Sunday, December 16, 2012


All weekend long, my heart has felt heavy and my head has been full.  Filled with anger and sadness and sympathy for the families who have lost their loved ones in such a senseless way.  In the wake of the shooting in Connecticut on Friday morning, I haven't really commented on it because I've been completely disgusted by the "debates" going on on Facebook, Twitter and other places about gun violence in America.

Living in Canada, in a small town, I can only recall two times in my life that gun violence touched me personally in anyway.  The first time was while I was in high school.  A young man went to a local high school (not mine) and shot his girlfriend on the front lawn of the school.  Some friends of mine witnessed the murder and I can tell you that it changed them forever.  The second time, was many years later.  A young man whose family had lived across the street from mine when I was very young, committed a similar crime.  The young man shot and killed his girlfriend at a local mall.  Both events were horrific and were related to domestic violence.  Both victims were known to the shooters and in all likelihood, the shootings could have been prevented or predicted by folks who were close to the victims.

These events seem very different to the huge mass shootings we keep hearing about from down south.  I know that folks in the US have very strong opinions about their right to own guns.  Personally, I would never have a gun in my home but I think that if you like to hunt and you have the proper permits and licenses, owning a hunting rifle or a crossbow, to hunt with, should be legal.

I do have a lot of questions though, about guns in general, which I can't find answers to:

Why does anyone, except the military or the police would need to own automatic (or semi-automatic) weapons?

Why would an individual need a hand gun?

How does arming entire communities make people feel more safe? (personally, I would feel less safe to think that everyone was walking around carrying a hand gun)

Why do folks who want to own guns think that "gun control" means "gun ban"?

Why is it harder to receive a diagnosis and treatment for mental disorders than it is to access guns in the US?

Goodness knows, no country is perfect.  In Canada over the past couple of years, there has been an increase in gun related deaths and injuries (mostly in large cities and primarily related to an increase in gang activity) but it is like a drop in the bucket compared to the devastating massacres which continue to happen, almost monthly it seems at times, in the States.

Collectively, your Nation needs to pull it's head out of it ass and stop arguing about who can legally love someone else and figure out how to get people to stop killing each other.  Wake up America, how many more more children have to die while you keep bickering about guns?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


This past few days have been a whirlwind.

Quick as you'd like, we have had an offer accepted on a new home.  We weren't even looking and this happened.  How can this be!?

A couple of weeks ago, we decided to head out to visit my parents who were working at the annual Tea and Sale at their church.  On the way there, I noticed a house for sale.  It was a house I'd driven by my whole life and had always admired.  The home is located in a neighbourhood I never thought I'd be able to afford to live so I left it at that.

Maybe a week later, I looked up the home on the MLS website.  I noticed that it was actually in our price range.  Some of the features of this new property (septic system, not sewers, no central A/C) were an initial deterrent to me.  Eventually, I went back to the listing and began looking into septic systems.  The other morning, on the way to work, I mentioned the house to Mark in the car.  He immediately responded, without blinking, "let's go see it."

On Saturday, we saw the house and on Sunday, prepared an offer.  After a little bit of back and forth, our offer was accepted.  We're working on meeting the conditions but hopefully soon, it'll be officially ours.

It's a really fun house.  it's a ranch-style bungalow and it seems to have been built in the early or mid 1950's and has never been renovated.  It's been maintained to a very high standard but it really looks like something out of Mad Men.  The property also has a massive lot so the dogs will basically have a bigger space to run in than our neighbourhood's off-leash dog park. Like I said, FUN.

Of course, we'll still have the issue of dealing with our current home but I'd like to not think about that right now.  I shall just focus on my pinterest decor boards and how much we're going to love putting our stamp on our new place!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

everybody shout it

For the last little while, my personal challenge has been to try to write something here, every day, during the week.  That sort of fell off the rails the past few days for a number of reasons.  Writing about why I haven't written feels like it will help me get my blogging butt back in gear again.

1.  Work.  Things have been pretty busy at work and normally, I try to take a little break for lunch every day and I write at that time.  That hasn't happened during the past few days I've been in the office.

2.  Fall Clean Up.  I took Friday off last week and missed another lunch hour.  I'm trying to use up some vacation time which I can't really carry over.  I spent the day, well a good sized chunk of it, either outside in the garden, cutting stuff down and raking other stuff up or getting some chores done inside the house.  My garden was overdue to be "put to bed" for the winter.  It looks great now and we lugged 5 large bags of yard waste to the municipal composting place on the weekend.

3.  Doggie Time.  Recently, we decided to be more vigilent about walking the dogs on a regular schedule.  If I'm honest, they are kind of lazy, so are we so it's easy to just take short walks, or toss a ball around in the yard.  That's not enough exercise for them or us.  With the time change, we're trying to get in a longer walk each night after work, before dinner.  That's shifted our evenings around a bit but I kind of like it.  The dogs seem happy about it and we're enjoying it.  I do find that now, after dinner, I feel like doing more than just plopping on the couch.

4.  Housework.  I hate it, a lot.  It needs to get done though and I'm always happy when I come home to a clean house.  With my new found post-dinner energy, I'm doing one biggish housework each night before I head to the computer or TV.  By doing this, it is freeing up more time on the weekend to be outside running around with Mark and the dogs.

Looking at that list, I realized that I can probably squeeze a little writing time in between the walking thing and our dinner.  That's what I've done tonight.  Feels like the walk will help clear my head and hopefully, inspire me to write something, anything, each week day.  I figure the more I do it, the better it'll be.  I hope I'm right.

On that happy note, I'll leave you with a little gem from The Beat.  I've been listening to them a lot just recently.  Forgot how much I used to love them and am really enjoying them again.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

shooting up

So we stayed up late last night, about 90 minutes past our normal bedtime, watching MSNBC's coverage of the election returns in the states.  I find US politics fascinating for a couple of reasons, partly because it's a freak show at times and partly because often times, policies in the US can affect policies in Canada.

