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 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.

 

 

Without Tradition, We Have Nothing

Anyone who has read The Bowery Girl for any length of time knows that we really like Christmas and take our decorating rather seriously.

When it comes to Christmas trees, we like them big, and we like them to be real.

And we aren’t above risking life and limb to get the “perfect” tree!

It has involved going out into the wild yonder with a saw in hand. Then there was the task of getting it into the house.

But this year’s tree was truly unique. As Little Sister now lives at my parents’ former home, we didn’t think it would be cool to hike back and steal a tree. We’ll let them get their boxes unpacked before we start helping ourselves. You know, manners.

So we went to the neighbours of my parents’/my sister and brother in law, who, ironically, own and operate and Christmas tree farm. I’ll let you think about that. Yes, we have been slogging trees out of various bush areas for the past several years when we could have simply selected a pre-cut tree while sipping hot chocolate and cider under twinkle lights while being serenaded by festive music.

Yup. That’s how we do things around here. The hard way.

Which takes us back around to this year’s tree. Once again, we needed the “perfect” tree. Something that had the ability to inspire the Christmas Spirit even in the most jaded of Grinch-like hearts. It needed to be the one thing that people remembered about The Bowery Girl Christmas, because, once again, we were hosting at least one side of the family.

Yes, we were asking A LOT of one tree.

So when I came upon a stunning blue spruce, full and lush and standing well over 7 ft tall, I   knew I was in love. The Big Guy questioned whether or not it was too tall. I think he forgot about this tree…

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To be clear, that tree is above the eavestrough.

First Bon Son was not nearly as convinced.

“I don’t like it,” he declared, no particular reason given.

Second Born Son was more accommodating. He gave it his blessing.

To appease everyone, we purchased a smaller, Charlie Brown-like tree in a pot that we can plant in the spring. The boys agreed they would put one single decoration on the tree, although I did lend them a star and some garland so it didn’t look so naked.

After the appropriate pruning and trunk trimming, the blue spruce was in the corner of the living room awaiting embellishment. I was particularly excited because TBG agreed to a new colour scheme for our Christmas decor. Instead of the red, green and gold we had used for the past 22 Christmases, this year we would go gold, silver, white and rustic – burlap bows and pine cones.

FBS left before the decorating began, declaring that he had contributed enough to the family tradition. It was his silent protest since he still didn’t approve of a perfectly beautiful blue spruce.

This left SBS and TBG to help put the new decorations on the tree. I strung the new ornaments and the two of them placed them on the tree. When it was done, it was stunning.

Breathtaking, wouldn’t you agree? The colour and textures were spot-on. We wrapped up the Sunday evening in our jammies, admiring the afternoon of work we had put in. I take a photo and text it to FBS, who is back at college. He begrudgingly admits it looks good.

TBG decided he was ready for the nest around 10:30 p.m. and, as every good owner of a real Christmas tree knows, he unplugged the lights. While he was under the tree, the festive masterpiece went from a 90 degree angle to a 45 degree angle, only saved from further horizontalness by the black leather love seat that broke it’s fall. This sudden stop, however, launched the brand new glittered star from the back corner of the living room, clear across to the opposite end of the space. The TV dogged a bullet…as it were. A third of the ornaments were on the floor. Of those, half were broken. We could tell because the shards were floating across the hardwood laminate floor in the water that had been in the stone filled bucket we were using to anchor the tree.

TBG swore, jumped up, grabbed the tree and yanked it upright. It fell over. He swore again. More broken ornaments. More ornaments the floor. 98% of the water is now creating a tsunami across the living room. TBG said all the words. ALL of them.

SBS launched from the couch and grabbed dry towel in our house. Unfortunately, due to an old war wound, my back prevented me from doing anything other than holding the tree, which seemed to be incapable of staying vertical.

Upon inspection, it became clear that the tree was rather off balance. Almost all of the ornaments are on the front side of the tree. When TBG unplugged the lights, he disengaged the only thing keeping that thing upright.

SBS is moping the floor like he’s getting paid. I’m trying to evaluate how many ornaments have been lost, how many I can salvage and how many are still on the tree, when TBG turns to me and asks to hold the tree. I oblige. HE SHAKES THE TREE. FOUR MORE ORNAMENTS FALL ON THE FLOOR AND SHATTER.

