Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What Hue are You?

This morning I've been busy reading HGTV.com, rather than reading blogs. I've been obsessed with it since we got the gazebo up. Here's a quiz I'm taking in a few moments, called What Hue are You?

I'll put my results in the comments. Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

my last hurrah

photo by Troy Kajala

My very last insurance-sales appointment was this morning at 10:30, when I pulled up they looked guilty and said, "we were going to call you...."

Story of my insurance career - being stood up, cancelled, or rebooked. Many of the people I worked with told me to double book appointments to make up for those that didn't have consideration for your time, but I never did. I just didn't want to not show up when I said I would, and yet that probably had to do with the demise of my business.

I think that tomorrow, I'll turn in my computer and cross my fingers that I'll get a call for another part time job. I applied at a liquor store, a shoe store, and an Independent Living building, as well as Old Navy, but I'm hoping for the concierge job at the old folk's home. At least I'd get to wear my business attire.

Friday, June 26, 2009

little thieves

photo by Wally Herrala

When I was younger, I would have found the idea of a city curfew ridiculous. Now that I'm a homeowner with children, I hope that the RCMP are going to be vigilant about maintaining our city by-law, which requires anyone sixteen or younger to be inside and away from public areas by 1:00 a.m.

To be honest, it's not so much the police I want help from, it is the parents of the teenagers that are over-running our peaceful neighbourhoods at night. Teenagers that are spray painting our fences, breaking into our cars, and keying the paint.

The other night my next door neighbour heard a commotion outside, and when she went out onto her front porch she spotted a man in pajamas chasing a very large group (she claims to be up to a dozen) of older boys. That would have been the same night they went into my truck and rifled through the glove compartment, took my coffee money, and my CD's. Little bastards!

At any rate, the truck was unlocked because Bill often forgets to do so, although I'm sure he'll start now that they've gotten his Sirius radio. At the same time, I want to know if the parents of these thieves have a clue - do they think they're all hanging out at each other's homes? Do they know what damage their kids are doing, or do they care? It wouldn't surprise me to hear they don't.

This neighbourhood is about ten years old, and the one behind me is only three years old, with homes going for between $270,000 and $450,000. Most of my neighbours are homeowners, but there are a surprising number of rental homes in this area and in order to live here, you've got to work a lot. Maybe these kids aren't supervised because their parents are always at work, or asleep, or drunk.

I just wish they'd step up to the plate and keep their kids where they belong.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

out with the old

This afternoon I have been cleaning out my closet and posting items for sale on a buy/sell site like Craigslist. They're items I thought I'd wear again, but never made it out for one reason or another.

I like to do this every year so that I can justify buying new items, lol.

Last year I made $150 in a yard sale, but this year I'm going online. I've got my eye on a beautiful leather bag, so wish me luck!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

not the momma, update

photographer unknown

I wish I knew who took this photo of the cups. I have a bigger love for coffee than I've ever had, and I am always on the look out for a beautiful mug. These are very vibrant, but I think I want some in that bright summery green.

I couldn't wait for a lunch with Em, so I came home between picking up meds (for her ulcer) and milk and job searching, and sat down with her before she went swimming. I actually said to her that I was worried about our relationship because when I start nagging her, she might think she can't do anything right. I wonder if she thinks it'd be any different if it was her own mom.

When I mentioned the "bond" thing, she said she felt more of a bond with me than her own mom, and when I said it was okay to hate me for awhile (even though I admitted it would still hurt my feelings) she replied, "I don't hate you, but if I do just tell me, and I'll say 'sorry.'"

In the end, I told her that my job was make sure she was a strong, independent woman who could hold a good job and influence those around her by being courteous, helpful and organized. Since so many of her peers will lack that (her friends are always incredulous that Em pays her own way to the movies and for swimming, or that she pays us back if we buy minutes for her phone) she'll have an advantage.

Now if we can just get through the eye-rolling stage, although I am NOT ready for the phone calls or the boys.

