Friday, 29 March 2013

Bajan Kate. A week with my #1

I left snowy Orangeville Monday night and arrived back in beautiful Barbados on Tuesday accompanied by my Kate.  She is our eldest and one of my favourite people in the world.

Some of you know Kate.  Some of you knew her when she was tiny or even before she was born.  Many of you supported me as I waded cautiously into the waters of motherhood. You listened to me when   I proclaimed that she was the most beautiful baby in the nursery.  You smiled because every parent feels this way, but come on, she really was!!!

 Kate was born by C-section as she persisted to be breach.  She had decided early on that there was just no other way out.  I can just hear her "Um, I just won't be doing that".  She had a little mind of her own.

Well, Kate has "grown up".  She studied media, communication and graphic design.  She has a full-time job in Toronto, with a digital advertising firm.  She wears stylish clothes, packs a healthy lunch and drinks beer at work on Fridays. Some might say she is "living the life".  What I say is that I am "living the life".  She is independent, both financially and in all other ways.  She still asks advice on occasion, which she
always considers and from time to time takes.

Mostly now we get to banter and laugh and exchange life stories.  I live vicariously through her at times, when I remember being 24 in Toronto.

So here we sit and enjoy the sun.  She has never been to our house here and was thrilled to have her own room and bathroom, all to herself.  A true step up from the 1 shower home at 26 Elm Ave.  I try to determine all the touristy and the true Barbados experiences she might enjoy.  I quickly realized that she is just happy to be here, relaxing.  That's not to say we are not going to experience Barbados, just not at a frantic pace running for the 6 days we are here.   My true feeling is that I have the opportunity to have Kate "all to myself" here.  I love my other children.  I enjoy Kate's friends and I adore Kate's boyfriend Jon and I look forward to entertaining these people on another occasion.  For now I am just enjoying my #1.

Well our flight was uneventful.  We were whisked to our house and immediately I put Kate to work, marinating and breading flying fish.  Kate is a vegetarian but she does enjoy her fish.  Up until this week I did not.  I am having my eyes opened.  I have had flying fish twice as well as swordfish.  We will have salmon tonight and go to the fish market tomorrow.  This is a very good experience for me and fortunately Kate likes to cook.  Some things never change.  She still wants my grilled cheese.  It made me feel nostalgic as I considered the grilled cheese sandwiches I have made for her.  Kate has always been a compliant person.  She understood that grilled cheese left unattended while baby brother Kevin was being fed could often be "dark".  She would scrape off the charred toast without saying a word.  Isn't that what ketchup is for.  She doesn't know that another meal here must be Kraft Dinner, for old times sake.

Oddest Place Ever - but good Fish and Chips
We spent some of day 1 in the city of Bridgetown.  We ended up on the beach at Carlisle Bay, where I had gone scuba diving.  We had a very strange lunch of flying fish and chips and Banks Beers.  It was a people watching day

Spa Day

Yesterday was a spa day at Indulgence Spa, just near the house in St. Peter. I had a gift certificate from Christmas burning a hole in my suitcase.  Kate was all for it.  It was absolutely lovely.

Today was Barbados Segway Adventure. I will try not to drift off topic.  Kate was very enthusiastic given our love of Arrested Development.
It is pretty easy to learn to ride and we were guided to some remote parts of the east side of Barbados where it is cliffs and crashing waves.
Atlantic Side of Barbados

This is part of the island that some tourist do not realize exists here.
You have to admit, I rock the fanny pack

Derek is also enjoying some father/daughter time.
As "they" say:  Like Father Like Daughter
Nice Hat Dad

Beach Snooze

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Growing Older, Daily...

I am going to approach the idea of aging gracefully as a lifelong endeavor.  In fact, I think I will call it "Growing Older, Daily..." as I have worked 51 years so far and I think I want credit for time served. 

As a child, I had the luxury of time but my whole goal was to just grow up. Life seemed to start as a teen.  No more kids' table.  No more naps.  No more having to play outside.

As I continued to grow older and the teen years hit, I just wanted all the people who were in the process of growing old, to just leave me alone. 

Then growing older in my 20's was just not happening, in this decade of perpetual youth.  No one ever gets older.  I will always be in my 20's. 

I don't even remember my 30's.

The fourth decade was challenging.  I learned the most about life that decade.  I became strong.  I became more self-assured and I began to get a glimpse of life after the craziness.  I saw that the world might, at some point, slow down.   I began to get a chance to think.

So here I am in my introspective 50s.   Now, finally once again, I have brief periods with the luxury of time.  The difference is that I want to nap. I want to play outside and I want to sit at the kids' table.  At the kids's table, manners are not required.  You can make all the noises that you want.  You can talk about the family members who do not appear to be growing old gracefully and you can leave without being "excused".

