Saturday, 28 June 2014

Women you Love to Hate

You see them everywhere, and don’t you just hate them? You know the women I mean, the ones who are so put together they look like they just stepped off the runway or out of a fashion photo shoot.

Some women can look good, nice clothes, appropriate shoes, tasteful jewellery, but they just don’t hit the mark as…perfect…or spectacular.

My friend and I have been having lunch every Thursday at the same place, same time. For two weeks now I’ve seen one of those women, one of those perfect looking women.

It was the gladiator shoes, in black, with 3 inch heels that caught my attention. I absolutely loved the shoes.

The woman was tall and slim, with short blond hair in that kind of boy cut style. This all hit me on two fronts, I wore my hair in that same style when I was younger, and wore those shoes, only with a lesser heel.

She wore skinny red jeans, the length perfect to showcase the shoes. Have you noticed how many women, myself included, don’t pay attention to the length of their pant legs. Some of mine are too long and are getting worn at the back from getting caught under my heel. Not a good fashion look.

To complete the outfit she wore a white jacket and carried a black and white striped tote.

The next week it was black pants, with a different white jacket. This one looked to be made of a knit fabric with a flounce at the hem that dipped lower in the back. Sandals again in a black and white print, I think, but with a wedge heel, same tote.

I hate this woman. I envy this woman. And I’m mad at myself, for letting fashion and style disappear from my life when I stopped working and dressing for the office.

There is no excuse. This woman has reminded me how much I love fashion, and maybe watching her will inspire me to pay more attention to my appearance.

I wonder what she’ll be wearing next week?

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Sigh of Relief

I am breathing a huge sigh of relief tonight.

There was a barbecue at noon today, for the residents at the complex where I live. The Annual General Meeting was to be held 30 minutes prior, business before pleasure.

Before I left home, I picked up the notice, printed so nicely on bright pink paper, to verify the time, and left it sitting on the counter. On a wet counter, I realized when I got home and found a bold pink stain on my very nice beige marble-like Formica counter top.

Oh, no. What to do, what to do.

I wish I'd been smart enough to take a before picture, but all I could think of was to get rid of it, as soon as possible.

I dampened the area and covered it with baking soda, which created a paste. The soda bicarbonate (baking soda) works great, better than some scour type cleaners because it's non-abrasive. I let it sit for awhile, then scoured it with one of those soft non scratchy kitchen sponges.

I had it almost gone, just a tinge of the palest pink was left, not noticeable unless you knew it was there.

But I knew it was there. I added the smallest amount of bleach to the sponge and gave the counter another wipe, and voila, the stain was gone.

Just wanted to give you this handy tip, baking soda is cheap and much less abrasive than those commercial cleaners. NB: also works on stains like tomato sauce and those Koolaid drinks the kids like.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Gopher Money

I love to knit and crochet. But I would have a problem if I made something and needed to duplicate it over and over again. What can I say, I bore easily.

I’m constantly looking for new patterns to try. It’s even better if the pattern turns out to be the perfect sweater for one of the grandkids, or the hat and scarf to match someone’s new coat.

I get daily E-mails from various craft sites and yarn companies, full of patterns and ideas.

Last week I sent a picture of golf club covers to my son-in-law, a golfer. He thought the one, a gopher, was particularly fun, as it gave reference to the movie Caddyshack.

I’ve never seen the movie so I don’t get the reference, but I have it on the word of two golfers that the gopher club cover was real cute, and they each wanted one.

I spent 3 days making these club covers, and the recipients insisted on paying me for my time and trouble, and the yarn.

So, I had money in my pocket Monday when I went to meet my brother for lunch. It was my treat, paid for with my gopher money.

I had to break my $5 rule though. I got two fives in my change and had to leave one for a tip. Appreciation for good service is important, so I guess it was OK, but just this once.

Monday, 23 June 2014

No Cash for the Kitty

I’ve written before about my new system for saving money, my Five Bucks Plan, ( see and I have to say it was much more lucrative in the beginning. But I’m sticking with it, after all, any penny saved is a penny earned.

This whole savings thing has become a family joke. Every time I pay for something we all watch to see what I get back in my change.

It’s fun, and I like the randomness of it.

The other day my son and I were going through the drive thru to pick up a coffee before his son’s lacrosse game. I gave him a twenty to pay, and got a $10 bill and some coin back.

We immediately laughed. No cash for the kitty that day.

Maybe I’ll have better luck today. I’m meeting my brother for lunch later, and it’s my turn to pay.

