Birth and Birthdays

August 29, 2010

With almost 7 billion people in the world, I’m realistic enough to recognize that birth is not unique. But no matter what angle you experience it from, mother, father or brand new person, it is, indeed, still wondrous.  From a miniscule speck of star matter (isn’t everything just a speck of star matter, after all), and a breath from God’s lips, life emerges.  We’re born, all of us the same miracle; Einstein, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Ghandi, Sean Connery and Lady Gaga  (I honestly am not sure about PeeWee Herman).  Whether you believe in a Supreme Being or Evolution, nothing at all or a mixture of both, it would be (or it should be)  hard to argue against the thought that each of us has a purpose on this earth, and in that, we’re each a miracle.

You want to argue it?  Okay….. just watch a pair of new parents with their infant, with nothing other than birth between the three of them at that moment, you will see a room full of awareness, clarity and emotion.  You may think you’ve loved before, you may think you’ve had responsibility before, you may even think you know exactly what your purpose in life was, is and always will be, and then…………….. bam…… it hits you between your eyes.  It doesn’t matter how many times it happens, one child, two, nineteen (yeah, I’ve been known to catch an episode), it hits you, this is life… and each life is a miracle…. and in that, each miracle is it’s own purpose.

I’m also realistic to understand that not everyone has a “perfect” world and every birth is not heralded with the same joy, at that moment, in that room, in those lives.   I would still argue that the purpose exists; we don’t know what it is, we don’t know the learning experiences, the growing experiences, the life experiences that everyone involved will undergo because of that birth, that infant, that person, that unique miracle  but we do know, and should acknowledge, the miracle of that birth, the life ahead of everyone at that moment and therein lies their opportunity, whether God-given or individually driven.

I’ve been thinking a lot about birth, about life, lately.

Today, my youngest is 24 years old.  She is married,  educated, beautiful, goal-driven and glorious.  She informed me last week, that her beloved blankie is now residing in a dresser drawer, no longer under her pillow or in her bag as she travels.  Believe it or not, I felt an overwhelming sense of sadness at that moment.  Sitting at work, in front of my computer, I got teary (that’s not unusual, I actually can cry at a drop of a hat these days…. that hormonal menopause thing).  I wasn’t unhappy, nor was I surprised… she’s 24, studying for her CPA exam…. talking of her own babies in the next few years…. I knew it was going to happen, I knew they wouldn’t allow blankie to accompany her into the delivery room!  But there was sadness.

When she was getting married, I recognized that feeling for the first time.  Along with the perfect joy, there was the realization that it was the end of an era.  We had reached the turning of the page; there was no longer the ability for do-overs.  She was moving into my role, wife and someday, mother.  All of the things that I wanted to make up to her as a child, the things I did wrong, the things I didn’t do, the things I didn’t teach or show her, would go undone, because the time for do-overs was gone.  We could only move forward now as we embraced her new role, and found our own new roles in her life.

Now, there is another end of an era.  She no longer needs blankie to fall asleep; her last bastion of childhood is left behind as she embraces her future.  She embraces her future, with each and every step, so beautifully, so sure and so determined.

I am so proud of her.  Not for giving up blankie, but for taking each step forward with intent, goal…. with purpose; for being one of the most loyal, loving and spirited young women I’ve had the privilege of meeting.

Today, as she turns 24, I hope she realizes that the significance is not that she is one in 7 billion miracles, but that she is, in her own brilliance, a single miracle.

Happy Birthday, Boo.

Slightly Crunchy!!

June 23, 2010

I’m not very “green” or “crunchy”.  But I’ve decided, along with my glassware fetish, to try to incorporate a few more “green” ideas in my lifestyle.

The first was easy….. get rid of as much plastic as possible.  It’s an on-going battle but it’s well underway.  Except in my Study closet….. I admit my craft supplies are all in plastic bins.  I would hang my head in shame, but I need order in my craft closet and this was the best and most economical way for now!

Anyway, second thing was….. paper towels.  We used a lot of them, I mean, we used a couple of trees a week.   It was starting to keep me up at night.

Every challenge has a solution and this was no different.  Off to my local WalMart where I stocked up on the 18 for $4 wash clothes.  Rolled and placed in my tiered basket beside my sink, they are super convenient for anytime I find myself reaching for a paper towel.  They get used and tossed right in the laundry room to dry and then hit the next load of wash.

