Tuesday, April 2, 2019

100 Day Project

When I started the Writing and New Media programme at the college almost 17 years ago, one of the instructors made us go around the room and introduce ourselves and say why we were there.

"My name is Liana and I want to write a book.  I have no idea what the subject matter will be, I just wanna see my name on a cover one day." 

I practically looked around behind me to see who was saying the words that were falling out of my mouth. I had no idea where they came from. I had never consciously considered writing a book before that moment. I signed up for the programme because I simply wanted to go to school. 

I had poured over the college calendar to find something that piqued my interest, and I liked what the Writ Programme offered. But it was mostly the graphic design aspects of the course that nudged me to sign up. 

However, from that first day of class forward I have continued to say, "I'm gonna write a book one day." And truth be told I have started many versions of it and have just never followed through with any of them. 

Over the years I've had a number of people suggest I write a kid's book. My response was always, "No. I'm far too sarcastic and foul mouthed for that." 


At Christmas time this year I wrote a story to share with my grandkids that was inspired by Papa. And I determined in my heart that 2019 is the year I will see my name on a cover.  

I did some more serious investigation and googling in January to educate myself on the process of writing a kid's book and getting it published. Then Maui distracted me. 

Then I returned from Maui and I kept bumping into references, blogs and posts that mentioned "The 100 Day Project." You can google the details if you want more info, but basically it's a movement to encourage people to commit to create, if even for 5 minutes, each day for 100 days.  

Commit to spending at least 5 minutes a day for 100 days working on a creative project.
And part of my creativity for the day included painting this little sketch to include with the blog. 
With my past successes at sticking to my prompt-a-day to make a piece of art each day in February I thought this project might be just what I need to keep me focussed and determined to get my name on a cover.  

I registered. I joined the Facebook group. I'm all in. 

And so, from April until early July, I am committing to do something, anything, each day toward my goal. And I'm putting it here in writing so you, my adoring public, can help to hold me accountable. 

Today's entry in my 100-day journal will include: Doing a bit of editing on my original story and watching a tutorial on writing a successful kid's book. My takeaway from the tutorial is this quote: 

And with that, I may have to go back and rework some of the story tomorrow. 

Thursday, March 28, 2019

My Brain Hurts.

Oh my aching brain.

In our 37 years of marriage I was always the financial brain and he was the braun. He cheerfully handed me his paycheque every two weeks and I juggled how to rob Peter to pay Paul. And we lived a pretty good life.

But I can't say we had "financial smarts." We just depended on his paycheque and counted on Canfor and the Pulp & Paper Industry Pension carrying us through the golden years.

Well, our golden years were taken from us. And I shall trudge along in more of a "tarnished brass" state.

To be sure, my hard working husband has left me in a position to be taken care of, but I find myself in the position of making financial decisions over these last few weeks that will most assuredly affect the rest of my life. And I'm frigging stressed. And I think it's affecting my brain.

 I met with my financial advisor again today and had to sign and date many forms. March 28, 2019.

Four months. As of today, I have slept alone for four months.

I decided to stop at Costco on the way home. As I entered the store I had the sudden feeling that my purse felt unusually light. A quick glance verified that I indeed did not have my phone in my purse.

I knew I had it in the advisor's office, so I thought, "Oh, I'll just phone and see if I left it there."  Uhh, yeah, you don't phone anyone if you've left your phone behind.

I wasn't sure how late the office was open so I left immediately to go back and retrieve the forgotten phone before returning to Costco to do my shopping.

I walked by the floral display and thought to myself, "Four months is a milestone. A milestone that sucks. But a milestone none-the-less. I deserve that giant bunch of purple tulips." And into the cart they went. Along with numerous other items that, while I am grateful for, certainly didn't fall into the 'need' category.

I returned to Francesca, my car, and gave a swift kicking motion to open the back hatch about the same time a woman arrived at the next car beside me with her cart of goods.

She noticed my large bunch of tulips and said, "Oh how lovely. That was awfully nice of you to buy flowers for your husband, he is really going to love them."

Without really thinking, I responded, "Yeah, I guess I did buy them for him. It's been four months today since he died."

Of course she was embarrassed and apologetic. But we had a good chatter while we both unloaded our purchases into the back of our vehicles.

