Happy B Day Tyler!

 

My youngest son Tyler is 23 today. Twenty-three years ago he decided to come about 7 weeks earlier than his due date. He was three pounds five ounces. Today he is six foot one and over two hundred pounds. What a difference 23 years make.

Tyler describes himself as a man-child: he would fit right in with the Big Bang Theory guys except he rejects them as too stereotypical—and Tyler is anything but stereotypical. He just moved back home a few months ago after going to college in a city a couple of hours away and has his Marketing Diploma and a bunch of skills learned while living away from home. He knows how to cook a bit and clean up after himself, and do his own laundry—important life skills that translate into an independent young man.

He is caught up in trying to find a job so he can start paying off his student loans, and is worried about his future. I am thrilled to have him home, and since I do not know how long he is going to be here, I have to savour the moments.

We have watched Community and Parks and Recreation in marathon sessions. We have an occasional glass of wine together though beer is his drink of choice. We could both eat pizza every night though I think I might tire of it first.

He is my youngest—when he was gone my nest was pretty quiet. I love having him home and do not look forward to him leaving again, but it is inevitable. Until then I will enjoy him, and on his birthday, celebrate him.

 

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Published in: on May 7, 2014 at 7:57 pm  Comments (23)  
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The Queen and I

 

This week’s newspaper column is a bit self-serving–but your birthday only comes round once a year:

 

“You say it’s your birthday
Well it’s my birthday too–yeah
You say it’s your birthday
We’re gonna have a good time
I’m glad it’s your birthday
Happy birthday to you.” ~ The Beatles

Unlike Queen Elizabeth who shares the date of my birthday, there will be no grinning portrait of me to remember the day. Yesterday, a black and white photo of the Queen in all her grandmotherly glory was released commemorating her 88th birthday. According to the Associated Press on the CBC News website, the picture taken by British photographer David Bailey, is a “black-and-white photograph……showing the queen smiling broadly”—a side she does not often reveal to the public.

Shown wearing a three strand pearl necklace and what appears to be pearl and diamond earrings, she is sporting a dress designed by her personal assistant and senior dresser. Of the Queen, Bailey stated that he has “always liked strong women, and she is a very strong woman.”

In contrast, my birthday will be a private affair. Bailey, who is “celebrated for his portrait photography” of stars such as Jack Nicholson, Michael Caine and Johnny Depp will not be on my doorstep to take any candids of me, and neither will the Queen’s senior dresser be on hand to help me don her private designs (as the Queen has let her granddaughter-in-law Duchess Kate borrow her to help her dress for her many downunder walkabouts and George’s play dates).

The Queen will be celebrating her birthday on April 21st and then again in June with pomp and circumstance when the weather is a bit more fair. The ceremony in June is marked with a Trooping the Colour parade in London for her loyal subjects and eager tourists. My birthday will be celebrated by a few friends and family—some gathered to see me blow my candles out after making some inane wish, which according to two horoscopes that I read over the weekend, may come true. I am fairly sure the Queen does not depend on horoscopes to plan her future, but as with most things, I cannot really be sure.

Our shared horoscope in The Globe and Mail wants us to give “some serious thought to what we will be doing over the coming year because it could be one of the best ever.” The National Post was equally optimistic, stating that the sun will be entering our sign and boosting our energy for the next four weeks. Not only that but we “will attract favourable situations and important people” so we are to “milk it for all it is worth.” The Queen likely attracts “favourable situations and important people” all the time so I am pretty confident she does not need to do any milking. I, on the other hand, will take full advantage.

Birthdays are like another New Year’s to me — a time of reflection, a time to take a tally of life so far, and a time to think about what I would like to complete on my life (not bucket) list. The anniversary of our births can be a kind of wake-up call—another year under our belt, but another waiting in the wings, hopefully to take flight and not a nosedive. At this stage, “the arrogance of youth” is just a memory, but our younger selves still live on. I would like to think that I am wiser now, but what I am is more cognizant of the fact that I am not. The process of gaining wisdom is ongoing—and with every step forward, I recognize that I will never be a sage on a mountaintop handing out advice—I will always be a student, never the teacher.

