Monday, 9 December 2013

The Great Pumpkin Massacre of 2013

I am so far behind at this point that I figure I'm either late for this round, or really early for the next one..   but I promised myself I'd keep plodding along, so here I am.   

Sucker for punishment, perhaps -- but at least caught up, is caught up.. regardless of the time frame.. so I'll just carry on where I left off.. 

Every year we decide that we're going to get pumpkins and do a massive roast of pumpkin seeds, since everybody loves them so much.  We'd been buying the bulk barn variety, but we just find them SO salty,  that making our own seemed to make much more sense.  

We were watching the sale sheets, and just happened to notice that pumpkins were on sale 2 for $5 ~ What a great opportunity to Pumpkin seed to our heart's content! 

So Caelly and I headed out.. and who did we bump into but our eldest daughter Caryn!  We picked out 8 pumpkins in varying sizes.   To be fair, Caelly picked most of them.  Caryn and I were amused to watch the enthusiasm unfold.  

One poor specimen committed suicide on the grocery store floor..   OOPS!  

Back at home, we've got the first batch in.  Caelly cut them in half, and I got them cleaned out and put the first batch in the oven.  Caelly started on the pie shells.  

Pumpkin Guts!

The most time consuming part is picking the seeds out of the goop! 

Ready to be seasoned and baked!  

The pie shells came out looking great!  

The first pair of pies came out looking a little on the well done side, 
but the next 2 were much better. 

All in all it took us all weekend to get all of the pumpkin baked, pureed, and prepared for the freezer,  and it was days more before James had all of the seeds roasted at long last.  

Unfortunately by the time we got to that point we were no longer taking pictures, but just glad that the pumpkins were DONE.   

There were seeds of many different flavours, and James felt bad that we'd spent all weekend killing pumpkins so he could have the seeds..   but we had fun doing it..   and he's worth it! 

We also have some 50+ packages of pumpkin puree in the freezer for future use..  lots of work but SO worth it :)

Apparently I am a waste of pumpkin though since it is a bad thing to have that many pumpkins and not carve at least one for Hallowe'en.   We were however gearing up for a trip to Vancouver and weren't sure if we would be here for Halloween so *that* seemed like a waste..  ah well perspectives, right?  

Friday, 25 October 2013

One day at a time.. the journey to ME!

I have come to a point in my life where I’m coming to some harsh realizations.  I often joke about it and tell friends and family that I’m getting bitchy in my old age, but when it comes right down to it, this one has been brewing for quite a while..

One of the biggest items on that list if the fact that I am never going to have enough time to accomplish everything I want to do in my lifetime. 

Another is that no matter how hard you try, and how much you accomplish that there will always be some jerk at the ready to pee in your cornflakes and give you all the reasons that you shouldn’t have done it, didn’t do it right, didn’t do it as well as someone else -  so many unhappy people in our midst who are so un-happy themselves that it is not in them to see anyone else excel or succeed. 

I find myself dwelling a lot lately on what I vaguely term as “time management” and that perhaps I need some kind of course or training because I must have missed a key note somewhere..  but then upon careful observation I start to realize that it isn’t as much about managing time more wisely, but more an issue of portion control.  Leave it to the fat girl to make a diet reference, but it makes sense. 

As days go by I seem to pile more and more on my plate, and as we get to brainstorming among creative minds that plate begins to runneth over.  Frustration builds and before too long I’m looking at the growing pile with a bit more of a scrutiny and it comes to me.  The long ago voice of an instructor from a course I took years ago --  Ed --  one of the sweetest and most gentle spirits I have ever met.  He’d suggested I read a book called “When I say no, I feel guilty” and I remember wondering what that had to do with anything..  so he gave a bit of a Coles notes version.

I never did read the book, but my conversations with him stick firm in my mind and I recall how he reached out to me and tried to make a difference.  He hit on a key point that while hard to accept was also hard to ignore.  My plate was full because *I* had allowed it to be filled.  Often, I was the one filling up the plate. Items falling off seemed to just make more room to pile more on.  Right?  Uh yeah, that’s it!

Just like I didn’t become a packrat in a day, untangling the plate isn’t going to happen immediately either, it is a process.   I am finding however that lately my lists seem to play together – that is – that several jobs for different groups seem to run in the same circles and the duplicity there affords me a little unexpected wiggle room. 

My calendar, and my notebook have become invaluable and I’ve started  playing with Onenote.   It’s great for making lists, leaving jot notes.  You can even categorize them for different topics or tasks. 

The events of the last year have given much opportunity to re-evaluate and I find myself being more and more ruthless when it comes to purging and reclaiming my life in an effort to save what's left of my poor addled and often lonely blond brain cell. 

I don’t always make it to the end of my list on any given day, but at least I can tell you with absolute certainty that I started out with 10 things, someone else added 6 more and by the end of the day I’d completed 8 and of those how many of those were on my original list. 

It’s not much but its progress, and you know what?  I’ll take it! 

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Happy Birthday to Brother Bear!

How can it be that this sweet little boy is 23 today?  

This photo was cropped from a photo taken in August 1996 as James was leaving home to help his friend and colleague Chris move to Vancouver.  

It is also the very first photo of the kids that I was ever given, not long before I got to meet them the very first time.  

If you'd have told me then, that 17 years later, I'd have many years behind me of being a wife, custodial step-parent and zookeeper,  I'd have probably laughed at the thought.  There was no part of the scenario that I'd imagined for myself.  I never dreamed I'd leave the lower mainland area to go ANYwhere else.. much less across the country.. 

Though as it seems to go in life, the best things always seem to come to me when I'm not looking for them, and often when I'm not expecting them. At least over the years I've gotten better at recognizing these blessings when they present themselves.  

