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!

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

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!

Advice from our contractor

Every now and again, someone changes your life.

Choices to make,

Budgets to consider,

Sacrificing to consider,

Decisions to make.

It was a mauzy day in March. My husband and I had made the decision to renovate, one last time.  As you close in on your retirement, there are things you need to do before you start down that next segment of life.

Like many couples, we wanted to be budget conscious and live within our means. This was a big initiative and serious choices were necessary. We realized that we wanted to stay in our neighbourhood, we wanted to brighten up the house, upgrade our appliances, heating system and be as senior accessible as possible.

Every decision was sensible and our plan gave us the structure and budget we could live with.

One evening our contractor arrived to chat about our plans. We had worked with Roy for a long time and he was the person we trusted.  We spoke about our plans and Roy wondered if we wouldn’t be better off selling our home and building nearby.  It is easier and cheaper overall to build than to renovate. We smiled and said staying exactly where we were was decision number one.

We discussed each logical and serious decision we had made. I was beginning to realize that we were serious and not exuberant.

Roy took out his measuring tape. He asked my husband how old he was. Hubby answered 57! Following that, our trusted contractor and friend rolled out 73.5 inches. Roy explained, “Hub, an average Canadian male can expect to live 73.5 years. This amount of tape signifies the life you have to live.”

Next, Roy clamped the measuring tape at 73.5 and asked me to hold the tape at 57 inches. I did so. The tape dropped to the floor, all 57 inches of it.  We looked at Roy, not particularly excited about where he was going with this analogy.

Roy continued, “The full 73.5 inches represents your full life. The long piece drooping to the floor is the life you have accomplished, a full and happy 57 years.” 212

“This short piece, 16.5 inches, is the time you can reasonably expect from here.”

I took a good look at the comparison.  We were all silent for a long and uncomfortable minute. Hubby and I had more thinking to do.

Suffice it to say, our home looks wonderful today! While we didn’t go crazy, and start buying everything to live in the moment; we did not focus solely on being senior ready and the extent of our budget. We certainly refocused on a happy 16.5 years ahead and stopped putting life on hold. Each day matters more and more. Exuberant is much greater than serious.

Cuba vacation 173

Twenty four hours with our pooch, Heidi

It was bedtime on a cold December night in our busy home on the East Coast of Canada.

Our beloved 15 year old chocolate Labrador, Heidi, was uncomfortable. In spite of gentle care, her hip was interfering with her gait. I worried as I assessed Heidi’s ability to maneuver over the stairs and to circle her L.L. Bean doggy bed before laying down. You could detect the strain in her eyes, and the defeat in her shoulders. My youngest son was soon leaving for his two week hitch up North, he paced and sighed. My husband, son and I gave Heidi a gentle group hug.  I lingered to give her a tender kiss on her perfect head. I looked longingly in her eyes.

I fought the panic in my chest.  The previous winter she also lost strength in her legs and overcame that set back. Looking at her, I assured myself she was uncomfortable but she would persevere.  Surely it was early days if something was wrong.

Heidi’s deep brown eyes reminded me of my father. I secretly felt that she was my conduit back to Dad. Even that night, I knew we were in contact.  Dad was deceased almost 32 years. Mom was now living with me having reached the glorious age of 91 years.  Dad’s presence would not falter and leave us now. Heidi would hold all of us together.

With a firm reassurance, I patted Heidi and turned in for the night.  My husband is one of those people who puts his head on the pillow and falls asleep. Opposites attract, for 32 years of marital bliss, my husband has slept soundly while I toss and turn. On that night, the air was still.  I could hear every sound.  Heidi moaned, Mom snored, my husband snored and our son slept restlessly, like his mother.  Correction, I didn’t sleep.

Heidi began to cry.  I lay rigid in bed. Listening sympathetically, I prayed that she would settle down, shift a bit on her bed and find a comfortable spot. She struggled with her pain. I scolded myself, “what are you accomplishing here in bed. Heidi needs comfort and that dog bed isn’t doing it.”

