Sunday, June 26, 2011


Here's a grainy pic of Emily, myself and Bill at Christmas this past year, which was held at Cathy's farm out near Rimbey. Christmas was kind of the start of integrating Bill's family into our lives.

Not that we were avoiding them or anything...okay, maybe a little.

With Bill just coming out of two years of isolation when we met (he'd had a helluva time getting custody of Em and trying to find a job that would work around having a six year old. Daycares don't usually accept kids at 4:30 am, which is what time Bill had to leave when he was welding) he decided to lay low.

Lay low from his sister Cathy, who'd witnessed his struggle while she went through her own, working in Alberta while her kids stayed in Newfoundland. When she settled down here, it took another year before we got a call from their mum, Margie, to get together because Cathy's son was in the hospital with appendicitus.

It didn't take long before Bill's mum & dad came out, and as of last week, his cousins out of Labrador. To be honest, the whole family is awesome. I've enjoyed meeting and talking with all of them, and just love the whole culture, from the food to their interesting dialects.

I'm off to work for awhile. Happy Sunday!

Sunday, June 19, 2011


a pic of Dale's wedding band, taken before I had to sell it

While it's true that life was never the same for my mum after Dale's death - well, for any of us, I have to admit that the quietness that came was healing.

Life went on. My step-dad continued to farm the land and the look after the cows, even if he was down to half a dozen head. My mum toodled around the house, took up crossword puzzles and lottery scratch tickets, and started sending Jim to get the groceries while she sat on the deck checking out her Peonies. For awhile, us kids prodded her to quit smoking and give up beer, but after a few years we realized that you can't change anyone, least of all your mum.

The last few days have helped me calm down too.

Yesterday I called her to follow up on the shower chair I took last weekend. "Mum," I practically yelled. "You have to try the chair before I come on Sunday. Sunday! If it's too big or too wide, I'll bring it back and exchange it."

"Do I have a shower chair?" she asked.

*sigh* Things went better with the bed. "Also, can you throw the sheets in the washer Sunday morning? I'll put them on for you."

This time, I could hear the smile in her voice. "Okay. I'll see you then!"

Now that she's accepting our help, it makes it easier for me to offer. And I'm going to take out some petunias for the front yard, and hang the lanterns I got for Jim for Father's Day. I'm looking forward to going out, once Bill returns from the shop.

Happy Father's Day!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sundays at the Farm

My late husband Dale with his Sensei in August, 2002

Last week, after Cathy, Jamie, Bill and I finished cleaning, Cathy commented on how quiet my mum was.

"She just sat there with these big eyes," she said. "Has she always been so quiet?"

I explained that she'd been almost 73 when Dale got sick, and to be honest, Dale was the glue that held our family together. Sundays at the farm usually started around 11:00 when Debbie would show up with her kids, David and Mercy. Dale, Jamie and I would show up within the hour, and everyone sat around the kitchen visiting while the kids chased around the handful of cats and kittens.

Sometimes we moved out to the deck, but most of the time we stayed inside because Mum would have a beef roast in the oven, and Daole would want to make Yorkshire Pudding. Debbie would start cooking some kind of desert, and I would put on a pot of veggies and stand by to make the gravy.

Debbie's husband, Dean, would show up by 1:30 and by then, dinner would be ready and we'd all have this huge feast.

In the last few years when he was chronically drinking, things slowed down a bit but didn't completely stop until he started going blind in April of 2002. This is when Mum started getting really quiet. She suffered through his illness and death almost as much as me.

In the months and years that followed, I couldn't go out there because of the ghosts that lingered. The men stopped helping as much as they had before - well, Dale was the one that helped the most. Helped look after the cows, mend the fences, build the deck, fix the roof, AND keep the cats under control.

In the almost nine years since Dale's death, the farm went to hell in a hand basket, and now it's up to me to suck it up and start helping on a more realistic basis. I began by going out yesterday and changing the sheets on their bed, doing some laundry, giving Mum a pedicure and cleaning their bathroom.

I hope things start to brighten up again, before either of them pass away.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

she's not heavy, she's my mother

photo by Linda Goodhue

I've been thinking about my mum for days, as well as my sister, Deb. Since Mum didn't have sheets on her bed when I was down on Monday, I thought I'd better call again yesterday.

"Mum, I know Debbie said she'd take care of your hair & feet, but I haven't heard from her in awhile."

"I don't know what's going on with her," my mum replied.

"Me either. I'm just going to come out and do it - I don't want to confront her or anything, I'm just going to do it. How many sets of sheets do you have for the new bed?"

"Just one, I think."

"Were they in the wash then? When I was there the other day?

"I don't know."

Mum is 84 and very frail.

"I was at the Sally Ann today and got some beautiful soft sheets for you. Yes! I got them for your bed. NO, YOUR BED." (She's hard of hearing, lol)

I'll be going out on Saturday to do a pedicure and put on the new sheets. Bill will be pressure washing the deck and checking the filter in the furnace.

I'm still mad at my sister, and to be honest, I think I will be for awhile.

