For reasons too complicated to get into I have had to change the site of my blog.  For those of you who have bookmarked it, I will be posting the new website on Facebook.  Those of you who have been following me and are not on Facebook you can email me and I will give you the new web page.  Those of you who do not have my email, I express my apologies and thank you for following me. 

While it is wonderful to be in an age of technology where we can reach out to the world with our thoughts and daily musings, one always risks that in being that trusting, you are bound to meet others who are of formidable character. 

My intention in writing this blog was to express my desire to write and in doing so, share that writing with friends and family.  Having said that, while I have done my best to keep my information as furtive as possible, I can not stress to others, the importance of making sure that when innocently writing about your daily on-goings, that you are very careful not to allow others to take advantage of that information.

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Well, today was one of those -25C with wind chill at -35C days.  Needless to say the boys and I did not go for a walk.  But no worries, +8C by the weekend!  Gotta love
Calgary weather.

You know you’ve got a dull life when the highlight of your day is watching a plumber install two new toilets.  Well I didn’t actually stand over the guy and watch him!


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“Do you want me to tell you something really subversive? Love is everything it’s cracked up to be. That’s why people are so cynical about it. It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don’t risk anything, you risk even more.”

~Erica Jong~

As the sun was starting to rise, the full moon was setting in the west.

As the sun was starting to rise, the full moon was setting in the west.

I have tried to walk every day regardless of the weather.  Although I do admit I draw the line at windy and -25C!  My favourite time of the day is right after I have come back from my daily walk.  The dogs are all pooped out and there is a stillness in the house that allows me to appreciate that quiet.  This is the time of day when I often get the urge to write.

I have noticed that the days are getting longer.  The sunrise is just a little earlier and it sets just a little later, making me smile to think that, while the universe often presents itself as mysterious, it is often very consistent.  That thought makes me feel safe, yet guarded and always grateful of the experience whatever the emotion that is attached to it.

I have been having so much fun with the iPhone that Nick bought me at Christmas, especially with the photo Aps.  While phoning and especially texting, seem to be the norm these days, outside of Nick, I get zero calls.  As for text messages, my niece, my sister, and Nick is the extent to my list of text contacts.  Oh, and this past week I added my Mom to the list as she just bought an iPad.  Thank goodness I got to keep my old cell number, the last thing I need, what with passwords and trying to retain  the knowledge of new technology, is to have to remember a new number!  Seems like a lot of money to spend on a gadget that I mostly use as a camera.

A daring venture onto the frozen lake today as part of our walk.

A daring venture onto the frozen lake today as part of our walk.

The boys with all this space to run

The boys with all this space to run

Elmo and the frozen lake.

Elmo and the frozen lake.

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 “I don’t want just words. If that’s all you have for me, you’d better go”

~F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Beautiful and Damned~

“Now I have everything to gain; everything is a clean slate. It’s all blank pages waiting to be written on. It’s all about going forward. It’s all about uncertainty and possibilities.”

~Gregory Galloway, As Simple as Snow~ 

I think that most of my life I have struggled between wanting to share my life with someone and my need to feel independent.  I think it stems from being the oldest of five in my family and the first grandchild of, what has turned out to be 40.  Yep, I have 39 first, amazing, cousins!   So while I have an appreciation for company, I also have a great appreciation for independence and solitude.

I think women of my generation were always caught between the cultural expectations of their mother’s era, along with those of the libbers of the 60’s and 70’s.  I never truly related to either of them.  I was somewhere in the middle.  Most women in my generation, if they wanted “the dream”, (house, kids, husband), pretty much had to work for that dream… as in 9-5 work or might I say 6 am to 11 pm.

Certainly I took on the role of a woman who participated in the dream.  Sometimes it felt like a sacrifice, but more times than not, it had some amazing rewards (a loving husband and beautiful son, just two examples).  Yet, there was a restlessness I felt in my mid to late 40’s that perplexed me to no end.  I had it all but I was still edgy.   In retrospect I can honestly say some of that fidgeting was about changing hormones, but part of it was that big question about whether or not I was living my life fully, truthfully.  Even if I didn’t have a clue what that meant.  I was sure I might never find that young and curious poet, artist, writer, who dared to take a modern dance class in university, ever again. It seemed I had compromised one thing to gain another.


I realize now it is all a choice, many women have lived their dream and managed to survive.  Although, I suppose even that has it’s own set of sacrifices.