Justin was just 5 years old in this picture.  I was out visiting in September that year, and we were all talking about his upcoming 6th birthday.  I asked him what he wanted for his birthday and he thought for a few moments before whispering in my ear that he wanted me to come to his birthday party.  

I'd never been declared a birthday gift before, but we managed to make it happen.  There were some big happy smiles waiting for me that day.  I know *I* won't ever forget them.  

This is another favourite photo of the 3 little bears..
  Can you tell they were enjoying a little chocolate? 

Here's a photo of our youngest, and our eldest taken a couple of months ago..
Time sure flies.. 


Today, as you celebrate your 23rd trip around the sun, your father is telling the story of the salad tongs and the day of your birth.  Caelly has just exclaimed "OMG Justin is 23 today!" and is bugging Dad to see if he feels old yet.  Caryn is out in Brockville somewhere preparing to make you an uncle.  

As for me, I'm right here at home reminding you that no matter how far away from home you are, or just how old you get, that you always have a home to come home to, and loving arms to hug you.  

Back then your favourite hobbies were reading and computer games, you loved playing with Lego (or at least spreading it all over the floor for Daddy to walk on - LOL) ..  though many things in our world have changed - your hobbies remained fairly consistent. 

You may be grown now, but you will ALWAYS be our little boy, and your sisters' "brother bear."  Funny how as I type that I am reminded of the girls' and their "Mary-Kate and Ashley phase" and Caryn running around the house singing brother for sale..  some days I'd wonder how you guys all managed to survive without killing one another..   

As your stepmom -- Teemy or Teemy-Mommy as you named me way back when..  I have had the pleasure of sharing in the lives of not one, but 3 little bears who over the years have brought me to laughter and tears - sometimes all at the same time. They say that parents teach their children,  but I have learned much from you.  

On this day and every day.. I love you! 
but especially today.. your birthday.. 

Sending you an abundance of love and hugs along with my every wish that this year be the best one yet.  

You have had many trials and lessons thrown at you this year.  You've made it through the worst, the best is yet to come.  
Just hang in there babe. 

And now for a little less mushy and serious...  XO

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

What's the good word folks?

I've always considered myself to be a pretty up-beat person.  "Happy-go-lucky" my Dad always called it,  and he was always proud to boast that I'd gotten that from him..   along with his "gift of the gab".. another Daddyism that generally meant that I was a people person and didn't have any problem blending into a group and chatting with just about anybody.

I'd made an off-handed comment the other day in conversation about how there's been way too much on my plate lately,  and that I was about ready to tip my head back in Charlie Brown fashion and scream to the heavens about being granted a freakin' break already ~ this in a conversation with an acquaintance who is only semi-aware of the craziness that has been my life over this past year.  

To be honest very few know anything about it any of it, and even less than that have the whole picture ~ though some attention is inevitable, no good can come from dwelling there for long.  I find myself quoting the serenity prayer ~ a little wisdom from another very special Dad in my life and thanking my lucky stars that after everything life has thrown at me in the last 20 years that I'm still here to laugh about it, to cry about it and well as the song says..  "I'm just glad to be here!" ..  that about sums up my philosophy lately. 

In my defense, I hadn't gone into detail, nor was I initiating any kind of pity party, it was my way of explaining away some of the crazy that has been "Life in General", and my best attempt at an indication of why some things may have slid off the plate here and there..   Strangely enough I hadn't been talking about one life event or another, or the  myriad of things on my plate -- but rather that I was struggling to get back on top of everything on my personal plate to my own satisfaction. 

I was completely horrified when the person I was speaking with proceeded to respond telling me that this was life and that the feeling might never pass, going on to tell me that this is a mental state I chose...   and closed the statement sounding much like what one might find on the inside of a Hallmark fortune cookie, if they made them.  Platitudes of finding the positive and only talking about those. 

I have to admit my brain stalled just a wee bit on that first statement.  I didn't CHOOSE any of this ~ who would? That's CRAZY! 

I can hear a close friend of mine at this point speaking up with something about a long walk and a short dock.. which makes me smile..  but more to the point..  this whole thing leaves me wondering..    

I have always been a cheerleader on finding the positive aspects of most everything.  In Cancer I found many joys though it stuns people when I mention them.. the things are there when you look at them..  

I think the part that gets me most is that I considered this person to be a positive force in my life, and while my comment alluded to some of the crazy that's gone on it certainly didn't delve into anything and my intent was not to get into a big conversation about it.  Her curt response and dismissal of my feelings just left me feeling like I'd been so completely wrong about her.  Could I really have been so horribly wrong?

While I am a firm advocate of finding the positives in life - but when is it appropriate as to point them out?  

I find myself of a conversation I had with a good friend recently about having lost her husband while he was on a fishing trip and how well meaning friends were telling her to get over it and get on with her life.  

Another friend was lamenting his single-dom, and reminiscing about a recent relationship and had a friend tell him that the acceptable grief period had passed and that he should move on. 

It really leaves me wondering how many otherwise intelligent people, are out there lavishing platitudes and judgement on their grieving, hurting, and sometimes just plain overwhelmed friends ~ for what?  

Who decided that YOU get to set the bar on how long is too long, and how long is "acceptable"?  What is trivial and what is worthy of mention?   

Is the intent truly to demean the other person?  Or did you simply not want to hear what they had to say?  There are far better ways to redirect a subject or kindly let a so-called friend or colleague that these are NOT the ears they're looking for..  

Just my view from the zoo... 