I crept out of our bed and into the hallway. Heidi had slept outside our door since she graduated as a pup from her dog carrier. When my husband travelled, I would leave the bedroom door open. I would have left the door opened that night but she could only have been frustrated by her inability to jump up on the bed. I took my place next to her on her bed. Heidi accepted the company but her discomfort wouldn’t let her settle in.

After a disconcerting period of consolation, Heidi stiffly rose to her feet.  Even with her grey hair, slumping back and awkward gait, she was the most beautiful dog I ever knew. Those brown eyes were the pathway to gentleness.

How long had it been since her last acetaminophen? I didn’t want to upset her stomach as she was eating less and less these days. She was evidently in a lot of pain.  We looked long and hard into each others eyes. I decided to take the chance and placed the pill in a marshmallow. Heidi stared at the marshmallow, previously the treat of choice, the highlight of her summer bonfires. Hesitantly, she gently took it from my outstretched hand.

The pain was hanging on resolutely, never leaving that hip. She tried to stand up again. Standing was too great an obstacle. Confused, Heidi winced and moaned. Her crying was continuous. I sat nearby, nesting my head in my hands. We caught each others gaze and we cried together. I left the chair and lay again on the floor, by her side, and held her as we continued to cry.

I choked down the lump in my throat. Breathing was nearly beyond my capability. My forehead seemed clamped by an invisible band. In pure panic, I grappled with the possible loss of my faithful puppy dog. It wasn’t welcomed. How could my world be immersed in such turmoil? I needed my family. Mom and Heidi, they only needed to stabilize.  No one could falter. Our balance was tenuous.

After what seemed like hours, Heidi gave in to her exhaustion. She slept. I needed to face the morning, so I allowed myself to return to bed and sleep.

Tossing and turning, I thought about my son and husband quietly confiding with each other before bed. Brushing off sleep, I took on a catatonic stance. No one, I told myself, will take Heidi away. If there was any discussion of the vet, I would merely end the discussion.  I was not ready to say goodbye. And that was that!

Sleep arrived at 6 a.m. and for once I was grateful for the late winter sunrise.

When I awoke at 7:30, Heidi looked exhausted.  She gingerly made her way to her bowl. The pain in her hip equated to the pain in each of our hearts.  I made Mom her breakfast. One fried egg and one slice of whole wheat toast.  I knew she would take two hours to eat it. Tara, Mom’s homecare worker, arrived at 8 a.m. sharp.  Somehow I managed to prepare for work.  I took my own acetaminophen, brushed my hair, applied makeup and lip stick and searched for sunglasses. The regular rhythm of the day was leading me step by step.

I carefully and lovingly hugged Heidi. My husband had left for work. Mom tackled her egg and my son slept fitfully. As dour as it seemed, we had conquered the night and my heart was set on another day of normalcy.

I don’t remember the drive, but I arrived safely at work. I sat skittishly at my desk and felt the descent of gloom and foreboding.

I picked up the phone and called my husband.  His accountant answered. I asked to speak with him. She apologized and explained that our son had arrived and he was in my husband’s office and the door was closed. I stiffened, “Patch me in to the conference please.” With a nervous laugh on the other end of the phone, my call was transferred to my husband. I don’t remember how my husband explained things to me, I only recall my response.  “No. And don’t think for one moment you are going behind my back. Heidi is our dog. I am going home now.”

As quickly as I arrived at work, I left. I made it home to see my husband and son kneeling next to Heidi, her lead in my son’s hand. The dye was set. We were going to vet. In denial I boarded the car. My plan was to control the discussion with the vet.

As we entered that waiting room.  Heidi seemed to recognize the change in Karma. As we sat, I held her lead tightly in my hand. Heidi got up, I observed she seemed more agile. She lead me to the door.  It was her signal that it was time to go home. My husband rose, patted her gently on the head, said nothing and guided us back to our seat in the waiting area.

I convinced myself all was fine.  Heidi was feeling better.

The vet called us in. The four of us descended upon the sterile stainless steel room. Upon examining my precious pet, the Vet explained that a growth in Heidi’s hip joint had pushed her femur out of place and was interfering with her pelvis. It was not likely that this hard growth would subside on its own. I asked about surgery and if the Vet thought it was cancer.  Could she take a biopsy? Was there medication? I explained I wasn’t ready for this.