I’m going to spend my gopher money, but that’s a story for another day.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

An Afternoon at the Lake

I spent a lovely afternoon at the lake with Gage Donovan. He’s a homicide detective with the Ridgewood Regional Police Department.

Together we’re going to solve the murders of three young people, friends since high school. They were strangled, their bodies dumped on the edge of a farmer’s field, where the forest meets the corn.

That is all fiction, of course, except the sitting by the lake. It was just too perfect a day to not be outside, so I took my tea and my notebook and worked on my current book.

The title “Where the Forest Meets the Corn” comes from something my son said while out hunting. He thought it sounded like a book title, and I agreed. It was the inspiration for this book’

Here’s the first chapter, murder number one, if you’re interested. First draft, of course.


Marla Johnson gave the flat tire a swift kick and grimaced with the resulting pain in her toe. Why tonight of all nights, she wondered, looking around the snow covered and deserted parking lot. It was just her luck, and all bad luck, she thought, her mood shifting quickly from irritated to irate.
She didn’t like it when she didn’t get her own way. Not only had she not been able to leave early, she’d been left alone in the store with the responsibility for the nightly closing.
The snow that had fallen throughout the day and into the evening had kept most people at home, but she’d had to stay until regular closing time as long as there were shoppers in the mall. “It’s not my damn job to close,” she muttered.
Angry that she’d had to stay late, Marla had begun closing up before nine, pulling the clothing racks in the store and starting the night deposit. Now, leaving even later than usual because she couldn’t get the damn count right, the flat tire was the icing on the cake of a really frustrating day.
It was cold, colder yet with the wind chill and she wasn’t dressed for standing out in the blowing snow. The parking lot had been plowed once by the look of it, and would need it again soon. The few inches of fresh snow covered the shoes she’d worn in lieu of boots and soaked her socks and pant legs, causing her to shiver with the chill.
There was no help to be found in the parking lot and it was too cold to stand outside and call for help. Marla left her car where it was and headed back to the lights and warmth of the mall, exasperated that she would have to call her dad. It was a nasty night, but she didn’t have a clue how to change a tire and couldn’t afford the service charge to have someone come and take care of it.
Her dad would just have to pick her up, and she’d leave the car where it was for the night. The plowman wouldn’t be happy, forced to go around her car, but too bad, she thought, join the club. Her dad wasn’t going to be happy either. Marla knew she would get the inevitable lecture on car maintenance or more specifically her lack of car maintenance. She felt her defences rise, how did regular oil changes prevent a flat tire, she wanted to know?
Annoyed with the inconvenience after a long day on her feet, she was also concerned about the potential cost of unexpected repairs. Only weeks since Christmas, she had a moment of regret for the shopping spree that had maxed out her credit card with the post holiday sales.
She hadn’t given any thought to being the last to leave the mall until she saw a truck slowly approach and looked around, suddenly aware of how alone she was in the deserted parking lot. With an eye on the exit door, she was prepared to run, hesitating when she heard someone call her name, just catching it over the sound of the wind.
The truck pulled up beside her, the driver’s side window down, and she saw a face smiling out at her from the dark interior.
“Marla? Have you got car trouble?” he asked.
Cautiously, she stepped up to the sidewalk leading to the employee entrance where there was a bell she could push to summon the night watchman. She couldn’t get a good look at the driver’s face but was somewhat relieved; he seemed to know her and knew her name.
“I hope you have Road Side Assistance, or are you going to call Ernie out on a foul night like this?”
She could see him better now in the soft glow of the street light, had seen him before though she couldn’t put a name to the face. He must be a local, she thought, if he knew her, and knew her dad.
“It’s really coming down, isn’t it?” she said, stepping side to side to keep the circulation moving in her feet and legs.
“What’s the problem? You need a boost?”
“No, I never even tried to start it. I have a flat.”
“You call Ernie yet? He’ll tell you to leave it for the night. It’s too cold and dark to try changing it, and it’s not a night to go driving around on a donut.”
She laughed. “I haven’t called him yet, was going to do it inside, but that’s just what he would say.”
“I’m heading out your way, no sense dragging him out on a night like this. Hop in. I’ll give you a ride home.”
Chilled to the bone, her feet wet and numb from the cold and snow, she looked at the somewhat familiar face and shook off any caution about taking rides from strangers. He knew her dad, and, all things considered, how dangerous could he be.
“Thanks. That would be great.” She ran around to the passenger side and reached for the handle, opened the door and climbed in. Her teeth were chattering and she fumbled with awkward fingers to secure the seat belt. The heater was turned on high and she could feel the burst of warm air from the vents.
“You must be frozen,” he said. “You should be wearing boots in this weather.”
“I know, but I was late leaving for work and rushed out, thinking I only had to walk from the car to the store and back. Isn’t that how it works, trouble strikes when you’re least prepared?”
“I think I’ve heard that before,” he laughed.
She looked at him in question when he pulled into the drive thru of the coffee shop at the far end of the Ridgewood Mall parking lot.
“I could do with a hot drink, figured you could too. My treat, what would you like?”
“A hot chocolate would be great. Thanks.” She gave him another glance, thinking he was a good looking guy, still unable to place where she’d met him before.
They proceeded through the line, got their orders and Marla was reassured when she saw him take the road leading to Glen’s Corners, a small neighbourhood on the outer edge of town. She held on tight to the cup, used it to warm her frozen fingers, and watched as he set his cup in the single cup holder, never even tasting the drink he’d said he wanted.
