Remembering is Different this Year

One WTC as I know it. So very different than it was 15 years ago today.

One WTC as I know it. So very different than it was 15 years ago today.

The morning of September 11th, 2001 I was 23 years old, sitting at my desk as usual at ANF, on the computer, working as I typically would be on a Tuesday morning.  In the background, coming though my phone on my desk, was FM96, where Pete, Jeff and Mindy were doing their morning show.  Shortly after 9am, there was a break in the program where Mindy came on and said that a plane had hit one of the towers of the World Trade Center in New York City.   Prior to this moment, I had heard of the World Trade Center, but didn’t really know much about it.  If someone had shown me a picture of the skyline of New York, I wouldn’t have been able to say that the twin towers were the World Trade Center, or really any details about them.  Shortly after, she came back on again to say that a second plane had struck the other tower.  Again, I couldn’t really put together in my mind what was going on, but of course knowing that two planes had struck two buildings, especially in a city as busy and populated as New York, this was certainly going to mean a massive loss of life.

Shortly after, my phone rang and it was Joe, calling me from another part of the building to tell me that there had been a further update, the Pentagon had been hit by another plane.  At this point, my stomach sank.  This is when the gravity of the situation began to set in and I realized that this was not just a horrible accident or a fluke, this was an act of terror, being carried out on US soil, not oceans away as they usually were, but not so far away from where I sat at my desk in Ailsa Craig.  I knew that this was big, that this would likely mean war, and that somehow, life would never be the same.

Everyone has their own story of where they were that day.  It’s the catastrophic moment of our generation.  The older generations have theirs, my Mom says that she will always remember where she was when she heard that JFK had been shot.  I’m sure that older generations still will always remember when they heard about the attack on Pearl Harbour.

For me, there will always be life before 9/11 and life after 9/11.  The weekend before the attacks, our good friends were getting married.  Joe and I were both in the wedding, and we had a wonderful time dancing and drinking, never imagining what would play out before our eyes a few days later.  I remember thinking that we will never get that back again.  Never have that “pre-9/11” feeling of freedom, the feeling of not knowing, that blissful ignorance that you have before a major event like this opens your eyes.  It has never been the same since.  It has affected the way we do so many things in life that before we just did without thinking – boarding a plane, making travel plans, packing a bag, visiting certain places.  My son who was born in 2008 will never experience that – this is the world that he was born into.  And he learns about 9/11 the same way I learned about WWI and WWII – as an event of the past that helped shape the society in which we now live.

The North Pool - sits in the exact footprint of where the North Tower stood.

The North Pool – sits in the exact footprint of where the North Tower stood.

In the weeks and months and years to follow, we have never forgotten the events of that day, and how many lives were lost, how many fallen heroes there were.  So many individual stories that we could never hope to hear them all.

This year, I will remember the events of 9/11 in a different way.  Last November, I travelled with my friend Jolene to New York City for the first time as my Birthday present from her, to attend the Book Riot convention.  It was my first time there, and we were there for three jam packed days.  I took in so much, and my list of what I want to do next time I go grew with each passing minute.  It is safe to say that I fell in love with this city in the short time that I was there.  Of all the places that I want to travel, I want to go back to New York so badly, I know I will make it happen again.  I want Joe to be able to experience the things that I did.  I want to be a part of the city again.

While we were there, we visited the 9/11 Memorial.  If you ever go to New York City, I would put it at the top of the list of things you must do while you are there.   Seeing those fountains, walking through that museum, moved me in a way that I can not fully describe.  I barely used my camera the whole time we were there, because it just didn’t feel right.  There is a section of the museum where you go through the day so to speak.  You see broadcasts of the day, there are timelines of what was happening on the ground and in the sky.  There are artifacts from the site of the WTC, they play voice messages from people on planes left for their loved ones on the ground.  There are things that were found in the rubble – shoes, glasses, notes scribbled on scraps of paper in the hopes of being rescued from the top floors of the building.  It brought everything home for me in a way that watching it on TV could never do.  It was different than visiting a WWII museum, this was something that I remember happening, I remember it unfolding.  As I left there, I remember feeling a numbness in my body, as I walked down the street and looked up and saw the new One World Trade Center, there was a quietness in my mind and I knew that I would never remember 9/11 the same way again.  It was a life changing moment.

