Somewhere Over the Rainbow

IMG_2816

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.

fullsizerender-4

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.

worlds worst driver

courtesy amazon.com

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.

peruse2

courtesy iclipart

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.

1a6832ee83675ac187cb8cbc0e22a2d6

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,
img_2278
img_2266

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.

pianoteacher

courtesy iclipart

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.

fullsizerender

 

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

fuzzy_wuzzy_by_gh_mongo

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

I wanna start a fight!

angry lady

courtesy iclipart.com

I got a brand new attitude
And I’m gonna wear it tonight
I wanna get in trouble
I wanna start a fight

Ever have one of those days where you wake up feeling tired and grumpy and each and every little insignificant thing  morphs into a massive soul-destroying catastrophe.

And you wanna start a fight?

Things like…

listening to your husband’s snoring all night, every night

mansnoringwife

courtesy iclipart.com

having to stay inside and work on a long-awaited gorgeous summer day

womanundies

courtesy iclipart.com

going into your bathroom and finding no toilet paper, the toilet seat up, your husband’s nail clippings on each and every surface of your bathroom, except in the toilet or garbage and wet stinky towels on the floor

Embarrassed

courtesy iclipart.com

 

the way the dog moans and whines and looks at you even after you’ve fed him and he’s done his business outside

whinypup

iclipart.com

discovering you have no coffee beans or milk in the morning and your usual routine includes 2 triple shot lattes

coffeespill

courtesy iclipart.com

learning that your daughter has been so busy working her four puny 6-hour shifts a week that she hasn’t had time to sort out a couple minor administrative matters that will allow her to graduate from university with good marks

girl_girl_puffed_up

courtesy iclipart.com

So you send the 5 second email on her behalf and are then livid with yourself for cleaning up her mess. Again!

Hairpull

courtesy iclipart.com

that critically acclaimed, multiple award-winning book you’re reading sucks swampgas – a technical term my kids use

bad book

courtesy iclipart.com

And you have a unwanted, unwelcome birthday coming up just around the corner, which everyone in your family will probably forget anyways

older2

courtesy iclipart.com

Okay, so I had one of those days yesterday and rather than yell or kick the dog or hit my husband over the head, I decided to do something positive –  I decided to meditate. Yep, that’s right. I have officially gone over to that weird side – the one where the hippies (like my daughter) and the lazy dropouts (her friends) hang out

Hippie2

courtesy iclipart.com

as well as movie stars like Hugh Jackman and Clint Eastwood, celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Jerry Seinfeld and CEO’s like Arianna Huffington and Larry Ellison.

So this Terrible Awful Mother decided to do it – I mean there must be something to it if it`s good enough for all those folks. I should mention I have been attempting to meditate on a somewhat regular basis. But some days I don’t can’t find the time and some days I try but I can’t keep physically still, let alone focus my mind. Recently I’ve been working through Oprah & Deepak’s 21 day meditation experience called  Getting Unstuck: Creating a Limitless Life! Sounds good right? – I figure I could use getting unstuck and a limitless life sounds pretty darn amazing.

So yesterday I was determined to do it. I went into my office, closed the door and clicked on the guided meditation.

girl_music_meditation_girl

courtesy iclipart.com

I sat comfortably in my chair, listened intently to the discussion, got into the zone and repeated the mantra when…

bang

courtesy iclipart.com

 

my husband, the Original Obnoxious One, kicked in the door, yelled howdy and shocked me right out of hard-fought focus

Yoga

courtesy iclipart.com

And started to laugh uncontrollably and loudly. For a very long time.

LetsLaugh

courtesy iclipart.com

My response ?

Na na na na na na na, I wanna start a fight
Na na na na na na na, I wanna start a fight

1765_angry_wife_with_a_rolling_pin

courtesy iclipart.com

I hadn’t told the Original Obnoxious One about my meditation attempts because I knew this would be his reaction. And that he’d intentionally bother me during crucial zen moments. He just wouldn’t be able to help himself.

And he couldn’t. But as for me?

So what?
I’m still a rock star
I got my rock moves
And I don’t need you

ladyrocker

courtesy iclipart.com

Yep, meditation works wonders for me! How ’bout you?

Really!

Song lyrics courtesy So What by Pink

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,

courtesy iclipart

courtesy iclipart.com

BoxingDay

courtesy iclipart.com

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.

courtesy iclipart.com

courtesy iclipart.com

Good thing he has Franklinstein!IMG_0007

Really!

