Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Gruncled Again

My brother calls himself a 'Gruncle', which is an affectionate term, not to be confused with a more derogative term for his disposition.

It's a combo word, great and uncle. A term his nephew's daughter calls him, short for Great Uncle. And that term has double meaning, great, as in...great, and great as in one generation removed, or whatever.

Now he's a Gruncle for the second time, as a new baby has joined the family, a boy this time. Congrats to the parents, and to a too cute little girl who is now a big sister.

Big sister, now that brings back many memories. I remember my 'little' brother, as a toddler with a head full of dark curly hair. That hair is now a blend of silver to be envied, and still curly. Why is it the boys always get the better hair?

Oops, not for my kids. I think my daughter is quite happy with what she has to deal with, considering the alternative. My son blames me for his...lack of hair. Though I like the shaved head, I would be hard pressed to remember him with a full head of hair.

Apparently, the tendency to male baldness is a direct genetic link to the maternal father. My father was gray and bald by the time he was thirty. An unfortunate trait passed down from my father to my son. Sorry Kid.

Now my maternal grandfather had a full head of hair well into his nineties. So I guess my brother will keep his silver tresses for some years to come.

All the best to the happy family.

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Velma's Hit Menopause

I was out of town on Friday, and was treated to a great lunch with a friend. The drive up was okay, still too early for the heat to be a problem. I took the highway and drove with the windows closed, and the fan set on its coldest setting. I hate air conditioning, and never even considered turning it on.

For the drive home, I avoid the highway. I hate rush hour and I'd be heading out of the city like all those people who are finished work and are...rushing home. I don't like all that merging, the changing lanes etc, so I stick to the city streets.

The nice thing is, my route home takes me by the Michael's Craft Store, Pier 1, Bed Bath and Beyond (I had a 20% off coupon) and Fabricland. I don't hit all of them, the odd time, none of them, but most often I stop at the craft store.

By the time I reach the east side of the city my route is more like a country road, until it dead ends in another town and I change to the two lane highway. I continue east, driving through town, smaller town and then villages until I reach my destination.

I drove with the windows open, but the heat was getting unbearable, so I gave in and closed the windows and turned on the air conditioning. Hot air, and more hot air, not a breath of relief. Well, damn, my air conditioning doesn't work. Velma, you old beast, you have reached that car age where your systems are failing, You're having hot flashes.

I drove home with the windows open, my arm out hoping to catch some of the breeze up my sleeve, to cool me off. Even with the wind blowing in and around, I was over heated by the time I reached home. I made it in the door, changed into cooler clothes and dropped down on the bed, a cool cloth on my head.

Velma, Velma, Velma. I wanted us to be more friendly, but I never anticipated that you would  play copycat. Just because I don't like air conditioning, and don't do well in the hot weather doesn't mean you have to do the same.

Note. Velma is my car, and a frequent topic of conversation in my posts. We're a pair of old ladies, aging too fast, and too soon we're going to reach the end of our driving experience.)

Thursday, 26 May 2016


I was running, through a maze of a house, could heat the noises behind me and knew he wasn't far behind. I could almost feel his hot breath against my neck, knew if he caught me...I was done.

Keep going, keep going. I could hear the mantra going through my head, when, with heart pounding , I made a desperate grasp for the door.

And woke up.

Wow, I thought as I looked at the clock. Two A.M., I'd only been asleep for a couple of hours. The dream had a lot more action but, as usual, the details fade when I awaken. Too bad, it might have been the basis for a good story.

The dream was most likely inspired by the story I'd been reading before I settled to sleep. There was a chase in that story too, but the demon there was fire.

I had been reading Chasing Fire by Nora Roberts, a mystery story that takes place in Montana. The location is a camp where firefighters stay during wildfire season and are air lifted out to parachute into the fire zone. Scary business.

I have a friend who lived in Fort McMurray and was evacuated, and  have watched the news about the fires with great interest. And by reading their comments on Facebook, I've seen the more personal side of those affected. So much loss, and yet such overwhelming support, from friends, from the other members of their community, the province and the Canadian public.

