Category Archives: Memories

The First Real Snow Storm

The First Real Snow Storm

Yup, you got it right. Today March twenty-third.  I live nestled in South Western Ontario, surrounded by the great lakes.  All winter vicious snow storms have raged to the west of us, to the south of us – well you get the idea – and for some reason my twin cities have escaped anything major.  I was starting to feel a little guilty about it.  I didn’t even have to travel far to encounter one.  Maybe an hour either way at most.

Yesterday crocuses..or is it croci…were peeking up.  Spring is here!  Why we even had an official start to spring.  Then last night the snow started and it did not stop.  It fell all day and at times I could see nothing but white all flying horizontally.

How lucky I was.  Did not have to go out for anything.  Schools closed.  Almost no traffic that I could see.  Stayed snuggy.  Drank coffee and racked my brain for inspiration.  Perfect day to write something.  Now it is nine thirty p.m. and I have cabin fever.  I achieved nothing either creative or physical.

Now I sit here thinking that might have been my last chance this year to walk in a storm. I love walking in the falling snow.  Everything is so quiet and it takes me back to being a young child.  Young enough that my mother dressed me in snowsuit, woolen hat, and mitts and heavy boots, then plunked me outside.  Back then young children were just plunked outside.  How we entertained ourselves was up to us.  No such thing as play groups or play dates.  It was a young family neighborhood so it was likely that others were plunked at the same time.

What did we do you ask?  Well we ate snow, waddled around, made attempts at snowmen and angels.  My dad made us a rink in the back yard every winter. When we got older we skated.  There were lots of boys on our street and they played with my two brothers. I always had a crush on one of them.  They played hockey and cowboys and Indians on the ice.  I always wanted to play but they made me be the nurse.  That meant I had to stand by the clothesline stand and wait in case one of them got injured…which they never did.

My brother who is closest to my age loved hockey.  You could not drag him out of bed in the morning for school, it was torturous, but come Saturday morning he got up at five, packed up a huge sack of equipment and hauled it to our auditorium.  On foot, alone.  The aud was about three miles away.  Just to play hockey.  I think he was about nine.  I could never figure that one out.  

My family, especially him are hockey fans.  My sister in law who is equally addicted thinks I cannot be a true member.  I developed my dislike at a young age because back then there was one TV set and come Saturday it was Hockey Night in Canada.  It was the worst night of the week!

Well my brother still loves hockey even after all these years.  I found better things to do with my Saturday nights and the family unit remains intact.  In fact all my sibs are good friends, probably because not one of them expects me to watch hockey.  Every now and then I throw a spanner in the works.  I will actually read something about someone in the sport and toss it casually into conversation.  By the looks they give me I reckon they believe I have lost my mind or an alien has taken me over.  It’s worth it just to see the looks on their faces!

AND THEN….

Well what happened next?

Just after I finished my previous blog on my ditziness of the day, I started to pack up my things and head home.  I had come to my fav Williams Coffee Pub to write, hoping the change in environment would reset my universal flow button.  It did not.  BUT.

As I was about to leave a young couple sat down across from me.  Probably in their twenties… both really really good looking.
Anyway I noticed as I was putting on my jacket that she was nudging his leg under the table with her foot.  I thought that was so cutesy. THEN he sits back with a cocky look on his face and says…”So we have some issues and are we going to deal with them or not deal with them?”. AND he has such a smirk on his face because he has total control.  She is trying to be loving and seductive with the old foot trick and he knows he can make her feel awful.  She is contrite and he is….”so I did some things, and I said some things..you have to decide if you can live with that.”

Oh I peeled that jacket off so fast!  I wanna see how this plays out.
I am seated so I have a full view of him and only back and side of her.  He talks, eats, moves a round in his chair but..never never looks directly at her, just very quick rare glances. gauging her reaction to each of his boastful claims.  I think he just wants to be sure he is retaining control.  He keeps looking out the windows as if he would rather be anywhere but here.

