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.

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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!

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!

 

London Calling

Last summer when our kids came home from university to work and study, Vancouver had one of the driest, warmest summers in recent memory or at least in my recent memory. And my son, the Obnoxious One, took full advantage, burning the candle at both ends all summer long.

Perhaps it was the serious health scare with his grandmother and then father. Perhaps it was because he and his long term girlfriend broke up, or the fact that he graduated with a BA in History after 4 years of partying university.  The day after he arrived home he started the prep course for the Law School entrance exam and attended  5-6 days a week, 7 hours a day, and completed all the homework assignments and test, which was pretty amazing!

Regardless, he still plunged himself into every activity known to man, work-wise, sports-wise and fun-wise.

He started with the same boutique law firm he had worked at the previous two summers.557682_334349746677236_966526195_n-001

He and his dad took a number of Scuba Diving lessons with the hope of becoming certified,

 

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which unfortunately didn’t quite work out, but that’s another story.

 

He attempted Kiteboarding at Squamish with a couple buddies and lived to tell about it, more or less.boys kite sailing

He bought and enjoyed a couple paddle boards for he and his friends and paddled all over Howe Sound. Apparently one of the paddle boards was for me, (the great big wide beginner one) but I have yet to check out its charms.

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courtesy  seatoskyadventurecompany.com

He went kayaking down a steep concrete chute at Lions Bay with a couple super-crazy friends

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and yes they ripped a hole in one of our plastic Costco kayaks although the Obnoxious One denies it to this day.

He attended the Pemberton Music Festival and…let’s just say he had a very good time.music festival

He climbed numerous mountains and fiorded numerous lakes and streams, kind of…hiking

But then the dog almost died and his best friend from high school did die.

It’s a hard thing for a mother, even this Terrible Awful Mother to watch her darling experience such pain at the tender age of 22. You may think that’s life, so suck it up. You may be right, but somewhere along the line that precious obnoxiousness that defines my son vanished and was replaced by a sea of tears, frustration, desperation and lots and lots of soul-searching. I encouraged him to seek a therapist and luckily he found one with whom he developed a great rapport – an expensive one but a wonderful one.

And gradually he put himself back together.

But he decided it was time for a change. For a number of reasons he decided Law School in Canada was not an option, so he did the unexpected – to me anyways! He applied to law school in London, England late in the summer and was accepted; he left in mid-September. Darn those  family trips when we drove all over Europe, exploring the sights and sounds and smells – he developed a far too-keen appreciation  for big cities and travel!Big-Ben-and-London-Bus

He found a place to live with a few friends who were just starting banking careers in London, and now he’s having a blast. And working very hard at school of course. A couple months after moving halfway around the world he sent me the following message:

“Mom, I’m so happy I moved to London – it’s been the best decision of my life !”

“So what is it that makes you so happy, darling? The energy? The architecture? The museums? ”

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“The football (soccer for North Americans) and rugby games Mom – they’re brilliant! I even saw Jeremy Clarkson (his Obnoxious hero who was fired from Top Gear a year ago) sitting just across from me.chelsea football

And the pubs are pretty amazing too!”

Oh right. Of course. There’s a reason we call him the Obnoxious One.

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Really! But at least I’ll have a place to stay whenever I can afford to visit London, that is if he doesn’t spend too much in the meantime.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our very own Goddess of Green

Before it was mandated by our local government and before it was trendy, our daughter, the Wild Child, was totally obsessed with Saving the Environment.

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Maybe it had to do with living in a temperate rain forest and the hiking we do here, rain or sun. 1048195_10152958698655290_974192805_o

Perhaps it’s because of the summers we’ve spent on Indian Arm  swimming and tubing and boating.

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Whatever the case, the Wild Child has always loved lecturing us about the dos and don’ts of looking after the planet and all of its amazing natural inhabitants, including mice and bats and snakes. Oh Joy.

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In fact, for her father’s Christmas present this past year, she 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 .

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See, I’m not making this stuff up!

She was the one who insisted we collect and recycle as many water bottles and tin cans as humanly possible, even if it meant trolling the neighbourhood and the beaches and the parks. She was the one who took part in the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup over and over and over again. Funny that she was rarely the one to clean up after the dog – asking, commanding, coercing never worked with her but sometimes bribery did. Especially when she was broke and wanted a couple dollars for candy.

She was the one who decried smokers – she loudly and frequently insisted smoking was Evil and she would never ever be friends with anyone who smoked.

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Fast forward several years and our Hippie-Dippie Wild Child’s boyfriend smokes cigarettes constantly,  but well, let’s not go there today.

She’s been the only member of our family who has embraced vegetarianism because it’s good for the environment – all that flatulence from all those cows and all that waste material in the watershed from all those pigs . And don’t get her started on the wonders and glories of PETA.

