Monday, January 31, 2011

It's never just that easy

We finished emptying all the stuff from the spare room and Alb took a hammer to the closet.

What started as a simply-knock-out-a-closet-wall-throw-on-some-paint-replace-the-carpet little mini renovation has turned into a "oh-it-won't-be-THAT-much-to-remove-the-pressboard-walls-insulate-drywall-replace-the-window-add-some-plug-ins-then-replace-the-flooring" job. Significantly more labour intensive for Alb. Significantly more money juggling for me.

It will be nice to get it done. We should be taking pictures to send to BC Assessment so show them the real value of our house. The 2 inch paperbacked insulation is lovely. The interior wall that backs onto the bathroom has a window framed into it - indicating the back half of our house is actually an addition. There was no drywall in the room, the walls were made of a patchwork of pieces of thin pressboard with many many layers of paint (the paint probably provided as much insulating properties as the actual insulation) One of the layers of paint is bright lime green - very close to the colour I have waiting to apply.

Our recent house assessment notice indicates our house has increased in value more than 200% since we purchased it in 2005. Between January and March you can check out the BC Assessment website and check the value of anyone's property so you can judge whether you think your assessment is fair.

I nearly choked on my gum when I discovered that with the exception of the new house next door and two large newer homes at the far end of the street, we have the most highly valued home on the street. Yay Alb and his great handymanness - we get to pay more taxes.



I really miss summer.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Just in case.....

what if I decide to contine my marathon of blogging? ............    I might.

so I enter a non-impressive post just to keep up appearances.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The End.

Today is January 29, the final day of the blog-a-thon. I have already blogged more than half the number of times I did all year last year - don't know if I'm supposed to feel good about that, or bad that I only had 54 entries in 2010.

I still have six weeks left in my writing course, so that should keep me in the swing of things for a while yet, so you probably haven't seen the last of me.

While this final entry will probably be in the running for boring blog of the year, I do have to share this with you. 

The end of January also brings with it the early registration deadline for Relay for Life. As you probably know, The Pink Panters are the most fun loving relay team on the track. We take the fight against cancer seriously, however we make the weekend fun! If you think you'd like to be an official part of the team, c'mon out and REGISTER HERE - you pay a $10 registration fee, which includes a t-shirt. After February 1st the registration fee is $15. As an official member, you'll get a website which is super easy to maintain, that makes getting donations from people really quite simple.

If you want to help out by taking a turn walking the track sometime during the 24-hour period (Starting May 14th 10am) , but would prefer to dress in your best pinky pinkness instead of registering and getting a t-shirt, you can let me know sometime in the next couple of months. I'm sure we'll be having a couple of team meetings soon to rally the troops.

If you are not into dressing up and/or walking or you just live too darn far away, feel free to donate HERE at my personal cyber money collection page. (I'll even find another way to collect your cash if you are still in the last century and don't do electronic money)

We also are always looking for people to help sell raffle tickets to our now famous PINK PANTER QUILT raffle, which raises a significant percentage of our funds.

Last year we raised over $5500. I believe we were in the top 15 fundraisers out of about 200 teams. Yay us! Yay you!

Please help us Celebrate. Remember. Fight Back. You never know when cancer is going to strike close to home. Last year I was celebrating 18 months of survivorship at Relay For Life. I certainly had no idea that 10 days later I'd be sitting next to my son's hospital bed being told he had a cancerous lung tumor at the age of 23.







Friday, January 28, 2011

FFF - Flash Fiction Friday

I've completely avoided this weeks fiction prompt until this morning when I realized my day is pretty jam-packed and I really don't have time to fritter away at the keyboard today.
The prompt is He poured the jar of change out onto his bed.

This is what you get:

He poured the jar of change out onto his bed. One, two, three... twenty six, twenty seven, twenty seven -twenty five, twenty seven-fifty ... everyone always counts the largest values first, it’s only natural he thought.
It’s the same in life, he supposed, when one is challenged to count their blessings. He quickly assembled a mental list, I’m healthy, I live in a nice house, I ride a decent enough bike, I love my iPhone. Those are like the loonies- easy to pull out of the jar, quick to count. But what about the penny blessings – the ones that rarely get counted. Things like dad and mom still loving each other after 22 years, a teacher who is a great encourager, a home that reflects the love of God, vision and the sense of hearing...
His mind quit wandering and he got back to the task at hand sixty one – thirty five, sixty one - forty, sixty one- forty five... There were quite a few nickels and still a huge pile of pennies. Maybe, just maybe he’d finally have enough.
Their youth pastor had challenged them to raise their own funds for the upcoming retreat by simply saving their pocket change. He had kept an estimated running total of the larger denominations and didn’t bother keeping track of the pennies.
“Worthless one-cent pieces,” he thought as he began to count them. “I wonder when they’ll quit making them, like I’ve heard rumoured for the last few years.” He was fairly certain he’d be able to roll his change and pay the registration fee this week.
It took a while to slog through the pile of pennies, but he was shocked to find he had collected so many he could actually pay the registration fee entirely in pennies! The larger coins would be his spending money – suh-weet!
He determined then and there that from now on he’d try to count the little blessings first – there’s usually enough to get by on. The rest are icing on the cake.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Chocolate, Charcoal and Lime .... mmm mmm m

Well, now that the whole fam-damily is crying, let's move on shall we.

We got the closet organizer put in the walk-in closet in the ensuite, so I think we can pretty much say it is officially finished. Phew.

And so on to the next project....

We are going to do a quick makeover in the upstairs spare bedroom. The room desparately needs new drywall - it currently has some sort of pressboard walls that have been painted approximately 32 times. I'm gonna make it 33.

We will pull out the closet to make it a little roomier and I'll set up a closet organizer that will house books, puzzles, games and toys and perhaps a few clothes for the wee one who hangs out here. (I picked up an extra organizer from Costco - 69 bucks if you need one and they are quite flexible in how you can assemble them 66-160 inches.)

I'm gonna get rid of the double bed in there and put in a futon or sofa bed. Of course the carpet will go to the dump and laminate or lino will go in. There'll be a flat screen tv on the wall with the Wii hooked to it - it is my intention to maybe use the Wii Fit occasionally if it stays hooked up. I couldn't be bothered unhooking cables and such in the living room and then jumping around in front of the window.

