The Daily EO: June 17th, 2013

I cried at my desk today.

I had a very important all day customer visit and audit happening that we had been prepping for months for.  So much so, that I was sick of talking about it.  Sick of the action items, just sick of it.  But finally, the day had arrived.

My grandfather was the former Superintendent of the City of Burnaby Waterworks.  He started his career working for the city and retired from the city 49 1/2 years later.  I’m so proud of the man he was and what he did.  I am proud of the man he is.   You don’t spend your career in sewers and waste management without becoming an expert.  So, when we had our little flood over the weekend, I told him about it because I knew it was something he could relate to.   I can’t claim the same expertise with plumbing and sewers, so I could only tell him what was happening – not the cause or resolution.

When Grandpa went to bed Sunday night, he didn’t know why the water problem was a problem, or what we were doing about it.  As I spend my entire day touring and meeting, and quickly checking emails in between meetings, my grandfather pondered the situation at my work.  Was it a break on the city side?  Did we share the building with someone else?  Was there a blockage?  Is a pipe broken?  Has the issue been resolved?

So, he began calling me.

I will tell you this.  When either my grandpa or grandma calls, I answer it no matter how tired I am, or what I am doing.  I answer that call.  But today I could not.

And so, because I wasn’t answering the phone, grandpa started to get a little agitated.  Wanted to know the situation.  What he could do.  Did we find the entrance to the tank?  Could we get the right wrench to get the bolt off?  Were the sump pumps running?

But I wasn’t there to answer the calls.

I don’t find it funny or cute that my grandpa was so intent in getting the information that he wanted.  I saw the man he was – the capable and strong one that could have helped his granddaughter’s company deal with something that is his expertise.   But instead he couldn’t help, he couldn’t get in his car and drive over like he would have years before.  He just wanted me to answer the calls and tell him exactly what was happening.

And so, when I finally had a chance to check my phone and see all the calls and messages, the tears came.  Stress of the audit, not enough sleep, too much work, worry?

I think it is because I didn’t answer the call.

June 17th, 2013 Extra-Ordinary:  Answer the call.


The Daily EO: April 19th, 2013

I’ve touring retirement residences with my grandma and aunt of late.  My grandma is going through a 3 year journey where she is recognizing the increasing problems walking are not likely to change.  She has lived with the hope that her problems in her legs were strictly due to a lupus flare-up and would improve with time.  Nobody – including me – was to keen on telling her that although the lupus causes some problems but it was more likely due to a combination of age and lupus and was not going to get better.

She’s leaned on my aunt’s arm and life for almost 3 years now, struggling to accept that grocery shopping, taking care of everything herself and walks on her beloved quay boardwalk are no longer easy or always pleasant tasks.

So, when she had a bit of a melt down with me one day during the simple discussion of a birthday present, I knew something else was really the root cause of her upset.  When she told me “that we don’t do things like that in our side of the family” – excluding me from my her and my dad’s side – I knew she was fighting anger and frustration and sadness and despair in the realization that things were not going to get much better.

Fortunately, I recognized that instead of her meaning that I was out of the family – she really needed direction on how to start considering other living arrangements.  And being the direct type that I am – I told her that it is time for fact-finding – not decisions – just facts.  Then she could start crystallizing things in her head.  As I always say – “Have a plan – you’ll feel better.”

So, we toured two places – Thornebridge and Mullberry – both within 15 minutes of where she is living now to see their offerings.  The first day was quite emotional for her and “simply overwhelming”.  But she was “impressed”.   The second tour was less emotional, and different and “closer to her doctor” of whom she doesn’t like much (Um?  Okay Grandma).

When I called her today to see how she was doing, she was fixated on whether the first place has window coverings included in part of the rent – as they can be “quite dear”.  And also working on cleaning out her filing cabinet because its “much too big to take”.  This is a step forward from pondering how it could be possible to get her bed out of her condo as it was so big “it was terrible to get in”.

And each time I call her, she is deep into lists and and thinking things through, trying to figure out the best way to make her decision.  She asked me “What do you think of the second place?  But don’t you tell me what do to!”  Really, all things being equal for the most part (price, location, service comparison, etc), I thought the food and the servers at the second one was, well, wretched.  Well, the food was wretched, the server was okay.  My grandma said she didn’t like the server or food too much either, she thought the server at first place was much friendlier and better.  And just in case I didn’t know, she told me it doesn’t matter to her about “ethics”.  Which I took to mean that she believes all people – including those of different ETHNIC backgrounds – are created equal (both servers were of asian descent).

April 19th, 2013 Extra-Ordinary:  Grandma is finding her facts, and is doing much better thanks to having a plan.  And I’m back in the family.


The Daily EO: March 29th, 2013

Easter is early this year, and part of me wishes it was deeper into April – I suspect I am going to need a short week somewhere in there.  But nonetheless, we are not going to let this full day off work go to waste.

