A Canadian gal living in Britain with 3 men and a dog. Wine helps.

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Not ready for the psych ward (yet)

I work with psychologists who tie in very closely with the psychiatric community. The people I work with assure me I’m not nuts. My friend and boss promises me that I don’t have some kind of strange disorder. When I look around,  its quite easy to be in agreement with them.

My husband, well I’m not so sure he believes I don’t need some kind of therapy or at least super strength meds, because ultimately, he is the one that feels the brunt of my ‘strange days’. This past weekend was not the best for me as I had three consecutive sad days; we could call it a short holiday in the Pit of Despair if you prefer. Or I might have this idea that he thinks I’m slightly unhinged because he comes right out and says it, especially when I tell him things like I did this morning. I told him that I woke up twice during the night, my face wet with tears and the feeling of horrible loss upon me. (He is away for work this week.) He says these things while he is smiling (I can tell) but deep down I wouldn’t be surprised if he wasn’t joking.  Either way, I know he loves me just the same.  (Besides, what he's had to contend with in his previous relationship makes  my bizarre sleep patterns and occasional moments of unease seem like a walk in the park.)

We laughed as we discussed all the ways that I act like a person with serious mental health problems. But then we got serious as we talked through the reasons I might be waking myself up with such horrible dreams:

I’m at a stage in my life where I know I won’t ever have my own child and while I’ve been coming to terms with this, I had to confront the fact that my mother is battling a very aggressive form of breast cancer. Yes she is beating it but you never know when these things can sneak back up and bite you in the ass. Plus, she and I were on the phone last night talking about her hospital appointment to be marked for her impending radiation. The radiologist sent her for yet another cat scan, ‘just to be sure’, which is very thorough, yet still sends a little niggle of worry through me even though I know how fantastic her medical treatment has been and continues to be.

Add to the mix that I’m thousands of miles away from her. Yes it helps that we can talk on the phone every single day, sometimes twice a day if we feel like it. Yes I can send her little cards and gifts through the post to let her know how proud I am of her, and that I think of her all the time; but I feel like its not enough. (I’m sorry for mentioning this again, I know I’ve done so in previous posts.)

Andy and I are in the process of planning a trip to Ontario in October, primarily to meet my niece (which is long over due) and spend time with family and friends. We are going to try and make it a great holiday, getting out with friends and doing various activities (we would really like to see the national park) in between spending time with the family. Mom is pretty certain she will fly up to see me when I’m there, which would be fantastic. I would love to see her with the baby whom I know she loves so much (even though my own heart may hurt just a little.)

When I look at it all from this angle, I can assure myself that I’m not crazy, unhinged or a lost cause. I know that when I start to feel low it will pass and I will come out the other side feeling strong and healthy again – because I am. I’m a lucky woman for the blessings I do have in my life and I mustn’t spend time being sad about what can’t be, or might be. I have to be true to the girl I am: easy going and full of love for the people in my life, emotionally led maybe, yet with the ability to forgive - most of the time.

I have to live for today, this moment in time. And that’s exactly what I’m doing.

At least today :)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Carter Barr

Our dear friends Robert and Dawn left for Lake Como in the early hours of this morning. They've been planning this for a year and we couldn't be more happy for them (if not incredibly envious ;).  One evening last week Dawn came over for a glass of wine and raided my closet for a few extra items of clothing to take with her.  We are completely different sizes but I knew I had a few items that would work, like my long black maxi dress.  When she realized my wardrobe was full of only my clothes (Andy has his in the spare room) she exclaimed 'its like Aladdin's Cave in there!  Just when I think you can't have one more item for me to try, you pull something else out!'  My reply was 'You should see my sister's closet if you think this is bad'. 

