Mom Drives (rides) Thru


My eighty-three year old mom doesn’t get out much. Literally. She does great in her own home with everything adapted to suit her needs so she can happily putter, craft, cook and do whatever she wants to do in comfort. Going out is a pretty big deal and she doesn’t relish it for various physically inconvenient reasons, but we pack up her walker and her other accessories once in a while when we really have to go somewhere whether she likes it or not. She’s not unsociable by any means, and she usually has fun while she’s out, but understandably these activities get to be more and more like work as we get older and staying home is so much easier!

Today we have appointments in the city and these trips always include lunch. Usually we stop and go in somewhere, but after the active morning mom asks if we could just eat in the car and I’m on board with that. I have a couple of other stops to make anyway – for which she has already planned to sit and wait in the car – and I figure we can grab the food, park outside one of the stores and eat and then I’ll go in and take care of business.

So we decide on the McDonalds drive thru and here’s how it goes …

She wants a Big Mac and fries. I anticipate that she will also want milk because she always drinks milk with her lunch at home and always orders milk with her lunch in restaurants, but when I ask her if she wants milk she hems and haws and just as we pull up to the speaker and a lady starts talking to us – I hate it when people in my car aren’t ready to order when I get to the speaker! – mom says “oh, just water”. I tell her the meal comes with a drink anyway and all she wants is water? She decides to go ahead and have the milk.

So I’m ordering at the speaker and I ask for a Big Mac meal with milk. She doesn’t hear me say “meal” so while I’m trying to talk to the speaker and listen to the lady, mom’s reminding me in the background “with chips!”

I’m trying to answer the lady asking me what kind of milk mom wants, white or chocolate, and as I’m saying “white” mom says “white” and then, adamantly, “chips!” while I’m waving her off behind me so I can hear the lady through the speaker.

Then the lady asks me if there’s anything else, and I’m trying to order my own meal and mom is still going “with chips!!”

Finally when I’m done, I turn to mom (calmly , of course) and I’m like: “I asked for the meal, that means it comes with fries.”

Mom:  “I didn’t hear you say ‘meal’. I don’t know how these things work.”

So we pull ahead to pay and mom is buying lunch. I grab her big black twenty-something pocket purse from the back seat (she wanted a new one which I imported from North Vancouver for her in a lovely updated color, style, and size that she was happy with but after several months it’s still sitting brand new in her living room and we’re still hauling this mini suitcase around).

I get the money out of her wallet and then hand it to her along with her big purse (she’s already got my nice compact purse in her lap).

I pay at the window and we’re chat-laughing with the lady while she gets the change. I hand mom her change and she’s taking her time putting it away into specific compartments while she’s chatting and I tell her she needs to take it up a notch because as soon as we get up to the next window they’re going to throw the bag at us while we drive past and she won’t be ready.

She’s still fussing with her wallet and tells me again that she doesn’t know how these things work. I say well you’re in the seat that has to be ready for the bag so hurry up. Now she’s trying to get everything together in her lap while she’s laughing.

Finally when we get to the pick up window she’s ready for me to put her purse in the back seat. I take the first bag from the window lady and hand it to mom and tell her now it’s her job to look inside fast and make sure we got what we ordered, because there’s no third window up ahead and there’s another bag coming out right away.

She’s ready to slap me upside of the head and she’s huffing and scrambling to open the bag and figure out what’s in there. She starts listing it off and I’m already driving away with the other bag in my lap, laughing at her.

Me: “By the way, you don’t pull up to a burger joint these days and ask for chips.  They don’t know what the hell you mean.  If you’re at a Fish & Chips place, that’s OK, they know.  But here, they don’t know.”

Mom: “They don’t call them chips anymore?”

Me: “No, they’re fries mom.  They’ve been fries for a long time now.”

As we’re leaving the parking lot she starts getting concerned about how she’s going to hold all this in her lap and eat her meal while I’m driving.

“We’re stopping, mom. We’ll eat when we stop.”

“Oh, that’s right”, she says, “we’re stopping at the store.”

Yup, we’re stopping at the store … right before I pee my pants …

To Read, Perchance to Dream …


I actually cashed in some Chapters/Indigo Plum Rewards on the weekend.

No big deal for a lot of people, and you’re probably wondering why I would even mention it.

But for me, this is monumental.

As a child I loved books. I read many, so many in fact that part of the explanation for my eyesight changing rapidly during those younger years was the amount of time I spent reading books.  I had an aunt who loved books and every gift she gave us included books.  Whenever she cleaned out her own library, we got more books.  Thanks to her love of reading, my own children inherited many classic collections.

I don’t remember when I shifted from reading to other pass times while making sure that my children had lots of books and that I read to them often, usually daily.  Even as an adult, I enjoyed children’s books, and I found particular ones especially entertaining.  But I had lost my own desire to read for fun and found that I only picked up a book when I wanted to learn about something or someone, finding non-fiction to be my genre of choice.  That is, when I actually did read something, which wasn’t often at all.

My daughter has been an avid reader and book lover all her life.  I’ve spent a lot of time with her in book stores over the years, me perusing the non-fiction while she got lost in the wonderful land of dreams.  I envied her on more than one occasion; I wished that I could lose myself in a good book for a quiet afternoon or weekend, that I could experience the anticipation of getting home from work or some other activity and settling in to find out what happened in the next chapter of a book that had captured my interest.  Many snowy and rainy days I watched her curl up with a coffee and a blanket and enter another world for hours on end and wished I could do the same.

I love the smell of books.  I love the look and feel of the paper in the ones that have uneven edges.  I DO judge books by their covers and there are some really cool ones that even have raised designs on them!  I love to be in bookstores.

