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There’s a lot of hoopla going on in Canada right now. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy good hoopla especially about this country I know and love. I am a proud Canadian. Born and bred. I have always been grateful that I was fortunate enough to be born in Canada. Everyone loves Canadians. By reputation we are friendly, polite, clean and relatively quiet. The kind of neighbour everybody wants. We do, however, stand on our moral high ground and make judgements about other more despicable countries. Unfortunately, just like every other neighbour we have our share of dirty little secrets behind closed doors.

So back to the hoopla…Canada is celebrating its 150th birthday and I confess that I have mixed feelings about it. I’ve been thinking about it a lot. In 1967 Canada celebrated its Centennial year. It was one of the best years of my life. I have nothing but fond memories of my great nation celebrating being 100. I was a child. My Mother was still alive. In fact, it was the last great year with my Mom. The next couple of years would be filled with hospitals, chemo and radiation, only to lose her in 1969.

Centennial year was filled with celebrations and endless activities across the country and we didn’t miss any of them when they were in our area. My two older sisters were able to actually visit Expo 67 which was Canada’s main celebration during its centennial year and was considered the pinnacle of the celebrations. It was a Category One World’s Fair held in Montreal, Quebec from April 27 to October 29, 1967. According to Wikipedia,

“it is considered to be the most successful World’s Fair of the 20th century with the most attendees to that date and 62 nations participating.”

My adventures were closer to home. As a family we saw saw the Canadian Armed Forces Tattoo performed by the members of the Canadian military comprised of 1,700 military personnel from all three branches of the armed forces — the largest peacetime event in Canadian military history at the time.

We went to air shows that featured two Avro 504K planes, Canada’s first military aircraft that had been restored by The royal Canadian Air Force. They were joined by an acrobatic flying team called the Golden Centennaires, the predecessors of the Canadian Snowbirds.

We were lucky enough to see the RCMP Musical Ride and Band which toured the country and actually made its first visit to the Canadian Arctic that year.

Perhaps my favourite thing was The Confederation Train, a diesel locomotive with specially designed coach cars filled with exhibits showcasing Canadian history and culture. Front and centre on the nose of the engine was the Centennial logo. In purple and white along the sides of the car was “CANADA 1867 1967”. The Centennial Train started out on the west coast in Victoria, BC, January 9th 1967 and worked its way out to the east coast, reaching Nova Scotia in October. It made its final stop in Montreal in December.

There were also Centennial Caravans, which were tractor-trailers, travelling throughout smaller areas carrying similar exhibits to the train.

Music also played a big part in the celebrations. On a personal note, I was part of a choir that performed “100 Years in Song”, something, over the years, my family has regretted as I still sing the song, “I Don’t Want To Play In Your Yard” (1894) that was my featured duet with my friend Susie.

My niece recently walked in on me singing it to her young daughter. The little one was sitting there with a horror struck look on her face and her hands over her ears. Her mother immediately said, “Oh, no! Not the song!

I always pictured the reaction to be more like this than one of horror.

Let’s just say that my voice did not improve with age. It was good enough then, though, to be one of the children chosen to sing with Bobby Gimby, The Pied Piper of Canada, when he came to town with his jewel encrusted trumpet to perform his composition, “Canada”. It was considered to be the official theme song of Canada’s centennial celebrations and was performed as a children’s marching song with English and French lyrics.

Bobby Gimby appearing as The Pied Piper during Canada’s Centennial celebrations in 1967. (courtesy Harper Stevens, Wikimedia Commons)

Many years later, when I went back to college as a 30+ year old, I was assigned along with my much younger classmates to do some PR work for a local museum. As we went through the museum there was a display from Centennial Year. My first reaction was one of fond memories. Then I saw the photo of me with the “Pied Piper”. My next reaction was, “Oh, my gosh! I’m so old I’m in a museum!” Then my classmates began asking me what it was all about. They didn’t know anything about Centennial Year. I was stunned that something that had been so important to me had faded in history.

