Saturday, January 31, 2015

WYL #3 Challenges

I read this at last weeks writing group. There was a pit at the bottom of my stomach but I went ahead. Again, I was putting myself out there, but it seems I was not alone. Others in the group talked about moving often and the effects that had on them. It was interesting, as some had the opposite result, while others were somewhere in the middle. It reminded me that we are all different yet there are commonalities that link us.

The writing group, and you, know me almost as well as I know myself. I sat here wondering why I was going to post this to my blog. One reason is that I want it included in the book I print at the end of the year and the other I had to think about. In the end, I decided that seeing my journey to enlightenment might help you in yours. Looking at ourselves and our flaws gives opportunity for growth and change.


I was not even a year old when I lost my first friend - it was a trend that would eventually cause anguish and then withdrawal.

It started when we moved to Edmonton, just before I turned a year old. I may have missed the playmate left behind in Calgary, but I was probably too young to notice. While we lived in Edmonton we moved at least once -friends came and went.

We moved to Saskatoon when I was four. My cat came with us, but I have no memory of friends left behind. We were there long enough for me to go to Kindergarten, but I started Grade 1 in Rivers, Manitoba, not knowing anyone.  I remember one friend - Kathy lived across the street - I know there were other children that I played with, but they are just vague shadows in my memory.  I think I cried when it was time to move 2 years later.

I started grade 3 in another new town and school. Walking into the classroom not knowing a soul took courage that my shy self could barely muster. We lived in Portage La Prairie for two years. Friends were made, adventures were had, and then it was time to move on again. More tears, although I can't for the life of me remember anyone except Gina Stopani-Thompson, but I probably remember her because we met again when I was in high school.

Grade 5 had me screwing up my nerve to walk into another new school, this one in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I made friends with Jackie, the girl across the street. We were as close as two 10 year old girls could be. I had other friends, but not close ones. 

Moving cities and schools didn't stop then, there were many more heartbreaks to come. While we lived in Winnipeg my dad got sent on a 6 month course to Farnbourough, England. Our family, of course, joined him. Vivian and I became inseparable while we lived there, and I cried when we left.

We spent two more years in Winnipeg before the really hard moves started. I was about to enter high school when we left Winnipeg for distant Ottawa, Ontario. It was supposed to be for only one year, little did I know that my friends from Winnipeg would never be seen again. In our new home in Ottawa, Heather lived next door and we became close friends quickly as neither of us knew anyone. Walking the school halls of my new high school and not knowing a soul was hard. 

The one year in Ottawa turned to two. We moved to Kanata. Starting fresh at a new high school in grade 11, this time not even having one friend, was hard for me. I was shy and awkward with low self-esteem. I didn't have the courage to break into the already established cliques so the school year was almost over by the time I had the nerve to make a few friends.  I was scared of being hurt again - I didn't think I could take another heartbreak.

My defences were weak at first, but as the partings mounted I found ways to cope. Looking back it seems that many of my friends have reduced to vague memories, ghosts really. It is as if I'm looking through a reel of tape that has faded with time. Some of the figures have faded completely leaving white space that you know must have been filled, but can't fathom with what. Other figures still have a ghostly outline. I'm in the picture but I am doing the pantomime by myself. I look sad and lonely. I can't remember details of how they looked or what we did together.  It hurt too much to love someone and then have them ripped out of my life as if they had died with no funeral to ease the passing. Many of my memories are of things that I've done by myself. Were others with me and my mind has wiped them out? Or did I become a bit of a loner to protect my sensitive feelings?

Where has all this left me? I'm cautious about getting close to people which I think makes me look stand-offish and reserved. I tend to keep a wall between myself and others - it is safer sometimes not to feel too much. As much as I want to, it is hard to make the leap from acquaintance to friend, but I'm trying to be more open and learning to take risks.

I don't want to give the impression that there was only heartbreak as a child, there are good things with having moved and experienced so much. I'm open-minded and flexible. I'm interested in other people and their stories. I've learned how to walk into a group of people and fake a look of confidence.