I bought the paint today: Chocolate, Charcoal and Lime. I took PaPa with me so the charcoal ended up being more black than grey. But still, it's gonna be fabulous. Even the Home Depot lady wants me to bring pictures. 



My computer rendition
And all of this because I got a kitchen set for Xander's upcoming birthday and have nowhere to put it.


I had looked at these at Toys R Us last year. They run about 200 bucks. Costco had them before Christmas for $135 so I dragged PaPa and his truck there to pick one up, knowing they'd be gone before birthday time in March. Low-and-behold if they weren't all gone... except ONE final one... and it was marked down to $70. I know! Practically FREE. (Until you add in the thousand dollar renovation...)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Cycle of Life

Ok, in an effort to avoid doing anything more constructive today, I have finished my funeral piece. But I would like your opinion before I hand it in - I want to lop off the final sentence but I'm not sure if that makes it sound unfinished or perhaps the nice abrupt halt is what it needs.

PS - it's "creative" non-fiction, I may have taken poetic licence with a few details to make it flow. (Poetic licence can also be another term for "memory loss do to aging.")

The Cycle of Life

As far as I could recollect, it was my first time inside a funeral home. It was certainly my first time as a main character in a service. There were two or three groups of two or three people standing around talking in hushed tones. The lighting was dim, which helped to camouflage the aging carpet, though bits of light glinted through the stained glass windows creating kaleidoscopes of colour on the backs of the wooden pews. The atmosphere hung heavy, smelling like old wood and stale uncirculated air.


Quiet organ music filtered through the building from some unknown source. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound... “I hate organ music,” I whispered towards my husband’s ear. He gave a little nod and patted my hand which was looped through his arm and hanging on with a grip that could be likened to a blood pressure cuff.

We entered the large double doors at the beginning of the aisle. My heart was pounding. My eyes were dry. The room was not particularly large but the aisle seemed a mile long as I raised my head and caught my first glimpse of the small white open coffin surround by dozens of bouquets of flowers.

My baby lay there motionless and peaceful looking – his tiny five-month-old body awaiting the service in which we would lay him to rest. I couldn’t take my eyes off him. As the room began to fill with people, I just stood there staring, longing to see his little chest heave with an inhaled breath, yet knowing it could not. I reached tentatively towards him and stroked his chubby fist with my forefinger.

The contact of skin on skin threw open the flood gate of tears. I thought my knees were going to give out. Someone was hugging my husband so I threw myself on the next nearest person. For some reason the feel of my brother-in-law’s scratchy wool tweed suit against my cheek, as I wiped tears and snot into his shoulder, is a moment in time that is etched clearly into my mind, even twenty five years later.

Soon we were being ushered to the curtained off section – a more private grieving space, so the service could begin. Inside, my heart was screaming, “No! No! Don’t make me leave him.” This was a stark contrast to the emotions and shocked numbness that, four days earlier, left me fleeing from the hospital after the ten mile ambulance ride and a doctor’s confirmation that it was too late.

“You have a very sick little boy,” the hospital chaplain said to the group of us who had gathered in a room somewhere off the emergency ward. By the time I arrived in the ambulance, with my husband following in the car, my parents, his parents and a brother and sister-in-law were already there.

I could not muster the strength to respond to the chaplain with the words that were ringing in my head, “He’s not sick, you dumb fuck. He’s dead.” An hour before he had been a healthy vibrant baby sitting propped with blankets in the corner of the sofa while I was in the other room dressing his two-year-old brother. He managed to squirm out of the blankets and flop over onto a nearby bag of diapers. His little five-month-old arms did not have the strength to push himself off.

I could not get out of the hospital fast enough. I wanted to run and run and run, to somehow escape this horrendous nightmare that was unfolding. I tried to remind God that death does not invade my space – it’s something that happens to other people. People far from my inner realm of love.

God reminded me that, yes, death does invade my space. It invades the space of every person who ever draws a breath. It’s part of the cycle of life. He showed me that although I will never be thankful for the experience of losing a child, others could be blessed as a by-product of the experience I had endured.

Blessing others was the furthest thing from my mind while I sat there in my wooden pew trying to figure out how to say goodbye to my son, a piece of my very own flesh. However, I was surrounded by dozens, even hundreds, of people who were there to bless and comfort me. And I opened my arms and let them. I have no idea how I could have survived without them.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Red Jello

AAaaaagh! I just realized it's after 11pm and I have not blogged. It's not that I haven't written, I feel like I've been writing all day. I am so loving my writing course. A lot of it is writing personal vignettes and essays - often I take an old blog entry and turn it into a bigger story.

So thank God for the blog - it's giving me a leg up on the other students. And thank God the students hail from around the world and I'll never meet any of them, so I can't be called out on the real facts.

Today our task was to choose a setting that has personal meaning from a given list and really bring the surroundings into focus before launching into our story. 

"Red Jello. Jello needs time to set before we can eat it otherwise it ends up a liquid mess of ruby rain dribbling down our chins. While our stories don't "set" like Jello per say, they do need a solid setting to orient us, to lay the foundation for the rest of the writing so we can eat it up in an easy, satisfying manner."


Here's the list:

Wedding Reception
Public Bathroom
Birthday Party
Funeral
Police Station
Waiting Room
School Cafeteria
Happy Hour
Graduation
Elegant Restaurant
Grocery Store
Bowling Alley
Concert
Park
Hospital Room
Playground
Parent's House
Baptism
Baby Shower
Airport Terminal
Bookstore
Backyard
Drugstore
Picnic
Dinner Party
Museum
Ice Rink

I could so make a fabulous story out of a public bathroom. I'm familiar with hospital rooms. I've certainly attended my share of baby showers. The grocery store - oh, don't get me started. But alas, I have chosen funeral. Ugggh. What was I thinking. Sarcasm and humour have no place in a funeral home, so this is a writing exercise that has me stretched waaaaay outta my comfort zone. But sadly, into a place of familiarity.

I'm writing and writing but not sure of my direction so I'm having a hard time closing. And assignments are limited to 1200 words. I think I'll just leave it for a few days and come back to it. I have until Monday to pull it into a complete package.
