But I’ve always felt a bit sad that I didn’t actually love reading.  Any rewards I built up over the years were the result of purchases made at Christmas for my book loving girl 🙂

And then it happened.

I was standing over a book display while Kate searched for something to add to her library – and she does have a library such that when she still lived at home we had to keep close track of the value of her book collection in our home insurance records – and I was so  frustrated by my lack of interest in reading.  I just wanted to read, to be “a reader”.  I felt left out of a huge world of wonder.  I wanted to go home that day with something I could curl up in a chair with and lose myself in for a few hours.  I knew that was what she was going to do!

So I picked up a couple of books that looked interesting and read the summaries on the inside covers, checked with Kate to make sure she didn’t know of anything particularly bad about them (I cannot handle horrific or bloody themes, or graphic sexual content!) and I settled on a couple with themes from the second world war era which has always caught my attention; one was a true story.  I started to feel excited, I made my purchase, and I came home, got settled, and started reading.

Don’t laugh, but that was just two weeks ago and I’m now finishing my fifth novel, having ordered three more online last week and picking up two at Indigo on Saturday, taking advantage of the rewards I have collected buying my daughter books!

Now when I go to the bookstore with her I’m no longer just enjoying the atmosphere and feeling like I’m missing something.  I’m part of it now.  I’m searching for stories that will take me away to other lands, other places in time, and I’m anticipating getting home where I can cozy in and read.  I’m totally enjoying it and thankful that I’ve finally found my way back to being a reader!

For now, I will sign off, as I simply must go and find out what actually happened to The Woman in Cabin 10 …



Walking for a Cause





For the past couple of years both my son and daughter have participated in a run to raise money for neuroscience – mental health and brain injury research – at the University of Alberta, in honor of their dad.  I had tossed around the idea of joining the 5K walk event this year, but I wasn’t sure I could do it, with my achy feet, bunions, blisters, fallen arches … you get the picture!

I’m not a runner, nor do I ever aspire to be, but I have been walking regularly for a few months now and it has become a really good habit.  Sure, there are days I wake up and think it would be nice to skip out and just stay in my pajamas with a cup of coffee, but I am quickly reminded of the way I feel while I’m walking and once I get home, so I get up and go and I’m never sorry I did.

The only event I’ve ever done that involved a lot of physical energy was a walkathon in my youth.  I think it was about 21 miles, but I’m not positive anymore and I haven’t actually thought about it for so long, until just now!  I don’t remember which fundraiser it was but I do remember being exhausted, hot and thirsty.

I recently returned from a trip with my daughter to Disneyland, where she ran a half marathon.  She had prepared for this event for over a year, and I believe it was everything she hoped it would be.  I was part of the chEAR squad (yes, it’s really a thing!) so I got to sit in a special place near the finish line and watch all the action – and they really do provide a lot of action!  It was so entertaining, and my daughter said there were things all along the route to entertain them and make it all fun.


When we got home from Disneyland I was inspired to do something, so I decided to jump in and register for the N.E.R.D. run event with my kids and another family who has been affected by brain injury, and I will be walking on Saturday.  As long as it isn’t too hot (my daily walks are at sunrise!) I know I’ll be OK and even though it’s not that long, and even though I’m not running, it will be an accomplishment for me, and I have my kids to thank for that inspiration.

I started walking because I wanted to be mobile and hold onto my mobility as long as I can moving forward.  But now I’m experiencing the other benefits as well and I’m hoping that even once it snows I’ll be able to get out there with some cleats and hopefully I won’t fall flat on my butt.

In the meantime, it’s never too late to take a leap, so I’m walking the 5K Saturday for brain injury and mental health.  I’m going to get a bib, an actual medal, and a cool t-shirt.

I’m walking for my husband.  And I’m walking for me.

Rebel with a cause, part 2 of 2

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It was a dark and stormy night…

Ok, I won’t make you wait any longer.  Just make sure you’ve read part 1 before you go any further.

Grade eleven Social Studies:  We were given the assignment to write an opinion essay, remember?

I chose the school system as my topic.

I’m pausing here so you have time to laugh or gasp or choke or whatever you want to do.

Better now? OK.

I don’t remember all the details, but I touched on some very current and pertinent points for the time period, respectfully but honestly, including something about independent thinking being encouraged unless it led to questioning or criticizing “the system”.  It was a great paper, no bragging intended (I can’t necessarily take credit for the things that came easily to me).  I did hand it in with some concern about how the subject would be received, but I was damn proud of it.  I got an A.

Fast forward to grade twelve English, same teacher, Mr. Cramp. (Let me pause here to give him credit for being a far better English teacher than my previous one had been!  I liked him during Social Studies and I liked him for English, until …)

It was time for our big novel study to be done as a class and Mr. Cramp chose George Orwell’s 1984.  The first day we were to start reading, we had a substitute teacher and a double block class – usually silent reading for one block and then a regular class for the second.  I opened the book, read up to page 16, was disgusted by the scene described there, closed the book, and put it on my desk.  I took out some other work and quietly passed my time.  Not long after, the sub noticed and then started walking up and down the rows of desks until she got to me.  She asked quietly why I wasn’t reading the book.  I answered quietly that it offended me and I didn’t want to read it, but that I would continue working  and talk to my teacher when he got back.  There was no fanfare; everyone else continued reading.

My dad called that evening from Vancouver where he was for a meeting, I explained the situation to him, and he assured me that I did not have to read the book if I didn’t want to read it.