You must be the person you have never had the courage to be. Gradually, you will discover that you are that person, but until you can see this clearly, you must pretend and invent. ~Paulo Coelho

Friday, January 30, 2015

Vino Nobile 2006

Carm unearthed a special bottle of wine for us last night. The 2006 vintage Vino Nobile di Montepulciano was a rich black liquorice with black berry when it was first opened and then mellowed into a smooth red ambrosia.

But enough of that…

Inspired by the date on the bottle, I wondered what we were doing when those grapes were growing and harvested.

It seems that 2006 was a big year for us. I was still learning how to stay well and part of that was re-evaluating our lifestyle. A barn full of horses was a big responsibility and one that I wasn't well equipped for anymore - it was time to do some serious soul searching. Having the horses was my dream, but my dream was making my reality too hard to deal with - more than a few tears were choked on as I made the decision to downsize.

Initially I thought of keeping one or two riding horses but every time I rode I fell off. Side effects from medications were messing with my balance. I worried that eventually I'd really hurt myself and not just turn black and blue from a few bruises or limp from a twisted knee. I knew myself well enough to know that if there were a horse in the paddock, like iron drawn to a magnet, I would mount up. They all had to go. If you know me very well you'll know that giving up this dream wrenched me to my core. But in the end, I wanted to be well more than anything else.



Fiorgyn and Ulfrun were two of the four foals that were born in 2005. With four yearlings and I can’t remember how many grown horses, we had a barn full at the beginning of the year. Throughout that spring and summer horses left the farm as we found new homes for them. By September we just had 2 left - Luna and Torge, one of the foals from the previous year. Two for the winter seemed manageable, plus I needed a break from the exodus.



The horses weren't the only things in our lives, we had dogs, and some of them were getting older. Early spring we said goodbye to Grizzle, our Borzoi. He left a giant hole in our hearts which we were anxious to fill.

We got Kabira at the end of April. She was the last available puppy in a litter of 12 but I think we got the pick of the litter.  She does have an undershot jaw and a crooked tail, but those flaws are out shined by her loving disposition. Her 9th birthday is coming up in Feb and I intend on having a full post all about our Kabarific.

You would think that there were already plenty of changes already made but there was one big one in store for us – a change that would affect us for many years.

In September, on a lark, we went tent camping. We hadn’t been camping for well over a decade but it seemed like a good idea. Being away from our responsibilities was a balm to my soul. While we were away I felt a release of tension - it was almost a holiday for everything, including my illness. I liked it! But I wasn't crazy about sleeping on the ground – it was September with overnight temps dropping to just above 0C. It was so cold that Bella and Kabira wormed their way under the covers at night to keep warm – we didn’t kick them out, they were keeping us warm too!

The gears in my head started turning (at a ferocious rate I might add), and soon I had Carm convinced to do some trailer shopping. We looked at many small ones but were eventually drawn to a 24' fifth wheel. The deal was signed and we anxiously awaited delivery.


Our first trailer arrived home in November. We were both really excited and couldn’t wait till the next summer to spend a night in it so as soon as it was parked in the laneway I started setting it up for a driveway camp. With a down comforter on the bed and a hot supper on the table we popped open a bottle of bubbles to toast our new lifestyle.



One should always be drunk. That's all that matters...But with what? With wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you chose. But get drunk. ~Charles Baudelaire

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Pull the trigger

The warm-up at the writing group today was ‘what are 3 things that people might not know about you’. The first two answers popped into my head right away, and I may have already talked about them here (goodness knows I babble about a lot of things). The third thing was a bit raunchy…....

When I was in my early 20s I used to ride a motorcycle. My Suzuki gn400 was the first big thing that I bought (see photo below). I fed a live rat to a big boa constrictor. I was the first woman to go to a Carleton University engineering stag that wasn’t a stripper – the female engineers started joining the party after that :-o


I have a few things partially written about mental illness, but didn't clue in to yesterday's 'Bell Let's Talk' day until later in the evening, too late to finish one off so I will share today. Ten years ago, when I was first diagnosed, there was very little discussion about mental illness and I felt like a maverick with my openness. It was always my hope that my small contribution to squashing stigma might help someone. Imagine the number of people that find help due to Bell's initiative!