My best friend in college was Gilbert. Even though he now lives in Florida, I still consider him one of my best friends. Gilbert was younger than me but older than the rest of the class. As I lamented to him about this time in my life being forgotten, he pointed out that it wasn’t necessarily a wonderful year for everyone in Canada. Gilbert is one of the First Nation people. His talking to me about it was probably the first time that I, personally, became aware of the difference of opinion. In the years since then, a lot of things that we as Canadians can’t possibly be proud of have become more publicly discussed. Our treatment of the First Nations, probably most horrifically concerning the Indian Residential School Systemis a black mark against this country I love. In 1967 Chief Dan George very eloquently spoke his mind. His “Lament for Confederation” is one of the most heart wrenching, eye opening pieces I have ever listened to (sorry I couldn’t get it to embed but it is worth watching and listening to).

The thing is that at the time, I was a kid caught up in the excitement. I didn’t know about our dirty secrets. Now I do. Now I know how these things have affected friends and family that I care about. Is it any wonder that I am confused about how I should feel about all the celebrating? Many First Nations people have refused to take part in any of the events. Even Canadian actor Adam Beach, who has agreed to act as an ambassador, feels he is “walking a fine line“. The government is spending millions of dollars on this celebration of 150 years. Perhaps, the most embarrassing portion is being spent to bring  a 30,000 pound rubber duck replica to Toronto’s waterfront.  I do know there are a lot of better ways we could be spending that money.

This is not Canadian and in no way represents Canada.

As I said before, I love Canada and will always love Canada. I may not approve of or like the way we behave all the time, but I will always love Canada.

Now this is Canadian!                                                 Photo Credit- bc.rcmp-grc.gc.ca

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Competitiveness is not something I would consider to be one of my traits. In fact, I’ve never considered myself competitive. Sports certainly aren’t my thing. I didn’t even participate in them as a child. I do play games, but only stuff like word puzzles and Sudoko…against myself. No, I really have never considered myself the competitive type. Apparently,  I’m wrong.

Recently I was having a catch-up with my college buddy, Andrew. I was explaining to him that He-Who tells everyone I am having an affair with my Fitbit because I am always on line looking at my reports, trying to figure out how to increase my numbers. He said, “You are so competitive, I’ll just get one and we can be “friends”. Then you will constantly be trying to compete with me.”  My expression must have been one of shock or disbelief because he went on to qualify his statement, “Come on, you were so competitive with me in college.”  I was really surprised he felt that way. In my eyes, there was no competition. He was considerably younger than me (still is), extremely gifted in our field and really smart. He was a natural. I worked my old butt off trying to keep up while he never broke a sweat. I learned a lot from him but never considered myself a contender where he was concerned. He is right, though. Trying to keep up with him did make me better at Broadcasting. The more he knew, the harder I would try. Others misinterpreted our relationship to be that of rivals, and, I confess, Andrew and I both hammed it up to perpetuate the myth. Our classmates and professors couldn’t have been more surprised when they walked into a reunion gathering to find us sitting side-by-side, laughing.

Michelle & Andrew together again. Pictures had to be taken for fear everyone thought it was an illusion of alcohol consumption

Michelle & Andrew together again. Pictures had to be taken for fear everyone thought it was an illusion of alcohol consumption.

Of course, we had to sit and listen to them recount all our “sparring” matches to back up their reaction. To me, it was really funny listening to how it was interpreted. In my eyes, I was so much older than my classmates, I had just been through a bout with cancer and was focused on trying to start my life over again.

When He-Who got me my Fitbit for my birthday I started walking again. I’m not a natural walker. I always say He-Who glides and I lumber. It’s hard and I struggle with it, but I got myself up to walking five miles every day. Andrew runs.

Andrew in his running finery.

Andrew in his running finery.

It would kill me to try and keep up with him. So I’ve settled on calling my Fitbit “Andrew”. That’s right. My Fitbit has a first name. It’s A-N-D-R-E-W.

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Andrew and some of his TV colleagues making the magic that is television.

Ten years ago I made myself a promise. It was a “milestone” year for me and it was going to be my year. For several years, for various reasons, I had spent most of my non-working time taking care of other people. Then came what I refer to as the “Year of Dying”. Seven people in my life died that year, starting the first week in January and ending with a bang (literally) with two perishing in a car crash. Then, 10 years ago I woke up and realized I didn’t have to run anywhere or do anything for anyone else. So I declared it to be MY Year. You know what? It was! I celebrated my milestone birthday in Maui. It was an amazing trip planned perfectly, by He-Who. He really out did himself…and come on…Maui! I also spent time in Florida, Las Vegas and New York doing things I wanted to do. Career-wise there were two promotions with pay raises and some extra perks. I started taking care of myself and by the end of the year I was half the size I started out and as fit as a fiddle. Seriously, it was my favourite year.