How to influence people and land the job of your dreams

Wandering the streets San Francisco the past few days while my husband, the Original Obnoxious One, attends a work conference,

courtesy  Paul.h at wikipedia

courtesy Paul.h at wikipedia

I’ve had time to ponder how to influence people and land the job of your dreams.   I thought I knew a thing or ten about this, but I will grudgingly freely admit that the Original Obnoxious One is a master at it – hands are shaken, witty jokes are made and business cards exchanged. Apparently some of this personality and piazzas has rubbed off on our son, the Obnoxious One as he clearly has the gift of the gab and the charm of the Irish. (just not the luck – yet!)

courtesy iclipart.com

courtesy iclipart.com

The Obnoxious One landed a plum position interning at a very successful property management company for a month and then somehow talked his way into interning for a small law practice. I know, just what the world needs these days is another lawyer, but hey, a guy’s got to pursue his dreams.  And it could’ve been worse – he could have decided to become an accountant like his dear old mom. Really!

As for my daughter, the Weird One, what we did expect? Well, to be honest, I never know what to expect, but don’t you worry – the Demon Child  is never totally out of sight. Back in June, a week before school ended, the Weird One decided she should look for a job. The past several summers she’s worked at a YMCA residential camp,

courtesy iclipart.com

courtesy iclipart.com

but was determined to do something different this summer. Since she didn’t get her act together until late, I wasn’t very hopeful, but  I thought maybe she could get a job as a barista. After all, in Vancouver we take our coffee very, very seriously, so there are  tons and tons and tons of coffee shops.  While she did apply to a few, she thought she’d have a better chance of getting something at the new local food market as a number of her friends work there.  So she filled out the paper work and lo and behold they set up an interview with her. There was only one problem – the interview was the day after school ended. Not to worry though, as her appointment was set for 2 pm.

So the day of the interview, she set her alarm for 1 pm…and then slept in until 2:00! I ‘d been up and out of the house for hours, not thinking about my darling daughter. Until I heard her scream screech, “MOM!!!”

I advised her to phone and apologize profusely, and then ask politely if they could reschedule her interview.  Somehow my advice went in one ear and out the other, for this is the conversation I heard:

“Hi there, my name is xxx and I have an interview today at 2:30 but unfortunately I slept in because I’m so jet lagged and I’m really sorry but I’m so jet lagged ’cause I just got back from Europe, and yeah, I’m so jet lagged ’cause I was in Paris for a few days…

The Weird One's last visit to Paris in 2008

The Weird One’s most recent visit to Paris was in 2008

 but I’m really interested in your company, but I was just in Paris and still really jet lagged, but now I really want to work as a cashier or shelf – stocker or anything, so do you think I could come see you later today for my interview?”

While the poor person on the other end of the conversation responded to the preposterous story spun but the Weird One, I gaped at my darling daughter in amazement.

“Oh, I see, so today won’t work and you can only see me a week today? Okay, well, I’m really really sorry and I promise I’ll be on time next week and I promise I won’t be jet lagged! And yes, Paris was nice. Thank you very much.”

Darling, it’s one thing to tell a tiny little white lie, but a whopper?! We are not the kind of folks who fly off Paris every other weekend for a couple of days. You do  realize a direct flight from Vancouver, which is tough to get, is at least 10 hours ?!

“Mom, I know…I was just so tired I didn’t know what I was saying.”

Surprisingly enough she did not land the job, so in the end she had to decided to take the summer off. 1040242_10152991537715290_34277843_oReally!

Help – I’ve Fallen Way, Way Down the Rabbit Hole

courtesy Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland

courtesy Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland

The world as I know it has changed…forever. I knew this was coming, but I really didn’t think the transformation would be quite so dramatic. After all the exams and essays and applications, my baby girl has officially graduated from high school. My shock, however,  comes from the 180 degree shift in her attitude.

Lately my daughter has been nice to me… and nice even to the rest of the family.

The Demon Child seems to have taken flight and moved on. So I’ve seen the shadow of the Demon Child on a couple of occasions when my daughter has been exhausted after a late night out with friends, but for the most part she’s been pretty easy-going and even happy. For example, during the past 2 weeks:

  • she hasn’t yelled at me (much)
  • she hasn’t called me horrible names (not at all)
  • she’s listened to me and kicked her friends out at midnight when I asked her to
  • she’s accepted the loss of her allowance after getting that tattoo (okay the allowance has since been restored)
  • she let her tongue piercing grow in, as she claimed she missed chewing gum – whatever her reason, I’m ecstatic!
  • she’s gone on a couple of hikes with Franklinstein and me and enjoyed them
  • and the piece de resistance – she went from blocking me on Facebook to friending me!!!