God she is so gorgeous-why is she putting up with this?

She is talking now trying to work things out.  He is now looking directly out the window while she speaks and then down at his plate. Now he is responding with short sentences and still not looking at her.

He is still ignoring her while she talks and now she is back to stroking his leg under the table with her foot!  With no favorable response from him she has returned her foot to a neutral position.

Everything in me is screaming STUPID ALERT, STUPID ALERT,  Call out the dogs!!! man the guns!!! Danger!!! danger!!!

Would I have wanted someone to intervene when that was me years ago..and it was me..  Okay he has put on his coat and she has not…should I say something to her??  Should I?

Now He has reaches out to gently touch her fingers and gaze in her eyes.  To her credit she just picked up her sandwich in both hands..nuts and is putting her coat on also now.  Phew they both left ..sigh ..that removes my tough decision on intervention.

Thank God one of my blogging heroes, Joss at crowingcrone just wrote this morning about letting others make their own decisions and it was the first blog I read.  Thank you Joss it kept me on the straight and narrow..and appropriate!

Granny Nanny Day 3&4..fading fast

Granny Nanny Day Three and Day Four

Fading fast….

I have discovered some basic truths in my childcare experience this week:

Just because a child turns three it does not mean he is out of the terrible twos.

Children of seven actually have a social circle independent of Mommies hovering.  They have best friends whom they will prefer over Grandma once they are sure said Grandma will not be lavishing any presents on G2 in their absence.

The key to getting a three year old settled is to drive every ounce of energy out of them in play time preferably outside in fresh air.  Of course the risk to the driverouter is permanent immobility, pain, exhaustion and a serious reconsideration of the whole mixing booze and drugs together argument for sustained relief.  Just a thought.

So yesterday, day three was pretty normal. More parks, lots more walking, tantrum prior to afternoon nap.  G1 spent both days at his best friends so really there was just me, the five month old yellow lab of sonic strength and G2.  

The only thing of note from yesterday was that as our little troupe marched along the street..or staggered depending on the antics of the Gdog, is that someone in misstep passed gas.  Now G1 says, “Who farted?” I can see him processing some vital facts here.  He knows he did not do it and although the dog is famous for it, he’s pretty sure Gdog did not do it.  To help him with the struggle of his thoughts I thought I would fess up.  He seriously considers this for a few seconds and I swear I could hear the wheels grinding.   Finally the power of GRANNY comes forth.  It would be impossible for Granny to do this.  In a soft voice he says, “No I’m pretty sure it was the dog.”

By last night I was worn and while happy, exhaustion had me feeling lower than a snake’s belly on a hot rock.  A happy tiredness and really I am sure I no longer have pain.  I am convinced this is a true sense of well being – I just didn’t recognize it.  I think my body had developed some kind amnesia about well being but I think this is it.

Today I was ready to put what I knew into action.  The troupe walked G1 to his best friends house and I in all my wiliness headed straight for the park.  This child is going to get so much exercise, so much fresh air he will be begging to take a nap. So I pushed swings, chased him up and down the play structures.  Even walking him home It crossed my mind that Gdog was behaving pretty good.

Once we get home to the yard I could see a spot of energy left so pulled out all the cars and scooters out of the storage shed and I pushed him and chased him til his giggles started to peter out.

The plan is working,  Now I just have to deftly get lunch into him and wheedle him into his bed.  Wow it worked ..just a few extra cuddles. and he looked ready to sleep.  For a moment he started to move like he was going to sit up until I convinced him he was a puppy.  So he assumed the puppy position and was gone. Yeah!

Settling on the sofa I thought I might see what is on day time TV.  But I could not find the remote.  After a ridiculous amount of time searching and turning lazy boys on their sides, scouring floors and toy boxes I gave up and embraced the silence.  The hum of pain..I mean well being through my entire body convinced me that a nap might be in order.  However that wasn’t going to happen.  An hour after the appointed time I remembered I had not fed Gdog.  Hauling myself off the sofa I completed that task. Convinced a nap was really now in order I stretched out for some R&R.

