16 Candles….

17 07 2017

I was in a hurry Wednesday morning. We had to make sure all of our stuff was packed up: clothes, food, soccer gear, beach gear… and numerous other items needed for a coastal getaway for soccer provincials. It was a long drive to Whiterock, and we had to drop my car off at the garage and meet up with our friends to make the all-day trek.

In my haste to make sure we had everything, I noticed my daughter acting glum. “Good lord” I thought to myself. “There’s no fucking way I am putting up with teenage moods and angst this morning!” I urged her to get ready, feed the dog, pack her cleats. I rolled my eyes at her seeming unwillingness to extract any minuscule bit of human decency in getting her to help me.

Finally, we were all loaded up and ready to go. She remained quiet and uncommunicative. I took a deep breath and just drove in silence. I stared at the road ahead of me thinking of the expanse of time in front of us, knowing it would be hell to get through with this sort of energy. So I asked her, point blank.

“What is the matter, honey? You have to tell me.”

Her big blue eyes blinked back some tears, and in a quiet voice that recalled her younger years, that evoked a tenderness and delicate fatalism and acceptance that broke my goddamn heart, she whispered:

“It’s my birthday today.”

My heart dropped. I stepped on the brakes and there, in the middle of the highway, I put my car into park and burst into tears. I reached for her, pulling her close and holding her as her sobs issued forth. I clung her to me, my baby girl, my love and heart, my sweetness and strength. I held her as she cried, as I cried.

Oh my heart. It broke and shattered and in my dismal realization of such a huge oversight, I realized that there would never ever be true forgiveness of my self.

Yes, yes. I know I would have remembered. I KNOW I had planned the night before that Jill and I would stop at a bakery and get a yummy cake for dinner that night once we arrived. I know that her and I had discussed for weeks about her 16th birthday gift and spent hours online looking for the perfect one.

I know all that. And logically, I can apply that and tell myself that yes, I was busy and running around and it slipped my mind. An easy oversight.

But. That little piece of her heart that was crushed when I failed to greet her with a kiss and a hug and a loving “Happy Birthday”  when she woke that morning will stay with me forever. I still feel nauseated when I think of it, even now after days of joking about it, and everyone razzing me.

My forgiveness is slow to come on this one folks. I set the bar high on fuck-ups. And I am not entirely sure I will ever allow myself to let it go. Even now, as she lords it over me, EVERY CHANCE SHE GETS.

 

But if it’s ANY consolation to the mothers (and fathers) out there…. When you fuck up… and feel that guilt about your supposed shitty parenting faux pas, just remember “Hey, I’m not THAT bad….. Kris forgot her daughter’s 16th birthday!”

 

 





Here’s the thing…

3 07 2017

Wow are we ever a society divided. Not just in the USA, but here at home… my “loving, compassionate, non-discriminate, all-encompassing and empathetic”  Canada. I see the rhetoric and divide of “left and right”. Of Liberalism and Conservatism. Right/Left. Extremes on either sides, blindly faithful to their views only.

It makes me sad. Not because of right or wrong.

No. It makes me sad because of the lack of simple human compassion. The vitriolic hate and keyboard warrior opinions abound, regardless of stepping back and thinking for one honest moment of their point of view. Or of others.

I really felt this today, when I faced my own reactionary WTF.

A CBC article linked through my friend’s comment on Facebook of a non-binary, gender/free (pardon me if I fuck up the terminology, this is new to me) person who has succeeded in achieving an unknown gender designation on their child’s birth certificate. They want to raise their child, born of their body, free of a gender affiliation.

Holy fuck, this is a trip.

I read and dismissed 90% of the negative vitriolic comments because they came from such hate, that I knew compassion and understanding wasn’t on their horizon just yet. But there were a few honest opinions, stemming from simple questioning. I can appreciate that.

Dialogues can be created from this. And yes, perhaps points of view may or may not be swayed to any particular side and that is totally okay right now.

This is new. This is different. This is hard to navigate. You see, I have no issue with the gender I was designated with and I identify with my sex, my orientation and my gender as it generally fits in with the expected norm. I have never had any uphill battles to fight regarding my identification.

Lucky me.

So. To step back from my knee-jerk reaction to a non-binary parent claiming no identified gender of their child, I was all Wait, what??? I read the article…. my mind whirled about a bit… and then I saw a picture of the parent.

 

I KNEW THEM.

