Saturday, November 19, 2005

Brother-In-Law

My Brother-In-Law passed away yesterday morning at around 8:10am in the hospital. We were not with him. My sister was doing her school bus run when the call came from the hospital. He passed within minutes of that call.

One of the nurses sat with him, holding his hand while he departed.

I didn't get there until just after 9:30am because I wasn't at my desk when my mom tried to call me.

I had been working on mail match because our prep unit is so backlogged. It's weird but my mom called me 4 times and then on the 5th attempt she called a telephone number of a woman that used to work in our office. She left our office in September and that desk sits empty. My mom knew that she didn't work with me anymore but that was the number that she decided to call and that is the desk that I was sitting at. Very strange.

I still cannot believe that Andy is gone. He had just turned 50 in August. He never missed a day of work and never went to the Doctor's. A few days after his birthday he began to complain about a pain in his stomach but it took until mid October and losing approx 35 pounds before my sister could finally convince him to go to the Doctor's. He worked in the morning of that day, October 19th, and Debbie took him to the family GP in the afternoon.

The Doctor ordered an ultrasound immediately and made an appointment to see Andy on that Saturday morning. During that visit the Doctor told Andy that there was something on his liver and that he wanted him to be admitted to hospital. Andy decided to wait until Monday to go to the hospital and spent the balance of the weekend at home resting but still functional.

That Monday he was admitted and a week of tests began. On Thursday night my sister called our home crying to tell us that Andy had cancer. They didn't know what the primary source was but it was in his lymph nodes and they weren't sure of the stage. They were going to do a biopsy the next day and they wanted her to be there. I took the day off to go with her so that she would have some support.

They didn't do the biopsy that day in the end, and Andy was like a caged animal. He was still feeling pretty good and didn't want to be in the hospital all weekend.

I can't remember the exact sequence of events, but Andy did manage to get home a couple of weekends during the next month and on the first one Andy spent some quiet time in the backyard garden sitting with his Father who lives down the street. The weather was quite warm and lovely. The next visit home was not as good. He was in a lot of pain and he couldn't stop vomiting from the bile that was building up in his body. His bile duct was blocked and he was waiting for them to put a stint in to drain it. He was hopeful that the pain would be eased and his appetite would return.


I'm not sure really what my sister was told and when; we would get sketchy details and it's only now that more information is being divulged by my sister. I'm not sure if that is because she forgot to tell us or if she just didn't want to talk about it. But at some point this week, Andy was told that the cancer was terminal and there was nothing they could do for him. He was told originally that he had maybe a year, then he was told 3 months, and then after the results from the biopsy she was advised that he would not likely survive until Christmas.

The primary source was his lungs which spread to his liver and lymph nodes. He also had spots on his brain.

My mom and I had visited my sister's on one of the weekends (I believe it was Sunday Nov 13th) that Andy was at home but he didn't wake up and we didn't want to disturb him. I was shocked by how yellow he was. He had been told that they would put a stint into him to drain the liver which would provide him with some relief. He was hopeful that he would regain his appetite and that some of the pain in his stomach would be relieved.

The stint went in finally at the beginning of this week, although I could be wrong with this date as well. Everything is starting to blur.

My next visit with Andy was Tuesday night of this week. My mother and I went. We walked by his room because we didn't recognize him. His face was just skin and bone. He had always possessed a very round, happy face. His entire body was yellow, but in spite of the pain, the discomfort, he smiled and brightened when we entered the room.

A couple from his work also came to visit and we talked and laughed for a couple of hours. Andy didn't speak much and when he did, his voice was very weak and faint. He seemed to have trouble following a conversation but you could tell that he was enjoying the company. When we left, I gave him a kiss and hug and told him that I loved him. He whispered back, "I love you too, sweetie."

That was the last time I would be able to converse with him. My sister told me that the next night he was delirious and was acting up. He was not speaking.

Thursday night I took Melissa to see him and she was totally shocked. She had been working during our other visits and we really didn't realize how quickly he was going to be ravaged by this awful disease. He did hug her back when she bent to say goodbye though, and he lifted his face for a kiss. He knew who we were and he knew that his family, my sister, her two sons - Derek and Matthew, Derek's girlfriend, Keelie, Melissa and myself were there to be with him. He was unconscious when Melissa and I arrived and although the nurse tried to wake him, she was unsuccessful. Melissa and I were going to leave, because we didn't want to disturb him. The nurse had told us that he had been awake most of the night before and had tried to escape the hospital. They found him in the lobby around 4:00 in the morning and he had been up all day with visitors.

Melissa and I were walking down the hall to the elevator when we ran into my sister with her boys. We went back to Andy's room with her and she woke him up. I'm glad we stayed. As I said earlier, even though he drifted in and out of consciousness, he knew we were there and you could tell that he was happy about that. We took turns holding his hand and talked to him as if he was a part of the conversation. He was dripping in sweat and we attempted to make him more comfortable by turning on the air conditioner, wiping his mouth with a wet sponge and cleaning the sweat from his head.

When we left that evening, Andy had laid back on the bed with his arms behind his head and was watching the hockey game on the television. He was content. We didn't know that was the last time we would see him.

His horoscope yesterday, from the Toronto Star read: Leo (July 23-Aug 22) Not all windows of opportunity are big enough to climb through. The narrow opening that lies before you now will enlarge with further inspection. There is a way to get through to the other side.

Rest in peace, Andy. We all love you!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Just A Quickie

I thought I should pop on and apologize again for my long absence. Many things have been happening in my personal life lately and as a result, I have not been in the mood for updating my blog or I feel like I shouldn't be spending time updating my blog.

My sister's husband has recently been diagnosed with cancer and it doesn't sound good. He is in the hospital and we don't know how long he has. It's in his lymph nodes, lungs and I believe his liver.

I will return but not sure when.

I hope everyone is well and I'll be popping in and out of your blogs for updates whenever I can.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

In Another Life, I Was A Home



This is an abandoned house that I stopped to explore on my way home from my mini vacation in September. It is located on the North side of Hwy 26 in between Stayner and Barrie, Ontario. I have driven by this house so many times over the years that I can't even estimate the number, but this is the first time I have ever pulled over and inspected it further.

I'm not sure what the lure is for me to old buildings, but I love them. I like to stand quietly within their walls and imagine what may have transpired over the many, many years. The happy, sad and angry times. How many people lived there? Was it always in the same family or did the house provide comfort to many different families before someone shut the door for the last time and walked away, never looking back, leaving it to rot.

I think that is what I find most curious. What reason was there to abandon the house and just leave it there? Where are the owners? I know that one day it will be gone and most likely will not even be missed as the billboards take over the spot where it once stood. Click on the images below to see full size.

















Friday, September 23, 2005

Dream or a Psychic Connection?

“I had a dream about you last night.”

“You did?”

“Yes and it was so real. Suzy, it was so real it has me a little freaked out.”

“Well that suits you, being a freak and all.”

“Oh shut up.”

“Well are you going to tell me about it?”

“I had this dream that you were sick with that pain in your side. The pain was so bad that you told me that you were going to go to the hospital. You were sitting on the end of a sofa, but it wasn’t our sofa. It was a shade of beige, I can’t really explain the colour but it definitely was not this sofa here. I was standing near a doorway and there was glass behind me, not sure if it was a window or a door. I don’t know where you were, but I was standing there with my keys in my hand and I was saying to you, let’s get going. We need to get you home if you are going to be ok to go to work in a few days. I think I had driven wherever you were to pick you up because you were too sick to drive home.”

I didn’t say anything because I was having a hard time believing what my mom was telling me.

“When did you have this dream?”

“It was just last night, while you were away.”

I didn’t want to admit to her that I had experienced a pain in my side that night, well all that day actually and I had debated on going home but really didn’t feel up to driving. It wasn’t as bad as in her dream. I never considered going to the hospital, but it did concern me. The fact that I have yet to make an appointment for further testing (since April) to see what the pain is caused from was further reason not to admit to it.

I finally did tell her though because I couldn’t believe that not only did she know I was feeling that pain, but the place that she described in her dreams was exactly the description of where I was staying and she has never been there before.

Freaky, eh?

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Meme - Seven Things (Stolen from Jack)

Seven things I plan (would like) to do before I die

1. Earn a substantial amount of money
2. Play out a fantasy
3. learn to play an instrument reasonably well
4. take some university courses and possibly get a degree
5. travel to Europe
6. travel across Canada
7. buy a cottage on the waterfront or relatively near it

Seven things I can do......

1. talk a lot
2. laugh a lot
3. gain weight at an incredibly fast rate
4. work long hours for extended periods of time
5. stick with something until I “get it right”
6. bake a damn good pie
7. drive and talk on my cell phone

Seven things I cannot do.....