The next day, Mr. Cramp returned, and I was asked to stay after class.  He told me that the sub had left a note saying I refused to read the novel and that I had caused disruption in the class.  I assured him I hadn’t caused anything of the sort, that I’d answered her question respectfully, and that I’d worked quietly so as not to disturb anyone.  He then wanted to know why I refused to read the book.

I told him it offended me, that there were immoral sections in it and it was not the kind of material I wanted to read.  At one point in our debate, I even reminded him that I knew he was a church going Christian and that he should understand why I wouldn’t want to read something like that.  He chose it because it was considered a “classic.”  I questioned what constitutes a “classic” and who gets to decide.  He wasn’t pleased and things got more heated.  I asked to be allowed to read any one of the many other books on the suggested reading list for our grade and was denied.  We debated for a while longer and we both left unsatisfied.  Again, to his credit, he wasn’t harsh or rude with me, but he was very upset and understandably frustrated.

So began the power struggle between us: the classroom discussions – unrelated to the book – that I remained quiet for even though I knew the answers to questions he posed and he knew I knew them (sometimes I was the only one who knew them) but wasn’t putting up my hand, and the various quizzes I was doomed to fail after assigned chapter readings (even though a few of my other classmates tried to give me daily summaries in Biology whenever it fell before English on our schedule!).  I was disappointed in him and while I wasn’t willing to be rude to him, I had lost my interest in participating energetically. He couldn’t break me.  I think he probably always knew he wouldn’t win but, as the teacher, he also couldn’t bring himself to bend.  Perhaps he even wanted to but wasn’t allowed to, who knows?  Regardless, though we had once shared a good rapport we were now just mutually respectful adversaries.

My biology teacher – an eccentric but fun little guy – casually teased me one day that he heard I was refusing to read a novel in English class.  I responded that I didn’t think it appropriate for teachers to sit in the staff room and discuss something like that when it had nothing to do with anyone else.  He just laughed.  I knew then that probably all the teachers were aware of my stand, but I was long past caring.  I was, after all, nearly old enough to vote, so I certainly had the right to stand up for myself and my values.

During parent teacher interviews it was common for students to walk their parents around to find their classrooms (huge school!) and I sat outside while mine went in to meet with Mr. Cramp.  The typical time slot was about ten minutes, so after half an hour, a couple of the other parents waiting in line were joking with me, asking just what kind of mark I was getting in the class (one of the other parents was, ironically, the principal from the junior high school science teacher incident described in my previous post!).  I told them I actually had an A.  That gave them all a good laugh.

When it was over, my parents said that he had expressed his concern over my refusal to read the book and the fact that he knew I was avoiding class participation since the issue began.  They expressed their support of my right to not read the book.  He made sure they knew that it would affect my mark because I wasn’t able to participate in the assignments or the quizzes.  We were aware of this and I did drop from a high B to a low B average for that section.  And, as part of his perspective, he then brought in the matter of the paper I had written in grade eleven about the school system, using that to further his point about my non-compliance.  Dad reminded him that he had given me an A for a well-written paper.  He admitted it was well written despite its indication of my tendency to rebel on certain matters.  I can imagine from what I know of my parents and what I knew of Mr. Cramp, that the whole meeting went off without raised voices or rude comments.  But it remained a standstill nonetheless.

At the end of all that came the book report I wrote in its entirety while working coat check at a New Year’s Eve parish dance.  I used class notes and came up with a paper that earned my teacher’s 87% grade – not up to my usual level (in my day, 87 was an A minus) but a very reasonable result for not having read the book.  And he knew I hadn’t read it, but he was reasonable enough to mark my writing on its own merit.

If you’re still here, good job paying attention!  I didn’t realize that I remembered so many things so clearly until I started writing them down.  It’s pretty obvious that I’m strong willed.  It’s also obvious that my parents stood with me when I stood up for something important to me.  None of these situations show that I “won” anything.  But I also didn’t lose.  I stayed true to myself, I was respectfully assertive, and I learned that even if you can’t actually beat the system, you don’t have to let it beat you.

I came away from my many years of school with two favourite teachers I remember fondly to this day.  Neither stifled my spirit; both showed me that being an effective teacher was about far more than the subject matter, and that respect is earned. It doesn’t just come with age or degree.

Oh, I nearly forgot to tell you about kindergarten, when I was so bored and angry about having to use those big fat red pencils to print when I could already write my name in cursive script, that I deliberately scribbled outside the lines on all the pictures on a counting sheet, just to make a point.  THAT was talked about in a parent-teacher conference too …

Rebel with a cause, part 1 of 2


I referenced a couple of school related incidents in my previous post about writing,  so if you remained at all curious, it starts here, with a few years of leading up to my final stand 🙂

When most people talk about rebellious teenagers, they’re referring to rebellion against parents, rules, societal norms, and authority in general.  Much to the relief of my parents and the disappointment of my children (no juicy stories to share!) I didn’t go through a rebellious stage at home.  I had moments of rebellion, but mine weren’t typical, and I always had my parents’ support in them.

I rebelled at school.  I didn’t rebel against rules or hard work.  I didn’t disrespect teachers, I got very good grades, I didn’t skip class, I didn’t smoke, I didn’t drink, I didn’t party.  I didn’t even stay out late at night. But I did rebel.  (Can you even believe it, looking at that face?)

I rebelled against injustice and ridiculousness.  I rebelled against having immoral ideas and material forced upon me.  I rebelled against anything sending the message that I had to conform to what teachers said, even if it was against my personal beliefs, just because I was a kid.  I wasn’t rebelling against authority;  I was standing up for a cause.