After Gary died, I wanted to do some catch up and see if I could find that part of myself that I left behind.   No one can know where their life might have gone had they taken a different path, but certainly I might capture the pleasure in sitting with an old friend once again and have her guide me through the dreams she might have made real, and perhaps even give her an opportunity to indulge some of her dreams.

I have, in past writings, talked about the Bohemian I wanted to be.  Well, after Gary died, I took the hand of that young Bohemian and she took me on an amazing ride, all the while I was able to keep one foot on solid ground.  Eventually I found a balance between that girl and this woman.  While it was not a cake walk, and some experiences were very daring, bordering on dangerous even, I am grateful to have had the opportunity regardless.

University of Guelph – 1972

Egypt – 2011

I find it amusing, after the death of my husband,  people encouraged me to find a partner… all the time!  Now, 10 years later, no one even mentions it.  Perhaps it is because they think it is hopeless now that I am 10 years older, or maybe those close to me know that, more than anything, I have come to realize I am comfortable with knowing that I am enough.

“…I really do think that love is the best thing in the world, next to cough drops. But I also have to say, for the umpty-umpth time, that life isn’t fair. It’s just fairer than death, that’s all.”

~William Goldman, The Princess Bride~


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“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”

~T.H. White, The Once and Future King~

This past week was a rough one.  I get them every now and again.  Two or three days that make me feel like I want to pull the plug, end my life (okay that’s a little dramatic but it was certainly a crummy feeling).  I think I’m going to start calling them “Desperate Days” because certainly that’s how I feel when I am experiencing them.  The only thing I can do is acknowledge them and sit through them until they pass.  While I realize life, for the most part, is joyful and that I am truly blessed to be living, it does present me with contrasting moments every now and again… a humbling reminder for sure.

I think that sometimes I spend too much time alone and my thoughts get carried away with me.  I have been making a bigger effort these days to get out more.  I visit my neighbour Pat far more this winter than ever before and most certainly visits with my parents make me feel a whole lot better, as was the case this week.  I am also making an effort to tag every time I start to worry or get upset about something in the future or past.  When I start to feel that angst and tightness in my body whilst thinking a thought, I quickly ask myself, “Is this a present, past or future issue?”  If it isn’t present I make sure I take note, then dismiss it.

One of the things I really love about Nicholas is that he has the ability to distinguish between things that matter and things that don’t.  I asked him if he was excited about an upcoming trip he’s about to take, and his reply was, “When I am on the plane, or when I am stepping off the plane after it’s landed there, then I’ll be excited.”  I like that because he doesn’t fill his head with worries of things that are yet to happen.  And when I bring up something in the past, he finds it perplexing that I would want to dwell on something that has already happened and that I no longer have any control over.  We must have done well in our parenting of him to be so clear on such issues.  Then again, he has always been a wise old soul.

I had to call a plumber this week.  My main bathroom toilet decided to stop working.  I knew this was coming so it did not surprise me.  Thing is, I have no desire to change the thing myself no matter how self-sufficient I am.  Doing hard labour or jobs meant for professionals is just that, meant for the people who are either young and fit enough, or trained for such jobs.  I have no desire to feel pride over doing a job I have no interest in and am not qualified to do.  That whole “I am woman hear me roar!” independent and free from all male (or female for that matter), assistance, is so not my shtick. I know my limitations and in fact, I set those limitations a long time ago and I can earnestly say that replacing toilets is at the top of that list of limits!

My friend Brent has been posting some awesome photos from New Orleans this week.  I met Brent when I was working at Shell.  Brent is a great photographer so we hit it off straight away.  He was also the person who convinced me to buy a MAC and I have never looked back.  He took a position for Shell in New Orleans this year and he and his wife are taking in all the sites.  It made me nostalgic in regard to my trip to NOLA, New Year’s Eve, 2004.  Here are a few of my favourite shots from that visit.

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After a while you learn the subtle difference

Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,

And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning

And company doesn’t mean security.

And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts

And presents aren’t promises,

And you begin to accept your defeats

With your head up and your eyes open

With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,

And you learn to build all your roads on today

Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans

And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.

After a while you learn…

That even sunshine burns if you get too much.

So you plant your garden and decorate your own soul,

Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure…

That you really are strong… 

And you really do have worth… 

And you learn and learn… 

With every good-bye you learn. 

~Veronica A. Shoffstall~

So today I got an oil change for my car at the dealership.  They charged me $25 to reset my “low tire pressure” light.  What the hell!  I let them know I was not amused and I will write a letter to the dealership also informing them of my opinion.

