My Very Own Carrie Fisher Flight From Hell

As has become our tradition, after the holiday crush and once we shipped the kids back to their prospective universities, my husband and I slipped down to Mexico for a week of sun and sand. And guacamole and margaritas.

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And it was needed. My husband, after a series of work setbacks and health issues, had morphed into Captain Miserable, Captain Doom and Gloom. Yes, he was certain the world was coming to an end and he was dying.

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No matter that I’m the one who just lost my dad a couple months prior,  and I’m the one who practically totaled my SUV while driving to a conference across town (the brakes failed and the SUV sustained over $16,000 worth of damage, but that’s another story)

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Nope, the Original Obnoxious One was experiencing the worst period of his life, so just before taking off, his family doctor prescribed some new medication to help improve his well-being. Initial indications were promising.

We arrived at our adults-only, all-inclusive paradise on its own private beach, just past the party scene that is Cabo San Lucas.  And the sun did shine and the water was blue and the food was delectable, especially the ceviche. And yeah, the margaritas didn’t suck.

Beach with Palm Clouds Sun Beach Umbrella and Beach Chair. Summe

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Until the third day.

By the third day, the meds kicked into overdrive and my dear darling husband could barely get out of bed. Captain Miserable blew back into town and he stuck around for a couple days until we figured out the culprit. Once he stopped taking the meds he began to improve, just in time to go home.

By then I had transformed into a stress cookie. I wondered if Captain Miserable was going to live? Would he be depressed and downhearted forever? Would he ever sort out his career woes or was I doomed to have him by my side, day after day, hour after hour, retired at only 55?! I considered every possibility in turn and agonized and worried and stewed over each. Because after all, that’s one of the things I do best…worry and stew and agonize. Just call me Chief Worrier and Caregiver of the World.

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We stepped on that plane after our week in the sun, tanned and newly svelte from not eating or sleeping. I had suffered from persistent acid reflux so hadn’t been able to choke down much food and Captain Miserable’s moans and groans and snoring kept me awake into the wee hours most nights. But I looked forward to returning home to our cold wet coast, and Franklinstein.

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I wasn’t hungry so I skipped the “meal” and went straight to the recent movie releases on the entertainment system while my husband snored not so gently beside me. Two hours into the flight I didn’t feel well. I felt like something was wrong, very very wrong. So I started googling my symptoms.

  • severe heartburn – check
  • chest pain like an elephant sitting on chest – check
  • pain running down arm – check
  • tingling fingers – check
  • dizzy & lightheaded – check
  • lower back pain – check

OMG I was having a heart attack on the plane just like Carrie Fisher?!

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Sure why not – what a way to start 2017!

I figured at this stage we were over California. Yep, let’s have a heart attack onboard a plane, land in Trump’s America (assuming they would even let us in) and kiss away our life savings to the American Healthcare System.

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Oh and by the way, my father and his father both died of a ruptured aorta aneurysm,  a rather rare heart condition which tends to be hereditary. I hadn’t been tested yet, so didn’t know if I was susceptible, but since I do have a blood disorder similar to hemophilia,  I didn’t want to take any aspirin. Ruptured aorta vs heart attack – what a choice!

My husband woke up and spoke with the incredible WestJet folks. Luckily for me, there was a doctor on board – poor guy! I managed to keep it together and not freak out or die before we made it to Vancouver. I did, however, cry and pray and promise to be a better person;  you will understand that this was not one of my better flights. To my supreme mortification and relief,  8 paramedics rushed me off the plane and drove us to the nearest hospital.

Several hours later they discharged me, after numerous pokes and prods and vials of blood and X-rays and ultrasounds…you name it, they did it.

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So what happened?

The blood enzymes indicated there had been no heart attack. The chest x-ray and ultrasound showed no signs of bleeding or tear in the aorta. So…

  • acid reflux?
  • angina?
  • exhaustion and stress?
  •  pinched nerve &/or damaged muscles?

Despite more tests and examinations the past few weeks by my family doctors and local specialists, we still don’t really know what happened. I had a very scary plane ride and a very stressful experience, but hey, I’m still here.

I’ve realized that sometimes I need to let go of my Chief Worrier and Caregiver of the World hat and relax – at least sometimes. So I’m back to exercising

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and meditating

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and hanging out with my dog.