Just the beginning

I didn’t like my grade eight (or nine?) science teacher because he was a forty-something playboy type who thought he was “all that”; I thought he was a creep.  Along with his generally annoying ways, he made a blatantly inappropriate sexual reference one particular day while speaking to the class about something in the area of biology, and I reacted to it in a way that got me kept after the bell.  I don’t honestly remember what I did, but I do remember that once everyone had left except me – and a friend who stayed to support me – I was sure I was in trouble and I smirked.  This was my unfortunate reaction when I was nervous or in trouble for something, and it landed me in the principal’s office that day.

I was very disappointed because the vice principal (principal was busy) seemed much more concerned about my smirking at the teacher than he was about the teacher’s behaviour.  This was my first indication that as a student my guilt was assumed first and foremost, regardless of any truth I might be sharing.  Apparently, my previous record of good grades and respectful behaviour were either unknown or irrelevant to him.

I stood my ground that the teacher was wrong, and was then told that “they” would be checking in with all my other subject teachers to see how I was behaving in class.  I told him that was fine with me and that I had no concerns.  Just to be sure, I personally approached each of my other teachers after school that day to let them know they might be asked about my behaviour as a student in class (kept the details vague) and that if there was anything at all they weren’t happy about I wanted to know directly.  None of them had a problem with me and assured me that I was a good and respectful student.

I remember my dad coming to the school either the next day or not long after and going to the office with me to meet with the principal himself.  I wouldn’t give up my own position, my dad supported that, and when I asked the principal about the results of talking to my other teachers, he had nothing to say.  He decided to have my science teacher join us; the guy sat down and was acting all nice and trying to be casual about things, but I didn’t even want to look at him. When the principal asked me why, I told him I wasn’t comfortable with him and that what he did was wrong.  I don’t remember exactly what happened after that meeting, but it was near the end of the school year, and we heard over the summer that the teacher wouldn’t be returning to a school in our district.  There had been other complaints along the same line after the end of the school year, from people who probably weren’t wanting to rock the boat with him during school time.  Take that, administration.  I was not wrong.  I got used to standing alone amongst conformers.

Then came the videos

In grade nine we were all supposed to watch a video about venereal disease and how to prevent it.  The announcement of the start of the video came over the speaker when I was in English class and while the rest of the students were leaving their desks, I stayed in my seat.  My teacher came over and asked me why I wasn’t leaving, and reminded me that we were all supposed to go because it was an important educational video.  I told him that the only way to get VD was by doing something I had no intention of doing for a long time so I didn’t need to watch it.  I was “preventing it” just fine on my own.  He was a very nice and reasonable man, and he thought I had a point, so he let me stay and get back to my work.

When I got to grade eleven – a different school with a whole new set of teachers to surprise! – I found out one day during lunch hour that there would be a video shown during a class of mine later that day of an actual vasectomy surgery.  No, thank you.  I went straight to the pay phone and called my mom.  She agreed that there was no way I had to watch such a video; she called the school directly, backed me up and that was that.

Senior High, Holding my own

My grade eleven English teacher was a real winner.  She majored in English but couldn’t explain to us the proper use of who and whom (“I just do whatever sounds best”)  or the difference between a colon and a semi-colon, among many other points of study.  She had a sign-up sheet for students who wanted to help her with her regular marking and “earn” themselves a higher letter grade in the class. She spent a lot of time at the back where the guys were sitting and it wasn’t uncommon to see her sitting on the edge of their desks chatting it up, even though she was middle-aged herself.  I’m not implying that she had inappropriate intentions; she just wasn’t the most professional teacher I’ve ever had.

One day she had us move our desks into groups of four to do a project involving scissors, glue and cut outs from magazines to make collages for some stupid reason; she had previously sent a couple of people out to buy the magazines, telling us that there was still too much money left in the budget for her department so it had to be spent or they wouldn’t get it next year.  Thank you, taxpayers, for those magazines. (Meanwhile, the biology department was struggling to find enough money for the grade twelve fetal pig projects.)

Several ridiculous classroom events led me and five other students to get up and walk out of class one day because we were so frustrated.  We walked straight across the hall to the principal’s office and told him that we were learning nothing, that she was doing ridiculous things, and that we couldn’t take it anymore.  We wanted a proper teacher.  We were all A students.  He told us all about her qualifications and suggested we return to class of our own free will.  We must have eventually gone back but our uprising hadn’t been completely in vain because we had taken a stand for our own education and that was something.  It led to further discussions.

One evening not long after that, my dad took me to the school where we sat with my teacher and the principal around a large table covered with a blown up copy of the curriculum, and they tried using it to prove she was teaching us as she should be.  Interestingly enough, the way those things were worded (vaguely described and without proper explanation) we couldn’t prove her wrong by that piece of paper, but after a civil interaction, they both knew we weren’t being fooled.

I rode it out to the end of the year when, with three weeks left, she gave us our last in-class test, because she wanted to have everything all marked before the actual end of the year to save her time.  Yes, she voiced these things. The next time she asked us to do an assignment after watching a video, I asked her nicely why we had to do it.  Was it going to count for something?  She answered “no”, because the marks were done.  I suggested there was no point in wasting my time doing it then, she suggested that wasn’t a good attitude, and I sat quietly pondering her lack of logic while waiting for the bell to ring.

On final exam day, a few of us heard students of other English teachers talking about the poetry section on the final exam.  Poetry?  We had done nothing at all with poetry! Perhaps that was supposed to be happening during cut & paste time?  We ran to one of the other English teachers and asked for help so we could at least cram something into our heads before the test started.  Thankfully the other teacher was able to quickly go over the main ideas and assured us that there were only a few poetry questions.