My husband and my son took over the conversation. They asked if Heidi would be in pain.  The answer was obvious, yes she would be in great discomfort. The Vet commented that it appeared that we arrived at the veterinary hospital seeking direction but the immediate decision was ours. We were left to make the decision.

I prefer not to write or speak about the short time we had left with Heidi that day.  We had all lived a wonderful life as a family together. Heidi was a joy to behold, a beloved child in so many ways.

We did not take Heidi home that day.

I arrived home shattered. I looked at my mother and nodded. I sat at Mom’s bedside in silence.  She told me I was exhausted.  I nodded, words wouldn’t come. She raised her blankets and I climbed in beside her. Silently the minutes passed. We mourned together and slumber came.

Post script

Heidi rests in our yard next to our fire pit, a place where she playfully chased hot embers as they spit from the bonfire.

I can’t wait until

“Mommy, I can’t wait until I go to school like Kate!” I said at the tender age of five years old. 

Our family of eight was fairly regimented in a perfect kind of way.  Dad went to work around 7 a.m. every morning, just about the time when I was just crawling out of bed.  By 8 a.m., my two brothers had started out for their downhill walk to their high school, Holy Cross. By 8:30, Mom was scrambling to get my older sister Kate ready in her important school uniform. It was a black stiff uniform with a white shiny collar and white cuffs.  Kate’s hair was blond, not like my jet black hair. My hair was not brushed by that time in the day, it was tangled and straggly. Kate’s hair was delicate and feminine, it had been combed with a hundred strokes and the ends had cute curls.

Grammie “K” would say, “Aren’t you cunnin’ child, precious little Kate!” My grandmother always used the word “cunning,” which was an adjective that meant attractive especially by means of smallness or prettiness or quaintness. I was usually a cunning child when I was up to mischief or if I was sick with a temperature and everyone was worried about me. It didn’t sound quite the same when anyone used the word cunnin’ to describe me.

I remember my sister saying, “I pity the poor teacher who ends up with Mo!”

“Mommy, I can’t wait until we move back to the cottage! Is it summer yet?”

When I finally was sent to school with my sister, I doubted my own judgment. School was scary.  The Nuns had a lot of rules.  In Kindergarten I have one distinct memory to share.

I loved my uniform, my oxford black and white shoes and my knee socks. I was given Kate’s old book bag and Mom bought Kate a new one because she had more books to carry. I particularly loved my school supplies. My book bag held my recess, my exercise books, my first reader, a song book and my pencil, ruler, crayons and glue. Oh and there was a white doily to place my hands on so the teacher could tell if my hands and finger nails were perfectly clean.

My clearest memory was of my exercise book, or scribbler. It was the less expensive one, half the length of my sister’s.  My scribbler had brown paper and my sister’s had white paper.  In Kindergarten, we were learning our alphabet and how to print our letters.  Apparently, I was either not listening or totally disregarded Sister Anastasia’s instructions. I was not to use my eraser on my pencil.  I can remember thinking, the small letter e I had painstakingly printed was backwards.  I quickly turned around my pencil to use my eraser, the hard dried up red rubber eraser on the top of my pencil. It took no time before I dug a hole through my page. I carried on and finished my printing, as best as a five year old could and never imagined the Mortal Sin I had just committed.

Sister told us to keep our scribblers open and place our hands neatly on either side of our work, as proper young ladies are trained to do.  I complied.  I sat up straight in my little desk and laid my hands on either side of my scribbler.  I was waiting for another Angel sticker for my great letter Ee achievement. To my chagrin, Sister stopped at the desk, raised her ruler and smacked my cute little hands.  I had no idea it was a grievous crime to use the eraser and create a hole on the sheet.

Worse than that was the letter Ff. You see Sister had subscribed to the frugal ‘waste not, want not’ philosophy.  You finished one page with the letter Ee and you turned it over to learn how to print Ff. Low and behold, there was the other side of the hole I had sinfully created. Lordy, wasn’t I the school stooge. When Sister saw I had a hole on the page with the letter Ff, I deserved a big whooping.  My hands were not sufficient.