1. tell a lie
2. hide what I’m thinking/feeling
3. crochet
4. not worry about work
5. play an instrument
6. pretend I like you if I don’t (see number 1 and 2)
7. carpentry work

Seven things I find attractive about the opposite sex.....

1. eyes
2. butt
3. hair
4. intelligence
5. humour
6. generosity
7. kindness

Things I find attractive about the same sex.....

1. eyes
2. hair
3. intelligence
4. humour
5. generosity
6. kindness
7. compassion

Seven things I say the most.......

1. Holy Shit
2. You’re kidding!
3. Fuck
4. Jesus Christ
5. Oh My God!
6. Really?!
7. No problem

Books that I love.....

1. The Eight
2. Misery
3. Clara Callen
4. He’s Just Not Into You
5. The Joy of Writing
6. The Colour Purple
7. Little Women

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Day Four (End of Mini Vacation)


I’m not going to say that I wasn’t disappointed because I was. I just assumed that we would most likely spend 2 – 4 days in the area. I didn’t care if we moved from Wasaga Beach to Collingwood but I wasn’t ready to go home.

Trying to push those thoughts out of my head, I made my way for Duncan’s where I was going to meet up with my ex bf. We have remained friends, in spite of the nasty way he broke up with me. I’m not exactly sure why (we have stayed friends), except that he and I were very close and I don’t believe in forever and ever. I think that we are always presented with choices and we don’t always make the right choice. He did make a choice and I have accepted that. I appreciate the great time that we did have together and I am happy to be able to say that I experienced something like that once in my life.

My cell phone rings as I turn onto the main street.

“Hello.”

“Hi Suzy, it’s ex bf. Listen my car has just broke down on my way into town. I’m right near the Toyota dealership. I have to see if they can have a look at it and hopefully fix whatever is wrong.”

“Ok, I’ll come and pick you up at the dealership. See you in a couple of minutes.”

“Great. Bye.”

I turn towards the location that I had just left and I wondered if Debbie had already departed. I could always have one more go at trying to convince her to stay if she is still there.

I park my car near the service entrance and look around the parking lot for signs of ex bf or his car. I see neither so decide to walk inside. As I approach the door, ex bf runs out and grabs me in a big bear hug and plants a kiss on my lips. He is happy to see me. I smile at him as he rushes after the mechanic towards his car. He keeps walking quickly while looking back at me calling out that he will be right back. I assure him with a wave that I am not going anywhere and sit in my car to wait.

Memories of buying my car fill my head. I remember driving around this very lot with the sales rep who was trying to teach me how to drive a standard in five minutes or less. I actually did quite well in the parking lot. It wasn’t until we took it out for a longer tour that I got stuck at a traffic light for six changes before I finally begged him to take over.

He was very shocked when we got back to the dealership and I told him I would take the car. Shocked and nervous about how I would be able to drive it home when I returned in a few days to pick it up and also what if I never did get the hang of it. It’s a big purchase. I wasn’t worried though. My confidence in my capabilities to grasp that concept was very strong.

I still smile when I think of how worried he was that day when I was leaving. He gave me his home phone number and made me promise to phone him once I got home. The trip went fairly well because I managed to catch almost all green lights and when I did have to stop, it was at a level crossing. In the end, I would say that it took me a few weeks to feel confident and now it is like second nature and I now have difficulty driving an automatic.

Ex bf interrupts my reverie by opening the door to the car and settling in.

“Do you mind if we go to Tim Horton’s across the road so that we can be close by?”

“Of course I don’t.”

Ex received a telephone call shortly after we sat down at a table, a cancellation of an appointment which allowed us more time to visit. Instead of less than an hour we actually had two hours to sit and chat. It still moved by quickly and before I knew it I was receiving another bear hug goodbye.

I wasn’t overwhelmed with sadness when I drove away this time. I can honestly say that I have moved on with my life and cannot imagine living back in this town or with him. That was our plan when we were together that we were going to spend the rest of our lives together. At that point, I was convinced that he was “the” one. I know now that it wouldn’t have worked. Maybe that’s why it didn’t. I do hold that romantic belief that everything happens for a reason, even the things that seem terrible or unbearable at the time. This would be one of those. It was very unbearable at the time, but my life has changed so much because of it that I can’t imagine going backwards and reverting back to the way it was before. I have lovely memories and he will always hold a place in my heart.

Glancing at the clock I was pretty proud of myself when I realized that I was right on target with my estimated arrival time at Lucy’s. I had originally said 1:00 pm but when Ex had the cancellation; I called and left a message that it would be 2:00 pm. I pulled into her driveway right on time. This trying to be punctual thing is not so hard to accomplish. It just requires realizing my own inequities and being realistic with my timeframes.

The balance of the glorious afternoon was spent sitting in Lucy’s screened porch chatting and catching up on gossip. It was very relaxing to sit and talk while her husband toiled in the garage, straightening and organizing everything in preparation for the colder weather ahead when the car would need to be parked inside.

Lucy and Donald invited me to stay for dinner and overnight and I happily accepted. I was tired from all my visiting and this was great because as I had already stated, I wasn’t ready to return home yet anyway.

The next morning Lucy and I enjoyed a quiet breakfast and discussed plans for the day. I was going to go home but it didn’t have to be early. Donald had to go into work for a meeting but would be home just before noon.

Lucy and I went for a lovely walk up the road to the base of Blue Mountain and then back to her place. I took some photos of things that I found interesting. This served one other purpose (besides getting great photos). First it required me to stop, compose and shoot, which takes time (i.e. rest). Lucy and I used to walk everyday when she stayed with me for a few months a couple of years ago and unlike me, she has kept up with her exercise regime whereas mine has started and floundered quite a few times. I don’t think she caught onto my little trick, if she did; she certainly didn’t act like it.

While we walked in the hot, sweltering, unrelenting sun our conversation turned to how much we both love the Beach (Wasaga Beach). Lucy was realizing that in spite of that love she does not go and enjoy it and had not been there for an afternoon in at least a couple of years. We decided that it would be fun to spend the afternoon lying in the sun, near the water like we used to when I lived there.

Lucy’s husband didn’t want to join us so we packed up the car and left him on his riding mower. I think he waved goodbye, I’m sure it was a wave. His energy level must have been low though because he could only muster to raise one finger. We first went to get a bite to eat for lunch and arrived at the deserted beach around 2:30 pm. Lucy was concerned about the time until I reminded her that she was on vacation and did not have little children to rush home for. I admit that I didn’t consider her husband because I forget what it’s like, being a divorcee and all.

The weather was very different in the short distance from Lucy’s house to the Beach. The Beach was very cool and windy. The sun was brilliant and the waves were wild, so for me it was perfect. I love it when the air is slightly cool and the water is very warm and wavy.

We were pretty much alone except for maybe 6 other people scattered across the wide sand. A gentleman trying to work with a kite thing and a slalom ski held my curiosity for more than an hour. He could only manage to get his toes into the ski before the kite would crash into the water. I was probably more frustrated at his failings than he was. Finally he gave up and left.

It was 6:00 pm when we returned to the car after my swim, drying off and a long walk along the beach front. I noticed that we had unfortunately missed a call from Lucy’s husband and I told her that she should call him right away and reassure him that we were both safe and sound.

I decided that Lucy and her husband didn’t require my company any longer and explained this as I dropped her off in the driveway before heading for home. I was thankful that I had taken the time to pack prior to our beach trek.

The sight of the city on the horizon brought a feeling of comfort and I realized again that this is now my home. You can’t go back in time to recapture those wonderful memories that you have by simply returning for a visit to that “place”. They are only memories and what makes a place wonderful is not so much the geographical location, but more about the people in your life and how you spend your time with those people. We move; people change; grow apart; new people enter to fill their spaces and each has the capacity to help you make new memories.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Day Three...

I finish brushing my teeth and walk out of the bathroom talking to Debbie, but she isn’t answering me. I look over towards her bed and realize that she is already fast asleep. It’s 9:45 pm. I would never have imagined that I would be ready for bed before 11:00 pm on a non work night, yet it didn’t seem that there was much else to do.

Feeling refreshed and well rested I climb out of bed to check the weather. It didn’t look half as nice as yesterday. The wind was blowing strong and the sky was overcast and dull.

Debbie was still asleep so I decided to try and go back to sleep until she woke up. While I was waiting, I marveled at how well I felt in spite of the vodka and sun from the day before. I was happy that the over indulgence was not going to spoil the day.

Not too long after, Debbie woke up and unfortunately she was not feeling as chipper as the day before. We both started to get ready for the day and trying to decide what to do next.

I was surprised when Debbie suddenly announced that she was going to go home. Her reasoning was that there wasn’t much to do with the cool, cloudy weather and no matter how I tried; I was unable to coax her into staying.

My day was not going to go to waste though because I had already made plans to meet my friend Linda in the afternoon and my ex bf and I were going to meet for lunch.

