A simple story for Christmas

It has been a while, hasn’t it? Christmas Eve is a splendid time to revisit the blog community, after two years of not writing a blog!

As you may know from my old blogs, my precious Chocolate Labrador, Heidi, died three years ago after a tremendously naughty and nice lifetime of 15 years.  After all, she was a Labrador and all they are capable of is naughty. There wasn’t a nasty bone in her body.

As fate would have it, my children love animals and dogs in particular. Two of my handsome boys have Chocolate Labradors, Bella and Jersey.  There is an open invitation to Bella and Jersey for doggy sitting, sleep overs and occasionally to stay as company when I am alone. I was unbelievably lucky to have a week this past November with Jersey as my companion.  Jersey’s owners run in marathons, so they needed a sitter to run in a Texas marathon. I love doggy sitting and besides it would ‘up the ante’ on my daily physical fitness routine.

The week was everything you might imagine.  We jumped in bed early, curled up with my book and snuggled into the lengthening winter nights.  Jersey adapts well to her surroundings, so by day two she was under the blankets on my husband’s side of the bed with her head and right paw on his pillow.  I have to admit I let her!  I prayed madly to the patron saint of animals, Saint Francis of Assisi, that my son and his girlfriend provided Jersey with regular flea and tick treatments. (It worked!  No fleas!!! Thank you Saint Francis!)

By all measures, it was a fantastic week.  My biggest regret was how quickly the time went. It was already day 7 and I enjoyed my Jersey time like it was a vacation. So, what better way to cap it off but with a nice lengthy walk, not a marathon, but an indicator that I was a suitable sitter for the dog of a marathon runner, who finished her race in under 4 hours.

I live in the country, on a farm. We walked through the farm everyday that week.  We walked in our local park practically everyday. But for as long as I have lived here, which is now 33 years, I have never walked from one end of our road to the other.  It is approximately 5 miles either way, so that would be a round trip of 10 miles; not 26.2 miles that comprise a marathon, but not bad.

It was a cold and crisp day, but we had been spared any snow. Not even a puddle had begun to freeze up yet.  I put on two sweaters, my thick hiking socks, my new skinny jeans, followed by my relatively new Helly Hansen Newport jacket.  Finally, I donned my very lovely new Asics Fluidride Dynamic Duomax GT 2000 sneakers …and out the door we went!!!  We would make our mark that day as distance strollers of the senior citizen variety. In truth, we were fake senior citizens, Jersey is a mere 7 years old and it is really none of your business knowing how young I am.  Agreed?

Jersey didn’t have her regular collar that week, as she lost it hiking with her owners the week previous. Christmas was only a month away and opportunity for enhancing Jersey’s closet was beckoning! I made a mental note to look into colour coordinating collars with my wardrobe for her next visit on Christmas Eve.  Instead, on that November day she was sporting a lovely blue body harness with a red lead clipped onto to the body harness. The colours of the harness and lead didn’t match, but being a dog, I didn’t think she would mind.

I willfully abandoned a colour matching opportunity. My son had instructed me to use the gentle lead (red) when taking Jersey walking. A gentle lead is a fabulous product that is just as it is described, gentle. It effectively signals walking commands to the dog. I also must compliment the designer on the multitude of colours! The gentle lead is also referred to as a head collar which goes around her nose but is not a muzzle. Regrettably, I did not pay enough attention to the demonstration and couldn’t figure out how to loop the gizmo properly. Our other strolls went charmingly with this mismatched body harness ensemble. I gently wrapped the lead around my left hand and we took off as colourfully as a maple tree in autumn.

As we walked, I soaked in the impact of a picture perfect day.  Very little traffic.  The skies were a little grey, but the cloud cover was high, leaving the impression of an endless sky. As we got comfortable with our pace, I unwrapped the lead from my hand to give Jersey more freedom. We went up hills and down again. My Fitbit was just clocking off steps to beat the band!!!! Ah, now I must admit I am competitive.  I regularly complain about my husband’s fitbit giving him more steps than I get with mine. He usually wins hands down on a daily basis. My husband wasn’t about to catch me this day, 10 miles would amount to a clear win on a work day!  Oh, the benefits of dog sitting abound.

Having a wee bit of a safety background, I was alert to the road conditions. Country roads have their own hazards.  The shoulders of this road were very narrow.  This couldn’t meet city codes, surely.  As we crested our last hill, I noticed how deep the drainage ditches were and I tested the shoulder of the road only to find it was soft. Safety first! Spot the hazard, assess the risk, find a safer way, every day! We were already 5 miles down our road.  I decided that at the first opportunity, we would cross to the other side of the road and test the shoulder of the road there.

Out of no where, we spotted a black swarm of birds rising from the field across the street.  I recognized this as Starling Murmuration.  It is well known in the United Kingdom, but less noted in our Canadian neighbourhood. Essentially, it appears as a black sphere that changes its shape as it swirls across the sky above you.  A mesmerizing spectacle.  I instinctively wrapped the lead around my left hand to make sure Jersey would stay by my side.

Documenting the murmuration on my Samsung 4, I felt very fortunate to have witnessed the dance up above.  Realizing the shoulder of the road was soft, Jersey and I decided to cross the the opposite side of the road.  We were practically at the end of the road with 5 miles under our feet!  I was feeling one with nature, gazing once more across the farmer’s field.  This was sheep country, lush green fields with enough for the sheep and the starlings to be well fed before the winter.  There we stood facing the field, toes to ditch, mesmerized.

A sheep moved!

Jersey is a dog, a sheep was scampering away, a dog must respond!  With my left hand, attached to the lead, no ground ahead of me, I had a split second to respond.  That second is quiet detailed, so forgive me for taking sometime to explain.

Jersey’s instinct was to take command of the situation and perhaps corral the sheep. My instinct was to hold  Jersey back.  These are incompatible instincts. She leapt forward to cross the ditch, but gravity being what it is, she went across and down.  My arm attached to this movement sent me forward and down, head first toward muddy, slimy looking ditch water, rocks etc. At some point in that split second, my left fist stopped hanging on to the lead and Jersey was free to scale the opposite side of the ditch and run along the fencing.  I don’t even think she barked. I remembered I had one hand free to protect me and extended the right hand in an attempt to escape the ditch.  As no doubt you are anticipating, my wrist and hand took the first impact, followed by my face sliding over the rocky bottom of the ditch.  My legs were still splayed over the wall of ditch and my Asics super sneakers were dug into the bank.  I remember thinking, this can’t be good. Spitting the mud out of my mouth, I wasted no time getting up. With brown dripping hair, mud caked jeans and soaked coat, I emerged from the ditch. A colour coordinated being that suitably matched the dog!

