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.

bamargaritacocktailmascot-1

courtesy iclipart.com

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.

doom and gloom.jpg

courtesy iclipart.com

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)

Print

courtesy iclipart.com

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

courtesy iclipart.com

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.

burden2

courtesy iclipart.com

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.

543264_10151311621917492_420617158_n

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?!

carrie-fisher

courtesy media.photobucket.com

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.

money.jpg

courtesy iclipart.com

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.

hospital-gown-3

courtesy iclipart.com

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

workout3

courtesy iclipart.com

and meditating

meditatelady

courtesy iclipart.com

and hanging out with my dog.

15621699_10157905226790290_2823678626637399887_n

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.

.

unwind

courtesy iclipart.com

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!

Advertisements

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Top-15

No you can’t

She tried to outdo him on everything, like Halloween costumes

Top-32.bmp

except I clearly won as the Wicked Witch 😉

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

100_0027_resized

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).

IMG_1518_resized

three-way tie

 

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

Spat

courtesy iclipart.com

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

tattoo_n

The Obnoxious One’s Tattoo

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

IMG_0861-001

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

b6_mushroom_cloud_3

courtesy iclipart.com

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

IMG_2228

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

IMG_2226

aren’t they handsome hens!

as well as this informative magazine.

chick&egg

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.

Scan

I did of course!

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.

courtesy iclipart.com

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.

courtesy iclipart.com

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;

courtesy iclipart.com

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
balloons

courtesy iclipart.com

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…

courtesy iclipart.com

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.

Only the best for my babies

Yep, I feed my darlings ( the hairy ones) very expensive, high quality, hypoallergenic059 potato & fish kibble from a local producer First Mate because, after all, they’re worth it.

courtesy Firstmate.com

courtesy Firstmate.com

And they love it.

I’ve thought about a “raw food” diet for them – for about 2 seconds, but sadly, even I have my limits. Besides, I’m not sure just how discriminating their taste buds really are. Killer loves garbage and rotten sticks and barnacle encrusted clams, while Franklinstein adores drywall, dirty old shoes (the smellier the better), furniture and of course, how can I forget …poop.  I  hope think we’ve cured him from that one, but still.( see Help – My Puppy has Coprophagia)

Being the ever vigilant mother that I am ;), I am constantly on the hunt for yummy but low-calorie treats for them. I’m not one of those dog folks who keeps treats in all her pockets , cuz that would drive my babies crazy. Labs they have a tendency to gain weight pretty quickly, and if it was up to them, they would eat 24/7 until they looked like this:

courtesy iclipart.com

courtesy iclipart.com

And I’m in enough trouble as it is with my vet, who happens to think they’re both too fat. Really?! So, we have tried each and every one of the following treats, but they all have their issues:

  • doggie cookies – too many calories
  • rawhide bones – easy to choke on (apparently)
  • dentabones –  last barely 2 seconds

Imagine my delight when I found the perfect dog chew – all natural and loved by both, but especially by Franklinstein.

Courtesy Bullwrinkles.com

Courtesy Bullwrinkles

The packaging proclaimed:

Great for larger dogs that need a long-lasting treat.  Made from real dried beef… full of rich flavor with a crunchy texture. These beef chews are  high in protein and low in fat. Highly digestible and can help improve dental health.

There was only one problem – the price. Individual treats cost almost $8 each. I wouldn’t mind if they lasted awhile, but Franklinstein demolishes them in about 10 minutes. So I talked to the folks at the local doggie store and asked for a deal – well the deal was that if I bought a box of the dog chews for $200, they wouldn’t charge me tax. But wait, $200 for a box of dog treats?! Are you crazy ? Ordinarily I would’ve laughed and said forget it, but I spent over $1,000 repairing all the damage Franklinstein did to our home (not to mention shoes, books, etc.), so….$200 was a bargain…relatively.

Well the doggie delicacies were a HUGE hit. I  got into the habit of giving them one or two every time I went out – to pilates, to grocery shopping, to taxiing around my daughter, or whatever. I felt great knowing  my babies were happy. We’d go through a box every month or so, but I just kept telling myself that it was money well spent.

One day I waltzed into the doggie store and said to the cashier, “Can I have a big box of those bones?” She wasn’t sure what I was talking about, so I showed her the chews.

“Those aren’t bones ma’am”

“Well, what are they?”

“Trust me, you don’t want to know”

“No really, I do. What are they?”

She came to close to me and whispered in my ear as if imparting the secret to eternal life.  “They’re bull penises.”

courtesy iclipart.com

courtesy iclipart.com

WHAT? So I did what I usually do in a situation like this: I went home to do research on the internet. Surely I could get to the bottom of this…situation. Guess what – bully sticks by Bullwrinkles are made from beef and steer pizzle and pizzle is a nice word for…penis. They cut them off, clean them, drain them, stretch them and dry them. Sometimes they braid them. Then they cut them and package them. Really! (See What are Bully Sticks if you don’t believe me!)