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

19 Years and Counting.. Happy Anniversary to Me.

It seems ironic somehow that I would be diagnosed with ovarian cancer during "Ovarian Cancer Month",  not like it was some kind of weird trend I had to rush and get in on - but alas it is what it is.  

It's funny how some of the details of that time period seem a little fuzzy now, but others I remember like they were yesterday.  Has it really been 19 years already?  

Indeed it has.  

It had been several months of intense pain, scans and ultrasounds, waiting.. more waiting..  and even more waiting still..  before I was finally admitted to emergency because the mass had grown large enough that I couldn't eat anything without being sick.  

I remember the doctor coming in and telling me the details.  They'd lost 3 litres of blood on the table, and I came very close to dying.  They removed a 5 1/2 pound mass and most of my left ovary and last, but certainly not least ~ it was cancer.  Oddly enough, none of the details seemed to resonate as she was telling me them. Until she said that my Dad was here to see me.  I remember bawling at that point. I kept thinking that I could have died and what that would have done to Dad.  I had such a hard time telling him that I had cancer.  I kept crying and telling him I was sorry.  Finally I managed to get the words out, and the doctor explained the rest.  I don't think I'd ever seen Dad look so worried.  Auntie Eileen had come with him to support, and everybody thought she was my Mom.  That, I found hilarious.  Yes, cause every kid wants parents that look like they're *obviously* related.  LOL 

  It was the size of a 24 week pregnancy - never having been pregnant that number escaped me - but I remember coming home and having a bit of an A-ha moment when splitting large packages of hamburger at my Dad's place at just how big 5 1/2 pounds was.  That was a bit of a shocker for me. 

I did over 7 months of aggressive chemo. In hindsight the 5 days in, 21 days home routine seemed to go rather smoothly.  My good friend Tom lent me a "ghetto blaster" and each time I'd go in, I'd have one bag of clothes and one bag of "keep me busy" items, my headphones and a number of CD's.  My Dad always called it dropping me off for my Vacation.  

Doctor had tried to flex her doc muscle early on and Dad who'd been silent for the whole appointment finally spoke up and let her have it.  In no uncertain terms she was told that the answer was NO and she wasn't having it.  PERIOD.  I was so proud of my Dad and thankful I'd brought him with me in that moment.  

I laugh remembering that two of my doctors - Dad never called them by their names.  One was Doctor Bad breath, who Dad always said he wanted to offer gum or breath mints to.  The  other was Doctor Chicken legs because Dad figured her legs looked like drumsticks.  He never ceased to send us into fits and giggles with his cheeky commentary of things.  I have always credited my Dad and his warped sense of humor as one of the top reasons that I survived the whole ordeal.  

As it happened, I did end up going in for a second surgery that would take most of my right ovary, but thankfully there was no cancer found there.  My remaining ovary bit apparently likes to grow new friends as it grew another in its place that we've been watching for years to see if it's going to do tricks.  So long as it stays below 5 cms they will leave it alone.  With all of the med drama, hernias etc, the least amount of anything is the way to go...

I've been thinking about Dad a lot lately.  I realized last night that this would be the first time in so many years that I could not call Dad to share this "birthday" celebration.  I'd always called to remind him that I'd made another year around the sun.  They almost killed me, and I survived. It was the first time, but not the last that I'd woken up from one procedure or another being told "you're so lucky to be alive".. I always made my morning check in with Dad a ritual, especially today.  Few people would appreciate the full weight of what this day means, like Dad.  

I remember lying on his couch feeling half-dead when the med side effects were bad, and him trying to coax me to eat, or come shopping with him or something just to get me going and when I just wasn't up for it, he'd put on one of his soaps or something and we'd just watch.  

I remember stopping in at the Legion with him, at the time not knowing about the "no hat" rule - and some guy at the bar yelling at me walking in with Dad's ball cap on because I hadn't wanted to wear my wig that day.  To be fair, I probably looked rather manly in my jeans, and Dad's mack jacket,  but I never expected what happened next.  Dad walked over to the bar and in no uncertain terms told the mouth at the bar that that was his daughter and SHE had cancer.  Then he turned to me and said "Show him Tam".. and I was horrified but did what I'd been told.  I removed my hat to reveal my bald head with only slight wisps of hair.  The poor guy paled and shrank into his seat amidst a litany of I'm sorry's.  I felt so bad for him in that moment.  Dad didn't let *anybody* mess with *HIS* girls.  There was always a kind of safety in knowing Daddy had your back. <3 

I had a really great picture of my Dad wearing my long hair blond wig. Sadly, I lent it to a cousin to scan with some other photos and she apparently lost it.  But the memory is vivid, and it always makes me smile.  I remember the rant about how it was over $200 and if I wasn't gonna wear it, that I should give him the damned thing.  (So I did) and then snapped a picture..  we tried to fix him up a few times and we were almost successful til someone would notice the handlebar moustache or the cigar in his hand.. LOL 

I have some very fond memories of the ladies on the 5th floor of the BC Cancer Agency, and the friendly Mason drivers that would come and pick me up and take me for treatments and doctor's appointments when Dad could not.  I sold daffodils that first year after I got out of the hospital.  Memories of big Teddybear slippers on my feet, a big ol' pumpkin bucket and bull dog stuffy on my IV pole..  and away I go.   I came across some comics that a good friend brought from his collection the other day.  Midnight Happy meal delivery, and being stolen out on a "day" pass for coffee by some friends who knew I'd be bored.  Nurses laughed because I spent most of my time when I wasn't writing, across the hall in an empty room phoning friends so I wouldn't disturb whoever my room-mate was at the time.  They called me "Sunshine."