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Another milestone birthday is looming in front of me and somehow I feel the stars are lining up for this to once again be MY Year. It was hard not to believe it was going to be a great year when I woke up to a beautiful sunny day January 1st and was able to walk down to the lake without four layers of clothing and no snow or ice to navigate.

According to the Chinese Zodiac, 2017 is the year of the Fire Rooster and I was born in a Rooster year. The Fire Rooster is “a sign of rising, of awakening to life and of triumph. This promises to be a year of great achievements.” Yep, my year!

year-of-the-rooster

The Pantone Color Institute has announced “Greenery” as the colour of the year. Everyone knows my favourite colour is green. “A refreshing and revitalizing shade, Greenery is symbolic of new beginnings. It’s a fresh and zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring when nature’s greens revive, restore and renew. Illustrative of flourishing foliage and the lushness of the great outdoors, the fortifying attributes of Greenery signals consumers to take a deep breath, oxygenate and reinvigorate.” Oh, yeah, my year!

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Somehow I managed to get through Christmas and end up with a zero balance on my credit card for the New Year! How’s that for starting out right?

My hair is about a foot and a half shorter than last year and I got a crazy new hair do that I absolutely love!

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Like this but with bangs and my purple only really shows well in sunlight. Oh, and with a much older face.

A lot of that weight I lost 10 years ago has managed to find its way back home so I have even provided myself with  new project for the year…free of charge.

My New Year’s lottery ticket won me $25!

lottery-ticket

My missing earring showed up like magic and that stubborn stain finally disappeared off the carpet. And then, this showed up on my Facebook feed…

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See my name? Right there. I circled it for you. In greenery.

I’m telling you, this year is looking pretty good!

 

 

OMG The Horror!

It has taken me some time to write about this. Partly out of humiliation and partly because I gag every time I think about it.

There were a lot of changes in my household this spring. I realized I was coming up to a rather large number on the birthday scale next year and had better do something to get into better shape before I completely fell apart. I started walking every day in March and by the end of April had worked my way up to 5 miles a day. Along with actually moving physically I started back on my healthier eating plan. That means lots of veggies, fruit and chicken.

He-Who made some changes as well. Not exercise or eating healthy…don’t be ridiculous! That won’t happen until we find a diet that is developed around the consumption of Fresh Cut French Fries. For some reason…it may have had something to do with my Banjo Boy post, or the comments that resulted…he decided to find a new banjo teacher and start lessons again. He went faithfully for several weeks and practised every day. That is until the banjo injuries surfaced. He sounded like Ringo Starr at the end of Helter Skelter, “I’ve got blisters on my fingers!” Ok, maybe it was more like this…

Then came the bruising of his arm because he didn’t have an arm rest on the banjo. Professionals were consulted and arrangements were made to have an armrest installed by the only person qualified in the GTA.  That would be Grant MacNeil at the Twelfth Fret Guitar Shop in downtown Toronto. Unfortunately, Grant was only available on Saturday, when He-Who was not. That left me, always the encouraging spouse, to make the trek into Toronto with He-Who’s prized possession. I’m not a fan of tackling the “Big City” at the best of times, but to be responsible for a musical instrument that was worth more than I am, seemed to be a tranquillizer-worthy-task. Promises were made. He-Who was to put it in the case and Grant was to take it out and put it back in so that I never had to actually touch the banjo.  All I had to do was pick out the arm rest that matched. I did not want that added responsibility but eventually agreed.  On my way home I planned to run some errands and pick up a few groceries. There was a sale at the place where I purchase my frozen chicken breasts — M & Ms — and it was a good opportunity to stock up.

boneless-chicken-breasts

I was one hot mess by the time I got to the Twelfth Fret. There is no air in my car and as you know we have had some bitchin’ hot weather this year. My anxiety over having custody of the banjo just added to my level of sweat. Grant made the whole procedure relatively painless. It took very little time and it wasn’t long before the banjo was in its case and laying across my back seat, headed homeward. I stopped only to purchase three boxes of frozen chicken breasts on my way home.  I made sure I locked up my car like a vault while I ran inside the M & M store. I threw the chicken in the trunk and drove the final couple of kilometres without incident.  When I got home I carefully got the banjo inside, up the stairs, and laid it on one of the love seats in the living room. I collapsed on the couch watching the banjo like it was going to make a run for it. I swear at least one tear of relief slid down my cheek.

