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!

I Heart New York – and Book Riot too!

Waiting for our adventure to start.
Waiting for our adventure to start.

I went on a whirlwind three days in New York City.  This was a pretty big deal for me because as I love to travel, and always say I want to travel, I have gone places, but nowhere far lately.  I haven’t flown since my honeymoon in 2002.

So when Jolene – my dearest friend, the eggs to my bacon, told me almost a year ago about an event that was coming to NYC – Book Riot Live – naturally I thought it sounded cool, but never really considered going.  Jolene being the seasoned traveller that she is, saw it and thought to herself – of course I’m going to that – I wonder if Danielle will go with me.  Book Riot is an awesome website and community about everything books.  If you’re a reader at all, you should check it out.  They had announced that they were having Book Riot Live – basically a two-day event, with authors, panels, vendors, games, signings, live recordings of podcasts, you name it.  Basically drool worthy stuff for bibliophiles like myself and Jolene.

Book Riot Live!
Book Riot Live!

We had been planning this trip for so long – it never really seemed like it was going to get here, but it did – and it happened November 7th – 9th.

I feel like I want to write this blog post so I don’t forget.  It’s been a week and I already feel like the feeling is starting to go.  The amazing feeling that I felt while I was in New York City.  Admittedly, it’s probably not for everyone.  But I feel like everyone could probably find something there for them.  Jolene was telling me about how much her Dad hated big cities, but he loved New York.  I seriously can’t blame him – there is so much there to love.

Our flight took off on Saturday morning around 5:50.  Between the time I arrived at Jo’s house on Friday night, and with the Niagara Airbus picking us up at 2:20am, I had gotten about 1 1/2 hours of sleep.  It was a good flight and we arrived in one piece on the tarmac at JFK at just after 7am.  We took a cab into the city and dropped our bags off at the hotel.  From there we walked to the Metropolitan West, where Book Riot Live was happening.  It was about a half an hour walk from our hotel.  Our hotel was located on 7th Ave between Central Park and Times Square.  We had to walk through Times Square to get to the convention.  I loved walking in New York.  It really is the best way to absorb everything, and feel like you’re really part of the experience.

Oh yeah - that's Margaret Atwood!
Oh yeah – that’s Margaret Atwood!

Book Riot the first day was awesome.  We got registered, and had our first look around.  We got to do a bit of shopping at the various vendors – all selling bookish goodness.  The day went very fast and included a bunch of different interesting panels, being part of a tattoo chain and actually meeting and getting my book signed by the one and only Margaret Atwood!  That was so cool.

At the end of the day we made it back to the hotel, where we cleaned up, and then went out for dinner before going to see Kinky Boots.  Now…Kinky Boots was awesome.  So much energy, so much light.  If you ever get the chance, I would totally recommend seeing it.

After walking back to our hotel, Jolene and I totally died.  With only 1 1/2 hours of sleep since Friday morning at 5:30, we were both totally exhausted.  No bed was ever quite so comfortable and no pillow was ever quite so soft as ours were that night.

We headed back to the Metropolitan West the next morning – feeling like real New Yorkers as we grabbed coffee and breakfast and ate while we walked.  We had another full, interesting day at Book Riot Live.  I want to take a second to really commend the folks over there.  They are a really quirky (I mean that in the most complimentary way possible) and interesting group of people.  They are so diverse, so forward thinking, so unique.  I love reading their content, watching them on YouTube and following them on Twitter.  They didn’t disappoint in real life.  They’re an amazing crew and should be proud of themselves for putting on a fantastic event.  I hope it’s the first of many.

First sight out of the subway.
First sight out of the subway.

After Book Riot Live was over, we hopped on a subway and made our way down to the World Trade Center and the 9/11 Memorial and museum.  To be honest, I didn’t know really what to expect or how I would feel going there.  We came up out of the subway station and the first thing I saw was the new 1 World Trade Center jetting up into the sky.  It is a beautiful, impressive structure and the first sight took my breath away.  We walked over to the memorial fountains, that sit in the exact footprints of the fallen twin towers.