People think I'm weird when I say I have fond memories of having had cancer - but anybody that's been through it knows what I'm saying.  There's the obvious bad stuff of course,  but until you've been through it yourself, you have no idea what a life changing experience it is.   Never before had I had so many epiphanies of where I was, and where I wanted to be, not to mention who I wanted to be with.  Cancer showed me who my real friends were, and who I should have kicked to the curb long ago -- not that I didn't always know on some level -- but it was the final straw.  

And as cliche as it might sound, Most of all, cancer showed me that no matter how bad things seem.  You can get through most anything, if you surround yourself with the right people.  A little enthusiasm goes a long long way! 

I am truly blessed. <3  Missing Dad today..  life will never be the same without him.  <3

Here's to another trip around the son!  Woo-Hoo! 

Friday, 6 September 2013


I have always been someone who spends much time in reflection and contemplation.  I'm not sure if I picked up the writing habit because of it, or if my interest writing came about because of it..  but it has been a part of me for as long as I can remember.  

I remember an old boyfriend early on chastising me for looking back down the road and admonishing me for the waste of time it was making reference to all the potholes he saw, where I'd seen lost chances.  At the time I was just a kid, who thought she knew so much more than she really did, and he was just a guy who'd been lulled into a false sense of bravado by a girl who worshiped the ground he walked on. He dismissed me, and my feelings simply because I allowed it for so so long..  

When I think of the crazy things that I let slide and made myself believe were OK under the guise of having a boyfriend I find myself wishing I could call up Marty and the Doc and go back and give my young self a much-needed stupid slap..    if only..  

Strangely,  this same boyfriend would later come back to me after a girlfriend broke up with him, flashing a ring that "could have been mine" complete with the gushing and smile that not long before would have sucked my heart into a vortex and kept it swirling in the fish bowl for all eternity.. but I'd wised up and not so-graciously declined. 

For a long time I still had the letter he wrote me saying that I'd walked out on him in the middle of the biggest power trip of his life.  He'd come to expect that I'd always be there waiting for him and doting on him, and this time his world came crashing down around him and for once there was nobody sitting there waiting to dust him off and tell him that it would all be OK. 

I never really thought too much about it at the time..  but we sure allow ourselves to put up with a lot, and then we chalk it up to love - or a relationship and somehow that's supposed to be ok?

When I think of all the great things I talked myself out of wanting for myself, the opportunities wasted..  it makes my head spin..  SO much baggage carted around for so many years that should never have left the station with me.  It wasn't *MY* fault that my parents didn't work out, or that she never really gave us a solid commitment to anything growing up.  I spent a long time wondering how anybody would ever want me, if my own mother didn't.  It's a tough pill to swallow for a kid.. 

I sometimes wonder if I could go back in time and tell my 15-16 year old self ONE piece of advice, what might it be.  I remember being so unsure of everything, so insecure and timid.  So afraid to stand up for anything because someone might not like what I had to say..  so worried that I would be alienated from one particular group or another just for sharing how I felt.  

I think the biggest thing I'd tell my young self, is that no matter what -  You are important, you *ARE* worth it, and most importantly - one day none of this will matter..  and it WILL all be OK.  

I wish I could have told my 16 year old self, that I'd one day find that handsome prince that I'd only read about in fairy tales.  That the story wouldn't play out exactly the way I thought, but that I'd have everything I'd ever dreamed of.  In true *me* fashion, I've taken the indirect route to get there, and it's taken longer than it perhaps could have..  but here is here, None the less! 

Sometimes it really has nothing to do with you at all, and that's OK ~ Life goes on, and heartache is just part of the ride.  Without it, the sunny days wouldn't seem nearly as awesome! 

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Tam's Tuesday Rambles..

You don’t know me.  You have never met me.  Other than online photographs we have never laid eyes on each other. 

Yet somehow you have this crazy idea that you know me.  Know what I’m thinking, know what my intentions are..   I’ve heard some truly interesting stories about what I’ve done or am doing.  I’ve learned so many new things about myself – I had no idea!

I just love logging on to my system to see blatant accusations, and thinly veiled comments varying from a mild venting, right on through to full on assault.  I love it about as much as I like working on an article or blog post to get it just right, and posting it only to find that somebody has snarfed it and posted it on their page verbatim.  What the hell?  Seriously?  This is NOT the imitation that they were talking about when they said that imitation was the sincerest form of flattery. 

You judge me and everyone I choose to associate with a sincere hate that can only be described as bullying and bravado, and for what?  Does it make you feel better?  Did it make a difference?  Why do you choose to create stress when you could be working in a circle of harmony like everybody else in the community? Oh wait, maybe you were trying to stand out in the crowd?  My mistake.

In case you were wondering,  I don’t really mind that you don’t like me.  You never took the chance to get to know me, so your decision to dislike me and boycott my efforts is based on inaccuracies to start with.  If you’d actually taken a moment to step up and speak your mind, instead of dancing around the podium you may have found a harmony exists,  one that will likely be elusive to you now that you’ve shown your true colors and proven yourself to be such a wonderful specimen of humanity.

Everybody loves you.. Everybody hates you.. flip a coin..  like you, it goes round and round..   and like most,  I don’t really care.. until you get to threatening my work, my business and my livelihood.. then it’s Game On!  Make no mistake,  That’s not a threat.  I have no plans of doing anything to you or about you – at the end of the day it’s all about your perception of things.  Your actions and comments are a great illustration of how intimidated you are by how well we’re doing what we do..   That’s all on you.   

As for me, I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve always done to the best of my ability.  I’m going to smile because I get to see sunny skies, and green grass, and I work among some of the most creative and talented people I have ever had the pleasure to know.