She was sitting in a truck, with a virtual stranger, surrounded by the night and falling snow. With the reduced number of cars on the road, Marla was beginning to feel isolated and uneasy.
She assumed he knew where she lived, as he had seemed to know her father, so she let him drive, and issued no directions. When he turned left instead of right at Tanner Road, her internal warning bells went off.
“You turned the wrong way,” she said, twisting in her seat to look at her companion. “I live the other way.”
“I thought we’d stop and finish our drinks, talk a minute before I take you home.”
“It’s really been a crappy day and I’d rather go home. Maybe some other time.”
“Maybe some other time,” he repeated. “You said that to me once before, but I bet you don’t remember. Just like you don’t remember me, do you?”
Marla was alarmed by the tone in his voice and looked at his face, trying to remember where she might have seen him before, why he looked familiar. “Do I know you?”
She kept her eyes on him, at the same time she watched out the window, trying to see through the blowing snow to where he was driving. He stared straight ahead, giving her no attention, and no answer to her question. She could feel a weird sensation across the back of her neck, caused by fear. One hand held tight to her cup of hot chocolate, the other braced on the door.
He was heading west, further out of town where the farms were broken up here and there with country estates. If she could get out of the truck there might be some help to be found, even though the houses were few and far between.
“I want to go home. If you won’t take me, let me out and I’ll find my own way.”
She laid her hand on the door handle, ready to make her escape if he stopped, but knew Tanner Road went on for miles without a stop. The truck slowed, and at first she thought he was pulling over to let her out, but saw immediately she was wrong when he turned off the concession road to a lesser used side road.
“Stop, I want to get out,” Marla shouted. She could feel her heart racing, her body trembling with the cold, and the fear that she was in serious trouble. She knew this road, and it only led deeper into the countryside. She would be alone and helpless if they went any further. Panic was setting in, she had to get away.
She jerked on the door handle, afraid enough to risk the jump from a moving vehicle rather than face what might be ahead at the hands of this stranger. The door didn’t move. The latch wouldn’t release.
She heard his voice, colder now, not friendly like before. “I’m afraid that door only opens from the outside. I always meant to have it fixed, just never got around to it.”
They passed the farmhouse on the corner, the lights barely discernable through the blowing snow. She could just see the barn on the right, the shadow of fields to her left. Her companion looked forward, his attention on the road, giving her distress no heed.
There was only darkness ahead, no other houses, and no other cars coming her way. She could feel the truck slow as he drove past a section of forest, bush that could not be farmed and served only to separate the worked fields. He drove through a gap in the fence, bumping along a dirt path that ran parallel to the trees and the side of the cornfield. She was cold, afraid and startled that her mind recognized that the field was full of standing corn.
She looked at the cup in her hand, and gave a rueful laugh that she was still holding on to it, when she could have, should have, thrown it in his face. But even then, how would she get out? Her door was securely locked, and she would have to climb over him to make her escape.
The truck and her breathing seemed to stop simultaneously. She held her breath, every muscle in her body tense, alert, and waiting for his next move.
He slowly put the truck in park, and turned off the engine. Casually, as if they were two old friends getting together, he turned toward her, and reached for his cup, flipped the lid open and took a sip of his coffee. He sat in silence, one arm resting across the back of the bench seat, the other, still holding his coffee, dangled over the top of the steering wheel.
She released her breath, some relief that they’d stopped, and a sense of panic at the same time because they had stopped. What was his purpose in bringing her here, for there had been purpose in his actions.
“Do you remember me yet, Marla? Because I remember you, and I remember that night you and your friends ruined my life.”
“I don’t know you. And I don’t know what you’re talking about. Take me home right now and we’ll forget all about tonight.” Her bravado was all for show, for she knew she did know him, didn’t remember who or where, but she knew there was something to remember.
“Senior year. I’ve changed my appearance some since then, lost the pudge, had the nose fixed, contacts instead of glasses. Quite the change, don’t you think? Who’d have thought I could look this good. Am I worthy of your attention now, Marla?”
She stared at his face, trying to see the boy in the man’s features. It was the eyes that told their tale, the eyes hadn’t changed. It was the absence of the glasses that had thrown her off. Suddenly all the memories of that night came flooding back, and with them the shame and horror of what she’d done.
“Do you remember the last words you ever said to me? I do.”
Marla looked at him, shaking her head, unsure what he wanted her to do, to say.
“You said, and I quote, “I’d die before I ever let you touch me”. Do you remember?”
He took another drink from the cup, his eyes never leaving hers.
She felt the blast of cold air, heard the whir as he opened the window, watched as he poured the remainder of his coffee out on the ground and saw him toss the empty cup in the back of the truck, behind the seat.
Without saying another word, he took the paper cup from her hand and repeated the same actions, tossing her cup with his. She sat there, unable to think, unable to move.
“I decided to take you up on your offer.” His words were spoken with an eerie calm.
Her past had come back to haunt her, for retribution, revenge, or retaliation? She knew; when she looked in his eyes that he was the past and he had come back for all of that and more.
She knew when she looked in his eyes she was staring at death.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Telephone Computer Scams