My wish for the coming years? To live in the present (as hokey as that is, it is as most clichés are, true) and to plan for my future. Most importantly I will keep the lessons of the past, but leave behind the regrets. I will always be a dreamer but one with feet firmly planted on terra firma, someone who believes in the ethereal, but accepts reality (after wrestling it to the ground), and I will continue to try earn the mantle bestowed on the Queen by her photographer, David Bailey–that of a “strong woman”.

 

Published in: on April 21, 2014 at 7:55 pm  Comments (6)  
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Tom, Jim and Freddy

I am a little late in posting my newspaper column for this week – you will find some of the column is a bit personal and local–while I usually edit that kind of thing out for my blog–I thought I would give you the full flavour this week:

“Tom Sawyered”

My favourite quote of the week and possibly of all time comes from Jonathan Goldstein’s latest column called “You Call This a Party?” Among other things, Goldstein writes for the National Post, and his words this week hit a real chord with me: “Calling something a party doesn’t make it one….One can throw a septic cleaning party, but one would have only fools for guests.”

His statement was made in answer to an invitation from a friend of his to “a painting party” where the guests would get the lucky chore of priming and painting his house. Now his friend gets some points for cleverness, but many more for being a con à la Tom Sawyer. In fact there is a term for being conned into doing something you really did not want to do but ended up doing it anyway—it is called being “Tom Sawyered.” Tom, of course brought the whole thing to another level, in that he not only got his friends to whitewash a fence for him, he got some snacks and toys in return for “letting” them have the pleasure of doing his work.

There are other less polite terms for being “Tom Sawyered”. I am sure many of us have been on the receiving end of such a con. Goldstein was too clever to get caught up by his friend’s promise of making the job into a party—he recognized it for what it truly was and declined–at first. Then he thought about—and in an effort to score friendship points and a 4:30 a.m. ride to the airport he finally acquiesced. But, not to be totally “Tom Sawyered”, he demanded that there be expensive imported beer at the ready. And, oh yeah, he did not ask for the ride until after he had made his “friendship points”.

I suppose we all do it—gather friendship points—some to be bartered with, but many times forgotten—because dealing in friendship points is not a game one can win. In fact, I have trouble keeping up with my friends and family and all the favours they do for me. If they all tried to collect at once I would be in big trouble. Candy coating a job and turning it into a party can make the task more palatable—just ask Tom—but most of us would rather be asked honestly for help.

Happy Birthday Jim

Hey, this is my column and if I want to display outrageous and extravagant nepotism I will. Having said that, I am throwing a little party in this column for my brother Jim for his 70th birthday. His family is throwing him a real party and to that I will bring some food and drink and a gift—but this party is for any of you who know him—to call him (you could email or Facebook him but he has neither) or tell him when you see him around town—a big Happy Birthday. Do this in an exuberant fashion—shouting across the street if you have to. But keep this in mind: in my family, we only admit to being 39, so really this is the 31st anniversary of Jim’s 39th birthday. (I think this works out—my math is a little weak)

Jim is my eldest brother and having reached this milestone my family from far and wide, near and narrow are coming together to taunt him a bit, but mostly to celebrate him. As the big brother of our family (father, grandfather, and uncle too) he deserves both our reverence and ribbing, which I am sure will be plentiful when we come together on Saturday to eat, drink and be merry.

Freddy Farmer

Friend (in keeping with my nepotism theme here) and local author, Brian Sweet, along with local artist, Harold Burton have produced a new children’s book called “Freddy Farmer”. The story is endearing and the paintings come to life on the page creating a book that kids will love to read, or have read to them.

The illustrations are vibrant and the story is one that shows if we all “pull” or “push” together we can get a lot done. My favourite character is the pig Sloppy though, who at the end of the book, after the labours of the day have been carried out, goes back to “play in the mud”.

 

 

 

Happy Birthday Adam!