Monday, June 22, 2009

not the momma

I've been struggling a little in the last few months with Em.

It's not that she is any different than any other twelve year old girl, but I truly feel the absence of a bond. Mothers will know what I mean - you can love a child and care deeply how happy they are, but the frustration that goes with loving someone who is going through one of the most self-centered stages of their lives is overwhelming.

I find myself doing the same thing I did with Jamie at that age - pick that up, put that away, why is there nail polish on the coffee table, whose bra is this, stop wasting food, save your money, have a shower, eat some real food and with it comes the denials and the eye rolling.

When Jamie hated me at that age, I knew the relationship would recover, but this is my first step-child and I hate it that right now she hates me. I hate that I try to avoid too much time with her and she tries to avoid too much time with me.

I hate that I am the only one to stay after her on this. Bill works so much, it really is up to me. I think I need to take her out to lunch so we can talk about all this openly. *sigh*

Sunday, June 21, 2009


photographer unknown

I always find that I get sad on Father's Day.

I have both my dads still - my step-dad just had his hip replacement surgery and he's recovering nicely. The man that adopted me along with my mom lives out on the West Coast, he'd be seventy-five now. I think the last time I spoke to him was August 2004.

We're not even estranged for any specific reason, as far as I know. He just lost interest in me after Dale got sick and didn't attend the funeral, and the last time I spoke to him was strained so I never tried again.

Anyway, I have an excellent life now and that's due in part to him, but I won't try to connect anymore. Today will be about Jim, who's been there for us since 1973, even if several of those years were spent arguing about cleaning up after myself and getting off the phone (remember party lines?!)

For all those dads out there, I hope you have a wonderful Father's Day.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

companionship vs. love

I'm a huge romantic at heart. I believe in soulmates, passion, love and commitment, and I don't think it has to be boring or a lot of work. In fact, when everything lines up just right, even the usual monotony can feel like contentment.

At any rate, I was listening to the radio on the way home from the office, and a gentleman was saying that he thinks it's very courageous when someone knows that a relationship isn't going to go long term, and walks away. I agree - I remember being in a few relationships where I knew it wouldn't work.

Still, it can take some time. It took me several months before I could break up with Pat, and eight months to break up with Jamie's dad. Both times I had to find a place to live and in the latter, I had to find childcare.

Of course, there are always some people who stay together for companionship, and I rarely ever judge those that do. I've been there, and I know how lonely life can get. On the other hand, the loneliest I've ever been has been when I was in a relationship with no love.

I guess it depends on which would be worse for where you are in your life.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Yesterday as Bill and I were driving through town on errands, he reached across the console to place his hand over my left knee. I leaned slightly left as one hand covered his, but in the back of my mind I was trying to remind myself to keep off my left arm, which is suffering from the same pain as my right shoulder last year.

At this same time two years ago, I truly thought that my frozen shoulder/damaged rotator cuff was from doing visual merchandising all those years that I was in retail management. However, I now realize that the exhaustion, depression, sleep disorders, muscle and joint pain, burning skin, nausea, memory loss and vision disturbances are all caused by years and years of stress and trauma.

I have my own little cycle, in which I have not been able to break free, since 1995 - almost fifteen years! This cycle was responsible for my marriage to Dale. It went kind of like this:

I'm so worried. Why is he drinking so much? Where is the loving husband? I have to leave. He's a good man. I have to save us. I love him. I can afford to live on my own. I feel so sorry for him. I'm stressed! I can fix this. I need him. How can he do that to me? He has a good heart. It'll be okay. He needs me. It'll escalate. I can survive. I can do it. He loves me. I can't go. I haven't tried hard enough, I haven't loved him enough.

At thirty-five, I was preparing for the worst. Jamie and I were going out to eat almost every night, Dale was often passed out on the floor in the living room or on the front lawn. At thirty-six I was responsible for all the driving and transportation because he was losing strength and going blind; there had been trips to Winnipeg and to Vancouver so that he could say good-bye to friends. There were eight hospital stays, some here in my city and some in Calgary. I worked full time and went to the hospital at night. I was exhausted but kept going.

