Friday, February 19, 2010


Dan and Dale, my late husband. Circa 1993 or 1994

I thought I'd post an old pic of my husband Dale, who died in 2002. In this pic he was training with his friend Dan. Dale was a Shodan (first level black) but would soon do the grading for Nidan and pass the test, and then a few years later pass the grading for Sandan, or third level black belt. I remember his Sensei mentioning that perhaps the JKA would give him a fourth Dan posthumously, but that never happened.

Anyway, this karate event took place at someone's home, in their backyard. Almost all training took place in the dojo, but on this day they'd planned a training event and BBQ and wanted pics taken for the newspaper and for future advertising efforts.

If I remember correctly, it was at this party when I first started noticing that Dale was different than everyone else. Most of my readers know that Dale had become an alcoholic before his death but this was the year we'd planned our wedding and I was so much in love that the red flag was barely even noticeable.

At any rate, hours after this pic was taken, everyone else sat around visiting and having a beer, but Dale seemed to be drinking faster and getting drunk while everyone else had a social drink. Eventually I pulled him away to drive him home, and I remember asking him, "didn't you realize that no one else was getting drunk? It wasn't that type of gathering."

I remember feeling embarrassed for him, because he was their Sensei. Everyone at that party bowed to him (literally and figuratively), he was their leader. I remember feeling scared for myself because at the time, he saw nothing wrong with that kind of behaviour and it was so obvious that our hosts (who were college professors with an immaculate home and yard) had no idea how to handle the situation.

I guess that the signs were always there, even if I chose not to see them.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

reading week

For the last several months we've been trying to catch up that one mortgage payment that fell behind over the summer and it's been so frustrating! As soon as it looks like we'll be able to do it, we'll get a utility bill that needs to be paid immediately - like the gas bill we got on Monday, for $335. Of course, that's for December & January. The current one is a little lower, thank goodness.

Moving on.

This week is Reading Week at the college which means no classes. Although I have homework on 1.7 (negative exponents) I've been working every day and haven't finished it. You know, I used to think that someone in college could work three evenings a week, back when I was hiring and scheduling college students! Now I realize that for every class you take you get at least an hour of homework, and I wonder how many employees I stressed out? Hopefully not many.

I just can't wait until I qualify for some kind of living allowance. Eight to twenty hours of work isn't enough, but anything over that interferes with my marks. Next semester should be a lot better!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

teenage angst and me

Saturday mornings aren't usually a quiet time around here and today is no exception. Getting a twelve year to clean her room and do her laundry while she tries to play Sims on her PS2 can be a little frustrating. If it weren't for the thirty or forty minutes between cycles I'd make her keep busy with something else. *sigh*

This particular age is frustrating to begin with because I find myself repeating what I've said over and over and I don't remember doing this before. To be honest, Jamie was (and still is) pretty lazy throughout her teenage years. She'd hear what I said but choose to ignore it. With Em, she'll do what I ask but make me crazy in the process.

I know that some parenting experts say leave them alone and let them face the concequences, but every parent knows that the consequence takes more of your energy than just making them do what they're supposed to in the first place. In my case, this means going over (again & again) why lights need to be separated from darks, why sheets need to be washed regularly, and why using two different towels every day means you'll be doing an extra load of laundry when it comes time to do your chores on Saturday.

Thankfully, Em has a hair appointment this afternoon and that will be fun for her and save the day for all of us, because she'll look and feel great after a colour and cut.

Isn't it amazing what a beauty day can do?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

it's baaaaack

I've mentioned before that I've had a few paranormal things going on this house. For Bill and I, it was someone/something fooling around with the water temperature in the shower. For Jamie, it was two different entities; one that seemed female and lonely, and would curl up against her shoulder at night, and the other seemed male and pre-adolescent. That one used to push her when she made her way to the bathroom in the middle of the night. For Lola, it meant she couldn't go into the kitchen, or if she was feeling particularly brave (to get at Tokyo's food dish) she had to back out. Quickly.

Eventually we grew tired of dealing with everything and Bill said prayers, upstairs and down. If we "felt" anything, we'd reiterate that they had to move on. A website I joined said that poltergeists were often formed/caused/brought on by female teenaged angst, and Em is twelve so I thought perhaps it was that, let it go and didn't think of it for months.

Then last week, someone/something threw water in my face as I was coming out of the bathroom. Not a lot, just a few drops that splashed against my cheek and across my forearm. I thought Em or Jamie or Bill was messing with me, but the kids weren't around and Bill was making the bed. When I asked him he replied, "were the droplets really cold, as though they came out of the fridge?"


"It's happened to me, twice. Let's not talk about it. I don't want to invite this thing at all or seem open-minded one bit."

Still, it makes me wonder if I bring this on by thinking so much about Dale. Tomorrow is his birthday, or what would have been his 42nd birthday, so he's been on my mind.

Any thoughts?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

my history of fashion

I believe that my mother ingrained my love for clothing and fashion. I remember being a little girl and sitting at her dressing table in her bedroom when I was maybe four, or five. She had little pots of eyeshadow in blue and green and really cool lipsticks. When I finished snooping around there I'd go into her closet where she had little gold and silver go-go dresses, black patent and white leather sandals. I remember asking once, why are the white ones at the very back? That was the first time I'd ever heard that white was reserved for Spring and Summer.

