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.



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


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)



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


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.



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.


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?!



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.



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.



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



and meditating



and hanging out with my dog.


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.




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.



Somewhere Over the Rainbow


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.


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


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.


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.


Photo by Jaromir Chalabala/

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,

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.


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.



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


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.








This is SO not funny

Yeah, I’m actually writing a blog that’s not funny or silly or attempts to be either. I simply can’t help myself, because I need to highlight a really sad situation. Perhaps this story struck me to the core because I have 2 teenage kids who were bullied during their lives. Perhaps it’s because I was heavily involved with a social services agency for 10 years who’s mandate was to promote healthy relationships. Whatever. You may have seen or heard about this. Even if you have, please watch it again and share it.

Here’s what she said:

I’m struggling to stay in this world, because everything just touches me so deeply. I’m not doing this for attention. I’m doing this to be an inspiration and to show that I can be strong. I did things to myself to make pain go away, because I’d rather hurt myself then someone else. Haters are haters but please don’t hate, although im sure I’ll get them. I hope I can show you guys that everyone has a story, and everyones future will be bright one day, you just gotta pull through. I’m still here aren’t I ?-AmandaTodd

Unfortunately Amanda Todd is no longer here – this Vancouver teen killed herself earlier this week, just one week before her 16th birthday.

Now go hug your kid, or your partner or your friend. Make a connection to the people in your life. Make sure they know that you love them. As much as I like to write about the silly things my family says and does, I love each of them fiercely – even the lazy dogs. And I thank God every night for them.


Watch out for the Wicked Witch of the West

It happened a couple of weeks ago on a Saturday morning. The whole family was gathered in the kitchen. I was pounding away on my novel,

cartoon courtesy

my tired and grumpy husband was guzzling coffee (he’d been travelling a lot and was finally home),

cartoon courtesy

my grouchy and hung-over tired son was hunched over his laptop (yes, he is legal),

cartoon courtesy

The dogs were passed out and my daughter was floating around.(For once she was not the problem)

It all started innocently enough. My husband, the Original Obnoxious One or OOO for short, opened the fridge door, rooted around and pronounced, “There’s no food in the house.”

cartoon courtesy of

My son, the Obnoxious One, followed up with, “We never have food in the house.”

OOO moaned, “We never have any food in the house.”

Usually I find the best thing to do with my two obnoxious guys when they go into full obnoxious mode is to ignore them. Yep, I bite my tongue, hum a catchy tune and say nothing…nada…they thrive on controversy, so I don’t give them any. That morning, however, I just had to put my two cents in. “You guys are so silly. We have tons of food. Just open your eyes.”

So they point out what’s missing: lunch meat, cheese slices, bananas, apples, strawberries, instant oatmeal, dates, hummus, good bread from the bakery

“We had bananas but they went bad. Same with the bread.” I countered.

OO  groaned, “But we have no good food now!”

“But we had most of those things yesterday. I just went shopping yesterday, and the day before, and the day before…”

OOO moaned quite desperately now. “Well there’s nothing here now. We have no food!What are we going to do?”

“Your son is eating us out of house and home! Every time I go shopping, he eats everything! And he eats late at night, like last night, so sometimes there’s none in the morning, like today.” I said, starting to get a little ticked off. Just a little.

OO complained, “We never have any good food in the house. That’s why I’ve been eating dinner at the restaurant after my shift.”

“Look, I’m not a mind reader. If you want certain things, you need to write them down. If we’re out of something you want, then write it down. I always have a list going.”  I was pretty annoyed by this time.

cartoon courtesy

But they just kept going and going and going.

OOO cried, “We have no food!”

OO joined in, “No food!”

So this is where the Wicked Witch of the West made her appearance. She arrived in a flash of light and a clap of thunder. “YOU GUYS ARE ABSOLUTE IDIOTS. GROW UP AND BUY YOUR OWN D@%*M FOOD!”

OOO moaned and groaned yet again. “But we have no food!?”

“ENOUGH ALREADY! I’M NOT A MIND READER? MAKE A LIST!” And with that the Wicked Witch of the West shut the computer off, stomped out of the kitchen and up the stairs, slamming a few doors along the way for good measure.

I would like to say that things improved after that, but that would be a lie. The Wicked Witch of the West did not leave that day. The boys did not apologize that day. There was more yelling and screaming and slamming and banging on Sunday too. The dogs spent a lot of time cowering in the basement far away from the crazy people. Finally on Sunday night, the Wicked Witch of the West approached the Original Obnoxious One, who by this time was PO’d too.

The Original Obnoxious One cried for the umpteenth time, “We never have any food!”

The Wicked Witch of the West shrieked,” I GO SHOPPING EVERY DAY BUT I’M NOT A MIND READER!”

OOO grumbled, “Just buy more food.”


OOO said, “Well…”

The Wicked Witch of the West shouted, “YOU DO? HOW COULD YOU? HOW COULD YOU?”

With fist clenched and teeth gritted, the Original Obnoxious One and the Wicked Witch of the West stood nose to nose, eyeball to eyeball, and glared and glowered at each other.

And started to laugh and laugh and laugh.

And just like that the Wicked Witch of the West took off. But you never know when she’ll return. So look out. Be very, very careful. Really!