At thirty-seven I had him cremated after his death and thought I'd survive on a small life insurance policy and continue my retail career later on, but there was no life insurance so I kept working. I was stressed out from staff turnover but kept going. By forty I'd met Bill, bought the house, moved a second time, went through a hospitalization for Jamie and desperately needed time off, so I quit my job. I had several hours during the day but more responsibility at home with Em's arrival. Within a few months I'd started studying for my life insurance license, but between the house and the kids I was extremely stressed! But I just kept going. At forty-three I had a bit of a breakdown, got my shit together and kept going.

Now that I am forty-four, I look back and think, why didn't I just do something I used to be so proud of my tenacious nature, but isn't that what put me here? I may have been able to keep going and going for years, but I have hit a wall and this time, there is no going around it.

Tonight I have an appointment for an insurance presentation, which is only the second one in as many months. I hope this means that I can start doing it again. For awhile there, I wondered if I was going to turn into one of those people that just gives up and lives in poverty. I've been angry with myself for several years now, for not leaving Dale, for not buying a house sooner, for not getting help sooner, for thinking I could do it all. People always say "you're so strong" and I remember thinking I had no idea that I could handle as much as I have, but now, whenever I feel a twinge in my arm, or take an ibuprofen, or use a heating pad, I know.

There is only so much a body can take. Know your limitations! Ask for help. You don't have to suffer alone, you don't have to keep going. It's alright to stop and regroup. I wish I had.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

go green

Monolo Blahnik's Green Satin buckled sandal

On sale! From $885 to $337, back in January, dang!

I would love to have some of these. My new favourite colour for everything, including dishes, pots and pans, and leather bags. Damn that Yacky for waking up my shoe addiction.

Monday, June 15, 2009

photographic evidence

the scene from yesterday

It's been awhile since I've posted a pic of toilet paper, but I thought the light looked ironically ominous as the roll sat on the windowsill, so I grabbed the camera.

I should have gotten the shot of the empty roller, but didn't think of it until after I'd already almost fallen off the throne trying to reach what I thought was the last remaining roll, deep in the corner of the cabinet under the sink. After getting it on, I looked up to see this roll beside me.

It's a comment on my control tendencies, but I admit I was glad that no one had put it on because I would have had to change it so that the roll came off the top, lol.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

baby mama

Jamie got a call from an old friend the other day, the girl she was extremely close to as a child. Mickie grew up in a strange home, but that was mostly due to her own mom, who struggled to fit into the usual mother role.

It all started when she'd broken up with her long term bf, run away to another province, and came back when things went to shit there. Ben took her back, even though she was pregnant with another man's child, and he raised Mickie as his own. A few years later they had Mickie's sister and carried on as a family.

The thing was, Ben loved Mickie's mom so much more than she loved him. Over the years it became apparent to everyone in their circle, and unfortunately, to their children. Noni had birthday parties for her kids, but often embarrassed the girls by smoking weed with men friends in the adjoining rooms and scaring some of the young guests. Eventually they started swinging, although I can't imagine it was Ben's idea. Mickie was pissed when she caught her mom sleeping with the dad of one of her good friends, but things got worse when she realized both her mom and dad were having cyber sex with other couples.

By this time she was fifteen and had realized that she could use her looks and her body to get things that she wanted, but to be honest she mostly wanted to party. I can't blame her for that! Many people I know, including myself, have gone through years of clubbing and experimenting with drugs, and certainly, many young moms I knew brought in babysitters and didn't go home for days. I wasn't one of those. I liked being in my own bed and usually had to work the next day, and besides, I always felt sorry for those kids.

At any rate, it wasn't a surprise that Mickie was the first of their group to become pregnant and keep the baby, and it hasn't been so shocking that she is still struggling to keep everything together - there has been the on & off relationship with the baby's dad, as well as a plan for Mickie to attend school. I hear she'd like to be a make-up artist, which sounds like something she'd be great at. But in between making all these plans is this ten month baby girl, who is caught up in the lives of two young kids.

