Thursday, December 31, 2009

Taking Stock

To say this year has been difficult is an understatement of infinite proportions. It started with a painful whimper and went downhill from there. Sitting here recalling all the shit I've witnessed over the last 365 days is depressing but also weirdly empowering. I've said it before and I'll say it again: you don't know how strong you are until you're tested. This year has been quite the test.

The Defeats:

-my stepfather's near heart attack followed by quadruple bypass surgery

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, we can remember the many happy events of the past year.

The Victories:

-Holy crap! I was in a karaoke contest!
-my step-father made a full and speedy recovery from his quadruple bypass surgery
-I had the opportunity to take 3 months off work to spend with my Mom, sharing her journey with cancer and in the process growing a strong bond with my nieces

In spite of all the adversity I've faced this past year, I am ultimately incredibly lucky; lucky to have wonderful friends and family, a good job, a loving and supportive partner, an affectionate (if not a little crazy) cat, and a strong and miraculous mother who continues to amaze us every day. I can't linger on the negative--I choose to embrace the positive and look forward to the new wonders and joys I will face in the new year. The challenges I face will undoubtedly compare to or even surpass what I've already seen, but I know now that out of negatives come positives that make the negatives seem worth it in the end. So I will go forward, happy in the knowledge that my journey is far from over and holds surprises beyond imagination.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Lucky Doesn't Even Begin To Cover It

The weather held and I had the good fortune to enjoy a wonderful, whirlwind visit back home for Christmas. My amazing mother hung in there for yet another milestone--who would have believed back in August when we were told she might have 3 weeks to live that she'd be opening presents with her family on Christmas Day?! Best. Christmas present. Ever.

My other wonderful gift this year is My Honey flying back on Christmas Day for a week-long visit. Woo Hoo! We went straight from the airport to The Kenly's for an absolutely fantastic Christmas dinner--ham and turkey with all the trimmings including homemade cranberry sauce. Mmmmm! I think I'm still full...

I also was introduced to a new family member--my step-father's new dog, Neo. He's a cutie patootie and just what Fred needs. I'm sure they'll be wonderful for each other.

I hope all of you had a wonderful and life-affirming Christmas, and that all your Christmas wishes came true--mine certainly did!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Seriously Losing My Shit

Do you realize Christmas is less than a week away!?


How did this happen? I stopped paying attention for one second and BAM! WTF?

I do this every year--I wait until the last minute (and by "wait" I mean I procrastinate) to do my shopping and then freak out when I realize how much shopping I have to do in far too little time. And then I come to the realization that if I go to the mall I'll probably kill somebody. Because I hate the mall. With a passion like that of a million hot, burning suns.

So I try to come up with creative places to shop that don't involve me getting all stabby on the five teenage girls walking abreast while texting down the mall corridor or the person carrying too many bags filled with sharp, hard objects who suddenly and without warning changes direction right in front of me and takes me out at the kneecaps. You can assume that since you don't hear any stories of a woman going on a bloody, murderous rampage the weekend before Christmas that I am usually successful.

I'm a lucky person--opportunities just seem to present themselves to me on a silver platter on a pretty reliable basis. Just when a need becomes urgent, the solution is dropped into my lap (figuratively, not literally...usually). Anyway, yesterday there was a flyer posted in the elevator of my building advising that a few of the residents will be holding a sale of their knitted and crocheted creations today and these creations are rumored to include kids sweaters, mitts, scarves and toques. Hmmmm, kid's sweaters you say? Toques? There just happen to be two adorable nieces on my Christmas list who could probably use a couple of sweaters and toques since they're covered in about a meter of snow right now (literally, not figuratively--well, their house is covered).

So once again disaster is averted and I'll come through the holidays unscathed and without a criminal record. Peace on Earth.

And I mean that!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

It's a Marshmallow World In the Winter

These videos were taken Saturday around 2pm near Bracebridge, Ontario. Isn't it purty? Apparently about a meter of snow fell over the course of 36 hours. Fortunately only a couple of kilometers were like the nasty driving conditions you can see in the first video--I didn't film the worst of it as I need both hands to drive (good call!). Sadly the trip took about two hours more than it should have due to the highway being closed for an overturned tractor trailer. But overall the driving wasn't bad and with the sun shining out of a bright blue sky I actually enjoyed all the snow. Shocking, I know!

By the way, that's a 4-lane divided highway. It's hard to tell with all that snow...

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I Need Another Hobby Like I Need Another Hole in My Head

I now have access to a digital SLR camera (courtesy of my late father-in-law) which has enabled me to fulfill a long-standing desire to learn how to take a decent picture. I've signed up for a photography course starting in January and to commemorate I have started a new photoblog. Feel free to check on my progress at

Friday, December 4, 2009


I found out today that my parent's dog was hit by a car yesterday morning and was killed. My step-father is absolutely devastated--Murphy was his constant companion and provided him with much comfort after my Mom had to go into the hospital and Fred found himself alone in the house. Also, a large part of his successful recovery from his quadruple bypass last June was having to get out and walk the dog twice a day. I'm worried that not having Murphy to look after is going to throw Fred into a downward spiral--he's already struggling with my Mom's situation and this is a set-back he may not recover from.

My Mom seems to be handling it a little better, although I haven't actually spoken to her directly--email correspondence is often lacking when it comes to such emotional circumstances. I'm afraid it hasn't really sunken in yet and that over the next few days the full brunt of the tragedy will hit her and she'll be blindsided by it.

When is this shit-storm going to be over? When will we have a reprieve from this incessant barrage of grief and heartache? It just keeps coming and coming; just when you think you've started to recover from the last one you're hit with the next. I've gotten to the point now where I'm not asking "Why us?" Now I'm terrified of "What next?"

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What Was I Thinking?

Yesterday was my first day back at work, but it didn't really count because I spent almost the whole day sorting through the 1391 emails I received over the last 3 months. It sounds like a lot but I actually expected there to be a lot more. About 75% got deleted immediately ("Does anyone have any Tums?") and the rest gradually got filed away into their respective folders. The whole exercise was very satisfying and didn't require a whole lot of concentration which was a good thing because I was frequently interrupted by well-wishers and the curious wanting to know how I was and how my mom was, etc.

Today was another story. The morning saw me communicating frequently via both email and phone with our help desk trying to get my systems in order. Of course I had forgotten all my passwords but on top of that my access to some systems had been revoked due to the length of time I had been away. This meant sending an email to my manager asking her to provide authorization, yadda yadda yadda. Lots of bureaucratic red tape. I was scheduled to actually go on the phones and start doing my job at 12:30--I got access to the last outstanding system at 12:45. Phew!

Then came the calls--how could I have forgotten how to do my job in only 3 months? How do women coming back from maternity leave do it? That's a whole year, for crying out loud! I don't think I told anybody the wrong thing, but to be honest I'm not entirely sure. By the time 4:30 rolled around I was more than ready to get the hell out of there. And I probably only took about 20 calls!

So here I sit, glass of wine in hand, trying not to worry too much about how stressful the rest of the week will surely be. Whose brilliant idea was this again? Oh yeah, mine.