3 Years

Hard to believe it’s been three years.

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In some ways, we talk about you enough that it seems like you are still here. In others, it’s downright painful to see how much you’ve missed. Like yesterday. I know how proud you would have been about First Born Son’s graduation. You would have loved how he dominated his course. How he landed a job months before he graduated. How he bought a truck that you would have fallen in love with.

You would be delighted to see the growth in Second Born Son; literally and figuratively. He’s taller than his father and will soon look down on his brother. He is making decisions about his life that would astound you, as it does us. He reminds us of you.

In some ways, year three has been a bit easier. We don’t look at holidays like the top of the big hill on a roller coaster; unavoidable and rather unsettling. We’ve got some new ways of doing things. Little Sister is living at your home with her family. They are doing amazing things with the property, including looking at organic farming down the road. I can hear you saying they are crazy and then in the same breath, saying that’s what you would have liked to have done. Mom is settled in a new home. It’s perfect for her. She’s walking, close to the library and doesn’t have to weed gardens, so she’s got it made.

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But there are STILL days when a certain song comes on, and you never know which song that will be, that you find you stop singing along because you can’t breathe. Tears and a tight throat prevent you from enjoying it. Instantly transported to a time when you were dancing it it in the family room.

The hard days are farther apart. But they’re not gone. In a way, we don’t want them to be, because they remind us of you. I’ve heard that there is a need to grieve. “You need to grieve.” “You still haven’t grieved.” I don’t know what that means. I do know that being at your grave isn’t where I feel closest to you.

Know that we are missing you, remembering you, and hoping you are having fun with all the dogs in heaven.

 

The Little Boy Who People Said Couldn’t, Became the Man Who Did

I will never forget this moment for the rest of my life. I’m sitting at a teeny, tiny desk with The Big Guy, First Born Son’s Grade 1 teacher and the school principal. They are trying to tell us that while our son is lovely and polite, cooperative and friendly, he is a poor student. So much so, that the teacher is telling us that she believes he has ADHD.

I remember how I felt in that moment. That they got it wrong. In a big way. Here was a kid who had a vocabulary that rivalled most teenagers. He already knew what he wanted to do for the rest of his life; be a farm, drive a truck.

When TBG and I voiced our doubt of this off the cuff diagnosis of his academic failure, we were told we were in denial.

<PAUSE> It is my opinion in this day and age, that the label ADHD is a quick “bandaid” solution that is far from a quick fix. I know people whose children legitimately fall into this category. We also knew from TBG’s aunt, a retired teacher who worked most of her career with ADHD and children on the autism spectrum, that FBS was absolutely NOT ADHD. If this was the case, we absolutely would have followed up on this. We were told we were trying to avoid a problem. I felt it was insulting to children who had this disorder and their families, to simply throw ADHD at parents as a “solution”. <PLAY>

I suggested that he be held back a year, and was told, no, not a good idea, because he would have issues with his peers. I shot back with “you worry about his education and I’ll worry about his social life.” He wasn’t held back.

EDUCATION

They told us we should expect that FBS might not graduate from high school. We should keep our expectations low. You can’t imagine what it’s like to have someone tell you that the future for your child has already been set for him, and it isn’t good.

We knew early on that we would have a struggle with FBS and his academic endeavours. Hours upon tear-filled hours were spent wrestling with math, reading and science. The only class he truly enjoyed, and seemed to do well in, was gym. French was a nightmare, exaserbated by the fact that the French teacher didn’t like that learning didn’t come easily to him. She just wanted to teach the easy learners.

This became a pattern in school; the teachers who didn’t want a challenge, were harsh. The teachers who knew he was trying were kind, but still didn’t know how to help. In Grade 6, a glimmer of hope. The teacher gave him an award for his positivity and outstanding efforts. For the first time since Kindergarten, FBS felt he was good at something in school. It was a turning point. Unfortunately it would take two more years before another teacher would make the effort FBS needed.

In the mean time, his self esteem plummeted. He was frustrated by his lack of ability to understand his school work, which was compounded by bullying that started in Grade 3. So much for keeping him with his peers!

It was his Grade 8 teacher who took the time to look into what was going on with our son. Testing, research and investigation paid off in time for high school where FBS became strong academically. It came down to this; what takes most people three or four times to understand, takes many more times for FBS. He can understand if he ‘s shown HOW to do it, and not simply told. He needs to keep math in front of him throughout high school, especially once he’s determined he wants to get into welding, a skill that requires ALL the math. Learning tools were offered and implemented. We immediately saw a difference in our son, and his schooling, but it would take years before he could truly hit his stride.