I am proud of who am I and where I am.  Let me tell you, I’ve worked hard – damned hard – to get here, and be here.  Life has not been kind… but I persevere.  I’ve been through far worse than you, and for what’s it’s worth.  I’m still here.  

Poor little you..  You probably think this post is about you.. don’t you?

Friday, 26 July 2013

If it weren't for Cancer..

Hard to believe that next month it will be 19 years since my diagnosis with Ovarian cancer. It was a week before my 25th birthday and I had no idea that I was about to be smacked in the head with a 2x4. 

So much has happened since then both personally and professionally and even though there are hard times and bad days I cannot help but try to remain hopeful and positive. The truth is I'm living on bonus time. 

I have recently started saying bonus time, because "borrowed" time sounded rather like I'd taken it from someone else and it always made me feel sad when I'd hear of someone else who cancer had taken. I'd wonder why I was spared and they were taken.  I have to believe that on some weird level that someone on the planning committee wasn't done with me yet.  There must be a plan somewhere right?

I won't ever forget the day the doctor came in and gave me the news, telling me how lucky I was to be alive -- they'd lost 3 litres of blood during surgery and by all accounts I could have -- perhaps SHOULD have -- died.

It was the start of a long and sometimes uphill med battle (my life as a guinea pig - many of you have heard me call it) but I'm still here.. so it's all good, right 

Though the med drama is sometimes overwhelming and there are days when I'd like to submit my resignation to somebody - anybody - for the most part we just adjust to what becomes the "new normal" and carry on.  

It's like the words of that Trace Adkins song. . "I'm Just happy to be here"..   

Friday, 10 May 2013

Week of Mom's..

I have a confession to make.  I've never really been a fan of Mother's Day.  

If we're being completely honest, my mother was never really much of an influence in my life -- after running away from home when I was just 10 (my sister had just turned 3), we had sporadic access at best - cameos if you will - at irregular intervals - but most often we had no contact at all.  

Later on in life, I became a stepmom, and though I love the kids dearly and would defy anyone to the death that might claim that after all the years as a full-time custodial stepmom that they weren't also MINE ~  but it was always tough to celebrate the day on a weekend where the kids were typically not home with you.  There were always spoilings before and after though, and I always loved seeing what the kids came up with.  I still have the scrap of paper that our son scrawled a fortune cookie style, I love you Mom on, when he realized that he'd forgotten mother's day and his sister's had both made gifts at school, but "artsy-fartsy" was never his style.  There's a butterfly fridge magnet on my fridge our youngest made in French class that says #1 Mere..  there were blessings..  don't get me wrong..  but they were blessings shrouded by long-standing clouds.. that I found tough to escape.  

At one point in my life, my mother lived just 10 blocks away from me and I couldn't call or contact her.  When we'd get a chance to see her, it was either not mentioned or it was another rendition of the blame game.  It wasn't news to me that my parents didn't get along - all I really wanted to know was why Mom didn't want ME.  Had I done something wrong?  How could I fix it?  No answers ever came.  Apparently she who has started over, can just move on and forget about it.  Leave the past in the past ~ but for we who were left behind ~ I can't help but feel that we have earned a discussion we've waited our whole lives to hear first-hand.  

Even her departure came in the form of a lie - That morning is engraved on my brain for all eternity.  I remember coming downstairs, and finding my Dad waiting for me in the kitchen.  I thought that was weird, because he was standing next to the spot where Mom normally stood by the coffee pot.  He said Mom wanted to talk to me and pointed in the direction of their room.  Still half asleep I wandered in there to find My mom throwing the contents of her closet and dresser into two of the biggest boxes I had ever seen.  

When she saw me she sat down on the bed and ushered me over.  She was going away for a while - I wanted to know how long - she said a few weeks.   I asked her why she didn't leave some of her things here for when she got back. She told me she didn't know what she would need - another lie.  Before too long my aunt had arrived and Mom and her boxes were gone.  

That day was the beginning of a long series of changes to our world - but one thing was always constant - DAD.  Being a single Dad was no picnic - I often wondered why he stayed with us when so many others would have dropped and run - People could be so cruel.  Transition wasn't easy either and Dad and I often didn't see eye to eye - but whenever something happened good or bad - he was the first person to know about it.  Funny how that works.. 

Mother's Day became a day when my sister and I would call each other and acknowledge the day for each other, even though we couldn't contact the one person we both wanted to.  It also became a day when we'd give thanks to our "Daddy-Mom."  He'd always laugh about it, but I think he recognized that we were looking for a way to make it OK.   In later years, I became a stepmom and Dad would answer the phone and instead of hello, he'd greet me with a Happy Mother Day and giggle because he got to say it before I did.  Oh how I miss that mischeivous giggle.  

We lost Dad last December, and some days it still overwhelms me how someone who was an almost daily part of my life for ALL of my life could just be GONE.  I keep waiitng for someone to tell me that this is a cruel joke and our regularly scheduled programming will resume shortly..  so far it ain't happening. 

We've been going through boxes and storage lately and I keep coming across what I've affectionally dubbed as memories of Dad.  Newspaper clippings, photographs and other trinkets. Some of their meanings obvious, like news clippings of folks from home that I'd recognize.  The postcard with a dozen roses on it that he'd sent me after I made a few phone calls for him -  it became a long standing joke - his standard offer was that he'd send me another dozen roses for doing this or that.  I have a BK Burger too ~  that was my big lunch..  Dad was a real character..  