Again, I won’t lie to you.  We still have paper towels.  I don’t live alone…… and men are much harder to wean from the convenience.  I figure though, I don’t buy them and I don’t use them.  One out of three consumers in a household is much better!

I love my little white pot; it holds my dishwasher tablets.  The little fingertip towel holder is perfect for my dishcloth.  The oil bottle is my soap dispenser; with the drizzle stopper it’s cut down tremendously on the dish liquid wastage too.

Small steps, but they make me so happy!

Glassware and Sweet Tea

June 23, 2010

Have I ever mentioned that I hate plastic?  Oh I was as hypnotized and mesmerized as the next when Ziplock came out with those incredibly handy multi-sized re-usable disposable bowls with lids.  I craved every size and shape.  And I admit, I bought them.  I had plastic flatware, plastic plates and plastic pitchers.  I can be as American as the next person; a follower, a *gasp* waster!

It took me a while to discover that I hate them.  The servers at Chili’s knew; I always ask for my iced tea in a glass glass because I hate drinking from a plastic mug.  Obviously, I’m just not that self aware.

Then I found these glass jugs at Goodwill.  I fell in love.  Not only with the fact that they’re glass and they’re heavy but they are pretty.

Who am I kidding; they’re easy.  For my sweet tea, I throw two Lipton Cold Brew teabags in a pitcher, leave it for 20 minutes to two days (I swear, it doesn’t matter!!!!) , remove tea bags, add Splenda and voila….. all done.  I brew two, sweeten both, pour one into the pink pitcher (with just enough left over for a glass of tea immediately!) and start it over with fresh brew.  That leaves one brewing, one in a jug sweetened and one in the pitcher ready to drink.   Sometimes one has some mint leaves added, sometimes lemon…… but always, good southern sweet tea.

I found the little glass “tupperware” in Goodwill too.  I made homemade jam Friday night for the freezer; this one caught the jam to be used now.

I’m down to just a few leftover plastic leftover containers….. when they’re gone, I won’t cry real tears.

I love the permanence of glass; the strength, the clarity and the beauty.  It feels more elegant and more real than plastic and everything just tastes better out of glass, colder and fresher.

Maybe that’s it in a nutshell.  It feels permanent; in a throw away world, it’s meant to be kept and loved, cherished and passed down.

Someday, I hope my grandchildren are pouring their sweet tea from these pitchers and sharing stories about how they were some of Nana’s very favourite things.  And there won’t be any dingy, pitted plastic in sight!

Sarah grew up!

June 16, 2010

So……. the movie review.  I heard some time ago that a young actress, all grown up, was going to be starring in a thriller, horror, futuristic film.  I was excited.

She,  the beloved Sarah Stanley (Sarah Polley in real life) could do no wrong in my eyes.  If you read yesterday’s post, you’d know by now that Sarah was a character in Road to Avonlea.  She wasn’t a brilliant Oscar winning actress; she was young and maturing, growing and learning.  But darn, she was an actress and character on one of my fav-ou-rite shows of all times and that made her worthy (in my eyes).

Obviously I’m a little biased.  The world turns and actors are not their characters, nor are characters reality, especially young Victorian women in 2010 Arizona.

I saw the previews for Splice and there she was.  I was convinced that this young woman, all grown now, who made Avonlea such a treat, could only pick A-1, edgy, fine movies to star in.  I waited, excited, with my two littles to see this movie…. and mostly it was because THE Sarah Polley was in it.

Here’s where we take a turn.  The movie was awful.  I didn’t walk out on it, ask for my money back like I did District 9.  But I found it disturbing, poor, laughable.  That hurt my heart.  I wanted to love it, and I didn’t.

And then, I thought about it for a couple of days.  I’m going out on a limb here, and my littles are gasping as they read this.  I’m so far out on the limb, it’s bending under the weight and practically touching the ground…… I think the acting was poor (oh my gosh, it hurts to say this…. Sarah Polley, you stunk!), the story weak and I didn’t “like” any of the characters.

Here goes………. even though it stunk, I liked the movie.  Did you hear that?  There was a siren, yes…. I hear it… it’s the paddy wagon for the funny farm… coming my way.