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And Captain Doom and Gloom? He has a great new job and is happier and more relaxed than he’s been in years. Thank goodness! Now if I could only convince him to meditate, I know he’d feel so much better.

.

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I’ll have to get one of his clients to work on him – they usually have more luck than I do.

But you know, after everything that’s happened, it’s still a wonderful world just as Louis said.

Really!

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

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Four months ago my father died.

Quickly and unexpectedly.

Dad was 82 and yes, he’d had a good life, but we all wanted more; after all, he was the healthy one, the caregiver for my mom. She’s the one with breast cancer and brain tumours and mobility issues. Dad was the blue-eyed jokester, the daily walker, the outdoors man, the artisan woodworker, and the artist.

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self-portrait Sad Clown

He taught me how to paddle a canoe silently and slowly, quickly and powerfully, forward, backward and side to side. He patiently, over a long period of time, taught me how to ride a bike. He attempted to teach me how to drive a car, but finally sent me to a professional for both our sakes. After many hours of instruction and practice I eventually passed the driver test, although to this day my husband and children don’t quite understand how that ever happened.

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He tried to teach me to fish but had much better luck teaching my son as I wasn’t fond of worms, his preferred form of bait. dad&alec.jpg

He taught me how to make the World’s Best Fudge from his super-secret recipe, much to my daughter’s everlasting delight – of course now she makes it better than I do.

Dad was the curious one, the one who read the newspaper all the way through, the one who watched the nightly news and discussed world events.

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He was master of the game – solitaire, bridge, cribbage, rummikub and more. grandpa-kids_0005-2

He was also the organized one who assembled  all of the pertinent legal and financial information, listed and annotated it and placed it in a small wooden box for safe keeping.

Dad was the magical dog-whisperer long before Cesar Millan claimed that title. When I was growing up in small town Ontario, Dad trained Sam and Piper, our two black Labrador Retrievers, to heel off-leash on either side of him and walk that way for miles. And when they came to a park or a field, he’d let them run but they always came charging back when he called. No treats were required – they simply wanted to please him. And there was no barking unless there was a darn good reason, like a stranger entering the house unannounced. Sam and Piper were followed by many other wonderful dogs over the years.

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Photo by Jaromir Chalabala/Shutterstock.com

Dad was the careful one who lived within his means and saved money for retirement and beyond. Way beyond. Yet he and my mom thoroughly enjoyed their lives together,
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and their many lunches and dinners out (neither one liked to cook).Tim Hortons was their favourite spot for coffee. And of course doughnuts. While money was never plentiful, they never ever complained about not having enough.

He was the one with the musical ear, who could tell whether the piano was in or out of tune when Mom’s piano students plunked and struggled their way through scales and exercises and sonatas.

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But now when I just won’t can’t do something – like clean up after my dog or move a heavy box  – who will call me Helpless Hannah?

And when my temper gets the better of me and I become cranky and angry – usually with one of my children for a very good reason – who will quote Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

There was a little girl,
            Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
            When she was good,
            She was very good indeed,
But when she was bad she was horrid.

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Or when I’m out walking dodging dogs and kids, who will say to me for no reason whatsoever,

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Fuzzy Wuzzy drawing by GH-MoNGo

I suppose this rhyme long held a special place in my dad’s heart as he himself didn’t have much hair after the age of 30 or so. Same with my husband…who knows what will happen with my son?!

Perhaps my husband and kids will  read this and perhaps they’ll take up Dad’s mantle. After all, somebody needs to keep me on the straight and narrow. Somebody needs to remind me to have a little fun every now and then.Somebody to tell me that this too shall pass.

In the meantime, I know that Dad is Somewhere Over the Rainbow, throwing sticks and balls for Sam and Piper and the other dogs, who are all ecstatic to be reunited with their friend and master.

Really!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anything you can do I can do better

Irving Berlin wrote the song for the musical “Annie Get your Gun”, but I find  this video featuring the Chipmunks (courtesy ktCATSbone ) encapsulates the sentiments in a more meaningful, more relevant manner for today’s audiences.

Yes, Anything you can do I can do better has been a way of life for my family as long as  I can remember. Originally my daughter, the Hippie-Dippie Wildchild was the one trying to keep up with her older brother, The Obnoxious One.