Pull the trigger on a gun and a bullet will speed out looking to do harm. That isn't the only kind of trigger that is destructive - in bipolar circles we call anything that initiates a mood episode a trigger, and while they won't necessarily kill you (in desperate circumstances they can), they do create havoc.

Triggers can include not having a regular sleep schedule with enough sleep hours; not eating meals at regular times; not taking medications as prescribed; not having the right amount of social contact (too much and it triggers into hypo-mania, not enough and depression starts to creep in); having contact with the wrong sorts of people; indulging in unhealthy thinking; the list goes on.

Once I've identified a trigger I can start to manage my illness. I can take control of sleep. I can choose not to be around people that cause discomfort (fyi - I don't know any of those people and was only using as example to others!). Although it often isn't easy, reminding myself to monitor my thoughts greatly increases my mental well-being (see yesterday's link to the 13 things).

Bipolar disorder is an illness that requires constant vigilance to stay well, and part of that is managing triggers. It doesn't mean that I will have no mood swings - I am sometimes ill despite my best efforts - but it does limit the number and usually the severity.

I'm lucky that I have a spouse that is supportive of my efforts so that I've been able to arrange my life for optimum health.


A desire to be in charge of our own lives, a need for control, is born in each of us. It is essential to our mental health, and our success, that we take control. ~Robert Foster Bennett

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Sharing a Table

Sometimes not finding a table is a good thing.

Monday we deeked into Costco for a few things and as we were checking out, the picture of the giant hotdog and drink caught our eyes. It was lunch time and we were hungry so we split up, Carm getting into the rather long line, while I looked for a table. There was one, way on the other side. With the giant Costco sized cart in front of me I purposefully strode off, the gleaming white rectangle in my sights. Just as I arrived, I almost collided with a lady that arrived from the other direction. We each took a step back, sizing each other up and both of us quickly suggested that we share.

It was close to an hour later that we exited the store. The couple, Carmen and Lin, were a lovely older couple who used to RV and took many winter trips to the US. They gave us tips on where to go and we exchanged many stories and anecdotes, not just about RVing. It was a fun way to spend a bit of time and a nice change from sitting across from each other with not much to say.


The dogs got baths today, not their favourite thing, but they are cooperative. Afterwards the hair on Spike's head was drooping into his eyes so I told him I'd puff him up - as soon as I cracked the box where the brush is he jumped up and ran over. At first I thought it was because he knew I'd take the hair out of his eyes, but on further thought we usually go for a car ride after he's been puffed up… sorry to disappoint Spike but you are soaking wet and it is freezing cold. With their long hair the poodles are like sponges – it will be hours before they are dry. The dogs have each staked out a sun spot and are soaking up the warmth of the sun. I had my own place in the sun, but the blinding light eventually sent me elsewhere.




I ordered a pair of Bluetooth headphones so that I can listen to my music or watch a program when I'm on the treadmill. It seemed precarious to be tethered to my tablet while I was energetically walking – more than once I came close to crashing the whole thing onto the floor. What do you use for listening to music? Do you listen privately or inflict share with others? I'm hoping that I can do other exercise/housework with these headphones since I won’t be tangling myself in cords.

I read this today and really liked it: 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do | Amy Morin

Here’s a writing prompt from the book I got from Jo Ellen: You accidentally hit Reply-All and everyone received an uncensored rant about your boss. Write the follow-up reply all.

“My going-away party will be held on Friday at I've Been An Idiot Restaurant at 666 the End of the Road which is just around the corner from I'm Sorry I Think You are Great St.”


Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent. ~Victor Hugo

When I was looking for quotes I came across this poem and it appealed to me at some level – I love ‘a note unsaid’.

“Life is for the living.
Death is for the dead.
Let life be like music.
And death a note unsaid.”

Langston Hughes, The Collected Poems

Saturday, January 24, 2015

He should be in advertising

Spike got first dibs at the empty jar of peanut butter this morning. Amazingly he didn’t have a ring of pb around his head! Do you think Kraft would approve?