Within minutes of ingesting his gourmet dog food the pup started whining.  So once again I rise.  Hmmmm she seemed to have some difficulty going so when I stomp across the muddy yard to check on -the results – I see a watery product rather than the scoopable kind.
I make mental note to let my DIL know.

Then two hours later a whole bunch of things happen at the same time.  G2 wakes, my DIL is there and the sonic dog has to go out.  This time there are spots across the concrete patio of Gdogs ailment. The well rested G2 is tearing around through mud and other things in full energy mode.  I try washing away the ailment evidence with a bucket with no luck.  DIL tries to get the hose working and gets some detergent and a brush for scrubbing. She is lathering soap in the appropriate spots and scrubbing with a brush.  I have the hose which is leaking everywhere except the spout and two critters who are trying to catch the water.  Gdog in her excitement has jumped upon the child and me and pretty soon all three of us are soaked and covered in mud.  DIL grabs the dog, I grab the child and whip him inside into a running tub of water.  I change into clean clothes..which are my pajamas.  Don’t ask.  I dress the child in his pajamas.  

Not bad work for four in the afternoon!

Twice in a Lifetime..not….

Twice in a Lifetime….not

I find myself pondering a question that at first thought seemed easy to answer.  Many years ago there was a Canadian TV show called Twice in a Lifetime.  There was a male angel, cute as a button, who would be present at the time of death.  The deceased always had some deficiency that put their soul in jeopardy and thanks to the angel, they would then get an opportunity to go back to one point in their life to change the outcome. Invariably the deceased would conquer and the end showed them in fact restored to life – as if they had stayed on a true and proper path.

In the last few years I periodically have asked people what point in their lives they would return to – to change something if given a chance.  One friend who had experienced the worst kind of abuse as a young child said she would never have answered the door that day when a knock came.    She didn’t hesitate for even a second.  We have been friends for years and I always forget that decades later she still lives with that.

Most people don’t have such painful turning points but most can think of some point where they took a left when they should have turned right. Maybe a failed exam, or turning point or turning down a particular appointment or date.

I don’t find myself as lucky.  Every time I think of a possible trigger changing event my mind considers all the fallout effects about other good things that followed in spite of my errors in judgement.

There is no one point where I would change the course of my life. Instead there are multiple truths I ignored at one time or another that I would like to go back and embrace when I did not:

Do unto others….
Save ten percent..
Onto thine own self…
Be quiet and listen…
Be the kind of friend…
Honor thy….

There may not be a true Twice in a Lifetime and  thank God for that..instead each day is new and when we open our eyes we have a chance to do it better than the day before…or the year before..or…
For some of us it is baby steps cause just when I think I have conquered a mountain, I realize my biggest sin is congratulating myself for being so darn good..and I lose humility.  If I am not humble I am not seeing the scope of my own frailty, or the scope of God’s Greatness.

Nuts..then it is like…back to the beginning…sigh.

Do you have one pivotal point where you would have changed your course of action?

Granny Nanny Day Two

Granny Nanny Day Two

Ro Ro They’re Not for Holding On to..

Woke up this morning feeling pretty good in spite of the excessive energy spent yesterday.  Today the plan is to take G1 age seven and G2 age three to my home about an hour away.

Before leaving G1 says everyone should pee before going away…and he does.  I make sure bathing suits, towels and combs are packed.  

We are about fifteen minutes from first destination, which is the golden arches, when G1 says he cannot wait another minute..he has To Go!  I pull over at a historical site and he leaps from the car and discreetly relieves himself directly in front of the car where no one can see him.  