I got another one of those calls tonight, from some person saying they were calling from Microsoft, informing me that I had a problem with my computer.

These calls are scams, the callers hope to talk the person into giving them access to their computer, and with it, access to all their personal information.

They tell you someone has already accessed your info, which makes the recipient of the call immediately panic.

The first time I received this type of call, I informed the police, but there didn’t seem to be much they could do, except warn the public. I must not have been the only one reporting this as, shortly thereafter, there were numerous articles in the paper warning people not to fall for this scam.

The second time, I made the mistake of saying the caller was trying to commit fraud, and that I would call the police. The caller became very irate, yelling at me to go ahead and call the police, he even dared me to. I, in another of my not so bright moments, said I would but he was tying up my phone line.

This caller was very rude, not appreciative at all of my comments. He told me to do all sorts of crude creative things, swearing and yelling at me. He scared me, so I called the police again.

The policeman I spoke to was very pleasant. He told me that these guys pull your number at random from the online directory, which is why I’ve received more than one call. He very politely suggested that I not engage in any conversation next time, but just say No Thanks and hang up.

I got another call tonight, from a 207 area code, which is Maine, other calls had a series of numbers displayed rather than a true phone number.

When the caller asked me if I was on my computer, (some people take a while to learn their lesson) I said I didn’t have a computer. He sounded most annoyed, asked me why I was wasting his time. I replied “You called me remember.” He laughed, realizing how silly that had seemed and I hung up.

See, I finally did as I was told. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

PS. As I was trying to post this I couldn't access the internet, some problem with Google. Maybe there is something wrong with my computer....not. I called a friend and she had the same problem. What timing.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

My Blonde Moment

I've been a brunette all my life, well except for that time I tried to give myself streaks and turned it orange, and maybe now when I have some natural grey. But I definitely had a blonde moment last night driving home.

I had been at my daughter's for my grandson's 6th birthday, and was taking the rural highway home, a distance of about fifteen miles between her town and mine.

It's summer, so of course there are delays due to construction.

Have you noticed that on some road construction/repair sites they use a temporary traffic light? It's used for traffic control, with only red and green lights of course. I always figured this was to replace the poor smuck who would otherwise be standing at the side of the road, holding the sign with Slow on one side and Stop on the other. Those guys may have looked like they had an easy job, but I bet it was tough standing all day, out in the sun, with nothing to do but hold the sign. What a lonely and boring day.

So, I'm heading home at just after seven o'clock, and I approach the bridge. There's one of those portable traffic lights in the middle of it, as the bridge is undergoing some major repair.

I can see that the light is red and traffic is backing up on my side of the bridge, and here it is, my blonde moment...I wonder why. The workers are gone for the day, so why can't we just keep driving.

Well, duh. There is one lane blocked off as it is being worked on, and that leaves only one lane open. I guess I was too used to there being two lanes in some construction sites, except when the men are working and the big equipment is moving all about.

I know how to share. I especially know how to share the road, it's important to my safety and well being.