Monday, January 24, 2011

Cheers!

***Note to self: don't try to summerize 29 years of marriage after "cheers-ing" it for a couple of hours.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

From Boston Pizza to Boston Pizza

Our first date: Boston Pizza November 20, 1980. Our most recent date: Boston Pizza January 23, 2011.

Things have definitely changed over the years. From Sombrero pizza and coke to lasagna, ribs and wine. Cheers to 29 years!

I'm learning "stream of conscientiousness" in my writing class - just writing whatever pops into your head and flowing with it. I'm gonna run through our life together - it'll be meaningless to most, but memory sparking to Alb and I who celebrate our 29th anniversary today. Oh, for sure there are things I'd do differently if given the chance, but much I wouldn't change if I could. Everything happens for a reason and works together for good to make us who we are.

boston pizza vancouver silver bullet teacher licence plate back porch after eleven laundry basket salmon valley rodeo song black van willie nelson teeny tiny steering wheel turtles sombrero pizza share a bucket seat burl ives paradise park sauna magazines amaretto kaluha pastel peach steve miller doughnuts electrolux blue paint driving suspension prefer funerals carpet trip smurfs  ya te volim smokey bob seger sugarbear s10 little house cheech and chong monte carlo keneddy courthouse house movers super dave pool table friday night hockey big house ryder fire crackers bike for organ bear lake benga-bear monte carlo slide railway crossing tree fell while in canoe death grieving solomon jeddy bear stryper crusaders kitimat fishing trip telus van dueturonomy ty tia hot tub birthday gifts for kids top of the world dee-oh-gee barney honda 400 templeton growth fund additions verrandah muddy driveway bible camp anger mobile boarders ted peter caroline mark mom dad glen marilyn nick jim barb jason 40 for 40 gifts lessons with phil pc dispatch cnc tropical jetta beast yuppie g-mobile alcatraz mendocino oregon motel from hell glen olive garden i luv yoe godin goldwing jade real estate sanderson abbott  muriel kore lard tunderin geezus cabot trail basement suite medieval wedding granny papa cancer surgery jed hospital iphones ucluelet whaling boat hot springs float plane renovations never ending love boston pizza

Don't know what I did to deserve it, but I got the best of the best. I luv yoe Albert.
   

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Say it like it is.




We got a snowblower last year. It was still brand new this year. Now, I'm not complaining that we "had to have it" last year and it didn't get used, because as I recollect, everytime I drove on the driveway it was cleared of snow, so what do I care if it was hand shovelled or snowblowed.

This year has turned out to be a very good year to own a snowblower. And Jed loves operating it. He pushed it down to Ken's one day to do his driveway. Jed suggested to his dad that he start going over to clean the driveway for one of our neighbours across the street - his wife passed away about 4 1/2 years ago  he seems to have slowed down in the last couple of years.

Jed can be kind hearted and thoughtful at times, however I suspect this had more to do with wanting to be able to use the snowblower more often. His dad agreed it would be a good idea.

The next day Jed sees the neighbour getting out of his vehicle so he ran over and flagged him down.

"Uh, yeah. Your health seems to have really gone downhill since your wife died," Jed bluntly states his observations. "Are you okay?"

The neighbour took all in stride and responded that no, in fact his health was failing and he will likely have to sell his house soon because it won't be long before he needs 24/7 care. He'll probably move to Vancouver.

He told Jed what was ailing him, but Jed doesn't remember. But Jed responded candidly one again, "Well, do you go to church?"

"Um, no. I used to years ago," he named the church, "but I haven't for a long time."

"Can I pray for you?" asks Jed. Nothing timid about my son.

"I'd love that."

"Can I snow blow your driveway whenever it snows?"

"Please do. I will pay you," the neighbour responded.

"Oh no," says Jed, "I do it for love."

"Thank you Jed." The neighbour continued, "And I'd really like it if you could shovel my back deck off. It's getting way too much snow on it. I can pay you - my money is of no value to me now."

Realizing he couldn't use the snowblower on the deck, Jed decided that was crossing the line. "No. I'll do your driveway. I might even shovel your steps. But the deck? No way." Then he adds for good meausure, "Ever since I had cancer, my energy has gone way downhill."

Friday, January 21, 2011

FFF - Flash Fiction Friday

This week's prompt: She stared at her reflection in the silver spoon

She stared at her reflection in the silver spoon. Tears ran down her face as she was hit with the impact of what her reflection portrayed.


Why does a spoon turn you upside down, anyway, she wondered.

But at that moment, that’s exactly how she felt. Upside down.

Just the day before, she was sitting there at her kitchen table with a friend, drinking coffee, laughing, and expressing how much she was enjoying her new part time position at the daycare.

She would never have imagined that two successive phone calls the next morning would turn her world upside down.

Her husband called to say he was being transferred to Toronto in three months time. They always knew it was a possibility and they’d talked about the what-ifs and ways it would change their lives. They dreamed of all the exciting things the big city would offer, but in her heart she really hoped it would never happen. But now it had.

Suddenly the dreams of exciting things became dread of what they’d leave behind. Family, friends, their home finally renovated the way they wanted it, and so near to being mortgage-free. Life in small town Alberta was the only life they’d ever known.

The telephone handset was still warm from the call from her husband when it rang again.

“Jill, it’s Dad.” She could tell by the waiver in his voice she’d better grab a chair. “They’ve taken Mom to hospice.” That was, without a doubt, the hardest conversation she’d ever taken part in.

In a subconscious effort to wash away her upside down reflection, her shaking hand immersed the silver spoon in her steaming cup of coffee. Clink. Clink. Clink. She couldn’t bring herself to stop stirring.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Puzz-ohs and snow.

Nine Xanderish hours today. Whew! Granny is exhausted. I was thinking I'd pour myself a glass of wine and go lay on my bed and watch TV for a bit. However, I figured I'd better blog first or before you know it, it'll be January 21 and the marathon will come to a screeching halt. You know me - Alb has always said I'm like a doll with moving eyes, lay it down and the eyes are closed before it's even completely horizontal.