The movie was awful, it’s true.

In a nutshell, it was a poor remake of The Fly.  Two mad scientists splicing DNA looking for answers (in this case, cures) successfully splice all sorts of animal DNA with some human.  Born a slug, the child grows rapidly, gradually becoming more humanistic with some very weird mannerisms and body parts.  I’m not even going to share the rest of the story with you because it sucks.  It really does.

But the spliced “Dren” was fascinating to watch.  In my opinion, the character was well done and realistically portrayed; as realistic as you can imagine a beautiful young woman, perfect in every way, ummmmm except for the tail, the donkey calves and feet extended below supple young thighs, and her bald head.  There were other minor things, but she really was beautiful and exotic looking.  Her movements were spot on, quick and precise, she hung by her feet from the rafters, sprouted wings and in the end, morphed into a gila monster with gills.  All the while cooing and chirping, purring and chirruping (yeah that’s a word and it’s different from chirping).

While Sarah’s acting was poor, oh my gosh, was it ever poor, there was some realism in there.  There was,  ummm, that one time…..or no, when……..  she ……. no… she wasn’t real at all.

But, I liked the film.  I won’t spend more money on it… I probably won’t watch it again, but I’m not sorry that I went to see it.

I am sorry, though, that my Sarah Polley bubble is burst.

I’m frantically googling Road to Avonlea……. God Bless Youtube!!!!

Prelude to a movie review

June 15, 2010

I have a review for a movie that I was really looking forward to, but before I can give it, I need to share a little background.

When my daughter was little, we fell in love (and I mean fell, hook line and sinker, deeper than the deepest point of the Pacific and more than chocolate, oh yeah….. much more than even chocolate) with a show called Road to Avonlea.  Sunday nights were reserved for cuddling in front of the tv and watching the Victorian series about the King family.  I swear I was born in the wrong era.  I wanted to crawl into that show and take up residence right in Avonlea (which is on Prince Edward Island).

As luck would have it, I believe it was about the 4th season of the show, two of the young stars were going to be making a publicity appearance at a small shopping center in Ottawa.  On that very special morning, Jaye and I headed to Pinecrest.  She was dressed like a Victorian doll, underneath her heavy snowsuit, and clutched a couple of the books from the series.

We waited patiently in the center of the mall, surrounded by hundreds of fans, all excited for our moment with Sarah and Felix, and our personal chance to shower them with adoration.

That moment never happened, at least, not like we planned.  The stars arrived, with their manager who announced they had a plane to catch back to Toronto for filming; it was to be a very shortened visit.  They had time to sign a few autographs and that was it.  The crowd was heavy and pressing and there was absolutely no opportunity to get anywhere near the front.  When they said goodbye, and headed out, I looked down into my daughter’s little face.   Well, no one disappoints my little princess; No One!

So, I did what any resourceful mother would do.  They were headed for the airport which was about half an hour away; so, so were we!  Out to our car and through the melting snow as carefully, but as quickly as we could.  In those days, Ottawa Airport was small, and the road in was a simple street.  We got to the airport, which was not busy on a mid-day week day, parked and went inside. Since it was empty, we scoured it easily, from top to bottom and there was no sign of our stars.  Finally, after falling on the escalator, and conducting a search worthy of the FBI, we figured they’d already gone through to their plane.  We tried our best, but it was not to be.

But, driving away, on that lone street leaving the airport, disappointed and a little teary, we passed a white stretch limo heading, you got it…. to the airport!  BINGO!  No other traffic on the road, I did the quickest U-turn I could, and followed them.  I parked quickly, we jumped the barrier and caught up with Sarah and Felix as they were leaving the limo to go inside.  We didn’t get a lot of time with them, but it didn’t matter.  There was no one else around as Jaye told them how much she loved them, their show.  She got her picture taken with them, they signed her books and when she told them she fell on the escalator and showed them her torn tights and bloody knee, she got a big hug from Felix.    It was great!

We continued to watch the series, faithful fans that we were, right to the last episode.   If you haven’t seen the series, you should look it up.  A sweeter, more heart warming, beautiful series you won’t find.

The Road to Avonlea, it’s cast of actors and actresses, directors, producers, even the guy who brought the actors, directors and producers their cups of tea, the whole production was magical and brilliant.  I crave it; to this day, I crave those episodes.  It is a classic.

