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.

raging river

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.)



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.


Mad Mouse courtesy

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.



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. 



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.

worried woman


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?”



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.”










Beware my Weapon of Mass Destruction

There – you’ve been warned. The others – the Obnoxious One (my son)

and the Weird One (my daughter) paid no attention to my warnings and suffered the consequences, as did many of their friends. Severe consequences I might add.

topsiders and toms

Yes those are uggs

Even I let down my guard for a moment and endured terrifying results.

The house also has terrible scars to bear.

note the top and bottom corner

The interesting thing is that my hubby, Captain Dumb Dumb is the only individual who has not succumbed. I wonder what his secret is?

He must smell really, really strange. Plus he does make the appropriate sacrifices on a regular basis.

Weapon of Mass Destruction in happier times


Fifty Things I Should be Doing Besides Reading the Fifty Shades Books

Okay so I am totally embarrassed to say that I got caught up in the whole Fifty Shades thing. There, I’ve said it. Whew – feels good to get that off my chest. I do read every day and I read a huge cross-section of books – kids, fantasy,crime thrillers, historical fiction and on and on. I’ve read a number of Oprah’s picks as well as Heather’s (Indigo/Chapters) and I typically pay attention to both the Globe and Mail and the New York Times best seller lists for fiction.  Lots of rationalizing going on here. Fifty Shades of Grey was on ALL the best sellers’ lists. And everyone seemed to be talking about it, even way up here in Canada.

courtesy E.L.James

So I bought the first one and read it – only at night and I didn’t tell anyone. Especially not my kids! Then I couldn’t help myself, so I bought the second – and sent the first to my sister. I figured at least I could talk to her about it. For the third, I skulked around my local Indigo but they were all sold out after Mothers’ Day. So I surreptitiously picked it up at London Drugs wearing my sunglasses and rain-hat


along with a bunch of other necessities like shampoo, toothpaste, and toilet paper.

So why the fascination? The brilliant plot twists? The scintillating characters? Nope – must be the setting – it all takes place in the Pacific Northwest – where the sun always shines in the books. The author is actually British so I guess she thinks the entire west coast has the same weather as L.A. Sure – no rain here, ever!

So yea, the setting – that’s my story and I’ll stick to it. In the meantime, here are the 50 things I should really be doing:

  1. reworking my manuscript
  2. writing a real blog post
  3. biting my lower lip
  4. laundry – piles and piles of it
  5. buying groceries
  6. swiffering up the dog hair around the house – 2 labs shed tons in the spring
  7. dung patrol
  8. rolling my eyes and smirking
  9. walking the dogs
  10. talking to my sister – except she won’t talk to me ’cause she’s reading Fifty Shades Darker
  11. harassing my teen aged children
  12. watching the Real Housewives of Vancouver – Preview of episode 11
  13. weeding the back garden – it’s a jungle
  14. cleaning out my car – it’s a mucky stinky disaster
  15. sleeping – I usually read at night, so if I read for too long…
  16. spring cleaning the scary storage area under the living room
  17. packing my daughter’s stuff for camp
  18. answering my emails
  19. updating my itunes account
  20. unloading the dishwasher
  21. ironing my blouses – yea, well I could in theory
  22. making dinner
  23. brushing my dogs with the furminator 

  24. answering my home phone instead of letting it go to voicemail
  25. paying my bills
  26. doing a Costco run
  27. connecting with friends
  28. taking a shower
  29. scheduling that mammogram that I’ve been putting off
  30. polishing the silver
  31. backing up my computer
  32. syncing my blackberry
  33. washing a winter’s worth of slime off my outdoor furniture
  34. finish reading the Steve Jobs biography
  35. cleaning the coffee maker
  36. wrapping and mailing the Father’s Day gift to my dad
  37. phoning my mom – Jeez I really hope she’s not reading Fifty Shades!
  38. taking a spin class – I’ve never been but everyone says they’re great. Yea.
  39. finish reading Niall Ferguson’s brilliant Civilization: The West and the Rest
  40. giving myself a manicure
  41. indulging in a pedicure
  42. setting my watch and all clocks in the house 5 minutes fast because I am always late
  43. making chocolate fudge – using our family’s super secret recipe
Okay so I’m stuck at 43. Am I the only one who can’t tear themselves away from the guilty pleasure of the Fifty Shades? Please tell me it ain’t so and please give me some more suggestions as to what I could be doing instead…I’ve got to make it to Fifty.