First Light
First Light
Old Family Recipe
Old Family Recipe
Gift from my mother-in-law
Gift from my mother-in-law


We all want to capture and keep Spring close
We all want to capture and keep Spring close


We also went for a run around the sea wall and Stanley Park and I did my first “10K” which is 1/2 walking and running, but the first time I ever did one at all.  So, my benchmark is 1 hour and 22 minutes, and I can target improvement each time I try it.  And I saw someone I knew sitting on a bench – I know people here!  And they saw me “being that girl” running through Stanley Park.

March 29th, 2013 Extra-Ordinary:  Sun on my cheeks, clean air to power my lungs, love in my family and chocolate to eat.


The Daily EO: March 7th, 2013

My mother is coming to visit on the 13th and it feels strange.  She was just here.  Just 2 1/2 months ago.  This is fast time between visits – as normally one of us would have to travel 4000 kms to see each other.  That tends to cut down on visits.

March 7th, 2013 Extra-Ordinary:  Two women with similar personalities (how do you think I got this way?) – I think 1000 kms is as close as we should get.

See you soon, Mom!


The Daily EO: October 20th, 2012

When I was a little girl, my aunts and uncles would visit us in Cranbrook often.  “Auntie Judi” came once a year and would take over my bedroom and I was happy to give it to her.  Judi was my favorite aunt – no, that’s not quite correct – she was the one who seemed to get me and she lead the life that I thought I wanted to lead.  She was single, laughed alot, had no children, travelled, and gave me attention.

What I remember most about those visits is hovering at the closed bedroom door wishing she didn’t always sleep in sooooo late and the painting of my fingernails.  Mom didn’t paint her nails when I was a kid – well, at least that I remember.  So when Judi came flying into town with her brightly coloured nail pots, I knew that I could be pretty and fashionable just like her.  And she just seemed to ignore my pudgy fat fingers.   Invariably, almost immediately upon completing my nails, I would smudge or chip them because I wasn’t a gentle or patient child.

Not much has changed in that regard – I still am restless and active.  Mom passed on to me working hands and working habits.  I can count the number of manicures I have ever had on one hand – pun intended – because it is pretty costly for something that last about 24 hours for me.   The wish be pretty and fashionable may have been created by society views girls and women – but it is still there.

When I was a teenager, Mom started getting gel nails which had its drawbacks.  First off, I did not have the income to support the maintenance cost.  Well. .. I guess that is the reason because as a teenager I didn’t really care about long-term consequences like nail bed health.  (and really does anyone stay up worrying about that?).  But the filling requirements, the worry of infection, the damage to natural nails. . . it wasn’t something that seemed like a good idea even when I got income to pay for it.

But a brilliant person – who probably could have worked on the cure for cancer – invested gel polish.  This being a cross between regular polish and fake nails.  Essentially, it is nail polish that is strong and durable.  It is painted on your regular nails but set with a UV light. ( I wonder how that ages your hands. . . Hmmmm)

As I explored downtown Vancouver Saturday morning, I ended up in Yaletown.  That is where all the beauty bars are kept I think.  And I found exactly what I was looking for – a small salon tucked into a Galleria with fading aging pictures in the window (I don’t want to pay for fancy storefronts).   They could take me right now.

October 20th, 2012 Extra-Ordinary:  Pretty and Fashionable.  That’s me.

Pretty Pretty. Now remember where we are starting from – short, chewed nails. They are only going to get better from here.

The Daily EO: Thanksgiving Weekend 2012

I have many things to be thankful for this weekend and among the foremost are my generous and kind friends Colin and Alison who let us stay at their house for a month until we could get ourselves settled in our own place.  They and their delightful children welcomed us with open arms sharing their rooms, food and attention with us.

After a full day shopping, visiting, buying, cooking and eating on Saturday, our truck arrived on Sunday and we then spent a whole day moving and unpacking.  Today was also spent moving and unpacking, but fortunately with a lovely afternoon with margaritas in the backyard also.

Over this weekend we:

  • shopped
  • purchased mattresses
  • searched for beds and other furniture
  • Had a house-warming party with Colin and Alison and kids enjoying fire roasted pizza at Incendio in Gastown
  • helped to cook a turkey dinner (and ate said turkey dinner)
  •  moved all of our stuff into a storage unit or condo
  • unpacked the kitchen
  • unpacked the living room
  • transported all of our things from Colin and Alison’s
  • made up our bed (I write while sitting on a foamy leaning against the wall)
  • unpacked all of our clothes (a difficult feat considering we have no dressers or bookcases)
  • took my grandpa for Thanksgiving pizza lunch at Me & Ed’s
  • Didn’t write the Daily EO daily (they would have gone something like this.  Moved and unpac. . . . zzzzzz.)