We parted ways shortly before noon and under a brilliant, sunny sky we said goodbye. I felt bad but my old flame was waiting for me and I didn’t want to be late.

…to be continued

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

A Wee Break from the Travelogue

My new computer arrived today and I must say I am amazingly impressed, happy, estatic and everything else that is good!

Now I have a scanner and I couldn't resist but scan and post this picture of my sister and I. Which one is Suzy Snow? Left or Right?

Click on the photo to view a larger size.

No Show


Collingwood is deserted on this Tuesday evening in early September at 11:00 pm. It is the first day of school, so it is naturally quiet. Unlike the hot days of summer when everyone is up late and antsy, unable to sleep.

I question my decision of waiting so long for a break from work. Perhaps it wasn’t such a good idea to wait for summer to be over. It is very quiet and depressing. My mind is filled with childhood memories as I drive down the deserted streets in search of A) Food and B) Gas. Whatever I find first is where I stop first.

Naturally it was an open gas station. This is going to hurt, $1.26 per litre. The most I have paid so far was $1.05 and I thought that was bad. It ended up costing me $48.00 to fill my car. Not too long ago the most I paid to fill my car would have been around $33.00. I wonder how all those people who commute back and forth from here to the city every day will handle this increased expenditure.

After paying for my gas, I stand at my car for a moment and look up and down the street that is filled with every kind of junk food emporium you can think of, looking for a lit sign that might be calling my name. All the Arches and beacons are turned off though and I decide to head back to Wasaga Beach where I can stop at Tim Horton’s on the way and get a huge coffee and perhaps a sandwich.

It’s midnight when I pull back into the parking lot. The elderly couple in the room beside me have long since gone to bed. Now I need to concentrate on getting myself to sleep. Considering that I am very bored, it shouldn’t be too hard. It wasn’t. I think I only read three pages of my book before turning out the light and drifting off.

The light shining through the spot where the blind was missing slats (at the very edge, 3 or 4 verticals) woke me up early. It was only 8:00am. Unlike a day where I am going to work, this morning I actually looked forward to getting out of bed and starting my day. From the amount of sunlight already pouring into the room, it looked like it would be a good one.

Debbie called just before leaving her place so that I would know when she was arriving. I didn’t think I would be travelling too far from the motel so I wasn’t too worried about it. After talking to Debbie, I thought I should at least phone home and check in with my mother to make sure everything was ok there.

She helped me while away some more minutes but once again I am looking around the motel room, wondering what to do next. Breakfast sounds like an idea, but that most likely means heading back to Collingwood. I don’t expect anything to be open at the Beach, so rather than irritating myself by looking, I head directly to Town around 10:30 am.

My favourite restaurant in Collingwood is Duncan’s CafĂ©. I know that I will get a nice breakfast there and my mouth is watering as I drive there. I try to call Debbie so that she can join me but she doesn’t answer her cell phone and she doesn’t have voice mail. I like how easy it is to get in touch with her. No matter, I’ll be back before she arrives.

I’m not though. I eat breakfast and stop into my old office to see Judy and Carolyn. I can’t be this close and not say hello. We talk briefly, I assist Judy with a cranky client and then I leave to return to the Beach. I need to be back by 1:30pm and it is already 12:30.

I manage to make it back by 1:00 and I see Debbie sitting by the pool, already in her bathing suit. It looks inviting and I change immediately and mix us some drinks. Ignoring the sign on the gate to the pool "No Glasses", I yell for Debbie to open it up because I can’t manage the latch and two glasses of vodka and pop. It was special blueberry flavoured vodka with Sprite. A perfect combination.

When I had gone into the motel room to change, I had noticed two cd’s sitting on my notebook on the table and wondered why Debbie would bring cd’s considering she had stayed at the motel previously, she should know it didn’t come with a stereo.

It dawned on me though as I made my way to the pool that Musicman must have arrived early and dropped them off. Maybe Debbie met him. I am anxious to see what she thinks.

"Did you meet my friend?"

"What friend?"

"My music friend, the one that dropped those cd’s off."

"Oh those cd’s, I wondered why they were sitting there. No, I didn’t meet anyone, they were already on the table when I arrived."

"They were?" "What time did you get here?"

"Around 11:30."

"Really?" "Gee, that’s really weird. He said he was going to come by at 1:30. Why would he stop by earlier and how did he get into our room?"

"That is weird. I don’t know but it is kind of creepy if you ask me. You don’t even know him, do you?"

"No. Not really."

"That must have been who the cleaning lady saw. She said that she saw the guy that owns that convertible right there, going into your room earlier."

"No, it wasn’t him. I saw that couple last night. Maybe Musicman looks like him from the back."

"Well she was all confused thinking you were here with convertible guy. And then she said something about you driving Dan (the guy in the office) nuts."

"That pisses me off. I’ll tell you all about that bullshit later."

After telling my story of the previous day and evening and throwing the empty vodka bottle in the trash, a very sunburned Debbie and I, headed out to dinner at the Rockdell. Yes, it was almost in Collingwood but it was a far cry from driving to the Keg in Barrie which was Debbie’s choice.

….to be continued.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Mystery Musical Date


I try to get comfortable on the bed and I realize that it’s not that the bed is uncomfortable, it’s quite adequate, but the pillows are too flimsy. I prefer two pillows. The bottom one has to be more solid than the top and I regret not bringing my own.

It crosses my mind as I flip the channels on the remote control that I am paying $100.00 to sit in a motel room to feel lonely and sad. I could do this just as easily at home.

The ringing of my cell phone grabs my attention for a moment and I am relieved to see that it’s Debbie calling. Perhaps she has changed her mind and is calling to tell me she is on her way up. She isn’t of course, she is just calling to tell me what time to expect her in the morning and that she will call before she leaves. I assure her that I will be there, because where could I possibly go? Then I try to convince her to get in her car right then and there and throw caution to the wind, live dangerously and join me because I am going stark raving mad. She laughs. I am almost begging. No not almost, I am begging. I am pathetically trying to guilt her into changing her mind. I cannot understand why she steadfastly refuses to come up until Wednesday, other than the fact that she is typically stubborn and only does what she wants to do. I nor anyone else, will ever get her to do something that she doesn’t want to do.

I have lots of good reasons for her to drive up that moment though. The room is already paid for; I’m lonely; it’s only an hour and a half drive; we would get an early start on the day; the room is already paid for; I’m lonely…then I realize that I am merely repeating my reasons over and over again and really I don’t have that many but I do feel they are good reasons. She won’t budge though and laughingly says goodbye and hangs up.

The silence (other than the constant chatter of the television) is deadly. I hate it. I return to the fetal position with my remote control and try to console myself.

Soon my mind turns to Musicman. I met him at the end of May while walking through a music festival. His music, which I could hear over the rooftops, drew me to the corner where he and his band were playing. He was singing one of my favourite Allman Bros songs, One Way Out. I planted myself on the edge of a planter across the street in the warm, spring sun and listened to them play song after song. I didn’t hear any that I didn’t like and it was a perfect moment in time. The voice, deep and raspy, from too many cigarettes, was very appealing.

After a few more songs, Musicman introduced the band members and I realized that the Bass player was an old acquaintance of mine. He was my old boyfriend’s roommate. I hadn’t seen him in years and this was a good opportunity to say hello and also get a closer look at the man behind the voice.

After a brief reunion with Bass player, I was introduced to Musicman. There was an intensity in his clear, blue eyes that made me want to stare, but I forced myself not to do so. He asked me if I wanted to buy a couple of their cd’s and when I said yes, he told me that he needed my address, phone number and email address. I complied because I was intrigued. I wanted to hear more of their music and because he knew Bass player, there was a higher comfort level than normal.

Sporadic email correspondence began shortly thereafter and was usually accompanied with questions of when I would be in their territory again. I could never give an answer because I didn’t have hardly any spare time to be going anywhere until this week, and when I made plans for my mini vacation, we decided to get together for a coffee and chat. I was also promised those elusive cd’s.

Just before leaving from home, I received an email from Musicman advising that he wouldn’t get off work until 10:00pm but he would be able to stop by the motel for a brief visit around 10:30pm. I replied that would be ok and suggested he call the motel earlier so that I could tell him what room I was in.

The fact that now I was sitting in a room without a telephone bothered me. Not only for safety sake, but now my chances of meeting up with him would be slim. Surely the young guy in the office would not be giving that information out to anyone, and I never thought to let him know that I was expecting a gentleman caller later that night. I decided that the only recourse would be to go outside at 10:30pm and sit at the picnic table waiting.

That idea didn’t appeal to me either and the closer it got to 10:30pm the more I was accepting that I would not see him and it just wasn’t meant to be. I have a fatalistic attitude about most things. People think I’m crazy sometimes, but I find it easier to deal with disappointment that way. If it doesn’t happen, it wasn’t meant to, if it does, than it was meant to and so on.