I'm glad you and the family are safe, Sara. Keep your spirit strong.

And for those who want to better understand what the firefighters are going through, read this book. It puts you behind the lines, into the heart of the dragon. These guys deserve our respect for their dedication, and our thanks for their unfailing commitment. These men and women are true heroes.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Nail Fashion

I was in the store the other day and the woman at the cash had the longest nails, polished to a bright coral color. It reminded me of the one time I had long nails.

As a craft person, my hands are constantly covered in paint and glue, and subsequently have to be in and out of water. This is not a good scenario if you want long and healthy nails. But one time I really wanted to have pretty nails.

My husband bought me a gift certificate to have acrylic nails applied. This was a few years (okay, many moons) ago and I'm not sure if it's done the same today. Then they had to rough up your nails, glue on the fake, and then do the manicure to give them shape.

As the nail grew, there would be a space between the cuticle and the fake nail. I would go back and have this space filled, and have a manicure. I think the idea was to do the filler a couple of times before you took off the first acrylic nail, and applied new.

I loved how my hands looked with my new nails. I'd hold my hand flat on the desk when writing a check, or signing my name, just to show them off. But they did present with some complications.

Like I couldn't scratch my eye without worrying about scratching my cornea, couldn't do my crafts with ease, and I couldn't get hold of that little thingie on the zipper to do up my pants.

After a couple of fillers, I lost a couple of nails and pulled the rest off, I'd had enough. The nail left behind, my real nail, was not particularly healthy looking, and I was glad when they finally returned to normal.

Every once in a while, my nails will get long and I'll file them, and give them a coat of polish. They'll lokk nice for about a week before they start breaking and I take the polish off and cut them down. That seems to satisfy my desire for pretty hands.

The younger generation are really into this nail stuff, and one color doesn't seem to suffice. They want their nails painted to a theme, complete with designs and little works of art.

I should get into painting nails, but that surface is awfully small...but it might e fun.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Sudden Death

A man died last night. I don't know his name, or anything about him except he was at a banquet, didn't feel well and left the table, only to collapse in the foyer.

The death of this man, while devastating for his family, also had a profound effect on my family.

My granddaughter was working this banquet, and had just served the man his dinner before he left the room. She was witness to the paramedics make a valiant effort to save his life, and for the first time in her life, was struck by how quickly life can change as she watched him die.

The night was long, much more so than if the EMS had been able to save him and rush him to hospital. A death, unexpected like that, is an automatic coroner's case and requires a different procedure.

Needless to say, after a late night, My granddaughter was not ready to embrace life this morning, was not ready to sit in a class when her thoughts were elsewhere.

I called her, told her she had 15 minutes and I would be there to pick her up. That is nowhere near enough time for her to be ready, but as I wasn't taking the time to shower, she didn't need to fuss.

We went out for breakfast and I let her tell me about the previous evening's events, and we were able to talk it out. I gave her a challenge, handed her my camera, and told her I was her driver and she was to take 100 pictures of things that were fun, colorful, and positive.

I wanted her to have those pictures in her mind, not the replay of the horrible events of the night before.

We went to the beach, all three sections that are accessible, and the river. We hit the fish ladder and saw the trout. We stopped to smell the magnolias in bloom, and looked at the trees and bushes in full flower.

At one point I found myself going the wrong way on a one way street (don't know how that happened) and when we turned around, we were at a store, so we shopped and found her a sweatshirt she liked.

We hit the 100 mark as we were driving home. Her Nana was out on the porch of her house with her mother, and we stopped and she took a picture as we had a visit.

All in all, it was a good day. We laughed, and we saw a great deal of the town she calls home, and she was in a better mood, with a new appreciation for what is good in her life.

She wants to have days like this more often, and I agreed. We plan to have a few more adventures through the summer, inspired by the love we feel and the enjoyment of being together. Hopefully that will stay the same, and she (at 14) will not have to go through what she went through last night, ever again.

I know that is Pollyanna thinking, but it never hurts to think positive.