 

I knew who it was, I have had interaction with them and here’s the fucking kicker:

This human is super awesome. Kind. Thoughtful and aware and very very involved in making a difference. And active in their community.

And yes, their requests of no gender seems maybe a bit fucked up to many. It’s kind of weird, a bit strange, and makes us feel uncomfortable.

But you know what else did?

Women voting.

Civil rights.

Gay rights.

Indigenous rights.

Black Lives Matter.

White privilege.

LOTS of things have made us feel uncomfortable. I’m not innocent in this. That’s hard to admit.

But discomfort plays an integral part of change and ultimately: Acceptance.

We all need to step back a pace from our own reactionary position and take a deep breath. Step away from the keyboard and quit Internet yelling at people who don’t agree (this applies to me in many ways LOL).  I like to preface a new situation with three questions.

Does it hurt others?

Does it hurt society?

Does it hurt me?

And for the most part, with any  expression of human dignity and rights, the answers are NO, NO and NO.

It’s that simple then.

Let us move forward, with compassion and empathy and a whole lot of open-heart. The world will be a better place with it.

 

 





In her (really really expensive) shoes

23 01 2017

You’ve seen those GIFs of Melania right? Of her at the inauguration, being left behind at the car while her lumpy rotten turnip of a husband marches up the stairs to greet the Obamas, leaving her behind. How she walks by herself, as gracefully as she can, carrying the gift for Michelle. We’ve seen that clip of Michelle’s expression… But I know, I just know in my heart that it wasn’t the fact that she was given a gift (because Michelle herself gave a gift to Laura Bush eight years ago).. No, Michelle’s expression reflects the disgust she felt seeing firsthand the blatant disregard that that piece of shit has for his wife. We’ve watched that first dance between Donald and Melania, her body language clearly expressing disgust. Those pursed lips, her barely-masked scowl. The perfunctory smile. How she smiles at him but when he turns away that smile fades quickly. Her empty eyes. Devoid of emotion. Masked.

He makes no measure to show respect. She pulls away from him in subtle ways.

Oh girllllllll….. I see you. I see your distaste and I sense your regret. I think there are many of us who can spot that a million miles away.

I am sure though, that many people would preface any sort of dialogue about her with arguments of her elitism and entitlement. But but but!!! She’s rich! She knew what he was like when she married him! It’s her own problem! If she doesn’t love him she should JUST LEAVE.

Really…. really? I wonder. I wonder how easy it is for her….

We have all seen the bully mentality he employs. With people that he refused to pay for work he hired them for. For calling people out on Twitter for ridiculous slights. His fragile ego and bottomless bank account makes him the worst kind of bully. A big fat giant baby of a bully with no compassion, empathy or regard for decency. It funnels down from the highest forms of government to his own home.

I’d wager good money that he lords that over her. That any sort of plea or effort on her behalf is met with threats of lawyers. What if she has wanted to leave? To take her son and make some sort of life for herself? I can only imagine the spittle-infused rages he can spur, ranting in their gold-encrusted bedroom while she silently holds back tears. Perhaps she has wanted to leave for some time. But now, she is the First Lady and is trapped more than ever. Who the hell knows what manner of pre-nup he devised when she married him. And yes, she signed, willingly, likely, but without any foresight (like everyone else) into what her marriage would evolve into. What he has evolved into. And let’s be honest, here. The power of holding a mother hostage is worth more than millions. Her son? His “trump” card.

Can you imagine how she felt when she first heard him say “Grab ’em by the pussy”? Can you even begin to imagine how that made HER feel? Knowing full well that she had to stand by her man, even though she may have wanted to slam him upside the head with a cast iron frying pan.

It’s sickening. It’s nauseating. It’s heartbreaking.

And it’s not her fault.

I can only wonder, I can only devise what I see by body language. I may be wrong. I’d never wish for unhappiness in her life. But what I do wish for is that IF she is unhappy, that perhaps she, as well as any unhappy woman out there, can find resolve within herself and gets that plucky courage up to make a difference to her own life and existence. It may not be tomorrow, or next week, or even next year… but it will happen. It will.





Crazy is as crazy does.

21 05 2016

After Tutter died, we found that our house and home was a bit too silent, a tad less full, a teense too clean, a smidge too empty of doggy love. So we decided to start “keeping our eyes open” for a new four-legged furball to welcome into our home.