The museum itself completely blew me away.  In a way, I’m still processing everything I saw while we were there.  It was huge, and beautiful, and so incredibly sad, while still preserving the pride and resilience of New York, the United States, and Americans and Western Civilization on a whole.  In building this museum, they have found a way to preserve the details of that day, and the events leading up to it and following it, in a way that no one will ever forget even the smallest details.  The human factor will never be forgotten.  The planes flew into the buildings that day, but it was in no way about the planes or the buildings.  It was about the people.  The people in the planes.  The people in the buildings.  The people on the ground.  The service people, the families.  I walked through this space, full of people, and for the most part, you could hear a pin drop.  I was quite overcome by emotions several times throughout my time there.  It hit home several times – I remember this day.  I remember where I was, how I heard, how I felt.  This is part of the history of this generation, my generation.  The events of this day changed the world.  For me, there will always be life before 9/11 and life after 9/11.  I can say that.  My son will never be able to say that.  He never knew what life was like before.

Memorial fountain.
Memorial fountain.

Needless to say, if you are ever visiting New York City, please don’t leave without taking a trip down and making this part of it.  It was worth it, and it was definitely one of the things I will never forget about this experience.

Back on the subway we went, and got off at Penn Station so we could walk over to the Empire State Building.  We crossed off another bucket list item for me by stopping for a slice of pizza on our way there.  The Empire State Building was definitely another highlight of the trip, and I’m so glad we got to see it at night.  Manhattan is so beautiful from up there at night.

After some dessert and some drinks, we made it down to Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Centre, and (the outside of) NBC Studios before heading back for another amazing sleep!

Empire State
Empire State
Amazing shot from the Empire State
Amazing shot from the Empire State

Monday dawned a beautiful day.  We checked out early, and headed over to NBC Studios in the hopes of going on the tour, which was unfortunately booked.  So we went for breakfast instead, after doing a bit of shopping in the store.  After breakfast, we went up to Central Park.  I had been very excited for this for the whole trip.  It occurred to me at one point walking down the street when a dog stopped to do his business on the sidewalk that New York (Manhattan anyway) is a city without grass.  Not a blade to be found everywhere.  So walking into Central Park was crazy different to the rest of the city.  It is an absolutely beautiful green space, and standing there within it looking out at the city around you is an incredible contrast.  One I don’t think you can fully appreciate unless you are there in the middle of it.

Central Park
Central Park
Central Park Selfie
Central Park Selfie
library
New York Public Library

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a trip to the BEAUTIFUL New York Public Library, a stroll down 5th Ave looking at all the stores that I could barely afford walking through the front doors, we stopped at Macy’s.  Decorated for Christmas, Macy’s is a feast for the eyes and senses.  To be perfectly honest, we walked in the door and into the handbags.  Beyond that was the cosmetics and fragrances.  Jolene went to some of the other floors, I never made it past that one area.  I was totally in my element.

After a bit more shopping, and a couple more slices of pizza, it was time to hop the subway to head back to JFK.  We got our bags and headed down to the subway, which was just down from our hotel.  Before we went down into the station, I stopped, and did a complete 360, looking around and trying to take everything in.  I knew when I next came out of the ground, we would be at JFK.

Heading home. See you soon NYC!!
Heading home. See you soon NYC!!

I was happy to get home, happy to see my family and crawl into my own bed, but I will always remember this trip and how amazing it was.  How addictive this city is.  I already have looked up flights for the spring so that I can go back and take Joe with me.  It’s completely exhausting.  I normally like to average about 10,000 steps in a day.  In the three days we were there I logged over 57,000 steps.  I ate everything under the sun and still lost 3 lbs while I was there because of all the walking.  It was wonderful, it was life changing, it was one of the best times of my entire life, and I can’t wait to go back again someday.