It does not seem like only yesterday. It seems like its full twenty-eight years ago when my eldest son came into the world almost three months ahead of his scheduled due date. Two pounds five and a half ounces. That half ounce was very important. No one knows why Adam wanted to come into the world earlier than his due date in June—but the little imp certainly made his mark.

He was so tiny in his closed incubator, which was his home for about six weeks. He was born an airplane ride away in a hospital two hours from our little town, and then transferred to a hospital a little closer to home after about three weeks. He came home on Mother’s Day in 1986 at the prescribed weight of five pounds.

He is smart and talented and athletic. He did not suffer from his early birth and today is a rock star (to me, and perhaps someday in reality).  I have been made richer by his presence in my life—he is friendly and generous and, like his mom, he is a voracious reader.

I could go on and on and on, but suffice to say: Happy Birthday Adam! You are much loved!

Published in: on March 8, 2014 at 2:20 pm  Comments (35)  
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A Day in the Life ~ Or My Last Birthday Post Until Next Year–I Promise!

 

Casino Velden Panorama

Casino  (Photo credit: geek7)

  I do not have a gambling problem. But I have got to say I just love playing the slots. In the past ten years I have been to the casino three times (big spender, I know).  And I have joyously bet my $20, five dollars at a time—first on the penny slots, then the nickel, the quarter, and yesterday I went all out—I tried the dollar slots.

            I could be wrong, but is there any rhyme or reason to the slots? I just sit there and hit the buttons—but I have noticed that if you hit the higher buttons you tend to win more. Now, let us be clear here, you are not going to win a lot with $5 bets but the dollar slot machine actually had one of those arms you could pull—seriously, I had me some fun. Yesterday, I ended up winning back all my $5 bets.

            I did notice that a lot of the people at the casino were a lot more serious than I. They seemed to concentrate on what they were doing, and I am sure they have some method to their madness. My madness is my method when I play the slots. Now, you can laugh all you want, but when I won $20 on the quarter slots, I was happy as could be. But it really doesn’t take a lot to amuse me.

            To be honest, I understand how enticing gambling can be—but I am no high roller. I find I am not attracted to losing money. Nor do I have any talent when it comes to any kind of gambling other than pushing buttons, or in the case of the dollar slots—pulling the arm of the one-limbed bandit. The casino is colourful, noisy, gaudily classy, and a fun place to be if you come out ahead (or even).

            Yesterday was the end of my birthday celebrations—which were numerous and fun. So what do I do to celebrate my birthday? Well, I eat cake—and right now I think I am in cake withdrawal. You can never have too much cake. Well, actually you can—I am finding my jeans just that little bit harder to button up lately. What do I do on my birthday, besides spending (and winning back) $20 at the Casino? I go to bookstores. How boring is that? Actually for me, not boring at all—I have always loved books—and they are just about the best gift anyone can give me—so I always end up with either a gift card or a little gift money with the stipulation that I must spend it on me. So I do, and generally it is at the bookstore.

            So yesterday, I bought three books—a writing book, a book about prayer, and a book just to read—covering the gamut of what I am interested in. Now, this was a big birthday—one I was not looking forward to as I am a bit reluctant to admit that I am 29 now for the 31st time. But hey, the cat is out of the bag. The eagle has landed. The cows are out of the barn. And you know~it is not that bad.

            I have finally started reading Zoomer magazine, and it is actually a great mag (it is geared to people 45 and up). The first article I read was written about people like me who do not feel or act their age (I have always been a late bloomer, and ever so slightly immature). I have now embraced my age—and as many have pointed out to me, the alternative is not all that attractive (well, it might be, but I am not ready to call it quits quite yet).

            I have not received a discount because of my age yet—but I remember a woman in a writers’ group I belonged to writing about her “first time” getting a discount. She was not ready for it yet, but when she started to see the dollars adding up—it became a “good thing” as Martha would say. So as I continue this journey called life, I am thinking that any discounts I get I can use for my next trip to the casino—where I intend to take life by the horns and play the dollar slots—this time with a ten dollar bet!