Which brings us to the review, which I’ll share in the next post.  Til then, enjoy the photo of my Victorian doll.

June 10, 2006

June 10, 2010

Jack Peter Williams.  For those who knew him, I hope these few photos bring back a lot of wonderful memories.  For those who didn’t, I hope the words below introduce you to the wonderful, resourceful, brilliant and terribly focused man that he was.

**********

The world was a better place because he was in it.  He was a beloved father, son, brother,  friend, uncle and mentor to so many.

He was a lot of other things as well.

He was strong.   He once wrestled a wild squirrel that was trapped in the fireplace. For any of you that have never done that, it’s not easy.  They are small but strong, and vicious when scared.  It took thick work gloves, a heavy blanket and a lot of swearing, but he did it.

He was gentle.  He once force fed a meal worm to an abandoned baby bird, speaking gently to it, encouraging it to swallow it.  The baby bird didn’t make it, but the memories of the gentleness he displayed will last forever.

He was a wee bit vain; he did try one of those hair growing creams for the balding patch on his head.  It didn’t last long; by time the 30 day supply was gone, he’d thankfully decided balding was better.

He was bold.  On a Puerto Rican beach, he interrupted a Body Building Magazine’s photo shoot to take his own photos of the bikini clad ladies; he thought my father would enjoy them.  The pro’s stepped aside, actually moved their equipment to let him take his shots.

He was funnily foolish.  After finally getting his brand new BMW in England 3 days earlier, he took my visiting parents to a safari park.  Riding through the monkey enclosures, he stopped, surrounded by a colony of the little guys.  One lone cutie jumped on the car roof, leaning over playing peak a boo with baby Jordan in the backseat through the rear window.  He suddenly jumped off the car, with the chrome rim from the back window firmly in his hand.  While he’d been keeping everyone amused, his little hands had been busy peeling the chrome.  He took off, his prize in his hand, coming totally off of the car.  Peter jumped from the car and ran after him, into the hundreds of his little friends.  I don’t know which was more foolish, entering the field of monkeys on foot, or taking a brand new BMW into the enclosure.  He laughed about it afterwards, but it took a while.

Peter was adventurous.  He loved boats and sailed as a young man.  He loved flying and was once pretty close to having his small aircraft pilots license.   He loved hiking, exploring, camping and climbing.

He was a world traveler and comfortable any place.  He spent many months working in Egypt and Saudi Arabia.  He was once invited to dine in a Saudi Sheik’s home, a terrific honor.  At dinner, a silver tray was presented with two sheep’s eyes; a delicacy.  Peter struggled, but accepted, knowing it would greatly offend his host to decline.  For those of you who wonder, you cannot swallow an eyeball like a pill, it’s big!  He tells of crossing the desert in Saudi once, and hitting a large vulture with his vehicle.  Stopping to take a look, he felt thunder underground and looked up to see a Bedouin fast approaching on horse.  Without missing a beat or slowing down, the Bedouin swooped in, leaned over and picked up the dead bird, and kept on going; obviously dinner for that night.

He told stories of walking in the water on the beach in Jeddah and feeling the sands move under his feet.  He had stepped on the back of a huge stingray and for a moment was surfing along before losing his balance.  Fortunately the stingray went one way and he the other.

He was patient.  He had scouted out a dark spot for star gazing in Canada and armed with lawn chair and blanket, he would lay back for hours watching meteor showers, the northern lights or on the couch, Star Trek:  The Next Generation.

He was a natural leader.  He could form a group, have it coordinated, organized and the goal well in sight faster than you can blink.  He pulled together the Boy Scout movement in Munster as Group Chair and rejuvenated it.  He joined the RASC in Ottawa and with his fresh ideas and skills, in a few months, had increased membership and rejuvenated their special program events for the public, including spear-heading the SmartScope project.  He championed and coordinated the Emergency Field Day event for the local amateur radio club for many years.  He then co-partnered the event with the Scouts to encourage the on-going interest in amateur radio for the future.  Every year for 10 years, the third week of June saw him camping, building amateur antenna towers, climbing to secure them, and sending out the message “CQ CQ, this is G8DBX mobile”.   He led by example!