For example, I give you marijuana.  Well, I'll not actually GIVE you marijuana, I don't smoke it and don't have any to give.  Before the "harper government" came into power, marijuana possession had been decriminalized in this country.  I personally believe that it should not only be decriminalized but it should be legalized.  People use cannabis to treat a huge number of ailments and conditions, including MS, anxiety disorders, migraines and other types of chronic pain.  Not many doctors are comfortable signing the necessary paperwork you need to obtain permission to use it legally for medical reasons.  Because the Bush 43 government was a strong opponent of pot, the harper government followed suit and revoked the laws which decriminalized marijuana in Canada.

Some of the ultra conservative folks in the states, many of whom were defeated yesterday, want to take away the ability for a woman to make choices about her own health and they sure don't want same sex couples to be able to marry legally.  I would hate to see the harper government try to pull the same stunts up here.  Times like this make me appreciate the way our government is structured.  The multi-party system has forced everyone to work together to get things done.

Things in Canada are by no means perfect, I don't think that any country is "perfect" for that matter.  There are always ways which we could help improve things for folks, for young people and old people and people suffering with illnesses and disabilities but overall, I think we get things right more often than not.

Today, to celebrate my Canadian-ness, I'm going to get my free flu shot at our local health unit.  Normally, I don't get the flu shot.  Last year, I had the flu and it was pretty horrible.  Hopefully, I'll avoid that this year by getting shot in the arm.  For folks who live here in the Kingston area, the Health Unit has a list of places you can go to get your free shot OR you can book an appointment online and avoid lining up. 

Monday, November 05, 2012

have a day

I really wanted to write something today and post it here. I'm trying to write more and post more, even if it's boring or silly, it's a habit I'd like to establish.

So today was bananas. I just got home about 10 minutes ago and normally I'm home by 4:15. Work was busy and I'm happy to help out but, this cut into my serious writing time.

 So, alas, I shall share a video with you instead, in keeping with the theme of "it was twenty years ago today" from Friday:

It's impossible to frown while you're experiencing the Spree and once again, I'd like to remind you about their Kickstarter projoect. I wrote about it last month and would encourage you to check them out and support them if you can.

Friday, November 02, 2012

It was 20 years ago today

On November 2, 1992, I started my first, continuing appointment position at Queen's.  Today, I am celebrating 20 years of working for the same employer.  I know that isn't something that is very common these days.  I have not spent the entire time in the same department and that's helped keep things interesting.

CFRC Summer Picnic 1995

My first continuing job at the University was at CFRC Radio.  I had been working at Queen's for a while, temping in different departments and applying for any jobs that were posted to external folks.  I had applied for the CFRC job in April but didn't get called for an interview until October.  If I'm honest, I think I'd forgotten I had even applied.  I probably thought that it had gone to someone else and they didn't bother to loop back to me.  This photo is me with the woman who hired me, former station manager, Maureen Plunkett.  I think this was taken in the summer of 1995 by Jane Mundell, host of the awesome, "Careless Memories" show which aired on Saturday mornings in the mid-90's and featured all of our favourite cheesey 80's songs.   

The position at the station was half-time so I filled in the rest of my time temping in other departments.In late 2000, almost 8 years into my gig at the radio station (which I LOVED), an opportunity came my way to take on a full-time position in the area I'm currently working.  I'd been temping there since 1996 so it was a good move for me and I would move into a job full-time which I'd been doing part-time for a while.
Looking back, it's hard to believe that it's been 20 years.  20 years! If I'm really lucky, I'll get to stay on campus for another 20.  It's a good place to work, I'm surrounded by amazing people who are doing exceptional things and I feel priviledged to be a part of it.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Movember - Day 1

Movember - Day 1
Originally uploaded by Julep67
Mark is participating in Movember this year. If you aren't familiar with Movember and would like to learn more about it OR you know what it's all about and would like to support him, please visit his mo page -

He kicked the ass of cancer this year and would like to help others kick it too. Cancer really has it coming, it's messing with too many people we love.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

keep your doggies safe

I saw this image today, courtesy of the wonderful folks at It's a terrific reminder that not all pets are happy about troops of kids banging on the front door, in costumes, after dark, all evening.

Every year on Halloween, Mark takes our pups downstairs and the three of them camp out in the basement while I stay up and shell out to the various zombies, princesses and Harry Potters who visit our house. Sam and Grace don't like it much but it's better for them than getting stressed out by trick-or-treaters.

Halloween can be a very stressful time for your pets so please don't leave them alone and definitely don't let them outside unsupervised. / of my public service announcement (without guitar) - have a happy Halloween!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Introducing Gracie

Introducing Gracie
Originally uploaded by Julep67
Four years ago today, we welcomed a sweet, frightened, timid Sheltie girl named "Gracie Mae" into our home.

She's changed so much since that first day when she shook like a leaf in my arms as we drove home with her. As frightened as she was, she ran toward Sam as soon as she spotted him in our backyard. They were fast friends from the second they laid eyes on each other.

In the four years since she adopted us, we dropped the Mae and have watched her evolve into a more confident dog. She herds all of us, Sam included and now accepts tummy rubs and ear scratched (on her own terms) and is always happy to meet new people. Gracie is one of the kissy-est dogs I've ever met and I can't imagine our lives without her in them.