I guess it was the traffic light in the middle of the bridge that caught me off guard. I mean it was over train tracks, not like the bridge was going to rise up on both ends to let a big ship go by.

I think there's road construction on every road I take out of town, and a few within. I can tell it's going to be a long, long summer.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Morning Glories in Bloom

The morning started off cool, with a gentle rain. As the weather front moved on east, the birds came out and entertained me with their song. I went outside to sit on the patio with my coffee and was greeted by a very brazen little chipmunk.

The squirrels stay out on the grass and have never come near when I’m outside, but that little chipmunk practically ran over my foot as it raced around the patio.

My Mother’s Day Morning Glory has finally adjusted to its new location. It gets morning and early afternoon sun, and it must be enough for it to thrive. Today I see it full of blooms and its tiny tendrils are wound around the black metal stand I have it in.

I didn’t get the new planter soon enough, and will have to wait now as the plant is connected to the stand. Next year I’ll be better organized.

My obelisk looks great in the corner of the garden. It’s placed to hide the ugly gas pipes that are positioned against the brick wall. The Clemantis is planted in the centre and hopefully it will thrive in its new spot as well.

My son found me the old wooden chair I’ve wanted. You’ve probably seen pictures of chairs sitting in the garden, with a pot or basket of flowers on the seat. I’ve wanted to try this, but will need to paint the chair as it’s an ugly beige colour.

I found a new photo, with a bird house on the chair and liked the look. So Now I have my To Do List. Paint the chair, find a birdhouse and get the plant.

Little by little the garden is growing, not so much with plants but with the artful things I love.

Not sure of my son’s response when I tell him I want a row of river rock inside the brick edging. 

A garden is just not “my” garden without some rock. Maybe an scavenger hunt at the lake with the grandkids and I’ll have my rock.

It’s a work in progress, what can I say?

Monday, 16 June 2014

My Little Footstool

I’m getting old, and with age come the aches and pains of old joints. So you learn to adapt the environment to make it more comfortable.

I have a beautiful wing back chair that I love. It has a high back so I can rest my head, and when I nod off, the wing is a comfortable cushion.

The chair came with a large ottoman, its height the same as the seat cushion. Not so good. It just seemed too high, causing some hyper extension in my bad knee.

I mentioned this to a friend, same one who directed me to magnet therapy, and she came up with a solution.

One day she dropped by with this small wooden footstool, with a woven wicker like top. It was cute, but my immediate thought was that it was too low. Not a problem, she brought a green cushion to place on it, and it raised the height to make it more comfortable.

I gave it a try, and it worked. I liked that it was smaller, as I have a table for my laptop I’m forever pulling close or pushing away and it was much easier than dealing with the matching ottoman.

The only problem was every time I moved my feet; the pillow shifted and eventually fell off. So, I came up with a plan.

Using some green wool left over from another project, (a two-for, right?) I crocheted a large square to fit the top, had it extend down over the sides where it tied at each leg. Using some green fabric I made a cushion to fit underneath. This covering was not going to shift and it looks much better than the over-sized pillow.

My sofa is green, so the pillow she gave me fit right in.

I love this friend, but, sometimes I wonder if her solutions to my problems are not a way for her to clear her place of unwanted clutter.

Like the box she gave me for my $5 savings plan. See

I need to watch what I say around her. Her place is a lot bigger than mine, and she has a lot of stuff that somehow easily finds its way into mine.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Father's Day...A Memory

My father died in 1988, at the age of 65, on his 65th birthday actually. His birthday and Father’s Day are always paired in my mind. Some years they fall on the same day, others they are just days apart. I can’t think of one without thinking of the other.

We’d had his birthday party the night before, and on his birthday he had breakfast, did the crossword puzzle and left for the Tennis Club for his scheduled game. He was playing doubles when he collapsed on the court.

The end result, he had a massive heart attack and they couldn’t save him.

At the time, I had just moved back to the city. For months, I had been looking for work after a lay-off, and the position in Toronto seemed the best bet.

I remember spending the weekend at my parents after a Friday interview. I had been offered the position and was to let the facility know first of the week if I wanted the job. The Director of Nursing had been especially understanding of how difficult my decision was, to move my kids from a small town to the city.

But all weekend it was status quo. My parents never mentioned the job, the move or the DECISION, the big decision that I had to make by Monday. There were so many things to consider, where to live, schools, babysitters.

I remember I kind of lost my patience. Weren’t they curious? Didn’t they want to know what I was going to do? What the hell was wrong with them?

My Dad, with a quiet and patient calm said, “It’s not our decision. What do you need?”