It seems most children these days are growing up obsessed with cleanliness.  He tells me they started Health Classes in kindergarten and since then you touch nothing without washing your hands.  G1 takes every thing he learns very seriously and I am so trying to gently instill the idea that there are good germs and bad and the bad sometimes make us stronger.  You know a touch of the old live and let live philosophy at the microbial level.  Man has lived in a delicate balance with bacteria for eons and we are …..oh boy better save that lecture for another time…. Any way in the car he asked for hand sanitizer..yup exact word.  Hearing that I have none in the car he proceeded to put his arms and hands in the typical surgical sterile post scrub, pre glove position until I could deliver him to a proper sink and water.  This included my holding the car door open for him on exit and the men’s room door in entry.

He is seven now but just a few years ago he had the three year old daughter of visiting friends in tears after he noted she did not wash her hands post potty and he solemnly delivered the news to her that she was going to die.  Not sure they ever came back or if that child is out of therapy.

Hygiene complete we try lunch at a fav kiddies play land. Been a long time since I looked after children so I was not prepared for the hoards, the noise, yelling, screaming…having forgotten this was March break and it applied to everyone else’s children as well as mine. To fit in well G2 throws a great tantrum which I smiled at and ignored as much as possible.

Next it was a relatively quick stop at a toy store to equalize a sonic situation and then off to my apartment!

Before leaving home earlier I packed two swims suits for G2 from his stash. When it came time to change into our suits I discovered both suits were a little on the large size.  Pulled them up.  They fell down!
I asked his brother for suggestions.  Pins.  Not sewing pins.  Safety pins.  None of which I could find.  So necessity being and all that I spied a large black paper clip -you know the kind that hold dozens and dozens of papers – and basically gave him a stylish rear clip.  It worked!

Now G1 is at an age where he is very modest.  Privacy and body parts are a big thing to him.  The boys love to leap wildly into the pool and I scoop them up, one in each arm and make huge circles in the water swishing them back and forth amidst wild giggles.  G2 needs to cling and G1 in his laughter yells, “Grandma, Grandma, he is holding onto your chest. ”

We continue laughing and twirling when G1 shouts at his brother,  “Ro Ro,” (nickname), “let go Ro Ro, they’re not for holding on to!”

Finally time to rinse off, dry off and head off for the trip home.
I am sure the all over ache is muscle definition beginnings!

Granny Nanny Day One

The Granny Nanny Experiment Day One

This is a different situation for me!  My son and daughter in law live in a city about an hour from my home.  DIL has been fortunate to stay home with home with the boys except for a few weeks a year, here and there when she does vacation relief at her old clinic.  This is one of those weeks and for the first time ever I have come to stay and take care of the boys. And the dog.  And two cats.  Oh and my two budgies Max and Ruby.

The first thing before eight a.m. today was a trip to the drugstore for Reactine. I never think of myself as having allergies but I require it once or twice a week..and staying in the animal house I need it daily.
I always carry it..in my purse, in my wallet.  So yesterday I pack up for the week taking everything including the birds just to discover I am Reactine lacking.  I searched through every bag and suitcase last night convinced I could remember packing it.

This is hardly the end of the day being only six forty-five pm but I am done in.  Exhausted. Mincemeat. One big ache..perhaps all the aches in the universe packed together.  I think my hair hurts.

Early, right after breakfast we were on our way to the local park. Grandson 2 who just turned three, insisted he had to bring his basket containing Sonics.  I was fine with this but it turns out G2 can only carry his basket in his right hand.  Grandson 1 who is seven gamboled and jumped and ran as we progressed down the street. There is nothing nicer than a three year old holding your hand as you walk along.

The complicating factor was the dog.  Bree is a five month old yellow lab.  Beautiful dog but a powerful beast.  Because my right hand was otherwise occupied it meant holding the leash and a baggy thing in my left hand.  This was good for about fifty feet.  Cramping in my hand, constant pup pulling and I knew I would have to change hands.  This did not go over well with G2. 