Anything you can do I can do better
I can do anything better than you

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No you can’t

She tried to outdo him on everything, like Halloween costumes

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except I clearly won as the Wicked Witch 😉

and then declared she loved Killer, the dog, way more than he did.

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poor Killer doesn’t look too thrilled with either

My kids tried to outdo each other while on a beach vacation for the prize of silliest-looking and the best skin (after the mask).

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three-way tie

 

As they grew older their antics didn’t stop – just morphed into bigger and more ridiculous sibling rivalry.

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They competed to see:

who was the loudest and most obnoxious? – usually my son, The Obnoxious One but sometimes my dear darling hubby, The Original Obnoxious One won the hotly contested battle

who was the weirdest? – definitely my daughter, The HIppie-Dippie Wildchild

who had the better worst tattoo? –  my son’s was totally overshadowed

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The Obnoxious One’s Tattoo

by my daughter’s, much to my dismay as I am SO not a fan of tattoos.  Sorry folks.

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this tattoo was originally just the phrase from “Dear Prudence”, until she added the tiny sun. Sigh.

And food? When The Obnoxious One came home for the summer after his second year of university with severe sensitivities to gluten and dairy, the Hippie-Dippie Wildchild just had to become vegetarian and ultimately vegan to differentiate herself and outdo her brother. Preparing a healthy meal for the four of us became such a Herculean feat that I soon gave up – and cooked only for my hubby and I. After all, we’ll eat just about anything as long as it’s spicy and fresh and flavourful and homemade and …

By the way, after feeling sluggish and generally lousy for many, many months, the Hippie-Dippie Wildchild finally succumbed to eating seafood a couple weeks ago, and even some meat. Hallelujah!! ‘Cause it’s kinda tough being a healthy, energetic vegetarian, let alone vegan, if one doesn’t eat beans or nuts.

At all.

The latest? Years of competition, heated debates and massive arguments have been replaced with a bare-bones tolerance, a delicate truce between The Obnoxious One and the Hippie-Dippie Wildchild.  Almost. Although I never know when it will blow up completely

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and utterly.

But for now they seem to have found a new source of “fun”, a new opportunity to show off.  Now they compete to see who can buy the most ridiculous, most useless present for their dad,  a conservative business lawyer and senior partner with one of the largest law firms in CanadaAs mentioned in Our Very Own Goddess of Green, for Christmas the Hippie-Dippie Wildchild made a generous donation on his behalf to the British Hen Welfare Trust .  The Original Obnoxious One is now the very proud sponsor of Sky and Sparkle, two thankful British hens who are enjoying the great outdoors for the first time ever .british hen stuff

This lovely donation is the gift that won’t stop giving, because every couple of months he receives something quite lovely, such as this beautiful notebook and two charming greeting cards

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and this fascinating update on Sky and Sparkle’s return to health and happiness

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aren’t they handsome hens!

as well as this informative magazine.

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I do have to wonder though if the postage to send these fine items from the UK all the way to Vancouver BC costs more than the original donation amount?!

For Father’s Day not only did my son The Obnoxious One come home for a great 10 day visit from London, England (first time we saw him since Christmas), but he managed to snag a delightful Father’s Day gift for The Original Obnoxious One. This gift was so thoughtful and so relevant that the Hippie-Dippie Wildchild just couldn’t resist checking it out herself.

 

At the end of the day I just can’t imagine why my children are so competitive and try so hard to outdo each other. Perhaps it’s in their genes. Way, way back in the Dark Ages their father and I met at university in a second year Philosophy class in Logic. Every week the prof gave us quizzes and of course we always checked to see who received the better mark.

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I did of course!

Really!

 

Don’t worry, it’s just a flood of Biblical Proportions

It was a dark and stormy night – yes I know that’s a big fat cliche, but the wind was blowing, the sea was churning and there was no light whatsoever. We had just moved into our new home, a concrete bunker, outside the city between the mountains and the ocean, just off the highway to Whistler. On one side of us was an empty house (the owners live abroad and use the house only in the summer) and on the other, a raging creek river.

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our concrete bunker beside the creek (when the creek isn’t raging)

My husband had just left on a week-long business trip to China and my kids were at university across the country. That left me and my traumatized little lab Franklinstein.543264_10151311621917492_420617158_n

I know he was traumatized because he marked his territory many, many times those first few weeks, inside and out – outside was one thing but inside on the cream-coloured wool carpeting ?! Yuck! (By the way, the carpeting didn’t last long – as soon as we could we replaced it with hardwood flooring.)