I think she must have tried mending fences because I remember going with another friend to her house for tea one day over summer holidays.  She was probably a lot of fun socially, but students need teachers to teach.  That fall she was given a principal position at another school.  And we shook our heads …

Then there was the time in grade twelve that I skipped a pep rally on principle.  Hard to believe, I know, but the story went something like this:

Some of the teachers had actually been complaining to us in class about government budget cuts and how they were expected to cram so much more material into less class time, suggesting that they didn’t know how we were going to cover everything in the shorter time frames.  And then one afternoon there was a pep rally in the gym for one of our teams and all students were required to attend.  It was to be a two-hour event.  WE WERE EXPECTED TO SKIP AN ENTIRE AFTERNOON OF SUPPOSEDLY NOT ENOUGH CLASS TIME TO GO TO A SPORTS RALLY.  Just wanted to make sure you got that clearly.  They even locked the school doors so we couldn’t just leave school altogether and an announcement was made to that effect.  Un-freaking-believable.

So I went straight to one of my favourite teachers who wasn’t attending the rally herself and asked if I could please sit in her class and work on some of my assignments instead of wasting two hours at a pep rally.  She, being one of the sweetest and most dedicated teachers I had, completely understood my rationale, agreed with my sensible alternative choice, and at her own risk allowed me to sit in her classroom until it was over and the doors were unlocked for us to go home.  She was a tiny, sweet, humble, and unassuming English lady, but she was also a stand-up-alone-when-you-have-to kind of person, and we remained friends long after graduation.

And now, the story you’ve been waiting for …

Ok, you’ve only been waiting for it if you read my last post which hinted at my high school years.  This part – the best part – could be a whole post on its own now that I think about it.  I mean, this teacher deserves a whole post…

And really, you’ve already been reading for a long time here.  So yes, I’ve just decided to make it another post all on its own, Rebel with a cause part 2.  Stay tuned for tomorrow …


One foot in front of the other


I sail!  I’m a sailor!  OK, I’m not really a sailor, but these words of Bob Wiley from the movie “What About Bob?” are regularly used around my house whenever a new activity is started or a new skill is learned, such as “I quilt!  I’m a quilter!”

Actually, there are a lot of lines from that movie that have found their way into our family’s repertoire.  It’s an older movie, but if you’re even the least bit neurotic “interesting” you need to watch it.  And if you’re perfectly “normal” and never have any issues at all with anything in your mind – ie. fear, anxiety, depression, OCD – you MUST watch it because it will enlighten you as to the daily life struggles of probably everyone around you in your “perfect” world, which will also help you to see that no one is perfectly “normal.”  But I digress …

I walk.  I’m a walker.  This means that I regularly drag my butt outside – even when it’s getting hotter in the mornings (although I try to go earlier and earlier to avoid those temps) and even when it’s cold or slightly raining – and walk for a specified amount of time.  Every day.  I do it because I NEED to do it.  Every other activity that I enjoy and spend hours engaged in, whether it’s sewing, quilting, paper crafting, writing, or any other pastime of a creative and thoughtful introvert, is sedentary.  I want to maintain my mobility despite my age and continued aging, and because I’m middle-aged some things are already becoming a pain in the neck (back, legs, knees, hips, feet, bunions etc.).  I no longer have children to chase after, I don’t work outside my home anymore as the promotion and selling of my handmade items is all done from the comfort of home, and I have to force myself to move throughout the day for more than just a few minutes here and there going from one room to the other to find a needle or a seam ripper.

And I’ve come to the point where I actually want to walk.  It’s a strange combination, this wanting to go do something that I know is going to make me hurt in various places and wishing I didn’t have to do it but still feeling driven to get myself out there.  However, this wanting to walk thing is only about my actual morning power walk.  It has a definite purpose for me.  I’m not a leisure walker; I can do it if I have to, but I don’t often choose it.

The Schedule

I don’t like exercise.  It’s generally boring, it makes me sweat (anyone who read the post about summer heat will know that being hot and sweaty is something that can turn me into a miserable b–ch) and at this point I don’t even get a lot of results on the scale from doing it because once middle age hits, our bodies seem to think we’re doing all this moving just for fun and we aren’t really expecting anything more.

But as much as it hurts and takes away time from other things I’d rather be doing, it has started to make me feel better about myself.  It gets my circulation going first thing in the morning, it apparently releases good hormones (which is a good thing because there are a lot of other not-so-good hormonal experiences starting up at this age too), and it reminds me every day that I want to be able to move for as long as I can move, and the only way to make that happen is to persevere now.  It makes me feel better about myself because I’m sticking with something that’s good for me, I’m committed to ME.

I’ve been asked how often I walk and when I go, and I am immediately thinking “is this person going to ask me if they can walk with me?”  Some people find it easier to have a walking buddy because it motivates them and keeps them committed.  I see these twosomes once in a while, engaged in animated conversation while power walking around town.  I’m not that kind of walker.  I’m a stick the headphones in and crank up the tunes to pass this mundane and pain inducing activity as quickly as possible on my own schedule kind of walker.  I do often meet up with my daughter part way around and she walks with me for a short time before work, and we chat a bit as we go just to check in with each other’s plans for the day, but she is the person I can text whenever I want to, as early as I want to because we’re both awake in the wee hours, and say “I’m leaving now, are you walking?”  She’s a runner, so  it’s not like she depends on me for her routine and if she misses a day here and there I’m cool with that.  So that’s as much of a walking schedule commitment as I can handle.