Thankful for the Big Little Things

I'm thankful for Pumpkin Spice lattes too. #psl
I’m thankful for Pumpkin Spice lattes too. #psl

It’s Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada, and of course that got me to thinking about what I am thankful for.  I try to count my blessings daily, though sometimes after a long day where it seems like everything is going wrong, it’s hard to not focus on the struggles and concentrate on the good things instead.  I’m very fortunate in my life.  Of course I’m thankful for my son, for my husband, for my parents and grandparents. I’m thankful for my friends, who support me through good times and bad, who I share laughter and tears with.  I’m thankful for my job that I love, and for the amazing people I get to work with every day.  I’m thankful that I have a home that I love to rest my head in every night and keep my family warm and safe.  I’m thankful for my health, and being able to be active.  I’m thankful for the food on my table and the clothes on my back.

These things though, I think are pretty obvious.  I send up a quick prayer of thanks every day for these things.  What about the little things? What about the things in my life that are a huge part of my life, but I don’t really stop to think about them at all – I just take for granted that they’re there and they’ll always be there.  Today I want to be thankful for them too.

  1. Books.  We all know I love books.  That they are a big part of my life.  Reading is one of my true loves. I never stop to think about what life would be like if there were no books. Probably because I shudder at the thought.  Books were my friends through childhood (though I had other friends too 🙂 ), my escape as a teenager, and my sanctuary as an adult.  As a part of this, I also want to mention how thankful I am for my local library, that gives me unlimited FREE access to all the books I love.  It is an under utilized service that our tax dollars pay for, and with today’s technology, we simply go online, do a search for what we want to read, and place a hold.  When it’s available, you get an email to go pick it up, and you can read it for free!  Not done after three weeks?  Renew it online.  I love my library and am so thankful it is just a short walk away.
  2. Music.  We all know I love music.  But sometimes I think I just take it for granted.  My life, everyone’s life has a soundtrack, and sometimes I don’t think we’re aware of that.  Music fuels me, motivates me and moves me.  Yesterday I went out for a walk and I thought for a change I would listen to an audiobook instead of the playlist I usually do.  I love books…see above…but I made it almost halfway before I had to switch back to music.  It really makes a difference and I’m so grateful that music is woven throughout the fabric of my life.
  3. My church.  My faith and going to church is a part of my life.  Today though I looked around and really felt thankful for the sense of community that I feel there.  I am happy to raise my son in that community and excited that he gets to be a part of it.  It’s like an extension of our family and going there feels like going home.
  4. Memories.  I work for an organization that specializes in senior healthcare services.  Every day I see what the effects of Alzheimer’s and Dementia can be.  I can’t imagine what life would be like to lose all the memories that I hold dear.  Times I shared with my grandparents, some of whom are no longer with us.  Vacations we took, school memories, my wedding day, unlocking the front door of our home, the moment I found out I was pregnant with Nicholas, the day he was born.  I am so grateful that though sometimes I walk into a room and forget what I came in there for, my memories – the experiences that made me who I am – are all still intact.
  5. Breathing.  Okay, this seems obvious, because if I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t live.  But think about breathing aside from the receiving oxygen part of it.  Think about walking outside in the spring right after the rain starts and you can smell the rain in the air.  Or taking a deep breath on a crisp winter day and smelling the freshly fallen snow.  Or the smell of Memere’s beans baking in the oven.  Or being freaked out about something and focusing on your breathing and taking one breath at a time until you are calmed down again.  Sometimes I just think, as silly as it sounds, we really take breathing for granted.

I hope that everyone has an amazing Thanksgiving, and that everyone takes the time to be thankful for the little things.  Even though sometimes they are hard to see, they are there.  I’m getting ready to go and celebrate the day with our family, and will be very thankful for the meal that we will eat together.  Gobble gobble everyone!

Updates

Beach days are here again
Beach days are here again

So, I figured I was due (overdue actually) for an update post.  Because I am a very very bad blogger.  They say the key to a successful blog is consistency.  Obviously this is why all my posts go viral.

Sigh…I’m so funny.

Because it’s been almost three months since I last posted, I thought I would just chat for a bit about what has been going on in my little corner of the world.