Still lying on the bed, trying not to fall asleep to the news, I was startled by the quiet knock on my door. I expected to see the young fellow from the office coming with a message and was very, very surprised to see Musicman standing there.

"How did you find me?"

"The guy in the office told me your room number. You were expecting me, weren’t you?"

"Yes, I was, but I don’t have a telephone in the room so I’m just surprised that we are actually meeting up. It never dawned on me that he would tell you what room I was in. I mean, I never told him I was expecting a visitor."

"Well, I’m glad he did."

"Oh yes, so am I. Sorry, I don’t mean to sound like I’m not happy to see you. Anyway, let’s go sit on the picnic table on the deck and talk."

"That sounds good, I can’t stay too long. I only have about half an hour and then I really have to get going, but I just wanted to stop in and say hello."

It seemed like he had just arrived, but here I was shaking his hand goodbye. A promise was made to drop the cd’s off to me the next day at 1:30pm. He would have more time to visit and perhaps we would go for lunch somewhere.

I walk inside my room, sit on the edge of the bed and debate what I will do next. Now I am wide awake and feeling trapped by the small room. After some thought, I decide to go out for a wee drive and perhaps grab a hamburger down the road.

The hamburger joint was long closed up and my gas gauge was warning me that I was not the only one that needed to be fed. Knowing full well that there would not be an open gas station in the Beach, I turn my car towards Collingwood and pray that there really would be an extra 5 kms worth of gas after the needle hits empty.

…to be continued.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Day One, Mini Vacation Wasaga Beach


Dscn0727
Originally uploaded by Suzy Snow.
Day One

I decide to phone into work before I leave the house on Tuesday to see if by chance my overtime cheque has arrived. If it’s in then perhaps the cheque will cover the cost of my car expense on Saturday.

"Yes they arrived on Friday. I’ll put your cheque in your drawer for you."

"Thanks a lot, I’ll see you later. I’m not sticking around though. I'll just pick up my cheque and then I’m off to start my vacation."

After two hours of packing I finally say goodbye to Mom and Melissa. I check the clock on my dash and notice that it’s noon. Not too bad, I will have the best part of the day to spend lounging on the beach.

The cheque is more than I expected. On the way to my office I tried to think of what it would be and anticipated a cheque of $150.00. Not enough to cover the car expenses but it would help. It is five hundred dollars. I excitedly call my mom to let her in on my good fortune. Feeling happier, I leave work and head directly to the mall.

My daughter had been in Wasaga Beach on the weekend and told me that the evenings were very chilly. I decided that this is as good a time as any to get a new jacket.

With my new purse, wallet, earrings, jacket, various sundries from the drugstore and a full tummy from a delicious lunch I venture back to my car to begin my adventure. The time is now 3:00 p.m.

An hour later, I am pulling into the motel and immediately notice the empty parking lot. No problem, I wanted a rest so I should be happy that the motel is quiet. Smug that my plan of arriving after the busy long weekend is going to pay off, I walk into the office to check in.

The young fellow behind the desk looks as though I have just woken him up, but between yawns manages to take my particulars. The sign on the wall states that efficiency units are $200.00 per night, July and August. He wants to know if I am paying by cash or credit card.

"Debit."

"OK that will be $100.00 per night."

"I’ll pay for two nights. My friend is joining me tomorrow. Is that the price for a unit in the new building with a fridge and stove?"

"Yes and we have two layouts. What one do you want to take?"

"Well, what is the difference between the two?"

"One is an open concept design with one big room, two beds and the bathroom at the back and a small fridge and cook top. The other has a full fridge and stove, two separate bedrooms with the bathroom dividing the two."

He looked at me impatiently waiting for my decision.

"I’m not sure which one to choose; the two bedroom one sounds good. Do you think I could see them?"

"Sure."

With a sigh he grabs the keys for the two rooms and saunters out the door. I get the feeling that I am really putting him out, but I don’t care. It’s my vacation and I want to make the right choice.

The two bedroom looks huge and adequate. The bathroom is brand new with a huge bathtub that I can visualise myself lounging in it later. We walk down two doors to look at the other unit. He opens the door and it looks just like any other motel room with a TV on a low dresser on one wall and two double beds across from it.

"I’ll take the two bedrooms."

"OK."

He leaves me to unpack my car. The first thing is to get my vodka and wine in the fridge. The fridge and stove are in the back bedroom. It’s unusually dark and I fumble with the lamp. It doesn’t work. That pisses me off. I reach up and turn on the light above the stove. It cast a faint yellow hue and I feel a little apprehension as I continue with my chore of unpacking.

I look around the bedroom that I have claimed for myself, but then it hits me that if I’m in the back then I won’t be able to watch TV because there is only one and it is in the front bedroom along with the air conditioning unit.

This won’t do. I acknowledge that I made a mistake but tell myself it’s OK because I can change rooms in the morning when Debbie arrives.

I might as well sleep in the front with the air and the tv.

I walk into the other room and flop on the bed pointing the remote control at the TV. No matter how much I push buttons, nothing happens. This requires getting up close to inspect the problem. The TV was unplugged for some reason and I expect results after I plug it in, but still nothing.

I continue to fool around with it but no matter which channel I choose I still see the white fuzzy screen of a broken TV or a television that is not connected to cable. The thought crosses my mind that perhaps they cut the cable off after Labour Day.

It’s not suitable. I decide to call the front desk and complain.

Where is the phone?

No matter where I look; in drawers, behind doors, in cupboards or under the bed, I still end up with nothing. No telephone. No TV. $100.00 per night. What the fuck?

It’s 4:30pm and all I want to do is go for a swim. I might as well get changed and then on my way to the beach, I’ll tell the guy to fix the TV and I’ll complain about no phone. Or at least ask if it’s been misplaced.

The front office is empty but the door was open when I walked back in. I can hear him talking on the telephone and he soon appears in front of me, still talking into a cordless phone. He starts to fumble with the computer and tells the person that he is checking for their reservation. He can’t tell the caller what the charge will be because the manager will not be back until Thurs, but he knows it will be at least $100.00 per night. The person on the other end of the line mentions the name of another establishment and then he informs him that is not who he is speaking with and suggests he check with the other motel first, but if that fails he does have rooms available.

Hanging up the phone he turns his attention back to me and I am not sure but I thought I could see annoyance in his face. Without missing a beat, I launch into my dialogue about the TV and the missing phone, the lamp that doesn’t work and that I think I made the wrong choice and will most likely move into the other room the next day once my friend arrives.

He suggests that I change rooms right away because it would be much easier and I follow him back to my room so he can check out the TV. After a couple of seconds he gets it working. I’m not sure what magic button he chose, but he tells me that he’ll open the other room and that I can take my time moving. He will bring me the room key and pick up the other one later.

It takes me less than five minutes to vacate the room and settle into the new one. I notice that he has turned the TV on and I think that is rather cheeky. This is not the best start to my holiday. If I had not already paid for the room and if it was not the choice of my friend, I would have packed my car and gone to another establishment.

Ready for the warm sun and sand I push the negative thoughts aside and reach for the remote to turn the television off (always a conservationist at heart). It takes me a few minutes to find it. Someone had pushed it to the very back of the shelf below the TV. The power button elicits no response. I cannot believe it. With an overwhelming feeling of defeat, I walk back to the office to get my key and enquire about the remote control.

Again, the front office is empty when I walk in and it takes a few minutes for him to appear. I am not mistaking the annoyance on his face. It is obvious that he regrets taking my $200.00 just as much as I reqret having paid it.

"Here’s your key. Thought I would save you the trip because I want to go for a swim on the beach. By the way, the remote control isn’t working for the TV."

"It isn’t?"

"Nope. I tried and tried, but the back cover is off and it sounds like something inside is loose when I shake it."

"I’ll be over in a little while to check it out."

"I’m going for a swim, can you tell me how to get down to the beach front?"

"What?"

"Where is the access to the beach?"

"Right by the bbq’s."

I hadn’t noticed any bbq’s but I knew from the web site that there is supposed to be access to the beach front from the motel and that there are bbq’s for the guests to use. Rather than question him any further, I leave the office and walk in the direction he had pointed.

At the back of the parking lot is an elevated deck with picnic tables and lawn chairs. Thinking that would be an ideal place for a bbq, I climb the stairs to the deck. There is a fence dividing the space from the patio of a bar named Sandbar and the gate is padlocked closed. I know if I can get into the patio of the bar, there will be stairs leading to the beach. This must be the wrong way though. I still do not see the bbq’s.

I know that I can always walk around the corner, but it annoys me that again someone has falsely advertised themselves and they get away with it.

On the way to the street I see the young fellow heading towards my room to see about the remote control. I decide to try one more time.

"I’m sorry but I can’t find the access to the beach front."