I am committed to going every day, though, first thing in the morning before I do anything else.  I know myself well enough to know that if I get involved in another activity, I will put off the walking and either 1) not do it at all that day and end up feeling like a lazy slug, or 2) succumb to the guilt trip I take myself on and go later in the day when it’s hotter and much more difficult just to silence the reprimanding voice in my head.  I also like the idea of getting it done and out of the way so that for the rest of the day, no matter what I do or don’t do, I have taken care of my need to deliberately move.

The Gear

I’ve been watching my runner daughter find all kinds of colourful and useful clothing and gear and I’ve been almost jealous because just seeing all the cool stuff makes me want to be one of these people who actually needs it!  I’ve always wondered why companies make clothes for plus sized women in neon colors that scream “look over here at this bulging roll!”  Like, don’t they realize that we already draw enough attention, especially when we are MOVING?

When I started walking I decided I would be frugal and just wear comfy clothing, which works perfectly fine for the walking part.  But as it got warmer and I got more committed, I decided I needed something cooler, like maybe a tank top (I never wear one of these in public so it was a stretch, but sure made a difference in staying cool!) and some sporty capris.  I dared to try wearing such far out items and I have to say that just having some simple stuff that makes you look and feel more appropriately dressed for whatever your exercise of choice is, does make it more tolerable, more comfortable, and more fun.  I can’t do the cute shoes – I have fallen arches, a bunion, and uneven legs so the left shoe of any pair I buy always needs to be built up by a shoemaker.  But thankfully, even my SAS shoes come in a comfy running shoe that included a set of rainbow laces should I ever feel the need to draw attention away from my body and down to my feet.

Don’t be looking for me out there, it isn’t pretty.  And I’m not posting any pictures of me all decked out and ready to face the task.  But if you see an overweight middle aged woman hoofing it around town with headphones in, look past the bright coloured tank top with the flabby jiggles and know that at least she’s trying.  We all have to start somewhere!

What new activity have you started recently?

I’d rather be Quilting …


I have a list of a few things I really want to get done around the house, things I can do myself but just haven’t been interested in doing.  I look at them and think about them while I’m moving between rooms with my quilting projects.

I have a quilt on my machine that I started yesterday and was having fun with, but after a morning of walking, organizing my thoughts, balancing my chequebook, uploading pictures of a new quilt to my Etsy shop, and becoming distracted by other blogs that inspire me, I finally went downstairs and got the can of stain I bought for my new unfinished wooden kitchen table.  I have pictures in my head of how I want it to look, and a few good reasons for putting it off (like the fact that I have my sewing machine on it and I’m always working on something, so I don’t want any delays in that area!) but I can’t have the look I want until I open the darn can and get moving.  It looks rather boring just sitting there all unfinished with the IKEA stamp still showing, like a project that seemed like a good idea at the time and just never got done…

So I brought the can and necessary accessories upstairs, put it all on the counter, plugged in the sander, and then – in typical middle-aged fashion – got distracted.  I honestly can’t remember what it was that caught my attention, but before I knew it I was reading an email from someone who had “liked” a post on my quilting site.

I followed her link, read a few posts on her blog, and followed another link to a blog where I actually read a funny story written by a lady describing the back and forth inner conversation she faces when she decides to paint something!  It went something like this: I really want to paint this.  No, you don’t.  It’s too much work.  But it will look so nice.  Just hire someone. I can do it myself and save money.  You always do this. Remember last time? and so on …  At least my distraction brought me full circle and reminded me that I needed to get back to what I intended to start.

I sanded the table down, wiped it off, opened the stain and went to work.  Of course, staining with a rag goes quickly, and I find watching the wood come to life very satisfying until I have to get underneath something big.  I contemplated turning the table over, but – like the lady I mentioned above with her painting project – I don’t have anyone around during the day to help me with two-person tasks, and if you try to turn a table over yourself, it can put a lot of strain on the legs, which isn’t good.  So the best option was lying on my back under the table to catch the parts that were going to be obvious (I’m not bothering to stain the whole underside, because I don’t expect anyone else to lie down underneath it, except maybe the dog I don’t yet and might never have, but it won’t care).  Don’t try to picture that effort, it wasn’t pretty and it hurt my back, but only temporarily.


I took a break to decide whether or not to go ahead with the leg painting today too because that was an inner debate for more than a few minutes after I finally got to stand up again.  I sat down to relax and write up this blog post so I could just plug in pictures later.  But perseverance won (or maybe my OCD?) and I really didn’t want to be without a usable table for more than a day.


It looks just the way I wanted it too!  I even got some bonus stretching in while accomplishing one more thing on my list.  Of course, it would look more Good Housekeeping-ish if I waited to take the picture once it’s back in place with the cardboard out from under the legs and my white chairs perfectly placed around it, but this is how I roll.  I’ll seal it with wax first thing in the morning, right before I get back to my quilt … for now, I’m headed for my recliner with a cup of tea 🙂


UPDATE: Here it is back in place, all waxed, buffed and shining “like the top of the Chrysler building.”

Cool ramblings (or “Fall is my favourite season”)

If you’re a person who loves everything about summer, this post isn’t for you. You might want to go back outside to your garden or your lawn chair and just sit this one out! What are you doing on your computer anyway, when the weather outside is great for you? Ha ha, Go get a tan, bask in the sun, sip your cocktails, and enjoy it.

While my preferences aren’t necessarily common, I know I’m not alone in them. This post is for people like me who could live very happily without ever having summer.



I’m sitting on my porch with the windows open, listening to the birds. I’ve just hung up a little sign I was given for Christmas that has a picture of Snoopy stretched out on his red dog house and the words “happiness is a little peace and quiet”.  I need another one that says “happiness is a nice cool breeze”.

