Friday, February 27, 2015

Show up

Some weeks a light and airy and easy

Some weeks are like swimming through molasses

This week was the latter - At work each consecutive meeting adding a longer and longer "to do" list growing to seemingly unreachable heights.... challenges abounded, popped up when least expected or needed.

At home,  friends and family carrying and sharing burdens, doing hard stuff, grieving, figuring out complicated stuff, recovering, facing hard decisions.

It seemed overwhelming at times and I felt inadequate most of the time.

I did my share of staring....staring out of the window....trying to make sense of it all.  Sometimes praying, sometimes just having a mental break.

I didn't solve much, the TO DO list is only marginally smaller, too many friends I didn't connect with, not enough time with my family but I did just keep on showing up.

I showed up for my family.
I showed up for my friends.
I showed up for my students.
I showed up for my colleagues.
I showed up for work.
I showed up for me.

I showed up in a text, an email, a FB message, I showed up for dinner, for a coffee, for a hug, at my desk.

Sometimes that is all there is.

Sometimes that is enough.

To be there.

To keep on keeping on.

And if you can manage a smile, a laugh, a walk in the sunshine, a sunrise, a quiet moment, a workout then I call it a bonus.

Keep on showing up friends.

I need you, we all need you.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Reason 375

Reason 375 why Lindsay moving to Victoria is going to be hard.....

For me....

Mini salted caramel apple pies


Thursday, February 19, 2015

TBT - 5 years

I saw this on my timehop today and it made me nostalgic

Some memorable moments......

Monday, February 16, 2015


In Grade 2 I was cast as one of the seven dwarfs.

I was cast as Grumpy!

I blame the fact I was a protestant child attending a catholic convent school for not getting a  better role.....

I think then I made lousy Grumpy trying to conceal my smiley face behind a costume beard.

But today...... today I would have starred in the role....... Oscar worthy performance.....

Ever had one of those days when everything is annoying......not necessarily because it is ACTUALLY annoying but because , no matter what, the grumpy filter is well in place.....?

It started with a teenager who "felt really bad" as I was getting ready to leave the house..... but could not describe any symptoms other than a sore heard and feeling "bad all over"...... so a quick judgement if this was real illness or homework fail and therefore school aversion (sudden onset of illness with no visible symptoms makes me suspicious).....decided to let the child stay home.  Of course this is the one who takes 6 gallons of water and 15 minutes to swallow a pill.  Gah!

Onset of my grumpy symptoms.

This delay meant I missed an amazing sunrise and drove grumpily to work.

Every other driver on the road was an idiot.  What are the odds.

And then really while I tried to be professional and smiley at my desk the aggravations kept coming.... emails of demands, other emails sent and no instant response (the nerve), the voices of people grated on my nerves, the slam of the door so irritating.....never mind it happens hundreds of times everyday and usually never bothers it bothered in the extreme.  The 5 phone calls telling me I won some bloody cruise in the Bahamas....the huge pile of

Even the sunshine didn't help. I actually commented to someone I thought it would be sunnier today.

Oh.My.Goodness...... It wasn't sunny enough for me......there really was no helping me today.

The barrista at Starbucks was slow (and I stupidly decided not to get a flat white) as was the lunch place.  The teenagers standing near me at the mall were using the F word for every second word .... I ranted in my head about the deplorable state of the English language, the education system, youth in general - Hello 45 year old grumpy pants!.  The construction work next to my office was loud and intrusive, the cars driving to fast in the parking lot and 3 pens I tried didn't work.

I stayed hunkered down in my office avoiding as much contact with people as possible.

Then I had to stop at the grocery store on my way home.

I detest this on days when I am it was a trial of epic proportions... in my mind and I contemplated steak sandwiches without fried onions and spinach salad without Parmesan but that only made me grumpier.   The cashier was slow.

Home briefly to prep dinner, check on the sick and suffering now mostly well again (miracle!), have a cup of tea into which I poured too much milk.....UGH.

Off to  my workout.....THIS, this... I thought will help me.....this will release those endorphins and the grumps will be banished.

But at 5:30pm as I drove there I could see an incredible sunset was coming.....and my new camera was in the car...... I had to do some fast "in my head" arguing and justifying with myself  (don't be alarmed I have a fabulous therapist who is working with me on the voices in my head) and actually went to my workout..... now grumpy about missing the ever pinking sky I could see out of the corner of my eye.