So whether it’s a sign of maturity, a consequence of school ending or the aftermath of dumping her boyfriend, I couldn’t be more thrilled. Hey, my daughter will never be the perfect Barbie doll that so many girls in Vancouver aspire to these days – you know the ones with the perfect pouts, the perfect designer wardrobes, and the perfect long blond hair.

more housewives

courtesy – Real Housewives of Vancouver Facebook

She will never be like everybody else and that’s okay. Heck, that’s more than okay, that’s amazing! After all, this is the girl who:

But she is hoping to take much of the summer off before she ventures forth to university in the Fall, so she wants to learn how to drive – finally – and do lots and lots of hiking. In fact, yesterday she climbed The Chief with a friend,1048195_10152958698655290_974192805_oand wants to do it again...with me!

After the drama of the past several months, I must admit that I am currently exhausted, but nevertheless I am loving this new phase. I’m also realistic enough to know that the Demon Child may rear her terrible head once again from time to time, but we’ll deal with that when and if the time comes.

In the meantime, I am officially looking  forward to summer, if it ever arrives to stay on the wet West coast.

Really!

Obnoxious One = Very Bad Luck

It’s official – my son, the Obnoxious One, has terrible luck. He’s the kind of kid that if he and nine of his friends do something stupid, he’s the one, he’s the only one, out of the ten that gets caught. And punished. He’s been there. He’s done that. Way too many times unfortunately.DSC02374

But recently the last six weeks of his second year at university involved one unfortunate event after another.

  • his dog had to be put down and his sister insisted he Skype in IMG_2103
  • his girlfriend dumped him…nbegguyonly to want him back 24 hours later
  • his Mac laptop was stolen from the university library while he was taking a half hour break.
    courtesy iclipart.com

    courtesy iclipart.com

    He later admitted during “that break” he’d popped home for a quick game of FIFA with his buddies. Not a great decision, especially since the laptop was never recovered. What really sucked it that he still had three exams left to write and hadn’t backed up any of his notes or files.

Nevertheless somehow he managed to survive the end of the school year and arrived home in one piece, more or less. Of course, his luck didn’t improve at home as drama after drama unfolded. I’d divulge the sordid details, but he’d kill me. Really!

However he had the opportunity to go to Spain for three weeks this month to study Spanish History. (see Queen’s-Blyth Worldwide) The accredited course would take a small number of fortunate university students and their professor from Madrid to Seville to Barcelona, an amazing educational experience. For the Obnoxious One it was the chance to smash his bad luck streak and indulge in his love of travel, food and history.

Except there was one little problem:  in Madrid on the second day he became violently ill. Despite numerous trips to the pharmacy, symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, and a high fever persisted. A doctor who spoke some limited English examined him and prescribed antibiotics. I checked in with my baby every morning and night to see if he was still alive; of course his dad was out of the country on business, and his sister was newly broken up with her boyfriend. (She did the breaking up, but regardless, it was brutal at home – one wrong word or look and POW!!!)  After a week of no improvement (for him not her), a week of missed classes, and a week of missed excursions, it was time to man up; either my son had to go to the hospital in Madrid or come home and go to the hospital in Vancouver. And did I mention he lost more than ten pounds?!

Not surprisingly he chose to fly home, despite everything.

I picked the Obnoxious One up at the airport and took him straight to the Emergency Room at St Paul’s Hospital. Of course he wasn’t so obnoxious right then, my poor baby. As you might imagine, since St Paul’s is a downtown inner-city hospital it attracts all kinds of interesting people, particularly on a Saturday evening. The staff, however, are incredibly kind, incredibly patient and incredibly competent. Still, there are others places I’d rather be, especially considering it was my wedding anniversary. Twenty-eight years, but who’s counting?! After examining my son and taking samples of his blood and stool they sent us home.

He’s been home for five days now, and seems to be gradually improving on a steady diet of sleep, chicken broth and plain Greek yogurt. And no alcohol. The test results from the hospital came back negative for nasty bacteria or parasites. So either the antibiotics eventually did their business or he has a more serious underlying condition.  Good thing we have a great family doctor who’s very, very thorough since my son will be spending a lot of time with him trying to figure out what the heck is going on.