This was my newspaper column for this week–I promise not to talk about my birthday again until next year. Bliss is accepting your age at any age – what do you think?

Published in: on April 30, 2013 at 9:15 am  Comments (35)  
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Letting the Beatles Serenade Me

Candles spell out the traditional English birt...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Loved this when I was in university when the dinosaurs still roamed the earth–so I thought I would let the Beatles serenade me gently into another year:

“You say it’s your birthday,
It’s my birthday too, yeah;
They say it’s your birthday,
We’re gonna have a good time;
I’m glad it’s your birthday,
Happy birthday to you.”

And no, I am not letting myself off the hook this 21st day of write a poem a day:

Go Gently Into This Good Year

The years have past

Some gently, some not so gently;

200 px

200 px (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But as Buzz Lightyear said:

Onward and upward.

(I am not sure Buzz really said this, but I imagine he would have).

What blissful thing do you imagine Buzz would say?

Not Really A Very Good Poem

‘Tis the eve of my birthday

One of those birthdays that end in a 0

So for some reason are deemed more significant

Than most other birthdays.

Sometimes birthdays that end in 5 are major hurdles

but not usually until you reach 65

Though 25 is an exception ~

A few others that seem noteworthy are 18, 19, and 21

Admittedly

13 is a milestone, and sweet 16 too

Happy Birthday to You!

Happy Birthday to You! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But what about all the other years?

Why are 31, 41, 51 and my next year’s birthday less remarkable?

I have decided that every year and every age is important

And am going to celebrate each and every one as if they ended in O!

(Okay, this writing a poem a day is getting a little long in the tooth—today shows the definite strain of trying to come up with something close to acceptable—but hey, I am still hanging in there, though today it seems only by the skin of my teeth). I am trusting you will not be too hard on me.

Bliss is sometimes putting it out there even if it is not quite up to par — sometimes you have to settle for good enough. Do you agree?

Published in: on April 20, 2013 at 8:24 am  Comments (85)  
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Green Bean Bliss

Whole green beans in a carton.

Whole green beans in a carton. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is Saturday—and we all know what that means: Recipe Day! I can just feel the enthusiasm that this weekly sojourn into the land of the culinary elicits, but I persevere. I bought some lovely frozen full size green beans and am going to roast them in the oven using a rendition of a recipe from Food.com.  Here is the original recipe:

Roasted Green Beans

2 lbs. green beans
1 -2 tablespoon olive oil (or just enough to lightly coat beans)
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste, may substitute with Mrs. Dash if desired)
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper (or to taste, omit if using Mrs. Dash)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Wash, dry well, and trim green beans.
Put green beans on a jelly roll pan.  Drizzle with olive oil.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste (1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and about 8-10 grinds of the pepper mill). *Mrs. Dash may be substituted for salt and pepper as desired.
Use your hands to be sure all the beans are evenly coated and spread them out into 1 layer.
Roast for 20-25 minutes, turning after 15 minutes, until beans are fairly brown in spots and somewhat shrivelled.
Serve hot or at room temperature.

Of course I will not be using the original recipe as I will be using frozen green beans—so no washing, drying, and trimming will be necessary, which suits this lazy cook to a T.

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday! (Photo credit: KP_Sonny)

I am going to use this recipe for a little birthday dinner party I am throwing tomorrow night for my husband, whose birthday was last Thursday, but he has a birthday month  not day, so this is just a continuation of the celebrations (and for exactly one month he is older than I am).

I may just add some parmesan cheese to the mix to add just a little touch of bliss.

What do you add to recipes for a touch of bliss, even if they do not call for it?

Future Bliss

Rosebud

Like this Rosebud, I am still waiting to bloom.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 A service has been invented through which you can send messages to people in the future. To whom would you send something, and what would you write?

This is a timely prompt from lovely Michelle at WordPress, as I have not been looking forward to my upcoming birthday in April. I  have come to the realization that I will not be wandering this little place called earth for as many years as I have lived thus far. I am going to be 60 (sob, groan, ackkk!) and I am fairly sure I am not going to live another 60 years.