Daily, I scoured sites looking for a canine that said “PICK ME”…. I encountered all kinds of dogs, many of whom might have been that perfect fit but were either a bajillion miles away or a bajillion dollars. My daughter especially seemed disheartened that getting a new dog would just never happen. I said to her to not worry, that the right dog will come to us and we just need to patient for the Universe to work it’s magic.

Last September I heard there were puppies at the local SPCA. I had resisted the idea of a puppy because, well PUPPY.  Chewing and barking and teething and digging and peeing and pooping and all that other stuff that comes along with raising a young pup. It’s a two year dedication to raise into a dog that is not an asshole. I know this because Tutter was an asshole for two long you-name-it-Tutter-did-it years. He was a little dick, but after some time, spent by me mostly swearing under my breath at him and fantasizing about him running away or playing in traffic (I kid FFS, don’t get your knickers in a knot), he grew into a righteous dog that kicked all other dog’s asses at being the most awesomest dog ever. So, yeah, puppies.. Definitely not my first choice.

So at lunch one day I walked into the SPCA to check the wee little fuzzy monsters out. A typical Kootenay mix, some Shepherd, Rottie and who the heck else knows what. They were cute, I guess. I went into the kennel, expecting my heart to rise up, little puppy angels to appear singing as I would be chosen by a four-legged fuzzy soul, as he or she toddled over to me to eagerly lick my out-stretched hand.  There would be a soul connection, I would pick the puppy up and lose my heart completely.

That didn’t happen. Not one of those little fuckers even acknowledged me. They just kept on doing their thing while I felt utterly disconnected.

I left the kennel, not really feeling much, as I knew the right dog would come along. As I was ready to leave, one of the volunteers came in with a dog on a leash.

I asked if this was her dog, and she said, oh no, he was just surrendered yesterday.

And there it was. The moment. I knelt down to see what he would do and he came up to me with a sweet eagerness and a goofy charm. I scratched him around his ears and he laid his head on my shoulder.

He was almost three and had been given up by owners who had adopted him after he was abandoned around the age of one. I brought him home, intending on a weekend trial run, but by Saturday I had this funny feeling he was ours, and so we adopted Jed. We chose to be his third and final home.

Little did I know how absolutely gong-show nutters he was.

He settled in okay, and we quickly learned he was shy and skittish. He has a slinky nervous mannerism if he is around people he doesn’t quite trust. He stretches and yawns constantly, and after some internet reading I learned it can be a sign of anxiety. He disappears sometimes to hide upstairs even though we are all downstairs hanging around. He loses his mind if we cheer at the tv when our team scores. He likes to target the odd person walking down the road by nipping their calf and running away, but he jumps our fence when in the back yard when we try to contain him. (Believe me, this was and is the main issue with my dog. Thankfully it has not happened in a very long time. Biting is no joke) Tying him up is NOT an option after speaking to a professional about this, as it will only exacerbate his issues. He paces and pants sometimes for no reason. He rolls his eyes and shows the whites when he’s in a full-blown “Sketchy Jed Episode”. Sprinklers and hoses are a source of utter terror for him.

We stay calm, we don’t give him too much attention at most of his behaviour, but we instead focus on praising him when he acts normal. When we see him doing something towards others, he is corrected immediately. A visit and concern by our vet prompted us to put our dog on anti-depressants for anxiety. LOL.

The medication has helped. He is less crazy, but still kind of nuts. I wonder what goes on in his little brain sometimes. He’s not the dog I wanted, but he is the dog we needed, mostly because he needed us.

He gets quad rides and trips to the farm, walks with the kids and lots and lots of bedtime snuggles. I take him for hard runs almost every morning and the mere mention of Do You Want A Bone has him heading towards the freezer where they are kept. He is smart as a whip, he is a sweet little guy with a penchant for pleasing us, especially with his “funny face” he makes at us when he’s excited about whatever we are doing. Leaving your door to your vehicle open is an open invitation for him to jump right on in, ready for a ride.

I feel for that little guy, and all I want for him is to know that he is in his “furever” home and that we will never ever give up on him… He’s an absolute crazy-pants but you know what? That’s ok.

Last night, as I was wondering where he was, I found him tucked up at the top of the stairs in complete darkness. He wagged his tail apologetically at me and I just said “It’s okay Jed. You do what you do, man. You’re a good boy.”

And he is. He’s a good boy. A little lot of crazy going on, but hey…. who isn’t a little cray-cray?

 





One Year Ago.