Their friends betray them by sleeping with one or the other, they run off for a week at a time, leaving the baby behind with Noni, or Mickie's little sister, who is graduating from high school this year. There's name calling and accusations and hard feelings and all the other drama that goes on with baby mamas.

This past Thursday, we got the call from Mickie, who needed someone to watch her little girl while she dealt with more stuff from the baby's dad. Jamie and I picked her up, took her with us on errands, and played with her at home. Bill fell in love with her! It was fun. For the most part, she is very well cared for. She had clean, well fitting clothes, plenty of bottles and diapers, and she was smiley even though she missed her mama and cried for her from time to time.

I wish with all my heart, that Mickie gets to stop the cycle with this little girl. I hope things turn around for her and things go well, and that she can set a different example than the one she followed. It still freaks me out that she actually has a child, because I cannot picture Jamie with one! But I wish only the best for her.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

thursday's events

First, Bill put up this gazebo on our deck.
Originally, I bought it five years ago, right around the time I bought the house. The trouble was, the gazebo is 10' X 10' and the deck is 12' X 10', so the rails needed to come down. Lately the need for more living space (and privacy) have over-ridden the tendency to forget about it.

This is the cute little BBQ we bought with our first tax refund. The other was an old $100 model that had been blown over during a storm. I love this new BBQ, even though it was a lower proced model as well. We're going to make sure this one is battened down.

Over the next few days we have to add a staircase, leading down the left hand side, as well as different rails, to keep people from falling off. So far, we've warned Jamie that any friends of hers that come, might need to sign a waiver for us before stepping through that door that leads to the deck, lol.

a new low

I used to watch Jon and Kate + 8, but not since we trimmed down our satellite package. Of course, now that I don't have it, all hell is breaking loose! I suppose I should be happy about that.

There is a lot of press coverage and even though I'm getting sick of it, I couldn't believe the following clip and decided to post it - Kate is being a complete witch to her daughter Mady. Shame on you, Kate!

Maybe after all this, the family will take a break and start being nice to each other. I feel bad for the little ones.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

what would you do?

Q: You discover that your wonderful one-year-old child is, because of a mix-up at the hospital, not yours.

Would you want to exchange the child to correct the mistake?

Brain Candy Mind Games.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

conversations at work

photo by EJP Photo

We were in the middle of a rush when Ericka approached me.

"I'm so sorry!" she said, in the way that only a teenager can, "I have an older lady, like eighty, who needs a bra fitting but I can't do it. Can you?"

Nodding, I asked where she was.

"Room 9, but she might be looking around first."

Dropping the clothes I was carrying over the roll rack by the fitting rooms, I went back to check it out. She was there, and she looked very familiar. One of my regular customers, from my old store.

I smiled. "Well hello!"

She looked a little surprised, but I could tell she recognized me. "How long have you been working here?" she asked, slowly hanging up her raincoat. I noticed that her hair was still red and curly, but she had more gray at the temples.

"Just over a year. I sell insurance too, but this supplements my income. Also, I quit smoking and gained weight, so I appreciate the discount on work clothes. I understand you need to get fitted?"

We set about doing the measurements and ten minutes later, she was trying on some of my suggestions. She spoke quietly.

"I thought I was a D," she began.

"I think you are still," I agreed, "but we're going to use a bigger band size..."

I could tell she was thinking about weight gain because many of my customers do, and most of the time they say why. I wasn't ready, though.

"I have not been able to stop eating since my husband died."

I stopped and looked into her eyes. The two bras I was holding in my hand were forgotten. "I'm so sorry. When?"

She sat down on the bench along the mirrors and I did too, neither of us seemed to realize she was sitting there in a beige bra and a floral summer skirt.

"October 7th. We were married for 56 years. He was such a wonderful man. He was so good to me." Her eyes welled up.