Designer Dogs Are Us

I was at the doggie park in Ambleside this week, enjoying the dogs, the ocean, and the owners. Okay, so I’m the first to admit that I’m a tiny bit biased, but as an owner of Labrador Retrievers, I have to say that 9 times out of 10 I am impressed with other Lab owners. They are generally family oriented, relatively easy going (like their dogs) and sociable (also like their dogs).

Other breeds attract other kinds of owners, generally speaking of course. The latest trend  for the special folk of West Van is the designer dog, in particular Labradoodles and Golden Doodles. Of the two, Labradoodles and in particular Chocolate Labradoodles are the most desirable; at the very top of the food chain are Chocolate Australian Labradoodles which come in a variety of sizes (small and medium are best). These dogs are touted as possessing the best of both breeds, i.e. the gentle good nature of the Lab combined with the non-shedding, hypoallergenic coat of the Poodle. That’s the theory anyways. These dogs aren’t cheap though, and of course, that’s a large part of the attraction. Should you wish to “adopt” one of these precious princesses or princes, consider the following:

1)    Designer dogs cost 2 to 3 times as much as established breeds like Labradors or Retrievers or Poodles. Of course this fact just makes them that much more desirable. Wonder why the ones I know are yappy, hyper and poorly behaved? Is that a product of the dog or the owner?

2) Training a dog, any dog, takes a great deal time and energy; figure on a good 6 months of daily work at the beginning. But all too often the families of these designer dogs tend to have no idea how to train a dog, so they take obedience classes (which is great) that their dogs fail (not so great). They then hire dog consultants for several hundred dollars to spend quality time with their dogs and families at their home.

3) All too often these families don’t take their dogs for walks – nope, dog walking is reserved either for their nanny/housekeeper or favourite dog walk service. Every day on the local trails and dog walks, I see many of the same dogs. Now this service really is great for families where both spouses are working; but many of these dogs are from families where one of the spouses (usually but not always the wife) is at home. With a nanny/housekeeper, personal trainer, regular mani/pedi and weekly massage service. Good dog walkers are not cheap (at least by my standards) – about $20 for an hour walk…with other dogs. That adds up pretty quickly when it’s several times a week.

4) Don’t forget that what goes in, does come out, albeit in a different form. Somebody has to pick up after these dogs, but usually that pleasure is reserved for the nanny/housekeeper or Dog Poop service. BIG bucks to be made in the pooper scooper business in West Vancouver – figure on at least $10 – $20 per week depending on frequency. Also add extra to have your consultant teach your designer dog exactly where on your property your dog should leave their waste; after all, West Van gardeners get very upset when their clients’ pets that destroy their handiwork.

5) Be sure to budget for grooming fees. Just because designer dogs don’t shed doesn’t mean they don’t require grooming. If anything, they require more care than a Lab or Golden; their curly hair tends to absorb mud, sticks, leaves, etc. so demands frequent shampoos, brushings and trims.  No baths in the basement sink for these pampered pups! Suddenly the balls of hair in my house don’t seem too bad.

6) I just learned that customized swimming lessons are available where dogs can learn to swim in a safe and comfortable, controlled environment – honestly, I’m not making this stuff up! Who cares that West Vancouver is on the ocean. And has a number of dog friendly trails located beside rivers and creeks and lakes.Let’s pay big bucks to teach our designer dogs to swim.

7) When you go on vacation, what does your dog do? Home care, kennel and boarding are all viable options, but do consider  the deluxe doggie hotels and spas. Where the doggies can get special treatment like massages, treats, one-on-one specialized care in a carefully controlled environment. Don’t forget to book the services of the dog psychic if you really want to discover your dog’s true needs.

But why would you become a dog “guardian” (designer dog or not) if you don’t want to spend any time with it? After all, dogs are great stress relievers, they provide unconditional love, and generally encourage better health through those daily walks. Dogs, no matter what breed, are essentially social creatures; they want to spend time with people and other dogs, outside. But, they do require some work, some time and some responsibility.

Maybe some families just want a dog for the annual Christmas photo.

Oops – wrong one!

Much better!

Maybe instead of trying to be a writer, I should be a dog walker &/or groomer… the pay would certainly be MUCH better. Really!

Help – my puppy has Coprophagia!

Things have been a little busy in my house lately – busy for me and my puppy, Franklin that is, since all the other members of my family have magically faded away. You see, Franklin has coprophagia. Sounds like a scary, deadly disease, right?

Not quite. In reality it is nasty and disgusting and absolutely gross!

My puppy eats poop. There I said it.