We awoke to another huge dump of snow this morning. It's getting out of hand. Jade wasn't even sure she'd make it to work today. But alas she did, so I had the wee one from 9AM to 6PM.

Xander walked in the back door this morning and didn't even stop long enough to take off his boots and snowsuit. He bee-lined for his puzzles which he hadn't seen for three days.

"Puzz-ohs! Puzz-ohs!"



Might be a little easier to do a puzz-oh if you take your mitts off Xander

  He sat and assembled and disassembled and reassembled his 3 puzzles for over an hour. I was bored watching him so I tried to play cars with him.

"No road mat, Granny. Road mat at home." Apparently this generation of children cannot play cars without a road map printed on a piece of carpet.

He headed off to the play room where he spied the box of six puzzles that I had intended for his birthday in 5 weeks.  Yeah, like that was gonna happen now that he saw it.



He doesn't even look at the picture on the box
  After lunch we went out to assess the snow levels.



Except for the driver's mirror sticking out, you'd never know Jason's car was parked in the driveway.
 

We built an Eskimo dog house.
 


The picture doesn't do it justice, but our tunnel was about 10 feet long.
Jed squeezed through it but it was a tight fit.
 



The birch today - about 2 feet of snow.
 

This was Xander playing under the birch about 10 days ago - about 3 inches of snow.
 

We lined the driveway with "chairs"

 By this time Granny was pooped right out and oh so thankful Papa was home to play puzz-ohs for a while. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Criminal Justice.

Waldo, Matrix and Jose were arrested in Florida this week. It wasn't the first time the young men had been in trouble with the law and I'm fairly certain it won't be the last.

Break and enter was the charge.

The young men happened to catch a news flash of the woman, whose home they invaded, pleading with the the public for the criminals to return the the container that contained the ashes of her father and two recently euthanized Great Danes.  She didn't care about the electronics, cash and jewelry they had also gotten away with that day.

Oh how I wish I could have been a fly on the wall to see the looks on the faces of Waldo, Matrix and Jose when they realized the "cocaine" they just snorted was in fact Grandpa followed by a hit of canine remains.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Day 19

Here we are at day 19 in the blog-a-thon. Are ya still with me? 

One thing's for sure, I'm learning that I'm not a fiction writer. I already dread Flash Fiction Fridays - but I will persevere. Guess I'm just not a liar at heart; I can't make stuff up. Oh, gimme a good piece of action and I can exaggerate it til it's nearly unrecognizable, but make it up from scratch - even with a prompt- not so simple for me.

I guess that's why I am enjoying my new writing class "Creative non-fiction and the personal essay."

Creative Non-Fiction. Now there's an oxymoron for you.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Oh. And one more thing....

"Hi Liana. It's Dallas Thompson, general manager for the PG Cougars. I'd like to talk to you about your son being a part of the team."

No, it wasn't a dream. Dallas Thompson, WHL General Manager, phoned me today and is now one of my iPhone contacts.

Jed has been a Cougars season ticket holder for the last couple of years. Earlier in the year he was looking on their website and discovered you can order game worn jerseys from many of the players. Most range from $250-$500. But of course he wants a Brett Connolly jersey. Drafted 6th overall by Tampa Bay in last year's NHL draft, his jerseys start at a mere $1500. Momma laughed. So Jed emailed Brandi Brodsky. (Owner's daughter and Vice President of the team)

He was hoping for a game worn jersey. Even a signed hockey stick. Heck at one point he asked if he could have a broken stick. Anything. Please just give me something so I can show my mom that I have my own resources.

Actually, I'm not real sure how the emails transpired. Jed did come home with a game used hockey stick, given to him personally by Jesse Forsberg a couple of months ago. Then last week Jed got an email from Brandi Brodsky asking if he was interested in helping out with the team during practices. If so, he could meet with Dallas.

Jed replied immediately saying he'd be right down.

"No, no! Not today," was her reply. "Today is game day. Come Monday."

And so, that is how my son became part of the team.

Whether it's genuine interest, they really do need someone, a PR move or just to get the kid off their backs, I don't really care. I'm excited for this opportunity for Jed and I really hope it works out.

Dallas gave me (See how easy his name just rolls off my lips like we're in a first-name-basis friendship) a list of dates when they want him at the rink. Understandably, it's on a 3-week trial to see how things work out, and to "make sure Jed likes it." But he gave me dates until the end of the season.

"I'm excited about it," he tells me. "I think it will be good for Jed and good for my guys too. I'm looking forward to it." (See how easily he can endear himself to a mother's heart)

I give him a bit of heads up as to the inner workings of Jed and we finish up the conversation.

"Oh. And one more thing," he adds. "He'll have to throw away his Kamloops Blazers toque."

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Snow Daze

8:15AM Sunday morning.

“Constable Denmark, please respond to a callout at Central Fellowship Baptist Church. Oh, and don’t forget to shower and put on clean clothes.” I make Jed’s morning wake-up call on the 2-way radio before I’ve had coffee or looked out the window.

I make coffee and plunk down in front of Facebook to see what’s going on in the world this early Sunday morning. Everyone’s status makes some reference to snow. I look out the window and from all appearances, we no longer have a driveway or a sidewalk.

There is no way the Granny mobile, with it’s wide, low-profile hot rod tires is gonna make it to the street much less to church. I regret now making the wake up call. It’s clearly going to be an in day.

I’m supposed to be at work by noon. Albert took the truck to work for what I suspect will be his last dayshift at Canfor* – meaning from this day forward I will have the truck for back up transportation. (Next year I’ll get winter tires instead of investing in things like remote starters.)

My boss and her family are away in Disneyland. I try to call my other boss to tell him I am probably not going to show up. He’s unavailable - out shoveling snow, I suspect. I know my co-worker has a 4x4 and will make it to work. It’s likely that most customers are just as snowed in as I, so I’m sure he’ll be able to handle things on his own.

I settle in for a lazy day.

An hour later Ken calls to see if he can come borrow the snow blower. Ah yes, I think. You dig yourself out and then you can take your Momma to work. Which he did. So now I sit here at work with one hour to go. The customer count can be done on one hand and the dollars that have gone through the till certainly won’t cover the wages of me and my co-worker.