5 05 2016

I stood in the kitchen that day, numb and empty. My hands moved, wiping counters, prepping food, washing dishes. The silence of the house was marred only by the ticking of the clock and my son’s breathing as he sat, iPod buds in ears, listening to his music.

Was it only a few hours before that our sweet Tutter lived and breathed? I had shed no real cathartic tears when his life left his body, as his head drooped heavy into my hands and his eyes closed. I gently held him, knowing his body was all that was left.

I was so proud of my kids that day, how they fiercely and defiantly wanted to be there, to be present for their sweet dog’s last moments. So that Tutter would know he was not alone, that he was loved and adored beyond measure. My motherly instinct to protect them from hurt was honestly understandable. But…. Oh how proud I was….That my kids, regardless of how heart-breakingly devastating it would be, knew that they both needed to be there.

We had all returned home after, and buried our family pet. And we all went our somber, separate ways for a while, to assess and try to begin to mourn.

I stood, looking about my sparkling kitchen and felt the dam break. I cried and cried. Nick stood in front of me, simply there, all that I needed at that moment while I wailed and sobbed.

I remember saying “I didn’t know it would be this hard.” And Nick nodded and came to me, arms outstretched to offer me love and comfort.

None of us knew how hard it would be.

For days, weeks and months, we healed slowly. We heard Tutter from time to time, pawing at the door, walking down the hallway, or scratching himself. I smelled him too and one time, while sitting by his grave that is tucked up under our birds-nest bush by the fish pond, I swear I felt him lean against my thigh.

Ghost Tutter was there and we celebrated that. As the hurt lessened, we began to feel lighthearted about the idea that his kind spirit lingered in our home.

Tutter, you were a good goddamn dog. You were one of the best. Not a single day goes by that we don’t think of you, mention you or just have you in our hearts. Thank you for giving us unconditional love, idiotic goofiness, tender protection and the sweetness of your devotion.

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Tutter The Mutter 2003-2015

6 05 2015

The first thing he did when Dan brought him home almost 12 years ago was to rush into the back yard, jump up onto the picnic table, eat all the hot dogs, jump down, cover Nick with kisses, crap everywhere, jump up onto Elisabeth and knock her down, leaving her crying and scratched up, all in a whirlwind of puppy enthusiasm. Only later did we discover the mess he had “expelled” in the back seat of the truck.

Our four year old son hugged his daddy and said “Thank you” with such heartfelt sweetness, we knew we had made the right decision. And then Nick pronounced his name to be Tutter. (Borrowed from a character in a kid’s show called Bear in the Big Blue House. Tutter was the mouse.)

He was instantly part of the family. At no point did we hesitate bringing him places. He adored quad rides, sitting on the back seat with a smirk of pure glee as the wind rushed past his face. He loved the beach, discovering the wonders of fishing for minnows. He was the most pleasant beach dog, never laying on anyone’s towel or mooching potato chips…. Nope, Tutter would fish all day long, and then wander off to lay in the shade for a snooze.

He was great at catching mice and shrews, somewhat confused and disappointed when his new squeaky toy would stop squeaking. He’d bury his face in the snowdrifts to sniff, leaving his rear end sticking up in the air. He’d put up with the kids dressing him up in all sorts of humiliating garb. Always eager, always willing, always with his giant goofy grin.

He was a real asshole at times. Our fence couldn’t contain his eagerness for adventure: he would launch himself over the top with SuperDog ease in the eternal quest for excitement. We used to fantasize about a TutterCam strapped to his head so we could see what he did when we were gone. These escapades usually involved his best doggy friend Sage, who lived down below. I’d often get a phone call from Kristin, so I could yell into the phone to GO HOME TUTTER as she held her phone up to his stubborn ear. He dug a bazillion holes in the back yard and I’d curse his name…. He’d chew through leashes, chew his bedding, chew on picnic table legs, he’d take off, he’d jump on people, he drove me batshit insane…. But then, after about two years, he calmed down. He mellowed. He started to listen. And although I loved him before, I loved him even more as he was becoming in every truest sense, The Best Dog Ever.

He hiked with us, he camped with us, he went out countless walkies with us. He took us on a myriad of adventures, including the great duck debacle. He scared us with a possible nasal tumour five years ago and beat the odds, which we are ever so grateful for. (Impressing us too, with learning how to sneeze on command to clear his nose… ) His exuberant joy at seeing us after a long day lifted my heart every single time. No matter how crummy my day was, his love for me cheered me up.