"My husband died on October 2nd in 2002, but we were only married 9 years." My eyes welled up too. "You're going to make me cry! So, you have been through many of the firsts already? Thanksgiving, Christmas..."

She nodded. "His birthday was in March. Our wedding anniversary was in May. It's just so awful without him here. His chair looks so empty all the time."

I remembered The Empty Chair vividly.

"How are you now?" she asked.

"I got remarried, two years ago. I'm very happy now, but there's still a scar from actually losing him. I don't think you ever get over it. Actually, I still have his bathrobe, I still wear it..."

"Me too! But that's all. My oldest daughter, the one in Edmonton. She came in and boxed everything up, but she missed the bathrobe, hanging on the back of the bathroom door. My husband, he had all these lovely suits, that he would wear to the Lodge. One of them had a gold pen in the pocket. I want it, but it's gone. He loved that pen."

I could hear more people moving around outside the fitting rooms, and the buzzer for the front door was going off every few minutes. "You know, I know some widows that have made a little quilt, or a pillow out of their husband's things. That way, you get to have a piece of him with you when you sleep at night."

Her face lit up in a smile, and I went back to my work.

Two hours later, I was listening to Audioslave on the way home.

On a cobweb afternoon
In a room full of emptiness
By a freeway
I confess
I was lost in the pages
Of a book, full of death
Reading how we'll die alone
And if we're good we'll lay to rest
Anywhere we want to go

...and I just start sobbing these old, hot tears, the ones I remember from years ago. The kind of tears that feel like a bloodletting, a release.

When I got home and started telling Bill the story, I realized I had not even asked her name.

Friday, June 5, 2009

what not to wear

Helena Bonham Carter

This is just the strangest outfit! I'm not sure where to even start.

Is she schizophrenic, or have some other kind of mental illness?

I ♥ coffee

photo courtesy of PDPhoto.org

Even though I've read that I shouldn't have coffee (or carbonated beverages, dairy, sugar, asparatame, yeast, gluten, nightshade plants like tomatoes, bell peppers, potatoes or eggplant) I just can't help but love it.

When I was very young, I was always fascinated by the ritual. Not so much from my own parents, who used instant coffee. But my boyfriend's parents had a regular coffee pot and every morning it was made twice - once before the boys went out to feed the horses (they had Clydedales) and once just before breakfast was served.

The five teen boys and their parents, all lifted their cups when the pot came around, but I was left to make tea, and I remember thinking how I loved the scent of brewing coffee.

Years later I was working in Northern Alberta as a server, and myself and some friends went into the restaurant for lunch on our day off. It was so busy that the server poured coffee for all of us and didn't come back. After waiting a few minutes, someone else asked if I'd ever drank coffee before and I admitted that I didn't.

"Load it up and you'll be fine," one of them said.

"Load it up?"

"With cream and sugar."

Well, I've been hooked since then. When I was working in restaurants I always had a coffee on the go, and drank it whether it was cold or not. It helped me stay awake when I was bartending until 4 a.m. When I was managing clothing stores, it picked me up at 4 p.m. Now that I have a chronic fatigue issue, it helps me go that extra mile. With coffee, I barely ever nap.

Maybe when I retire, I will switch to decaf.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

catch up

photographer unknown

Today is going to be a day focused on getting the house together. We've been out running around for the last few days, so it really needs it!

Jamie and I went shopping for my (eighty year old) mom on Tuesday, since she finally admitted to needing some new summer clothes. I've been wanting to do something nice for her because for the last few months, everything has been about Jim's hip replacement surgery. Anyway, we got her several pairs of capris with matching tees, tanks and blouses, and she was thrilled, so we were as well.

Now we're catching up on all the things we've been ignoring for the last few days.

I'm off to pour some coffee. Have a good one!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Bill, at Calaway Park, Calgary

I feel so bad for Bill.

Not only is his boss being a dink about his salary, but he's stressed out trying to quit smoking and trying to get the gazebo built on our deck.