Happy Barkaversary Sweet Gracie and thank you for making our world a better place!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

tie a yellow ribbon

A few months after Sam came to live with us, a pilot off-leash dog park program started in our town.  We took Sam to the park for exercise and socialization.  He was still technically a puppy, about 10 months old.  The first time we went, he and I both were cornered by a large, poorly controlled German Shepherd.  The German Shepherd was beautiful but it's owners were drunk and thought this was funny.  Since that time, Sam is very cautious around big dogs when we are visiting a dog park.  Also, he really hates it when he is on his leash and an unleashed dog approaches him.

Recently, I heard about The Yellow Dog Project and I've been helping to spread the news about them when I can.  TYDP is trying to get the message out about anxious dogs, dogs who are in training, possibly recovering from an illness or surgery and who may need a little space while they are out in public.  To help others recognize one of these dogs, TYPD is encouraging folks to tie a yellow ribbon or piece of fabric/wool to a dog's leash to indicate that they may need a bit of space.  I think it's a terrific idea.  I get tired of having to put myself between Sam and a dog owner who is letting their pup run around, unleashed, in a public space.  I get all kinds of dirty looks if Sam snarls at their dog (he's fine if they keep their distance from him) when really, they should have control of their animal if they aren't in the off-leash area.  Sam requires slow introductions, on neutral territory, and he's fine.

I love simple solutions to problems.  Hopefully it'll catch on and will encourage folks to respect a nervous dog's personal space.  As Sam's guardian, it's my responsibility to keep him safe and that means limiting the changes of him getting into a tussle with another puppy.  If you have a nervous dog, or know someone who does, feel free to share this link and infographic with them. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

the name of my arm

Last year while I was at Blissdom Canada, Mark got a tattoo. It was his first one and he'd had 59 years to think about what he wanted. Our friend Pete is a super talented artist and he also does tattoos. He did Mark's tattoo, it was the self-portrait of John Lennon which I'm sure you've all seen.

Mark so enjoyed the experience and the result that he's pretty much been planning what to do for the second tattoo since we headed home from getting the first one.

Over the past couple of months, many conversations about what he should chose happened in our house. He seemed unable to make a decision and I figured that he had it narrowed down to a few things: Vargas style hula girl, Vargas style Champagne girl, Bender (in chef hat and apron) with "Kill All Humans" on it somewhere or, a picture of our sweet sheltie girl, Gracie.

I called him on Saturday afternoon while I was on a break and could hear that familiar buzzing in the background. I didn't ask what he had decided upon, he didn't offer to tell me and I just figured I'd see it later one. We went to dinner with Pete and his lovely wife Kat. The subject of Mark's new tattoo didn't really come up except when Mark mentioned that Kat hadn't seen it either and when he reminded me that his arm was tender. Later on, when we got back to the hotel, he showed it to me. It wasn't any of the things we had talked about but it is classic, a la Vargas. I think it's very sweet and for pretty obvious reasons, it reminds me of a song my brother wrote called, "The Name of my Arm."

Monday, October 22, 2012

back from the Bliss

Once again this year, I was fortunate enough to attend the Blissdom Canada conference in Toronto.  Last year was my first time attending and I think I had already planned to sign up for 2012 before I'd left Blissdom Canada 2011.

I got home yesterday afternoon, exhausted but very happy.  My brain and my heart are full from everything I experienced and absorbed during Blissdom.  It may take a few days to process it all.  I felt like an emotional mush ball for most of the day yesterday.  A weird but very good way to feel.

The format of the conference had changed significantly this year.  Last year, I think we had almost 2 full days of sessions, round tables, panels, speakers.  This year, we had "micro sessions" in the morning (which were like the roundtables from last year) and there were "TED Style" speakers in the afternoon.  It was a lot of information to absorb in one day.

If I had to chose, I would pick last year's format over this year for one reason.  The two-day format gave us a fair amount of time between sessions to process and reflect upon the information you received, at least that is how I saw it.  I know that this format changed to allow the conference participants to have an excursion/experience on Sunday morning.  From what I saw on twitter yesterday, the excursions were a wonderful success.  I opted out of those and spent the time with friends and family and headed home in the early afternoon.

Again, the "Bliss Chicks" outdid themselves with securing amazing sponsors who I felt treated us all like royalty.  As a person who has a lot of experience in event delivery, I know how much work goes into something like this and I felt that there is a lot of heart and soul involved as well.  I feel like the Bliss Chicks really care about everyone who participates in the conference, whether you are a speaker, sponsor, community leader or just a sponge, like me absorbing all of the awesomeness.  They are working to ensure that Blissdom is a rewarding experience for everyone.

During the Blissdom Canada conferences that I have attended, I have challenged myself to step outside my comfort zone and participate in things I normally wouldn't do. These small risks have big personal payoffs and I can't say enough about how much fun I had. On that note, I'd like to thank Annie and Dee for inviting me into their picture on Friday night.  Honestly, I feel a bit like I photobombed them but they were very sweet and lovely to include me.

Thanks to them and all of the other amazing ladies I had the great good luck to speak with over the weekend.  You're all beautiful and wonderful and so inspiring.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Oh, I Feel Fine

It's sunny outside, and it's Friday.  These are two wonderful facts.

Another wonderful fact is that the Polyphonic Spree are releasing a new album in 2013.  I think that they are amazing.  If you think that they are amazing too, or if you just think "hey, I like them, I'd like to hear their new album" why not check out their kickstarter project.

I don't normally do things like this but I backed their project because I know I'm going to buy their live CD when it comes AND I'll buy their forthcoming DVD and you KNOW I'll be buying their new album so, instead of waiting until spring, I have pledged to give them my money now and it'll help them finish up their projects and finance a tour. 

If you haven't seen them live, it's a sight to behold.  I would say that it is a unique musical experience which cannot really be described.  Having said that, if you watch the video (above) for "Oh, I Feel Fine" you'll witness Tim DeLaughter trying to explain it to Abby the Beagle.