Clothes aside, we needed to get to the important gear, shoes!  And even better we have the same shoe size.  Again she was slightly taken aback when she saw how many pairs of shoes I actually own.  She was like a kid in a candy shop and her face lit up when I pulled out yet one last small suitcase full of shoes that I adore yet hardly wear because they are only for really girly occasions or when I'm dressed to the nines: my stilettos or what I fondly refer to as Car to Bar shoes.  (I can't wear these very far as my ankles are weak and tend to roll). 

In the little suitcase was a pair of four inch, pink, open toed shoes that are worthy of Carrie Bradshaw.  I adore them, my sisters covet them and I've probably only worn them twice.  Dawn instantly had them on her feet and we talked about how great they would look with a little black dress or better yet, nothing else.  (Well they are going on a romantic getaway to Lake Como, Italy)

The other evening when I was over at Robert and Dawn's having a glass of wine in the garden, Robert mentioned the pink shoes.  He said (with a grin) that when Dawn initially pulled them out to show him, she told him what I called the shoes. Robert's reply? 'I've never heard of him'.  Dawn had just looked confused.  What did Robert mean he'd never heard of him?  Robert said, 'I've never heard of Carter Barr... I've heard of Jimmy Choo but not Carter Barr.'

Men eh ?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

44 Years

He came into my life when the last thing I was looking for was another relationship.
He hates to say he's sorry and never did until he met me
(or so his mother says).
He's given me the greatest gift I've ever been given:

He gives the best hugs. 
He adores all things sweet and nothing will ever change that.
He refuses to let circumstances drag him down and remains optimistic even when I have long since given up - he will always fight the good fight especially if its something he believes in.
He is one the kindest men I have ever known.
He has given me more headaches then a girl should be subjected to (including two teenage boys :), however has proved that true love is worth fighting for.
Resourceful could be his middle name.
He handles the moments when I come undone exceedingly well, ready to give me whatever I need especially more wine ;)
Because of him I've seen some of the most amazing places this world has to offer and I can't wait to see more.
He appreciates my mother and loves her like his own - he also respects and admires the relationship I have with her.
In his arms is where I feel safest.
and lastly, (stop reading now if you are of a delicate nature):
he is hung like a horse -what more could a girl want in her guy?

Happy 44th Mr.A


Let's get our party on tonight :)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Cruise Control

Today has been an odd day for me. It started off well enough until I decided I’d treat myself to a McDonald’s bagel and coffee for breakfast. What’s up with that? I never do that anymore. And then I wonder why my weight isn’t shifting? For a start, I can’t remember the last time I worked out (not like me at all) and how can one possibly lose weight if they aren’t going to the gym or mind what they eat. Bah.

So I ate the bagel and drank my coffee and ended up feeling slightly sick. It was so not worth it.

And then:

I watched a man enter the building (I happen to have a room with a view) who looked rather pleasant and surprise, surprise he made his way to my area. His meeting had been scheduled for over a month, however I wasn’t expecting such a handsome, cheerful psychiatrist to turn up. I temporarily forgot about feeling queasy. (Sorry Andy, but even my boss David commented).

The radio was playing some great tunes and I was getting on with quite a bit of work as I thought of the coming weekend.

But then:

I started to think about what today is. Today is the day our 17 year old lad gets a car. A car of his very own, one that he will actually drive, all by himself. Not just sit in and pretend to cruise through the streets as Oasis belts out of his sound-system. I’m not going to go into how incredibly hard he worked to get his license, or bleat on about how extremely lucky he is to have his dad and I help him purchase said car (he needs it to get to his apprenticeship training in just over a few weeks and will pay us back over the coming year). Because I’m so very proud of him and all he has accomplished; he is such a mature young man. Yet this doesn’t change the fact that he is going to be on the road soon without an experienced adult in the car, driving around at the exposure of all the other crazy drivers out there. And I’m feeling just a lot sick to my stomach over the fact that I can’t keep him safe and that we have to let him do this.

I just have to remember to breath. I felt the same way when I proudly taught my sister to drive and she went out on her own. It’s just a fact of life, a rite of passage, a big old lottery of luck with a bit of skill thrown in.