In his Grade 12 year, he told his father and me that he wasn’t going to to his graduation. We replied with, “The hell you aren’t!” It was at that time that we told him what was said in Grade 1, that he’d been written off by a system that didn’t take the time to collect students who fall through the cracks. It gave him pause. He didn’t realize how far he’d home; the obstacles he’d faced and triumphed.

He went to his high school graduation. He was an Ontario Scholar, on the Honor Roll and achieved his Specialist High Skills Major. Not bad for a kid who’s highest expectation would be to sweep floors at Tim Hortons.

FBS then applies to college and is accepted at his first choice. He wins not one, but two awards for his outstanding work over his two-year program. It’s obvious the story of his perseverance in elementary school is motivating him in college.

Today he graduated from that program. He’s been hired at a reputable company and will be making more money than I am!

A couple of weeks ago, he decided take some of his saved funds and splurge on his first new vehicle. It’s a truck.

Tonight, as we left a dinner with family to celebrate his graduation, he made a startling revelation.

“You know, I’ve accomplished just about everything I wanted to; I got into the college I wanted, I graduated, I got a job welding and I got a truck. All I need now is a farm!”

We have no doubt that will happen. And we look forward to cheering you on, as you prove everyone wrong.

Congratulations Sweetheart! Could not be prouder!

 

Bathroom Part II

I believe that your relationship will survive anything, if it can survive a renovation.

I say this with ample experience. We had a massive renovation/addition at our previous home that involved our back entrance, master bedroom, kitchen and adding an ensuite. That was almost 15 years ago! Things are looking good for us!

While you “lived” through our emergency bathroom reno from last year, I’m thrilled to let you know that, yes gentle reader, we hate ourselves enough to subject our marriage and family to ANOTHER bathroom renovation. Thank Sweet Baby Jesus that there are only two bathrooms in this house.

Mercifully, there is no dire, structural emergency prompting this reno. Thanks also to the experience (also known as “character building”) of the first bathroom, we are far more prepared for the cost. This time, we are PREPARED!

So let’s start at the beginning…

SHOWER

This is the “shower”, which is only 3/4 of a standard shower, made more difficult to access by the dumbass door which only allows you a foot and a half to squeeze through. The Big Guy and First Born Son took to this bathroom when we moved in, which makes ZERO sense because neither of them can fit under the door frame never mind the shower head. Since the last reno made the upstairs bathroom too “nice”, Second Born Son has taken to showering down here too. Again, at 6’2 this is not logical. ANYWAYS!

TUB

To the right of the door is the Jacuzzi tub. Yes folks Jacuzzi – trademarked and everything. I’m pretty sure this was the first generation, if not the prototype. I tried using it once, and dared not to activate the jets as a quick pre-soak inspection told me everything I needed to know about the condition of the calcified tube work. We were also fairly suspect of the condition of the wiring for the motor after 30+ years.

I’m going to assume you judged me for my poor choice of wall color, but that’s ok, because now you can see there isn’t much you can do with calf-scour brown tiles. Yes, those ARE the same tiles from the upstairs reno. So observant you are! Gold star! 1-inch tile was all the rage in 1983.

You might think the tiles are my favorite feature of this area, and I would say “No, good sir, you are mistaken!” It’s the du-lux hand-held shower modification. It ALWAYS leaked and because a Jacuzzi is not designed to be “shower tub”, water that didn’t hit directly dead centre of the tub, and ended up on the top of the tub, and was instantly redirected around the walls of the enclosure to the floor. Basically, if you tried to bathe in this beast, you’d have a flood on your hands or a fire. Good times.

CLOSET

Here you get a much better angle of the aforementioned shower basterdization modification. You will also see the staining in the tub. Did I mention we have crappy water? Fear not, we spent a small fortune on that too. Nothing like investing in new bathrooms and having them look like century-farm indoor plumbing within a year!

Here you can appreciate how the owner/builders maximized the use of space. Not only did they have a shower installed that could only fit adolescent girls, but they also crammed the world’s smallest linen closet. As we were going to update our doors, TBG pulled this one off as well, only to find out YOU CAN’T ORDER DOORS THIS SMALL ANYMORE. Son of a Doorknob! Yes, I did suggest he go back to the repurpose area of the landfill to reclaim the old door. No, he did not do it. I’m hitting Pinterest hard for a solution. I’m open to suggestions y’all!