Central Park was one of my favourite spots in the city.

Central Park was one of my favourite spots in the city.

The next day, while walking through Central Park and down 5th Avenue, it really started to resonate with me and I could see why terrorists that wanted to strike at the very heart of Western Civilization would choose New York as their target.  The city is alive.  It actually breathes.  It embodies the life and spirit and values that make our civilization what it is.  Yes, it is a financial hub, and it is heavily populated and everything else that goes with the goal of crippling a nation, but more than that – it is the symbol of the life, and the freedom we enjoy but don’t often think about.  You walk down the streets of New York and you see every type of person imaginable.  All races, creeds, lifestyles, etc.  and they all share one thing in common by being there:  in New York you are who you are, and you don’t have to be sorry for it.

So we commemorate the 15th anniversary of 9/11, and remember the lives that were lost in New York, at the Pentagon, and in the field in Pennsylvania, and remember the courage of so many that day and in the days and weeks following.  We move forward in the hopes of a brighter tomorrow, and say thank you to those that fight to protect our freedom.  Every year, on this day we take a moment to remember, to reflect, and to be grateful.

And as for you New York, we will meet again – that I promise you!

Flying home - I'll be back again someday!

Flying home – I’ll be back again someday!

A Little Rant About Social Media

TweetI have something to say about something that bugs me. I love social media. This is not news to anyone that knows me. I’m all about progression, I love technology and know the way the world is going in this regard and I find it exciting because the possibilities are endless.
Everyone uses social media for a different reason. Personally I like it to keep abreast of what’s going on in the world, and I use it to share what’s going on in my life. To show our life in pictures, to share little bits about my family, my friends, and little positive bits and pieces that I find. I also sometimes share the tough stuff as it happens. Sometimes I keep that to myself. I love to see what’s going on with my family and friends. I want to see the pics of your kids and marvel at how quickly they’re growing and how cute they are. I want to see where you’re going, and what you’re seeing and possibly offer words of support to you if you need them.
What bothers me is the dark side of social media. The empowerment that a keyboard gives people is not always positive. Being able to put something out there or say something to someone without actually having to see them or talk to them makes people say things that they would never actually say if they were looking you directly in the face.
Some people just use Facebook and Twitter to spread their drama around for everyone to see. To say things without really saying anything. To rant about things or people or situations while being vague and cryptic.
Sometimes people use it to air their political views and their beefs with what’s going on in the world and in ours and other governments.
Usually when I see a lot of this stuff online, just like when I see other things that don’t interest me, I just keep scrolling. I also assume that there are folks that scroll past my endless selfies and pics of my kid and my dog, and I’m okay with that too.  Sometimes though, people take it too far. And I’m not just talking about online bullying, which is a real problem in today’s society and I’m not downplaying it at all. I’m talking about a lesson that I learned in life very young: think before you speak. Don’t be insulting. Respect others. Don’t be mean.  If there is a chance that what you’re going to say may insult someone that really doesn’t deserve it, think again before you say it. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. I’m not saying that there aren’t sometimes difficult things that need to be discussed. Horrible things going on in the world that need to be brought to light. Action that needs to be taken and our human voices should not be silenced. We need to talk about these things and bring about change. Think about these things and let them bring perspective about what is important, and what isn’t.

Everyone has a right to their opinion and the right to express it. I know that if someone doesn’t like it they can keep scrolling. And for the most part, my feeds are filled with love and light and kids and animals and Birthday wishes and vacation pics. But the next time you sit down at your keyboard or on your phone or tablet and prepare to put something out into the universe that you feel that you absolutely have to say, ask yourself: why am I saying this? To make myself feel better? Is there someone out there that’s going to read this that is going to be hurt by my words? If this person were standing in front of me, would I say these words to their face? If you wouldn’t, there’s probably a reason for that.
There is too much devastation and hate and negativity in the world. When given the choice to add to it or not, please choose not.