Happy Friday.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012


Originally uploaded by Julep67
I just had a four-day weekend. Ordinarily, I do try to book an extra day off when we have a holiday weekend but this past weekend was a bit different. See, this weekend, I had a cold. A nasty, yucky, head cold.

About 12 days ago, I started feeling sort of off. I had a headache for about three days and my eye was twitching. I just chalked these symptoms up to work stress (there is A LOT going on at the office right now) and sort of ignored it. I had to work last Saturday and when I got home, I started sneezing. Mark looked at me and said, “You’ve got a cold.” I protested though, insisting it was just my allergies playing up. The next morning when I woke up, I couldn’t breathe through my nose and realized he was right. All that day, my only day off, I felt like hammered crap. I took some ibuprofen, went to bed early that night and hoped for the best – I couldn’t be away from work last week. When I woke up the next morning, I felt much better. Still a little congested but totally functional. I went along about my business until Thursday when I started feeling like crap again, charming. My extra-day off was spent doing stuff around the house instead of being out and about, getting errands done.

Through the fogginess of the cold though, we got some stuff done around the house. While Mark was at work on Friday, I got some long overdue housework done, put up my Halloween decorations and caught up on some of my “guilty pleasure” tv (my DVR had a few episodes of the Real Housewives of New Jersey waiting for me). On Saturday morning, when I woke up, still stuffy and cold, it was a nice treat to sit in my clean living room, sipping coffee while it rained outside. I hate cleaning but I sure do love a clean room!

The rest of the weekend was spent doing work in the yard and more puttering around the house. We accomplished a lot. I saw “we” but most of the heavy lifting was done by Mark. There are still one or two small yard work things I need to do before we’re officially ready for winter but they should get done this weekend, weather and construction permitting. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that we’ll have proper water pressure and an actual driveway soon. This construction can be over any time now!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

slow news day

I know that when you talk to folks who live in the areas surrounding Kingston, they sometimes refer to it as The City.  It's known as the Limestone City but it's always felt like a small town to me.

That feeling was reinforced for me today, by our local TV news reporters.
Our street has been under construction off, and on, since June.  It was pretty ripped up in the spring and then it was patched back up until August.  The city needs to work on the water lines which go up our street, to the reservoir at the end of 3rd Avenue.  Since Mark was in the hospital in mid-August, we've had "temporary" water while the project has been underway.

Currently, our water is coming into our house via the external valve (for our garden hose).  Bright blue pipes snake their way across our neighbourhood, in a network of valves and eventually everything comes together a few doors down from us, connecting to the hydrant on our neighbour's lawn.

When the weather was really warm in August and early September.  The water tasted and smelled horrible.  Imagine water sitting in a plastic pipe, being baked in the sun.  Water from Lake Ontario is not the freshest tasting in August at the best of times, baking in a plastic tube just made it even more disgusting.  In our house, we filter our water through our refrigerator and we've been going through a lot of water filters (at $35 a pop) and even then, it has been tasting funny.

We have also noticed that our water pressure was lower than normal but it was tolerable, until last night.  Upon arriving home from work, we discovered that we had NO water at all in the house.  I found a friendly guy who works for the contractor doing the work and he checked our intake valve (between our house and our neighbour Pat's house).  He made some adjustment and I went into the house.  We had water again, but the pressure was really low.  The contractor told me that was normal, I thanked him and he went back to work.

Construction continued later than normal last night.  It was around 7:30 p.m before I heard them packing up for the night.  I think they must be feeling panicked because, if the temperature drops, those exposed plastic pipes are going to freeze!  All evening, our water pressure was just barely there.  It took forever to get water for dinner, to clean up with, our shower was almost unusable.  As it was way too late to call the City and report the problem (technically we still had water so I didn't think this was an "emergency" to report), I took to bitching about it on twitter.

While I was bitching, Mark was outside with a flashlight, checking to make sure that all of the external valves were open and working.  Pat came out of his house to see what was happening and told us that his pressure was super low too.  I felt relieved knowing it wasn't just our house.

In the middle of my tw-itching, our awesome city Councillor, Sandy Berg, tweeted to me that she had passed my comments along to the engineering and utilities folks and advised that I call them in the morning.  This morning at 8:01 a.m., I called the Utilities office, spoke to someone who works on the project and by mid-morning, when Mark was home for a break, our pressure had been restored.  Oh Happy Day!! Life can resume to close to normal now.  I tweeted my thanks to Councillor Berg, she let the city know that we were happy, all's well, right?

Uh, not so fast.  While all of this was going on, two different folks from our local TV Station News contacted me via twitter looking for a story.  It has to be a very slow news day here in Kingston.  I wrote back to both of them and explained that there wasn't any news going on, that we were working stuff out with the city and folks were just doing their jobs.  I'm not sure what kind of angle they would have presented the story from.  We have been inconvenienced by the construction but that's hardly newsworthy.  At the moment, we cannot use our driveway or really, our front lawn.  We're parking a block away from home and climbing through a giant sand pit when we come and go but again, not news, just life in a construction zone.

All the while this was happening this morning, "Pink Houses" by John Mellencamp was going through my head.  The City was super helpful and professional in dealing with our issue this morning.  The local TV News team, were grasping at straws for some kind of story to show on their program tonight.  It's kind of pathetic when you think about it but then again, their newscast is kind of pathetic when we've seen it in the past.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

still waiting

We spent the past week and a bit preparing ourselves for Mark's surgery, which had been scheduled for today.

It's a pretty big op and we're a little bit emotional about it. Physically and emotionally, there is a lot of work to be done to get ready. At home, we had things to sort out, arrangements to make regarding work, pets, just general life stuff.

We were both pretty relieved to arrive at the same day admitting area this morning and be taken on time. Mark got into his charming gown, new housecoat and awesome IV. He sat in a little cubby while the nurses too'd and fro'd and tried to find him a gurney. From the waiting area, I saw his surgeon come in. All good signs right?