Rather than wait in the dealership while they worked on my car, I walked over to the mall near by and roamed the isles of a Chinese supermarket.  I have always wanted to go in there and was not disappointed with the amazing colours and exotic things (well exotic to me), there were to buy.

Isles filled with colour

Isles filled with colour

Duck eggs anyone?

There was also this whole fish section with carp and clams and crab (all live) but I was a little hesitant to take a snap shot incase they thought I was some kind of inspector!

The everything store.

The everything store.

I then headed over to the Canadian Tire store roaming the isles for a hand juicer made of glass.  I seemed to have misplaced mine in the house somewhere.  I ended up buying something that was plastic and it will have to do until I can find my glass one.

With time to spare I went to McDonald’s.  I never go to McDonald’s but it was a place to sit.  I bought a breakfast meal, hot chocolate instead of coffee.  Now I have been eating organic for the last couple of years so biting into this breakfast sandwich was like biting into a soft cardboard likeness of the real thing and it taste pretty much the same.  When I went to drink the hot chocolate I’m not sure what it was that I was drinking.  Chemicals mixed with sugar water I suspect, and certainly did not taste like the 80% dark chocolate I have restricted myself to eating when I do eat chocolate.  To be honest, I was really quite shocked at how it was so tasteless compared to the food I have been making at home and thought how sad that so many people are missing out when they are unable to make their own meals with fresh (and it doesn’t have to be organic) ingredients.  I am not a food snob by any means but it sure validates my reasons for not eating fast food!

It’s another beautiful day out today and I am eager to walk the dogs and be out in the sunshine..

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What a difference one day makes.  Thank goodness for Chinook winds.

Crow and sun

Crow and sun

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A quick walk along the path today.  While it was only -13C the wind chill made it feel like -25C.  Burrrr!  Below, Sprocket thinks there may be someone hiding under the pine.  Rabbit perhaps?

IMG_0153“But what minutes!  Count them by sensation, and not by calendars, and each moment is a day.”

~Benjamin Disraeli~

Time is a funny thing.  It is man made and multi-facet in its meaning.  It chains us to societal demands and expectations, it tricks us, stresses us out, and often enslaves us.

I stopped wearing a watch years ago.  Like my television, I don’t miss it, and like bad news, there is always someone who is more than willing to let you know what time it is.

Ten years is a long time, or is it?  For me, it has been an amazing time of discovery. In that time I have traveled to exotic places like Kenya and India where my eyes were set wide open and my heart made to feel humble.  I have hovered over a mother whale and her calf in an ultra-light off the shores of Costa Rica.  I was rescued by a beach patrol during a severe thunder storm on the coast of Florida.  I stood jammed, one among hundreds, in the streets of New Orleans greeting in a New Year.  I felt the earth shake at 4.3 on the Richter Scale while in Los Angeles.  I floated in the warm waters of Hawaii while wild, Spinner Dolphins danced before me.   I’ve heard Big Ben strike the time of day and felt the serenity of peace while walking through the lush botanical gardens in Singapore.  I sat quietly watching two hunters stalk a wild boar in a valley in Tuscany and floated along the banks of a Chicago river, thinking for sure I must be in Gotham City.  I have prayed to the Goddess Pele while standing on her cloak of lava.  Set sail on a BC Ferry to the land of the hippies.  I’ve walked the plains where the buffalo jumped and I have touched the sky at the Highwood pass.

“As the traveler who has once been from home is wiser than he who has never left his own doorstep, so a knowledge of one other culture should sharpen our ability to scrutinize more steadily, to appreciate lovingly, our own”

~Margaret Mead~

When I was a very little girl, I remember looking around at my family watching television and thinking, “Surely God did not make this planet so that we could all sit in our living rooms watching Hockey Night in Canada?”  I was right.  There is so much out there to discover and in these past ten years I have had the privilege of only scratching the surface of such discoveries.  I am addicted.

“Loneliness is the human condition. Cultivate it. The way it tunnels into you allows your soul room to grow. Never expect to outgrow loneliness. Never hope to find people who will understand you, someone to fill that space. An intelligent, sensitive person is the exception, the very great exception.  If you expect to find people who will understand you, you will grow murderous with disappointment. The best you’ll ever do is to understand yourself, know what it is that you want, and not let the cattle stand in your way.”