The park is about half a mile away.  The sun was shining and no winter wind.  We took our time.  It was a perfect day for slides, climbing and swings.  On arrival I secured the monster pup beast to a cement pillar.  I did not judge distance well and as I turned to check on the kids, the dog tripped me.  Falling is a strange sensation.  It really does feel like slow motion.  I had all the time in the world to think as I fell.  I thought curses or something similar.  I thought of my cell phone left back home in my purse. I thought of fractured hips.  And then I still had time for more curses.

Skinned palms, and one skinned knee and I knew I would live.  Thereafter it was pushing swings, playing hopscotch and lots of running.  The walk home was relatively uneventful because I think all of us were a little played out.  After lunch G1 and I headed to the yard.  Scooters, more jumping, more running.

By five o’clock everything was beginning to seize up – big time but I still put in another half mile to walk one of the boys’ friend home.

Exhaustion reigns……Meantime I wanted to jot down at least a few words although I have no idea if they make any sense. Oh yes and a few minutes ago one of the two huge white cats attacked my bird cage knocking them to the floor.

Well tomorrow is another day.  Planning swimming, jumping and running.  Falling is not on the agenda!

Earthquakes..Tsunamis.

 

I have spent the morning watching the news. The world is a small place and most of us know someone; family, friends, business associates in the affected areas.  Hawaii where friends are stranded and inconvenienced.  Japan where dear friends of friends live and travel.  People talk about the world ending.  But the end of the world is such an individual thing.  For hundreds perhaps thousands today, this part of what we call life, their world has ended…on this plane.

My nephew and his wife were in Thailand when that Tsunami hit.  Fortunately they were hiking in the mountains in the north that day, cut off by all communication and completely unaware of the drama unfolding only miles away.

Loss of life by nature is just as tragic as by political battles and brutality.  Maybe more so since it is innocent.

It gives us pause to remember the power of prayer.  You do not have to be religious to pray. You just have to understand we are all connected.  All part of one huge organism and when parts of that organism suffer our souls need to connect through at least a moment’s thought.  That is prayer.

No Crying..No Sadness..what the heck are we doing?

No Crying..No Sadness..what the heck are we doing?

*Disclaimer:  This does not apply to every parent, but there are enough that it is now making the news on a daily basis.

I woke up this morning to my fav radio program and the He and She of it were in a big discussion about Bambi and Walt Disney in general and the stories that make our kids cry.  Like it was a bad thing.

There has been a fair bit in the news lately about what we are doing to our young; wrapping them tight in bubble wrap for protection, not letting them experience rejection, not letting them face the facts about life and death.  The thought is that we are shielding our children from reality and that will mean they are unable to cope when suddenly on their own.

A local news show recently did a piece on the number of first year university students who experience depression, to the point that they cannot function.  Having lived a sheltered protected life they are not prepared to leave home and manage in a world where they must stand on their own feet. 

My fav blogger, The Domestic Fringe addresses this.  And does it well.  Bill Gates has his say also (Google Bill Gates 11 Things and other speeches.)  Dean Koontz has also addressed in his books how we sanitize our children and ourselves so that when life intervenes we do not have the immunity to stand up to it and survive, stronger than before.  I guess the list would be endless.

We don’t seem to want our children to be “uncomfortable”.  Life is joyful.  It truly is but there are tears, hardship, unfairness, and inequality.  These serve to make us stronger.  And often the joy comes from conquering and when we don’t conquer, we learn and grow. 

Stories that make us cry, teach us.  Bambi, Old Yeller, The Lion King and the circle of life.  Those stories taught us love, joy, to believe, to live.  One comment this morning on the radio was,”Someone always dies. What is this?”  Well someone always dies be it a much loved pet or human.  We learn to treasure our memories.  We learn the cleansing wholesome effect of crying.

So cry world…..and experience joy!

It’s a Funny Thing about Perception..

One of those nights….One of those memories..

It’s a funny thing about perception….