I’m going to go home and show my excitement (and bury my fear) when I see the little black Corsa on our drive and ask my boy if he’d like to take his daft (step)mom for a ride (providing his insurance came through).

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

More than treading water...

My mom can’t swim; she never has been able to. This is commonplace for many Newfoundlanders of her age group, despite the fact they grew up on an island, next to the sea. Her dad was a fisherman, and he couldn’t swim either. I honestly don’t think any of her sisters and brothers can swim. Because of mom’s fear of water, she made sure, 100% sure, that none of her children would grow up with the same fear. We were all enrolled in swimming lessons early on, and I remember helping my brother and youngest sister learn to brave the deeper water in the pool of our next-door neighbours. Because of mom’s determination, we can all swim, and we all love the water, especially the beach. She gave that to us.

I remember all the years that mom, a woman who can’t swim, took us kids to a lake or a beach. Just her and five kids amid all the mess that accompanies a trip to the lakeside: blankets, towels, sun-screen, food and drink. Mom is an avid reader but didn’t read while she sat on a blanket on the sand as she was too pre-occupied watching us children, always keeping us in sight even if a life-guard was on duty. (Shame more parents weren’t as diligent). As I grew older it was part of my job to help Mom and keep my eyes peeled for the others. It wasn’t hard as I was usually in the water with them.

One such day, my sister and I were messing around in the water at a lake that wasn’t familiar to us, as mom had taken us there with her friend Gail. This lake had quite a steep drop off that we were warned about. We must have been fairly young because Tawny wasn’t confident about swimming over her head yet. She was on my back as I walked back and forth along the edge of the drop off. I’m sure you know what’s coming here: I misjudged my step and over we went; and it was deep, incredibly deep, over my head by at least four feet. I could see the wall of the drop off as I was pushed down. You see, my sister was trying to climb from my back onto my shoulders in her quest to keep her head above water. It was terrifying, I think more so for Tawn, even if I had to remember not to breath in. I knew that I was going to have to try and get my sister off my shoulders if I was to get my head back above water. Eventually, I did. I grabbed my sister and pulled us back to firm footing. I then looked for my mom on shore, hoping she hadn’t seen us but she had. The look of horror on her face was plain. When we walked over to her on the shore it was obvious she had been crying. As she hugged us she exclaimed that she had been crying out for someone to help us, that we were drowning and no one would help. I tried to assure her that it wasn’t that bad, it was only a few minutes, but I can’t imagine her angst that day on the beach thinking that her children were going to drown and no-one was going to help (there wasn’t a life-guard on duty). But we were ok… it was ok. Because she had made sure we weren’t afraid of water, and had learned to swim, because I was always built like a line-backer while my sister was the size of a coat-hanger, it was ok. I saved us. I will always try to save us, no matter how we are flailing about – because that is what we do for each other. Mom taught us that.

Mom sees her oncologist today (whom she finds very attractive by the way) and is getting marked for her radiation. Thursday, she begins her third round of chemo.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


A few weeks ago a meme was making the rounds where we answered five questions and passed a whole new set of five on. My sister, over at  Five Days in May threw out five questions of her own and (finally) here are the promised answers to her questions:

(I won't be asking five more as I've already done mine :)

1. Where is your favorite place to shop for clothes? I have a few choice places but I love Monsoon though I often have to wait for special occasions or the twice yearly sales as the clothes are a little out of my budget. I also love the shops in House of Fraser, again, not the best place to go when on a budget.  But I find I'm liking the more quirky styles lately and like a bit more individulality.

2. What would your very last meal consist of? This might be hard to believe but a really tasty chicken stir fry filled with fresh veg, especially sugar snap peas, water chestnuts, broccoli and button mushrooms… and a very large class of gold pinot grigio.  For dessert?  A chocolate brownie with vanilla pod ice-cream (or panacotta with raspberry coulis... I can't decide!) 