Sometimes, however, the meaning behind what was sent wasn't quite so obvious, and I'd end up reading obscure articles, or flyers trying to figure why they were "chosen".   There was always a few AOL disks the box - after all I use computers, they must be useful right?  I really came to get a big kick out of parcels from Dad because you just never knew what you were going to find inside.  I always imagined him putting a box or envelope aside and adding things to it until it was full.  I often wondered why he'd spend so much money on a box of what my daughter would call random-ness ~  but I could totally see him laughing to himself as he wrote down the margin of an article, or put his own caption on a photo.  In some ways it was like getting a bit of a glimpse into Dad's day because he'd share snippits of it. 

We lost Dad last December, and sometimes it still doesn't feel real. How could someone so animated and vibrant just cease to exist?  We'd talked almost every day.  When I was going through and packing his things I found a number of mementos he'd saved over the years and I realized that Dad was a lot more marshmallow than we ever knew.  He kept *everything* including the very first poem I'd written him for mother's day and sent in for mother's day tributes to the newspaper, I even came across a couple of letters I'd sent home not long after moving out here some 16 years ago.  The long-stemmed blue roses we'd special ordered a few years ago had also been a real hit.  When you're looking back in the rear view mirror as an adult, so many of those "little things" that our parents did for us seem so much bigger than they did back then.  

The big note to self on this post for me is to cherish every moment you do have with the people that matter. Not the ones that are "supposed" to matter, "Supposed to care" ~ too much time gets lost wishing on what might have been.  It still hurts sometimes, but at least I've grown enough to realize that the absence says way more about them, and much less about me.  I just wish I'd realized it sooner.  
A hand-stamped card I made last year..  :) 

I'm grateful for the love of a great man, and the 3 (not so) little (anymore) bears that he selflessly shared with me -  not to forget sharing his Mom and Dad with me.  After all these years he calls them "our" parents, and jokes that they love me more than him - Ludicrous! but it always makes everyone laugh.  I never miss a chance to tell him how truly fortunate he is to have had that kind of love in his life.  His parents are amazing.  We are truly blessed. 

Whether you celebrate your Mom, or another special person in your life that's doing the "Mom" job ~  give them an extra special hung this weekend.  There are so many out there that only wish they could have your good fortune.  No matter how bad things may seem, there will come a day where there are no more tomorrows and you'll wish you could have just one.  My advice to you is to enjoy your special people while you have them.  Lifetimes don't last nearly long enough! 

Forward to the Annual Pilgramage that is known as the Mother's Day Garden Centre Hop ~  Hope Nana's got her comfy shoes on!  :)

Friday, 3 May 2013

Here , there and everywhere..

Have you ever found yourself sitting in your chair and finding yourself thinking "Everything is awesome, but I still suck?" 

For me, that statement is both true, and somewhat of an over-dramatization of things.  I just get so frustrated when the end of my day comes before the end of my "list" and I so want to get ahead of the 8 ball and watch the rest of the parade come up instead of running behind it so I don't miss it all..  I'm both literally and figuratively exhausted ~ I feel like my brain was entered into some kind of mental olympics without my consent. 

I used to joke that I lived in "Sleepy little Cardinal," which was normally met by amused laughter ~ but the truth is, Sleepy is *GOOD* --  well unless of course you're a teenager looking for something to do..  which I have not been for a great many years..  

A few days ago I told a friend that things were "crazy" lately.  Though that would be the understatement of the century.  I am finding myself with more and more on my plate, and it seems like the sands are running out of the hourglass and onto the floor.  Surely they MUST be, because there are *never* enough hours in the day for everything I want to do.  I question my time management skills on occasion, but upon careful contemplation I realize that's a little like going to a buffet and piling food on a paper plate until it gives way, and blaming the construction of the plate. 

I do it to myself, I know this...  but the tasks just keep on coming.  For the most part I like to think I hang in there alright, but things do fall off the plate on occasion.  The Med-zone "stuffs" seems to be settling down some, but I'm noticing the hernia seems massive lately, and I don't know if it's really heading for it's own postal code or if that's all in my head too.   Have to make myself a note to go for bloodwork in another week or so to see of the vitamin levels and hemoglobin have crawled up out of the basement yet.  Cannot withstand another nasty fall like that last one..   at least I'd rather pass on that, given the opportunity. 

I can't believe that it's been 5 months since Dad passed.  Soon we will celebrate our first Dad's day without him, and still it doesn't feel real.  I have to wonder if it ever will.  I've killed a few well-meaning people cartoon style in my head lately for suggesting that one day it just won't matter anymore.  I just cannot see that.  

The basement renovation is finally coming to and end - at least the recovery from the flood last year part is.  The new laundry room looks A--M-A-Z-I-N-G!!!  
I've never been much of a "yellow" person,  but we chose a light yellow and white cabinets and it's pretty fabulous.  I will have to post photos soon. 

I cannot wait to start getting my Stamps and Paper crafting supplies into their new home in the laundry room.  That cupboard is huge, and the bets are on to see if all of my stamp sets will fit inside -  we will see..  

My ScrapNStamp buddies have been awesome - I cannot wait to show everyone the upgrades to the room and space, and have been priding myself on showing a little more progress on the space every time they come out to play.  

To be fair, I cannot take all of the credit on that one.  Our youngest daughter moved back home a few weeks back and has been helping out with the musical box parade and getting things sorted out.  I don't know what I'd have done without her.  SHE rocks!  <3  By the time we are done,  we'll also have a full inventory of every stamp set, punch, die, tool ETC that I own.   That's gonna be AWESOME!! 

I've been working on class calendars and upcoming events and plotting forward for the next few months.  Great things are coming -  :) 

Epicure has been amazing - not just finding all the new ideas and ways to use different spices and creating new things but the new colleagues I have met are wonderful.  I am ever-amazed at how these little jars seem to magically sell themselves and I reap the rewards.  