On Monday his Doc gave him Champix and Ativan, and last night he was very preoccupied and quiet. At this point, it looks like he is the only employee of seven to have his texting capabilities removed from his work cell.

These small Alberta oilfield companies are almost always the same. They were often started in the 80's during the major oil boom, and have two to three divisions. Each division is managed by a different guy, who uses the company money to his best advantage - the company truck, the cellphones, travel. When the recessions hit, everybody else gives up everything, except for the managers (who usually have their wives involved in some minor role, but they have the same perks.) It's all so Animal Farm.

At any rate, he's applied for eight jobs, so I hope he gets at least two calls. He's also trying to use his time-off-in-lieu, so if they approve that, he'll have Thursday and Friday to apply for more.

Today I'm taking him something special for lunch, but I'm not sure what. He loves the smoked meat sandwiches from Costco, so maybe I'll take him that. Afterward, I have to pick up Jamie and take her to the labs for a blood draw, and pay the gas bill. Exciting day!

Hope yours is a good one.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

tuesday in june

Kate with brother Steven, 1967

I've been tagged a few times recently, this one is from Lou.

1) What is your current obsession?

Six Feet Under. Jamie and I just finished the Season Finale last night, but I can't get the characters out of my mind.

2) What are you wearing today?

Right at this moment? A towel and a pair of blue slippers. The laminate floor is freezing today! In a bit, I'll have on a black pencil skirt and a paisely tank top and heels.

3) What's for dinner?

Some kind of chicken.

4) What would you eat for your last meal?

Filet Mignon, garlic mashed potatoes, caesar salad and four-layer chocolate cake.

5) What's the last thing you bought?

A brown tank top with embroidery along the bottom.

6) What are you listening to right now?

I'm listening to Lola, rooting around the living room and finding a place to lay down.

7) What do you think of the person who tagged you?

She's awesome! I'm so glad she enjoys blogging. She's very kind hearted!

8) If you could have a house totally paid for, fully furnished anywhere in the world, where would you like it to be?


9) If you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour, where would you go?

To the place in Greece.

10) Which language do you want to learn?

Greek, of course.

11) What's your favourite quote (for now)?

"All you need is love."
-John Lennon

12) What is your favourite colour?

Shades of Blue

13) What is your favourite piece of clothing in your own wardrobe?

Too many! I love jackets and pencil skirts and tank tops with empire waists and high heeled shoes and flip flops and bermuda shorts.

14) What is your dream job?

To stay at home with my family.

15) What's your favourite magazine?

Right now, it's a magazine geared toward women over forty, called More.

16) If you had £100 now, what would you spend it on?

$178.99 Cdn. Anything?! A new leather bag.

17) What are you going to do after this?

Get dressed, register Em for summer camp, work for a few hours.

18) What are your favourite films?

Reign Over Me, The Shawshank Redemption, Dirty Dancing, Fight Club, The Color Purple, Transformers

19) What's your favourite fruit?

Strawberries, green seedless grapes

20) What inspires you?

People who are tenacious, kind hearted and giving.

21) Your favourite books?

This Perfect Day, by Ira Levin, and The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold.

22) Do you collect anything?

Nothing right now. Do shoes count?

23) What are you currently reading?

Nothing right now. I finished a novel before starting the Six Feet Under marathon.

24) Go to your book shelf and take down the first book with a red spine you see, turn to page 26 and type out the first line:

No red spines - except for Em's books (a Series of Unfortunate Events)

25) By what criteria do you judge a person?

I've been known to judge a person based on how they're dressed. I used to feel guilty about it, except that I have noticed that how a person presents themselves is usually a true picture of who they're trying to be. I'm not talking about people who can't afford it, but rather those that say they don't care what other people think.

I also judge a person based on how they treat others.

I try not to say these things, except maybe to Bill, because I'm trying not to become a gossip.

note: I haven't played by the rules, nor have I tagged anyone. Play along if you like! Happy Tuesday.