I take advantage of the lull to post this, Day 17 of the Blog-a-thon.I have no idea how I will get home.


****


*PS My husband will still be employed with Canfor. He and his brother are in the process of making a mutual agreement that he will work steady nights and Peter will work the dayshifts. It’s pending upper management approval, but seems like it’s a green light. No more 4:45AM alarm clocks.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Kiss at 3:04

Taking Face Painting to a whole new level.




Friday, January 14, 2011

FFF - Flash Fiction Friday

Today's prompt: She was up the creek without a paddle - literally!

She suspected she was pregnant that hot summer day. But it didn’t stop her when a group of friends, including her boyfriend, suggested they head out to the river to go tubing.
The shallow river rippled over the rocks splashing cool refreshing water over the dozens of tubers who were out in full force that day taking advantage of the remaining lazy days of summer.
The river wound around in a large C formation, making the hike back to the top of the 3km float just a short jaunt.
“One more run?” someone suggested. Everyone agreed. It was too nice a day to not take advantage of it.
They hardly got started rolling the large inner tubes up the road towards the starting point when a carload of friends came along and began a bit of an impromptu party. Those in the car drinking beer while joking with the tubers who stood in the middle of the road, bare feet next to hot pavement, thankful for the water dripping from soaked cut-offs and t-shirts and forming puddles around their feet.
She glanced down to pay homage to the water that was providing cooling trickles and necessary relief from the heat.
Then, in what she could only chalk up to being her life’s most embarrassing moment, she realized she was in fact, not pregnant.
Though she was no longer up the creek without a paddle, she was definitely up the creek without a pad –literally!
***
Ok so I took liberties with the prompt. And perhaps it's not even fiction. But I mulled the prompt over in my head for 3 days and this is all I could come up with.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Well Excu-use Me!

At 22 months old, Xander loves to play outside. We bundle up and walk across the back deck towards the stairs on our way to play in the freshly fallen snow.

"I think the stairs are very slippery. Do you want Granny to pack you down the stairs?"

"O-tay Granny," his reply, as he turns his innocent little chubby cheeks towards me and holds his mitted hands in the air.

He hugs me tight as I try to balance him in one arm and hold onto the railing and descend the stairs. I feel his love and trust and it warms my heart on this chilly morning.

"It's bumpy Granny. Bum-py!" Well actually I said slippery, but I choose not to argue.

"Yes monkey, it is," I agree.

We reach the bottom of the stairs and I set him on the ground. Xander immediately drops to all fours and begins crawling away from me.

"No no Xander. It's not that slippery. You can walk here on the snow - just the stairs are slippery."

I swear I actually got an eyeball roll from the wee child as he turns his face, which has seemingly lost all innocense, towards me and spews out, "I'm a puppy!" in a tone I can only describe as an adolescent adults-know-nothing sort of expression.

Yes, of course. Silly Granny.






Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wake Up Your Muse

I think the reason I've found it a little more difficult to stay consistant with my blog is that Facebook has sort of taken over the world of communication. It's so easy to update your FB status and let the world know what's going on. And it can be as simple as one sentence. Or even one word. Or it can be a mini essay.

I won't get started ranting about people who air their personal crap on their facebook status. Sometimes its a regular Jerry Springer show out there in FB land.

But it's not all bad. It's nice for a young mom to be able to post a minor frustration with her wee ones and get support and encouragement from all manner of people. It's great to hear little accomplishments and even to get far away weather reports. Truth be told, I've heard far more wedding and baby announcements on Facebook in the past couple of years than by any other means.

Sometimes you make a comment and it takes off like wildfire.

Take for example someone, say like me, posting "won a writing contest!" And good gawd by the response you'd think I won the Pulitzer Prize. Don't get me wrong. Truly I appreciate the response - it's very encouraging. However, it's kinda embarassing. All I did was submit last weeks Flash Fiction story. I won. The prize? A ten dollar book. And not even a paper book - a pdf book that was emailed to me. But I am excited about it, it's called Wake Up Your Muse. It's a book of 1001  prompts for flash fiction.

I contemplated paying the 10 bucks to buy it, so it is cool that I won it.

Besides, winning the Pulitzer isn't all that much more financially rewarding. They only get 10 grand. Last year's winning novel had 192 pages. Average 300 words per page and Paul Harding wrote for months (possibly years) and only raked in 17 cents per word. I spent an hour plunking out 399 words and pocketed 2.5 cents per word. Not too bad for a first effort I suppose.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I have crossed the threshold.

Today, January 11, 2011 I have crossed the threshold. I fear there is no return.

I tried digging in my heels, grasping for the doorposts and even closing my eyes. But there is no stopping the march of time. I am old.

For a few months I have been carrying a pair of reading glasses in my purse. Another pair lay on my desk and yet another on my night table. For the most part I have managed to contain my glasses wearing to iPhone use only.

Tonight I was at homegroup for the first time after a month break over Christmas/New Years. My bible shrunk in the cold weather it seems. And out came the glasses from my purse.

At one point I went to the kitchen to pour myself a cup of coffee. Upon return I plunked back down on the sofa and realized I must have sat on my glasses. I stood and looked. I dug around in the cushions. I checked the floor. I checked my bible bag. Looked in my pockets. Opened my purse. Obviously I had left them in the kitchen. I leaned forward to hike my butt off the couch to go retrieve them from the other room. And then I felt it. A slight shifting ontop my head. Damn! I was never gonna do that!



Monday, January 10, 2011

A Dozen Reruns

Blogger's block bites. I've sat here for an hour and nothin' is coming to me. Of course I haven't just sat and stared at a blank blog screen, I've sorta sidetracked into Facebook and read some stuff people from my writing class posted today. None of it was all that motivating.

I only have 45 minutes with which to squeak in a posting today, so here's what I'm gonna do: I'll link to what I feel are a dozen or so of my favourite blog posts over the past four and a half years. Can you believe it's been four and a half years since you started stalking me!

In no particular order:

Specifically Chosen Random Facts

Who Wants to Know My PIN?

Here's To You Mom!

I Am Not Afraid of Spiders

What a Hoot!