I pushed the button to close the back hatch. And as it lowers, I think, "Shit!"

I had set my purse down in the cargo space while chatting with the woman and casually saying inside my head, "Remember to grab your purse." But of course I didn't.

So now my purse was locked inside the car. You'd think with all her smarts Francesca would have screamed, "Don't be an ass... your purse is INSIDE the car, don't close the door." However, she did scream at me when I tried to use the magic kicking motion or press the door and hatch buttons, because I did not have a key fob on my person.

But I have this great little app on my phone that will lock/unlock the doors, start the car, track her location and even show you the speed she is travelling if someone has taken her for a drive.

But of course, if you lock your phone inside the car you are screwed.

The woman from next car over offered to give me a ride home, but I opted to walk. Thank God it's only about a 4 minute walk home to get the spare key.

I felt so naked walking home - no purse, no keys, no phone. No husband. And it was the second time within an hour I'd done a brain-dead thing. Other than once or twice way back in the day when I left my phone at work, I don't think I've ever forgotten it anywhere other than home. And I don't recall in nearly 40 years of driving that I have EVER locked my keys in my car.

When I returned to the Costco parking lot with a spare key I witnessed an "event" that included a couple of vehicles, yelling and swearing and a bodily injury. It's been a few hours and it actually still has me a bit shaken.

So yeah, that's the web log of my day.  (Did you know that's where the term 'blog' came from. Web log.)

My brain hurts.

Friday, March 8, 2019

100 Days

For 100 days I have been putting one foot in front of the other and marching along into a future I did not plan.

To be honest, I don't know where, why or how I'll get to where I'm going but I am determined to keep moving along. And while it may appear on the outside that I'm stepping one foot in front of the other, often it feels more like I'm a fish who's just been released from a hook and landed on the beach and flip-flopping wildly around hoping to land 'anywhere but here.' But I will continue to fake it till I make it.

Grieving is a weird thing. On one hand you want the pain to go away, and yet at the same time you want to revel in it. As if somehow pain can give more validation to the love you have.

How many gazillion times have you heard 1Thes 5:18? In everything give thanks...

Thank God it doesn't say "give thanks for everything." Because I'm fairly certain that I could not do. There are many things I simply cannot be thankful for.

However, I am able to be thankful in every circumstance. Yes, my head is able to bring to my consciousness things I am grateful for even in the midst of a shit-storm.  And somehow acknowledging gratefulness is able to bring a spark of joy to even the most downcast heart.

Today was a hard day. But even so, I am grateful for much.

Albert and I had so many adventures together. I am truly grateful for each of them. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Jealous of the Rain

TV wasn't a huge part of our marriage, but we did watch the music competition reality shows. It was our thing.  And if there were no shows currently running, we watched (and re-watched and watched again) endless youtube videos of various past performances. I will let you guess who operated the remote control.

I think he liked to imagine himself in the the contestant's position and think about what his life might be like had he made some different, more musically inspired, choices in life. (And I thank God daily that he didn't.) He certainly didn't regret his life choices, and probably would have done things much the same if given the chance for a do-over. But sometimes its fun to just imagine...

While Albert would understand the technicalities of these shows and could hear every mistake, key change and pitchy-ness, I just knew if I liked it or didn't like it. And really didn't have an explanation of why something fit into the like or dislike category.

And I learned to not overly rave about someone I loved until AFTER he expressed his good/bad opinion, cuz it got a little embarrassing to hoot and holler with enthusiasm over a "great song" only to learn that it was totally pitchy and out of sync with the band.  :)

One of his most loved performances to watch and re-watch was Josh Daniel's audition performance of "Jealous of the Rain" on the X-factor. He cried his way through it every.single.time.

I don't even pretend to know anything about stereos and decent sound. I'm totally fine with listening to music through my iPhone speaker and have been known to not even power on the stereo in my vehicle for months at a time.

But today I listened to Josh Daniel sing "Jealous of the Rain" while I was driving with Francesca, my new ride.  I think Albert would be pretty impressed with her Bose stereo that I think could possibly make your ears bleed with volume and still sound decent.

And for the first time, I cried my way through this song, as it pounded through those Bose speakers with entirely new meaning for me.

Oh Baby, I'm jealous of the rain.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Oh How I Miss You on this Random Thursday.