The Scent of a Person

I miss her so much already.

I miss her so much already.

There’s no way around it, we all smell.  Our sense of smell is like nature’s built in time machine.  One whiff of a particular smell can take us right back to a specific time or place.  Or remind us of specific people.  The smell of a woodburning stove or campfire reminds me of my Pepere.  The smell of sawdust takes me right back to my childhood, hanging out with him in his woodworking shop while he tinkered away.

On May 30th at 4:49am, not quite a month ago, I was blessed to hold the hand of my Memere as she took her last breath and left this world to go to the next.

In my kitchen is a cabinet in the corner.  It was a present from Memere’s kids (my Mom and Aunt) on their 35th wedding anniversary.  When we moved into our house, she gave it to us.  It was the first piece of furniture to be moved in.  For the longest time, you could open the cabinet, or one of the drawers, and you could smell Memere.  At that time, it was a combination of good perfume and cigarette smoke.  It was a pleasant smell actually, and I used to smile when I went in to get my good dishes caught a whiff.

Memere quit smoking a few years ago.  At this point, I never really noticed it, but her scent changed.  It was there, when you walked into her apartment, when you hugged her or got close to her, when I sniffed something she had given me (a handbag, a scarf, etc.) but it wasn’t anything that I really paid attention to.

Now she’s gone.  And I miss her so much.  She was 90 years old, and I know that she lived a long, good life, but I still selfishly wish she was still here.  I’m not going to stomp my feet and say it’s not fair when there are children dying all over the world, and innocent people dying in acts of war or terror.  But it still sucks.  Sometimes I think that the longer a person is in this world, the more we miss them when they’re gone, because they have been a part of our lives for so long, that the void they leave is un-fillable.

After she passed, the scent that I unconsciously associated with her lingered in her apartment.  I don’t even know how to explain it.  She rarely wore perfume anymore, it’s not an “old-lady” scent, it’s just a pleasant scent that is her.  Sometimes on my lunch in the last few weeks when I knew there wasn’t going to be anyone there, I would go to her apartment on my own.  As soon as I walked in the door, the scent was there.  I would sit on the couch and cry for a while, but it was almost a soothing feeling.  Like she was around me.  Even though she wasn’t physically there in the apartment, being there with all her things, with the familiar smells, comforted me and calmed me down.

Today I walked into her apartment again.  Almost all of her things are gone.  All of the furniture has been moved out and there are just a few things left behind.  My mom has been in there cleaning, and when I walked through the door, the first smell to hit my nose was cleaning supplies.  Lysol, VIM.  Her scent is almost gone from the apartment completely.  This made me so sad.  Not that the apartment was empty, that her belongings have been handed out to those she loved, but that the scent of her, that had been so prominent in there before – was gone.  It was like it hit me (again) that she truly is gone and isn’t coming back.

I have some of her things.  A handbag, a couple of scarfs, a chair.  All of these things still smell like her, but after today I’m terrified that the scent will fade from these things too.  It already has slightly – it’s not as prominent as it was a few weeks ago.  I’m so scared that once the scent fades from these things, that it will be gone forever, and that I’ll never ever smell it again.  That the one thing that was unique to her will be gone and I’ll never get it back.  It’s not like it’s a scent that they bottle and sell, though I wish they did.

Losing someone you love hurts really badly.  The more you love someone, the more it hurts.  It’s the price you pay for love.  But it’s worth it.  Every single memory that I cherish tells me – it’s worth it.

Another 10 Facts About Me

Hey! That's me!

Hey! That’s me!

Okay, so I guess the first thing I should do is address the elephant in the room.  #blogmas2105 turned non-existent after the 5th day.  To be perfectly honest, I didn’t plan that very well.  It was sort of a whim that I had on the last day of November.  Maybe I’ll try again next year.  If I do, I will plan things out a little better and start working on it a little sooner.

We’ll see what happens 11 months from now…

So I thought to get back in the swing of things, I would do another one of those 10 things about me kinds of posts.  If you know me, you know that I love lists.  I have done posts like this twice before.  My first one, and then this other one.  I like doing them.  Hopefully you like reading them.