I had to get control of the situation!  I commanded Jersey to come back,  the way a high pitched whining maniac might try to do.  It was met with the response such maniacs have come to expect. I was ignored.  Jersey paced back and forth on the opposite side of the ditch, wondering how to command the sheep on the other side of the fence.  Sputtering and trying to wipe the mud away from my eyes and nose, I thought of throwing a temper tantrum, but reminded myself instead that one must be dignified and in control. Even so, Jersey remained unimpressed with my command to come back. Resigned to my place in the world, I scrambled down the ditch, retrieved my Samsung 4 and crossed the ditch, remaining upright this time. Jersey responds well when you are next to her, so I did eventually take control.

Several split seconds had passed and there we were back on the roadside of the ditch, facing down another 5 miles.  I guess school must have been over for the day, because suddenly there was lots of traffic.  Some folks even slowed down to have a good look. My hair, my coat, my jeans were a spectacle. My hair had no other choice but to lie flat across the left side of my face, dripping. I had been at the hairdressers that morning.  The back of my head was perfect, the hairspray should be commended. But the spray and the style were unable to withstand the drenching of the ditch!

All was not lost.  Dignity is not just what you look like on the surface, it is the person you are inside! My left hand was in command of a very muddy lead, wrapped tightly around my hand once again.  Jersey walked in step with me, instinctively keeping her eyes to the path below her. My right wrist was throbbing, as if to the beat of our feet.  I looked at the miles ahead and the friendly passerby’s who must have thought I was a bit of mess to be outdoors and in public, but they just didn’t know the inner dignified me. We continued to plod on a little ways.  I occasionally wiped my face, the way windshield wipers wipe the car’s windshield.  I was able to assess how lucky I was, my face was merely chipped in a few places, nothing major.

I remembered my phone.  I called my husband.  He was gone out! Fortunately, he is a twin and his twin was at work and available!

One and half miles of walking later, my brother-in-law rescued me.  He drove Jersey and I back the remaining 3.5 miles to my home. By this point I realized my right wrist had enough for the day, so in a pathetic sort of way, I asked if my rescuer could continue his service. Graciously, he opened the truck door, unlocked the door to my house, unzipped my coat, and unbuttoned my outer sweater that had big metal designer buttons suitable for dignified me.  He then bid me adieu and took off liked a scald cat.

Well, I am happy to report that my son and his girlfriend came home that evening and Jersey went home with them.  My clothes actually came out of the wash in great shape. My glasses were not broken or chipped. My phone has a wonderful video of the murmuration. My wrist is almost as good as new. Jersey has been back for a sleep over.  We have not attempted my 10 mile jaunt, but we will. I promise to be: a) dignified, b) in control and c) colour coordinated, d) stay out of ditches and other nasty places, and, e) use the gentle lead which would have saved the day!

Until now, I did not share this story beyond my immediate family. I thought it would make a good story and consequently be a reason to recommence writing my blog. I offer this as a simple present, a Christmas chuckle in particular, to my friends and all those who liked to read my blog.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and/ or Seasons Greeting to you from Mo!

An invitation to a wedding

It was the summer of 1974, and my best friend’s brother was getting married! It was exciting and mysterious all at the same time.  Getting married was practically unimaginable to me.  I hadn’t a boyfriend at that point in my life. If a boy even knocked on our door, I needed to keep it a secret so my father wouldn’t have a heart attack.  Boys generally didn’t swoon over me, so I used my imagination about boyfriends and romance. I was an experienced day dreamer!  In my imagination, I feel in love with Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Cary Grant and Glenn Campbell. I would fall asleep singing like Olivia Newton John, “I love you…I honestly love you!” Life was simple and stress free.

At that time I was fifteen years old and working part time at the Arcade, a low cost department store.  A highlight of my work day included folding the bin of green tartan, polyester, stretchy pant suits from China. That bin was the focal point of many women shopping at the store.  They would tear through the bin looking for the right size to fit their daughter. I spent most of my part time hours re-folding those suits. My daily prayer was that the eczema on my hands did not flare up.

The women who worked in the Children’s Department with me would buy a sleeve of biscuits. I was allowed behind the cash register area to sneak one whenever I wanted. I loved standing there pretending I was in charge of the cash!  These co-workers told me sometimes girls met their boyfriends at work. I paid more attention to the shoppers! I soon discovered my co-workers had better imaginations than I did.  It was very unlikely prince charming was going to stroll into the Arcade. Still I went on happily day dreaming about Mr. Right sweeping me off my feet.

My friend Carol Ann was able to convince her family to invite me to the wedding, so that she had someone to sit with during the dance.  I was also allowed to invite a boy too. Initially, I looked at the invitation and back at my friend with a look of pure delight.  I felt older, more mature and equal to all the girls I hung around with after school. But, slowly it dawned on me. I was expected to have a date! If only a healthy imagination could provide one!

I didn’t have a boyfriend like Carol Ann. I didn’t even have a crush on someone, nor did anyone have a crush on me! During the previous winter I had a secret boyfriend named Jerry. When Jerry decided to “break up with me” after very little time, it was Carol Ann who stood by me and wiped away the tears. Now I needed to find a boy to go to the wedding with, so Carol Ann would no longer need to worry about me. I soon discovered that was easier said than done!

During the summer of 1974, whenever Jerry saw me, he generally turned and scurried away in the opposite direction. From time to time I would day dream about Jerry too. I could see him coming up to the door with roses and apologizing for being mean. Olivia Newton John would have been proud of me. In the real world, Jerry was my best prospect.

It became well known amongst my friends that I “needed” to ask someone to this wedding. The brother-of-the-bride-to-be was nice enough to tell me that Jerry had decided to join the Christian Brothers and he wouldn’t accept an invitation, even if I asked him. I didn’t particularly like the brother-of-the-bride-to-be and in truth I still don’t.  At fifteen years of age, I took his comment as a pretty big blow to my self worth. When the sting of that revelation began to pass, I told myself that Jerry was pretty much beyond any girl’s reach if he was going to take on a vocation. I decided that there were obviously plenty of fish in the ocean, so I had better move on and catch one. I was only interested in a catch and release, one date for one wedding.