I look at him in disbelief.

“Are you FREAKING kidding me?!?!”

Without missing a beat he replies, “I wanted to see if the trunk shifted in the bucket.”

I shoot him the death stare.

It took another half an hour to get everything picked up, the floor mopped up and the dehumidifier strategically placed in the middle of the room. Ever my son, SBS made the perfect observation.

“You know, it could be worse,” he said, “this could have happened at 3 in the morning and we might not have heard and woke up to the tree on the floor and the floor would have been ruined.”

So proud. He was absolutely right. Except his father begged to differ. He was heading back to the shower in an attempt to de-adhese himself of all the sap on every square inch of him. TBG is in the pit of despair. It’s like someone gave him a lump of coal after telling him that  there was no Santa Claus. And that he’s allergic to chocolate. And there’s no gravy for Christmas dinner. It was THAT BAD.

Which I understand, because the tree is a sad shadow of it’s former self.

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You thought I was exaggerating, didn’t you. I sent this photo to FBS. He texts back, “I told you there was something wrong with that tree.” He’s lucky he’s an hour away.

Back on the home front, we have glitter in the floor, in the loveseat, in parts of our bodies that we didn’t realize were exposed to glitter. I’m fairly certain I’ve eaten more than a peck of glitter.

TBG’s foul mood continued once he was re-bathed and tucked into bed. He relived the moment over and over again. Ranted about how upsetting the incident was. How his ENTIRE CHRISTMAS WAS RUINED!

<PAUSE> Not kidding. He said that. You should note, he’s weeks away from his 50th birthday. Not 5. Forty nine. <PLAY>

Throughout this so-called Christmas Catastrophe, I’ve been the voice of calm. THIS is when I finally lose it.

“SHUT UP! I’m the one who picked and bought the ornaments. I’m the one who will have to replace the old ones. I never yelled or blamed you for making it front heavy. SBS is absolutely right; we could have found it in the morning and the floor would have been ruined!”

“Well,” he said, “we won’t know about the floor until the morning.”

I take a fist and drive it into his stomach.

I then remind him about the real trees we had before having kids when we were at our previous home. It always fell over. There was the decorating of the tree, and the redecorating of the tree after TBG picks it up off of me. The answer was to anchor the tree in the corner to the hinge of the front door we never used. We simply had to find another solution for this house.

Three days later, when TBG had finally cooled down enough to discuss the “tree situation”, and I had purchased the replacement ornaments, and it was certain that the floor wasn’t ruined – just really clean; we tried decorating 2.0. And counter balanced with a tractor weight wrapped like a gift.

Some families have traditions of eating certain foods at Christmas. Some have specific songs they always play. We have a collapsing Christmas Tree.

Hope your Holidays were magical, and dry…..

 

Cold Hands, Warm Heart

I’ve always been cold, and when I’m cold, it’s painful. My brother in law used to tease me when I wore work socks layered over regular socks to keep my feet warm. The true arrival of spring (or fall) was when the work socks came off (or went on).

It’s no different now. Infact, it’s gotten worse. My hands will lose all feeling and become waxy when cold; classic Reynauds symptoms. As a female Canadian who lives in Canada, it’s rather challenging to keep yourself warm, while being anywhere in the neighbourhood of fashionable.

Which is why I was green with envy last weekend. Working at a Santa Claus parade, I saw scores of of trendy young mommies sporting the latest fashions in winter wear; black leggings, killer winter boots, and one of two options – an incredibly expensive knee-length winter coat (usually in black) and matching accessories, or an incredibly expensive sweater/vest combo (usually very colourful) and matching accessories. In both cases, the outerwear would NOT be zipped up, but casually left open, to adequately admire the carefully curated laying. My jealously was rooted in the fact that in either of those outfits, I would be in excruciating pain and likely praying for quick death.