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Tragically the rest of us are hard-core carnivores; we adore meat and poultry and fish. But I do buy organic meat and poultry and the seafood I purchase is Ocean Wise. The Hippie-Dippie Wild Child desperately aspires to be vegan, but is not a huge fan of beans or nuts; she loves her cheese and omelettes and Nutella way too much.IMG_1464.JPG

And she hates to actually prepare food.

Of course she also talks a lot about water conservation, but heck, we live in a rain-forest in one of the rainiest cities in Canada! We frequently experience road and bridge washouts because it rains on the North Shore an average of 180 days per year.

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courtesy Vancouver Sun

And the water in our taps comes from the creek raging river beside us – our small community accesses, purifies and tests the water on a regular basis, and it tastes amazing.

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So there’s not a lot of incentive on our part to cut back on heavenly long hot showers or totally thorough toothbrush sessions. She also advises us not to flush the toilet after every use, but now that we’ve moved to the outskirts of the city, we actually have our own septic system, and it which benefits from regular flushes, believe me!

But this past summer she came home with her latest and greatest idea to Save the Environment. And she just had to share this exciting news with my son, The Obnoxious One, right when he was diving into an amazing brunch he’d just concocted of eggs  and fresh guacamole and artisan toast and…kinda like this.

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“Hey guess what? I’m so proud of myself, you have no idea!”

“Oh, yeah…?” Chomp, chomp. “So what is it?”

“Well I’m really helping out the environment big time. I’ve started using reusable pads.”

“Whatever, that’s nice.” Chomp, chomp

“Yeah it’s so must better for the environment – none of that waste in the landfills or in the sewage system. And it’s no big deal, really. I just have to do a little bit of extra laundry once a month.”

“Wait, what the heck are you talking about?!”

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“Reusable pads, I told you.”

“ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! EEEWWW!! GO AWAY! GET OUT OF MY SIGHT!!”

“Mom?!”

“Darling, not the best time (when someone is eating) or place (the kitchen table)  or even audience (The Obnoxious One) to have this discussion.”

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!

 

The Devil’s left Georgia, and has gone up to West Vancouver

Where she’s living in my house.

Yep, last September I sent my daughter, the Weird One, off to university in the UK , but the Demon Child returned home in April 2014.

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courtesy iclip.art

How do I know?

She begged and begged and begged me to get her a summer job at the cafe down the hill, even though she had never worked in a restaurant or coffee shop before. And this was my absolute favourite cafe that I frequent a couple times a week.

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Somehow the universe and the stars all aligned and I came through for her; the manager of the coffee shop was an old friend and was looking to hire for the summer. And it’s a 15 minute walk down the hill – I didn’t have to drive her. But the manager soon found a new job and moved on. Meanwhile absolutely everything changed at the cafe and the working environment went totally downhill. For example, the new manager:

forced my daughter to work shifts with people she didn’t like or know

and 

scheduled her for three 8 hour shifts in 3 days thus interfering with her extremely busy social life

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she wasn’t allowed to wear Lululemon pants or Uggs!

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courtesy iclipart.com

But this The Terrible Awful Mother told her to suck it up; I shared with her all the lousy summer jobs I’d had over the years and how I frequently worked two or more jobs at the same time so I’d have enough money for university. When those comments didn’t gain any traction, I told her I would cut off her credit card if she quit her job before finding a new one.

In the meantime my sister and I took our parents on a week long cruise to Alaska to celebrate their both turning 80.embarkation
Yes it was fantastic, but that’s the subject of another blog. Halfway through the cruise, in a very weak moment, I sent my daughter a text message inquiring how she was.

I should’ve known better.

She texted me back that she had quit her job, and predictably I SAW RED.

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courtesy iclipart.com

When I asked what had happened, she told me that she had a panic attack at work because the environment was toxic and she wasn’t going to let me push her around. She called me names (really, really bad ones) and demanded my support (mentally and financially);  I told her to get a grip and figure out a plan to get another job. A few more choice words flew back and forth, culminating in a 1:00 am screaming match on the cell phone. In the middle of the Alaskan Inside Passage. She threatened to leave home and live with friends and I… I said that was fine. She could either stay, apologize and be respectful or go and live elsewhere.

Such a lovely spot of entertainment in the middle of a cruise far from home IMG_2759Although clearly not far enough!

Her parting words to me:

Honestly if something happens to me it’s all on you. And also after this I want NOTHING to do with you. 

But the very next text said: Can you please put the money on my credit card. I have no money to eat!!!  (despite the fact that I did a humongous food shopping trip just before I left)

And: I found a place on Commercial to stay for the month of August for $300. Can you please chip in.

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the Demon Child’s latest obsession which the coffee shop doesn’t sell

In the mean time The Demon Child revoked my friend status on Facebook.  But hey, it’s important to have your priorities right!

Really!