Next thing I know, a nurse is calling my name. She approaches me and says, "have you been told yet that the surgery has been cancelled." Dumbfounded, angry, sad, wide-eyed and slack-jawed, I say, "uh, no!" She takes me to where Mark is. He's now getting dressed and has big bandages on his hands from the IV stuff.

We're both upset but we understand, things happen. There was no bed available for him to go to once he got out of surgery. That is a problem. I suspect that they were backed up with trauma cases from the weekend. We suck it up and go home. Well, we try to go home.

We get to the lobby and I phone for a cab. While we are standing outside, upset, shaken, a smidgen angry, on the verge of tears (me anyway - I think Mark was probably more composed that I was), waiting for our cab, safely in the 9 m no smoking area. An older man approaches us, commenting on Mark's hair (it's long, silvery white and worn in a braid down his back). I can tell he's going to aks if Mark is aboriginal (he's not, he's a lapsed jew) and wants to start some kind of crazy conversation with us. I notice that he has bright blue nail polish on his very dirty nails. Mark sees his light cigarette and notices his "homeless tan" (not my description, I guess it's something Mark's observed while driving his cab). We both tell him no, to step away from us with the cigarette. The man starts into some discussion of religion. We ask him again to leave and I point out that he's in the no smoking zone. He tells me to call a cop if I don't like it. I pull out my phone and get ready to dial when I realize that there are security guards right inside the door. I tell the man that I'll just go fetch a guard. The man RUNS to the other side of the painted line and says, "there, what are you going to do now?" We say, "Nothing, you're in the smoking zone now, leave us alone." He starts hollering at us that we are hate-filled, are going to hell. Which is hilarious considering we don't believe in hell. We're both pretty sure that dead is dead and there no where to go when your number is up. However, he keeps hollering "well that's where you're going." We shout back at him to just leave us alone and to f-off and get into our cab. He was still shouting at us as we drove away. Mark told me that he sees guys like that all the time. They hang around outside the hospital and bum smokes from patients who go out for a cigarette.

Normally, I would probably just ignored someone like that but we were both so upset and he just picked the wrong moment. When we got home, I was still shaking with anger and frustration but calmed down enough to call the surgeon's office to rebook.

I have to say, the surgeon's office is amazing. They have given us a spot for tomorrow, we're checking in at 6 a.m. and Mark should be having his op by 8 a.m.

We're early birds most of the time so that won't bother us too much and I have to say, the blue-nailed smoking dude probably won't be up to greet us when we arrive tomorrow. We're feeling really lucky to have this new slot assigned to us so quickly. it was a real relief because I know how long these things can take sometimes. We'll both be really glad when tomorrow is over and we start down a road that gets things back to something close to normal again.

Monday, August 13, 2012

missing Kathy

Spring 1972
Originally uploaded by Julep67
Four years ago today, my strong, sweet, beautiful cousin Kathy lost her long-fought battle with brain cancer. We lost her far too soon and still miss her every day. This picture of Kathy and me was taken in the spring of 1972, over 40 years ago. Yikes.

Been thinking about her a lot over the weekend, about cancer and illness and how many people in our life are fighting right now.

In Kathy's honour, I'm trying to focus on the good times and remember all of the goofy stuff we did as kids together. Usually we would see each other at my nana's house on Jasper Avenue in Smiths Falls. Nana is gone now too, almost 15 years this fall. It's hard to believe how quickly time passes sometimes. Sometimes it feels like it was just yesterday that it happened. I don't think that you ever get over a loss like that.

Best we can hope for is to laugh more often than we cry when we look at back at those we've lost.

Friday, August 03, 2012

front of the line service

As I've mentioned here before, Mark had surgery in June, late June. He had been suffering with kidney stones for a while and finally they called his number and he got to go in and have those suckers blasted with lasers. It was a fairly simple procedure, no incisions, done by a surgeon who confided that he had kicked ass at Dragon Slayer in the 80's. Good stuff. Excellent result, Mark's had an awesome recovery. All is well.

So, we find out this week that he needs to have another surgery. Slightly more complicated surgery this time, to deal with a completely different issue. The issue was identified during his Kidney Stone diagnosis and some of the pre-surgical screening stuff he had to do.

Now, because he has been a surgical patient so recently, and us being thoughtful folks who don't want to cost the fragile health care system anymore money than we need to, we were hopeful that we could save the taxpayers some money and us some time, by avoiding the pre-surgical screening stuff.

When we met with the new surgeon (different issue, different doctor - both are AWESOME), he gave us a form to fill out and we figured that was the end of it. Mark gets a call on Wednesday that he is required to go in for another PSS. When he called back yesterday to talk to the folks in charge, he explained how he'd already had one and, had filled out a form. They were insistent that he go in and told him that it would only take 10 minutes because all they needed was a blood draw. Fine, he parks the cab and goes in.

One hour and ten minutes later, he walked out, fuming. I can't blame him. They did do the blood work but they also sat with him, went over his questionnaire (the woman who he met with had his form from Monday with her) again. Not only did she ask each question again, slowly, she circled his answers which had already been checked off.


Now, this is an excellent hospital with helpful, well trained, courteous staff. We're very happy about the level care he's been receiving in recent months and have no doubts about the level of care he'll continue to receive when he goes in for his surgery in a week and a bit. Honestly though, how much did it cost the system for him to have that meeting yesterday? Not to mention the wages he lost by being in there instead of out on the road. Maybe I'm just crabby from the heat but this really bugged me and I know it bothered Mark too. Ugh!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

pooling around

backyard pool
Originally uploaded by Julep67
We've had a lot of stuff on our plates this summer and it hasn't left us with much time or energy to use for much that is fun.