So without further ado, just in case you didn’t know enough about me…just in case I don’t share enough of my life online, I give you: “Another 10 Facts About Me!”

  1.  One of my favourite sounds in the world is the sound of an orchestra tuning up.  It likely relates back to my love of music and musical theatre in particular.  I have many wonderful memories from sitting in various theatres waiting for shows to start.  A lot of people may think this is strange, but that’s okay.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfSH1ezevjM
  2. My favourite snack food is popcorn.  It goes back to when I was a little kid and I used to have sleepovers at the Bush with Memere and Pepere.  Memere would make us popcorn.  When I was very young, she would pop kernels on the stove top in oil.  We progressed through the trends with Jiffy Pop, the hot air popper, and eventually microwave popcorn.  I also have a long standing tradition with my buddy Renee, we used to have sleepovers and eat mountains of popcorn, usually different flavours.  I can’t watch a movie at the theatre without it, and Nicholas definitely got my love for the stuff.  He shoves it in by the handful – just like his mama!
  3. I love old folks.  This is something that I realized in the last while.  I mean, I never didn’t like the elderly, but about a year and a half ago, I started working in a Long Term Care facility.  In that time, I have met several elderly people, and their families.  I have really realized how awesome they are, and how important Long Term Care is.  I have developed attachments to these folks and one of the best parts of my job is seeing them every day.
  4. I really suck at decorating cakes.  I have mentioned in other posts how much I love baking.  Obviously much of this blog is devoted to food.  I love to bake, and most of what I bake tastes really, really good. (So I’m told, I’ve never tasted any of it 😉 ).  But when it comes to decorating, be it cakes, cupcakes, cookies, whatever, I find it’s better to leave that to the professionals.  I have made several Birthday cakes, but any time I have ever tried decorating, or writing on them, it often looks like a toddler did it.  I would love to take a cake decorating course sometime, I think it would be fun, and I have lots to learn.  Maybe someday.  Until then, the pros will continue to make good money from me at Birthday time.
  5. I know that I have mentioned this before, but I am totally obsessed with water bottles and travel mugs.  I have so many of them.  Plastic ones, glass ones, stainless steel ones, I have them all.  Coloured, clear, blinged out, I love (and have) them all.  My most recent purchase was a S’well bottle. I had heard a lot of hype about them and finally had to get one.  I luckily had gift cards from Christmas that helped me to pay for it, because it wasn’t cheap.  It really does deliver on its promises though.  I fill it up with water from the fridge and put it on my bedside table, and if I don’t drink it all before I go to bed, I will wake up in the morning to water that is just as cold as it was when I poured it.  It keeps cold beverages cold for up to 24 hours, and is supposed to keep hot beverages hot for up to 12 hours.  I haven’t tested that yet, but will be.
  6. I am obsessed with planners and planning.  I have had a million planners in my lifetime.  At work, I have a desk size DayTimer that I use daily to help me keep myself together, but I have used other planners, including the beautiful Erin Condren Life Planners.  I also use an online calendar (Google Calendar) which I access online, on my phone, on my iPad etc.  I have tried no less than 20 different calendar apps on my phone looking for the right one.  My current fave is Pocket Informant.  I go into Staples and I can spend forever in the planner section, browsing the inserts and the colourful tabs and dividers.
  7. I love swimming.  We know the beach is my happy place.  Ever since I was a child I loved being in the water.  As soon as the weather warms up, I try to spend as much time in the water as possible.  One of the many reasons I love Great Wolf Lodge. 🙂
  8. I like to binge – TV watching that is.  I get into a show on Netflix and I don’t stop till I’m done.  Some of the shows I have binge watched that I love: Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, Friends, Charmed, Grey’s Anatomy, Modern Family, and many others.  It’s a great way to spend a weekend where you’re sick or cooped up inside because of snow or other bad weather.
  9. I am a bookworm.  We know this.  I love books, I own many books.  Many, many books.  But lately, my book life has changed somewhat.  Evolved, if you will.  I used to spend a lot of money on books.  That is an understatement actually.  It was nothing for me to go to Chapters or any other bookstore and come out with a sack full of books.  Honestly, I was actually buying them faster than I could possibly read them.  But there is always new things coming out, and due to this, I still have several books that I have not read, and honestly will likely never read now, as I bought them years ago and I have lost interest in them now.  Also, I don’t buy nearly as many books now because I just don’t have the money anymore to spend on them (you know, bills and all) and probably 95% of the books I read last year I borrowed from my local library.  Due to all this, I am planning a major book purge in the spring.  When/as I do this, I have a post planned as well.  So stay tuned, and watch this space.
  10. I am online.  A LOT.  Aside from books, and sports (both of which I consume a lot of), most of the content I consume is online.  I’m a regular on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  I read content from several newspapers tech blogs and news sites, often via Flipboard, on my phone or iPad.  I watch A LOT of YouTube, whether it is catching up on the 200+ channels that I subscribe to, watching last night’s Tonight Show as I get ready for work, finding new things to read on BookTube, etc.  Several of the shows I watch I either watch on Netflix, or streamed from the various network websites.  I love the online world, and support Team Internet fully.  This is the way the world is going, and there is so much out there, ripe for the taking, if you weed through all the other crap.