He points to a location behind me.

"The gate is right there, behind the bbq. Do you see it?" At the same time he walks over to it and opens the gate.

I feel foolish. The bbq’s are tucked underneath the overhang of the deck at the very edge of the parking lot, just where any reasonable person would put one. I shake my head and walk past him into the narrow alleyway. The pavement is overgrown by grass and as the gate swings shut behind me, I’m overcome with the scent of human urine.

I decide that I will not return to my room this way and hurry to the door at the other end. Once on the other side, I turn around to see where the doorway is located and notice that there is no doorknob. I wouldn’t be able to get back in anyway.

Once the decision to take a mini vacation with my friend was made, I started to imagine how I was going to spend my free time. I imagined myself swimming in the lake, lying on the sand in the sun, sitting at a picnic table writing, going for walks on the beach and taking pictures of the sunset.

After doing all the above in just over an hour, I stood looking at the four walls of my motel room wondering what I was going to do now and felt an overwhelming feeling of loneliness replace my earlier happy anticipation.

…to be continued

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Suzy's On The Beach - Be Back Soon


Dscn0417
Originally uploaded by Suzy Snow.
I will be looking at this view very shortly. I'm all packed and ready to hit the road.

Check back next week for updates and I hope new stories, but if nothing worthy of writing about happens then at least I'll have some pictures.

See ya!

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Boxed Lunches, Cheaper?


Dscn0416
Originally uploaded by Suzy Snow.
I'm going away for a few days to get some needed rest. I'm officially on a one week vacation and my friend Debbie and I are going to Wasaga Beach to relax by the waters edge and hopefully have a bit of fun.

Debbie has decided to wait until Wednesday or Thursday to join me so I will have a night or two on my own (I'm going up on Tuesday). I think most of my friends know that I have worked a lot of overtime this summer. I feel as though I have had no life, because basically it has been work and sleep, work and sleep. We had a huge project at work and I knew that would require a lot of my focus this summer so I decided that I would hold my vacation until after it was over and in that way I would be able to really enjoy it.

Wasaga Beach, although touted as a "four seasons getaway", basically shuts down after the labour day holiday in and around the "main drag" area which is where we have chosen to stay. Our motel is located right on the water and looks to be a nice spot. I am not disappointed that I will have to pay less for my room because I waited until after the prime holiday times, nor am I disappointed that I won't have to jockey for a piece of the sand. It suits me perfectly. I plan on taking pleasure in some solitary walks that I'm sure will remind me of my life there four years ago.

One of the downsides to working late every night and working every Saturday is that you don't have time to do your regular things that you need to do, like housekeeping projects you had in mind, shopping, or getting your car tuned up. My attention was reverted to my car the other morning when I backed out of my parking spot and noticed that I was short one headlamp. I am not the most observant person on earth, so it really does make me wonder how long I had been driving around like that. I remember thinking that the road was particularly dark one night last week when I came home really late.

Now that I have been released from work for a week, I feel as though I’ve been injected with a refreshed frame of mind and a new rejuvenated energy. I decided to look after this little detail immediately yesterday morning after I dropped my daughter off at her work. No time like the present to take care of this type of thing, was my mantra as I started to drive towards home on auto pilot.

It worked. Rather than continuing on Cawthra, I turned left on the Queensway and navigated my car to the Canadian Tire at Mavis and Dundas. There was hardly a soul in the store other than the people that work there and I smiled smugly to myself at the good idea. After all it is a long weekend and most people are away enjoying the last of summer before the kids head back to school on Tuesday.

I walked up to the Service Counter and told the young fellow that I would like an oil change and I had a headlamp that needed to be replaced. He asked me if I would like the "seasonal" oil change ($29.95) or just the regular. I asked what the difference was and he informed me that the "seasonal" oil change included a check of fluids, brakes, wheels etc. Considering that my car maintenance was severely overdue I opted for the more thorough check and decided to walk around the store to see if there was any shopping I needed to do while I waited.

An hour later, after purchasing a new lunch bag (which will encourage me to make my lunch everyday), I returned to check on the progress of my car. I noticed it was still in it’s original parking spot so I took a seat in the waiting area. A man pulled my car into the bay shortly after and within minutes, it seemed, I was looking at a worksheet that showed that my car needed two front rotors, brake pads, cleaning and adjustment of rear brakes and deglazing of the rear drums. On top of the oil change and headlamp replacement.

The total cost would be $515.00. Did I want them to continue? My car is on a hoist, I knew the brakes were spongy because I have been babying them for quite some time, I am about to take a little bit of a road trip and even though I had not counted on this extra expense, how could I possibly say "no, just do the oil change"?

So as I’m sure they knew that I would, I told them to fix the car. The fellow asked me if I was going to go home or would I be waiting in the store because it would be another two hours or so. I asked if they had a convenience vehicle to drive customers home and he shook his head with a smirk and said "Nooooooo, not today."

"Ok, then I’ll be staying. I can’t get home when my car is on the hoist."

"You might want to walk across the road to Loblaws, they have a little restaurant there where you could get something to eat while you wait."

"That sounds good. Thanks."

I left the store trying to ignore the pit that was forming in my stomach and consoled myself that at least I was being responsible and getting my car fixed, especially the brakes was very important.

Loblaws is my favourite grocery store. It’s reputation is one of high prices but I can’t help it. I have fun shopping at Loblaws. I want to spend money when I’m at Loblaws, like no other grocery store. Even if I’m not hungry, I can find plenty of things that I have to have when I’m shopping at Loblaws. The opposite is true when I grocery shop at Dominion, Food Basics or No Thrills (No Frills), I could be starving to death and walk out empty handed because my appetite leaves the moment I enter those stores. It’s all about marketing. Loblaws knows how to present a store and get your hand into your wallet. The other stores have no clue or don’t care because they depend on people that have no alternative but to shop there to keep them in business.

So off to Loblaws I headed while Canadian Tire played with my car. It was just as well, it was already 10:30 am and I had left home without a breakfast at 8:45 to take my daughter to work. I was ready for a snack. After a great breakfast bagel (fried egg, tomato, cheese, bacon, lettuce and mayo), I decided to look around the store. I was not grocery shopping, just browsing.

Sixty-five dollars later, I decided to return to Canadian Tire to see if my car was ready. The sixty five dollars was spent on essentials that I remembered I needed when I was looking around (moisturiser, face wash, a good book to read, thank you cards, and a new razor).

The Canadian Tire store looked completely different this time around. The once barren parking lot was full of cars, many people were driving around looking for spots, and customers teamed in and out of the doors. Not a good sign. Maybe my car wouldn’t be finished. I prayed that it was when I went inside.

The counter help were all busy with other customers. The manager stood expressionless while a white trash female yelled at him loudly about god knows what. I missed the beginning of the story, but no matter how loud she yelled or how she near she was teetering on tears, in the end I did see her paying her bill.

The other guy, that had initially taken my keys from me was quoting a price for an Asian man on some new tires and rims. The Asian man argued with him about a previous quote that was different. An Indian Clerk was scurrying around behind the counter moving bits of paper from one spot to another and although he knew I was there to pick up my car, he preferred that I wait for the clerk dealing with the Asian man. He told me it would only be a minute then left the area altogether.

I had to wait while the clerk went to talk to the stone faced manager about the Asian man’s complaint. I stood patiently while the clerk told him there was nothing he could do about the incorrect quote that was given earlier and then listen to him go over each and every charge in detail over and over and over again. I looked at the back of the head of the Asian man and fought with myself not to take my purse and smash him.

The Indian guy reappeared finally and started to shuffle paper bits again, while I stared at him constantly until he finally acknowledged that yes I was STILL standing there and young clerk was STILL arguing with the Asian man. He picked up my paperwork and proceeded to ring me out.

"Cash or Credit card?"

"I’ll use my Debit card."

He rings the purchase through and I punch in my pin number and then the unthinkable happens. A message flashes across the screen "Exceeded Limit, refer to branch".

Fuck. Damn. I KNEW this would happen. A few months ago, my bank called to tell me that I had used my debit card at a gas station that was under surveillance for fraud. I had to have my card replaced and at that time the teller talked me into lowering my limits, advising me that I would be responsible for any charges that incurred fraudulently until after it was proven (arrests, court etc) which could take years. I agreed to lowering them but I was hesitant because I have become one of those people that never has cash in their wallets…why carry cash when you have your debit card?

The Indian clerk didn’t read the message but continued to swipe my card again and suggested that I had input the wrong pin. I told him that I knew what the problem was and luckily I had another debit card from another bank and all we needed to do was put part of it on one and part of it on another. I was very relieved when it said approved.

Slightly embarrassed, I grabbed my invoice and keys and hurried to my car. Once inside, I decided to look at the invoice in more detail.