He was a diverse music lover, a big Booker T fan, Hank Marvin from the Shadows, and particularly loved Holst’s The Planet Suite.  He was a huge Sarah Brightman fan, beginning with her days as a dancer with Pan’s People and Hot Gossip to Pie Jesus from Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Requiem Mass.

Peter had the strongest will power of anyone I know, especially when it came to food.  He may love something, but when he decided it was time to let it go, it was gone.   He adored white bread and butter, but passed it by for brown bread and margarine.  He loved Super Sugar Crisp cereal, called Smacks in England.  He then decided it was time to move on to healthier Shredded Wheat, which then gave way to Raisin Bran.

He loved to cook.  He invented a dish in England that he called White and Green Fish.  It consisted of cod, sugar, peas and onion; it was never the same twice, but always delicious.  During that time, he made the worlds best spaghetti sauce from scratch, sometimes so hot that it was named two-hankie sauce.

He was a pack rat.  When he moved from England, he brought with him 6 garbage bags of various left-over diodes, transistors, led’s, and other electronic bits.  When Jaye was born, and a baby monitor was needed, Peter built one; he didn’t have to buy one single component… right down to the plain gray box to house the components, he had all the parts.

He loved to barter.  When he wanted a newer model amateur radio, he started the trade chain with an old Selectric typewriter and within six steps, had his rig!

He was very good with his hands; whether it was building a doll house for Jaye, including carving tiny decorative curtain rods, plumbing, building a rope bridge, designing furniture, tying a bow-line or a necktie!

He was a teacher.  When Jordan asked how electricity was made, a small scale power plant was built with construx, magnets and lots of wire.   The back of an envelope or a napkin was often his “chalkboard” as he illustrated his lesson over the dinner table or lunch at Tim Horton’s.

He was blessed.  Three beautiful wonderful children, Andrew, Jordan and Jaye; each unique but spend some time with them, you’ll see Peter pop out in each one of them!

Jaye in her focus, her natural mathematical abilities, her interest in astronomy, her drive and her sense of humour.  Jordan in his loyalty, his mental quickness, his natural talents in the computer and engineering area, his ability to adapt and his love to push buttons and turn knobs.  And Andrew, the love of outdoor adventures whether it was on water, up mountains or down caves.

He was lucky.  He once found a very expensive camera in a Cairo taxi cab.  He found a $100 bill on the closet floor in a Paris hotel room and he found hope when most gave up.

He was needed somewhere more than he was needed here now.  I know he’s doing something wonderful, organizing, co-ordinating some grand idea as God’s right hand.

He was loved, by so many who have passed before him, by everyone here and many more who couldn’t join us today.

He is missed.

**********

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

June 9, 2010

Okay, so my headline is not very original.  I’m in a hurry to get this up.

I get attached to “things”.  I believe that means I’m materialistic; I don’t think so though.  The things I get attached to are because I fall in love.  Sometimes it’s because it is a perfectly Cindy item, sometimes it’s because of where it’s from (ie my pebbles from the Acropolis in Greece) and sometimes it’s because of who gave it to me.

This mirror is one of those items.  I’ve always wanted a standing mirror.  For Christmas a few years back, my son gifted me one.  It was oak and matched my entertainment center, and so it sat in my apartment in the living room.  It was perfect.  For two years, I sat in front of this mirror on the floor, doing my hair and make up, listening to the morning news on the tv and preparing for work.

It sits in the master bedroom now and the oak wasn’t really working.  This is when the angels sing and a ray of ethereal light surrounds the laundry room cupboard over the Rustoleum 2x Spraypaint in Semi Gloss Black.

And then again, here at the mirror.  She’s a beauty!  I could never part with her; she’s one of my favourite things.  She’s been reborn…….. don’t we all just wish we could re-invent ourselves in just this way, just a quick spray of paint and out the door we go…… and people would say, Who knew?!

My Memorial Day Message

June 1, 2010

I am a lucky woman.   With a British husband, I had the opportunity to live in England and immigrate to Canada, to travel extensively before re-settling in Arizona  ten years ago.  While I wouldn’t change that for the world, during my ex-pat days, my heart and soul was in my beloved US.  I grasped life fully in other countries, respected, learned and matured but I flew my American flag proudly no matter where I was.  I celebrated my US heritage alongside my new Canadian citizenship; I confused everyone!