On Friday and Saturday nights in the summer, the local stadium had rolling skating.  I didn’t think my parents would approve of me roller skating, so that was another secret! I rationalized that I might meet someone there who I could ask to the wedding. The music was really fast at rolling skating, so the only way I was likely to meet someone was if a boy asked me to skate to doubles or even triples. Triples skating was way too fast and boarder line dangerous! I hoped for doubles in the biggest way.

I remember that summer clearly.  I would carry my borrowed roller skates over my shoulder and walk 20 minutes to the arena, praying my mother or an Aunt wouldn’t drive by and catch me sneaking in to roller skating. This crime would have netted me a summer’s detention! Inside the privacy of the arena, the lights were bright and you could feel the excitement all around you.

Each night of roller skating I would sit with my friends from the West End of the city.  We would lace up our skates and make our way to the rink area.  I drew my long black hair back, either with a hair band or a scarf, put on that brave smiley face and hit the rink, in hope of a partner to skate with.  The boys generally looked at their feet and the girls watched me and smirked.

July turned into August. Over that time I had skated to two sets of triples but I was never asked to skate during doubles. As August hurried on, I had no prospects for the wedding. One Friday night Jerry skated up the corridor, circled behind me and smacked me on the backside! I interpreted that as tantamount to assault and glared at him. Needless to say that did not result in an invitation from me to Jerry to attend the wedding. As I think back to that moment, I remember concluding that such a public display of rejection banished me to singlehood. I was shattered.

The wedding was the last Saturday in August.  I stopped hoping I would find a date.  The weeks had drifted by. I told Carol Ann’s brother I would attend the wedding on my own. I remember how awkward the evening was, given I had no one to dance with.  My friend found it uncomfortable too as she felt she was supposed to keep me entertained. Jerry’s friend, the brother-of-the-bride seemed to have a great time though, the shmook.

Eventually, the night ended.  For once I was more than delighted that my mother was outside waiting to drive me home.  Mom was very kind to me that night.  As a mother, she was relieved I didn’t have a date. Yet, she understood I was unhappy about it. We didn’t talk much as she drove us home, but I sensed in her quiet manner a sign of respect.  Dad was still up when we trudged up the stairs to our house.  He wasn’t the affectionate sort either, so instead he told me to sit at the counter and he would make me a treat before bed. For me that was a sure sign of affection!  Quietly, I was surrounded by the sincerest love of my parents.

Being a teenager can be a tough time for some. It seems like life is slow and you still can’t keep up with it.  When I least expected it, at the age of seventeen, I met the boy of my dreams. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I had met my future husband. Life seemed to speed up after that for the black haired young girl. And the rest, as they say, is (blissful) history!

Christmas Presents? It’s only October!

I love reading this blog! It is full of ideas that save money.

Saving Without Scrimping

I’ve started saving for presents already as I really don’t understand how I manage to throw myself into debt every December. The month with its parties, gift exchanges and endless dinners comes on schedule each year.

This year IS going to be different! Partly because I already know what certain people are getting based on my gift closet. Last year we had a crafty Christmas with the majority of presents being made. Though this can be less expensive when not well thought out crafty Christmas isn’t cheap.

Last year I made:

  • arm knit blankets
  • body butters, sugar scrubs and bath salts
  • Cookies and breads in a jar

These were all greatly appreciated and I’ve had request for the body butters, scrubs and bath salts so those will definitely make it on the list.

This year I will make

  • body butters, sugar scrubs and bath salts
  • Cookies in a jar
  • Dip…

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To Vote or Not to Vote, That is the Question

According to Elections Canada, voter turn-out in our Country was the highest in the year I was born, a whopping 79.4%. This must be the reason I am so passionate about one single election issue:  Our Duty To Vote!

When I grew up I was embraced within a family of largely loquacious folk who routinely made sure I understood the family code of honour. While our code covered a pretty broad spectrum, I never had to consider whether or not I was supposed to vote, it went without question. It was more like:

“Let me explain what the government wants to do?”

“When you grow up, which party do you think you will vote for?”

“Tonight you can stay up and watch the election with us.”

“Well young lady, how are you going to vote?”

“What time can you be home, so we can take you to the polling booth!”

Voting, politics and elections were exciting and for our family, voting was a family affair.

My first opportunity to vote in either a provincial or a federal election was during 1979. I was very excited. It was finally my turn to vote. My opinion mattered. It was important for me to respect the person I would vote for because we largely believed in the same things. I wanted a Prime Minister who could be respected internationally and could bring peace to areas or who could bring harmony with foreign governments that were distrustful of the West. I was a pacifist and horrified by war. I wanted a reasonable tax regime, investment in hospitals and infrastructure and a government who could influence higher employment.

I listened to the leaders and the candidates locally and I made a decision. I clearly remember my first voting day. I rushed home from University and changed my clothes to the best outfit I had to wear. Mom, Dad and Kate took me to the polling station. Our polling booth was in the neighbour church hall. It was around 5:30 p.m. and the light was still bright outdoors. I remember my family quietly standing behind me, my partners in a solemn march to a safe and well considered tomorrow. I was allowed to vote first. My heart was practically pumping out of my chest and I was filled with pride. I remember the lump in my throat when I was asked for my name and address. I was one person, who was part of a country full of citizens, who would make an important and powerful decision together.

I feel totally disconnected from today’s population that proudly indicate they are uninterested in voting or that to vote would go against what they stand for in life. I still see it as a duty, an obligation to vote. If I am to be entitled to an opinion on the state of health care, education or the condition of the roads, then I had better have voted. Otherwise, I did nothing to influence the outcome of my public needs and desires. Anything brought to you by taxes, including defence of our borders and our world, is influenced by the platform of the party you elected. It has a huge influence on the law you must live by. It will determine the overall generousity of the state to the disenfranchised. It influences our country’s response to global crises, including the environment.

Do you believe voter turnout equals the health of our democracy?