Looking propectively, my understanding of the next decades comes from those who are willing and who choose to share their stories.  I look to those of "considerable" years, defined as being exactly 10+ years older than I am on that particular day.  I am coming to understand that the blessing of each new year provides insight and there are some very graceful individuals who choose to lead by example.  

I avoid any cliches.  I do not care to "age like a good bottle of wine".  First and foremost, I hope for the privilege to contine to age.  I want to see what there is to come.

To grow older gracefully from here, I feel it would be short-sighted to discount the lessons learned. I see the value in being retrospective.  I want to look back and I want to remember.  I want to hug that child and tell her to slow down and play.  I wish to guide that teen from a distance and remember the spunk.  I want to grab that feeling of invincibity at 20 and then add to this the tenacity of my 30's. With the fortitude I found 40, I am ready to continue to grow.  I have begun to have fun in my fifties, seeing this as a beginning, not a middle.  Then with good fortune, I continue this journey.  I see extreme joys ahead. I also envision profound sorrows.  I value the lessons learned from an exuberant youth.  I crave the lessons from my gracious elders. It will be with this ever evolving insight that I hope to continue to grow older with some semblance of grace. 

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Blah Blah Blahg. What to do when you don't have a clue.

As some of you know, or can gather, I am relatively new to the world of blogging.  At the beginning of 2013, I had never read a blog, let alone written one.  I started writing while in Barbados, for a 6 week immersion in the culture, and then on my return to Canada, I was hooked and I just kept going.  As my passion grew, I had ideas for posts flying through my head.  I almost started a blog of ideas to later blog upon.   Occasionally my mind was free and clear of ideas, so I got glimpses of what I now call  My Blah Blah Blahgers Blahk.  I am sure this has been experienced by other people as the momentum slows.  I wasn't quite sure what to do.  I wrote a couple of unpublished posts that I really don't like yet.  I sat and thought and thought, trying to see an interesting viewpoint on something.  I was getting nothing.  I couldn't give up because my kids did tell me, "Blogs don't end". 

So, I decided to take off my Big Girl Thinking Cap.  I  have been reading other blogs by fascinating women.  I am sure there are blogs by fascinating men too, I just haven't delved right in yet.  I have read about the adventures of a beaver "across the pond".  I have read light-hearted blogs that poke fun at our menopausal misgivings.  I have read serious posts about vices to which many of us are drawn.  I have read about the joys of grandparenting.  I relate in some way to every post I have read.

I think I have been inspired sufficiently by the women I read.  I am now ready to just get back into writing.  I have returned to Barbados with my eldest daughter for the next 6 days.  I have even brought a friend.  If  a beaver can go to London, then a monkey should go to Barbados.  I considered taking off my Google Blogger Goggles and let myself have 2 glasses of wine while I write but I feer my righting mite sufrer.  I don't think that is adviseable given the talent of those to whom I look for guidance.

Well, I will muddle over grand ideas and controversial topics.  I will review my feelings on spirituality and consumerism. I will research style trends and money market funds.  I will scour the newspapers for a good grasp on world politics.  I will bring myself up to speed in all things health-related and I will even try to establish a good understanding of the universe and what we are all doing here.  I want to be a source of wisdom and guidance. I hope to command the respect of my peers.  I want to provide anyone who reads my blog with  profound insight the likes of which no one has ever known. I think I am ready.  I think I have what it takes. I know where to start.  I plan to tackle the age old quandry:  "If I am post-menopausal at 51 and someone asks whether I am pregnant, do I try to stand up straight, suck in my stomach and hold back the tears or do I just feel flattered that I look that young???"

 I am such a pathological optimist, sitting here happily looking through a half full, rose-coloured glass.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Breath by Breath in an Empty Nest

I dropped off my beloved at Pearson for his return to Barbados as the project draws very close to something Derek refers to as "kick off". This means for us, as a couple, more distance and more time apart. This is not new to us. The difference now is that the nest, without the 3 sticky kids and without a spouse, is really quite empty.

I zipped back up to The Big Smoke (Orangeville) and actually got to work early. The hospital is a whole different place at 0715. Pie-eyed nurses are changing shifts, praying their car is not covered in snow. The emergency dept is unusually quiet. The parking lot is being cleared for another day of wobbly patients. The best thing though was the fact that I had time for breakfast. Headwaters is an amazing community hospital with it's true claim to fame, beyond state of the art medical care is the cafeteria. The food is well known. The ladies are gems. People come here just to eat. So I had breakfast. It was egg McShirley and could not be beat.  