So without further ado…

1.  Summer is here!

Actually, it’s half over, so I’m a little late to the party on that one.  We have had a very busy one, but it has been very very good.  My Mom has been looking after Nicholas full time, so his summer has been fantastic. She spent two weeks trucking him back and forth from swimming lessons, took him and a friend to a local berry farm for the day, and in general has been keeping him active and his days full.  In between times he has been going to coffee and swimming with my Dad.  We are so very fortunate to have her as our primary childcare provider.  Nicholas adores her and she is trying so hard to make this a summer that he will remember.  I keep telling her that all she would have to do is be in the same room as him and he would be happy, but she is determined to do all kinds of things with him and I am so grateful.

Summer has been busy for all of us.  We’ve been busy swimming, spending time by Joe’s parents’ pool, and here, there and everywhere.  We finally made it to the beach for the first time today, and plan to go back again next weekend if the weather permits.  We’ve got a golf tournament in a couple weeks, and Joe and I are both planning to take the last week of the summer off during which we have some fun things planned.  I am super excited to have a full week off,  I haven’t really had that since Christmas of 2013.  Starting a new job in 2014 made it a little difficult to take time, though I have managed a few days here and there.

2. Work

Work has been busy, but it’s going well.  I’m currently up to a 5 day week for the time being, which I’m incredibly grateful for.  I’m incredibly happy to be working for such a great organization with such amazing people.  I know how lucky I am to have a job I love and I’m thankful every day.

3. School

I have changed my focus in school.  I was taking a course in Office Admin at Fanshawe, but found out that they are retiring the course.  I made the decision to transfer some of my credits to another course that I think is better suited to help me in what I do.  It means I’ll be in school a bit longer, but I think it will be worth it.

4. Health

Joe and I have been taking steps (literally) since the end of May to improve our lifestyle and better our health.  It has been successful so far and we’re looking optimistically forward full steam ahead.  But more on that later…

So those are the basics about what has been going on in Limaville.  Life is going on, life is good.  We have our down days, but the up days make up for them and we are grateful for all the days.  I would make all kinds of promises about how I’m going to blog more and post more recipes, more book stuff, more anything stuff.  But I won’t promise, that way maybe we’ll all be pleasantly surprised.

I hope that everything is going well in your corners of the world, and that you’re having a fantastic summer.

Until next time…

Summer’s in the Air. 8 Reasons to be Happy About That.

All the seasons have something to offer
All the seasons have something to offer

What is your favourite season?  Living in Southwestern Ontario, we are blessed to experience four distinct seasons.  I truly love each one.  I love the crisp, cool fall days where the leaves on the trees change colour and you can just start to see your breath in the air.  You can go out for walks and the air is chilly, but you can get away with just jeans and a heavy sweater.  I love the clean, fresh smell of winter, and get excited for the first snowfall, and for waking up to find a blanket of snow everywhere.  I love the feeling of the air finally starting to warm up after a long winter.  The smell of a spring rain, the sight of daffodils and tulips poking up out of the ground.

But mostly – I love summer.  And summer is in the air, especially this last week.  It hit 30 degrees today, and it is likely to again tomorrow.  I think next week is supposed to have more seasonal temperatures, but this blast of heat that we’ve been experiencing has given us a taste of summer again, and a promise of what’s to come.  I can’t wait!

If you know me, you know that I love a good list.  So in the spirit of the warm weather we’re having, and the warm weather to come, here are the top eight reasons (in no particular order) that I can’t wait for summer:

My happy place
My happy place

1.  The beach.  I love the beach.  It is my happy place, and there is nowhere I would rather be on a  hot summer day.  It can be 35 degrees at home and feel like 45 with the humidex.  But standing on the shore of Lake Huron, it’s warm, breezy, and there isn’t a drop of humidity in the air.  I can sit for hours, staring out at the waves, reading a book, or simply laying on a towel or in a beach chair, eyes closed, listening to the water lap up against the shore.  When the heat from the sun gets to be too much you simply wade out into the water to cool off and bring your body temperature back down.  Back to the sand, you’re good for a little longer, until you’re ready for another dip.  Over and over it goes, all afternoon.

Then of course, there is the beach at night.  Where would you rather view a sunset more than over the water?  The air cooling down, a blanket wrapped around you and someone you love.  You can watch the sun slip slowly beneath the horizon, and if it happens to be July 1st, and there’s a fireworks display, well – you’ve just had about the most perfect day ever.