You cannot imagine how my frustration rose to danger levels when the most uncoordinated and oblivious person walked in......fortunately she stood behind me and I thought I could maybe focus on the class .....

But no..... not today.....

At the last moment this flappy chicken person moved and stood in front of me.


If my eyes had rolled any further in my head they would have called an ambulance thinking I was having a seizure.  Which might have been preferable to watching the flappy chicken do practically every move wrong. (kidding....about the seizure part).

Thankfully I came home to a beautiful meal and  my peeps were in good form, relatively little bickering through dinner.

A long hot shower, a comfy sweater and a work project Allan helped me with has me feeling slightly less grumpy.


Hoping a decent nights sleep will banish the grumps - I need to boot the negative and annoyed thoughts and be generous and forgiving and engaged...... although my 9am meeting could kill the dream.




Sunday, February 15, 2015

Out of the box

So I am letting the cat out of the bag here......

Or more like the new camera is out of the box.

I was gifted a great new Canon point and shoot for my birthday by my replace one that had a fishing accident......with my hubby.

This one is pretty fancy with lots of bells and whistles.....that I am trying to wrap my head around.

I actually read the manual but I found it....unhelpful....

So my Valentines gift to myself was a couple of hours out and about with my camera shooting of various modes, figuring our aperture and F stops.

I have always been more of a hands on learner and I did figure out some things yesterday.....but came home a little frustrated at some of the things I thought I had figured but didn't ......more learning to do especially before my trip to NYC.

But here are some of my favourites from a beautiful Spring sunset last night......

Friday, February 13, 2015


I have superheros for friends.  

They aren't imaginary.

They are very real women.  

Women doing normal everyday things with profound bravery in the face of some pretty BIG "stuff".


I count myself lucky to witness these women. They are not swooping from buildings to save people, are not glorified on billboards or in movies but they are women who woke up this morning and put their two feet on the ground and lifted their heads and took on this day.   

You might not spot them in a grocery store line up, they don't wear their capes, but never doubt they are around you.  

Everyone of them is my hero.

The one who faces every day sober and is fighting to reclaim herself, every inch of herself, from demons of the past.  Her relentless determination to live fully herself and fully live through the pain into joy and wholeness and connectedness.

The one whose body is frail, who fought hard from illness to health and now stands poised to battle again...too soon...and with such abiding grace and faith and intelligence....concerned more for others than herself.

The one who believed in her dreams and made them happen....focused, determined....and sometimes very tired.  Such passionate pursuit of a dream, a dream that fills her up and benefits hundreds of others....the sacrifice is no small thing.

The one who is far away from her family and friends and is the very best Mom and Wife, who asks so little of this world and gives so much love and commitment to her friends and family... one of the people who I love who is so authentically herself.

The one who is passionately advocating for what her child needs to be his best self....dedicated hours of research and seeking answers and trying new things ...grieving for the losses, celebrating the triumphs...fiercely and gently determined, a gifted mother.

The one whose career took a sharp and unexpected turn, years of work and building in her job....gone in a day. Determined to take the time to process and regroup and continue on in something new, something right.

The one grieving for what she has left behind and remaining strong for her family as they figure out a new place and a new way...her gracious strength and intentionality in just taking each next step the best way she can.

And my other friends parenting, working on their marriages, working long hours, figuring out transitions expected and unexpected, nursing sick kids, caring for their parents, negotiating extended families, making big business deals, standing for justice, rocking babies, serving, loving..... Showing up.

Showing up for this life we were each given.  

Doing remarkable and extraordinary ordinary things every day.

I love Supershero friends.....each and every one of you, for in truth, that is all of you.

Sunday, February 8, 2015


It's been a while since I had a slow day.

I think it was in 1982.... Ish.

But today I dressed in yoga pants and a baggy sweater and never left the house.

Everyone else in my family had plans... 

The boys had a good day of fishing and Lindsay filmed a French assignment with friends.

Spanner and I were homebodies.

So I napped, ate, read, watched tv, played scrabble...... NOT

Well I tried to watch TV but despite pushing buttons on all of these I could not bring the TV to life.....although it did hiss a bit 

So after finishing a report and doing a bit of prep for the class I start teaching next week.... I cleaned the house ....

It is alarming and "eww" inducing to see how much dust and sand and Spanner hair accumulates in one week on the floor ... To think what was in the carpet before..... Ok moving along.....

Ah the joy of a spotless kitchen! Floors, counters.... A clear island! 