"I don't need a calendar to tell me when and how to love my wife."

There may or may not have been a expletive or two included that first February just weeks after we had gotten married.

I do admit to a few initial pangs of disappointment as I responded, "I'm okay with that  ... as long as you prove you don't need a calendar."

Special Days like Valentines were never a huge deal in our home as I was growing up neither, so I wasn't completely dashed.

And prove it, he did.

Now, I can't say that our lives were filled with romance and ritual or gush and glamour. But we were solid.

Sometimes I'd get "a pretty rock" he found at work, or he'd make up a 'ditty' or write an entire song for me, or he'd bend my name out of a piece of copper wire. (Now, that right there is worth more than a 50-dollar bouquet of roses.)  Although I did indeed get flowers fairly consistently through our 37 years together. For random reasons, or no reason at all. Our anniversary was about the only official designated calendar day he acknowledged consistently. And my birthday. Usually.

An 'eclectic' bouquet he had the florist build for me last year. He specifically chose each seemingly unco-ordinating flower for a reason. 
But in the early years we were pretty broke-ass poor and we didn't buy gifts, or even cards, for each other on our anniversary. Instead we would stop in the greeting card aisle of the grocery store sometime in the week or so before our anniversary and each choose a card or three (usually a funny one and a more romantic one) and give them to each other and say, "If I was going to spend 3 dollars on a card  this is the one I would buy for you." (Yeah, I know. A three-dollar card. Things were cheaper 37 years ago) And then drive through McDonalds and call it a day.

Now, to an outsider, it might have looked like our casual approach to 'special days' was an indicator of a dull and suffering relationship. However, anyone who knew us well knew that I did indeed get random flowers more often in a year than there are 'special days.' And even the occasional diamonds or gold, even though I'm not really a big jewelry person.

And it worked for us. I know there are lots of people for whom special days are significant and acknowledging that is important, but it just wasn't our gig.

And now, walking through this grief, I am finding myself grateful that Albert chose to honour, bless and love me more on random nondescript days than he did on the calendar days which our culture indicates are special. It makes it easier for me to wake up on those days and make it through.

Truly, I am so grateful for all we shared. Especially for the non-conventional stuff that even now is coming back to bless me in ways I really didn't understand at the time that it could.

Monday, February 11, 2019


Life is always such a glass-half-empty, glass-half-full scenario. And this past week was sort of like that for me. 

I'm pretty super stoked with my new vehicle. She is a 2019 Nissan Rogue and her name is Francesca. It took me a couple of days to settle on a name. Ellie and Tess were the first names in the running. I even briefly considered "The Black Widow" but not too seriously. 

Ellie came from the term Rogue Elephant - one who removes itself from the herd and lives an independent and somewhat unpredictable life. 

Tess refers to one of the first movies Albert and I ever watched together (and I slept through much of it.)  He could just say the word, "Tess" in a number of different situations and I'd know exactly what he was talking about.   However, the movie is full of death, rape, and other not-so-happy things and it even ends with Tess being arrested and hanged for murder.  So not exactly what I want my new car to represent. 

Then I remembered how much I love the name Francesca. And how, when I suggested Brandi use that name for her unborn daughter, she said yes she liked the name and if the child came out Italian with black hair she would consider it. But it didn't really suit someone who, coming from the palest parents ever, was sure to end up being super blond and fair.  

And so, although she is not an Italian car, she is dark and beautiful. And her name is Francesca.  She's pretty fancy-schmancy and it will likely take me quite some time to get all the buttons, gadgets and electronics figured out. And her steering wheel is heated. This option seems a bit frivolous, but my hands are always freezing, so I find this to be beyond fantastic. 

While I am excited about Francesca (she's the glass half full) the glass half empty side of it was that it was a little bit hard to hand over the keys to Bruce, Albert's F350 truck that he felt pretty honoured to own.  I had received some inheritance money after my Dad passed and we had used that money for Bruce (which is my Dad's middle name.) 

So saying goodbye to Bruce was like leaving behind yet another piece of both Dad and Albert. But I know they would both be pleased with her. And I believe they'd be kinda impressed with me putting on my big-girl panties and researching, comparing, shopping and dealing all on my own and driving away with what I think was a pretty fair deal.  

Francesca. While she is not Italian, she is dark and beautiful. 