To this day I avoid using that stupid red eraser on the top of a pencil! It must have been the devil’s creation.

“Mommy, I can’t wait to go to camp!”

I may as well admit it, I wasn’t particularly popular in school.  I was a C student, always talked when the teacher left the classroom and given my aversion to erasers, had poor penmanship and messy assignments. I brought that talent to Girl Guides as well.

When it came time to go to camp, the Guide leaders had to decide who they would take.  I was born at the tail end of the baby boomers. So, there were a lot of girls who wanted to go to camp. Our Guide Camp was only so big.  We couldn’t all go.

My hopes were high nonetheless that I would get selected. I did all that I was told. I had my navy blue uniform and beret always clean and pressed. I earned points for my uniform, my cleanliness and my behaviour.  Grammie K and I worked on badges and I would then sit with my Guide leader and present my work. My grandmother even taught me how to sew the badges on my sleeve. Except for all the times I was asked to sit down or stop talking, I remember being next to perfect.

I was ultimately told I wasn’t selected for camp.  I was devastated. Mom said I sang Kumbaya My Lord as well as the rest of the them! I knew 100 bottles of beer on the wall, a 100 bottles of beer….admittedly, Mom warned me that was very annoying. All that practice and I didn’t have a seat on the bus.

Mommy and Grammie took me to visit Aunt Thurly and Uncle Robert in Upper Stewiacke and then to see Aunt Catherine and Uncle Fred in Litchfield.  I think I had a better time.  I was in time for the church strawberry shortcake festival in Upper Stewiacke. I was really impressed that Aunt Catherine had miniature Mars bars and let me watch soap operas.  The rest of the over-achieving Guiders didn’t get all that!

“Mommy, I can’t wait to go to Nursing School.”

My mother was a nurse.  She went to Nursing School in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1942-1945. She would reminisce over those years.  Like little old Mo, Mom had her scholastic challenges.  She had scarlet fever when she was in junior high and missed math instructions on fractions.  But everyone in the nurses residence rallied around Mom and taught her fractions so she could learn how to determine doses of medications…scary! While Mom was in nursing school she met my father.  They fell in love! A Baptist and a Roman Catholic, a match made in heaven in 1945. Obviously, nursing school was the answer to many dreams.

I wanted to be like my mother.  My mother’s name was Mary.  When my Grade 2 teacher, Sister Mary Assumpta told me to pick my confirmation name, I picked Mary! They thought it was in honour of Our Holy Mother. I corrected them, even back then. I wanted to grow up to be just like my mother and with her name, Nurse Mary, RN!

We lived across the street from “the hospital.” Dad worked at “the hospital.” Naturally I applied for the nursing school across the street and attached to “the hospital.” There was an “other hospital” further down the street. My high school guidance instructor told me to also apply there. I didn’t want to seem impolite, so I applied to both hospitals. I wish the instructor told me that the “other hospital” did the entrance exam for all the nursing schools.  I received an envelop instructing me to take a psychological entrance exam in the Spring. I noticed that it was sent by the “other hospital” that did not employ my father. I thought a psychological exam was a silly idea that the “other hospital” came up with.  I threw the letter in the garbage.

I am not a nurse!

“Mommy, I want you to live with me forever!”

My mother was almost a saint.  Had the Pope met her, perhaps she would have at least made the B list for North American Saints. It was the rest of us little nuisances that kept her from the A list.

Mom had great genes.  She lived independently until she was 87 years old.  She had the same klutz genes we daughters seem to have.  Mom smashed her elbow, had four concussions and a lot more other damage from her run-ins with the ground. She pretty much needed to live in a bungalow in her last four years. I had a bungalow! So I was able to spend another four wonderful years with my mother.

I am still teary eyed even thinking about Mom not being here.  I type my blog in the room where she passed over. As her time to leave approached she used to say, “I am just waiting, dear, for the train to stop and take me yonder.” So I wait here and wish the train would bring her back to me.

Prejudice: Where did that come from?