And then in a very sceptical move I decided to follow a recipe to cook a whole chicken in the slow cooker..... 

I am delighted to say it was a smashing and delicious success.... That went well with my potato Parmesan bake and frozen peas ... Go me! 

I sat down with my homemade espresso and had a few quiet moments before everyone came home ...

The week ahead is busy but these great little peel and stick calendars are helping us stay organised 

Everyone is chilling tonight.... David is watching "Friends" on Netflix which is giving me flashbacks and the laugh reel is irritating... I had forgotten....

A slow day spent productively (maybe a bit too much in my head) and everyone home and cozy tonight! 

And tomorrow is a holiday! Woot! 

Of course an ice cream sundae is the perfect way to end the day!

Night !

Saturday, February 7, 2015


I have scoured my family tree looking for my Italian genes but "niente"!!!

How then to explain the delight I have in food and feeding people? 

It's not that I am a good cook... I'm adequate at best.... But I am currently addicted to making bolognese sauce. 

I seldom want to be in the kitchen, want to cook but this bolognese sauce .. Man.. It has me hooked Amici. 

I even minced my own veal the recipe called for for heavens sake? 

I think I have made this 4 times this year already.

I didn't make anything other than scrambled eggs 4 times last year... Ok maybe French toast.....

Lasagne.... You got it... From scratch ! For the second time in 3 weeks! 

So if you see my family sneaking across the street to DQ for a burger because they can't take one more bite of my bolognese you'll know I've gone too far! 

 The funny thing is the more I delight in following a "Cooks Illustrated" recipe and nailing it ... The more confidence I get... and the more confident I feel the better the food I am cooking...

I'm not auditioning for Master Chef just yet but if I can find the joy in the kitchen I will be a happier person! 

I cheat fed some friends tonight... I lovingly prepared a meal but didn't exactly cook any of it (thank you M&M  meat shops) although I did give them a bag of my frozen summer harvest of chilliwack corn.... It was such fun to put the meal together for such a lovely and inspirational family.  They are newly arrived in Canada and they have reminded me how hard that immigrant experience is and what bravery it takes to leave your homeland and come to start life again in a new place. And they have done it with such grace.... And that it has brought a new friendship into my life is a gift. 

And then I came home and in 30 minutes (thanks to some earlier prep) I pulled off steak fajitas for my busy family! 

So my day was all about food and feeding and friends and family and fellowship... And it was Fun! 

I don't know where it comes from in my genes .... English, Irish, Canadian, Scottish... maybe it's my sorta Italian Russian name (insert heavy Italian mafia-esque accent) "Nicola" ... Or maybe, to my surprise, I have just uncovered something new about myself at my advanced age. 

Who knows? 

Amici Addio. 

Ti Amo.

PS: until googling the above Italian phrases tonight I only had one line of Italian and it was "Giubbotti salvagente sotto la poltrona" which was of little use once I was done flying around the world on Alitalia in 1988. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015


I love to entertain...... I mean I love when Allan and Lindsay make delicious food and friends come over.

But better than a THEME party.....

That's my forte!

So we had a planned dinner party last weekend.....our clan coming over - 4 couples......we were looking forward to your normal ole dinner party until we decided that in homage to the warm, mild weather we were having in January we should do a BBQ.


I literally sat up in bed and said " Lets make it a July in January Party".

I ignored the confused looks and sprung into action.

A summer party....Yes indeed.... the menu was easy - ribeye, bbq chicken, sausages and grilled veggies, twice baked cheesy potatoes and a salad.......and a baguette or two.

And mason jar mojitos.....of course

And I had a splendid idea for dessert - an ice-cream sundae / milkshake station! with requisite bunting and paper straws!  And a delightful chalkboard I found and daisies......and much chocolate :)

And to make things even more epic on the dessert front Lindsay made little hand pies..... tiny apple salted caramel pies..... unbelievably good!

And the decor was fun..... picnic inside....easy breezy and fun!

It was a fun evening.  

You can end this post here unless you want to know how to make double baked potatoes

1. Bake potatoes

2.  Scoop out the potato leaving the skins empty

3.  Put the baked potato, cheese (I used romano and old cheddar and a bit of ricotta), 1/2 cup may and 1/2 cup sour cream and blend well ( the longer you whip it the "lighter" it will be)

4. Put the cheesy potato mix back into the skins and bake until the cheese starts to brown and crisp on top.

5. Enjoy