Did you know that the term “slack” also refers to the amount of non-voters in an election. “Picking up the slack” has a whole new meaning for me now. To consider what to write tonight, I referenced: “Slack in the System: Turnout in Canadian Provincial Elections, 1965-2009” written by Jared J. Wesley, University of Manitoba. I discovered that Atlantic Canada has a strong voter turnout together with Saskatchewan and Quebec. In 2007, Newfoundland and Labrador and Alberta had resounding wins for the progressive conservatives with 61.3% and 40.6% of the popular vote.  However, it looks a lot less flattering when converted to eligible votes at 42.6% and 21.4% respectively.

I don’t know about you, but I would like to think the group who gets to run the province should have been elected by far more than a crummy 21.4%.  That is an awful a lot of power without permission. What is an acceptable level of non-participation?  Is it an abdication of the right to decide who rules, is it a quiet protest against the establishment a protest no one even hears, or is it a complete disrespect for the moment and the future?

If I was in a position that I could not decide how to vote because I did not align with anyone on the ballot, I would show up at the polling booth and secretly spoil my ballot. The more I pay attention, the more I can understand why many people legitimately shake their heads and say, I can’t vote for any of them.  There have been a lot of parachute candidates just so a party could say they had a candidate in every riding.  There are people having to withdraw from their candidacy every week for something they said or did (who knows today’s bloggers may never get to run in an election.) But there are realistically flawed yet honest men and women who stand before us this month and ask for our support. It is ours to decide.

I don’t care if you are young or a nonagenarian (90 year old). It is essential that you vote. You can vote for the Conservatives, Liberals, the New Democratic Party, the Bloc Quebecois, Independents or the Green Party. Just please exercise your franchise and vote.

This blog is brought to you by Mo

Post script

In the late hours of blogging I made a boo boo.  I wrote “septuagenarian” and bracketed (90 year old). As a penance to the Latin scholars who came up with these names, here are the terms for my age group and beyond!

Quinquagenarian       people in their 50’s

Sexagenarian             people in their 60’s

septuagenarian         people in their 70’s

octogenarian             people in their 80’s

nonagenarian            people in their 90’s

centenarian               people who have made it to 100 and hopefully get a letter from the Queen

Morning has broken

How many emotions do we face in the course of our sleep? Are the emotions felt and the responses provided exercise for the brain? I will use last night’s sleep as a case in point. My brain took me through a full body work out.

I settled into bed early. It was 9:30 pm.  I had my tooth guard in place, cream soaking into my face, reading glasses perched on the end of my nose and a new library book in hand! I was going to bed early! It was better than winning the lottery!

Hubby poked his head in the door and said, “Mo! You have to watch CBC news.  Peter Mansbridge is in town interviewing celebrities about the federal election.”

I reluctantly crawled out of bed. Placing my unopened novel on the bedside table, I trudged back to the living room. I kept the tooth guard in place as a statement I was not watching the full show. Hubby left a small corner of the chesterfield for me to squeeze in.  I wedged myself in place and watched the news.  It was nice to watch the city highlighted on the National news. It was a feel good broadcast. At 11:30 pm, we called it a night.  I had Hubby’s footprints imprinted on my left hip, but I managed the walk to the bedroom with no more than a slight limp.  No book tonight, I sighed, and crawled back into bed.

I might have fallen asleep at 10 pm, if left alone. However, at 11:30 pm I was uncomfortably awake. I can’t remember looking at the clock after 12:30. Slumber, restless slumber came at last.

At 5:00 am, I woke slightly. I was consciously willing myself to ignore the fact that Hubby had quickly escaped momentarily to return again to the covers of our bed. He made very little noise, but like most nights, his ritual managed to wake me.

I started thinking about our bed. We have a lovely King sized bed. It is a source of disagreement with Hubby who longs for our old queen sized bed.  I love the king size because it has room for me to sleep like a windmill!   Our new bed had multipurpose. It is higher off the floor than the queen sized bed we had before.  It makes a great change table for our grandson, which saved us money.  Also, a king can be dressed up as a fashion statement with more quilts and pillows. It releases my inner interior designer spirit. Admittedly, Hubby dislikes more than two blankets or two pillows, but he has gallantly learned to live with my bedroom creation.

It is true that my mind has a habit of wondering when I am consciously trying to stay asleep… I lurched to attention! I was WIDE AWAKE.  It was not my intention to engage my widely active brain before at least 6:15 am.

I lay beneath the old covers in despair.  The temperature had been very cool the previous night.  The frost on the roof was beginning to melt and make the lazy meandering roll to the eaves trough. I am afraid said Husband “cheaped out” on the eaves trough. As the droplets hit the eaves trough they formed a noisy brigade of untuned, monotone drops that created chaos instead of melody.

My windmill tendencies commenced. I twisted and turned to the right. Throwing my leg outside the cover, I began an agitated sweat. I contorted some more, moving my head off my pillow and under the covers. Turning in despair, I tried to drown out the quick cascade of noise. I took refuge at the foot of the bed. I could still hear the drops, hitting what must have been shale rock below the downspout. Drip! drip! DRIP! I made my way back toward the head board via my husband’s side of the bed. It was a mayhem of tangled sheets.  I needed air. My head emerged from below the duvet. DRIP…DRIP…DRIP! I pounded my head on the available space on Hubby’s pillow. I couldn’t stand the noise!!!!

My struggle took me back to my side of the King. I put my head on my own pillow, lying on my side. I poked my pinky finger in my exposed ear. I listened intently. I could no longer hear the drip. I realized that I would soon need a new idea for drowning out the notorious drip, as the position of my wrist and arm wouldn’t be comfortable for long. BUT I NEEDED TO SLEEP!  I could have cried at that moment, but no one would have heard me.  My neck began to hurt. The pain spread to my shoulder, my arm and my wrist. I placed my head beneath the pillow and in pure frustration slammed my arm over my left ear.  I remembered I need to breathe, so I squirmed to the edge of the pillow and poked my nose out just beyond the edge. I naively thought that the pillow muffling would work, but I could still hear a dull drip, drip, DRIP!

I refused to get up! I lay there in the knotted sheets and discarded the pillow, feeling the sting of defeat! “No! I AM NOT GETTING UP!”

If I just relaxed….I had a brain wave! I would practice my belly breathing.I lay on my back and raised my knees.