PS Wish I had photos to share, maybe later as I left the camera with her so she could share them with her family.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Out of the Mouth of Babes

Children learn a lot by watching how their parents interact. They see more than their parents might want or ever imagine. My children lived through a divorce, and I'm sorry that they were witness to the disintegration of their parent's relationship, and their family.

My son and his family spend a lot of time outdoors, avid hunters and fisherman. They camp frequently through the summer, and everyone fishes. I think my eight year old granddaughter has the record for the biggest fish, or maybe it was just her fish was bigger than the one her Dad caught.

Last summer, Mom got her fishing line caught in a tree. I think they were in a boat, fishing along the edge of the shore. Her husband stood and said, "I'll take care of that snag for you", and proceeded to do so.

Their son looked at his Mom, and with all seriousness made a comment that still makes my heart melt with the remembering.

"I think he'd do anything for you, Mom."

I'm blessed, to have this family. Something I'm grateful for everyday.

Monday, 16 May 2016

A Word Search Discussion

I was spending time with my seven year old grandson last week, and as he is such a sports fan, and a hockey fanatic, I printed off a word search for him, along with some hockey pages to color.

I mentioned that I also liked to do word search puzzles, and had a couple of books in the drawer by my bed.

"How do you do a word search?" he asked.

Oh, nice, a discussion about puzzles. I told him the first thing I did was to search the puzzle, to see if any words were apparent. Then I look for 'W' words, because that letter is easy to spot among the rest. I went on to say that next I look for double letters, especially 'O', as it stands out too.

I realized he was staring at me, with a seven year old's WTF? expression. He shook his head, in puzzlement.

"I just look for the first letter of the word," he tells me.

"Yeah, that works, too," I laughed.

End of discussion.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Sarcasm...an Inherited Trait

I think sarcasm is an inherited trait, something passed down through the generations. Sometimes it is spoken, and some times you see it reflected in a look.

I remember an old photo of my parents, Mom sitting in a chair, Dad a few feet away, golf club in hand, giving her a "lesson".As I think back, there were times Mom's game was better than his, and from the disgruntled look on her face, captured forever on film, she was holding back from making any sarcastic comment. A wise woman, my Mom.

My daughter has fully inherited this trait, along with a wicked sense of humor. Her daughters are a chip off the old block. Genetics hold true in this case.

Her eleven year old daughter had been in a foul mood, and, I guess, had tested the patience of all who love her. The next morning, when she came into the kitchen, her mother looked at her, trying to gauge her mood.

"Are you still in a bad mood this morning?" the mother asked.

"No, I left it in my bed," the child replied. "But I can go and get it if you want."

What a smart kid, okay, smart mouthed may be more what it was at that moment, but I love that kind of quick wit. Is it any wonder I love my family?

Friday, 13 May 2016

Velma's Taxi Service

As most of you know, Velma is my car, named a few years ago in the hopes that she would feel better about herself, and me, and not leave me stranded on the side of the road. We've been getting along much better, especially now that spring has arrived and I take her out more frequently.

Yesterday we were put into service as a taxi, and enjoyed every bit of it, though the start was slow, mornings are not our best time.

We drove the ten K to the next town to pickup my granddaughter. She wasn't doing mornings either. The colds going around had hit her household and she was suffering, missed her first class and wanted to get to school for the rest.

The problem is that she is bused to the high school, as are most of the kids who live in small towns and rural areas, the school being in the largest town in the county. We had some time to visit, as we hit the Tim's drive thru for coffee, well, tea for me, iced coffee with a shot of vanilla for her, before hitting the highway.

She made it in time for her next class, with five minutes to spare. But then I had an hour to kill before driving out of town, north, to pick up my son. His truck was at the spa (Uncle Brad's garage) and was waiting for him to pick it up.

I killed time the way I love best. I found a place to park, rolled down the windows and enjoyed my tea and read my book. The sun was shining, the birds were singing and there was a nice breeze blowing in the window.

I left in time to get my son, and the timing was perfect. He'd worked until three A.M. and was to be back at work that afternoon at three P.M. He'd only been up a few minutes, and was making his lunch for work.