Which reminds me of a time where I did actually pray for an expedited end. The Big Guy and I were at a winter resort in February, a kind of “Happy Valentine’s Day, We can’t afford to go South” sort of thing. One of the activities was snowmobiling. We jumped on the machine and followed the guide who would tour us around the more scenic areas of the Huntsville area. On the return trip, we had to cross the lake. It was late afternoon, the sun was waning and my body had officially given up on trying to keep up with the external frigid assault on my internal furnace. The Big Guy steered the snow sled across the frozen lake surface, wide open to keep up with the rest of the group, and to help minimize the bone shattering windchill. My face had long gone numb. My extremities up to my knees and elbows didn’t exist. It actually crossed my mind, “This is how I end. I freeze to death on a snowmobile in the middle of a lake.” But it didn’t happen. It just. got. colder. Nothing says “romance” like flannel jammies after an hour-long shower to thaw 3rd degree frostbite.

As much as I’d like to love Winter, our relation is complicated. I acknowledge it exists, but I refuse to be an active outdoor participant. I’m one step away from hibernating!

I’m the girl standing in Winners trying to find THE warmest, THE heaviest sweaters and being stymied with sleeveless shifts and rayon/polyester blends with plunging necklines. My favourite Christmas gift last year? My fleece onesie with a hood.

Let’s put it this way, if you ever hear me say “Whew, it’s just too hot in here!” you know I’ve been kidnapped.

But as they say, “Cold hands, warm heart!”

What is Left Unsaid

It’s day 15,641 of the never ending U.S. election, and the reason I’ve not been more vocal is; a) I feel there are far too many people spouting garbage disguised as knowledge, b) if I start being vocal, I just might never stop.

With this in mind, and being that this is the eve of the election, I’m allowing myself ONE opportunity to write on this topic. ONE. UNE. UNO. 1. And I think you may be surprised.

At first I thought it was an “Emperor’s New Clothes” situation, where everyone could see what I saw, but was just too darn polite to say anything. I then realized, no, there are actually people who are drinking the Kool Aid here.

It became mildly amusing watching what appeared to be a reality show on Meth. New revelations. New scandals. New excuses.

That’s when it occurred to me. This is the ultimate reality show, with the entire American population as contestants. These two candidates are merely ratings props, but the fallout will have very real implications. As resident of the nation to the North, I recall the classic saying, “When the U.S. has a cold, Canada sneezes.” We have a lot riding on this election too.

I have family and friends who live in America. I’m very worried about what this election means for them. Regardless of who wins, there will be a large segment of the population who will be up in arms; some of whom have threatened to take up arms. I can’t image what it must feel like not to know what you future holds. What your country will become.

I feel it is just too easy to tear apart the candidates. Saturday Night Live has political satire covered. I just hope we can all live with the outcome.

 

p.s.

On a lighter note, Second Born Son decided to go as one of the candidates for Halloween. I’ll let you decide which one….

Yes, I had nightmares!

Yes, I had nightmares!

Sarah and the No Good, Horrible, Very Bad Day…er Week

I’ve never seen this movie, the one whose title I’ve blatantly stolen for this post.

I don’t care to ever see this movie.

I believe I have lived this movie. It was Tuesday of this week. Who am I kidding. It was all of last week, but Tuesday was especially horrible.

It’s never a good day when I wake up before my alarm. On Tuesday I woke up 45 mins before my alarm. And there was no going back to sleep because my annoying brain had already started itemizing the day’s events. Not a good sign. This was compounded by the throbbing in my left arm, because apparently I’ve developed tendonitis in my elbow and it hurts before I’ve even begun to move. Because, why not!?

Attempting to thwart my feelings of foreboding, I decide to assemble my smoothy as I make my breakfast, to ensure I would leave the house in good time. Moments later the blender is filled with fruit flies, and regardless of how many times I tried to remove them, finding them back-stroking through my almond milk was the limit for me and the entire mix was dumped.

I was late leaving as I reassembled the smoothy.

The computer at work, with which I have an rocky relationship at best, decided to pull work-to-rule action. Progress was at a snail’s pace. Because of the aforementioned fruit fly incident, I forgot to take my allergy medication, and I was completely and totally congested by 10 a.m.