Hubby yanked at the blankets. I got the impression he must have heard the dripping.  Poor man! I promised myself that I would explain it to him at breakfast.

I got back to my breathing.  I brought myself step by step through the process. Breathe to the count of eight through the nose, raise the belly not the chest. Hold the breath to the count of three, or was it four? I gave up holding at ten and slowly exhaled to the count of seven.  I remembered to repeat, until I felt myself melt into the mattress.

By this point Hubby was restless. He seems to be staking out his side of the bed.  He was leaning over, tracing out a line length wise down the duvet. It appeared as if he was chopping a crease through the duvet and half way down into the memory foam. What sort of ritual was this? They say that listening to drips can drive a person crazy.  I think the eaves trough had finally gotten to him!

I refocused and lowered my knees slightly. Realizing this was not comfortable, I raised them again and straighten out the blankets with a quick hip raise. Hubby groaned.  All Hubby’s distress was making it doubly hard for me to settle back down.

I looked at the clock. It was 5:45. Trying to fall asleep was senseless!

I rose in defeat.  Hubby groaned loudly!  I sighed and said,” I know sweetheart! Morning has broken again.”

Collaborating with my friend Bobo

What a great idea, with writing 101.  Cheri coached us to:

Reach out to someone for an interview or collaboration. This person can be someone else whose work you admire.

I selected INTERVIEW MY FRIEND BOBO, a fellow blogger, who I definitely admire.

Then Cheri advised, when you think of someone, reach out via their contact page.

Presto! I also checked that box the Mo way. I visited BoBo at http://www.bouzaneconsulting.com/what-does-it-take/

Cheri’s idea was that I would start right away. I was so excited!

I felt it was pure serendipity. BoBo contacted me before she was aware I was looking for her! She spoke with Hubby and asked him to tell me to call her, she had an idea!

As was sung in Fiddler on the Roof: Wonder of wonder! Miracles of miracles! I called BoBo. She was out! No problem, I resorted to email!

“Serendipity!

 You have an idea to share that between the whirl wind of my life and your destination changes, I may have missed.

 But, I need to collaborate with a fellow blogger I admire by Day 19, which is next Thursday!!!!  Are you interested still?  I am thinking your idea is a collaboration?  We could start with Day 19.

 Let me know your thoughts.  Can I call you on your cell phone?

 I can do an interview even.”

The next day BoBo and I met at a coffee shop of our choosing.  I will leave out the long string of emails as we batted back and forth different times and different places.  I have at least five favorite coffee shops and BoBo is not without a good few herself, the best being her house. Best yet, they are all South West! (if you don’t get that reference, read my blog Vanessa, I don’t want a map.)

BoBo is nothing if she isn’t fun! She hid in the most obscure part of the café. But having spent much of my life dedicated to dogs, I sniffed her out.

With a latte in hand and a chocolate dipped oatmeal cookie, I began my interview with my collaborator.

Mo: BoBo, what do you think of my work so far?

BoBo:  You have really come around over the past two and a half weeks.  You seemed to struggle a bit at first but you settled in after a while.  My impression is that you come alive when you write about your past.

Mo: I need a lot of help on the technology piece.  I just don’t get it.  It may be I am too old, but I don’t think so.  I accidently click the back arrow in the top left hand screen and I lose my post- I don’t save drafts in time. So, my struggles are most likely caused by little old me.  If you could have watched me the night I tried to place a gravatar on my account, you would have cried, and not because you were laughing. Then there was the night I lost my new post three times while trying to add a theme and widgets. I resorted to buying a theme, but the charge didn’t go through! And it will be no surprise to you that I didn’t get the theme either. By day light I had a mauve background and white page for free, which may be the only theme template I will ever have!  It matched the bags under my eyes, I just had to have it!

BoBo: If you aren’t one in a million Mo! All you needed to do was phone me.  I can teach you all that stuff in half a day.  What I want to know is where you want to take this?

Mo: Ahhh.  My interview was just ripped out from underneath my feet! Sneaky little devil you are BoBo!

I am not really sure what I want to do with this.  I really enjoy writing, rewriting and maybe I even like editing. I love opening the email assignments lately. I just sit in my room and look around it, searching for clues, inspirations.  The night I wrote the open letter to BooBoo, I looked up on Mom’s bookcase and there was the picture of BooBoo my niece Pascal painted for her. It was still wrapped in plastic because Mom didn’t want to take a chance of spoiling it. I also used a picture of the painting for the blog.

When I connect with something, my fingers just dance across the keyboard. I enjoy writing and that must explain why I am so sleep deprived today!

BoBo: I get the impression some days that you are heading toward a book?

Mo:  Once again BoBo, great interview skills!  To answer your open ended question, “maybe.”  Part of me is just content to write each night. I like the prompts and now know if I am stuck I can go to the Daily Prompt. It may take me a while to find it, but trust me, I will eventually.

You are right though.  I have always toyed around with the idea of a book. When I read Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society  I was enticed. I find the early 1900s fascinating and I loved the style of that book.  Letters from friends are so exciting. They relish the topics that inspired the letters and they are often filled with amazing descriptions and tales drizzled with emotion. Of course, Bridget Jones Diary was refreshing. It is more contemporary, but so alive.  I feel like I am reliving the tweets in the second Diary, but I would have to resort to fibs when it comes to numbers of followers or likes. Even so, I could be inspired to be Bridget.

The rest of the chat strayed to other topics and we agreed to get back together soon. We hugged each other and went our separate ways.

The next morning I received this email from my blogger friend:

“Mo,  I’m not sure whether I want to hug you or give you a good swift kick!

My day starts early and usually with 1/2 an hour of catch up on emails and scanning the priorities for the next 24 hours.  The first thing I do is take a quick look at my phone to see if there are any overnight messages to deal with and, of course, your blog pops up right away.  I can’t wait to read what you’ve written so I read directly from my phone with one eye open and one closed. This is while I’m still snuggled under the covers, before my bath or coffee.

So today I started my day in tears. You painted your picture so vividly that I was there with you. I felt your grief and saw you climb in beside your Mom seeking the comfort you needed. I saw your Dad through Heidi’s eyes.

Mo, you are gifted. Do not stop writing. You are growing with every paragraph you put to print.

It was wonderful to sit and chat with you yesterday.

Take care, may God bless and keep smiling.