That was Saturday. On Thursday I went for my walk and came home to jump in the shower. I was feeling pretty good when I wrapped myself in a towel and walked out to the kitchen to prepare some chicken. I like to cook several pieces at a time to make it worth while turning on the oven and so I have a supply on hand already cooked. It helps me to not be tempted to have something less healthy. There I stood wrapped in a towel, with another on my head, searching in the freezer for my chicken. I couldn’t find it. It wasn’t there! What the hell!? I just bought some…the light bulb went on.

“Oh My God! Oh My God! Oh My God!” was all I could get out for the first several seconds. He-Who sauntered up to see if he could be of assistance. I just screamed at him, “Oh My God! O My God! Go out to my car right now and see if the chicken is still in the trunk!” Poor He-Who. He ran like that few seconds was going to save everything. He ran right back in carrying the bag with three boxes of not frozen chicken through the house and into the kitchen. I had smelled it as soon as he opened the door. It dripped all through the house and ended up in the sink. Do I have to explain to any one of you how gross three boxes of rotten chicken is? There are 8-12 pieces in each box, which means 24-36 pieces of dead chicken flesh were stinking up my house and dripping in my sink. By the time I was finished disinfecting the floors and the kitchen and the sink I know my face looked much the same as those rotting pieces of chicken. I gagged through the whole thing and was in a panic about what to do with the evidence. There is no way it was staying at the same address I was at. I wrapped it in plastic bag after plastic bag until I ran out of plastic bags. He-Who drove, I was in the passenger seat and the smell was in the trunk. I was sure I was going to pass out. We had to get rid of it. Someplace that would have collection the next morning, someplace that would not scare patrons from going inside to eat, SOME PLACE WE NEVER GO.  We finally found a spot and like thieves in the night, He-Who stopped right in front of it. It wasn’t looking good for me getting out of the car so he gallantly got out and grabbed the offending package from the trunk. As he approached the garbage can a man in shorts, no shirt, riding a bicycle pulled up to him and started talking. There he stood, literally holding the bag, talking to this strange man for what seemed like a lengthy period of time. I was about to have a stroke and probably puke all over the car. The man finally moved on and my He-Who dropped the bag in the bin and got back in the car. I stared at him and asked what the hell was all the socializing all about. I kid you not, this is what he said, “He asked me where the Aren’t We Naughty store was. I didn’t know so we were taking about where it might be.” I looked him in the eye and pointed to where the local sex toy shop is. It might have been the ashen colour of my skin or the gagging but he didn’t asked me how I knew where it was.

Needless to say, I haven’t been able to even look at chicken since. When ever our paths cross all I see is this. Oh My God, The Horror!

chicken-trump

Google Image

Banjo Boy

A year has passed. Maybe a little more. I think I can talk about it now…in a calm and reasonable manner. Last year, just before my birthday, HeWho asked me what I wanted for my birthday. Being a woman of a certain age and us being a couple with limited funds, my response was that I really didn’t need anything and that I didn’t think it was necessary that we exchange gifts anymore. My response was accepted valiantly with no argument and he returned his focus to his computer. Our desks are in extremely close proximity to each other. I work from home so I am pretty much on my computer what seems like 24-7 (at least my clients think so). I knew that he was spending an inordinate amount of time on his computer — something, I have to say, I am not comfortable with. I find it disconcerting when he is right there all the time. In fairness, he was doing nothing to disturb me from working. He wears headphones or earbuds to keep the sound to a minimum but occasionally it bleeds out into my ear space. What I heard was banjo music! That should have been my first clue.

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It really didn’t concern me. He had just shipped his banjo out to Kelowna, BC for his grandson Tristan.