When I was six I had a little traveling suit that I wore when I visted our Grandmother in Vancouver. It was a peach coloured shift dress that had a peach argyle jacket and matching hat. I had white tights and mary-janes that completed the outfit and I loved it even more than the little green vinyl shift dress that I'd worn for Christmas in 1970, when I was five.

Years later, after Mom & Dad broke up and we were living in Alberta. I bought my first pair of high heeled shoes when I was fourteen. They were knock offs of the famous Candies Disco Slide. I bought them in brown and wore them with a brown pencil skirt and a brown and tan plaid boyfriend blazer, and felt completely gown up and stylish!

If I could have worn those every day I would have. Instead, due to the harsh Alberta winters, I had to wear these:

I hated those boots, but would not be allowed on the bus without "proper footwear", so I would wear my high top converse sneakers (in purple!) and carry these over my shoulder.

After graduating from high school I worked at the local hotel in the restaurant, and wore my high waisted jeans with a variety of blouses. Most were very form ftting with asymetrical button closures and mutton sleeves, but my favourite was made from green plaid and had at least twenty buttons.

New Years Eve was huge for me when I was in my early twenties, and my favourite outfit of all time was a dress that I designed and my mother sewed. It was made from black taffeta and consisted of a high waisted pencil skirt with shoulder straps and a long sleeved tuxedo-styled bolero jacket. I finished it off with knee high black leather boots and gloves, a red satin purse, and a red satin bow tie.

Over the years I've had other favourite outfits, but most of them consist of pencil skirts and high heeled slingbacks.I'm a sucker for a well made jacket or interesting bag and LOVE a sexy boot, but I need to work on my casual wardrobe for school. This is the first time in more than a few years where I've needed to work on jeans, blouses and casual jackets, and it's been kind of fun so far. Who knew that I would fall in love with interesting scarves?!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

my specs!

my new reading glasses

I hate to admit it, but I have to use reading glasses if I want to see anything up close!

I actually wear bi-focal contact lenses, which gives me distance vision, then wear reading glasses (purchased at Chapters for $16.99) to see anything up close. I don't mind, now that I have gotten into a routine (they MUST stay in the same place inside my purse AT ALL TIMES or they get lost)

Also, can you tell I had a glycolic peel yesterday? My sister did one for $10.00 because she is almost finished her esthetics course. My skin doesn't feel different, but everyone says it looks "brighter."

Excellent! I've been using anti-aging products and services for at least fifteen years and think they are totally worth it.

p.s. I know, I know! I can't smile to save my life, even though I am in a good mood.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

letters to Dale

One would think, especially after almost eight years, that the letters I write to Dale (in my head, usually when driving or walking) would lessen, but they really haven't. And many of the reasons I have not blogged as much as I used to is because I often think my readers would grow tired of it, and there's only so much I can write and rewrite, etc. etc. Perhaps in my old blog (I am a journalspace refugee) but I think that many of the people who read this one don't know all the stories. I've been thinking that it's time to retell some of them.

Today I attended my regular math class at the college, then caught a bus downtown for some bloodwork, then walked over to the restaurant that I was working in when I first met Dale. It brought back a lot of memories.

February 3rd, 2010

Dear Dale,

I know I haven't written in a long time, but I've been thinking of you a lot and I'm sure you already know that! Anyway, today I went into DINO'S, can you believe it? I know, I know. I always said that I'd never go back to that place after walking out in 1995, but I've softened a lot in the last few years.

I sat down in the lounge and ordered my old regular (1/2 order of lasagna with feta cheese, remember?) and after a few moments, Mike came out to sit with me. I always loved Mike. His hair has a lot more gray in it, and he doesn't work as much as he used to because he's busy enjoying his grandchildren (from Little Helen! Nico hasn't married yet) Elpis seems to have gotten a little nicer too. I guess granchildren can do that, lol.

Anyway, Mike talked about you a lot. He says he remembers when he first noticed that you were sick, because your skin had started to go yellow. He says you used to come in and shoot the shit for a bit, have a shot of ouzo. Elpis asked me, did you drink til the end? And I was so relieved being able to say no, you quit just after your 35th birthday, eight months before you died. What a gift! To this day I am both amazed that you could do it and sad that you couldn't do it sooner. But we won't get into that.

You probably know that acceptance was hard for me, even after I fell in love with Bill. It has only been the last few years that I could accept that you'd died. I must have imagined you off working somewhere, like in the first few months after Jamie and I moved into that apartment. From the front steps I could see across the field separating Clearview and Mitchener and I always imagined that behind those trees, you were still living in the duplex. I imagined you walking Lucy, doing kata, working, getting clean.

Enough of that.

I turned 45 on Sunday - isn't that surreal?! And I am taking a math class at the college, so yes, you were right about my having to bite the bullet and just do it. It took a few years but I am doing just that! Now that my career as a retail manager is over (as well as my career as a Financial Advisor) I have no choice but to do it. Today as I was walking past the Engineers wing, I thought of you and how badly you wanted to attend Simon Fraser University in Vancouver and how you never got the chance, and I was profoundly grateful that I do. I am profoundly grateful for the life I'm living now.

Love Kathy

p.s. Al started training again! I know this because of Facebook, but then again, FB wasn't around in 2001, was it? Anyway, it's a great way to keep in touch.