3. What’s your biggest regret? I will be perfectly honest here: Putting my family through a miserable hell by being a totally selfish prat when I was 20 and gamboling with my own life, to the point where I very nearly needed a liver-transplant. Hearing my dad tell my sister (via the phone) not to cry, that I was going to be ok and seeing the look of shock and un-answered questions on my mom’s face is a memory that will never leave me. Although I wasn’t the most horrible teenager and did take my role as big sister and first born seriously, I could act very selfish sometimes (what teenager doesn’t?) however that incident took the award for the most terrible and selfish thing I have ever done. And for that I will always be sorry.

4. How many hours a night do you usually sleep? On nights like the last few, four if I’m lucky. However my insomnia is sporadic and often I can get a good seven hours of only slightly broken sleep.

5. Name a city that you visited that you loved so much that you would move to if you could. Would your answer change if money wasn’t an issue? Hrrrm. I have been to a lot of cities: Quite a few European, a few Canadian and American and although each city has a lot to offer, for a variety of reasons, only a few stood out. I had never particularly wanted to visit Paris, but fell in love with it when I did, but I don’t know that I would want to live there, as romantic a notion as that sounds. The cities that stand out most in my mind are New Orleans (I visited before it sank), Paris and Dublin. Dublin because it was just so fun and laid back (kind of reminded me a little of an Irish Halifax). And I know I would have had more fun in New Orleans if I’d stayed longer; I’m not really someone that wants to live in any city really, I’m more of a sea-side, country living girl, but the question isn’t whether or not I’m a city or a country girl, so…. I think I’d chose New Orleans, if for no other reasons than the architecture, food and atmosphere.

Now I'm going to soak in the bath with a glass of wine, a piece of chocolate and Jasper Jones.  Good times I tell you.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Sometimes you can try too hard...

A few weeks ago when Jayne, Alex (our other psychologist) and I were moving into our new offices, we had to nip out to the local ASDA to pick up a few supplies as our offices weren't fully equipped with such items as bins and clocks (the rest of the crew aren't coming for a few weeks yet).  Jayne very kindly purchased a clock and bin for all of our offices and a not-inexpensive digital radio for me to keep in my office. (Have a mentioned that I have a great boss?) We all then picked up a few items to personalize our offices.

 I couldn't resist this mug, because its so me:

and I already had Amelia, a gift from mom when I was last home, to help me keep my screen clean:

All three of us bought plants, and both Jayne and I loved the little potted gerbera's;  Jayne picked orange and I of course chose pink.  I joked that mine might not live past two weeks because I don't have what some would call a green thumb. But I did have the best intentions. I really did.
This is how the plants look when we bought them, a mere three weeks ago:

Jayne's plant

This is how mine now looks:

Apparently you can over water a plant.  Oops.  I was so worried that I was letting it get too dry that I've almost drowned the poor thing. 

Ironically enough, yesterday after Jayne showed me what the problem was, she gave me a little gift she had bought at the weekend, something to help me look after my plant she said, although I probably won't need to use it for awhile... and we laughed and laughed.  It doesn't get more ironic then this:

Let's hope its not too late and I haven't killed my flower with too much love.

Monday, July 05, 2010

It could easily have been a pig roast if we'd had a pig...

Saturday night we had a bunch of friends over for our yearly summer bbq.  We normally try to have it to tie in with Canada aDay.  I take great pleasure in the fact that my friends say they look forward to it every year, especially the food.  This year the weather was perfect and Andy worked hard all day making the garden look presentable while I pottered about in the kitchen getting everything ready. 

Janice and Dawn

It was a great time.  The drink was flowing, the music was on and the food seemed to be a hit, especially the home-made baked beans made with Canadian maple syrup.  For dessert we had my mom's simple but yummy Strawberry Squares and Lemon Cheesecake.  (I never thought I'd reach a point in my life where not only could I cook, but I'd enjoy it)

Dee, Me & Alison

The pinata went over well with the kids and had the adults roaring with laughter.  Of course the bigger boys had no problems busting it open, therefore ensuring the adults didn't get a go. 