Monday, June 6, 2011

awful realization

I did some reading on Saturday and now realize that my brother and my parents are cat hoarders. They fit the entire profile - the good intentions, the way they tried to feed and administer medical care but lost control.

We knew there was a problem, my sister and I. In some ways, we're responsible! I feel terrible and I've been terribly anxious these past few weeks. It disturbed me this morning to realize that I'm scared of my brother, Steve.

At any rate, we're going out there today to clean - let's hope he doesn't come home while we're there.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

update on Em

Emily's Para-Troopers: On a Mission to Overtake the Kitty House

Em has been doing very well since Tina's death last year. We passed the one year mark in March and while she often thinks about her mom, she knows that Tina is at peace now. For several years prior, Em had heard us speak of Dale and how we were working on forgiveness and living in peace - each day we strive for it and now Em does too.

When she moved here in 2006, she was eight years old and had trouble fitting in with the group of kids at her school. Today she is fourteen and still has the same class of kids. In the last year she has drifted apart from them; many of them are experimenting with sex (oral or digital) relationships (Em's BFF is on her fourth boyfriend, Em isn't permitted to have a boyfriend) smoking or drugs.

Jamie approached us in October to plead Em's case for a transfer from the Catholic School Division to the Public School Division. There's an International Baccalaureate program as well as all kinds of options for music and languages. We met with the school last month and it looks like a go-ahead. All her classmates are jealous, lol.

Today we're headed out to Cathy's farm, first to visit a greenhouse and later for supper. Tomorrow we're doing the big clean out at my parents' farm. Jamie, Bill and Cathy will be joining us; Em is glad to have school :)

Saturday, June 4, 2011


Apparently it snowed early this morning - I'm so glad that it didn't stay!

Man, what a week. Just dealing with Mum and Jim and Steven wasn't enough. On Thursday, the owner of one of our competitors came into the office to confront us about a bunch of rumours he's been hearing. Most of the stff he threw at us I'd never even heard, but still, he wouldn't let it go. I asked him to leave, he wouldn't. I told him he was trespassing and he took a step toward me. I called the R.C.M.P.

OMG what drama! After calling the police, I had to speak to my boss three times, my boss's boss three times, I had to write out an incident report and a statement for the police (which btw, was "the best incident report" Constable Anderson had ever read. "Wow!," he exclaimed. "are you a writer?!")

Yesterday I got a text from my sister saying that she wasn't able to pick Mum up on Monday. I'd been hoping that Deb would take her up to her house while we do all the cleaning at the farmhouse, and maybe cut Mum's hair because she's been wanting it cut for over six weeks now. "Mum won't go anyway," it read.

I called Mum and asked her outright "did Deb ask you about getting a trim on Monday?"

"No. But someone's got to do it, it's too long."

"I'll do it. I can do it when we come out Monday."

My sister has been neglecting our mother for over a year now, ever since she started to reno the new (to her) house. The other day I called her to ask if she'd keep Steve's cat overnight but she refused, saying that her husband wouldn't allow it, in case the animal "contaminated" the ground at their acreage. Yesterday she was in the mall with her 16 year old daughter and almost walked into Jamie's store but when they saw her they stopped and went the other way. It hurt Jamie's feelings and when Jamie told me, it hurt my feelings.

I feel like she's mad because I "stirred things up." I think she'd rather forget Mum because Mum doesn't fit into the "class" she lives in now. My parents are poor but they're not stupid. I know Deb can't stand Jim - hell, sometimes I can't stand Jim, but he's my step-father and my Mum made that choice in 1974. Now Mum is 84 and needs us.

Shame on her. Shame on Mercy. I don't know how Dave got to be such a good kid, but thank god he was around to help us.

Friday, June 3, 2011


Here's a picture of Rogue, the kitten we rescued from the farm six months ago. Although she still suffers from an upper respiratory issue and requires a shot of penicillan every month, she's got it pretty good with us.

Update on the kitties at the farm: My nephew called me Wednesday morning. We'd been waiting for my brother to come home and go back before beginning the clean-up but when Dave got out to the farm with his buddy they decided to go ahead.

They were able to euthanize over 80% of the feral animals, but it came at an emotional cost. Dave is the same age as Jamie and the two kids grew up together; weekends were often spent at the farm and cats have always been one of the draws for the kids. Once the cats got out of control Dave couldn't face going into the house anymore. This past week was so tough on him - not just the act of shooting the cats or burying them, but having to face what had happened to his grandparents and their home.

"I'm a little messed up now," he told me. "There are a few left, but I can't go back."

"I'm so sorry Dave! What you did for Grandma must have taken heroic strength. You saved them, and you saved those kitties from suffering."

"I know. Half the damn things couldn't breathe anymore. Still, what a fucking thing to have to do."

"I'm so sorry. We can't thank you enough. Don't worry about anything else - Bill will look for females on Monday. We're taking a cleaning crew out there."

Yesterday I stopped at Cathy's (she lives on my delivery route) and she's ready to come out with us and clean walls and floors. Today my step-dad and his brother are ripping out carpets and putting in laminate.

Somehow, I have to figure out how to seal the dirt basement. Anyway, things are happening quickly now. My parents sound happy on the phone, and that's a good thing.