And then he vomits it. Double whammy!

I am cringing mentally and physically just writing about this, but apparently it’s not all that uncommon. I called the vet, I called the breeder and I called my Mommy. I went online and looked at many, many websites. The results?

  •  I am watching him like a hawk and stopping ANY bad behaviour I see.
  • I am doctoring my dogs’ food with a powder called “For Bid”
  • I am making sure he gets tons of exercise
  • I am feeding him more puppy food so he won’t be quite so hungry.
  • And I am doing a lot of cleaning.

Really! A lot! My hands are red and chapped from all the washing and scrubbing.

Good thing he’s so cute, but I’m still not letting him kiss me for a while – maybe ever.

Wish me luck PLEASE.

The joys of parenting when you’re in…advanced middle age

I am rather chagrined to admit that dealing with a baby after so many years, at my stage in life (more than 29, more than 39, heck even…okay, I’m going to stop while I’m ahead!) has proven to be a bit more challenging than expected.

Surprisingly enough, the tons of help EVERYONE in my family promised has yet to materialize. Conveniently the Obnoxious One is at university in Ontario, which does  make taking care of midnight calls for attention a wee bit difficult. The Demon Child magically disappears into the deep dark cave she calls her room anytime I suggest there is something to be done.  After 12 to 15 hours in the office when he finally arrives home, the Original Obnoxious One plays dumb  – is that a puddle on the floor? No dear, it’s a magic lake that will disappear on its own shortly.

Somehow I forgot the many challenges and delights of having a young one in the family, such as:

  • the mess of toys, shoes and paper everywhere
  • the full face wet kisses
  • the exact science and higher learning involved in teaching NO
  • the wrestling with anyone or anything at absolutely any hour of the day or night
  • the moaning and the groaning and the whining when wishes are denied
  • the excitement when I come home after being away for a couple of hours
  • the inability to leave my side even for a moment, even when I have to take a shower or use the toilet
  • the press of the warm, floppy body against my own
  • the accidents in the house – little lakes and little piles discreetly hidden just for my pleasure
  • the absolute certainty on that cute little face that you are THE most important person in the whole wide world.

The wonder of the five month old male puppy.


Why is my little guy such a …guy?

My four month old puppy Franklin is ALL male…He figures he’s the boss, and whatever he wants is fine. Despite the fact that there is an older, much bigger dog in the house, ten year old Sandy. Despite the fact that he has an experienced owner/trainer wise to his ways.

What am I talking about? Well…

  • He’s very competitive. When it’s meal time he doesn’t care whose bowl and whose food is around – if he can reach it, he figures it’s his. We have to separate the beasts at feeding time to make sure all fingers, toes and paws remain intact.
  • when he see’s a dog bed he likes, he stretches out on it – no matter that it has belonged to Sandy for 10 years. No matter that Sandy is already happily established on said bed. Good thing Sandy is a patient old lady who tolerates Franklin’s presence with dignity. 
  • at bedtime Franklin marches into Sandy’s kennel and lies on top of her if there’s no room. Once again poor Sandy suffers in silence. 
  • he must win, ALWAYS, at any cost whether it’s attention or a toy. If I am petting Sandy, Franklin inserts himself in-between us and smiles at me
  • he moans and groans when he’s unhappy – extremely loudly so that EVERYONE within a 10 mile radius can hear him. Yesterday Franklin was wrestling with a dog we met in the canyon and hurt his foot; Franklin’s howls rolled back and forth throughout that canyon. I cuddled and petted him until…he jumped out of my arms and sauntered on his merry way. And he doesn’t like to get wet – what kind of a lab is he? Guess he doesn’t want to ruin his image.

    One happy dog, one pouty puppy

  • he makes messes and never cleans them up, leaving me, and only me, to do so. Sandy doesn’t make messes, and when she does her business, she is very discreet
  • Franklin likes to bring me, his mommy, the spoils of war, whether it be a bone, a toy or an enormous dead rat
  • Did I mention that he’s got a thing about shoes? – guess he’s the “new meterosexual male”! 

So what happened to the family hierarchy? – the one that suggests the boss is my husband, then me, then my son, then Sandy, then my daughter (she was only 5 when we got Sandy, so Sandy has always considered herself superior)  and THEN Franklin. But this is NOT the world according to Franklin. Nope, in Franklin’s world there’s just him…and me. Yes, I will admit he listens to me, and not the kids…not my husband. Guess he’s just a momma’s boy. Good thing he’s so cute!