2. Ice cream.  I freaking love ice cream.  It is my dessert of choice, most of the time.  When I go out for dinner, often I finish looking at all the decadent desserts on the menu and I look up at my server and ask: “can I just get a bowl of ice cream?” My friends are all nodding their heads right now.  Ice cream is awesome, but ice cream in the summer?  That’s what I’m talking about!

I have memories of being a child and hearing the bells of the Good Humour man on his bike with the ice cream treats inside.  The Purple Phantom with the bubble gum nose was my favourite.  Dairy Queen of course is open year round, but of course it tastes better on a hot summer day after an afternoon of swimming.  In a nearby town there is an ice cream parlour called Lickety Split.  In another nearby town there is the Cool Cucumber.  These places are only open in the summer, and there is nothing quite like driving past one of them to find they’re open for the season.  It’s truly a reason to celebrate.

Take me out to the ballgame...
Take me out to the ballgame…

3.  Baseball.  I love baseball.  When I was a teenager, I lived and breathed baseball.  It may have had something to do with the massive crush I had on Roberto Alomar.  It also had everything to do with the game.  I got away from baseball a bit during the strike in 1994-95.  After that I paid attention, but not how I used to.  The game lost a bit of something for me.  In the last couple of years I have returned to the fold.  We have made it out to a Toronto Blue Jays game at least once a season in the last couple of years and I hope this year to get out there again.  Nicholas played baseball for our local league last summer and will again this summer, so he is interested too.  Perhaps a game for Joe and I and a game for the family.  I love the atmosphere of a ballpark.  Especially when we’re winning.

4. Grilling.  Oh, heck yeah.  The smell of the barbecue is a sure sign of summer.  It may sound silly but my favourite thing to eat off the barbecue is grilled chicken breasts, when they’re seasoned properly and done properly so they’re tender and juicy, and they’ve got barbecue sauce on them…..oh yes.  I am fortunate to be married to an excellent grill man.  Joe is so good at barbecuing that I said to my Mom the other day “if I ever tell you that I’m thinking about leaving Joe, just whisper into my ear: grilled chicken breasts.  I’ll be sure to reconsider.”

Barbecue is awesome because it tastes great, the cleanup is minimal, and when you eat outside on the deck, you just leave the food on the grill and everyone grabs their own.  You don’t even need to dirty a serving plate.  Add the spuds and veg in foil packets, and you’re all set.

5. The smell of freshly cut grass.  Need I say more?

Anyone for s'mores?
Anyone for s’mores?

6.  Campfires.  Another summer activity I could do every weekend.  The sun goes down, everyone moves from the deck to the fire pit.  Someone gets the wood, someone else grabs that week’s flyers and a lighter or matches.  Grab some coat hangers and a bag of marshmallows, your drink and a sweatshirt, and you’re almost all set.  All I need is my iPhone set to my “Fireside” playlist, and I could sit there all evening.  It’s a great way to spend time with family and friends.  I love the smells, the sound of the fire crackling, the warmth.  While I’m out there that is.  As soon as I get in the house, it’s into the shower.  I can’t sleep with the smell of campfire in my hair.

7.  Flip flops.  I hate socks.  Once the warm weather starts, I don’t wear them until the snow flies again.

8.  Produce.  Tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, cherries, peaches, corn on the cob.  Fresh, local produce simply can’t be beat, and we in Ontario are so lucky to have access to so much awesome fresh fruits and vegetables.  In late August and early September I would exist simply on corn on the cob if I could.  When the fresh produce is out of your own garden, so you are eating it within sight of where it grew, it’s an added bonus.

So those are just 8 of the reasons that I am so excited for summer.  There are so many more that I haven’t listed here.  Are you excited for summer?  What are your reasons?  Do you have a different favourite season?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Enjoy the heat…and don’t forget your sunscreen!

 

What is Love?

Baby don't hurt me...
Baby don’t hurt me…

Love, amour, amare, amo, любовь,爱, agape, eros, älskar…..