B”

I can only pray that I don’t disappoint BoBo. BoBo is a story teller and poet.  She also tells spectacular tales. I am blessed to have her as my friend and I feel sure as the wind blows she will always be there! She will inspire me with her stories and motivate me to keep going.

I feel so lucky having taken on a blog.  I have a wonderful niece, Rebecca who dared me to write my experiences in a blog as I wore each and every item in my closet. She was my start, my inspiration. I regularly reblog Rebecca’s fashion posts. They are as beautiful as she is. I don’t want to disappoint her either.  Rebecca is BooBoo’s cat whisperer.

With the connections I have made through blogging 101 and writing 101 I feel supported.  If I do little more than disappear daily into My Reader, I will have gained from this experience enormously.  Once again, tonight I want to thank Cheri and everyone involved in these courses. You have helped me improve beyond my expectations.  Wordpress is now making my world go round!

Vanessa, I don’t want a map!

Vanessa and I are pretty close. We worked together, we go to book club together and we have several of the same friends. When we first met, I would visit her at her house in the next community. She shared her calamities with me and I commiserated in between giggles. Vanessa is a great cook and baker, but you don’t want to be with her when she boils Fussells thick cream. She boils the cream while it is still sealed in the can. Otherwise, Vanessa is a first pick for travel advice, to take on an adventure or to walk your Labrador with! But the biggest problem I have with Vanessa is that she moved to the other side of the City. We may not live in a Metropolis, but I need a map to get there.

I really dislike going to the east end of the City. It isn’t because it is unfriendly or dangerous, it is only because I don’t go there often and the labyrinth of streets and cul-de-sacs are difficult to navigate. Simply put, I have a habit of getting lost. I do not have my own internal compass. I routinely have been told by otherwise polite friends and colleagues, “No Mo, it’s your other left.” I am a hapless, map-less and dangerous traveller.

You would think that my objections to visiting people on the East Side would have all but stopped. My car is equipped with a GPS, my Samsung 4 has google maps and if all else fails I can make my way to our box store boulevard and ask for simple directions from there. With all the help available, I can still muck it up!

A year ago, my friend and fellow book club member, Vanessa, took her turn hosting our book club session. I never willingly miss book club, mainly because I enjoy reading, I like other people to figure out for me the best books to purchase, and the women in our club our unbelievably funny. As one of my friends would say, our book club nights are as good as a concert. My only regret is that Vanessa, the hostess with the flare to tantalize us with treats from her latest travel, lives on the East Side!

I am ashamed of my inability to drive to fixed destinations in a timely manner, so I was keeping it a secret. To complicate my life, I work late, so it impossible for me to car pool. This book club appointment required me to drive myself. I was confident that I could find the street buried somewhat inside of a new subdivision. I had my GPS. How hard could it be?

I knew the subdivision was four years old, because I remember buying our car about the same time as Vanessa and John built their house. The subdivision was just getting started then and even I could find it at that time. Since then, new streets and dead-end roads have been added. There are numerous ways to access the subdivision. They even have a Hotel there now. I can identify the hotel every time my husband drives us to Costco. It was a handy landmark for a trip to Vanessa’s.

I left work with about 30 minutes to spare. I programmed Vanessa’s address into my Toyota’s GPS. It occurred to me that a GPS must either come programmed with the maps in place at the time the car was manufactured or they regularly updated them from a satellite connection. The latter didn’t sound improbable but I wondered why I never noticed any messages on the console to that effect. I pulled out of the parking lot at the Southside of the city and headed North East.

This self-confessed travelling basket case did know enough to recognize that the GPS was guiding me past all the most likely turn offs. I trusted that soft spoken lady to know what she was doing. I began to notice I was driving at least ten minutes longer than I should have been and the console map did not have any sign of the expected right hand turn or any familiar destination. I presumed the GPS knew best. The subdivision was still growing and there was a big protest at City Council about vehicle congestion problems should Council approve a condo project there. Perhaps the residents built one of brick walls to contain their neighbour and make Council and developers go away? I had no idea where that subdivision had gone.

Sweat began to break out across my forehead as I followed the instruction to proceed down the highway along the City’s water supply. It was a very long road and for the life of me I couldn’t recall any right hand turns in that part of town. Eventually the street lights disappeared and I knew I was lost. Panic began to set in. My hands were clammy and my mind was slipping toward catastrophe. My temperature was rising and I was edgy. Suddenly I noticed a right hand turn.

I didn’t care if the right hand turn was correct or not, I had to take a turn that seemed to head south. The unfamiliar road began to look familiar, the way a trip to a new community in the country always looks a bit familiar. The darn road was twisting and I had no idea if I was headed South or North. I no longer felt embarrassed about being late, roughly 30 minutes at that point. I was just plain scared. The road finally intersected with a ramp that lead to a highway.

I was in the Twilight Zone. Where in the world did this highway come from? The encouraging part was that it was definitely pointing to the City. The road sign said as much. I drove for what seemed to be an eternity. I approached a new box store that I read about in the paper. I was near the box store boulevard. I wanted to pull off the road and do a happy dance, but I was too late and I was too nervous to do so. I soon made it to the intersection with Costco! I was back to concrete civilization.

I headed a little east and saw a second clue. The sign for the golf course was a sure giveaway. It was vital that I call for those directions, which even a child could follow. I stopped the car, retrieved my purse with my phone from the back seat. I called Vanessa.

Mo: “Vanessa, I’m lost.”

Vanessa: “Where are you?”

Mo: “ Next to the turn off for the Golf Course!”

Vanessa: “Well you are here then.”

Mo: “No! I may as well be in Albuquerque. I need you to lead me to your house.”

Well, Vanessa had a lot of patience with me as I located the hotel and drove down two winding roads until I saw her driveway. A real person with a kind voice and a bright light above her door will beat a GPS or a map any day!

I doubt I could drive to Vanessa’s without getting lost today. I believe in mental blocks and disorientation. I also believe my husband should always be the driver. But, sometimes you just have to take the steering wheel by its proverbial horns and drive until you get there.

Tuesday’s Child is Full of Grace

Merciful!  Did you ever take on something great on a Tuesday? It would appear that not many opinion setters ever crowned Tuesday with outstanding achievements. It hardly seems logical to condemn Tuesday to a day of inconsequence. Perhaps I need to change my search engine?