~Janet Fitch, White Oleander~

In the last ten years I  have also come to understand that solitude and loneliness are one in the same, the only difference between the two is a viewpoint.   Regardless of the circumstance both are a choice.

I chose to travel alone, it was like a challenge to me.  Could I do it by myself?  Did I have what it took to not be afraid?  As a loner I was able to discover things in a different light, a more personal viewpoint.  It gave me the opportunity to be more daring and as a result I met so many different people and became aware of so many different perspectives.

Aloneness, loneliness or solitude, call it what you will, is an opportunity to be embraced.  So many people are extremely fearful of it or do their best to avoid it.  We think there is something wrong with being alone and idle in one’s reflection, labeling it as depressing or abnormal and lazy.  I was so fearful of living my life alone, but what I came to discover was that in aloneness I found  self expression, self understanding, self realization and ultimately, self acceptance.  I have learned these past ten years that it is okay to be Self!

Many people struggle to find purpose these days, and this need has lead others to create a multi-million dollar industry in helping us find it!  But kids, the secret is in dropping the drama, quieting the soul and discovering self.  There is no shame in that, no indignity.  Do we really have to have our days so filled with busy, that we leave no room to discover our true passions, our creativity, our simple joys?  Outside of our financial commitments to family, must we measure our success by the benchmarks of others who dictate what accomplishment is?  Who is deciding the definition of failure, if there is even such a thing to begin with?

If an opportunity for solitude presents itself, I say seize it, accept it as an opening to discover your true interests, your true talents… dare I say your true purpose?  Sit in it for as long as you are able, see how it feels.  Listen to what is comfortable for you and what is not.  Be fearless and keep that fear at bay long enough to see that tiny light that brings you joy.  Taking photographs, sitting quietly watching your kids read, writing, petting your dog, carpentry, whatever it may be, gift that time, those alone moments, to yourself without guilt or expectation.  Use those moments to bring yourself closer to your heart.

I use to fear being alone, especially after my husband died.  But ten years later, I have come to appreciate how consciously choosing to welcome this solitude, has allowed me to discover the “unplugged” me.  Not only that, I realize that my only purpose in life is to participate fully in each moment, with awareness and appreciation for such a magical experience.

“There is more to life than simply increasing its speed.”

~Mahatma Gandhi~

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Gary Hammink 1949 - 2003

Gary Hammink 1949 – 2003

Ten years ago today I received a phone call that would change my comfortable world.  The love of my life had been in a car accident.  The injuries had been mostly internal and certainly severe. Close to 24 hours later I would have to make a decision and at 3:30 am on January 23, my husband was pronounced dead.

Much has happened in my life since then and certainly I have had plenty of time to experience and reflect upon the stages of grief.  It has not been easy and as much as the loss has been excruciatingly painful, it has allowed me to embrace the true essence of life… joy and love.

At times I was criticized for decisions I made throughout those ten years. Yet, it was the loyalty, and support of the dearest of friends and family, and my openness to find the good in such a tragic event, that opened my eyes to the value in forgiveness and the importance in following the compass of one’s own heart.

Some have commented that I have held onto the grief and memory of a past for far too long.  I would argue that it is not the grief I hold onto but the tender loving memories of a kind and compassionate man.  These memories have given me strength to rise above my fears and follow many of my dreams.  These memories have allowed me to see beyond my pain and have helped me to broaden my perspective on so many levels.  I feel the least I can do for the joy Gary brought me, is to carry those joyful memories forward in honour and celebration of his life.

Tomorrow, Nick and I will meet for a quiet dinner to celebrate, in shared memories, Gary’s life.  It is a tradition that my best friend Lois and I started 10 years ago.  Lois, my biggest supporter and dearest friend, is traveling with her husband, but I know that the energy of her love will be with us at dinner.

I was blessed to have met Gary, to have been loved by Gary and to hold onto, forever in my heart, such beautiful, loving, memories of him and the family we made together.

The memory of Gary’s love for Nick and I, and the love we shared as a family together, has been the cement of a new foundation, a stronger foundation in the life of both Nick and I.  And it is from this foundation that we have been building the structure of our new lives.

In loving and fond memories Hammy, we still miss your presence!

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Nick is back in the city.

We had a lot of things to do and this weekend past and got all of them done!  I really enjoyed his company.  It was especially nice to have someone to talk to over dinner.

Now it’s back to my stir fry veggies.

I have been using coconut oil in my stir fry.  The flavour is a great addition to the mix of rice, veggies and Thai sauce.




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