Under the oil change section it read: CI Hydro Box Lunch $9.99 each Cost 0 (because it was under the seasonal oil change charge of $29.95.

I went back inside to the counter to find out what it was and Indian clerk had disappeared again but original guy was there without the aggravating Asian man. I stepped in front of a line (there was no way I was lining up again) and asked him what that meant. He said, "well that’s the free lunch bag you are entitled to, didn’t we give it to you?"

"No, you didn’t."

He made a half hearted look behind the counter but was unable to find any lunch boxes.

I stood silently watching him, waiting for him to tell me that they didn’t have any and then try to dismiss me.

I must add that he was alone at the counter with a line up and stone faced manager and all other help had disappeared.

He looked at me sheepishly and told me that although they didn’t have any behind the counter, there were more on the proper aisle in the store and if I could just go over to customer service, they would tell me where they were and then I could get one myself, bring it back to him and that would be it.

I did just that gladly, rather than the alternative, which I knew would entail another long, long wait.

In the end, I got a better lunch bag then the one I had originally purchased at the beginning of the story and now I have absolutely no reason not to take my lunch (all for the low price of $515.00), because I can forget one in the car or at work and I’ll have a second option waiting at home.

I feel so much better about starting my little holiday now that I have taken care of the burnt out headlight and the oil change.

Speechless


Clouds Mississauga 1 03092005
Originally uploaded by Suzy Snow.
I am speechless or feel that right now anything I have to say will seem insignificant and trite with the horrible disaster south of the border. I am however posting a picture of my favourite subject, clouds. This was taken this afternoon in Mississauga, Ontario.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Guns, Guns, Guns

I heard some very good news today. The Police apprehended a 19 year old male with a handgun at Dufferin and Lawrence, right near my work. I feel so much safer now that I know he’s been put in jail or at least driven to the jail and then undoubtedly released on bail after a good talking to.

So what is going on in this city right now? Is it a gun epidemic? Was it too hot this summer? There has to be some reason for all the gun violence lately. Or is it a deeper problem that has yet to be identified? Could it have anything to do with the violent TV shows and video games that our youth have grown up on? Have they become hardened by the constant barrage of violence that now they are acting out what they have been watching for years on TV and it seems natural to them?

I certainly don’t have the answers but I know that the violence is real. I hear about it every day on the Television and Radio and calmly think to myself, oh that happened in Scarborough or that happened in Rexdale, but twice this summer it has happened close to my work. That is starting to make me feel a little uneasy. I’m not concerned that I would ever be a target because I do not run in those circles, but I could easily be a victim or a stray bullet, or someone I know could become a victim.

How many people are like me though? That shut a part of themselves off from the horrific news and rationalize that they are safe because it happened in another part of the city? I’m sure there are many people that do that, not only here but in other parts of the world where they have to live in dangerous times. It must be a natural survival instinct to allow us to carry on. It allows us to live our day to day lives rather than becoming prisoners in our homes, too afraid to venture out. But I do wonder about how long it will take for the violence to take over the natural ebb and flow of peaceful living? How long before we find ourselves living in a Mad Max, Road Warrior type of world?

I hope its a long way away and not just around the corner. I don’t like having to bury my head in the sand to cope but I’ll do what I need to do.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Clouds and Day Dreams



My very first book that I remember owning, was bought just for me, instead of the usual books that were for both my sister and I, and it was titled Isabelle and The Pink Teddy Bears. I still own the book.

It is a large, hard covered book with an enchanting picture on the front of a little girl in a dreamy night gown with a handsome Pink Teddy in a tux on her arm. They are stepping gingerly onto a huge, fluffy, white cloud that the Pink Teddy uses as a mode of transportation.

I couldn’t read the book myself when my Dad bought it, but before long I had memorised the words and pretended to read them for anyone that would listen. I was 4 years old and I think this is where my fascination with fluffy, white clouds began.

Later on when I was in elementary school, I was often scolded by the teacher for day dreaming rather than listening to the lesson that was being taught. I could stare straight ahead but be miles away in seconds. Usually it was the clouds floating slowly past the window that would catch my eye.

They still make me stare. I can’t help it. I caught myself staring out the side window at the monstrous wonders on my way home from work last night and I was kicking myself that I didn’t have my camera with me. They were fabulous specimens. The kind that demand more than a mere glance. These were the ones that were worthy of a full uninterrupted, staring session.

If I were still a child, I would have succumbed to that thought and plopped down on the grass somewhere to stare and dream at the clouds floating above. Unfortunately, I’m not a child, but a busy adult racing somewhere important in her car, with little time for such frivolous ideas.

I miss being a child.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

The Last Hurrah

As the last breath is finally released and the strong heart gives up its valiant fight; Betty finally relinquishes herself to an eternal rest. The date is July 18, 2005. Today on July 22, 2005 we come together to pay respect to this wonderful woman. I know that I will never forget this birthday, my 44th.

I think about how Betty is finally forced to rest and how that was something that she rarely allowed herself. I think how odd it is to be here for a funeral in the very Church where I married her son Bill some 26 years ago. I sit quietly with my thoughts as sweat drips down my face and neck. Was it this hot when we married? I think so, but I probably never noticed on that day. I was too wound up in nervous, happy tension. I look up to the ceiling at the small blades of the ceiling fan dangling high above and wonder why they would put such a small fan up so high; its blades too weak to push enough air towards me to evaporate the dampness that clings to my body.

Memories of my wedding day and Betty standing proudly at the front of the Church, watching me walk down the aisle, make me cry. She infused her never ending energy into our wedding preparations; making sure that every last detail was perfect.

I sit two rows behind the one that holds my daughter, her father, his second wife and their two sons. I sit with my mother alone. The other side of the Church in the front row are my ex-brother-in law, his third wife, his father, his mother’s sister and her husband.

It is obvious that my ex husband is not considered one of the family and neither are we. The black sheep as he has often been referred to, is forced to sit on the opposite side of the Church because his father’s sister and her family have taken up squatting rights in the second row, not offering to give up their prime seats when he arrived and certainly not even entertaining that perhaps their actions could be considered inappropriate or rude. My daughter told me of the awkwardness later and how it made her feel angry and sad. Bill did not make a fuss. He quietly moved his family to the third row, the first two were designated for the Pall Bearer’s, and sat silently, obstructed of a view to the spot that would soon hold the casket of his mother, listening to the quiet chords of the organ whining in the background.

I wonder what thoughts are going through his mind but I cannot even imagine. I have lost a parent and I know how terribly devastating that can be, but I did not have the underlying tensions of dislike and competitiveness that he has, so I wait for him to explode because I know that he will.

My mind stops for a moment and I feel guilty about my wilful pondering in this holy place where we have gathered to worship the passing of a wonderful, strong, vibrant matriarch. I decide to ignore the snub and try to focus on all the contributions of a woman that I loved as much as my own mother.

To try and describe her is a feat in itself. How do you explain a woman that could run a business, do everything and I mean everything for her husband, maintain a show home that was open year after year for Public tours, volunteer and actively participate in several charitable organisations, run for Public Office more than once, stand for hours on end preparing home made Chili Sauce, Zucchini Relish, Corn Relish, Dill Pickles, Strawberry Jam, Raspberry Jam and numerous other culinary delights in the heat of the summer in a house only equipped with fans, without one complaint because she knew that her husband would be happy. If that is not enough, try to imagine this same woman probably the day after doing all of that cooking, going outside and cutting the lawn for 7 hours and when she was finished you would swear it was nicer than the greens of an exclusive golf and country club. That was her weekend. She would be at work on Monday morning to start the whole thing over again, managing a thriving Travel Agency during a time when many women did not hold a position above Secretary.

Her limitless energy and talents made me shameful of my own wifely contributions. I tried to keep up to her but I realised that I was not made of the same stuff as Betty S. She was unique and bigger than life. I never heard her say that she could not do something or accomplish something. Those negative words did not occupy any space in her thought process. Instead her mind was always busy imagining her next task or challenge. She taught me many things and I am changed because I met her son a month before my 16th birthday and eventually married him a month after I turned 18.

She taught me how to make the best pie crust ever and often bragged to other people about the beautiful apple pies I could make. I can feel the blush on my cheeks that would instantly appear when I would hear her talking about my own abilities, because I knew that it would never compare to hers. After years of hearing those same compliments, I am forced to accept that it was a sincere compliment and not a half truth that you may hear from less genuine individuals.

Betty was not dishonest. Many people may not have understood her frank honesty but I’m sure that it was respected. She would not purposely try to hurt you but if you asked her opinion, you would get it, even if it was not what you wanted to hear.