He liked to cuddle up next to me if I was laying on the floor…. Yeah, my dog and I spooned a lot. He’d place his paw on my hand. He’d lay his face next to mine and sigh contentedly. He adored his kids, wanting to be by their side to play and protect. And for Dan, he was truly Man’s Best Friend. Trips to the farm to fix fences or cut firewood or early morning stints in the boat to catch Kokanee were their manly bonding times. He’d gaze up to Dan’s face, with a huge smile, his adoration shining in his sweet brown eyes.

If one of us took out the back massager, Tutter would run over and push you out of the way to claim his rights to being massaged first.

I can never express how much I love my dog and to those who aren’t “dog people” or “pet people”, I’ll let you in on a little secret….It is so absolutely and deeply fulfilling to have a relationship with a soul who is so completely devoted to you that they would lay down their life for you. The rewards are endless. In return, we gave Tutter the best life a dog could ever ask for.

His cancer grew quickly.Through diet and medication we were able to have a couple precious months with him since the diagnosis. But as he lay on the floor a couple days ago and moaned intermittently, we all took a deep soulful breath together as a family and chose to let him go in dignity and to release him from his pain. Our vet concurred and we spent one last lovely morning together with him. We showered him with love, reminding him again and again that he was the best damn dog ever.

Today, we gathered around, holding him with boundless love as he left his body to run free. Our family unit embraced this death with such bittersweet acceptance. The sadness is deep and undefinable. There is an emptiness in our home now as we all begin to carry forward into the next days, weeks and months, to grieve and remember our Tutter The Mutter.

I love you Tuts. I love you so much. Rest easy, big guy.

 

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Hey kids, it’s story time….

1 04 2015

Long, long ago, I travelled to Italy to see an old high school buddy who had moved there when we were in grade 9. I stayed with her lovely family in Firenze (Florence), ate amazing food, witnessed mind-boggling art, met all of her fun friends, toured around Europe a wee bit, met my old pen-pal in France and stayed with her family for a couple weeks. I learned a few things about myself and, yeah, I admit, got a wee bit chunky from Maria’s (seriously amazing) risotto.

How fun that time of my life was…. It is, of course, glossed over in my memory’s rose-coloured glasses. I sadly realize a lot of things were lost on my red-neck 21 year old self…. Did I even try any good wine? Hell no. Did I take an Italian lover and spend long sensual nights (and days) in his bed? Sigh… nope…. I did, however, savagely learn heaps and bounds about the Renaissance and the deep and wondrous Italian heritage. I declared myself Italian in my heart, gazing for hours at the sculptures of the Masters. It ingrained in me a sense of TIME…. The house we stayed in was hundreds and hundreds of years old…. From our bedroom window, I could see the Duomo of Firenze grazed by the “fingers of God” as the sun set. The sky was different, the air was different. I was different.

When I left, they gave me some parting gifts. One was a bottle of red wine, called Nozzole. The label was a map of Firenze and the surrounding area, which included drawings of the house where I stayed. I vowed to only open that wine upon a VERY SPECIAL OCCASION. I placed it on its side in a dark dry closet and promptly forgot about it.

Special occasions galore came and went. Dan and I had our first baby. Then we got married. Then I turned 30 (but I was pregnant for the second time, soooooo). Then I had that baby…. I realized one day that I just needed to drink that goddamn bottle of wine, and that was right around the time my sister turned 30.

“Well, hot damn,” I thought to myself, “perfect excuse to crack this motherfucker open.”

We had a lovely dinner together, and I brought the bottle out.

“Are you sure?” Kim asked, feeling intimidated towards this bottle of wine. As if her 30th wasn’t good enough.

“I am so sure,” I said and removed the cork.

We let it breathe. And then we poured.

What poured out wasn’t the glistening blood red liquid of a fine Italian wine, the aromas and sensuality swirling around our heads… evoking images of piazzas, Italian cigarettes, dark eyed men, thousand year old stone villas and old olive tree orchards.

No. What poured out was a chunky, vinegary hot mess of a wine gone bad.  You guys… YOU GUYS…… IT WAS BROWN.

Kim and I looked at each other and burst out laughing. I admit we actually tried a wee bit and spat it out in the sink….

All those years stored away as a special occasion reward ended up as a candle holder in my bathroom.

And I enjoy it every chance I get.

 

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