 

So there you go!  10 more things about me that you didn’t need to know, maybe didn’t want to know, but hey, now you know!  Hey, hopefully I provided a little bit of distraction from the Super Bowl, if you were looking for one.

I hope you have a fantastic week, and if you celebrate the Lunar New Year, I hope you have a Happy New Year, and that the year of the Monkey is a fabulous one!

Homemade Egg Nog – Recipe #blogmas2015 Day Five!

Creamy goodness that will knock you on your butt.

Creamy goodness that will knock you on your butt.

How about a recipe?

I love eggnog.  Once December comes, you’ll often find me enjoying a nip of nog after work as supper is made or on the weekend relaxing.  It’s part of Christmas for me.  Usually in these instances though, I just buy a carton from the store and add a bit of my own “Christmas Cheer” to it.  I particularly enjoy a splash of spiced rum in mine.

For special occasions though, when I am entertaining a group (of adults – this stuff is for grown ups only), I like to pull out this recipe and whip it up.  So in the spirit of blogmas, I’m passing this recipe on to you.  Please keep in mind that this recipe will fill a punch bowl, so cut back accordingly if needed.  Though I can’t imagine why you would want to.

A reminder – this is best served chilled on the day it’s made.  Use the freshest eggs available to you.  This recipe is modified from an old “Company’s Coming” cookbook I believe.

Ingredients

12 of the freshest eggs you can find

1 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar

1/2 tsp salt

3 cups whipping cream (I never said this was good for you)

1 tbsp vanilla

7 cups cold milk

2 cups light rum

1 cup whiskey – I normally eliminate the whiskey and light rum and add 3 cups of spiced rum instead.

Sprinkle of nutmeg

Directions

Beat egg whites in a large clean bowl until they start getting thick.  Add the 1 cup of sugar.  Beat until they are thick.  I like to use an electric mixer for this step.

Whip those whites and sugar

Whip those whites and sugar!

In a second (very) large bowl, preferably one that has a lid, beat the egg yolks and salt until thick.

yolks

Beat those yolks baby!

Add the whipped egg whites to the whipped egg yolks.  Beat until they are completely incorporated and the mixture is thick.

Whites and yolks together.

Whites and yolks together.

In a third large bowl – there are a lot of dishes to clean up in this recipe – beat your whipping cream until it starts to thicken.  Add the 2 tbsp of sugar and the vanilla.  Beat that until it gets very thick.

whipped creamy goodness

whipped creamy goodness

Add your whipped cream to your egg mixture.  Do this slowly a bit at a time, stirring after each addition.

mixing

Add your milk, and your rum and whiskey (or just spiced rum – how I like it!), beat continually.

milk

milk

Oh my! There's the rum!

Oh my! There’s the rum!