SINK TOILET

This is the image that gives me nightmares. We have removed the toilet already, to protect the more sensitive readers amongst you. What remains is what a raw plaster wall looks like when you don’t paint before the plumber comes…30 years later, that is. The shower is to the right of the sink. Not a big room, but a main one as this is the one our guests tend to use. That’s right, we allowed friends and extended family to use this space looking the way it did. Hey, we don’t discriminate!

It was right about this time when I came with an idea! “I’ve got an idea” no longer fills TBG’s heart full of fear, but rather a knowing dread that this “idea” is going to involve him. And perhaps some money.

Originally we were going to close in the dinky shower and use it for a closet, but then I thought, “Why waste the storage space in the bathroom?” While the shower was tiny in its current form, it would make a great pantry for the kitchen which is across from the outer wall!!

Thankfully TBG agreed and made it so.

SIDE BY SIDE

Apparently I like plaster dust throughout my house, because let me tell you, this did it! The attempt at tarping you see in the image on the right was noble, but not as effective as one would hope. Therefore, I’ve suspended any house cleaning until this project is complete. It’s been a month with no end in sight. Don’t drop by, we are days away from being condemned for being a public safety hazard.

DOORWAY

Here he is. The Creator of the dreams I come up with. He spends all his spare time, such as it is, working on this. No comments on the kitchen floor – he doesn’t have time for a kitchen reno right now.

Next year darling???

 

The Circle Of Life

As with any spring around the Boweryville, the flowers are blooming,

the sun rises and sets,

and my dog is murdering wildlife.

This is Cane. He’s truly loveable, unless you are a rodent or other small mammal. Yes, that is a dead groundhog between his legs.

Every spring, it’s the same thing; the temperatures rise, the animals start moving, and before you know it, Cane has a carcass on the lawn. Think I’m kidding?

This was April 30 2016. This is a spinal column of a cow. He found this treasure in the field behind our house thanks to the local farm who spread it on the field. Yes, it’s caked in manure, and yes, he’s eating it. Because for him, this is a like a double stuff Oreo with a layer of chocolate fudge.

THIS is the jawbone of a cow. It goes with the spinal column above. We think. There was also a leg bone, but I think you are getting the point by now.

Cane really likes bring his hunts home. It’s like a form of bragging.

This is a raccoon. This lil’ darlin’ was dropped LITERALLY at our front door last year, the night before Mother’s Day. I’m going to assume it was his idea of a gift. The Batman logos on the patio add a certain je ne sais pas.

This is Cane and his brother Roman looking for the next victim. A little thing like a wood pile isn’t going to stand in his way.

He just starts pulling out pieces of wood.

Now, you might think this is no biggie. He’s a big dog with a keen hunting instinct, which is to be expected from a working breed like German Shepherd. However there is a small issue. Literally, tiny.

WHAT. A. FACE!

This is Eco. He’s Little Sister’s dog. He’s adorable, and while he’s a little bigger than this now, it’s certainly no groundhog. We did arrange for a cousin meet and greet a couple of weeks ago, with all humans on deck, ready to extract Eco from Cane’s grasp. It did go well, with no blood shed, but Cane made it very clear near the end of the playdate, that he’d had enough, and this little nipper needed to be packed up before he became a Timbit.

So now that it is spring, we’ve come to expect that the days to get longer, the temperature to rise, and the bodies to stack up.

 

 

Time Marching On

Time is moving so quickly right now that I’m referencing spans of time by hair appointments, as in “I feel like I just got my hair cut last week!” But, you know, it’s been a month.

It seems like yesterday that Second Born Son got his driver’s license, but it has been four months. But maybe I’m not a good gauge of time since I think this was last year….

Cutie Patootie!

…when this was last year….

You don’t want to know what went into this document….

 

So you will understand why I’m a little twisted around about the idea of this infant going to ANOTHER COUNTY on ANOTHER CONTINENT for TEN DAYS!!!

Seems like only yesterday that he told us about the planned Vimy Ridge trip, waaaaaay off in the Spring of 2017. The trip sounded amazing and included a couple of days in England, followed by 8 days in France. Several students from his school are going and they get to be part of the the 100th Vimy Ridge Celebration on April 9th.

I am proud and jealous at the same time, but mostly excited for him and the experiences he will enjoy. This is a wonderful age to travel and observe such an important tribute to Canadians and their contributions and sacrifices in World War I.

So, the bag is packed, the documents are in place and the momma isn’t going to get weepy when it’s time to say goodbye.

‘Cuz we got him a great cell package and I’m sure we’ll hear from him daily…..

 

 

 

 

Looking For The Answers

The tone in her voice said it all.

“So, what do you think?!”