Tristan

Tristan

Silly me. You see, HeWho is a lover of music and musical instruments. We have quite a collection of exotic musical instruments on display ranging from a Tamböa to a Djembé. There is even a Didgeridoo. None of them get played, although occasionally they get played with. Stringed instruments, however, seem to be his first love. Several years ago I gave him a Liberty Resonator guitar for Christmas. It was a thing of beauty. He gave it to his grandson, Eric, in Niagara Falls last year.

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Eric

Shortly after shipping the banjo out west to  Tristan in, he started hanging out at the local music store. I didn’t pay much attention as it was my busy time of year, work-wise. As long as he was amusing himself, I didn’t have to. I’m not sure when he actually brought the new guitar into the house. It was snuck in and discovered by me later. Once it was out in the open and he could discuss it there came the little hints. “It really isn’t what I wanted.” “It’s not a very good one.” “I don’t really like it.” Within a week the guitar was returned and replaced with a more expensive model. Fine. (Yes, that is the “fine” that only we women can issue and know that really, it is not fine.)  Now, did I mention how much time was being spent on the computer/internet? It got extremely intense for a while. I was getting really annoyed. Supper would go cold before he would come to the table. It would take him forever to get to something I asked him to do. I confess my patience was wearing thin. Then one day he played a video he wanted me to see.

At the time, it was one of those “That’s nice, dear”, moments and I went back to work. Every day, mention was made of the banjo in the video and stories were told. Every day he would have to remind me, “You know, I showed you the video”. The penny finally dropped…about an hour before the UPS guy showed up at the door.

NEW GUITAR

Oh, yeah. He bought it. The rest of the day went kind of like this…

“Just because I said I didn’t want anything for my birthday didn’t mean that you were supposed to buy yourself something!”

“You just spent a small fortune shipping the banjo you already had out west!”

“Why didn’t you just keep the one you had?”

It went on and on but even I can’t remember the full rant of my rage.  It was weeks before I even found out how much it cost. Of course, once he had it, we also had to get a special case for it. We drove to Aurora to Rickard Banjos to pick up a case. This was probably the first time I actually looked at the new banjo. Dang! It was beautiful. All of the luthiers made a fuss over it. They are really great guys and their work is amazing. But there was no way I was going to confess to HeWho how beautiful I thought his banjo was or how much I enjoyed the visit to Rickard Banjos. After all, I only went so he wouldn’t buy anything else.

The following week I thought HeWho was feeling sorry for me because I had broken my toe the night before. He wanted to take me into Toronto for a “concert”. The concert turned out to be two guys set up in a really tiny music store playing…you guessed it…banjos. I sat on a really uncomfortable, rickety stool for a couple of hours with my foot throbbing. After it was over I found out that one of the guys was the person who HeWho was signing up for lessons with. And therein lies the rub. You see, HeWho doesn’t actually play. He loves the banjo, the music and the backroom stories the players have to share. He just doesn’t play.

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Our road trip this winter took us to a rest stop in Virginia. As I got out of the vehicle I heard the banjo music playing and saw the sign. I said, “It looks like we’ve stumbled upon your people.” He grinned from ear to ear.

A year has passed and I am still waiting to hear some banjo music from my Banjo Boy.

First, let me say right now…if you’re reading this because you think it’s about basketball, move along. Sorry to disappoint, but I’m not sure why I even know that “March Madness” has something to do with basketball.

Token Basket Ball Image

Token Basket Ball Image

March can get a little crazy. When it comes to weather, one might even say it is bi-polar. One day you’re getting emergency winter storm warnings, with “polar” temperatures and record snowfalls. The next day the sun is shining and you are tempted to walk about in your shorts. Let’s face it, we are Canadians — there was a lot of shorts-wearing going on.

Canadians in shorts

If your sanity relies on sending your kids off to school every morning, you may be walking a thin line right now.  There were “Snow Days” with the kids home from school, then “March Break” let them off for an entire week! If you made it through the break and are breathing a sigh of relief that you all survived…think again. It’s a short week. Good Friday gives them another day off: lots of time to sort out Easter outfits, Easter dinner and hiding eggs…right?

Easter Bunny Pancakes

If the weather didn’t confuse you, there is always the calamity that goes with changing our clocks to Daylight Saving Time. Some people will always be confused. Try to remember we “Spring” forward and “Fall” back. That’s right. We lost an hour of precious sleep on the 14th.