Connor finishing it off :)

Sharon's little stars, Becky and Aiden

Once it started to get dark Andy lit up the fire pit he is so proud of (and rightly so) and we moved to our smaller garden for a marshmallow roast.   We started talking about how fun and relaxing an open fire is, especially when roasting marshmallows;  my mates seem genuinely interested when they enquire about the lifestyle in Nova Scotia (or they are being very indulgent with me, but I never want to be considered a bore about 'back home') so when asked Andy and I started talking about all the great things Candadians like to roast, i.e. s'mores and sometimes even pigs.  Naturally, out came the big spicy sausages and folks then got down to serious business.  The sausages were messy and disgusting to look at by my, they were tasty.  Poor Dawn, who isn't a sausage eater was trying hard not to be sick.   I won't go into the running commentary from the men and boys, lol. Still, we had a lot of laughs; and a lot more to drink.

This can't be how it works...

Cameron and Connor

Naturally as we got a little drunker the music got a little louder and of course, the dancing began. 

Can't think of a better way to end a party.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Looking for motivation...

I noticed last night that it’s now been a week since my last post – and I had been doing so well… or at least was trying to.

It’s been a hectic time for me at work with moving into the new premises whilst still keeping on top of the actual workload and when I'm at home my time has been filled with important things like relaxing in the sun in the back garden, sorting out my new i-phone, taking our 14 year old snowboarding for his belated birthday gift, some much needed retail therapy (which we haven’t really budgeted for but sometimes a girl just needs this type of therapy, it’s much cheaper than real therapy after all) and of course the all necessary wine imbibing whilst in previously mentioned garden. And last night the beach was calling to us.

Sadly, the gym has been pretty much a no-go for me. I over did it with bodypump and combat classes and last week my knees were in a rage of protest, sending sparks of fire throughout my legs; ibuprofen was my best friend for a few days. Once the pain gave way and I’d had a brief rest, I seemed to have lost interest in going for the rest of the week and my tiredness won the battle against the gym. Tuesday night I forced myself back to bodypump and although my knee was screaming during the lunges, I persevered. I’m going to try and coerce myself back tonight, but as it’s gearing up to be another hot day, the beach just might be on the agenda again (it’s the easiest solution when you have a dog that needs exercising yet its still to warm at 6 pm).

As I mentioned, work has been really busy and when I’m not furiously sorting things out I’m taking a moment to try and sort out what kind of visa my sister needs to apply for to get herself over her for a much deserved break; We have delayed it by months and will continue to do so until mom’s treatment is complete, but Stacy needs to be thinking about it now (not that she hasn’t been thinking of it for months already ;), as there are a number of issues that need attending to. They’ve changed the Working Holiday Visa which figures, however there is another visa that is an option, and will hopefully be what we are looking for.

Everyone seems really excited over the possibility that Stacy will be coming to stay with us for an extended period, however there is no pressure from our end; Stace can come whenever she likes, for however long she likes, and if she decided tomorrow that it wasn't possible, we'd be sad but would understand - such is life when you have made the decision to live away from your family.  The boys do keep asking when she will get here though, its seems hard for them to grasp that Mom’s treatment is taking so long and that of course Stacy wants to be with mom until she’s finished her chemo and radiation. I too am relieved that she is there with our mother helping her through all of this. I won’t lie and say I’m not thrilled that Stacy wants to come over, and I know its not the pull of being with me so much as the fact that it’s a much needed break away from everything that’s been going on during the last year (some of these issues I’ve talked about here, but some I haven’t and will only say that it hasn’t been an easy year for Stacy either and she deserves to get away to a place where she can just chill out, maybe experience the English working life and quite possibly travel a bit). Besides, it’s something she has been planning almost since I moved to England, and why not? How many young university graduates have such an opportunity? How could you not take this opportunity when your sister lives in another country? I won’t be here forever.