Our relationship began on rocky ground because she couldn’t understand why a young girl would be interested in a man 8 years her senior. I think that she questioned my own integrity in those early years, but it wasn’t long before I was one of the family and treated like the daughter that she always wanted but never had. When my marriage ended, I promised her through our hugs and tears that I would never abandon her or Frank and they would always have access to their granddaughter Melissa. That was not even a question in my mind, but I knew that it happens often when couples part and I could see the fear in her eyes when I told her that Bill had left. She loved both Melissa and I and she was openly upset and angry at Bill for his unfaithfulness. We did remain close and she was a huge part of Melissa’s and my life until the very end.

Three weeks earlier, she made the decision to remove herself from her dialysis treatments. She was tired and unable to maintain the struggle that she had endured for the past 4 years. It was an emotional visit with her the July 1st weekend, as she held my hand in the emergency room and told me how much she loved me and how sorry she was that Bill and I were not still together. She told me once again that I was the daughter she never had and how much she appreciated everything that I had ever done for her. I knew that I may not get another opportunity to express all of my feelings for her too, so as hard as it was, through sobs and tears, I gave thanks for her love and generosity. I told her how much I loved her and we cried and kissed in the small cubicle of the emergency room, while Doctors and Nurses rushed around caring for the injured and sick.

It wasn’t the last time I saw Betty S. but it was the last time I was able to have a meaningful conversation with her. Her health deteriorated quickly after that day and for the next two weekends, Melissa and I made our way to Collingwood to spend as many hours as possible with her before she departed.

My thoughts are broken by the wail of the bagpipe and everyone stands in respect for the lady being carried down the aisle to the front of the Church. My tears will not be restrained and I struggle to find some tissue in my purse as she passes by me.

As I listen to the rushed words falling from the lips of the gentleman reading the eulogy, I can’t help but think that this is a shame. His speech has all the information but does not have the emotion or love that she deserves. The facts, read in a hurried monotone, pale against my memories of the real life moments that were felt standing with her as she succeeded time and again at whatever she chose to strive for.

The Minister follows with her own limited knowledge of this great woman and I cry as she speaks of how Betty took joy in her sons, Bob and Bill, their wives, the two Mika’s, her four grandchildren, Melissa, Deborah, Julian and Patrick and her great grandchildren Joshua and Ariana. The dialogue continues but even after mentioning her sister-in-law, her husband, nieces and nephews there is no mention of me. That hurt. It hurt because the people that were left behind, the people who wrote the death notice for the paper, the people who gave the information to the Minister never thought that I was a part of Betty’s life, or felt that I was not important enough to be mentioned. They didn’t know because unlike Melissa and I, those people were never around. They did not have Frank and Betty to their homes for special occasions like Birthdays, Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas like I did. So how would they know?

Their efforts in the last couple of weeks of her life do not make up for the years of occasional visits and phone calls. They will have to live with their conscience; mine is clear.

The moment of celebrating her life is over and the Minister prays as we say farewell at her grave site. That’s it. A few meaningless words and the story of a very productive, strong woman is over. It will never be over in my heart though because she will always be there, forever and ever. Amen.

Friday, July 01, 2005

So much more than just a pic...

**After posting this earlier and linking to two of Ben's pictures, I googled Hotlinking and found out what it means. I've since removed the pictures. Sorry Ben. If your pictures have tags to prevent this, it didn't work.


I was reading a post by Ben and his dilema surrounding posting pictures on his blog.

What picqued my curiosity was the bit about "anti-hotlinking tag". I've never heard of the term and I'm wondering what it is, and more importantly what does it do? I thought it would prevent someone from stealing his pics and posting them on their page, so I decided to try it.

The picture featured here is one of Ben's. (I've since removed the picture). The "anti-hotlinking tag" isn't doing what I thought it would do.

Ok I'm going to try and post another one of his pics. Maybe that one didn't have the tag.
Removed Picture. Ok then, I've managed to post two of his pictures in different formats, so what is that tag for?

Maybe Ben will tell me.

Fantasy/Reality

Wow, another week has slipped by. I must say that typically I am out of the house much more in the nice weather than I am in the winter. This would account for the declining posts.

This past week I was out every night except one, last night. It's fun but tiring all at the same time.

In my last post I was talking about my visit with Em2 and posted some pictures. We ended up getting together on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Monday I toured him to Collingwood and Wasaga Beach, Tuesday we met for dinner and I took him to The Astoria on the Danforth. Great Greek food. It was so friggin hot though. I felt like I was soaking wet by the time we left. We had decided to sit on the patio because Em2 said that he doesn't often get the opportunity to eat outdoors. I know that I don't, ever since I moved to Mississauga almost 4 years ago, so it was a nice change.

For Em2's last evening, I picked him up at his Hotel and brought him to my place for dinner. We ordered in pizza because I didn't want to make the poor man wait until midnight to eat if I planned on cooking once we got there (I have been finding it difficult to leave work on time and was later leaving that night also).

It was funny because I was kind of nervous about him meeting my mother. My mother was nervous about meeting him because she said that she is sure I post nasty things about her on my blog and he would have an opinion about her already.

I'm not sure if Em2 was nervous because he always presents a cool, calm facade.

I think the evening went well. It went quickly, that's for sure. I hated driving him back to his hotel because I knew that it might be the last time I see him and I felt like we were just getting comfortable with each other.

I would have to say that meeting Em2 was one of the most enjoyable things about blogging. It makes it so much more fun to finally meet the person behind the words. He is nothing like I had imagined. We all have little fantasies of what the bloggers look like, act like etc. and in my mind, Em2 would have looked and acted like Neuman off of Seinfeld. He wasn't like him at all, except that he has the best sense of humour and had me laughing the whole time he was here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Helloooooo, I'm back!

June 22, 2005

It seems like forever since I’ve updated. Oh wait a minute, that’s because it has been.

I’m sure that the few people that used to check in on a regular basis have given up me and I don’t blame you.

I have been very busy lately and unfortunately have not had the time or the energy to devote to my blog.

But I’m taking a minute for a sketch of what has been happening.

I’m sure you all remember the Supervisor competition that I applied on a long time ago. I finally received the outcome around the end of May. Out of the 500 initial applicants there were two of us that qualified and ended up on the list for the three locations I had applied for. I’m number two.

I was very surprised and happy with the results. Considering that there are many positions available, there is a good possibility that I will end up with a permanent job at this level from this competition. I almost hate to say that because I’m afraid of jinxing it. The eligibility list is good for one year and can be extended for another if they want. In this case, it won’t be because there are two few on the list, so there would not be any point.

The appeal period was up on June 14th and of course, the competition has been appealed. This means that they cannot offer a permanent position until after the appeal process is complete. There was no indication of how long this will take.

That sums up work except that since I’ve been working as a Supervisor, I have been busier than ever before and I’m finding it very difficult to go home on time. I think that will ease as I become more comfortable with the new position.

I decided to sign up for a course to assist myself with my new job, and I took a 4 week (Saturday only) course on Human Relations. It was through Sheridan College and was part of the Ontario Management Development Program. You can obtain a certificate with either 8 or 12 credits, depending on the program you decide to take.

I ended up with 100% on my first one. Very happy with those results too. It was a very informative course and I came away with confidence that I already do some things well and there are other areas that I can become more proficient. I met some new people and that was fun as well.

Another exciting thing that happened was that I had an international visitor. That was a real surprise. I received an email from Em2 telling me that he was coming to Canada and would be in Toronto. He wondered if I was interested in meeting him and of course I was.

He had made plans for his first weekend in Canada so I decided to take a vacation day on Monday June 6th and use that time to show Em2 a little bit of my world. I took him to see my old stomping grounds, Collingwood and Wasaga Beach. We had a great time. It was so nice to meet him face to face and share a part of Ontario that is very close to my heart.

Here are some pictures that I took during that day. Click on the thumbnail to see full size picture. View from the top of Blue Mountain, near Scenic Caves. This used to be a "free" lookout point, but Blue Mountain has put barriers and a parking lot with signs advising that the tickets are needed to use the trails. All in the name of progress. We decided to risk prosecution and brazenly walked along their trail to the best spot for picture taking. Luckily nobody was arrested. :o)













Wasaga Beach. The worlds longest freshwater beach!











Dinner at The Astoria, Danforth Ave, Toronto Ontario.

To be continued soon....

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Let Me Introduce You To....

We met about a month ago. At first meeting, I wasn’t even sure if I liked him. He was aggravating and intoxicating simultaneously, which left me with mixed feelings.

I’ve been seeing him almost daily since our first meeting and if I am unable to see him, I become very frustrated. It’s developed into a habit. A time consuming habit, but after leaving him, I always feel euphoric and therefore do not mind the time that I have been spending with him.

It’s like anything in life, sometimes the cost is worth the effort and sometimes it isn’t.

I believe that this time, the benefits far outweigh the loss of time doing other things, like updating my blog, or chatting online with my friends.

It seems to be changing the way I look. I’ve been complimented by my co-workers at how I seem to "glow". The euphoric feeling stays with me all day long. My job doesn’t seem to get me down, even if it should. I have been looking at challenges as mere side-steps rather than the insurmountable mountains that I would have before.