Spring Forward

HeWho went out west for a couple of weeks to visit his daughter and grandkids. That meant I could have a “girls weekend”. There is only one rule about girls weekend. We don’t talk about girls weekend…sort of like Vegas. It’s a whole special kind of crazy!

The one day of the year that you are officially allowed to be as whacky as you want is March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day. The “Wearin’ of the Green” can make for some strange outfits, some I may or may not have worn myself. It’s acceptable behaviour. No one will lock you up.

Wearing of the green

I may or may not be related to these people and they may or may not be wearing stuff that belongs to me.

You can pretty much find anything and everything coloured green…your food, your drinks, buildings and even bodies of water.

Niagara Falls goes green

Niagara Falls…Slowly it turned…green.

There is one day in March when I actually wake up a year older than when I went to bed. That sucks, but I celebrate on St. Patrick’s Day so I can go nuts and nobody notices. Well, they might actually notice that I am one that walks that thin line. You see I received a “Stress Reliever” for my birthday.

 

Stress Paul

“Stress Paul”

It’s a stress ball called “Stress Paul”. In case you can’t read it, here is what it says:
• Don’t get stressed…Take it out on Paul
• When you’re feeling stressed, punish Paul to keep your sanity.
• When the pressure is too much to handle, squeeze Paul

Best present ever! STRESS PAUL! How perfect is that.  For those of you who don’t know…this is the only time I will mention it…after that he goes back to being incognito…HeWho’s real name is Paul. I repeat, best present ever! STRESS PAUL! How perfect is that.

Did I mention we also officially welcomed the March Equinox whose dual identity is called “spring”, on Sunday, March 20th, 2016? Yes, spring has definitely sprung and I might have a screw loose.

Minion Screwloose

There is one thing that has really put me over the edge and that is THIS March MADNESS…

REAL MARCH MADNESSEnough said!

What Vacation?

It has been over eight years since HeWho and I went somewhere warm and sunny for a vacation. We decided it was time, so in January we drove to Florida for a few weeks. We still haven’t been somewhere warm and sunny.

Our “adventure” was originally to begin on Dec. 17, 2015.  We were going to head to Nashville first, on to New Orleans and finally to Cape Coral to the home of friends. Unfortunately, a few days before that my car wouldn’t start. CAA was called and one service call, a brand new battery and a ding on my credit card later I was good to go. Eventually, I headed out to our favourite butter tart place to pick up some Christmas baking. Doo Doo’s is an award winning bakery and well worth the drive out to the boonies known as Bailieboro. Well, that is until you come out of there laden down with pastries…but your car won’t start. It was a good thing I didn’t ignore the CAA renewal notice a week earlier. My car was towed back to Pickering. 12366244_10156329983160424_3469038405173141059_nOur departure date was moved to Dec. 20th and we crossed New Orleans off our route while we waited to hear the verdict about my car. Did you know a new starter costs over $500? That was the good news. There was another $3,000 plus worth of repairs recommended. But we continued to make plans and finish up our Christmas preparations. I headed back to the boonies to complete my errands and HeWho headed to the local mall. He didn’t have much luck so he called me to meet him at the bigger mall that was between where I was and where he was. We were able to find everything he was looking for in record time and we headed home in our separate vehicles. Within minutes my phone rang. HeWho had pulled out of the mall and his front axle snapped.  Did I mention I had just renewed our CAA? The good news was that we weren’t half way to Florida when it happened as this was the car we had wanted to take. The decision was made to scrap the car and our trip was postponed until Dec. 26th. Nashville was now off the itinerary. We scrambled to sort out a new vehicle.  That just wasn’t going to happen over the Holidays. My sister in Lewiston, New York, graciously welcomed us as last minute guests for Christmas dinner. My brother-in-law gave my car the once over on Dec. 26th and didn’t think we’d have any problems taking it to Florida, so we drove back home (east of Toronto) to make a new plan. On Dec. 28th I was casually trying to get as much work done as possible before starting to pack. HeWho was on line researching cars and checking weather reports. Suddenly, he stood up. “There’s an ice storm coming. “Let’s get the hell out of here.” I’m pretty sure we broke all kinds of records getting packed (only by the very loosest definition of the word) and loading the car. We headed southwest and ended up smack dab in the middle of the ice storm.  Things were not going well inside or outside the vehicle. We stopped overnight before crossing the border. It was the only way to make sure we weren’t killed in the storm. Or killed by each other.