We have new pantry clubs starting this month - let me know if you are interested in joining.  We can send your order to you anywhere in Canada :)

EON is keeping me busy, and there are several new projects on the go..  I am proud to be part of the local media team in our area.  SO many fabulous things are going on on the communities and if nobody was here to look for them, I wonder if people would hear about them.   I'd like to think we have a small part in the success of some of these great initiatives by standing on our stools and shouting from the roof tops.. 

Speaking of EON ~ It's Follow Me Friday today! and Wear Friday too..   why not stop by our Facebook page and check it out?  

Click the Image to visit me on Twitter :) 

All in all it's been a very busy - crazy - but exciting time in our world -- and we're still gearing up for summer.  After waiting all winter to get rid of the snow and get to this point,  some might shoot me, but a hibernation down in my Scrappin' cave looks pretty good to me right about now... 

Until next time.. take care!  

Friday, 12 April 2013

30th Anniversary of Terry Fox Marathon of Hope!

Today marks the 30th anniversary of Terry Fox's Marathon of Hope which kicked off April 12, 1980 in Newfoundland.  

His story has always struck a chord with me on a personal level because Terry grew up in Port Coquitlam, B.C.  just a few minutes down the road from where I lived in Coquitlam.  Much later, Terry became an inspiration to me again, as I fought my own battle with Cancer.  I would often tell myself if Terry could run across the country with Cancer I could certainly do (fill in the blank)..    

Our whole area watched the newscasts from that very first day when Terry dipped his right leg in the Atlantic Ocean in Newfoundland.  I remember thinking how neat it was that he was going to transport two large bottles of ocean water back home with him, so that he could pour one of them into the Pacific Ocean when he reached the other side.  Sadly, that day would never come.  

Even in the face of everything, Terry had raised $1.7 Million dollars with his journey thus far; his efforts were the catalyst for a nationwide telethon in support of both he and the Canadian Cancer society which in just 5 hours raised 10 1/2 million dollars!   Among those supporting were $1 Million each from the governments of BC and Ontario. BC's funds were to create a research institute to be founded in Terry's name, and Ontario's in the form of an endowment given to the Ontario Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation.  Donations by the following April had topped $23 Million.  

Terry was invested into the Order of Canada in September of 1980, and in doing so was the youngest person who'd ever been honoured.  He was also named to the Order of the Dogwood, by the Lietenant Governor of BC, recognized as the highest award in the province.  Terry was commissioned a permanent exhibit in the Canada Sports Hall of Fame.  He also received the Lou Marsh Award for 1980 as the Nation's top athlete and was named Canada's 1980 Newsmaker of the Year.   

The Ottawa Citizen described the national response to his marathon as "one of the most powerful outpourings of emotion and generousity in Canada's history." 

I'd say he earned it!  Never let it be said that one person cannot make a difference.  All it takes is one little spark to create a fire! 

If you feel so inclined, I would encourage you to seek out your local chapter of the Canadian Cancer Society, your local cancer agency, or your area Relay for Life efforts.  If not for these great organizations, a great many of us would not be here today.  

If you are already a supporter,  THANK YOU  <3

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Bullying - Teen Suicide - Where Does It End?

How many of our precious kids do we have to lose before we realize what a serious problem this is? Even one is too many, and we've already lost many more than that... 

Jamie Hubley, Amanda Todd.. and now Rehteah Parsons..  and way too many in between.  Where does it end?

Sadly, Bully's aren't just kids - There are many adults out there too being bullied - Bullying isn't new - it's been around forever - only now we talk about it more, see it more.. 

Some turn a blind eye because they feel they can't do anything and others don't want to get involved, many parents that surrender in defeat against a system they don't feel they can battle. WE as adults are frustrated and at a loss - how do you think our Kids feel?

We tell our kids that should tell a teacher, or go to the office - but they don't want to do that for fear of being belittled, or labelled a snitch. Sometimes well meaning adults choose phrases like suck it up, and get over it, or walk away -- which do little to support the victim and enable to the bulliying to continue.

Has your child been bullied? Have your efforts been supported or thwarted?

How do you combat bullying? What support system do you find works best? How do you support your child?

I'd love to hear from you ~ Send your comments to: Please put "Bullying" in the subject line.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Live Every Day As It's Your Last ~ One Day It Will Be

One of my favorite pics of Dad ~ At the Highland Games years ago :)
We were sitting here talking about how tomorrow would have been Dad's birthday and marveling at how surreal it is that it's already been 3 months, and how it feels like just yesterday and ages ago all at the same time that I was talking to Dad on the phone and plotting to come out for a visit in a few weeks’ time.  How we got from there to here is mind-blowing.  None of anything went as planned, and there are still many days that it feels like I’m stuck in a bad dream and I can’t seem to wake up.

About that time a friend of mine messaged all excited about a new purse she just bought on sale for $700 -- it is important to note it was regularly over $900!!  And I just about laid an egg..    I've had CARS that I've paid less than that for, and drove them for multiple years!!  The image of my friend sitting on her purse expecting to get somewhere tickles my funny bone.. but I digress..

It's much more than that though - When I think of the good I could do with that kind of money ~ That's several month's groceries,  it's car payments for a couple of months.. it's so many things..  but just a purse.. that doesn't even make my list..  Now I should say here that I mean in no way to disrespect my happy shopping friend ~ honestly, she’s one of a number of ladies that have discovered the joys of pricey purses lately, and I’ve had the same conversation to my shoe-collecting friends as well.  We all have our habits and vices right?  Mine lives in my craft room.. <Grin> 

Given the timing of the conversation, I found myself laughing.  If I'd ever told my Dad I'd spent that kind of money on a purse I think he'd have had me committed.  He probably would have driven me there himself.. likely in a flurry of conversations surrounding the phrases “F’n dummy” and “Easy come easy go eh?”, two of his very favorite sayings. 