With a work meeting scheduled for 2 p.m., I set up the meeting area, including the projection equipment. This involves a mobile screen on a tripod that I’m pretty sure was used for the first talkies. Just as I’m putting the final adjustments on the screen, the retractable screen does just that, and when it fully and completely recoils into the mustard yellow casing, said casing flips upward on one end from the force, and clocks me in the right temple. I saw several constellations and am still amazed that I did not use “language”. I likely had a feeling that I was being watched, which I was. A gentleman from another office witnessed the assault on my person and rushed to my aid. ¬†As a gentleman would, he offers assistance, asks if I’m ok and demonstrates a suitable amount of concern for what he just observed. As an idiot would, I told him I was FINE, that I was sorry I caused him concern and that this stupid projection screen was not long for this world. With a quizzical expression, he asked again. Are you SURE you are OK? With as much grace as I could muster, given that the impact nearly dropped me to my knees, I wave him off and assure him, no harm, no foul. His face says it all; Sarah’s a nut job. Well, my friend, you’re not the first to think that, and I’m pretty sure the club will extend membership to you.

Moments later, when the initial sensation wears off, it is replaced with a new, stinging, sharp sensation. When that lingers, I decide to head to the bathroom, where I see blood running down my face – the start of which the gentleman would have observed and explains his disbelief at my demeanour. NUT. JOB.

An impromptu clean up job leaves my face swollen, lacerated and missing a significant amount of make up on the right side of my profile. The meeting I’m hosting is in 30 minutes. I have no makeup at work. I decide then and there, that we are going to run this situation, and not let it run us! Two hours later, at the end of the meeting, and with my face nicely inflamed and swollen on one side, I can’t take the sidelong glances any more and flat out own what happened.

“Whew, I’m glad you said something,” said my colleague, “because I wasn’t sure what was going on there!”

Well my friend, what was going on here on Tuesday is just a string of what has been happening, known more affectionally as The Shit Show. Perhaps you think I’m exaggerating. Adding a little flair to the story, some “Artistic Licence”? Oh gentle reader, if that were only the case.

After some therapy on said elbow, and waking up the next day feeling better than I had in a week, I bounce the elbow off a corner in the hallway and hit it so hard that I’m afraid of travelling bone chips. Back to square one. The only way I’m sleeping now is if it’s on my right side. And if I could stop have disturbing dreams…but we’ll leave those for the therapist I’m draining my kids’ education fund for.

Then this happens….

I can't make this stuff up!

I can’t make this stuff up!

I’m the centre vehicle. To clarify, this is NOT parallel parking. This is a PARKING LOT. I’ve just been blocked. Ironically, in an effort to change my karma, when I saw another vehicle about to block the vehicle beside me (after doing a 24 point extraction of my own vehicle) I called out to the driver – very nicely I might add, to advise him of the honest mistake he was about to make. He thanked me for my efforts by giving me the sharp edge of his tongue and slamming back into his car.

Oh, and I should also mention that the week before, my work vehicle died most unexpectedly, in a remote location, on one of the hottest days of the summer. The cause of this malfunction was so random that even the mechanic shook his head.

Loooong story short, stay away from me unless you have bulk bubble wrap. And just think, Mercury Retrograde starts TODAY! Not sure what Mercury Retrograde is? Basically everything I’ve described. I’m locking myself in my room now, because I’m certain I’m a danger to myself!!

 

WHAT I DON’T KNOW…AND WHAT I DO

I don’t know what it’s like to be a black man.

I don’t know what it’s like to be a black woman.

I don’t know what it’s like to be a black mother and worry if your son is going to come home safely at the end of the day.

I don’t know what it’s like to fear for my life at a simple traffic stop.

I don’t know what it’s like to feel the need to carry a gun for my protection.

I don’t know what it’s like to be a police officer.

I don’t know what it’s like to put myself in harm’s way to protect someone else.

I don’t know what it’s like to walk into a group of people and know that they hate me because of the color of my skin.

I do know what it’s like to protest.

I do know what it’s like to love my child, my husband, my community.

I do know that if you hold the heart of a white person in one hand and the heart of the black person in the other, no one could tell the difference.

I do know that there is no difference between a black baby and a white baby other than the color of their skin…and neither of them knows that the other is “different”.

I do know that we have a lot of work to do to get this world to a better place. As a white woman, I’m open to doing whatever it takes to let people of all colors feel safe.

I do know that this is possible. It has to be.