The Stock Market crashed on a Tuesday. By now the Stock Market has crashed on enough days to shake Tuesday from its infamous place.  In 1987 the world chose Monday October 19th, which Time Magazine described as THE CRASH. Yet, stock market historians usually select Black Tuesday to scare us with the risk of loss of wealth. The Dot-com bubble reached its height on March 10, 2000 and began its decent spectacularly thereafter. So do we blame Monday for that crash as well? Friday’s record took the infamy as well.

Songs selected Tuesday for the mundane. Good Bye Ruby Tuesday – who could hang a name on you? The Rolling Stones mused about Tuesday and granted a rather unassuming existence there, where nothing is gained or lost.  Similarly the Beatles featured Tuesday in its song  of Lady Madonna. It claimed Tuesday afternoon is never ending….how could we interpret Tuesday as anything but boring.  Today’s modern lyrics for Tuesday are largely disappointing. I think Drake’s song and Chris Brown’s dedicated to Tuesday should have fast forwarded to Wednesday.

So let’s propose instead Tuesday is Triumphant. Tuesday can’t be all that bad! It is past time for a Tuesday makeover.

I searched tuesdaypoem.BlogSpot.ca and found the poem, “The Great Dying”, by Kathleen Jones. It is poignant. However, the poem was certainly not dedicated to Tuesday as a day of triumph. For those who enjoy poetry, I recommend a regular visit to Tuesday Poem, it provides the poem chosen and an interview of the poet. Let Tuesday’s poetry let your mind soar!

Perhaps, if I was Shakespeare,  I would set a scene for Tuesday. But I am only a poor mortal of meagre poetic talent and scripted the following:

Can Tuesday be compared to any day?

Thou hath the strength of any seven.

Tuesday art greater than a Monday,

Without Sunday’s determination to deliver heaven.

Romeo or Juliet would agree to live their passion on a Tuesday,

Potions measured to restore lovers to each other‘s embrace,

Tuesday’s pact is then retold but for happiness to pay

Two duelling families surrender to wedded grace.

Cannot a Tuesday produce its super moon,

For all the world to watch in splendid wonder.

A Tuesday tempts but its lovers yet to swoon

Without the havoc and torment of heaven’s thunder.

So gather up the greatness of Tuesday’s beauty

While expectant couples follow poetic honour to its duty.

Surely my beloved Shakespeare would have written a Sonnet to iambic pentameter, that with poetic certainty would have saved Tuesday from its place as a dreary flower that never was to blossom into life’s sweet fruit.

I also searched more poetry sites to find a suitable poem. Fortunately, I was able to find a worthy poem by Charlotte Emma Lewis titled “Tuesday” and found on http://www.hellopoetry.com.  The poem made me grin even though the minutes of Tuesday were quickly expiring. Please visit that web address to enjoy her words. “If I were to be a day of the week, I would be a Tuesday. Not a Monday, bright and yellow……”

My fervent wish is that Tuesday be released from the vines that strap it to its current wretched place. The week must shake the frozen Tuesday from its grasp and raise it to the sun, and let its ice moisten the fallow Tuesday field. Let a field of lupins address next Tuesday, growing tall and plentiful, bringing us safely back to early spring and the promise of a happy summer.

Collisions with moments of the past

Tonight I attended a gala event associated with an industry conference.  These nights are pleasant occurrences, with the best of the host province’s arts and culture.  This night had local folk music, entertainment, fiddlers and some very impressive rap artists. Sitting beside me was someone new to the industry but unbeknownst to me a person from our family’s past.

As the night wound down, I felt quite satiated. The food was great, the dessert was decadent and the entertainment, as I said, was tremendous.  It was now possible to talk to others at the table. We carried on the ordinary chit chat, right down to where we each spent our careers. Suddenly, a little brown mouse scurried across the banquet floor! I raised my feet to the seat of my chair while I shrieked.

The gentleman asked, “You have spent your adult life on a farm, surely you are fine with mice?” I stared at him quizzically.  I knew this acquaintance had told me he worked in the policy arm of the Department of Agriculture, but I hadn’t realized he knew my family was involved in farming. It turned out that part of his career coincided with an abrupt change in my husband’s business career.

Let me explain.

At the tender age of 17 years, I met my husband for the first time. He was “older” than I, at the mature age of 21 years. He impressed me with his vision of where he was going.  I was mystified that he was someone who grew up in the city, but was embarking on a farming adventure. He was setting out to build a hog farm in the country.  The land was cleared of its trees, rocks were picked, land was tilled, new soil sown for hay and the foundation of two hog barns had been established. He had a big tan coloured truck and a rather attractive tan of his own.  I was a smitten!

Kate, my older sister, had told my mother that this new boyfriend of Mo’s was a bit of a hard ticket. He apparently had numerous traffic accidents and for the first time in my existence Kate wanted to keep me safe! Nonetheless, this new boyfriend won not only my heart, but my grandmother, my mother, sisters and brothers admiration as well.  My father reserved judgment and waited more than twelve months to even say hello to him. Hog farmer or doctor, this new boyfriend was the real deal.

Five and half years later we were married. I moved from the lights and noise of the city to the dark skies and quiet of the country. My first year married was a little on the frightening side. I was used to the sounds of buses, transport trucks, fire trucks and ambulances outside my house. I had traded that noise for an occasional dog barking at night. I quickly learned how to bury my head in the curve of my husband’s back, drape my arm across his chest and snuggle in until the first light arrived in the morning.

My husband’s farm was well established from a production perspective by the time we were wed, but we struggled to make the venture viable.  It took many years and a lot of sacrifice to get it in a sustainable position.  But my husband seemed to be born with all the skills to create a successful farm venture. Throughout that farming career, we also created our family, energetic boys to keep us on our toes.  Our boys had their own unique family stories involving hog farming, their first rubber boots, coveralls, helping Dad in the barns and running their obstacle races around the bales of the hay. They had an idyllic upbringing.

Compared to my husband, I am the naïve one. I thought our life was impossibly challenging when we were first married, then it was a matter of taking control and showing the farm debt agencies we were no fools, then it was clear sailing from there.  But naïve I am no more. Tonight’s encounter with someone from the Department of Agriculture brought 1993 back with a sudden jolt.