Aside from the fact that I had no answers for her, the question bounced around my head. She has questions. Heck we all have questions. I find myself questioning myself more and more lately. Which, I find rather ironic, given the fact that I’m “middle aged” (if I live to 90) and you’d think I’d have my shit figured out.

Nope.

While I’ve gained confidence compared to my early adult years, I certainly would have thought that I would have more answers, more stability and more clarity about the future. I have, thankfully, have developed more confidence in myself, my abilities and my relationships. This, sadly, does not extend to other areas of my life.

Is this the point where the mid-life crisis settles in? When you get frustrated enough with the plan you set out for yourself when you were mere “child” in your 20s that you say “F it” and sell off everything to move to a Caribbean island?

<PAUSE> For the record, my particular skill set is apparently highly coveted and in one week there were two job postings in Jamaica alone that were TAILOR MADE for my skills and abilities.The Big Guy had to talk me off that ledge, let me tell you! <PLAY>

So when “she” came to me with her question, I thought, “She must think I have my act together!” Followed by “Boy, do I have her fooled!”

What did I actually SAY to her? That her decisions are hers alone to make. That this is the beauty of life; that we are the only ones who get to have that kind of power to make those decisions. This also prevents us from hating the individual who gave us the advice.

This doesn’t make our decisions any easier, and leaves us with the nagging questions…

Can’t Keep Up With The Stupid

So how ’bout those Americans, eh?

Honestly, I’ve written this entry dozens of times in my mind. I come up with witty observations while I’m making dinner. It’s something I think of before I fall asleep. Yet, I’ve waited two weeks before saying anything about the political End of Days that has taken place south of us.

I guess I didn’t want the posting to be stale, and since the shit-show has been evolving daily, it’s truly hard to keep up. After all, I work full time. And require food. And sleep; unlike the latest “Leader of the Free World” who manages to offend, alienate and terrorize all while maintaining a robust Twitter presence. I’ve felt frustration, anxiety, annoyance, anger and confusion – and that was just the first day of the new administration. Did I mention I don’t even LIVE in the United States of America? However, the saying from my high school History class has stuck with me; Canada is the Mouse and the U.S. is the Elephant. If the Elephant has a cold, the Mouse sneezes. This circus most definitely impacts us.

Never before have I explained the concept of the Electoral College vs the Popular Vote as many times as I have in the past three weeks. I’m sure it’s the result of outright disbelief by some people to comprehend how a Democratic society in this day and age could find itself HERE. HERE is the intersection of Pissing Off The Lefties Street and Pissing Off The Rest of the World Boulevard.

<PAUSE> Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not Pro Hillary for the sake of a vagina. She, too, had issues as a person and as a candidate. However, the overlooking of issues for the male candidate versus the magnification of the issues of the female candidate was fairly self evident. For as long as I live, I will never forget the grace and poise that woman had as she attend the Inauguration for her opponent. While many feel she should have declined the event, as the former First Lady, she would attend with her husband, who, sadly, was a much of a hindrance as anything else. So before you go nuts in the comments, know that “Team Girl” is not my motive. <PLAY>

You might wonder how this happened, too. How do we go from being shocked about a Republican candidate mocking a physically challenged reporter to Executive Orders like ticker-tape confetti? Simple. Because we thought he hit rock bottom when he did THAT. Then the videotape came out where he referenced his unabashed ability to access women’s private parts – or so he thought – and we thought THAT was rock bottom. Then there was the failure to provide taxation documents – THAT was rock bottom, right? Nope? Ok. How about the Mexican wall? Nope. Immigration? Nope. Environment? NOPE! Sweet Baby Jesus, even when the dust settled from the election, people kept on saying,  “You have to give him time. Campaigning is different from leading.” Then we heard the Inaugural Address which was, effectively, setting everyone up for more of the same spew.

I’m sure the logic in the voting booth was that he couldn’t be THAT bad. Or perhaps the logic was that if you gave him enough rope, he’d hang himself. But then he decides to make his key appointments from the very slime covered remnants of the swamp he vowed to drain. A majority of white, older, males, who individually are in a tax bracket equivalent to some of the entire “inner cities” he purports to champion.

But you know, you’ve got to give credit where credit is due. He didn’t let any grass grow. Minutes after lunching with the very people he threw under the bus in his Inauguration Address, he trotted up to the Oval Office and started signing Executive Orders like a boss! He also had numerous pages removed from the White House website. You know, deadweight content like Environment, LGBTQ, Women’s Issues.

The yuge “crowds” of his inauguration were eclipsed by the massive protests the next day when the Women’s March took place. Not only were the haters out in full force on social media, but the new president also took a pause from his smoking pen to express how much LARGER his crowds were the day before.