I’ve been laying low the last few days – extreme tiredness and a hint of depression has me dragging myself around, not accomplishing anything (including my 15s). It’s not exactly depression, it is more a heaviness in my head that makes it difficult to think. Finding the right word and making a proper sentence are difficult. Math would be impossible. Negative thoughts flit through my head, but I’m alert enough to not let them roost anywhere. Sometimes if I rest up for a few days when it first hits me I can dodge the bullet.

A few weeks ago I started experimenting with those packs of noodle soups for my breakfast/lunch – they were great but had a few flaws: huge amounts of salt and no vegetables. So I went to the Asian store and got a large package of thin rice noodles, which are a better for me than the wheat noodles – they are bundled up in small bunches just large enough for a single serving. I sautéed a batch of mushrooms & celery that I keep in the fridge – a big heaping spoon adds flavour. To that I add a bunch of baby bok choy or spinach and some hot sauce and other spices. I end up with a lunch that is quick to prepare and healthy. Best of all, I feel better than if I had eaten toast.


Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery. ~J.K. Rowling

Thursday, January 22, 2015

WYL #2 My arrival and childhood

I’ve gone right back to the beginning of my life with this story. I needed a lot of help from my parents to fill in the gaps, but I think it gives a nice little recap of my beginnings. I hope you have a few laughs too!


Right on Time

I was the first of 4 children in our family which grew in fits and starts. Just after I turned 5 my sister Kirsten was born. Nine more years went by before my brother Olaf arrived, and soon after that Graham completed our family.

The best way to start the story of my birth is to state the unbelievable, the impossible, but what my mother, to this day, claims as fact - I was an immaculate conception. Sweethearts since the 9th grade, they got engaged before my father moved to Calgary to start his university education, leaving my mother in Medicine Hat to finish high school. Fate and exuberant young love had other plans. With a passion born of absence, my parents made love - but carefully, to preserve my mother's innocence. It seems that there was no distance that would foil the life forces which traversed unintended paths - paths which eventually intersected on my behalf. In an instant, two young lives were changed and a new one created.

After a hasty marriage, my parents set up house in Calgary, Alberta. They lived in a furnished apartment on the top floor of a house not too far from the university. They were poor. With $150 a month from money saved up from summer jobs, and financial help from my grandfather Turvey, they scrimped to make it through each month. During a particularly poor month they sold their mattress, a wedding gift, to pay for the rent.

After a few months of housekeeping practice, my parents were finally rewarded with my arrival. Punctual from my first breath, I arrived right on time, September 17, 1962. With no mother to turn to when the contractions started, my parents called Aunt Della and Uncle Paul who lived a few blocks away. Mom and Dad spent the day with them while I prepared for my debut. By 2:30pm it was clearly time to head to the hospital. My dad stayed with mom offering encouragement until she went to the delivery room - in those days father's weren't allowed to stay for the birth.

At 8:15pm Monday evening I was here. I never have been one for staying up late. With no epidural available, Mom had a gas mask with something to dull the pain, but the sensation of my birth was still felt. She says that it was a wondrous thing. I don't recall what I thought about it, but most likely I wasn't pleased at leaving my warm cocoon.

I was immature, not premature, as I had a slightly low birth weight (5lbs 10oz). Whoever said that birth weight is tied to adult weight has not met me, although I never grew beyond 5' 2" tall.

My name was already picked out - Laura Ada. My maternal grandmother with the same name had passed away a few years before my birth, and since my paternal grandmother was named Ada, it was perfect. Sharing a name with both grandmothers, neither of whom I remember meeting, gives me a connection to them that I might not otherwise have.

Mom stayed in the hospital for 4 or 5 days, transforming from an innocent teenager and resting up, no, growing up, for her new life as a mother. For the first week my grandmother Ada stayed to help. On my mother's first day alone, the neighbour, Mrs. Peterson, took one look at her and offered to look after me so that mom could take a nap.  She gratefully handed me over, but instead of a nap, she tidied and cleaned the apartment.