In 1993, my husband and I were in our thirties.  Our son’s were 12, 9 and 4 years old. The province was struggling with its deficit and a new government was recently sworn into office. Agriculture was a traditional industry but not a particularly large one and segments of it were considered expensive to support. Unfortunately for us, we were in one of those expensive segments.   We had a disease free hog herd and while seen as an accomplishment and a marketing advantage, it was small and inconsequential.  Dairy and chicken were more mainstays of the province’s agriculture industry.  You could hear the economic storm winds stir around our precious farm. My husband was quietly considering options, but I was naïvely distracted. My days were busy with accounting and raising my children.

By the day of the government’s budget, the writing was on the wall. The hog industry, with the stroke of the budget pen, was to be no more in our province.

My husband was a pillar of strength in the days that followed.  He took quick decisions to save as much capital as he could. He confidently moved with the change, not wasting time lamenting the apparent unfairness. He sold our stock immediately, shipping our breeding stock and growing herd to a farmer in another province.  He then disassembled our equipment and penning and sold that to a farmer, again outside the province. With time on his hands, he and his fellow hog farmers set out to make their case to the governments and their agencies that they had dealt with over the years. Many other people outside our industry added support to our cause. By the end of six months, my husband and his fellow hog farmers had negotiated a suitable deal for our industry’s exit from the province.

What seemed like a nightmare to me at its outset, ended amicably and gracefully. The life lessons gained from this challenge were a reward in themselves. Yet tonight, when this new acquaintance shared his connection with my family’s past, I was bombarded with old unpleasant memories.

I would like to thank this blog for bringing me back to the full story. I wouldn’t change a solitary moment in 1993.  We had an opportunity to rise above the turmoil of that day, tackle the down draft of a bad economy and come out strong enough to set root again. Many of us face the unexpected and hopefully stories like these will give others faith that the sun will rise on a new tomorrow.

You know that waking up is hard to do!

This past week was so busy I can hardly believe the amount of work I was able to squeeze out in a day for the “blogging project.” The reality is, there is truly no more than twenty four hours in a day. Yet, I like to think, time is what you make it. When required, I can somehow double or triple my normal efficiency. That concept of time and effectiveness made me wonder…..

In reality, time passes and humans have learned to measure it.  The clock goes tick-tock, and scientist and the humanities analyze much of human behaviour with a reference to the passage of time. Yet, when measured against cognitive awareness, time can also disappear, evaporate before your eyes. Now Management Consultants have lucrative businesses built around time management. While the clock ticks, the tock doesn’t always register. All usage of time has not coincided with a productive result. When we waste time, there is little record left of precisely what we have accomplished. True, isn’t it!

Take waking up in the morning, for me it the epitome of time loss!

There are those wonderful humans who self describe themselves as the sort who hit the ground running the second they wake up. They are also the ones who go to bed, place their head on the pillow, and fall asleep.  These human beings are most likely blessed with well developed and superbly functioning glands nestled somewhere in the middle of the brain, specifically the hypothalamus and the pineal gland. As a result, they produce the perfect dose of melatonin, allowing them to react to the setting of the sun and the rising of the sun. So, all of you reading this blog in the middle of the night are likely not that element of human kind.

By the time I am aware it is dawn, I sigh, blink, and it is 20 minutes later. I don’t even recall willfully wasting time. I then lie in bed and tell myself, as much as I would like to stay beneath my comfortable duvet, I must get up. With my eyelids glued shut, I gingerly nudge my toes outside the protection of the bed clothes, then force out the rest of the foot. With all my will power, I allow my leg below the knee to extend over the edge of the mattress. The leg and foot, with no assistance from the eyes, tries to determine where the floor might be. SMACK! My once warm and comfy toes hit the cold hardwood, so shocked by the extreme change in environment, it yanks the rest of me behind it. Like a battery operated toy with its battery expiring, I move slowly forward.

Next thing I know, my reserve power storage is unleashed and I open one eye. Then begins the one eyed trip to the kitchen. Two eyes are not advisable when they are both on different networks. One is asleep, that would be the closed one. The other is blurry but operational. My opened eye happens to be my left one. I rely on that precious eye to navigate my way around the kitchen island to the sink. There I stare blankly at the sink for longer than a couple of moments, waiting for the confusion to pass.

Minutes drift by, like fog entering and exiting the mouth of the harbour. It dawns on me that it is now okay to open my right eye! My lowering level of melatonin atleast allows the two eyes to work in a coordinated fashion.

Bingo.

I am in front of the stained stainless steel sink for a reason. I want tea! Usually, the next thought is really a complex one, a lecture to the brain to release norepinephrine and orexin and to lower melatonin further. Okay I admit I am not doing the lecturing. It is involuntary.  There are 11 neurotransmitters and hormones that somehow get generated in the right sequence to allow me (and all of you) to experience wakefulness.

Once sufficiently awake, I begin to recognize my confused state is somewhat related to the kitchen renovation and the folly of the logic used to lay out the counter space and cupboard space. Ha. The only logic at 6:30 a.m. is 31 years of experience making my morning tea in the old illogically laid out kitchen! Is the kettle to the left or right? Mugs are where? Whose idea was this to place mugs at the opposite side of the sink away from the kettle! Sigh, a full 20 minutes have passed. All I have done is found my way to the kitchen and turned on the kettle.

Another ten minutes are used to mix my cereal with fresh berries and Greek Yogurt. Damn! The tea is over steeped and tepid. My brain is speeding up though. It is now merging Frere Jacques (my childhood favorite song) and my desire for a clear brain. I start humming to myself….,

Serotonin, Serotonin,

Where are you? Where are you?

I’ve got to get a move on, I’ve got to get a move on,

Ding, Dang, Dong! Ding Dang Dong

Miracle of Miracles! I am awake! It is 7:30. I have exactly 30 minutes to wash, style my hair, apply makeup, dress suitably for whatever is on my blackberry agenda and start the commute to work! Time suddenly seems to slowdown enough for me to catch up. I accomplish everything in 30 minutes, plus plan out the day, tidy as I go, smile politely at Hubby as he takes the left overs for lunch, while I remove lunch money from his wallet.

My professional conclusion is that I don’t believe in the consistency of time. It is merely a state of mind. I believe someday, a brilliant scientist will discover true time measurement and reset it to the rhythm of the mind.