When I was younger, 60 was not something I could  easily imagine–and when I did, I imagined that I had “arrived”; that I had reached my ultimate goals; that I would be ensconced in comfort.

It is not so much the age of 60 itself that has me bummed out–it is the fact that I only have so much time left to “arrive”.  I am fighting the feeling that the book is closed and that my goals are unattainable, so I am going to write this letter to my sons in an effort to give them advice, and me some hope:

Dear Adam and Tyler;

As you read this, I am a vibrant 80 year old. I did not reach some of my goals until later in life, as I have always been a late bloomer. But along the way, I learned that even if I did not feel like I had been a “success” in the normal sense of the word, I reached success on many levels.

I found love with your dad; I found my maternal instincts as soon as I had you guys (it was an amazing transformation by the way as I did not know that I really wanted children until I had them); I worked at jobs I did not like; I worked at jobs I loved; I had a business of my own and learned that I would rather buy books than sell them; I learned how to be a “mother bear” advocate for you guys; I tried to learn to let go (even at this age, I am probably still struggling with that); I learned that family and friends can get you through anything; that losing your parents is rough but their voices stay with you; I have learned that success is not just financial (though it does make it easier); and I have learned that you should never give up.

As the two of you progress down the sometimes smooth, sometimes wretched path of life, keep in mind that in the end it is all worthwhile. You have seen your parents struggle, and now you see us comfortable in our own skins. Even though we are eighty, we live life as if there is no tomorrow, because as we all know, there may not be.

Live life well and fully. Enjoy good times even in the bad times. That old saying~this too will pass~is true, even though some things we would rather go away, do not go away fast enough.

You are loved, and my best successes!  ~ Love mom

I know that this letter to my sons twenty years down the line has fallen into cliché but I do not care–clichés are there for us to use–and sometimes they do the job. I am looking for my bliss today–in twenty years I am certain I will have found it and put it to good use.

What would you say to your loved ones from your place of bliss?

 

Published in: on March 1, 2013 at 2:10 pm  Comments (58)  
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Three Stories

I was inspired by rich, of Brainsnorts, who turns out little pieces of wonderful creativity every Friday in 100 words–so I tried an experiment when I had to get away from the book work which has engulfed me this week. It was fun, and I needed a little fun. Be kind in your critique and remember my mind has been taken over by facts and figures, numbers and……

Surprise 1

A full moon spotted the weary traveller on the bare, shiny road. He pushed the button on his umbrella and it collapsed. He used it as a guide, its quick clicks cut the night silence.

A figure approached, her shadow enveloped him. No words were exchanged. She took his hand and led him up the stairs. Putting her fingers to her lips, she silently hushed him.

Nodding he followed her. She knocked a staccato message on the door. It opened, but no light escaped the room. She beckoned. He hesitated, then “Happy Birthday” poured out in loud, happy unison.

Surprise 2

Brandishing the black 45, he twirled it expertly on one finger, then returned it to its holster. He turned his back and walked away. Was it over before it started?

Bewildered, the town’s people started to disperse. A shot rang out. It hit him in the back, not quite dead centre.

He fell to the ground. The crowd froze.  Engulfed in a pond of blood, he did not call out for help.  A kid with a limp stumped over to him calling for Doc Howard. Someone ran to the Doc’s office. He tripped on a step and fell.

“Cut!”

Surprise 3

She knew she was a good dancer. She knew he was watching. Her feet turned to lead. Her once graceful moves turned robotic. She could no longer keep the beat. Her face turned pink, then red—then she blanched.

He turned away. She saw him turn; she left the dance floor. In the washroom she flooded her face with cold water, not caring that it washed off her makeup and made her eyeliner run. She hunched her shoulders in defeat, wiped off the black streaks. The night was over.

He was outside the door. Waiting for her. She took his proffered hand.

Published in: on November 30, 2012 at 5:07 pm  Comments (55)  
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