Perhaps deep in his subconsciousness the Obnoxious One just doesn’t want to travel anywhere without his mommy. Because after all, every single time during the past year he’s ventured too far away without me ( Dominican Republic in February 2012, aborted trip to Montreal in October, and Madrid in early May 2013 ), he’s had serious gastrointestinal issues.

IMG_2005-001

the two of us, happy and healthy, in Cabo

Guess I’ll just have to follow him wherever he goes…I know he’ll love that. And as a writer I can write anywhere, anytime, so he won’t cramp my style. Really!

What do you do when your kid is the most stubborn person on the planet?

My husband, the Original Obnoxious One, and my son, the Obnoxious One, are both extremely stubborn, IMG_0153but my daughter, The Demon Child is in a league all of her own. Ever since she was a baby she has been…well…challenging. She has never believed that no actually applied to her…more that it was suggestion she could take into account.

  • no, don’t put the dirty old toilet plunger on your head

    look at me!

    look at me

  • no, don’t stand up on the paddle boat in the middle of the ocean
  • look at what I can do

    look what I can do

  • no, don’t slurp your spaghetti, especially when you’re in a restaurant

    but it's so yummy this way

    but it’s so yummy this way

  • no, don’t touch the poisonous frog, especially when we’re in a boat-access-only location on the east coast of Costa Rica

    but he's so cute

    but he’s so cute

  • no, don’t take off on your own and try to get back on the ginormous cruise ship without your ID 
  • DSC02362

    Mom, you should be the one answering this

The first objective confirmation of my daughter’s character came when she was in Grade Three. The Head of her school called me in for a meeting to discuss my darling Demon Child. When I mentioned she was rather stubborn, he said:

Mrs. R., your daughter is the most stubborn child I have ever come across in all my thirty years of teaching.

Oooooh really…rats!

I had always longed for a sweet, attentive and malleable little girl I could dress up and take shopping. Never, ever happened and never gonna happen. Some mothers take pride in their daughter’s stubborn nature – not me. I can honestly state that I think stubbornness is an over-rated trait. Yes, as everyone insists, it might help her in the long run…but what about me in the short run?! I always figured my job was to get her through school while the two of us remained in one piece. Sure enough this project has proven to be the most demanding, the most painful, the most ambitious and ultimately, hopefully, the most rewarding one ever I have undertaken.

I’ll let you know how rewarded I feel – next year!

By the way, there is a reason that boarding schools exist — so that mothers and thirteen  old daughters can one day have a reasonable relationship. But that’s another story…

Fast forward to now that my darling angel…

yes my wings are broken and my halo fell off, but so what?

yes my wings are broken and my halo fell off, but so what?

has just turned eighteen.

As I mentioned in a prior post, she went to Nicaragua on a school class trip for three weeks in March. Unfortunately the Demon Child did not enjoy the experience  – to put it mildly – because of warring personalities, challenging conditions, but especially the hypocrisy of rich white kids performing “make work” projects in a third world country. She decided the class was beyond stupid so she tried to drop it…at the beginning of April with only two and one-half months left of school. Heck, the last two and a half months of her high school experience! Of course I told her to suck it up and finish the course…her dad, her brother and her teacher all gave her the same advice. Finishing it meant cranking out a couple of  reports, showing up to class occasionally  and checking in with her teacher from time to time. Could she please do that? – absolutely NOT, apparently.

courtesy iclipart.com

courtesy iclipart.com

So, we had a couple of disagreements followed by several all-and-out wars battles fights. We met with her guidance teacher who also encouraged her finish the course; however, when he confirmed that she didn’t actually require it to graduate from Grade 12 (she has enough credits without) and the university of her choice doesn’t require it…it was game over. She politely thanked him for his time, and then told me there was absolutely, positively, no way she was ever going to that class again or completing any reports for it.

I tired to reason with her…not a chance

I threatened her…I’m not proud

I tried to bribe her….yeah I know, I’m such a great mother

But in the end I had to stop because I still have to live with her until September when she goes off to university far, far away. then I can do my happy dance. In the meantime, I’m the one that has to suck it up. I’m the one that has to pick my battles. And I’m the one who has to survive in one piece.

courtesy iclipart.com

courtesy iclipart.com

Really!