For as long as I can think clearly, I will ponder prejudice. I will bounce perspectives back and forth and try to determine if something is or is not reasonable, founded or unfounded. Is the comment harmful or merely a generalization? Are we all capable of prejudice? It isn’t as if we all don’t have some prejudice that we use to simplify our lives.  Often you can hear unreasonable, preconceived judgments coming out of me and others. I may have made quick judgments about people in certain occupations without having any basis of fact.

“Kindergarten teachers are just so creative and caring!” Obviously this quote is a safe prejudice to admit, but it demonstrates exactly what prejudice is founded on.  I understand kindergarten teachers from my own value system. I haven’t studied or conducted research on the creativeness and kindness factor of all kindergarten teachers.  In fact, I know roughly less than thirty such people all from the province of Canada in which I reside.

The funny thing is, I know fewer Syrians, I know primarily Caucasian Canadians and New Englanders. I would like to know more Syrians and people from many other cultures, but I didn’t live near many cultural groups.  I am the epitome of vanilla.  I am not particularly proud of it, but there is little I can do about my cultural exposure now, except travel. (In my defence, I do like to travel.) I also like to comment on current affairs without doing much research. My information comes from the news primarily.

In my bland world though, I am not immune to examples of prejudice relating to diversity.  Diversity in my small corner of the world would generally include gender, sexual orientation, disability, country of origin, indigenous origin, and racial origin. Please excuse the limitation of those categories.  I can think of many other interesting categories as well. How about musically talented, scientific, literary, athletic, artistic, dramatic, illusionist….. all can apply to each diverse category to yield a very diverse group!

So, what got me started on prejudice tonight? It was actually a somewhat subtle comment. A well intentioned colleague approached me today, quite alarmed and sympathetic toward one of our other co-workers.  His dilemma was the other co-worker had “replied to all” on a request of our human resource department to update our personal information for the personnel files.  In this information, disclosed to some 300 plus colleagues, the other co-worker indicated his “significant other” was male. My colleague was worried that now everyone knew about the co-worker’s sexual orientation. This was both the alarming part and the sympathetic part of the story.

Had “I” replied to all,  would it have caused such sympathy?  Unlikely,  as I have a pretty common marital status that would not have attracted attention. It also isn’t new information. When we read information we screen for what is noteworthy or different.  Maybe, instead of worrying about something being different than our norm, we could focus on what is quite nice, such as our co-worker is in a committed relationship with someone. In my instance, the co-worker is living with a man who I actually know slightly, and I like his parents.  I would be more worried about my co-worker disclosing his personal information on voluntary insurance and other matters that people like to keep private. Otherwise, I think it is quite healthy to be able to admit you are a whole person and you can introduce your significant other. I do all the time!

Tonight, my co-worker’s disclosure made me dwell on all the types of prejudices we live with daily. It is common for East Coasters to be stereotyped as goofy, less intelligent and more awkward than the rest of the country’s folk. I grew up expecting to be mocked by people who visited us or by those who we visited. I remember exaggerating my accent and using ridiculous phrases just to satisfy their desire to be right about people who lived on the East Coast.

My maiden name happens to originate from Ireland. My name means one who is dun coloured. Apparently my ancestors were dark in complexion, something I am not. I often wonder about who my ancestors were to have been given that name. I only have been able to trace back as far as the mid-1800s and nothing stands out as particularly interesting. I hope to link our name to the Claddagh Tribe of Galway, but I am merely romanticizing now.

My father was of a dark complexion, most people thought he was attractive!  During the second world war, he bought suits for university at a clothing store owned by a man of Jewish faith.  The store owner had whispered to my father as he rang in the price on the register, “less 10% for being a student and 10% for being one of us!” The owner would not have recognized my father, as he was from another country, but he believed my father to be Jewish.  He gave Dad a discount, a gesture which my father was appreciative of until the day he died.  It doesn’t matter if the owner was just being kind to a young man of very meagre means or if he made a judgment that my father looked Jewish. It was kindness, at time when everyone lived in fear.

I hope that my Grandson grows up not knowing there is a difference in the colour of skin, hair or eyes.  I want it to be irrelevant. We will always bring our upbringing with us and I am hopeful that my children and grandchildren will accept differences with enthusiasm and seek out diversity. I hope they eat all kinds of spices and can smell of cloves one day, garlic the next and curry the day after that! I hope that identity as LGBTQ is part of their world but not apart from their world. I also want them to find opportunities based on their skills and interest and not by stereotype. I don’t want them to have a future workplace that needs to identify people by group in order to assist with gender or sexual orientation issues, because in the future I hope there won’t be any of those issues.