The Concise Oxford Dictonary, Ninth Ed. describes love like this:

love n. & v.  -n. 1. an intense feeling of deep affection or fondness for a person or thing; great liking. 2. sexual passion. 3. sexual relations. 4 a a beloved one; a sweetheart (often as a form of address). Brit. colloq. a familiar form of address regardless of affection. 5. colloq. a person of whom one is fond….

Yadda yadda yadda.

After 9 definitions of the word love as a noun, it goes on to provide 4 definitions of love as a verb and the use of the word in various contexts, such as fall in love, for the love of, in love, love-hate relationship, making loveand so on and so forth.  All of which make me believe even more strongly what I am here to say today, on Valentine’s Day, when love is celebrated above all else:

There is no true description to the word love.  It means something different to everyone, in every situation. Each time the word is uttered (which is often – I also think it is the worlds most overused word) it means something different.  Love is such a vast, multi-layered complex concept, that those folks that wrote that dictionary barely even scratched the surface in their very long definition of the word.

Let us break it down.  I can only speak for myself, but I think that the general concept is universal:

I love God.  God loves me.

I love my son.  My son loves me.

I love my husband.  My husband loves me.

I love my Mom.  My Mom loves me.

I love my Dad.  My Dad loves me.

I love my friend Jolene.  My friend Jolene loves me.

I love my friend Renee.  My friend Renee loves me.

I love my friend Karen.  My friend Karen loves me.

I love all my friends (you know who you are) and they all love me.

I love my dog Sophie.  Sophie loves me.

I love reading.

I love my job.

I love being home, nice and cozy, on a cold winter day.

I love soaking up the sun on the beach on a hot summer day.

I love my cell phone.  Also my Macbook Pro.  And any kind of amazing technology.

I love shopping in Sephora, Indigo, Coach, and other various clothing and shoe stores, etc.

I love bacon, pizza, popcorn, chocolate, the smell of BBQ in the summer, the smell of baked beans in the winter.

I love to cook, bake, and create things in the kitchen.  I love to share those things with the folks that I love.

I love Harry Potter.

I love music.

I love the sound of my son’s laughter.

I love my bed.

I love cuddling.

I love a good cup of tea.

I love how you get the idea…..I’m sure you get the idea.

I just used the word love in almost 50 different ways.  Each time I typed the word, it meant something different.  Each time I typed the word I totally meant it.  Relative to the subject I was writing about.  Do I love a good cup of tea as much as I love my Mom?  Uh…no.  But I do love them both.  I love my son more than anything in the world.  I also love my husband more than anything in the world.  You may ask how I can say that.  You may think I am contradicting myself.  But I am not.  I love them both more than anything in the world, yet the love I feel for my son is so completely different than the love I feel for my husband, that there is absolutely no comparing the two.

Love is a pretty big thing.  It makes the world go around.  There is a reason why many people wait to say it in relationships, and have a hard time saying it for the first time.  It means something, or at least it should.

I hope you all have an amazing Valentine’s Day, and use this day to celebrate love.  It doesn’t matter if you’re in a relationship or not.  We are all capable of love and because of that today is for everyone, everywhere.

Enjoy!

 

A Re-boot

Sometimes it feels as though you're lost in a forest.  But if you stay positive and look up, you can make it through to the other side.
Sometimes it feels as though you’re lost in a forest. But if you stay positive and look up, you can make it through to the other side.

Hey.  How are things?

It’s been a while. Almost 8 months to be exact.  I guess it was time to take a break from my completely sporadic, non-grueling, when-I-felt-like-it blogging schedule.  Perhaps it’s because the last 8 months have been a time of real transition for me.  My life was turned on its head, in what turned out to be a good way.

Those of you that know me will know that I worked at my last job for 17 years.  I worked in the office, primarily in Purchasing and Materials, of a factory that painted parts for the automotive industry.  Sounds thrilling, doesn’t it?  It was a love/hate thing sometimes, but it was kind of in my blood.  This factory was owned by my parents since I was a little girl, and I started working there full time when I was about 19.  Then it changed hands about 9 years ago, and I stayed on, as did the majority of the staff.  It’s pretty safe to say that after all those years, this was in my blood, it was what I knew, and going into work every day was just like breathing.  It was natural for me.  I guess I never really envisioned myself working anywhere else or doing anything else, although I wasn’t dim enough to believe that it wasn’t a possibility.