The new little family: mom, dad, baby, and Perky, the pet budgie, was finally on its own. Not completely though. The Petersons from downstairs were good, kind people. Help from relatives, notably Uncle Clarence, Aunt Ruth and their 6 kids who often included us for Sunday dinner, as well as Uncle Paul and Aunt Della was appreciated.

Time was busy for my parents. With the dedication of a new father, my student dad studied hard. I was kept quiet and out of the way so I didn't disrupt his work. Mom took care of the apartment and me, often bundling me up into the buggy and setting me on the porch so that I could get some fresh air. I wonder if those early months of outdoor living influenced my love of nature. I spent much of my early childhood being quiet so as not to intrude on studying and to this day, I have a strong aversion to disturbing people or making noise.

By the time I was 2 months old my mother could no longer nurse so I was weaned onto 2% milk. Formula was just being developed at the time, and if available would have been too expensive. A few months later, when I could sit up, she'd take me downstairs to the neighbour's apartment so that I could play with a little girl my age that Mrs. Peterson babysat. I'm told that I was a happy baby but was sometimes troubled by colic.

I wasn't yet a year old when we made our first of many moves. Edmonton was our destination - dad was going into Med school.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Sun, friends, soup, futon, happy, Downton

Sun, futon, happy. Just for a few minutes though and then I jumped up with energy to walk on the treadmill (massive exaggeration…but I did putz along for 30 minutes while I watched Downton Abbey)

We had company for lunch today: my brother-in-law Shawn, and his lovely sister joined us for a healthy bowl of Lentil soup. Not so sure that they wouldn't have preferred massive dripping hamburgers but that's okay. It was nice to have even a tenuous connection with Kirsten at the table. The conversation never went there, but I would have loved to badger Shawn about moving back to North America. I don't think the frigid weather would have helped my case. When it was time for him to leave I shoved bags of stuff into his hands with the hopes that some of it gets to NZ.

Yesterday we loaded the car with box after box of books, and a giant bag of clothes and other household goods. I was so happy to unload it all at the Salvation Army. Seeing a pile of stuff leave the house wonderful. I feel like a step is being made in the right direction - I'm developing an aversion for stuff. We have too much stuff!!!


After unburdening ourselves we went to one of my favourite places: T&T. I perused the aisles and discovered a jar of stuff for making Pad Thai, and another for making Tom Yum soup. Then onto the noodles - how to choose? I selected a variety from which to chose when I make my little bowl of soup every day. The noodles are packaged up into little bundles - single servings which can be added at the bottom of a bowl.

The produce section yielded a huge bag of baby bok choy (what am I going to do with it all?), snow peas, hot red peppers, Thai basil and little mushrooms. Asian noodle soup was on the menu for supper last night. After an hour of prep (why does everything take so long?) we each had a soup mixing bowl full of noodles, vegetables and broth. Oh yum.


Best of all - leftovers! I have a few days worth of leftovers in the fridge: Thai Brussels Sprouts, Indian broccoli and red pepper, Asian Soup. We've circled the globe and I'm happy to have the results in the fridge. Some people don't like eating leftovers - well, I say that they must not be the cooks in the family. I just about jump up and down when making a meal that I know serves 4.

Live your truth. Express your love. Share your enthusiasm. Take action towards your dreams. Walk your talk. Dance and sing to your music. Embrace your blessings. Make today worth remembering. ~Steve Maraboli

Monday, January 19, 2015

Hermey in the village

It's official - I'm retired. It seems like yesterday, yet also forever ago that I had my last day of work (for the record it was just over 4 years ago), yet I kept making the trek to the city - downtown no less - for my dentist appointments. Walking into the building that I worked at for over 29 years felt strange. Driving 35 minutes to downtown O. with all the traffic and parking challenges was, well… stupid.

Today I had my first appointment with my new dentist, who as it turns out was my old dentist's dentist (how many dentists can I fit one sentence?). It was a long 7 minute drive during which I didn't see another car on the road. Easy :-) 

As a treat for my brilliance we went out for a naughty breakfast of bacon and eggs!