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Franklinstein was a very nervous  boy, barking and growling at every little sound and at every wild creature. Actually a ton of scary wild things do live out here – ginormous river otters, seals, mice, minks and raccoons – and each one is at least ten times larger than its cousin in the city.

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Mad Mouse courtesy iclipart.com

So there we sat, scared worried by the storm. Worried that the power would go out and we would freeze and/or starve to death. Worried that a wild thing would somehow break into our concrete bunker and devour us.

Or at least terrorize us.

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It was almost 11 pm, so it was too late to call my Mommy  – I didn’t think she’d appreciate a call at 2 am her time. Same with my children and I had no idea how to reach my husband as his cell generally goes on strike the minute he leaves home.  So I bit my lower lip and told myself to stay strong. And it was at that point the door bell rang. Now, I should point out that we actually do have a large real live bell at our door.doorbell.JPG

Poor little traumatized Franklinstein barked and cowered as I made my way up the dark and winding staircase to the front door. Standing on my porch I found a police officer; now the only other time in my entire life that a police officer has come to my door was after my then thirteen-year-old daughter called  911 during an argument about computer privileges and told the dispatcher that her parents were evil. (Yes it’s a long story.) Anyways this police officer had kindly and bravely ventured out into the storm to inform everyone in our small community that the the raging creek river had flooded and now covered three of the four lanes of highway, making travel out of or into our place almost impossible. 

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But not to worry. What, me worry?! I’m the Champion, no the Queen of Worry. When anyone in my family has a concern they give it to me because they know that my worry skills are absolutely magnificent, and second only to my dear mother’s.

I wandered back downstairs thinking and worrying about this little bomb the police had left me with. I now felt a greater need than ever to reach out and talk to somebody besides my shaking and quivering  Franklinstein.

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So I located the contact information list for our community and at 11:00 pm made the desperate decision to phone my nearest neighbour  – a sweet little 80 year old retired schoolteacher. You know you’ve moved to a wonderful place  when the phone is answered on the first ring, “Yes dear, are you all right? Have the police been to see you?” Followed by, “Did you understand what they told you?”

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And then, “If you’re nervous or scared you’re welcome to pop over for a drink or you can even spend the night.”

At that point the reality of the situation finally struck me like a whack on the side of the head – she was most likely in bed trying to get to sleep. “Thanks very much Kathy, but I ‘m okay now.  I think I might survive.”

Really!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Annus Horribilis

The Queen had hers way back in 1992 when Charles and Diana separated, a fire burned Windsor Castle castle almost  down to the ground, and the tabloids enjoyed themselves far too much reporting on royal antics.

I had just had my own annus horribilis this past year and a bit  – a truly terrible, really bad, horrible year. Yes, menopause was and is still a monstrous thing, and yes I broke a couple of fingernails, I earned several of large black and blue bruises and I even found a few grey hairs.

But you have to understand – I went from this:

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to this practically overnight:

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  • My mother who lives half-way across the country was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer  – tumors in her breast, lymph nodes and cancer in her hip and leg bones. A few months later she was also diagnosed with a brain tumor.
  • After suffering through multiple open houses and far too many  showings, we finally sold our beloved house of 12 years. Moving day proved to be a nightmare featuring stoned and scary-looking movers who damaged furniture, broke treasured mementos and left the old house with lights on, doors wide open, fridge full of food and valuables on the kitchen table. (And we even used one of the so-called top local moving companies – really! ) Because we were gluttons for punishment we lined up painters and carpenters and electricians and tile layers immediately and kept them busy for almost a year.
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  • And while a fire didn’t almost destroy our place, we did experience more than our fair share of leaks and floods from the three toilets, the refrigerator, several windows, the roof, my son’s bedroom wall and of course the pool.
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  • We sold and vacated our water-access-only cabin  which we had owned for almost 20 years and was a source of many wonderful family memories. It truly was a bittersweet moment.