We had time before he was to be to work, and ran a couple of errands on the way to the garage, taking all the back roads, enjoying the day.

It was a good day, with little effort on my part other than driving, and the bonus was one to one time with family.

The rates can't be beat, all it costs is love.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Includes a Toy

There's a reason McDonald's calls their kid's combo a Happy Meal. because it comes with the best toys. Over the years I've seen the grandchildren collect these toys, from My Little Pony to Matchbook Cars.

It seems my grandchildren have reached an age where the Happy Meal no longer suffices, and they have moved on to the adult size meals. And the toys no longer appeal to them. (Not electronic).

Sometimes, when I have been out and don't want to cook when I get home, I'll pick up something in the drive thru. I guess my usual choice is McDonald's because I don't want a big meal, and the Happy Meal works for me.

I now have a collection of toys in my car, that I can't seem to give away, there wee no takers among the grandkids. So I have a purple My Little Pony, a Peanuts character on a skateboard, and a couple of fuzzy stuffed Happy Faces.

Another sign that time passes and we're all getting older. Some of us are wiser, and some of us still like to see what the toy is in the bottom of the box.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Things Left Undone

I hate to leave things unfinished, and by this I mean art and writing projects.

Last fall I went back and pulled a project out of the file, 12 art pieces about the Native phases of the moon. I may have scrapped most, okay all, of that original work (it was old and not up to my current style or standard), but that was alright because I went with the idea, and completed 12 new pieces.

That new work may just be sitting in my portfolio, but it's the sense of accomplishment I have for finally seeing it completed.

Same goes with a great deal of my writing. I have a collection of short stories and poems, most of which were written when my first grandchildren were born. It was only when I joined a local writing group that I stretched my wings and tried for something more.

That first book, more of a woman's story than a romance, at least by Harlequin's standards, has sat untouched for years. I decided to dust it off and update it a bit. Today, it went Live on Amazon.

Thanks to my brother for another great cover.

Here's the link if you want to check it out.


Monday, 2 May 2016

A Different A-Z Challenge

Still in an A-Z frame of mind, here's a short story, where every sentence starts with a letter of the alphabet.

The topic is timely, hockey, I mean. It's playoffs and the teams mentioned in the story dragged at the bottom of the standings and have gone on vacation early.

The Hockey Game
A fight was about to erupt, apparent in the raised voices of the two men sitting at the bar. Blue collar workers, enjoying a beer after work, and watching the hockey game on the TV over the bar.
Close ups of the action, in slow motion replay, showed the smooth glide of the puck across the line and into the net. Davis's glove was a split second too late to stop it and prevent the goal. Even, the score was now even, tied two all.
For the two men at the bar the trash talk was becoming more boisterous.
“Goalie was blind to have missed that shot,” said the Leafs fan of the Sabres’ goalie.
“How was he supposed to see it with all those guys crowding him in the crease?” returned the Sabres’ fan.
“In the crease? In a pig's eye.”
“Jackass, you don't know nothing.”
“Keep it up, just keep it up and you'll be lapping your beer off the floor.”
“Let's keep it down guys,” the bartender warned.
Mindful of the warning the men turned back to watching the game. Nine minutes to go and the score was still tied.
“Ouch,” the Leaf fan said. “That had to hurt.”
“Penalty! What do mean penalty?” the Sabres fan yelled.
“Quiet down,” the bartender warned again.
“Referee's got blinders on.” yelled the fan as his team took the penalty.
“Score's tied, a man advantage, yes, yes ,yes,” the Leaf fan gloated.
“Three minutes left in regulation time,” the announcer said as the action got tense. Up the ice the three Leaf forwards flew, striving for that winning goal. Vinchesky took a shot from the corner and the crowd was on its feet.
“Where did it go, did it go in?”
“X marks the spot,” the Leaf fan said triumphantly as he celebrated the win.
“You lucky bastard, that cheap penalty won you that game.”
Zero time on the clock, and the final horn blew that the game was over. The two fans ordered another beer, all tension from the game forgotten.