery I had a few irregular heartbeats and started having chest pain. So they didn't release me when we anticipated they would but kept me longer to run some tests.

Lise was very concerned when things were taking longer than expected. She kept asking how I was and no one would tell her until she finally had to put her foot down and say, "That is my WIFE in there and I deserve to know how she is!"

Meanwhile I was stopping the nurses begging them to send someone to tell my WIFE how I was doing. After the third time, one nurse asked me if my wife's name was Lise and when I said yes she said that she would go personally to speak with her - and did so immediately.

Later Lise and I couldn't help but think that if Lise was a guy they would have assumed that s/he was my boyfriend/husband and we wouldn't have had to be so insistent. Shucks, and people wonder why same-sex marriage is so important.

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

 

Surgery today

Well today I'm having surgery on my shoulder. I've had a "frozen shoulder" for just over a year now and they found a couple of small cysts on my humerus so the doc's gonna go in with a scope and clean things out. I've got the week off work but will be spending my afternoons at physiotherapy getting my shoulder and my back worked on. It'll be nice to be able to sit without having my legs go numb. Funny how you hit a certain age and the wheels just sort of fall off the cart. With the way things have been going lately I've asked for a visit from the Rainbow Pastor. I'll be nice to visit over a cup of tea and discuss the meaning of life.

I've been awake for the last few hours wondering what the heck I'm gonna wear for this surgery. I imagine that my left arm will be all bandaged up so I'm not sure how I'll get a blouse on. I suppose I could bring an oversized t-shirt but I wonder if I'll be able to lift my arm enough to put the darned thing on. I suppose wearing a bra is out too. I've got an old sleeveless tank top around here somewhere so I suppose I'll just wear that and let the "girls" swing free. Sometimes vanity has to give way to practicality. (sigh)

The installation of my new roof starts today as well so I suppose you could say I'm getting two procedures done. (big grin) I'll be pretty groggy later today and if they take my wireless antenna down today to work on that part of the roof, I won't be blogging for a few days. So I'm checking in now to give you all a heads up that if you don't hear from me for the next couple of days, that's why.

When I'm back in typing form I have a lot of photos of Ottawa to share. I'd also like to tell you a bit of my mom's story. She's quite the woman. Lotsa stuff going on my my pointed little head, just got to find the time/energy to get it all out. So long for now...

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Sunday, September 02, 2007

 

Ewwww!

Ok, I know that you should balance your carbs with protein but this? Ewwww!

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

 

So much going on...

First, I want to say thank you to everyone for your kind words of support about my mother. When you get a call late at night saying that this may be the last time you get to see your mother alive, you tend to panic. The events of the last week certainly have "put my pacemaker in high gear".

Oh my, where do I start? Well, my mom had a stroke and a fall. We're not sure which came first, the stroke or the fall but she has bleeding on a couple of spots in her brain. The doctors were also rather concerned about the possibility of her developing pneumonia as she aspirated some vomit during one of the seizures she had when she got to the hospital.

She's spent this week in the neurological observation unit and I won't know if she will be stable enough to step down to a regular hospital room until the end of the week. Lise and I plan to travel back to Ottawa this weekend so I should know more in a few days.

Ok, so I have my mom in the hospital almost 800 kms away and I'm scheduled to go in for surgery on my shoulder next week. I have a pinched nerve in my back (which makes driving for 10 hours particularly delightful) and I'm supposed to have my new roof installed next week. Valium anyone?

This has been quite the emotional week for me. My mom has suffered the last few of years with dementia so when I call her she doesn't often know it's me she's talking to. She thinks she's talking to one of her sisters and that makes it hard because when my aunt asks her if she's heard from me she says she hasn't talked to me in years then I'll get a call from my aunt scolding me for not calling my mother. (sigh)

Mom does have moments of lucidity but 90% of the time you have to repeat things over and over because she doesn't remember things. They say that people with certain types of dementia can remember things from their past like it was yesterday but can't remember what they had for breakfast today. My mom, sometimes can't remember things from the past either. I was surprised that she even recognized me when I saw her at the hospital.

From what my brother said on the phone, as we drove to Ottawa, Lise and I were not sure what we'd be walking into. We didn't know what to pack so just in case we brought "funeral clothes". All I kept saying to myself as we traveled each kilometer was, "Mom, hang on, don't die, I'm on my way." I just wanted to see her alive one more time, even if it was only for 5 minutes, just to tell her that I love her and always have.

Mom and I spent several years estranged when I came out to her and she tried to have my kids taken from me. My mom is not a bad person it's just that she became a Catholic charsimaniac and for several years I simply couldn't reason with her. We finally patched things up about eight years ago but things remained rather strained.

We've never been a family that talks things over let alone express how we feel so in a lot of ways we are like a bunch of strangers where the only thing we have in common is that we survived being stranded on a deserted island. It's kind of sad when you think about it. I've waited almost 50 years to hear my mother tell me that she loves me. When I left her, she held my hand, kissed me and told me she loved me and while that was so very good to hear it also makes me very sad. Sad that I only hear this now that she is demented and disoriented. How do I know that she knew it was me she said she loved or if she thought I was someone else? At this point, does that even matter?

Anyway, just being in Ottawa has been very emotional for me. I've always loved the city of Ottawa. It has many charms and many fond memories but it is also the city I fled when leaving my abusive ex-husband. So returning to Ottawa has brought back those memories too and the thought that had I not had to leave Ottawa I might still live there and therefore been able to help my brothers look after my mom.

Oh well, you can't put the toothpaste back in the tube and shucks, if I hadn't left Ottawa perhaps I might have never met Lise or found my haven at my Lakeside Lair?

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

 

My mom

I'm in Ottawa today. My brother called late Thursday night to tell me that my mom had a fall and a stroke. Lise and I spent all day yesterday driving here. I saw her briefly last night. She looks so old and afraid.

I'm heading back to the hospital this morning. Will have more to write later.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

 
There is a scene in the movie City of Angels where you see all the angels in long black trench coats gazing off into the sunrise. It's really quite a beautiful and haunting scene and one which immediately came to mind this morning as I drove to work and saw this:



Every day I drive by a farm where turkey vultures roost in the surrounding woods. I have seen these turkey vultures roosting in the trees before but this morning they were all sitting in the treetops with their wings extended.


I've never seen this before and I wondered if they were not drying their wings out from the thunderstorms we had last night. That seems the most practical answer but the sight of it was striking enough to make me double back and stop to take these pics.

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