Jed felt pretty important being the first to ride shotgun in my new ride. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

But I Do Wonder...

Sometimes weird things happen. Sometimes you can shrug it off and never think of it again. Sometimes they can just stay with you for no apparent reason.

I had a dream on January 31st that wasn't scary, wasn't bizarre, and wasn't particularly out of the ordinary, except that I actually remembered it when I awoke. And it has just stayed with me. And I don't know why. Perhaps there is no 'why' and it's just magnified in my mind because our pastor at church is currently going through the book of Daniel which includes many dreams and their interpretations.

But before I go into the dream let me drone on with the pre-amble.

The first year we moved to PG I went to Shady Valley School in 6th grade in the original 3-classroom school.  Kindergarten and grade seven students went to Hart Highway School. My classroom was home to grades five and six.  Mr Bell was our teacher/principal although he took sick part way through the year and Mrs Lorenz took over the position.

I kinda felt disappointed that I wasn't a couple of years younger so I could be in the grade 3-4 class with Mrs Mary-Anne Poetsch. She was amazing. She was sarcastically hilarious. And she loved Coralie and me. Sometimes, especially on cold days, she would sneak us into her class at lunchtime so we could visit with her instead of going outside with all the others. If she heard the principal coming near she would hide us behind the giant map box until he left. We felt so privileged and special. And we loved her.

A couple of years later Coralie moved "into town" and it turned out she was just a couple of blocks from Mary-Anne and her husband Sepp's house. And she became their babysitter.

And often when she was babysitting, I would just happen to be with her.

The most memorable thing about their house was that they had a giant bottle of vodka, with a hand pump on the top of it. Seriously it was GIANT. I'm not sure how big in litres, but I recall it being about waist height for us. Maybe that's an exaggeration, but I don't think so.

This isn't exactly it, but it's similar to the giant  vodka with a pump.  

Of course we imbibed.

And whenever we did, we'd replace the stolen vodka with water to ensure the level stayed the same.

This was around 1978-80. And I also remember being so impressed as they were the first people I ever knew that had a video camera and vcr.

(Both the vodka and VCR are irrelevant to the story but interesting tidbits none-the-less)

Fast forward 25 years when I worked in the hot tub store. Sepp and Mary-Anne had a hot tub so I occasionally saw them in the store.

But that was about it for my interaction with them.

At one point I heard that Mary-Anne died. I wasn't sure of the cause.

Okay, that's it for the pre-amble.

In my dream last week, I dreamt that I was on Vancouver Island - I think just outside of Victoria. I was wandering the aisles of a rural corner store and at the far end of an aisle I saw a man whom I recognized as Sepp Poetsch. I didn't talk to him or interact in any way but I just knew it was him.

Also in the store was my sister-in-law Cindy.  I pointed out to her that Sepp was in the store, and explained where I knew him from. It was all kind of uneventful.

When I awoke, I clearly remembered the dream, but wasn't particularly moved by it.

But the morning was February 1st. The first day of the annual Opus Art Daily Practice Challenge. I eagerly jumped out of bed to check my computer to see what the first challenge of the year was. It was "Tiny."

Not to bore you with facts, but this year the challenge invited people to offer suggestions for the daily prompt. Winners receive a $100 GC to Opus Art Supplies for their entry. (And as a side note I will be getting a GC on Feb 24 :) )

Blah blah blah ...

I dreamt of Sepp Poetsch, and awoke to find the Opus prompt "Tiny" was submitted by a K. Poetsch. This is not a common surname, I don't think.

I'm not normally weirded out by co-incidences and such, but for some reason this really stood out to me.

I went to make an FB status update about it but I wasn't completely sure how to spell Poetsch. So, in typical Liana fashion, I Googled it.

The first Google entry was Mary-Anne's obituary.  And I decided an FB status wouldn't cut it, I would have to blog.

Such joy in her eyes. She was the best. 

She died of cancer on November 28, 2009. Ten years to the day before Albert.

For some reason I cannot shake this. I'm not Nebuchadnezzar not Belshazzar and I don't offer purple robes, gold chains, promotions or any other such rewards, but I do wonder....

100 Day Project

When I started the Writing and New Media programme at the college almost 17 years ago, one of the instructors made us go around the room an...