I’ve made a conscious decision to be faithful and loyal. I want to put forth whatever efforts are required to make this relationship work and I am confident that I have finally stumbled upon a real lifesaver.

Ladies and Gentleman, I am proud to introduce you to my new boyfriend, Mr. Treadmill.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Thank you!!

I just wanted to thank everyone for the wonderful comments. Life without Sammy is different and we are all adapting to a new home environment.

I have so many things to write about, but I haven't had a moment...my new relationship is eating up soooo much of my time.

I'll update you on all of this, this weekend. Until then, may the sun be shining on you no matter where you are.

Shelly

Monday, May 02, 2005

Farewell My Friend

Some moments in time act as bookmarks for our brain, signifying those important moments as lifetime memories from all the other insignificant occurrences in our day to day life.

I recently experienced one of those moments. Last Monday, April 25th, 2005 I had to say goodbye to my long time friend, Sammy. Sammy was my dog. He would have been 15 years old in September.

He collapsed Monday night while I was at work, and the call from my daughter panicking and requesting me to leave work, was the call I had been dreading for some time.

Sammy had been fighting Cushings disease for the past three years. We can now look back and know that it was most likely more than the three years because the earliest symptoms began five years ago.

If you have never liked animals, or have never owned a dog, you may not understand the pain and loss that my family is feeling right now, but trust me, it is real.

My friend had rescued Sammy and his siblings from starvation. She convinced me to come inside to see the puppies one day and the only reason why she had to convince me was because my husband was adamant that we were not going to get a dog. I know how weak I am around animals so I knew that I would leave with one of the puppies. She had a huge cage in the middle of her kitchen and three puppies were happily running around the house with her four cats while Sammy cowered at the back of the cage, terrified of his own shadow.

I asked Helen to get him out and she placed him in my hands. He fit perfectly in them and I held him against my breast to calm his wildly beating heart. Shortly after he looked up in my eyes and started to lick my hand. His heart was calm and I was in love.

Helen agreed to keep him at her place for a couple of more weeks so that I could surprise my daughter with him as a Christmas gift.

First I had to convince my husband that it was a good idea. Thinking back on that argument now, I can see that was the beginning of the end of our relationship. He was very angry and in a rage yelled that if I brought the "F’ing" dog home; he would move out. I quietly asked him if he wanted help packing his bags and whether or not he would wait for Sammy’s arrival before he left or would he be leaving now.

Choosing Sammy over my husband proved to be a far better choice. The years of loyal companionship and unconditional love have left me with many happy memories.

My husband did finally leave but not for three years. He grew to love Sammy just as much as my daughter and I did. I don’t think Sammy ever warmed up to him altogether, because he probably sensed some animosity from my husband.

The first week after my husband moved out, I woke up in the middle of the night and fear engulfed my whole body. I could hear the loud steady breathing of another person, in bed beside me and their hot breath on my neck made every hair stand straight up. I laid perfectly still, while my mind raced on what to do. I decided that I had to roll over quietly and see who it was. I knew they were asleep by the sound of their breathing. Carefully I edged my body around so that I could twist my head enough to see who the perpetrator was. I let out a scream when my eyes caught the wild hairy face, and then I realised it was only Sammy. He had moved up the bed from the foot while I had slept and placed his head on my husband’s old pillow. It was as if he was saying, "it’s about time that asshole left, now I can sleep where I’m supposed to."

That is just one of the many, many warm memories that I have of my Sammy and because of those special moments I know he will never be far from my heart.

Monday night was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, but for you Sammy, I would do it again and again. Thank you buddy for being one of the best friends I’ve ever had. I love you and now you are at peace and out of your pain.

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Thursday, April 21, 2005

Mr. Treadmill

Day one of the new daily schedule of Shelly that includes exercise. I know that I cannot jump to the physically fit Shelly, so I started out slow. I went downstairs to the exercise room. Yes, I am lucky to have one located in my building. Funny that I still couldn’t manage the time to use it, but today I did.

I allowed myself 40 minutes for my use only, in the exercise room. The choice was treadmill, elliptical machine, exercise bike or weights. I chose the treadmill and used the "fat" burning program. It was the coolest thing. The bloody treadmill actually elevated, lowered, increased speed and decreased as often as required in order to keep my heart rate on target. It took a lot of the guessing out of it and that left me more mindless minutes to meditate.

While I walked alone in the exercise room, I suddenly realised that I was really enjoying myself. I felt happy to feel small beads of sweat forming on my skin. The rhythmic sound of my footsteps was comforting. My flushed face made me feel victorious.

After the machine had finished burning my fat, and had decided that I was sufficiently cooled off, I smugly sauntered back to my apartment to get ready for work.

I had miscalculated my timing and in the end I had to rush in order to get to work on time, but that didn’t detract from my euphoric feeling of having spent quality time with my new best friend, Mr. Treadmill.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Health = A (kind of) Job = Not sure

I must apologise to my patient readers for my lack of writing lately. I've been swept off my feet with work and have not been able to surface long enough to put a couple of thoughts together.

I'm going to attempt a small update on the wonderful, intriguing life of Shelly.

I went for a physical with my new Doctor today. I visited her in March to follow up on an annoying sensation on the right side of my stomach. This annoyance had been occurring intermittently for approximately four years. Two years ago I had an ultrasound that failed to show the cause of this dull ache and I was supposed to go for another one.

I put the requisition in my purse and immediately forgot about it. That's not true. I didn't forget about it; I chose to ignore it. That is the part of my character that puzzles me. If my friends have any health concerns, I am always there to encourage them to seek medical attention right away. Early detection is the best protection. My favourite slogan.

The new good Doctor referred me to the lab for a bone density test, and ultrasound and took vials and vials of blood to be tested on everything imaginable.

Today I was finally able to obtain the results other than the bone density test, because for some strange reason a one month interval is not long enough to deliver the results to the Doctor, even though they were done on the same day, in the same lab. She assured me that when she gets them back she will let me know if they show anything.

Here are the things I found out today:

1. My blood cholesterol, sugars etc. are all very good.

2. I'm borderline high blood pressure 130/90. She said the bottom number is the one that is sitting on the fence and if it goes up then I would have high blood pressure.

"No more salt on your food, and get out and exercise!"

3. I have NO communicable diseases.

4. I am in menopause. They do not suggest hormone replacement therapy anymore unless the person is having difficulty with the symptoms of menopause. I’m not sure what all the symptoms of menopause are, but I did experience hot flashes about three years ago. Perhaps that is all that I will go through.

5. My liver is still fatty (that showed up in the original ultrasound) and it still has a simple cyst. She is going to monitor it every six months with a new ultrasound. The only way to repair a "fatty" liver is to lose weight.

6. I shouldn’t drink alcohol with the "fatty" liver. This would explain why I get sick to my stomach when I over indulge slightly or sometimes when I just indulge. My mother told me that my Dad’s Father died of cirrhosis of the liver, which I never knew. I need to lose weight to help reduce the symptoms and as I’m just reading about it here, this may be the dull ache I have felt in my right side. It’s hard to pinpoint where that ache is but my intuition has always made me feel that it was my liver. Time to get serious about Shelly.

7. I need to start exercising regularly in order to lose weight. She is more concerned with me exercising than she is with my diet. She said that I will no longer lose weight through diet alone (menopause) and that if I were to get into an exercise routine then I wouldn’t have to be on a strict diet.

8. She wants to see me in three months to see how my weight loss is coming along. This is the kind of support that I feel is important for me. Years ago, when I was trying to lose weight, my Doctor at the time monitored it and I was very successful. So who knows, this may be the kick in the ass I’ve needed.

So that is good and bad news. There was nothing that she told me that was beyond turning around, so all in all, I would have to say that I am in good health. I can be in better health and that is what I need to concentrate on.

Change of subject to my job for a minute. I still have not heard the results of the Supervisor competition. It’s a long, slow process. I was asked quite suddenly to step in for the afternoon shift supervisor at the end of March because the day shift supervisor returned to his substantive position, which resulted in a bit of a domino affect. I agreed and started supervising the afternoon shift on April 1st. You can probably see now that this change in duties directly affected my capacity to blog. That isn’t the only affect.

I am excited at the challenge but I’m also struggling not to feel overwhelmed. I signed up for a course to help with the new challenge and that will begin on May 14th. It’s every Saturday for 4 weeks and the topic is Human Relations. I’m very excited about it. Whether or not this becomes a permanent position, at this point, I know it is the direction that I am concentrating on as far as my career is concerned, so the course will definitely benefit me in the years to come.

That my peoples is it in a nutshell. I’ve been focused on work and health for the past few weeks and there has been no time to play with my blog. I hope things will start to settle back to the way it was before and that regular programming will return.