Today is a lovely day – for me.  It rained overnight and there’s a beautiful cool breeze blowing through my house, a breeze which would undoubtedly be sweater worthy for many others, but I’m relishing the chill. I can breathe better; I can think better. I can function and I’m in a much better mood. (FYI:  Summer depression is a real thing. Not saying I have it, but it exists. I think I’m still just on the edge where it can be managed by hiding indoors with lots of water and Tylenol, and thinking about fall… )

It occurred to me the other day in conversation that there is absolutely nothing I like about summer.  For the sake of further discussion – and before anyone jumps on that one statement with questions like “what about flowers?” Or “what about the sunshine?” Or “what about…?” – let me clarify: there isn’t a single thing about summer that I like and cannot enjoy during another season, without enduring all the things I hate about summer.  For the record, I do like flowers and mine are fake so I can enjoy them anytime, their beauty doesn’t depend on rain or shine, and I can change them whenever I wish, with little or no work at all! Don’t be mistaken; I’ve received many compliments on my lovely artificial blooms.

I don’t like bees, bugs, mosquitoes, camping, gardening, eating outside, extreme heat that makes me physically sick, massive storms that knock the power out or do other damage, and any number of other inconveniences summer brings, including a noticeable lack of good television programming for people like me who only manage to keep their sanity by tuning out summer and focussing on other stories in other places, while sitting in front of a fan or air conditioner. The good shows are over until fall and the interim programs are usually lame because the networks know most people are outside! (obviously I know that many things I find inconvenient will be the very things summer lovers enjoy, so there’s no need to tell me that. And again, why aren’t you outside instead of reading stuff on the Internet? You must have some summer thing to do…)


Now think about this for just a minute: if it weren’t for the impending winter bringing its own set of frustrations for many people, myself included, who can really not like fall?

Fall has beautiful colours and days still warm enough for outdoor people with no extremes to cause problems for summer heat haters.  Everywhere you go you can wear the awesome sweaters that are too warm for indoors in winter but not warm enough for outdoors, and far too warm for anywhere in the summer. You can still wear sandals and capris, go for long walks and hear the birds. The sun still shines for people who want to be out in the middle of it, but not intensely enough to annoy people who spend their summers in the shade trying to avoid it.  There is no snow to shovel, but there is already an anticipation of holiday seasons that puts people in a good mood.

I vote for fall. I’ve never heard anyone complain about fall other than the fact that it’s followed by winter. I would actually like to have fall all the time. Is there a place I can live where I could get that? I could also tolerate spring in a pretty place with no mud. Is that possible? Spring – fall – spring – fall.  If there is such a utopia, please let me know.

Right now I need to go and close all the windows of my house so I can trap the  wonderful cool fresh air inside before the sun starts beating down again…



Let’s do lunch! (but no boiled potatoes please …)


Breakfast might be the most important meal of the day, but lunch is my favourite and I’m making that work to my advantage.  Not sure what’s up with my posting about food and cooking two days in a row, but I decided to write about something today and it just happens to be food related, but it’s also related to “Reinventing Ann” so bear with me.  No comments from the peanut gallery about me and food.  Clearly, I love food, so let’s get that out of the way.  I can hear you even if you are whispering…

Here’s the deal:  I grew up in a meat and potatoes for supper every night household.  That’s what my dad liked, so that’s what we got.  I have no problem now with the fact that mom honoured dad’s preferences, but back then I did have an ongoing problem with boiled chunk potatoes.  More on that later.

We packed lunches on most school days until we were teenagers and dad’s work schedule allowed him to pick us up on his way home for lunch. Then we got cool stuff like macaroni casserole with mushroom soup sauce and onions and oh my goodness.  I have to stop here and say that this was a comfort food for years and if I wasn’t avoiding wheat I would still be eating it.  I even remember one day when things weren’t going very well at school and I was so happy to find out mom was making it for lunch that it lifted my spirits right up.  (OK so now you can detect the beginnings of emotional eating but seriously, that stuff was to die for).

But for dad, certain foods were for only for lunch just as others were only for supper.  And you didn’t confuse them and put, say, pancakes on the supper menu.  Supper was meat and potatoes. Well, sometimes we had rice, and in later years some Chinese take-out, but not nearly as often as those boiled chunk potatoes.  When he started having to go away on weekends for meetings once in a while, we went into pasta and pizza mode.  Sure, we missed him for a couple of days, but oh that glorious Italian food!  We would start planning our alternate suppers a few days before he left.  I’m sure he knew.  And he was probably glad because it meant that once he got home he wouldn’t have to deal with such crazy ideas.

So I imagined my world as a grown up when I would never again eat boiled chunk potatoes.  I planned to mash them.  Every time. Whether there was gravy or not.  And I did.

But getting back to the lunch thing…

I had a friend in junior high school with a German Gramma. One day, she invited me to go with her to her Gramma’s for lunch, and when we walked in the door I saw the dining room table spread out with roast beef, potatoes, vegetables, and an array of other wonderful things that German Grammas love to keep passing under your nose and encouraging you to eat and I’m sure my jaw probably dropped.  There was even dessert.  This was supper, not lunch!  And I sat down to experience this new way of eating, which my friend assured me was what lunch there looked like every day.  I went home and told my mom about this amazing spread and she enlightened me as to the European way of having the big meal in the middle of the day.