Even so, I just cannot wrap my brain around spending that much on something to throw my crap in.. LOL     Guess I'm not much of a girly girl..   it's all Dad's fault I suppose..  he always called my sister and I his sons..  It became somewhat of a family joke.  He always wanted a son.  He and Mom had a son before me, but he died as an infant and after that Mom gave him two girls.  He proudly told everyone that we were his sons, and we’d laugh and call him our Mom – Daddy-Mom, actually.  Since for most of our lives he filled both roles having taken over when our Mom ran away from home.

I was remembering how Dad had insisted that if I was going to drive a car that I had to know how to take care of it.  He bought me my first car at 16.  I had to learn to check the oil, and tire pressure and such before I was ever allowed to drive it.  Don’t even get me started on my learning to drive -  Dad had some pretty interesting methods of making sure his student kept their mind on the road while driving.  He always stuck a roll of toilet paper in the glove box “Just in case”; I think he just wanted to throw us off of our confidence and make sure we paid attention.  Crazy bugger.  I remember stopping at a red light and having him quietly pull on the hand brake or slipping the car into neutral and laughing himself silly while you panicked as the light went green.  I will never forget the day he reached over and cuffed me in the back of the head and when I asked what that was for, he said that one day I’d have my boyfriend in the car and he’d be talking to me, and feeling up my leg and I’d have to keep my mind on the road.  I quipped back Yeah right Dad, like you’re ever gonna let me have a boyfriend!  We both laughed all the way home..    

When other girls my age were out shopping with their moms or hanging out at the mall, I was learning how to change the oil in the car, piling wood for the wood stove,  helping Dad with the tow truck just to name a few. At 10..11..12.. , I was making business calls, and answering business calls and calls for the Union (Dad was a shop steward for a time) .  I learned to cook, and clean house, and helped out with my little sister.  We moved around quite a bit, and Dad always drove us to school and picked us up.  At times I felt robbed of what others were doing that I wasn’t allowed to.  It took me a long time to realize the gifts that he’d given me early in life that many don’t learn til much later – some never learn them.  

He was fond of saying that I was going to grow up strong like him. Ford Tough, he’d say..   whenever something bad would happen he’d say “Don’t worry kid, you’re a Wilson! You’re tough, like me!  Ford Tough” and we’d laugh..  

A few months before he fell ill we were talking on the phone and he said something I will never forget.  He told me he had no brains anymore that he’d given them all to me.  I thought that he was just being his jokester self, but he insisted he was serious that he’d taught me everything he knew so that he didn’t have to think anymore.  At the time I didn’t know it, but we’ve come to realize that Dad had been ill for a lot longer than he let on.  I think he wanted to make sure that he let me know that he loved me.  He didn’t often say it – he was the king of “me too”, when he actually said it, it was a very big deal.  Over the last year he’d become fond of saying “I miss you more than the world”, “I love you more than the world”.  I just hope he knew that to me, he was the world.  He was the one person in my life that was always there no matter what.  It didn’t matter what had happened, or what was needed; if he couldn’t fix it he did his very best to find us someone who could. 
He was never hung up on looks or age and didn’t care that having a teenage daughter would tell the world that was old.  He’d come to my band concerts in his jeans and vest, and afterwards he’d crack jokes and we’d all laugh about all the people who got all dressed up to put on airs at a kid’s concert. I can think of very few times when I called on Dad for help and didn’t get it.   In my teens and twenties friends were very jealous of my ability to make a phone call and say “Daddy it’s broken, come get it” and before too long a tow truck would be coming down the road to the rescue.  Everybody should have that kind of security in their lives. 

When he was in the hospital this past year,  he told me that I was the best thing he ever did and that he was proud of me.  Now to most that wouldn’t seem like a very big deal but my Dad was never a very touchy feely sappy kinda guy..   His way was more to tell me how screwed up I was or what I’d done wrong – perhaps some effort to make me work harder.  I could clean the whole house to surprise him, but then he’d come back and notice a sock under the couch, or some other trivial item – oh there were days I wanted a bugs bunny mallet!!  -  but then I’d heard from other people how he’d praised me or how proud he was of me.  So this direct statement was very unexpected, and a very precious gift.   I had no idea at the time that it would be one of the last times I’d hear his voice as he was intubated not long after, and though we were able to “talk” afterwards,  his words were no longer audible.  The nurses marvelled at the fact that we were carrying on complete conversations while many of them couldn’t be bothered to put in the effort to try to make out what he was trying to tell them. 

I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that he’s been gone 3 months already.  I keep expecting the phone to ring and hear that familiar voice telling me he’s got a job for me, wisecracking and joking around.  Someone will say something, or something will happen and I’ll think Oh wow.. I’ve gotta tell Dad – and then it hits me and I find myself feeling like an idiot – how could I “forget” something so important.  The other day I reconnected with a girl from our old neighborhood we haven’t talked since we were kids,  crazy that we live about an hour apart and both some 4000 miles from “home”.   My first thought was to call Dad and tell him who I’d “found”.  It still doesn’t feel real and I’m not entirely certain that it ever will.

When I think of all the times we put off the “What if” conversations as if we had all the time in the world.  Truly, we always take for granted what we have until we don’t have it anymore.  I never dreamed I’d be saying good-bye to Dad so early in life, I was pretty sure we had many many years to drive each other crazy left to explore..   I guess it’s true what they say.  You just never know..   

Live every day as though it may be your last.  One day, it will be.

Love you Daddy.  Miss you