Run Forest Run

Shawn and James, I Love You

Yeah, We're Cutting Offspring

Mature Content. It Only Seems Immature

Whose Idea Was It Anyway

Drive Through Banking

Free Continental Breakfast on Sunday

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Analyzing the lecture.

With the introduction of .05 blood alcohol laws, I thought it would be a good idea to have a breathalyzer at home. It's interesting to see how varying factors can affect your results - how much you weigh, how much have you recently eaten, how quickly you drink etc. So while 2 drinks might not put you over today, it might tomorrow.

We've had fun with the gadget - taking a mouthful of wine and immediately blowing into it to see how high of a number you can register, threatening it's use when someone is acting stupid, etc.

We were watching the Canuck hockey game last night with Jim and Barb. As usual, we recorded it to the PVR and were watching it time-delayed. Jed was out at the PG Cougars live game and got home when we were just heading into the 2nd period, although in real time the game was over by then.

This is always a dangerous scene because Jed usually will hear the Canuck score while he is out. And he loves to talk. The simple fact that he likes to talk makes it irritating to watch a hockey game while he's in the room, whether he knows the score or not.

Last night we let him say hello to Jim and Barb and chit chat for a few minutes while we held our hockey game on pause. Then we sent him home to his basement suite for the night, after-all it was past 10pm. As is the usual scene when it's time for Jed to go home, we got some disrespectful flack from our son. We've just come to deal with it. However, Uncle Jim thought he'd take the opportunity to talk to Jed about it.

It was a good little mini-sermon Uncle Jim gave Jed. He quoted the bible, game some examples and talked about how important it is to respect parents, even if you don't agree with them. And sometimes they can be downright wrong. But it is still important to show respect.

All through the conversation Jed stared intently into Uncle Jim's eyes and nodded and added a few uh-huhs, and mmm-hmmms.

Uncle Jim ended by saying, "Do you understand how important this is?"

Without batting an eyelash, Jed showed what he though of Uncle Jim's lecture by responding, "Mom, where's the breathalyzer?"

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Freaky Living


***WARNING***
Lame blog post alert.
I've had a busy day and am currently sitting between a funeral and a hockey game.
But I had to post something to keep on track with my 2011 blog-a-thon.



Everyone has been asking why I haven't yet posted pics of my new spectacular ensuite. I don't have an answer. So here they are:



While the trim is not on in these photos, it is in fact finished. The only thing left to do is put the closet organizer and shelving in the walk-in closet.

 My new bathtub is fabulously deep and has built in arm rests and is super comfy. It's been a couple of years since I've had a bubble bath - my old tub in the main bath is so creepy I can't bring myself to sit my bare butt on the surface of it. Also we have a lovely little 2-person hot tub sitting ready to be plunged into at any moment.



While I may not be willing to plunk my naked butt on my old bathtub bottom, I had no problem parading around the neighbourhood and plunking it in a snowbank last night while enjoying a nice soak in the afore-mentioned hot tub.



Yup! That's my butt print in the snow.

In eighteen years of being a hot tub owner I have never participated in such an activity. Why now? I can only put it down to freaky living:                        (Oh, and my husband owes me 20 bucks!)


Friday, January 7, 2011

FFF - Flash Fiction Friday

Ok, it's Friday. Time for "Flash Fiction."
This is where you start with a prompt and you write a micro-story in 150-400 words. I reined it in at 399 words, the prompt was "He frequented Jerry's Java Hut, but not for the coffee."


He frequented Jerry’s Java Hut, but not for the coffee. The dimly lit little out-of-the-way internet cafe was within walking distance of home and he rarely encountered anyone he knew. It was the only way Max could keep regular contact with Sofia without his wife of 12 years finding out.
They shared a computer at home and Sandra was the one who usually brought the mail in and paid the bills. Communicating with Sofia from home was just too risky.
Things had become routine and dull at home in recent years. They’d come to terms with the fact they could never have children and life just carried on. Days lead to weeks and weeks to years. They just existed and he couldn’t stand it any longer. He needed more excitement in his life. He wanted to experience life, not just survive it. Sofia was helping him to accomplish this.  
Only six more weeks and he’d meet her face-to-face on the shores of the Mediterranean. She’d take him to the condo he was just finalizing the purchase of. He could hardly wait to view the Alps and sail the Mediterranean. And he would call Versilia, Italy home.
As the excitement mounted in the final weeks, Max had a hard time sleeping and an even harder time spending his days at a job he’d come to resent. It wasn’t that the job was so terrible, but that he knew he no longer needed it. Yet he had to bide his time to be sure his plan was fail safe.
He could hardly wait for that morning in June when he would call into work and tell them he was on his way to the airport so he wouldn’t be showing up for work that day, or any other day for that matter. He couldn’t wait to wake Sandra up with a gentle kiss that morning and tell her happy birthday and that they were heading to Italy in three hours.
The flight would be long and he’d have plenty of time to explain to his dear lovely Sandra that he was the unnamed local who had won the lottery last fall. They’d go through the pictures and emails from Sofia. The Tuscan Real Estate agent had gone above and beyond the call of duty to help him find and furnish the perfect new place for him and Sandra to start anew.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

My name is Albert

"My name is Albert!" I said with a slightly elevated voice.

For some reason the off-shore customer service rep didn't believe me when I phoned to cancel our Bell TV account for which my husband is the primary account holder.

"We have already established you are not Mr Albert," was his reply.
"I neither gave you a different name, nor said my name was not Albert. Please cancel my account."

He was probably never so glad to fulfill a request as when I asked him to spell his name, give me his employee number and put me through to his supervisor. At least he could get off the phone with me.

I understand they can't have just any average Joe phoning and cancelling or ordering services on people's accounts. But for crying out loud, I am the only one who ever calls about these things. I was the one who ordered the service in the first place! They email the bills to me. The online version of the account is in my name only and gives me access to every bit of information and secret password associated with the account. The bill gets paid every month through my banking access card.

It took a bit of firm convincing but in the end the supervisor decided it was probably in his best interest to just cancel our account for me.

I hope we don't regret it.

We took the plunge and ordered Telus Optik TV today in hopes it will put an end the glitchy pvr recordings we've been experiencing of late with satellite TV.