The next 3 days were what I would consider challenging days. I saw many very sick patients. The routine I put my patients through to assess their lung function, is rigorous when someone is already exhausted. I ask them to blow hard and fast and long, much like a labour coach. I make them hold their breath. I make them breathe "normally" with a snorkel mouthpiece and nose clips on. It is a compromise between getting the best test results while still respecting this persons limitations. This week has been one of patience and understanding for an unusually large number of very sick people. Basically the rule of thumb is "how would I like my parents to be treated" and I try to go with this.  

My role in lung health is to attempt to identify lung disease and intervene and educate where I can to help slow or control the process. My role is not one of a Respiratory Therapist. These are the young keen kids I work with and for whom I have the greatest respect. RTs can do what I do. I cannot do what they do. These are the people you want there in an emergency. You don't want someone people refer to as "pokey". My fear is to be mistaken for an RT so when there is a "code blue" I hide in the closet. 

 I spent a morning this week with a team of people who work to make us aware of the campaigns and resources available to guide our patients in the process of quitting smoking. This is a role I take very seriously. There are so many factors in the decision to smoke and the decision to quit. I do not stand in judgement as a nonsmoker when I speak with my patients. Vices are vices. I have taken a 3 day course on smoking cessation counselling. I wish there was a 3 day course to help people break me of my addiction to Ben and Jerry's. Who am I to judge. As one of the team very wisely commented "if health were easy we would all be healthy" 

Another thing I encountered this week was a profound sadness in 2 of my patients. They recounted the loss of their husbands like it was yesterday. This attachment in later years is something of which I am becoming more aware. I will remind myself of this the next time I have the opportunity to spend another 6 weeks in Barbados. 

Friday, 22 March 2013

For Our Bridget

Back in the chair
So proud and straight
The clouds move on
No more to wait
Bright 6 year old
So early aware 
The time, the years
The rain to bear
Clouds and storms 
Of wire and brace
Some highs, more lows
You had to face
Building toward
More teeth more bone
but the pain you had 
To endure alone
With all the crosses
Dark Days to see
Never losing once
That dignity
Your time has come 
The day is bright
You've earned all this 
With force and might
So our wee girl
With all that style
Can add to this
Your breathtaking smile 
Love to you
Our little one
So proud so happy
You see the sun

Thursday, 21 March 2013


Photo: Baby Bridget 
Baby Teeth
Baby Bridget - Baby Teeth
Well we are back at Holland Bloorview for the big day. Bridget has been waiting for 12 years. If you are new to my blog, the background story is entitled "Bridget is Awaiting the Tooth Fairy".

After a night of catching up with my mom, I picked a very excited girl at the crack of dawn today at Lawrence subway. We are full of optimism. I have a tupper ware container of chili in my purse. It is half full and I have no worries that it will dump in my purse. Its a going to be a good day.

We were 45 minutes early. This is unprecedented. I couldn't even get coffee.

Everyone was in fine form. Dr Carmichael had a much more relaxed expression when the teeth were popped in. I can read his mood after so many years. It was a full team effort.

The Team at Work

You have to love Bridget and a Mirror 

We whisked ourselves to the lab at Dufferin and Davenport. The waiting room is making great strides to become more aesthetically pleasing.
As She Happily waits

        The fit is better this time. The colour matches. Just a bit of adjustments needed.

We even got a lunch/nap break.

Long Day

Back in the chair. Time to be self absorbed and picky. We should all get to pick our body parts like this. I know for sure that Derek would love to pick his nose (sorry I just couldn't resist). This is a lot like the detail Bridget expects of the woman who waxes her eyebrows.

Ok photo shoot time.

Photo Shoot - The Best Part

Back at Holland Bloorview for needles paste and glue.

Almost Done Hon

Final touches... And Voila ...

First apple since 2007

Apple and Funding Provided by Grand'maman

Sunday, 17 March 2013

O'Rourke's St Paddy's - Ball Room or Pub

As our 3 kids are now living in Toronto as students and young employed (yes employed!!) individuals, St Patrick's Day in Toronto seemed like a good idea. Derek and I woke at the crack of dawn to put on our best green outfits.   His was Kaki and mine was blue. We headed down to the Big Smoke to meet the wee O'Rourke offspring at the Overdraught Pub, near the CN tower.