I need to find a place to live, I told them. Mom grabbed the paper and we started the search, spent a day answering ads, and found a duplex a few blocks from where she and Dad lived. Good neighbourhood, close to schools, playgrounds and the library. First problem solved.

That week, my Mom went to the two local schools for information and met a neighbour. Her daughter and my daughter had made friends when we were in the city visiting, and she was at the school to put her name in, as a babysitter. Second problem solved, I had my babysitter.

I’m a great believer that things happen for a reason. This move was one of those things. My house in the small town sold immediately, the duplex was empty and ready to move in, and my kids had a good school, and a babysitter whose family they knew and liked.

Everything worked out so I could take that job, and move closer to my parents.

Here’s something a little…out there. I had seen a psychic who lived in our town shortly before the move. He talked about my relationship with my mother, and asked about my Dad. I told him we had a great relationship. He gave me a speculative look and said, “Isn’t that funny, I don’t see him.”

That psychic’s comment went over my head and I never thought about it until years later when talking to a friend, relating psychic readings we’d had. It hit me hard to realize the psychic had most likely seen my father’s death and I’d never understood the meaning of what he’d said. Would it have changed anything? I don’t know.

What I do know, and truly believe, is that I was meant to be living those few blocks away when my father went to play tennis that morning. I was not meant to be 100 miles away.

So, on this the 27th Father’s Day without my father, I’m thinking of him, remembering those old times, the good times.

I love you Dad, and miss you as much as ever.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Magnet Therapy

When you live with chronic pain, you’re willing to try just about anything if it eases the pain.

I have two friends who swear by magnet therapy. One knits all the time and says her hands and wrists would be too painful from the repeated motion, if not for her magnet bracelets.

The other friend used to make those long trips south for the winter and felt the magnet, this time in sheet form that she wore at her back, made the trip bearable.

I had a bracelet once, loaned it to a neighbour, and like loaned books, I never got it back.

I bought a new bracelet on Monday. Not exactly the style I was looking for, but I figured I could make do. I wanted a plain black one, no bling, no extra beads and baubles. They didn’t have one. But they did have one with Canadian flags on the rectangular beads, with round ones as spacers.

Now, I love my country, but I am not the type to flaunt the flag, not on something I intend to wear every minute, of every day. So I turned it over and I’m wearing it, wrong side out. Ha ha, now I’m a closet Canadian.

When I was writing on Tuesday morning I had this irritating ache in the fingers of my right hand. Oops, I forgot the bracelet; it was still in my purse. I got it out, put it on and yes, a few hours later the ache seemed gone from my hands.

Time, or the magnets?

By the afternoon each day, I seem to have worked the kinks out and move more freely. Of course this depends on what I did the day before. Tuesday wasn’t such a bad day, and Wednesday, well, all I can say is my hands didn’t hurt.

Thursday I did too much lifting and pulling, stripping the bed, toting a very heavy laundry basket and then folding everything in the laundry room before carrying it all home. Then I still had to make the bed. Pain, pain, pain.

This ‘no lifting’ stuff isn’t anything new; I need to avoid it. Three pinched nerves in my neck is the reason. But when the neck acts up it’s not just with pain, it gives me a headache so all I want to do is lie down, my eyes hurt and my hands and fingers tingle and itch.

Maybe I need to make a necklace out of magnet beads to get relief. I’ve never understood whether the magnets had to be placed over the pain site or if just wearing them did a generic job for the whole body. Sigh.

And then there’s the rain. An old wives’ tale for sure, but anyone with joint pain will agree their pain is worse when it rains. And it rained here on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Today is a bright new day, the sun is shining and there is no rain in the forecast. I want to make a trip to the garden store, for an obelisk. If you don’t know what that is, just wait, I’m sure I’ll post more pictures of my garden as it develops.

Unfortunately, there’s a bit of a hangover effect from yesterday, so it’s an Advil to start. Like I said, anything to help the pain if it keeps you moving. 

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Baby Cocoons

I’m still on this kick to use up left over yarn. Recently a friend asked me to make a baby gift, and I suggested a baby cocoon.

The rest is really all my sister’s fault. She saw the cocoon I made on Facebook, talked about needing a baby gift but didn’t know what the cocoons were. And I said I’ll make one and show you.

Six cocoons later, I got so busy hooking I forgot to show her what I made.

What can I say, I get a little carried away with the design process.

Have to love the little bumble bee though, don’t you?

Or the one with the teddy bear face.

I like the green one with the flower hat, and now I can’t make up my mind which one I like the best.