One thing I don't care for is that Optik doesn't offer Baby First TV. That channel is a staple in our house. However, in my research I discovered I'm quite impressed with the website. I was considering getting a flatscreen TV for the play room. But maybe Xander will get a laptop for his 2nd birthday instead.

But the biggest problem with Optik is that up to 6 TVs all share the same PVR. This means it's a distinct possibility (or a likely probability) that Jed would occasionally override the Canucks, Biggest Loser or American Idol with a high priority recording of the Disney Parade or Memorial Day Services or something Miley Cyrus-ish. I don't even want to consider the scenario that may result....

And so, I've taken the risk and ordered two Optik accounts. Of course Optik Tv only runs through a phone line. Jed doesn't have one. Or should I say, Jed didn't have one. Telus will run a phone line and assign it a phone number for free if I promise he won't use it as a phone line but only for TV. The line will be monitored and occasional use would be overlooked, but if it starts to happen too regularly they will have to start charging for phone service as well.

Promise Jed won't use the phone?? Ahahahahhahahaa...... After I got finished laughing (It was a good thing it was my friend Kristine from Telus on the other end of the line) we decided we just wouldn't tell him it's a phone line.

However if you start getting even more calls from Jed after January 18th lemme know, will ya.

PS - I was kidding about the laptop for X. (I think)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Write in Front of Me

One of the writing exercises for my new class is to "Write in front of me." Describe what I currently see. Here it is:

Write in front of me
My desk is black. Big and black; six feet high and eight feet wide. My neat and orderly husband built it for me 5 years ago knowing full well it would be a haven for clutter. And it is.
In front of me I see my keyboard, the mouse I never use and my Wacom Intuos pen and tablet. The pen has a few teeth marks in it that line up suspiciously in the same formation as the teeth in my mouth. Sometimes it’s easier to clamp it between your teeth rather than set it down when working includes both keyboard and pen.
My Canon Rebel camera sits off to the left with its wide neck strap tangled around the cordless phone sitting upright in its charger. Trying to use either one would probably send both crashing to the floor. The zoom lens is off to the right. The beautiful red Jill E designer camera bag sits empty on the floor by my feet. Well, not exactly by my feet but where my feet are supposed to be. If I’m in my computer chair both my feet are tucked up under my butt.
There is a small stack of music CDs in behind the monitor. The thick layer of dust gives testament to the fact that CDs are fast becoming obsolete. My white iPhone cord dangles from the USB port on the front of my computer. iTunes is pumping out some music for me. Currently it’s Cheap Trick, Chris De Burgh and Leonard Cohen – I’m not sure what my music choice says about me.
Off to the right there is a mesh cup filled with pens and scissors. Behind it a box of 12 ball point pens, a Christmas gift from my 22-month-old grandson. My daughter-in-law had let him loose in the dollar store to randomly pick out gifts for people. I got pens and a pad of Post-it Notes. Someone else got salt-and-vinegar chips and a jump rope. Another got Peter Pan stickers and drywall screw fasteners.
I see a bank statement laying there in an unopened envelope. I don’t know why the bank continues to waste paper and postage. With online banking, I haven’t opened a paper statement in three years.
There’s a small green box filled with tiny shells and water eroded artifacts that my daughter brought back from Mexico last month.  
There is a stapler, a water bottle lid, a tiny spiral note pad and a red and white polka dot napkin scattered about.
Tacked to the side of the computer tower I have a finger painting from my grandson, Xander, done when he was about 14 months old. As well there are photos of my niece’s baby daughter and my nephew’s grad portraits. There is an 8.5x11 collage of photos of my offspring and husband that I had made last year to hang on the wall beside my hospital bed.
Tucked between my external hard drive and the computer is lottery ticket number 0978 from the Cash to Fight Cancer lottery. I was so certain I was going to win the December 26th grand prize draw that I cannot bring myself to throw the ticket away, “just in case.”
My wedding rings lay abandoned on the desktop as do my diamond earrings. Next time I want to wear them I will wander through the house muttering, “What the...?  Where the heck...?” until I find them. How I’ve managed to keep possession of them for 29 years is an utter mystery.
There is a stack of three or four time slips from the life skills worker who comes in daily to work with our special needs son. Paper work is not my forte and while I manage to get her pay cheques written on time, the slips will pile up for months before they get filed away in the cabinet that sits about eight inches from my computer chair.
On the far edge of the desk sits a yellow Motorola 2-way radio with a flashing red light. The hand held unit is one of a set of three that our basement-dwelling son received for Christmas. He likes me to use it to call him in the morning. It has replaced the portable doorbell button that sits on my desk right beside it. For some reason he prefers to be awakened with his mother’s most official sounding voice booming through the radio, “Constable Denmark, there’s an emergency on Sanderson Road. Please respond.” Why he refers to himself as Constable Denmark is completely unknown. We’ve long since given up trying to figure out the mind of Jed.
There is an open shelf on my desk that sits completely empty, juxtaposed against the rest of the eclectic mix of stuff. For the month of December the shelf displayed my porcelain nativity set. This week Mary, Joe and the babe were packed away in a box and it will only be a matter of days before the clutter swallows up the emptiness.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Locked up tighter than Ft Knox

(Okay, I don't even know what Ft Knox is, but I heard it's locked up tight.)

Yesterday was my first "official day of unemployment" even though with New Year's in there I haven't worked since last Wednesday. Though I'm looking forward to lots of pj days I want to get something accomplished during this time off. Besides 30 consecutive days of blogging that is.

While I was googling writing topics the other day I came across the writers.com site and was entrigued by a couple of their online writing classes. It was about midnight January 2nd. Class started 11AM January 3rd. No time to make rational decisions. Cha-ching! They took my Visa and I'm in!

All this writing talk and time on my hands got me itching to peck away a little at my book, which I have not even looked at since October 2009 when I went in for surgery. I was working on it quite regularly before my surgery and found sometimes I'd write at my desktop computer but more often I'd lay in bed and tap tap tap at the laptop. To keep the file updated, with access on both computers, I decided I'd start another blog and do a new entry for each chapter. Because I have this blog you are reading under my regular email and log-in information I had to get a new gmail email address with which to create the new blog. I didn't want anyone coming across the content pre-publication date, so I made it a private blog and the only way to view it was if I sent an invitation. It was a brilliant idea and worked well...