I know many eloquent writers have expressed these views a lot better than I have.  I am just fed up with the slow pace of change. I do care about who a person is, I am interested. I just wish all of us could be more interested in who people are and not sidetracked by basic differences.

An Open letter to Boo Boo

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Dearest Boo Boo,

You are a handsome short haired tabby cat, beloved companion of Mary, my/ our mother. It took me the better part of a decade to love you. I found you hard to connect with, you needed to do something about your breath and quite frankly, you drool.

Boo Boo, you probably could sense I didn’t particularly like you. Given your sense of smell, I suspect you already knew I was owned by Heidi, the chocolate Labrador. Heidi and I saw you as a threat. In fact Heidi was ostracized because of her apparent threat to you! Boo Boo you know I saw through that hoax.  You would run and take cover hissing at that gentle Labrador.  You know full well that you would take my sweetheart down with one swat of those sharp claws. Your childish histrionics were such a façade to keep Mom on your side! It took me a decade to understand that I would have done the same had I been a cat.

Boo Boo did you see it coming? I didn’t expect your whole world to be put on its ear either.  Your lair was pretty much unchanged until the fatal day of Mom’s fall.

All Mom needed to do was drop her car off at the garage, she did that often enough with that old clunker. It was close to your meal time and Mom needed to prepare your tilapia to go with your Fancy Feast. She was such a slave for you!  So she called the local taxi company and they sent a van to pick her up.

Now the garage was in the country and the parking area had crushed stone.  Mom was already 87 years old and Boo Boo you kept her in such good shape the lazy taxi driver presumed she was in her late 60s. But taxi drivers don’t get out of their vans to help people get in.  That courtesy is long gone.  A van is a high step off the ground and Mom couldn’t see a handle she could grab.  Boo Boo you know Mom, she was filled with personal pride. She was 87 and she should have known it was too difficult for her manage. Her attempt resulted in a bad fall on those awful crushed rocks and she sustained her fourth concussion. That lazy taxi driver didn’t even notice. He drove her home, took the fare and let her stumble up the stairs.  Didn’t he notice the blood on her head or even the blood stain on her leg?

Thank God for our sister, she was the first to arrive to Mom’s rescue.  Boo Boo you must have been stressed. I called in the doctor and he did a pretty good job.  The morphine he gave her was a little too much.  Between the concussion, the coccyx injury and the infection in her leg, she just couldn’t stay at home with you. If she only had a bungalow and lived closer to her daughters, she could have managed.

So I won Mom and you lost. It wasn’t ideal for either of us Boo Boo.  You still needed to be feed and the kitty litter changed.  You were as important to Mom as we were and Mom’s direction was firm.  We were to feed her Boo Boo at all costs. Let me tell you, for a dog lover, that commitment was onerous.

You were so sad. You seemed to think I was Heidi.  Every visit you welcomed me with a hiss.  I couldn’t pet you because you didn’t trust me. Do you remember when I would sit on the stairs and place my head down so you could eventually come and sniff my hair? After many weeks of that routine you eventually let me scratch you under your chin. You were so lonely!

Eventually that loneliness got you ill. Our sister told me to catch you and put you in the cat carrier so we could take you to the vet. By that time you trusted me!  Regrettably, it turned out you were smart.  No carrier for you and scratches for me! I was stupid, because I tried it again.  Thinking back on it, you were awfully desperate for affection or I doubt you would have let me pick you up twice.  I could not get you in that carrier.

Our sister managed you the next day. Perhaps you couldn’t fight anymore.  We met at the vet’s and you were so afraid.  You shook with fear and you looked up into my eyes.  Darn it Boo Boo, I had to fall in love with you that day! Any of my brave talk, “that leaving you in that house alone for over a year was cruel and required compassionate euthanasia’, went quickly to ether. You needed a home. I was going to find one!