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  • Due to my incredible lack of coordination I fell and cracked my ribs on the rocks by the ocean while shoveling dog dung into the ocean the day after Christmas; the ER was not the optimum spot to spend on Boxing Day.
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  • My husband of 30 years, a corporate lawyer who generally works 60-80 hour weeks, became extremely ill and inexplicably weaker and weaker, spending at least 20 hours a day in bed.  He was no longer the Original Obnoxious One. After seeing 14 doctors and making 5 ER visits to 2 different hospitals he was finally diagnosed with heart disease and placed on 2 kinds of medication; then he suffered a mini-stroke and stayed in hospital for almost a week.
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  • My son’s best friend from high school died very suddenly and unexpectedly this summer – my son, the Obnoxious One and he had been estranged the past couple years which somehow made the whole situation worse. The boy was a lovely sensitive and creative soul who lost his way.
  • In addition to dying her beautiful hair black with blue ends, and adding a couple more tattoos and piercings, my daughter developed several medical issues which  culminated in three lengthy hospital stays.
  • My 4 year old yellow lab nearly died as a result of ingesting a large amount of rat poison.
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And when my husband and I took a much needed vacation for some rest and relaxation this past fall guess where we went – Jordan and Israel right when the 2015 stabbings and Wave of Terror began. Of course! Keep in mind that we live in boring little Canada where no one carries guns and people are way too polite most of the time. In fact, the most exciting thing that has happened to us in decades is the fact that the New York Times called us “hip” in  January 2016.

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But…deep deep breath… I’m back. And I’ve cried enough tears and hosted enough personal pity-parties to last me for a very long time. So no more, besides, I’ve got stories to share.

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Stay tuned.

Really!

 

Are we there yet?

Aren’t you finished yet?

Words that my children have said to me many, many times.

Words that have driven me crazy many, many times.

And now, words that my dear, darling husband Captain Dumb Dumb has said to me every single day for the past several weeks.

the Captain and I, courtesy iclipart.com

the Captain and I, courtesy iclipart.com

I guess three writers’ conferences in four weeks will do that. Plus the prep beforehand to perfect the pitch and polish the synopsis and rework  the first three chapters. Plus the mad scramble afterwards to incorporate all the words of wisdom and sage advice into the query letter and the synopsis and the first three pages and the whole bloody manuscript.

cartoon courtesy iclipart.com

cartoon courtesy iclipart.com

Then there’s the due diligence to ensure that even if so-and-so and such-and-such loved my pitch, are they really legitimate? I mean, are they really somebody I want to get in bed with? – metaphorically speaking of course. So hours and hours on-line being nosy (so tough for me to do) and hours and hours reading books championed, books trending and  books newly signed. And who should I get to proof-read my work in the meantime – my freelance editor? Captain Dumb Dumb? My mother? (actually all three, although I didn’t get much more than a couple of grunts out of Captain Dumb Dumb)

Oh yeah, and did I mention that I recently became involved with the most amazing not-for profit organization? It’s called the Compassionate Eye Foundation and these folks do some pretty incredible work all over the globe. It really is a creative community for change – be sure to check it out. Of course there’s been a significant learning curve for me – interesting and fascinating and of course, more time-consuming than originally anticipated.

So I emerged just in time to take a breath a couple of days ago and…decorate the tree and the house for Christmas,

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courtesy iclipart.com

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buy Christmas presents for everyone (including myself – not quite, but I did have to provide a very, very detailed list complete with pictures, prices and store information), mail boxes of Christmas presents to family in Ontario before rates go up (failed there – spent big bucks but don’t tell Captain Dumb Dumb), continue to de-clutter and pack and organize all belongings of our family in case someone one day actually does buy our house (yes our house is for sale, and has been for a couple a few several months now, but it’s not driving me crazy at all). Forget about Christmas cards this year – everyone can read my blog and/or check out my Facebook page. Plus it’s better for the environment to do everything on-line. As for Christmas baking, I’m just doing my family a favour and keeping them healthy – who needs all that sugar anyway? (although I really hope my daughter makes our family’s secret recipe for chocolate fudge when she gets home – I have a humongous craving!)

So hopefully everyone in my family will be happy, more or less…except Captain Dumb Dumb of course. You see, lately I’ve been a little too busy to have dinner on the table the second he steps in the door, a little too swamped to ensure that each and every morning he has sufficient quantities of fresh fruit available for his every whim, and sadly, I haven’t spent hours on the phone with our incredible travel agent organizing our fall 2014 trip of a lifetime. Nope, he had to send her an email all by himself – no people to do it for him. Poor dear, he really is hard-done-by.