Having said that, we did get to two Roger Waters shows in June and earlier this month, Mark and a good friend of ours, drove to Quebec City and stood with 75,000 of their closest friends to see Roger wrap up the Wall on the Plains of Abraham.

Roger shows aside though, we have just been running and running. I've been pretty busy with work stuff, Mark's been recovering from his Kidney surgery and the days have just flown by.

On Saturday afternoon, on our way home from doing some errands, we drove by the outdoor municipal pool which is ridiculously close to our house. A couple of years ago, the pool was demolished and rebuilt and it reopened last summer. We wanted to get there last year but it was either too busy or the weather was crappy and we never made it.

When we drove by on Saturday, it didn't seem too busy so we decided to go for the evening swim at 5 p.m. We were SO glad we did. I love to swim and it had been ages since we had been. The facility is gorgeous, the staff are very friendly and obviously very well trained. I was quite impressed with the way they dealt with the kids who were having dive-off contests in the deep end. The place has sunny spots and shady spots and even provided really comfy lounge chairs.

On Saturday evening, we had such a good time that we went back on Sunday morning. We'll definitely go back again, hopefully this weekend if the weather allows. We're starting vacation on Friday night and I think a few visits to the pool will be on our agenda. I totally forgot how much fun it is to be in or near the water. We're both nursing a bit of sun burn this week but I think it was worth it!

Wednesday, July 04, 2012


hartland covered bridge
Originally uploaded by Julep67
So we both went back to work yesterday. Kind of glad it's a short week.

Also glad that we survived our "vacation" last week. I use the quotes around the word because in my head, vacations are relaxing and last week was not relaxing. It was fun at times, frustrating at others, worrying and scary too.

After a whirlwind, 3-day period spent zooming up and down the 401 to see 2 Roger Waters shows, we landed back at home, pooped and happy. The shows were so fun but I had, stupidly, booked the furnace maintenance/inspector dudes to visit us at the crack of insanity on Tuesday morning. We had arrived home from Ottawa at 1:30 a.m., gone to sleep around 2:30 a.m. and were not thrilled to have to crawl out of our pit at 7:30 a.m. to await the 8 a.m. arrival of furnace guys.

I spent the morning outside with the dogs. The dogs, Sam in particular, hate it when strangers visit the house. He barks at them for what I believe are a number of reasons:

1. He’s informing us that we have allowed a stranger into our house and stranger = danger
2. He’s informing the stranger that no guff will be allowed in Sam’s watch. If that stranger gets out of line, watch out, cuz he will bark MORE at him!
3. Once it appears that the stranger is friendly and not going to cause any danger, Sam needs to tell him that he’ll protect the no-longer stranger but he needs to come here RIGHT NOW to be protected
4. When the time comes for the stranger to leave, Sam needs to let him know that it’s NOT SAFE outside and the stranger needs to stay with Sam. If he is out of Sam’s sight, Sam cannot protect him.

Simple huh? If the door to our basement was somewhere else, we could have probably been in one part or another of the house. Unfortunately, our basement door is smack in the middle of the house so the best we could would be to hide out in a bedroom and that would have been less fun than outside.

On Wednesday, Mark finally had his kidney stone surgery. We arrived at the hospital for 10 a.m., almost immediately saw the surgeon and Mark went into the OR at 11 a.m. I was told when he went in that the surgery would be about 2 hours. What they don’t tell you is that you need to factor in the time that it takes for the Anesthesiologist to get their stuff done. I later learned from a nurse that it’s normally around an hour. When the surgeon came to find me (while Mark was in recovery), he told me that the actual surgery was 2.5 hours. I’m not sure if this is a lot but the Doc told me that he used 6 laser fibers to blast the stones in Mark’s kidneys. Kinda glad that the Doctor also confided that he was a wiz at video games. I think that helped. Because Mark has sleep apnea, the Anesthesiologist and respirology folks insisted that Mark spend the night. Neither of us was happy about that but in the end, I think it was better than coming home the first night. When he did get home, he experienced some back pain (not to mention some pain peeing) for the first few days but that seems to have subsided (as well as the blood in his urine). He needs to go back to the clinic in a couple of weeks for a follow up but hopefully, after that is done, he’ll be done with the kidney stuff for a while. It’s been a really long haul, waiting for this to happen, we’re both pretty relieved that it’s over with.

So while last week wasn’t relaxing, it was productive and, at times, pretty fun. We have more time booked off in August which will see us having the roof on our house replaced and also getting a new chimney liner installed for our furnace.

The good times just keep on coming at our house!

PS Happy Birthday Hartland Covered Bridge! You are 111 years old today. I took this picture when you were still a very spry 101 years old. Hope you get some cake today to celebrate!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

outside the wall

It was a busy weekend for us. We had a little roadtrip to Toronto on Saturday and Ottawa on Monday to see Roger Waters on his final leg of the Wall Tour.

Mark saw the first two shows of the tour in Toronto back in the fall of 2010 and then he and I saw shows together in Ottawa and Montreal.

The versions of the show we saw over the weekend were both different from those we saw in 2010. Roger has changed up some of the animation and wall projections to accommodate a much wider wall. The wider wall is used in outdoor parks and stadiums and it was used at the Rogers Centre on Saturday evening.

We got our tickets through Roger`s online fanclub, in a presale special. In Toronto, we were in the front, centre section, row 23, in the centre of the row. My seat was actually partially over the big cable which goes from the mixing board to the stage. Funny thing about the board in Toronto, it was so big, and the floor of the old Skydome so expansive, they put a portajohn in the enclosed area for the crew.

In Ottawa, the smaller wall was used inside the ScotiaBank Place. Incredibly, Mark and I sat in the front row, of the centre section, in centre seats. I say sat but we actually stood for the entire show. Front row is an amazing place to see the show from.