I have lots more yarn; I’ll have to see what other ideas I can come up with?

Anybody out there need a baby gift? I happen to have a few.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

The Pain of Infertility

I was watching an old episode of Flashpoint this morning and it struck a chord with me. The show was about a young couple who had been trying to have a baby, and the doctor had finally said no…no more drugs, no more fertility treatments and no baby.

The woman was beside herself, wouldn’t believe it and wanted to keep trying, no matter what the cost. The husband was tired that every minute of their life was about a baby that wasn’t going to happen. He also had to deal with their strained financial situation as the treatments were costly and they were in debt, something she didn’t seem to care about.

The situation came to a ‘flashpoint’ when an old friend of the husband’s comes to the house. They were friends before the wife was in the picture, and had a one night stand when they recently met again. And the old friend was now pregnant. The wife goes off the deep end and holds her hostage at knife point, demanding all the details of her husband’s affair.

Here’s what it made me think.

Why is it that so much of a woman’s identity is related to her ability to have children? Why is motherhood the Holy Grail that says you are a fulfilled woman?

I bought in to that whole Happy Ever After dream of marriage and family. I finished my schooling, got married and settled into life in a small town, both of us working at jobs we’d trained for, ready to start our lives.

For some, starting a family is as easy as stopping birth control. For others, like that woman on the TV show, and like me, it was not so easy.

After a year of trying and no pregnancy, I went to the doctor. He was not concerned, or sympathetic, I thought. He reminded me that a woman only ovulates once a month, if that, so there are less than 12 chances in a year, and only if the timing of the trying is right. Not what I needed to hear when I could sense there was something going on, could feel the changes in my cycle, in my body. He finally referred me to a gynaecologist, more to shut me up than any belief there would be anything wrong.

But, there was something wrong and over the next few years I went through a laproscopic procedure, a year on hormone treatments, and a laparotomy. Drugs and surgery. The drugs played havoc with my emotions, my moods, and my weight. I didn’t feel like the same person while I was on them or when I came off and the treatment was done.

I feared the family we had planned for was never going to happen. We applied for adoption and began the lengthy process to approval and then faced the long waiting period.

I was not the same young woman who had married and looked forward to life and all it had to offer, not anymore. I had invested so much of me into this battle to be a MOM that I forgot there was more to me, that I had value as a person.

That’s what struck me with this show. Listening to the woman go on and on about the baby, the constant trying, having to face the endless disappointments. In one way you could say she was optimistic to keep trying, but in reality she was obsessed, and could see nothing else. I mean, she held that woman at knifepoint.

But I can understand, in a way. The constant attention to the calendar, when you ovulate, counting the days and the disappointment when you know you haven’t conceived…yet again. We went through that for years. I have to say, when I went on the drug treatments and knew I could not get pregnant, it was a blessing of a sort. I could set the calendar aside, I didn’t have to count days, we could make love because we wanted to and not because the calendar said it was the time to ‘do it’.

I’ve known many other women with fertility issues, some who went on to have a child, many who did not. One woman who I greatly admire handled the whole thing with dignity and grace. She never lost sight of who she was and put her time and energies into her marriage and her career and has a happy though childless life. Another woman I know adopted a child. Another said we’ll stop worrying about it and see what happens, and she got pregnant, twice. And the last, like the woman in the show, spent thousands on fertility treatments and never conceived.

Not happy endings for everyone. But what I see in retrospect, is the women who dealt with it, who didn’t let fertility rule their lives, are the ones who are happy. The others, not so much.

I was fortunate. After the second surgery, which was my last ditch effort, I did get pregnant, and even managed to do it a second time. I got my wish, I got my family. But not without a cost.

Had I been a more confident person in the beginning I might have handled things better, because the whole process left me feeling less than whole, less worthy, less everything. I then turned around and tried to become the perfect mother, the Super Mom, determined I would not be ‘less’ in that role.

Women are just people, the fact that we can procreate is just that, we can, but we don’t have to. Our identities should stand alone, and not be dependent on that biological function.

We put that pressure on ourselves, as do our parents who want to be grandparents, and the friends who constantly ask when you’re going to have a family.

I felt for the woman in that television show, I remembered what it was like, though not to that extreme.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Five Bucks, Five Bucks, Five Bucks

If you are familiar with the commercial advertising pizzas, you’ll recognize the phrase $5, $5, $5. Buy one pizza and get the next one, or more, for five dollars each. But I’m not thinking about pizza today, I’m thinking about those crisp blue (Canadian) five dollar bills.