I’m having one of those nights where the thoughts about a couple of worries ..that were not worries when I first tucked myself in….keep winding in, out and around my mind, picking up speed until it feels like a whole washer full of clothes agitating and knocking against the  delicate balance of my grey matter.

You probably know what I mean – you settle down all snugly looking forward to a well earned rest, and then from some very small dark mystic corner of your mind creeps one tiny inconsequential thought.  One of those..in the morning I must remember to … Well before you know it there is a whole chorus of..I must, I should.. I wish, I…I…I 

Then in the midst comes something unrelated; something unforgettable that somehow you had forgotten about.  Until now.

It has to do with how we impact other people.  The impressions we leave.  The impressions we can never change no matter how much we wish we could.

My folks died many years ago.  In the early nineteen eighties.  They worked hard every day of their lives.  They had both been in the second world war.  As a matter of fact that is how they met.  They married, raised five children and about the time they should have been looking at retirement in the next half decade, they both came down with cancer.  Not at the same time but within two years of each other.  But that is not what this story is about really.

I was..well still am a registered nurse…and at that time I lived in Brantford Ontario about an hour away from my family.  Dad had passed away two years previously when we received news that Mom had to have surgery.  It was the early summer of nineteen eighty-three.  The surgeon told us post-op that she had six weeks to live.

I decided to spend my time off at the hospital at night looking after my Mom.  When I got to the hospital I told the nurses on the unit that I would do her care; turning her, bathing her so they did not have to include her in their rounds.

I tried.  It was heart breaking and I realized I could not treat her like one of my patients.  So I went to the desk and asked them to do her intimate care.

I left her room to stretch my legs and search out a coffee machine.  When I returned Mom was freshly washed and turned.  I was startled to see she was completely awake and alert.  The morphine she was receiving in her intravenous had kept her pretty dozy.  But she was more than alert. She was terrified.  Her eyes were huge and her skin had the pasty pallor that only terror can impart.  

I started to walk towards her to find out what was wrong when she commanded me to stay away and not come any closer.  She said she had to see my brother right away.  By this time it was almost two in the morning and my brother was working the night shift.  I did call him and as soon as he arrived she told him to make me leave which I did.

After about ten days my Mom insisted on going home.  We set up home care and each of us took turns staying at the house with her.  She was still getting ever increasing doses of morphine and seemed in a haze most of the time.  When it was my turn to be there one day, she asked me to help her sit up on the side of the bed which I did, delicately balancing her in an upright position.

Suddenly this tiny fragile jaundiced lady looked at me and the confusion left.  With clear eyes and even clearer steady voice she said, “Chris, what was that course you took at work a few weeks ago?”

Wow, I was not aware Mom even knew I had been away for a course.  So I told her that it was one of my management courses with the Ministry of Health to help me be a better boss.  She looked at the floor for a moment before she gazed directly into my eyes.

“I thought,” she said so softly, “that it was a course on how to kill someone, and that night in the hospital I thought you had come to kill me so I would not suffer.” 

It felt like it was long time until I spoke or even breathed, and I can tell you I was afraid to speak, but I had to know why she would ever have thought such a thing.

She was able to relate very clearly about that night in the hospital when the two nurses came in to wash her and change her position.  She told me that as they turned her one nurse asked the other, “Why can’t she do it?” And the other nurse replied, “Because it is her mother.” And my mom, through her drug induced perception thought they were asking why I could not kill her.

It’s a funny thing about perception.  

I am just glad that when she died a few days later she did so knowing the truth.

Some Days….

Some Days…

Some days you start the day with love and warmth in your heart and every nerve ending and gives thanks for all you have.  Then you get to spend the day with a dear person who needs your help and alleviate somebody’s stress a little bringing a cafe latte, a helping hand and a smile.  I guess if we are lucky every day is like that.

This has been one of those “best days”.  I guess if you feel loved it is easier to give it out.  Or is it the other way around?  We are all loved, we just have to figure out the source and that is very personal for each.