I have put up two sets of photos on flickr (you can find them if you click on the image here). During each performance, Roger has local students come on stage with him during Another Brick in the Wall, Part Two. It was very neat to see the kids up close last night. There were three teachers who were in the pit, in front of us, while the kids were performing. The teachers were all very vigourously doing the choreography and singing along with the kids. As we were leaving, I recognized one of the teachers and hollered at them to get their attention. I had taken quite a few photos of the kids and gave them my card so they could find them online. While I was doing that, the show promoter was nearby and gave me his card so I sent him a link today. Everyone was so friendly and lovely in Ottawa last night, it was a terrific experience.

There was one big change to the show, both nights. After the children go off stage, Roger sings a new part to Another Brick in the Wall. He`s singing about Jean Charles de Menezes, a Brazilian engineering student who was murdered by the London Police in a tube station in 2005. He was mistaken for a terror suspect and shot in the back of the head several times.

The show is very powerful and if you have a chance to see one of these final shows, I would go. Mark is going to be at the final show of the tour, in Quebec City next month. He saw the original show in New York in 1980 so it`s a nice way for him to close this circle with Roger.

Monday, May 28, 2012

you may remember me

Hard to believe that it's been 14 years since Phil Hartman was murdered.  Some of his "Troy McClure" lines are amongst the most often heard/said Simpsons quotes in our house, "You may remember me from such self-help videos as "Smoke Yourself Thin" and "Get Confident, Stupid"" or "Gay?! I wish! If I were gay they'd be no problem! No, what I have is a romantic abnormality, one so unbelievable that it must be hidden from the public at all cost." are just a couple...

I can't think of anything I ever saw Phil in that I didn't love, SNL, Newsradio, obviously the Simpsons and, of course, Pee Wee's Playhouse.  I found this little clip of Pee Wee and Captain Carl, discussing women.  Phil's legacy is huge, here's a small piece of it.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

sad girls

From an early age, I always liked songs with hand claps and strong backing vocals.  You can appreciate how much I liked Donna Summer's "Bad Girls" with it's "toot-toot, beep-beep" opening.  Of course, as a young girl, I had no idea what the song was about.  I just knew that I like it and I loved Donna Summer's amazing voice.

One of the first LP's I bought with my own money was "Bad Girls" by Donna Summer.  I seem to recall my mother being pretty upset when she saw it.  I had no idea what prostitutes were and, of course, there were photos of Donna and other women, dressed as "ladies of the evening" all over the cover  I think my mum got over the shock eventually and I almost wore those records out.  As a school girl in the 1970's I loved to sing along with "MacArthur Park", "Hot Stuff", "Last Dance" and (of course) "On The Radio" -  Donna was the Queen of Disco and her music was infectious.

I was shocked and saddened today to hear that she'd died at the very young age of 63.  She was a massive talent and her star shone very brightly. Cancer sucks and I'm very angry that it's snatched away another talent, too soon

Monday, May 14, 2012

Yay!! Pudsey!!!

Again this year, we got totally wired to Britain's Got Talent.   I had a short list of folks I was cheering for this year, Ashleigh & Pudsey, The Sugar Daddies and The Showbears.  Really though, both Mark and I, dog nuts that we are, wanted to see Ashleigh & Pudsey win it.  We'd cheered for Tina and Chandi in 2010 and were very disappointed that they didn't take the final. We actually cheered out loud when they called out that Ashleigh & Pudsey had won.  Our dogs, who we cannot imagine every doing something like this, were totally confused at our cheering.

If you haven't seen it yet, here is the performance from Ashleigh & Pudsey during the Finals.  He never takes his eyes off of Ashleigh.  I sure hope he got to have a steak for dinner after that performance!!

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Islands In The Cheese

When I was in high school, Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton's "Islands In The Stream" was a huge hit on the radio.  After school, and on weekends, I worked as a cashier at a local grocery store and the radio played over the address system in the store.  Each time "Islands In The Stream" played (and it was a lot), I would groan quietly and roll my eyes.  One of the "older" lady (she was probably 30 which would have seemed ancient to my 17 year old self), full-time cashiers, I think her name was Pam, would chastise me and tell me that I just didn't understand the depth of the song and when I was older, I'd appreciate it more.  Almost 30 year later, I still don't think that there was much substance to the song but my appreciation for well-aged cheese has grown over time.  I'm still not a fan of the original but some cover versions of the song just make me smile.  Including this one, enjoy!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

introducing sam

introducing sam
Originally uploaded by Julep67
Four years ago today, Sam adopted us. He was a seven month old puppy at that time.

Looking back, Mark and I didn't know much about taking care of a puppy but we quickly learned.

In some ways, I can't believe that he's been with us for four years already and, in other ways, I can't remember what our lives were like before he got here.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

the sickness

Our house has been under a cloud of grossness for about a week now. Last weekend, after returning to Kingston from a whirlwind road trip to Toronto, I started feeling like I was coming down with something. Couldn't put my finger on it but I was cold and tired and grouchy. By Monday afternoon, I knew I was sick and I spent Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, tucked up in bed or under the covers on the sofa.

I had a flu I think. Really harsh headache, body aches, fever, congestion. Add to that, lack of sleep and it was really pretty horrible. Unfortunately, it would seem like a walk in the park compared to what was around the corner. In the wee small hours of Wednesday (at 1:18 a.m. to be precise), Mark woke me up to tell me he was having a kidney stone attack. He was practically paralyzed by the pain so I had to get up to get him some of his pain killers (he's had the attacks before and is currently awaiting an update from our local urology clinic about next steps for treating them).