You only had bad teeth. The antibiotic worked. You managed to get worms and we got rid of them.  I was beginning to think you really liked me and you were getting sick to make me swoon over you!  But you would vomit and I would get over that fantasy.

I did find you a home over Christmas. Thanks for crying for all 12 nights. It was nice to get you back! I had my short haired tabby stress ball back! But you were still alone for 23 hours a day.

Our sister found a home for you! Only six hours flying time away in Winnipeg. But it was with our niece, the cat whisperer, and her cat friend. Oh and who knew the vet had Paxil! Paxil for cats! We medicated you for a week and boy, oh boy, you were better prepared for the cat carrier. You made it to your new home and Mom and I got your letters and pictures regularly.

Boo Boo, I am sorry we didn’t get along for our first ten years.  I am glad we sort of liked each other for another two.  You were such a bad boy and girls often fall for that kind of guy. I love you and wish you well.  Mom loved you too!  She has already left us for a better place.  I know some day we can all get along together, where cats and dogs can coexist and it is peaceful and bright.  Until then my furry friend!

Blogs that chase happiness, create new blogs

Tonight I visited several captivating blogs:

  • Sheila Rogers reblogged her poem “Fear to Peace”  bloggerjintz
  • Saving Without Scrimping posted Adventures with Groceries
  • David Snape and Friends posted A letter to Me
  • redfacedbutrunderful posted Writing 101 dealing with a loss
  • many others…

I challenged one of the authors above to write a blog post, in the not too distant future, on happiness. He/she had mentioned “I’ve always wondered why it’s easier to write about sad, overwhelming emotions compared to happy ones.” I challenge you to seek out the blog posts above to find who said that!

Most of us seek happiness, but we punctuate sadness. In an attempt to embrace happiness tonight, I want to share one memory! Perhaps a few?

My maternal Grandmother lived to a wonderful age of 99 years and six months. When she was a mere 95 years of age, I was asked by my mother to move into Grammie’s bedroom as a favour to all who loved her.  By sleeping with Grammie, I was sure to keep an eye on her during the night and make sure she was able to get in and out of bed safely, while the rest of the house slept.

Grammie was a ferocious reader, taking on books written by Malcolm Muggeridge and cross referencing them to the bible.  I was completing my Commerce Degree at the time and routinely burned the midnight oil. Grammie saw this as an opportunity to stay up as late as I would and study with me.  This took place in the late seventies and home computers had not reached the everyday household. So we both had desks, covered with our text books, multi-coloured pencils, exercise books and erasers.  In my case I had a Texas Instrument calculator, as I was immersed in university life and needed the latest in technology!

My heart nearly bursts when I think back to those days. You see, as a young woman, Grammie actually attended Bowdoin College of Brunswick Maine. Her father permitted her to attend college for two years, which was a rare privilege given to women at the turn of the 20th Century. I knew that in the 1970s, studying with me after midnight brought my Grandmother back to those titillating years. If my memory serves me correctly, she studied Muggeridge’s  Chronicles of Wasted Time and followed that with a biography on Mother Theresa.  She was captivated by articles written on the work of Stephen Hawking concerning the Singularities of Gravitational Collapse and Cosmology. We sat and chatted about black hole theory, the universe and religion.

Thinking back on Grammie today, I am so very proud of all she accomplished. She was the daughter of a Baptist Minister from Leeds Maine. She married a Baptist Minister who immigrated from Northern Ireland. Together my grandparents lived all over the United States and Eastern Canada. They raised two accomplished daughters, one a teacher and one a nurse as well as a remarkable and adventurous son. Best of all, in my opinion, she helped raise me. She taught me to love learning and pondering what I learned. She taught me gentleness, patience and generousity.

These years created some of the fondest memories I have of her, as too many childhood memories seemed to have faded away. I had the most loving environment in the world to grow up in.  I may have missed the thrill and adventure of living on campus, but I was so fortunate to live at home and have the chance to study with my Grandmother.

Thank you Grammie for tucking me in, 33 years after you passed away, with a feeling of contentedness and filled with happy thoughts. I know you would kiss me on the forehead about now and whisper,  “God Bless and Angels Guard!”

Adieu