Really?

This is what gets your attention? A bunch of women (and notably men) wearing pink knitted cat hats? Interesting….

It has been revealing to see how some people have reacted to this historic and peaceful demonstration. The anger, negativity and entitlement knows no bounds. We had people hating on Madonna and other celebs who DARED to share their political views. (I guess they forgot their leader used his celebrity as a launch pad for his current career foray.) Ironically, no matter how you feel about Madge or her music, the broad has a Right to speak her mind since, guess what, SHE’S AMERICAN – and Freedom of Speech is still a thing – at least at the time of this posting. One particularly insightful meme pointed out that Madonna is the last person a woman should listen to regarding women’s rights, because, after all, she has used her body and her sexualized persona to advance her career. Um…hate to tell you, but that’s the point – it’s HER choice to do that. She wasn’t pimped out by a man, or, for that matter, another woman. How she used her body is HER Right! Don’t want to watch her bump and grind? No problem, but don’t try to convince me you are ok with a serial molester who sexualizes his own daughter as President, but find The Material Girl’s gyrating upsetting and offensive. #PotmeetKettle

However, the most disturbing aspect of this new reality is the relationship with the Media. I was trained in the lost Art of Journalism (I’m sorry but I can’t tolerate the fascination with celebrity as “real” news – it’s part of what got us where we are today.) The minute you see someone discrediting numerous media outlets in favor of those with open biases, you have a problem. Journalists are being arrested in America! Remember when we were horrified when that happened in countries ruled by dictators? Sorry – I didn’t say “Spoiler Alert”.

From day one the objective of this office has been to start the process of gas lighting the public and conditioning them to accept only one outlet, one source of information – the Oval Office. It has already started. “What do you mean the crowds weren’t yuge? They WERE yuge! THAT photo was taken when people were still filling in hours before.” Terms like “Alternative Facts” are coined. That’s not a thing people! Let’s not allow “Alternative Facts” to become a thing!!

You end up with the long time supporters who continue drinking the Kool Aid, and then the confused (those who voted for him looking for jobs, but blithely ignoring the nasty stuff) will fall into the Emperor’s New Clothes scenario – no one will speak the truth for fear of reprisal. And THIS is how we got to this messed up intersection. No one wanted to call him out on his bullshit when they had the chance because they didn’t think anyone would take him seriously. His particular brand of negativity has given permission to a certain level of individual who is easily threatened, likely due the remarkable low level of self-esteem he/she possession. Yet another trait he/she share with their leader.

You think I’m crazy? Anyone who feels the need to defend the size of his hands during a Presidential Campaign has a mammoth inferiority complex that he is constantly battling with his ongoing barrage of b.s. Same thing goes for his bullying tactics. Why does he do this? Because he’s truly uneducated. Yes, he has a degree from Penn State, but it he wouldn’t be the first graduate to have a less than authentic diploma and educational experience.

Let’s talk about being educated – life long learning, adapting to changing times, learning from others, accepting new concepts. You know, qualities you would want in a national leader who is going to represent your population on an international stage. The minute he said Mexico was paying for the wall, I turned to The Big Guy and stated, “He’s going to tariff them.” Should have put money on that. You know, if you go around slapping countries in the face, you should fully expect to get payback – and you’ve only been hitting the international community one at a time. You better layer up on the bronzer, ‘cuz this could be a knock out when the rest of the world returns your favor. Except for Russia, because, you know, Putin will be selling tickets to that show.

When it comes to strengths, he has two, if you can call them that. He knows how to incite fear, and then flame the fearful mentality; and he knows a great deal about ego. This is why he has opted not to surround himself with experienced and knowledgable experts on topics such as national security, but his own posse of Yes-Men and Women who are there to stroke his ego and assure him his hair looks GREAT…really GREAT!

He is ignorant. He’s a dinosaur from another era that managed to say the right combination of lies to make the public believe one version of himself, while he presents another version behind closed doors. And sadly, he doesn’t even care that we know he’s lying to us.

What he has been exceptionally good at is pissing people off. Figures released today indicate he has set a record for hitting a disapproval rate in eight days. Obama was over 900 days and George W. Bush was 1,200+ days. Hey, I say when you find your strong suite, stick with it! These are interesting times. Buckle up Buttercup!

P.S. You will notice I have not indicated the subject by name. That is deliberate. I’m far from afraid of fallout (because I’m sure The Bowery Girl is on his browser Favorites) I just refuse to feed his vanity – and feel that a deliberate omission of his name is just what will itch him where he can’t scratch. Yup – I’m a cow that way.