I am proud to be a citizen of what I still consider, the greatest country in the world.  I’ve seen first hand the lack of freedom in other countries, the lack of voice and personal opportunity, the apathy.

I firmly believe though, that what keeps us strong in this country is remembering.  We grow and we change, but we always remember.  We remember our meager beginnings as we grow richer so we can help others.  We remember past injustices so we don’t repeat them.   We remember our enemies and the things they are capable of, so we’re ready.  We remember  the fear of losing what we have worked so hard for, so we stand strong to protect it.  Most importantly we remember our men and women who gave their lives so that we have the opportunity to have the life that we remember.

We have generations who know nothing of what it took to build, to nurture the life we take for granted today.  We are so lucky, on one hand, to have given that  freedom to them.    I realized when the North Koreans tested their nukes, and my 20 year old daughter was afraid to go to sleep, that we would be bombed during the night,  we had given her generation a great gift.  She grew up  without the worry about Cuba and Russia and just waiting for a nuclear war to break out.  How wonderful is that?!  I explained to her that we’d wake to another day, and perhaps in the future, she’d have a little more fear in her about nuclear war, but we’d lived through it before and we’d sure as shooting make it through it again.

We do that because we are Americans.  We do that because we know we have the best of the best serving to protect our rights.  Have you ever considered that our wonderful soldiers (of all military branches) choose to do that?  We don’t force them, we don’t draft and conscript them.  They CHOOSE to put themselves in harms way for a nation they believe in.  They REMEMBER that a nation is made up of people, not just a word “nation” but people with faces, hearts, lives, dreams and hopes.  They choose to put their lives on the line so we have the future, and the FREEDOM to make those hopes and dreams come true.

The least we can do, the very least, on Memorial day, is to do our share of remembering.

I hope each of you has a wonderful Memorial day, basking in the best that our life as an American affords us, and remembering.

Fat Lady’s not singing yet…but I hear music

May 24, 2010

Yesterday was a marathon of “table”.  And because it was such a lot of work, even though it’s not finished yet, I want to show a progress report.   I have before pictures somewhere;  I’ll try to find them before my final “ta da”, but I’m so pleased.

This is my dining table after it’s mega-sanding, and two coats.  She’s so pretty.  The chair on the right is the original “blonde” colour.  She was happy that way, but had that country feel to her, not to mention this girl had been used.  She’d been around the block and it showed, with paint splotches, gouges and a lot of wear and tear.  The wear and tear is still there, but now she’s black and proud.  Can I get an amen?

I’m off to work now, sore muscles and all.  Tonight, while watching DWTS, I’m going to review the situation, see if she’s dry enough to lightly sand the top[and give a nice final coat and then……………. a week of curing with a big sign above her so NO ONE puts anything on her.  Next weekend, a long one I might add, with a day off!!!!!  Next weekend, her final coat of a rub on poly and voila.  She’s done.

I’m going to go ahead and reread the instructions tonight.  Maybe I can finish her up tonight and apply poly tomorrow night, which means the week long cure starts then.  I can’t remember.

All I know is….. I hear the orchestra warming up and the fat lady is clearing her throat.

Genius, I tell you!

April 22, 2010

Recently, the little guy in my life turned three years old.  Hard to believe, and while I loved the “little guy” stages he’s passed through, every day with him is an adventure and a delight, I am so enjoying the discoveries that come with him growing.

Take photography, for instance.  During our recent visit, he took a few photos with my camera.  He likes to do things for himself and BY HIMSELF.  But unlike a lot of children today, he actually listens to instructions and with gentle reminders of those instructions (he is, afterall, only three), he’s very capable.

So following my rules for using my camera, he took some photos.  This is an action shot of Cody, his puppy; the action being his tongue.

This is a shot of Cody that I think of as “being born”.  In the movie adapted from Stephen King’s book, The Langaliers, at the end the people are “born” into the current time frame, and they have this fading in kind of action.  That’s what this photo reminds me of…. Cody is being born into existance in the photo…. a reverse fading.

And here, to the right, is a photo of his puppy, Cheyenne, in that same artistic fade in style.

I tell you, the boy is genius!


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