Store this chilled with a lid on until you are ready to use it.  Serve in a punch bowl with a sprinkle of nutmeg.  If you don’t have a punch bowl, a large pitcher will do.  When you take it out of the fridge before transferring to the punch bowl, it’s best to beat it again, as the whipped portion will separate and rise to the top as it sits.  Refrigerate any unused portions (ha ha – as if!) for a couple of days at most.

Store bought egg nog will aways be second best after experiencing this!

Store bought egg nog will aways be second best after experiencing this!

The Magic of Christmas is in the Memories #blogmas2015 Day Three!

magicChristmas is about magic.  I truly believe that the magic that is Christmas comes from the memories.  Whether it be the memories you have from your childhood, from just last year, or the memories you’ll have next year because you’re making them right now.  Good memories or bad memories can change how you look at Christmas.  If you grew up having horrible Christmases, where your family fought every year, or for whatever reason your Christmases were crappy, that will often shape how you look at Christmas in general.

I was very fortunate to have wonderful memories of Christmas growing up.  My Pepere (my maternal grandfather) was the most wonderful man ever to walk the earth.  He was kind, gentle, loveable, and he loved his family so very much.  I learned lessons from him like: “always think before you speak.  You may just stop yourself from hurting someone else’s feelings.”  He was a wonderful person and though we lost him way too early 19 years ago, I think about him every day.  I especially think about him around this time of year, because of all things – Christmas was his favourite time of year.  He loved having his family around him, loved having the tree decorated, watching everyone opening their gifts, eating Memere’s beans on Christmas Eve (which I still make every year) and making breakfast on Christmas morning.  Eating so much through the day on Christmas Day that by the time Memere set the turkey down on the table at suppertime, we all faked it because no one was hungry.  He made every Christmas magic.  He passed his love of the holiday on to my Mom, and on to me.

My favourite Christmas memory while growing up was of him.  The first 17 Christmases of my life were celebrated at “The Bush.”  Sounds interesting I’m sure.  For those that don’t know, many years ago, Pepere bought a 10 acre piece of land out in the country.  He put on it a small cabin, meant for snowmobiling on the weekends.  We went up there every weekend when I was a child.  Memere and Pepere and I would go up early on Friday, and Mom and Dad came up later that evening.  We would spend the weekend there.  When I was about 5, Pepere winterized it and made it suitable for living all year round.  They moved there. It was my second home growing up and I loved it there.  They eventually started the business there, which grew, and grew, and about a year before Pepere passed away they moved from there to another place.  But “The Bush” to me was always a symbol of my childhood.

Anyhow, I digress.  Back to Christmas.

We would spend every Christmas at “The Bush.”  Mom and Dad would usually sleep on the pullout couch in the main living room/open area in the shack.  The wood burning stove was in that room so it was usually toasty.  The Christmas tree was set up in there too.  As a child, of course I was up before the sun on Christmas Day, waiting for everyone else to wake up.  I would get up, come out from the bedrooms and sit in Pepere’s chair about 2 feet from my sleeping parents watching the clock in the kitchen waiting for everyone to wake up, eying my loot under the tree.

Pepere was an early riser.  Usually up between 5 and 5:30 every morning.  Christmas morning was no exception.  He would come out from the bedrooms, and walk past me sitting in the chair and pat me on the head.  He didn’t even look down, he knew I’d be sitting there, waiting expectantly.  He’d chuckle a little as he patted my head, and keep on going, heading for the bathroom.

To anyone else, they might think “that’s your favourite Christmas memory??”  Yes, it is.  That pat on the head showed me he got it.  He understood how excited I was, he understood the magic of Christmas.  That pat on the head was like him saying “don’t worry Sweetheart, just hang in there another hour or so.  It’ll be worth it.”  What I wouldn’t give to have him pat me on the head again.  I miss him just as much today as I always have.  But I’m so thankful to him, he helped make Christmas so special to me.

Do you have any favourite Christmas memories?  Maybe you do, maybe you’re planning on making some new ones this year.  Either way, cherish them, use them to make new memories, and cherish those too.

Until next time.