Well, there was NO way I could keep this information to myself, so I immediately texted my son, the Obnoxious One with the news of Franklinstein’s latest and greatest tendencies. My son’s response? (after the expected %#*)  – Just two words:

“SELL HIM”

Really!

The Magical Allure of Books

As a voracious reader, enthusiastic writer, and aspiring author, I know a little bit about the power of words. Imagine my delight when a member of my philistine family finally showed some interest in really good books. Yes, my husband, the Original Obnoxious One reads – nonfiction economic, law and business books. How do you spell boring?! My son, the Obnoxious One reads – economic and history text books at university. My daughter the Weird One reads – existential angst-ridden teen fiction. It hurts just to look at her books – really! The Weird One recently told me, “Mom, in all the best fiction, somebody always dies. Think of Disney’s Snow White and the Lion King. So, you should definitely kill off someone in your novel.” Yes dear,a must-have inclusion for a humorous middle grade novel.

But this member of the family showed a fierce desire to go beyond all that, way beyond! This one wanted to gorge on books, to totally possess the written word. 

Who am I talking about? Why Franklinstein of course.

It wasn’t enough for him to chew my slippers, shoes, boots, chairs, baseboards, drywall or mill-work. Is it any wonder he has digestive issues?  Nope, he has officially moved on to books. Sigh – what an intellectual. And not just any old books, but the two books I purchased at the amazing Surrey International Writers’ Conference a couple weeks ago. And they were signed by the authors and addressed to me! Yeah, specifically The Rose Garden a wonderful story by Susanna Kearsley which luckily I read before Franklinstein struck, as well as The Fire in Fiction: Passion, Purpose and Techniques to Make Your Novel Great by Donald Maass. It was next in my pile of books to read. It looked really good; it looked really great in fact. So, can you imagine my reaction?

courtesy iclipart.com

I placed the two books on my desk in the kitchen, and left the house for two hours. Apparently Franklinstein enjoyed himself very much in my absence. Perhaps he was familiar with John Milton’s words, “A good book is the precious life-blood of a master spirit.” Yeah, that must be it.

In the words of my wise friend, coach and freelance editor Sylvia Taylor, “Good thing that dog is REALLY cute!”

You can say that again. Many times. Really!

So now Karma is laughing at me big time.

That’s right. Yesterday I was trying to excuse my lack of blogging lately (or doing much of anything) on the weather. And the spectacular place that is the Pacific Northwest on a sunny summer day. In retrospect maybe I was a little too smug.

After spending a couple of hours working on my novel rewrite, and an hour or so putting my blog post together, I headed out. After all, the house renos were continuing without me – the painter was painting the inside of the garage and the gardeners were moving rocks and dirt and other cool stuff. My husband was spending the afternoon and evening golfing in some tournament which was apparently work related (important client bonding event, darling),  my son was working at the restaurant, my daughter was working at camp…so I was footloose and fancy free. I went for a 15 minute drive with my young lab, Franklinstein, to Lighthouse Park. The older one is arthritic and slowing down, especially in the heat.

 Even though there were tons of people wandering around, the park is so large, and so full of nooks and crannies that we felt at one with nature pretty early on. Sublime.

Yes, I admit to relishing my situation. I live in this place and I love it. Please note Karma, you’ve already had your fun with me.

With the sunshine and the joy of freedom, I figured I may as well check out the spot we’ve been thinking of moving next – last time I went there was during the deep dark, cold rains of March. It was a beautiful drive past Horseshoe Bay along the Sea to Sky Highway .

I left the highway and drove down the little road to the subdivision. When I parked my car, however, I realized that something was wrong. I got out to investigate and discovered a  flat tire. Not just any flat tire, but a totally pulverized, flat as a pancake, tire. Here’s where Karma had her laugh. I knew my husband would be livid – he has a thing about cars and car trouble and somehow I have experienced a fair bit in my time.   So I called for roadside assistance and waited…and waited…and waited. The nice lady on the other end of the line assured me that help would arrive within 30 to 40 minutes. And yes, the guy arrived eventually…after about 75 minutes.

Meanwhile I was totally stuck, totally stranded in the middle of nowhere with my dog, no books, no newspaper, just my Blackberry.  So, I  took a couple of photos.

In the past I  wondered whether I could handle living in such a “remote” spot, after all, it’s a whole 10 minute drive on the highway to the nearest shopping mall! But, after spending more than an hour there today, all I can say is….BRING IT ON!

Heck, even Franklinstein approved.

 First I have to wait until my daughter finishes high school (1 more year) and the housing market picks up (who knows when) but then…

I’m yours – really!