Fast forward 14 months...

Time erases everything. Especially memory. You think I can remember the log-in or password information. Nada.

I tried every combination of username, email and password I could possibly imagine ever having used. Nuttin'.

Oh! I remember my handy-dandy password list. Yes, for occasions such as this, I have a list of log-in and passwords for everything but my bank account stored in a secret file that includes my info for my entire life from my Home Depot account to Yahoo Games to my Sears Card to Revenue Canada Info. Completely stupid, I know, but it's saved my bacon on many an occasion. However when I created my book blog, apparently I counted it as too top secret to include in the list.

Oh my book, my book, where art thou!

Monday, January 3, 2011

De-Christmassing

I love seasonal decorating. When the kids were young I would try to keep the bithday banners and streamers intact from Brandi's birthday in June until the boys birthday in August. I know most of you probably pinned this down to sheer laziness, or perhaps frugality, but the truth is I like the festive sorta look. Especially in the dull dreary winter months where darkness outnumbers daylight hours 3 to 1.

To my way of thinking, outdoor Christmas lights should be manditory on every home from October 1st until March 31st, and when I am queen, I shall make such a decree. Not tacky Santa and Disney stuff, but nice, pretty lights that brighten the doldrums of winter.

But alas, I am not queen and there is no such decree. And as such, the first week of January, I cave to societal pressures and pack up my holly and pointsettias and box up Mary and Jesus for another year.


For some reason it always seems awkward to place the ceramic figures of the holy family and their entourage into their molded styrofoam storage box and haul them off to the cellar. It's not like the made-in-China pieces of porcelain are anything more than that, but I always tell the wee babe laying on a bed of hay that even though I am delgating it to the dusty basement, it is my intention to leave the spotlight shining on him in our home throughout the year. I don't always measure up, but it is my intention.






Sunday, January 2, 2011

Gung Ho!


I want to write. Really I do. And I shall.

Every so often on Facebook someone will start a running picture commentary of their life They'll have an album called "30 days of Me" or "365 snippets of the life of So-and-so" or whatever.

Some have a set list of subject matter for each day (Day One: Post a pic of someone you love. Day Two: Post a pic of something you've lost. etc etc)  Other albums are just a pile of randoms, usually taken with a cellphone, of daily life of the person (Here's me putting on mascara. Here's me flipping the bird to a crazy driver. Here's a funny sign I saw today. etc etc)

I don't know if I've ever witnessed anyone finishing one of these projects of exhibitionism, so I don't know why I've made the decision to take one on, but I have. With a twist. Mine shall be words. And mine shall be posted here.

I decided a few days ago (however I'm careful not to call it a New Year's Resolution. I hate New Year's Resolutions) that I will write something, anything, every day for 30 days. Any writer's groups and courses and online exercises will tell you that the only way to become a writer is to write. And so I shall.

However, I must confess to trying to take the easy way out. I googled around for a while looking for a 30-day list of topics to get me started. I didn't exactly find what I was looking for but I found some interesting stuff. Watch for upcoming posts constructed from "Stream of consciousness writing" and "Flash Fiction Fridays"

I found some writing contests to enter, some blogs to follow and 1001 ways to wake up  your muse.

Oh yeah I'm gung-ho!

Didn't I mention I hate New Year's Resolutions?






Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Newfoundland New Year!

We still haven't gotten to finish the Newfoundland portion of our cross-Canada trip. However, this New Year's Eve, Xander and I pretended.

PaPa was working night shift and I had no plans for the evening so I offered to have a sleep over with Xander so his parents can host a party for some friends.

I prepared for the evening by buying new glow-in-the-dark PJ's for X, I picked up some new books for 99cents from Value Village (we've read and reread all his books so many times, I was ready for a change, even though Xander still loves them) I got some fun flavours of ice cream as well as sprinkles and mini cones.

Xander arrived about 5 o'clock when PaPa was heading off to work. The first game Granny established the rules for was that we were having a Newfoundland New Years. This meant that 5PM Pacific is 9:30 NFLD time - two and a half hours till ringing in the new year.

We played "puppies". This is where Xander is the only one in the world who is able to convince me to get down on my hands and knees and crawl through the house making panting and barking noises. From puppies the game revolved into Hide'n Seek. For being not quite 22 months, he amazes me at his skills. Of course I can see where he goes to hide but I find it quite clever that he actually hides. And he chooses different hiding spots each time. And they are hiding spots - he doesn't just cover his face and think that he's disappeared.

Have I ever mentioned how much I love this kid? And how much he fascinates me. And how advanced he seems for his age.

Hiding spots:


Crawling into the bathroom cabinet. (He found this spot entirely on his own. He has never been in there before.)




He is so freaking cute.


Here's a good spot in the new linen closet!

 His red sock was a dead giveaway as he crawled under the bed.


I didn't get pictures of him hiding under the piano, in the back boot closet, in the towel basket or behind the bedroom door. I dunno, maybe I'm just easily amused, but I find it amazing that he plays like this at 22 months.

After Hide 'n Seek it was time to have some supper. I post pictures as evidence for mommy that I fed him some real food before the ice cream fest.

Not particularly thrilled with having to eat real food before the ice cream.

Time to clean up as 7:30 was looming closer:

He loves helping and cleaning and organizing.
Time for quiet time - digitally enhanced.

Knows his way around the iPhone better than most baby boomers.

He loves the new stylus B&K got me for Christmas. It makes colouring feel like you are colouring.



Prov 22:6 Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. 
We've learned the truth of this verse over the years of parenting our children. I take it far more seriously as a grandparent. From morals, to chores, to habits, to manners to education and beyond.... 


Brushy brushy and washy washy before bed.



The poor kid will be graduating high school and Granny will still be insisting he slather up with Johnson's Baby Lotion. I love that smell!




A little bit of reading before bed; increases the love of books and encourages sweet dreams.

And by 8PM, 2010 had come to a close for Xander, child extraordinaire, whom I love beyond description.





Sweet dreams young man. Granny and PaPa eagerly anticipate watching you grow and develop in 2011.