As I got older I found out that it’s actually healthier to eat this way, but unfortunately not always practical when your husband has been working all day and needs a big supper at the end of it.  So naturally, we did the typical small lunch big supper thing in our home as well, and I dreamed of retirement when we could change it up.  I seriously planned to change it.  In fact, when he had days off and we were gone to the city, we’d end up having treat lunches that were larger than at home, and often I wasn’t hungry for supper. After Pat teasing me about it enough, it became a standing family joke that on those days the kids better eat up because there would be no supper!

I’m not sure why, but once I found myself on my own I was no longer thinking about the plan to change my meals around. I guess there have just been too many other things to get used to in this new stage of my life.  But recently a lightbulb turned on in my head (I’m down to about 60 watts now that I’m over 50) and I realized that I could schedule my meals any way I like because it’s up to me, so why was I not making the switch that I always wanted to make?  This realization does, of course, bring sadness because obviously if I had to choose between having Pat to cook for and putting my big meal at lunch time instead of supper there would be no contest.  But because things are as they are, I went with it and started doing my main meal at lunch and I love it!  I’m always hungrier at lunch; I’m up very early and using energy all morning so this way I’m eating when I’m really hungry and spending the rest of the day burning up the calories, and if I’m really working hard on something I can just keep going all afternoon without having to stop and cook.  Sometimes I eat a small supper, and sometimes I just have a snack.  But I feel better in the evenings and overall I’m eating less but enjoying it more.

One plan I did stick with all the way through was avoiding those boiled chunk potatoes.  I mashed them all.  Every time.  Whether there was gravy or not.

And then my daughter piped up one day and told me that she hated mashed potatoes and wished we could just boil up the chunks and leave them like that.  Go ahead and laugh!  What else can you do?  That’s what happens when you swing a pendulum!  So I started to take a few chunks out for her and mash the rest and we were both happy.  Thankfully, Pat never cared what the potatoes looked like (clearly our son didn’t either because I don’t remember him ever saying a word about them and with all the words he said about everything else, I’m sure I would have known).   And he would eat pancakes, eggs, cereal or even macaroni for supper.  He never complained if we switched things around. As long as he didn’t have to eat vegetables.   But that’s a whole other story …





Don’t forget the soup (and other reasons mine is not a cooking blog …)


It’s not chicken soup for the soul – it’s chicken soup for the garbage.  And that picture is what it was supposed to look like … Let me explain.

My mom often made homemade soup.  She could have started her own movement “No Carcass Left Behind” because, in our house, those bones were boiled before dinner was digested (I daresay she even begged for bones from others who weren’t going to use theirs).  Sometimes the pot of what would be soup was started while the bird of the moment was being carved for serving.

She wasn’t allowed to add a bunch of stuff to the broth, only noodles, salt, pepper, and some extra flavour if the bird hadn’t provided enough of its own, and we gorged ourselves on that simple goodness.

I liked the chicken and turkey soups, but when it came to other varieties I preferred soup from a can.  I wasn’t much different than many kids of my day who preferred store-bought options to their homemade equivalents, with the exception of bread; I loved homemade bread which we hardly ever got and I remember country kids envying my store-bought sandwich bread at school because all they ever got was homemade bread!  I couldn’t stand the smell of beef bones boiling on the stove so soups made from those didn’t appeal to me at all.

I paid little attention to the making of soup until I grew up and decided that I wanted to be all domestic and make homemade soup for my own family.  Then I did what we all probably do when we have grown up enough to recognize that our mothers know stuff: I started asking for recipes.  In my defense, though, in my later teens, mom branched out and started making some cool varieties of soup that I was already enjoying before leaving home.  These were the recipes I wanted (and they didn’t involve beef bones).

My kids grew up with homemade soup and I became the carcass lady.  I started with recipes, but after a few repeats of the same thing I quickly began to just put my own stuff together and we’d have soup for lunch or supper of whenever we wanted because I always used my biggest pot so there would be leftovers.

I’m not a gourmet cook; I don’t desire to be a gourmet cook.  I cook when I need to eat.  Somehow my daughter developed a real enjoyment of cooking and baking and I experienced a moment of pride the other day when I picked her up for a spontaneous outing and she was telling me that she had to quickly cool off her soup before she left home.  In the conversation, I realized she was talking about having made a pot of homemade soup, no recipe, and had put it into little containers for future meals.  Yes!  My single adult baby girl living on her own in the 21st century of prepackaged microwaveable processed instant everything is making homemade soup.  Hurray for me her!

Which brings me to my garbage soup.  After a discussion with her regarding the safest ways of cooling soup quickly, based on my mother’s practice of filling a sink with cold water and letting the pot sit in it to cool but having to make sure you don’t forget about it when you go to bed, I boiled up my rotisserie chicken bones yesterday and put them in the sink after supper.  Yes, the chicken was store-bought from the deli, but those BBQ chickens make fantastic soup!

When I got up this morning, there it was, all nice and golden and looking delicious, full of bacteria I cannot even name, cooled to room temperature  – sink had drained – and left overnight because I forgot.  So I flushed it down the toilet.  And this is why mine is not a cooking blog.

To be clear, I have many more times remembered and successfully stored my soup.  But when I saw the pot sitting there this morning, I had to smile to myself as several soup memories came to mind and the idea of writing about it began to churn.  I’m sure even the best soup ladies have lost a pot here and there.

I continue to make a variety of homemade soups myself but still, when it comes to chicken or turkey, it’s noodles only, please.  There’s plenty of room in those other pots for all the extra stuff.  The one soup I miss having from a can – which I don’t eat now because of the wheat in it – is Campbell’s tomato.  But I’m gradually getting my own closer and closer and in the meantime the way it tastes is just fine with me.

To this day, if mom knows one of us is sick, she’ll boil up a chicken.  Old habits die hard.  Thank goodness!