As I type this, it's Sunday evening and he's still not passed the stone. It's been absolutely horrible to watch him in pain like this over the past few days. He's been in touch with his doctor's office and the urology clinic. Unfortunately, when it's "march break" it's not possible to connect with anyone about your condition. Tomorrow he'll go back to his family doctor to try to get this moving along. It's been almost a week now and it's no way to live.

So we've made a great pair this week. Our pact that only one of us is allowed to be sick at one time has been blown to smithereens. I've been trying to take care of him while I'm still getting over the flu. The poor dogs don't know which end is up because one or both of us has been home with them almost constantly for the best part of a week.

To add insult to injury, the weather has been unbelievably gorgeous outside and we’ve not been able to get out to enjoy it (unless you count me running to the grocery store for 30 minutes after work on Friday, which I don’t think you should). Once spring officially starts this week, I hope we are both feeling better. This week has been a blur and I think that’s good. It would be really depressing to be able to actually remember much of it.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Happy Birthday Nana

Today is my nana's birthday.

She passed away in 1997 but I still miss her, every day. I've been going through my old photos again and found an album containing photos from Christmas 1985. They would have been taken mostly by me, with my first 35 mm camera.

This particular photo is one I'd forgotten about, all of my cousins with my Nana, in her house on Jasper Avenue in Smiths Falls. We didn't all get together very often so when we did, it was extra special.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

a drug free butt

Sam has now been drug-free for a week. Hopefully the drugs are now out of his system by now. He was given his last dose of antibiotics a week ago. At breakfast and dinner, for three weeks, I crushed up pills and put them into a tiny bit of wet dog food for him. Of course, Gracie had to have some wet food too, just to keep things fair.

His poor bum really went through the ringer in January. He had 4 visits to the vet, two courses of antibiotics and probably more fingers up his butt than he would have like (like, 1 would probably have been too many). After a week, he was definitely on the mend and at the first follow up appointment, he was healing well but still had some infection, hence the second course of drugs. The new ones were stronger than the first and I was afraid that his stomach would be pretty upset (mine usually is with amoxicillin) but he seemed to tolerate it pretty well. He still had two small holes where the abscess had happened and there was some puss coming out. Infections in the butt area are nothing to mess with and fortunately, he’s a pretty healthy and hardy guy so he was improving each time we went back to see the vet.

Last week, we had our fourth and final checkup and he was totally healed, completely free of infection (yay!). He even got the all clear to go for an overdue grooming appointment (which we did on Sunday). Gracie is still wondering why she’s not getting a tiny dish of wet food at mealtime but Sam doesn’t seem to be missing it. I can’t imagine that the food tasted as good as it should, with crushed up pills added to it!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Happy News Year

Double Rainbow Saturday
Originally uploaded by Julep67
I feel like I start almost every post with an apology for not having posted recently. This time, I'm not apologizing, I'll just acknowledge it. It's been a while, hasn't it?

I decided that it may be easier to do a category driven update, it'll be easier for me that way and I'm all about keeping things easy / simple for me.

Work Stuff
Just before the Christmas break, I moved into a new office space. It's so nice, I can't get over what a difference it is making. The room my office mate and I were in before, was an “inside” room – we did not have windows which opened to the outside and lacked fresh air. The building I'm in was constructed in 1837 and has been added onto a couple of times. The room I had occupied previously was next to a stair case which had been added sometime (likely) in the 1960's or 1970's when the building stopped being a home and became offices. Our windows faced into a stairwell and thus needed to be sealed shut for fire regulations. My new space is gorgeous and features a large, deep window (I love large window sills!) and a view of Lake Ontario. Our old space has been turned into a meeting room and we've been working at getting organized.

Last week, I returned to work on Tuesday. It was very quiet around here because most of my colleagues with school-aged children took the week to be home with them. It was quite nice to ease back into things last week

Home Stuff
We had a really lovely holiday season this year. I convinced Mark to take the few days off between Christmas and New Years and stay home with me. Normally he works that week and business is so slow that it turns him into a miserable grump. We spent the week doing very little. Visits with some family and friends, vegging out, sleeping in and watching all four seasons of "Sons of Anarchy" is how we spent our holiday. By the time it was over, we both felt well rested and recharged for the new year.

Pet Stuff
Unfortunately, poor Sammy fell ill last week. Thursday night, his bottom seemed to be bugging him and I was a little concerned about him as we went off to bed. Through the night, he woke us all up, pretty miserable. Eventually we were able to get him into bed with us and he seemed comfortable. He'd never had a problem like this before and I thought that he may have been constipated. He wouldn't let me get anywhere near his bum so I couldn't see if anything weird was going on (with two long-haired dogs, we're very familiar with back-end clean ups or “dingle-berry-ectomies” as we like to call them – they're more “fun” that way!). We got him an appointment to see the vet on Friday afternoon and discovered that he'd had an abscessed anal gland. Once they expressed it and packed it full of antibiotics, he was like a whole new guy. Fortunately, the wound wouldn't require sutures/drains but we did need to start him on a course of oral antibiotics and pain meds and try to keep him away from his butt! Not easy if you know anything about dogs. The drugs were easy to disguise but helping keep the wound clean was difficult. The first time I applied the cold compress to it, he yelped so loud that I thought my heart would just break. Last night, for the first time, he didn't make a sound when I did it (although he did flinch a bit). I can tell that it's healing nicely and he's done with the pain meds. He's going back to the vet for a follow up on Friday and he'll be taking the antibiotics until Monday but it's over the worst of it. Thank goodness. I have to say, the only thing I HATE about dogs is their inability to tell us when they are not feeling well.

Sam's butt aside, we're starting the new year off well. We've got some goals and plans for 2012 but I wouldn't call them resolutions. They are really more like projects. I hate resolutions because I never keep them. Projects though, I can do!