Life is so much easier now that going out on St Patrick's Day no longer  includes Shamrock Shakes or tents full or colourful balls or treasure chests of trinkets. I don't miss chicken nuggets or fights over who is "too old for  a kid's meal".  I do not miss finding ketchup packets in my pockets.   I do however, miss the colouring placemats and crayons.
So Cute - So Sticky

As cute as the 3 wee ones were, (and I think I imagine them cuter than I am sure they ever were), family meals definitely have a taken a turn since our  kids become of legal drinking age, (or at least close enough to pass). By this age, they have had their fair share of stupid drunken life lessons that a parent just cannot teach  Each of ours have their story but I promised not to share too much.  In fact, I have asked them not to even share them with me.  I have also chosen not to share mine with them.  I like to think no one remembers mine.

Kevin, Bridget and Kate

All Ready for tonight
Kate, Kevin And Bridget came from various directions today and we met at an Irish pub near the CN Tower.  It was early to order liquor, but according to my last Irish text "it's always Ireland somewhere".  When we all arrived we tried on various Irish hats.  The kids are all suited up for whatever they choose to do tonight.  Our waitress, who I imagine to be a young Irish lass, catered to our every wish, as she knows an Irish family when she sees one.  I think the A'postrophe in our  last name, annoying as it can be, scores a good table on St. Patrick's day.

Sarah - So understanding

We got caught up on the kids' shenanigans.  We laughed and we cried and we hung out for about 2 hours as we have found is the maximum amount of time that we all get along famously.  That is the 2 hour rule of which I spoke earlier in this blog.   There was Guinness   There was Cider. There was Irish Stew and Fish and Chips.  No side salads were ordered.  We finished with Sticky Pudding and again, I had flash backs to the early years of goo.

When it was time to go, we wished all of them "Happy St Patricks's Day".  Derek picked up the tab and we realized that kids of legal drinking age are not so special after all.  I don't want to go back to the Play Places.  I don't want to go back to scouring a town for yellow arches.  However, from now on, St  Patrick's Day will be celebrated at Cora's, well before it is noon in Canada, no matter what time it is in Ireland.

Next time - Juice

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Natasha is getting my Groove back...Yoga style

In follow up to Pajama Day, I have been lollygagging in the fitness department.  So  I am making my move.  I am going  to venture back to the gym to which I belong and expect to be greeted with "where have you been?".  I will promptly inform them that I have been away, in Barbados for the past 6 weeks.  I fully expect they will then say " I meant since the fall".  To this I have no reply except I have been in a funk with respect to the health of my mind and body. I like to think this happens to the best of us from time to time.  Sometimes life just takes a wrong turn and things run off track. It is the exact time when our bodies need to be cared for a catered to, but not just with chocolate. At least not too much chocolate. Well it is time to get back on the gravy train, sans gravy and move. I will nudge myself along the "Stages of Change".  I will plan. I will walk.  I will get my gym bag packed.   I will watch 23 and 1/2 hours. I need to find my motivation.  I need to find my groove.

If you have never watched 23 and 1/2 hours, I truly suggest you take a few minutes.  It is very entertaining and motivating.  It is short.  It is entertaining and very well done.  It is about the most motivating thing around when one wants to get in the swing, or someone who wants to get back in the swing.

So, as directed in the video, I will start with just moving.  I will walk and I will stretch and I think Yoga may be the best place to start.  I need to reintroduce my old body to yoga as I have promised My Kate that we will do 8am yoga on Gibbs Beach next week, when I venture back to Barbados with my lovely first born.  A bit of mother/daughter woman time.  So great.  I expect the beach yoga guy will love us.  Remember him??

Beach Yoga Guy

I will start slowly, with yoga. My sister Terry is what is referred to in the world of Mind Body Balance, as a yoga freak. I will take her lead.  I will go and bend and stretch. I like yoga.  I like the clothes.  I have my own mat.  The concern with yoga is that I fall down a lot, but I do this with dignity.  I will be a well-respected member of Saturday morning Yoga class, as I proudly carry my yoga mat.  Now you may remember  how ridiculous I looked in my beach attire in Barbados, with backpack/beach chair on my back and my fanny pack filled with essentials;  Sun tan lotion, brush, ipod and enough cash for just 1 rum punch.  Now Yoga is a different uniform in a Canadian winter.  I can't even bring myself to post a whole photo.  You will have to picture me with too tight capri yoga pants, a hoodie and my duckie boots, ski jacket with hood and my mitts.  I will try to give you a bit of an idea:
How Embarrassing 

I ventured to Saturday morning Yoga today for the first time since the fall.  No one applauded.  We are a quiet reflective group, with our mats and our hoodies and our socks.  Today was quite a mix of young and old.  The young ones (somewhere between 14 and 25 - such a hazy age), were very respectful of their more senior classmates.