There is so much information available on the internet and a favourite source for me is Pinterest. I can scan the boards for any topic, whatever my mood demands. Usually, I’m looking at arts and crafts, knit and crochet, maybe some recipes. There is something to be found for every interest.

I like to be organized so I have created separate boards on which I pin the ideas I want to keep. I found this was the easiest way to store all this information so I could find something specific when I needed it.

But, back to the five bucks.

Sometimes, on any given board, you find something pinned that has nothing to do with what else is on the board. Like a board of crocheted hats with a recipe for apple pie. Not everyone has the time or takes the effort to organize their ideas like I do. Too much time you’re probably thinking.

Anyway, I was perusing a craft board and I saw this article about saving money. The idea was to save any five dollar bills you get in your change, put them away and let them accumulate…instant savings. I thought the idea had merit. Some people save money by keeping their change in a jar, but as I use my change to pay for coffee in the drive-thru, my change is always in my car.

And really, what can you buy for five dollars anymore anyway? I suppose I could use it to buy my coffee, and then I’d have change in the car for the next time, but that’s not saving money.

I told a friend about this savings plan and she gave me a jump start. She provided me with a secret container to keep my money in, and gave me my first five dollar bill. So, I thought, I guess I’m saving money.

The funny thing is, the system really works. The first time I was given a five dollar bill in my change, I put it in my pocket, not in my wallet, and when I got home I added it to the bill in my container.

I continued to do this and was shocked at how often I got a five in my change. I broke a twenty last week and got three five’s back. I hung tough and added them to my stash.

The secret is keep the five’s separate from the rest of your cash immediately, and not back in your wallet. Whenever I get a five dollar bill I consider it ‘spent’ and tuck it away.

In the last few weeks I have managed to save $85.00. That’s money I wouldn’t otherwise have saved, so for me it’s a great plan. Now I have to figure out how much cash I’ll keep in the container and what to do with the savings. Once I’ve accumulated 20 bills, I could deposit the $100.00 in my savings account. Or, I could write an item with a dollar amount on a note, put it with the money, and when I reach my goal, spend it on whatever was on the note. Like the new wireless printer I’ve wanted for the past year.

Just thought I’d pass along the idea, for me it’s been a successful venture. I’ll have to give some serious thought to what I write on that note, do I make it something I need, or something I want?

Oh my god, instant flashback, I sound just like my father. “You want that new sweater, but do you need it?” The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree; I guess I absorbed more of his parental lectures than I thought. I still might spend my largess on a ‘want’, just because I remember the advice doesn’t mean I’ll follow it. Sorry Dad.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Working in the Garden

The work on my garden has been completed in stages. One aspect of the work is my son’s availability to do the work. He has a full time job, a wife and three kids, not to mention a house under renovation, wood to cut for winter and a garden to plant.

The first step was to clean out all the overgrown, gone-wild perennials that had been untended for years. Once that was done, I purchased three black trellises to fill the wall space, and give the garden some height. My son gave me some hostas, as I like green more than flowers.

On Monday he came by after work and took out the old brick edging, cut a new and straighter edge, and replaced the brick in an edging 2 bricks wide, rather than the angled on edge edging that was there before.

My granddaughter had her first soccer game that evening so the rest of the family met here for pizza before taking off for the game. I like these times when my son is here, we seem to have some good conversations, and when the kids come I get the bonus of a visit with the grandkids.

We had a special moment, a shared memory.

When he was little, my son loved to work with his Dad. He was tireless, always willing to take on any job assigned to him. I remember one day he and his father had been cutting wood at the wood lot and came home with a truck load of firewood, cut and split. Now the task was to unload all the wood from the bed of the truck.

The young lad was in the bed of the truck, tossing wood down to the ground where his father picked up the chunks of wood and stacked them. They had a pretty good rhythm going until…. I don’t know whether the kid was getting tired, or his Dad was slower because he was picking up two pieces of wood at a time but, the boy tossed out a chunk of wood just as his Dad bent down behind the truck and, you got it, got clipped in the head by the flying wood.

So here we were, the other day, my son on his hands and knees placing the bricks in place and he asks his 6 year old daughter to hand him a brick. Kids being kids, she stayed where she was, picked up a brick and tossed it in her Dad’s direction, just missing his head.

I was standing beside him and I could see his immediate response was anger, but when he looked up he caught my eye and we both started to laugh. “Unloading a truck full of wood,” I said. “Do you remember that day, hitting your Dad with the hunk of wood?”

These special moments, sharing old memories, and spending time with family, are much more important than the garden, though seeing the garden come alive is a joy in itself.