Here are some other things I am thankful for:

  • My husband Emile is the brave and supportive and he made this move happen.
  • Our truck with our possessions arrived on time and under budget and tax-deductible and so far unbroken.
  • I discovered that Benalyn is more effective than Safeway knock-off Nyquil.
  • Thanksgiving Dinner was a delight of new and different sides than I usually do.  Yum.
  • Sushi restaurants serve non raw fish options so we can go as much as Emile wants
  • Whoever the guy was that decided to have the lit sails of Canada Place change colour during the night.
  • My in-laws are so close by telephone and supported this move whole heartedly (despite a few tears on both sides)
  • That I never reduced my credit limit from $15,000 despite certainty that I would never ever break a 5 figure balance.
  • I am climbing in the call rotation from my grandpa – I can now help when he needs something.
  • That my weird habit of sticking kleenex up my nose when I am sick is tolerated by my husband as long as we are in the house alone.
  • My family is close by – comparatively so.
  • That pottery can go in the dishwasher.
  • I have a job.  In my field.
  • I no longer live in the house with a huge bag of Jelly Bellys so I can now lose the bean weight added.

I could go on and on and on as I realize what I have.  I only have to travel a few blocks east to see the crushing poverty and addiction that some struggle with.  I miss the rural life in Huntsville of course – but neither of us regret the decision to come to here and make a different kind of life.

Thanksgiving Weekend 2012 Extra-Ordinary:  I live in Vancouver.  Family lives here.  Friends live here.  We are going to make a home here.

The Daily EO: September 4th, 2012

For days, I have wanted to get going already.  Let’s get in the car and head west, what are we doing hanging around here?  And this morning I realized why – I was avoiding the tearful goodbyes.  It’s not that I don’t want to be here, it’s that I need to be somewhere else too.  But the end date makes things so much more poignant.  Over the last four days we are having to say goodbye to everyone we love in Ontario – knowing that visits and calls will not be as immediate as before.

At my wedding after the ceremony Toni (my mother-in-law) grabbed me by the hips and said to me “You two are right for each other.  Be good to each other.  Take care of each other.”   It was the first time she had ever grabbed me by the hips – and I knew she was telling me something that meant a lot to her.  This morning, when she did it again, I had to blink several times to hold back the tears  – and I wasn’t entirely successful.  “You’re doing this together.  And that makes it right.” She said.  My father-in-law hugged us both a little longer than usual.

We left them standing in the drive-way waving goodbye, looking a bit sadder than usual.  They gave us a card to read on the way.  Emile was driving so he asked me to read it aloud.  And he knew I couldn’t do it for some time. Instead we sat quietly with our thoughts as we left St. Catharines behind us – both regretful of the moments we know we will miss but still certain of our decision to move to Vancouver together.

And then that evening a dinner with our friends in Huntsville to say our last goodbye to good friends there.  And the night before with friends in St. Catharines.  Friday night – Toronto friends.  My heart tears a little with each hug, card and well wish.  I want to stay, I want to go.

Tomorrow we start out, tomorrow we begin a long trip to a new start, but we still look backward.  Muskoka is where we married, each found our career path and became part of a community as a couple.

September 4th, 2012 Extra-Ordinary:  The selfless well wishes from family and friends who sadly know this is the right thing.

The Daily EO: August 2nd, 2012

After 3 weeks of vacation, you tend to get lazy and lacking of sleep.  You are never in your own bed, and you pack your days with visiting and activities.  I awoke early this morning for some reason – still tired.  Kinda hungry.  The previous evening we had visited my aunt’s new condo in Burnaby with my Grandma and Grandpa.  All five of us squeezed into the Fit with canes and walkers and headed out.

It was a later evening than usual, and this led to another night without a full night of sleep.  When I awoke –urgently needing to go to the washroom – I listened to my husband’s steady breathing.  Despite wanting to get Olympic highlights, I refrained from turning on the TV and waking him up.

I needed to leave the room so he could get some of the sleep he needed to.  I pondered my options.  Too early to see my grandpa, too early to eat.  But not too early for running.  That’s a bad idea.  I don’t want to run.  I’m tired.  My ass jingles a little bit more after this vacation.

But with a lack of any other choice, I quietly and reluctantly laced my shoes and headed out.  I walked for a bit to warm up.  Well, actually that is not true – I walked for a bit because I didn’t want to start.

But start I did finally and I ran 3.6 kms this morning.  Shorter than usual, but at least I got out there.  As I rounded the last corner, my mom was standing outside drinking a coffee and smoking a cigarette.   She gave me a wave.  Two different approaches to the start of the day.

August 2nd, 2012 Extra-Ordinary:  No stopping for 3.6 km.  Yes, NO STOPPING for 3.6 kms!