I guess though, that nothing lasts forever.  It started to become obvious that the days that the factory would remain open were numbered.  Another new, state of the art factory was opening by the same owners, two hours away.  Though it originally seemed like there may be a chance to keep it open, eventually, the writing was on the wall.

This was pretty scary for me.  It’s scary enough when it looks like you’re going to lose your job, but it’s really scary when your job is all you know, and it’s woven into the fabric of your life so tightly that it is truly a part of who you are.  It’s also scary to think about the process of looking for another job, when I had never really done up a resume before, never been on an interview.  It was very nerve-wracking.

I started to think about where I would want to work, and what I would want in my next job.  I sent out a couple of resumes on to some online postings.  I also sent a resume to the long term care facility in our town.  They had no jobs posted, but I thought it couldn’t hurt to send in a resume and ask them to please consider me if a position in Administration became available.  To be perfectly honest, I didn’t really expect to hear from any of them.  You can imagine my surprise when I received a phone call from the LTC Home.  They had a part time, three day a week position available they wanted to see me about.  It was to cover for someone else that was on leave.  It was a temp position, but there was no end date for it.  I decided to go for it, hoping that I would be able to eventually stay on permanently. I hoped that if I got it, they would let me go down to two days a week at the factory.

I ended up getting the job.  My boss allowed me to go down to two days.  He was actually really great with me, and flexible, working with me around my new hours.  This was an extremely busy time, as although I was only there for two days a week, I still was responsible for most of the same duties I had been, I only now had to do it in two days instead of five.  This meant sometimes coming in early, staying later, and working on the weekends now and then.  That was okay though, I was extremely grateful for being able to continue on there while starting a new chapter of my life at the same time.

The inevitable ended up happening.  In August, we received notice that the company would be closing on October 3rd.  This was tough.  This was actually happening.  I had spent the better part of my life at this place.  From running around pestering everyone when I was a kid, to riding my bike up the laneway, exploring in the ravine below, to working there every day, I was finally going to have to say goodbye for good.  It was tough.  The place was a part of me.  The people were a part of me.  I was so fortunate to have somewhere to go, something to do.

And so it went.  The company closed in October, I stayed on for a couple days a week until the end, and beyond until the end of the year, doing a bit here and there for them.  I still get the odd email every now and then asking me to help out, which I don’t mind doing.  Just before Christmas, I got offered permanent full time at the nursing home (4 days Monday to Thursday) starting January 5th.  I was ecstatic.  I really love it there.  The people are wonderful, they have all been so welcoming, and I have learned so much.  It is a very different atmosphere, going from industry to healthcare, but I’m learning as I go.  I am looking forward to staying on there and heading into the future with this wonderful organization.

So 2014 was a bit of a topsy turvy year.  Beginnings, endings, uncertainty, joy, tears, a broad spectrum.   I learned a lot about myself, what I’m capable of, and what I hope to achieve in life.  I have tried to remain positive, although at times it has been tough, particularly at the beginning and middle of the year when most of the craziness was going on.  It may have been a good (and interesting) time to blog, and perhaps get everything out.  There were lots of other awesome stuff that happened, my kid started Grade One, we had another trip to Great Wolf Lodge.  We had a really great Christmas and New Year.  My parents sold their house, my childhood home, and moved into an apartment in town.  But I think it was good for me to take a step back and let things play out.  I thought I would take the time to update my readership (all three of them – you know who you are! 😉 ) on my current situation, to get that out of the way.  I would say that now, I’m likely to go back to posting about food, and books, and makeup, with the odd little update and opinion piece thrown in.  I can’t say that I’ll post with any regularity, but who knows…stranger things have happened.

I hope everyone is doing wonderfully, and that life is treating you good, and you’re all staying positive and counting your blessings every day.

Love you all to bits and you’ll be hearing from me soon.

I’m almost positive of it.