I would like to say that things went smoothly after that, but I’d be lying. My car is a stick. HeWho is really not comfortable driving it. Around the second time I heard him grind the gears I realized I really wasn’t comfortable with him driving it either. So all but about 200K of the 5,500K (round trip) were driven by me. We arrived in Cape Coral in time to have dinner with our hosts on New Year’s Eve. That was right about when the temperatures plummeted and we said good bye to the sunshine. We weren’t that worried about the weather. It was still warmer than it was at home and our friends had an enclosed, heated pool.  Of course the pump broke the day we got there and the pool started getting colder and turning a funny colour. Ever the optimist, or as HeWho likes to call me, “Polyanna”, I still bought a bathing suit and a sunhat because I was sure the sun would return or the pool would be fixed before we headed home. Neither happened, but HeWho was amused at my attempts to swim while turning purple and goose bumpy.

Our hosts were wonderful. They welcomed us into their beautiful home and were extremely gracious about our bickering. Even with the weather not co-operating they went out of their way to keep us amused. They made sure we got to see everything and go everywhere we wanted to go. We had pre-arranged a trip to Key West via a catamaran from Fort Myers. Let’s just say…it wasn’t like this…

It was really cold and the water was pretty rough. On the way back it was even colder and rougher. I lost my sweater upon arrival and was freezing. HeWho began throwing up about 30 seconds after he took Dramamine. We had it under control with barf bags until the bag broke and he ended up covered in puke. The crew was kind enough to let us know (after the fact) that we should have double bagged. For four hours he sat there covered in the stuff while continuing to fill up barf bags. “HeWho” became “HeaveHo”. Every time I tried to help, my sympathy gag reflex would kick in and I’d look away. There were, however, more people being sick than not. I ventured to the stern and people were lying on the floor, bags covering their mouths.  By the time we hit not so dry land we were all shaken by the experience and it was a pretty quiet ride back to the house.

On Saturday, January 9th, we went to the amazing Cape Coral Festival of the Arts. I even got to use my hat for an hour. The rest of the day was spent relaxing, reading, eating, and of course me attempting to have a swim in the pool. Shortly after supper I started not feeling right. Within minutes I was in agony. Every place I had ever felt pain hurt like hell. I took some pain killers but they didn’t touch it. I excused myself and went to lie down. I knew I was about to lose it and didn’t want to cry in front of our friends. I was lying on the bed in the dark, trying to figure out what was going on and what to do about it. Suddenly, the whole room lit up. Then I heard a commotion at the front door. HeWho had gone outside for a smoke. He lit up, the sky lit up, and the hair on his legs stood straight out. That was the shortest smoke break he’s ever taken. Oh yes…there was a storm a ‘brewin. We decided to watch Jeopardy at 7:30 but at 7:40 the program was interrupted with an emergency weather report about the tornado that had touched down in Cape Coral. Not just any tornado. This was “the strongest tornado in the past 60 years“!

We left the next morning.

It was 24°C (75°F) when we left. We were wearing shorts and no sleeves. By the time we got off the road that night it was -3°C (26°F) and we had stopped several times to change and add layers. We awoke the next morning to the news that David Bowie had passed away — news that I was unable to cope with then, or, quite frankly, now. A celebrity death has never impacted me in this way before.  It seemed imperative that I get home as quickly as possible. You know that wasn’t going to happen. We got as far as Erie, Pennsylvania, that night before the blinding snow storm forced us off the road.

Snow Storm

January 12, 2016 • I90 Erie PA

Anxious to be on our way the next morning we were disappointed to hear the highways were closed. I’m nothing if not determined and I needed this trip to end. We found our way, slowly and carefully, on a white knuckle route along Lake Erie. Then, magically, as we approached Buffalo, the sun broke through and the snow disappeared.

We crossed into Canada, picked up HeWho’s new ride and headed home.

A few weeks later, I was celebrating Chinese New Year with colleagues over lunch. I finished telling them about my “vacation” and opened my fortune cookie. When we saw what was inside, everyone caught their breath. Fortune 2016

I’d say that pretty much sums it up.

 

 

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