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courtesy iclipart.com

Good thing he has Franklinstein!IMG_0007

Really!

Time to Man Up

My husband utters these words all the time and it drives me absolutely crazy. Sometimes he refers to our son, sometimes the dog, and sometimes people at work. He generally knows better than to use those dreaded words in connection with me. So I guess I’m just going to have to do it for him.

Because I’ve fallen off the edge of the world.

Because I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole.

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courtesy iclipart.com

For those of you who have read my blog previously, you’ll know that for the past couple of months I have been whining complaining writing about the amazing people in my life, and in particular my daughter, the Demon Child.

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courtesy iclipart.com

This school year has proven to be  a nightmare,  a disaster of epic proportions, an extremely stressful and challenging one, given the fact that the Demon Child :

  • is in Grade 12, her last year of high school
  • has a steady boyfriend who is in Grade 11(he doesn’t have the same stress as those in Grade 12)
  • has been applying to several prestigious Canadian universities back east
  • is a hormonal teen age girl who seems to be PMS-ing 24/7!!!
  • has ADHD, so that ordinary difficulties for other kids become MONUMENTAL END-OF-THE-WORLD TYPE PROBLEMS for her which she typically takes out on her poor, long-suffering mother (yeah, that’s me)

The past month in particular has been a topsy-turvy crazy roller coaster ride;

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courtesy iclipart.com

heck, it’s been the 10 hour version of Space Mountain, that super scary Disney roller coaster ride in the dark – yeah that’s my life.

courtesy Orlando Fun Tickets

courtesy Orlando Fun Tickets

Especially this past month. Something about March….spring, renewal, and its opposites – death, destruction. Okay maybe I’m the one that’s being a wee bit dramatic now.

So let’s consider the good, the incredible, the WOW March factors…

  • the Demon Child traveled to Nicaragua on a school trip for 3 weeks – I tried not to clap and cheer too too much before she left
  • my hubby, The Original Obnoxious One and I went to Maui for a week…just the 2 of us…for our first visit ever! Yes, we were absolutely the only people in West Vancouver (other than our kids) who had not been to Maui.
  • the Demon Child actually got accepted into each of her top 3 choices for university.  I’m still not sure how that happened!?
  • We kind of bought a new house, subject to the sale of our current home – even the paperwork has been signed!
  • After the power washing and the window washing and the cleaning and the gardening and the staging, we put our house up for sale
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But of course, we never get the absolutely terrific stuff without the awful, dreadful terrible crap. And this time the bad has been  really bad. It put all of my whining and all of my complaining into perspective as just that…whining and complaining.

First off, when we had the building inspection done on our new house – it failed every single test…and not just a little, but a ton. In fact, it’s a miracle the place is still standing, because any minute it just might slide into the ocean. So yes, I pouted and was a little upset. But this was nothing…

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courtesy iclipart.com

Compared to the loss of Killer, our 12-year-old yellow labIMG_2087 that we’ve had since she was a puppy.Scan.BMP She wasn’t eating everything in sight as usual and was vomiting so I took her to the vet to for a checkup …and left with a death sentence. Tests clearly showed a multitude of tumors in her lungs; she had been experiencing difficulty breathing, but we thought old age was simply catching up with her.  We waited 24 hours for our daughter to return home, (which meant that my husband was then out of town) and skyped my son in.

The next day Killer was gone.

You may think Killer was just a dog, and an old one at that, but

  • for 12 years she gave each member of our family unconditional love and support
  • for 12 years she was a calming presence in a house full of big personalities and bigger egos
  • for 12 years she kept me company when the kids went to school
  • for 12 years she delighted us with her sniffing and snorting, her moaning and her groaning, her sneaking of chocolate, butter and garbage (yes, all poison for dogs)IMG_2099

Life will never be the same for our family. Over the past 12 years, our children have grown into young adults, my husband has lost a few more hairs from the top of his head, and a few deep lines and wrinkles have taken up permanent residence on my face.

But, there is this relatively new little boy in town.West Vancouver-20121101-637

So guess what – it’s time for Franklinstein and me to man up.

But we will never forget.

Rest in Peace Killer.