Now you must understand that I got out of bed to a snowy and cold Canadian winter morning.  I had to brush off the car.  I almost threw in the towel right there.  I am  not sure whether I persevered just to be able to say "I did it" but it doesn't matter, because I did it.

It was a cool yoga studio, as it is mostly windows, but it was toasty warm by the time we started.  Natasha was in fine form, just like last fall.  She is a lovely woman, very understanding and encouraging to those of us who fall down. She makes everything look so fluid that it is easy to think that I look exactly like she does when I am in Downward Dog. There is a reason I don't look in the mirror.  

Natasha Boldireff

Well I finished the 90 minutes. I did fall down. I will be sore tomorrow. We then dressed in our hoodies and fuzzy socks, stretched out underneath amazing binkeys and had a much needed "Quiet Time".  I try very hard to block out my unquiet mind and sometimes I can do this better than others. This morning I started writing this post in my head, but I stopped and focused on nothing.  Nothing is so great.  I want to go to there.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Even a Wells Girl can't say no to Guys' Night Out

As one of the 4 Wells girls, I learned, as I expect did my sisters, to "just say no".

Well, I don't think this was the intent, but I got so good at this that to this day, there are times when first instinct when asked anything is to say "no".  It doesn't matter what it is.  My realization of this came last night when I was home on my own while Derek met with 2 young, up and coming engineers at work, doing something brilliant.  I  have no idea what this brilliant thing was, but I think that Derek was there to make tea. Well, as I contemplated left overs or toast for my dinner, I was invited by these 3 guys to join them for dinner.  My instinct was "no".  I was in my pre-jamas.  I was  comfortable.  I had napped and everything.  I felt this was an obvious answer at the time.  Then, of course, I started to question this knee-jerk response.  I tried to turn on the TV and as my kids know, success with the TV and me is about 50/50.  When I did figure it out, it turned on the E! and I found myself trying to answer the question "which show talked about the Regal Beagle". 
File:Three's Company Opening (1982).jpg
Ok, Time to Go out

Ok that was too much so I changed the channel to find out what Thursday night looked like.  I don't know about anyone else, but I know there are some like-minded individuals who have found that  TV seems really boring now that the Conclave is over. 

So I re-thought my "no" as I don't get asked out often by 2 young men and I am on my own all next week, so I expect I will be eating a lot of toast.  So I "freshened up" and headed to Boston Pizza for a guy's night out.  I was concerned about the venue at first, as Boston Pizza is a family-friendly restaurant.  It is not that I don't like children, but I find it hard  not to cut their meat and wipe their noses.  I wanted an adult night and I was pleasantly surprised that I am not the only one, as I found my 3 dates in the bar where the hockey game was playing.

Well, I really like being "one of the guys".  I have always valued my guy friends until When Harry Met Sally came along and threw a wrench in the whole thing.

Dinner is so much different than that ordered at the over-used expression "Girl's Night Out".  I think that we are just going crazy on this expression.  So on Guys' Night Out, there is Pizza with a lot of meat.  Thin crust is not even considered an option.  There are no side salads ordered and no one pretends that this is the first pizza they have had a 6 years.  There is no talk of "splitting a dessert".  If guys are not hungry, they don't have dessert.  I found myself confused.  Since when does hunger and dessert have anything to do with each other. 

Well, like Girls' Night Out, there is lots of gabbing. No work talk was permitted and we laughed a lot.  I offered girlfriend/wife advice that I am sure they hung on to my every word.  One of the guys, Jason, looks like a red-headed Irishman but  is actually a native of Barbados and has had and will hopefully continue to have a paramount role in Burnside Barbados. He is happy to make treks to Barbados when asked, to see his parents and Grandmother.  He is such a sweet young man.   The other fellow, Debanjan, is equally sweet and travels extensively on international projects, including Christmas in Mozambique. This gave the other "travelers" a break to go home for Christmas.  I told you he was sweet.  I first met Debanjan in Barbados on one of my first "Guys' Night Out" that included something called a "Lead Pipe" which is basically dough, stuffed with ground beef and coconut and baked or fried or something like that.  I understandably, never went out with Debanjan again until last night.

I may not be invited back, as I was so happy to be included, that Derek suggested that I was "quite talkative".  This is the best example of the tea pot calling the kettle black. I like to think that I gave the "guys" a chance to talk, maybe just not Derek.  Apparently there was a hockey game on, which Toronto lost.  This scored each of us a free pizza on our return with "The Leafs win or You do".  What a novel idea. I will save this for 6 years, until the next time I have pizza.

 I had to grab a picture of Guys Night Out, in case I am never invited again.  I am not in this picture, but I really was there.