The winter is starting to get to me - my mood has shifted slightly downward, but more noticeable than that (to me anyway) is the heavy plastecine stodge that is now my brain. Thinking is hard. Writing is hard. My muse has run away with the spoon.  But I'll get through it - I think of you and smile.

I really didn't feel like getting on the treadmill today, but I reminded myself it was only for 15 minutes, and to lure myself I put an episode of ‘Downton Abbey’ on my tablet to entertain me. I didn't walk quickly but I did get on and stayed on for 20 minutes so I consider it a win.


Cherish the beauty and cherish the pain, both will give you experience and you will never be the same. ~Nikki Rowe

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Rhinestone sneakers


Sometimes, someone I know, or something I see in a movie, or even something on Facebook causes me to take the magnifying glass to my own life and question how I am living.  I was talking with someone recently and they said that as soon as they open their eyes in the morning they give thanks to the new day. I was struck by her positive outlook and vowed that I'd remember to do the same thing. It seems that starting the day on the right foot, a foot wearing fancy, rhinestone encrusted shoes, is much better than dragging along in old shoes with holes in them. Instead of waking up with a to-do list in my head, I’ll pause for a moment and count my blessings. Blessings that are numerous, wonderful and fantastic. I’ll look out of the window at the electric blue sky or the sombre grey clouds and rejoice at the variety. Only after I feel the gratefulness in my heart will I start to plan my day. 

Speaking of rhinestones… I used to have a pair of white sneakers that had sparkly stones all over them. Oh how I loved those shoes and when they wore out I was beside myself as I couldn't find anything as wonderful. From those shoes I moved on to cowboy boots which I wore day in and day out with everything. If there was an outfit in my closet that didn't jive I'd wear it anyway. I wore those boots for years. By the time they wore out we had horses and a pair of sturdy Blundstones seemed more practical. I'm on my second (or is that third) pair - the only time they are off my feet is when I'm in the house or on a hot summer day). I've never been a conventional dresser!


O, with what freshness, what solemnity and beauty, is each new day born; as if to say to insensate man, "Behold! thou hast one more chance! Strive for immortal glory!
~Harriet Beecher Stowe

Friday, January 16, 2015

Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom

Stuff from the basement is trickling out the door. One of the giant airline style dog crates left yesterday, with the other scheduled to leave soon - these things are 48" x 36" which leaves a gap in the storage room downstairs. Next week we'll schlep a huge bag of clothes and FOUR boxes of books to the Salvation Army. You would think that with all of this progress I wouldn't get struck down by anxiety when I'm on the treadmill…

That's 2 days now that treadmill stress has struck. Walking on the treadmill is the last time I'd expect for this to happen - exercise is supposed to help right? Marching along to my favourite songs, looking out at the snowy landscape should bring me to a good spot, but that expanse of snow is a blank slate for errant thoughts. The mood sticks to me like one of those sticky mouse traps and seems impossible to shake off, but I try and I try, unwilling to give up. I'm trying right now.

(re the quote – it sure doesn’t feel like freedom from this vantage point!)

Thank goodness that we have a sunny day though! It is a pleasure to stretch out on the futon with my tablet on my lap and pretend like I'm a writer of some sort.



Oh!!! Speaking about pretending to be a writer, yesterday the mailman brought me another treat. As in previous years, I printed 2014's blog and this year I even splurged on a hard cover. I don't know why, but it gives me great pleasure to flip through the pages, feeling the smooth paper, smelling the fresh ink, and seeing all my words in print – I feel a sense of accomplishment. It is indulgence on a grand scale. But wait! It gets better! I also printed Spike's tale of his trip to Alberta, also in hard cover. It is a thin book with just 47 colourful pages, as opposed to my giant blog book with 200 more pages!



Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.

~Søren Kierkegaard

Thursday, January 15, 2015

WYL #1 Early Years

Today was my first day back to the writing group this year. Since the exercises were finished in December, we are are starting back at the beginning of our guide book. Today’s topic was our ancestors. I had a lot of help from my parents as I was unsure of many of the facts. In fact I had so much help from them that much information had to be left out – another story perhaps?.



Coming Together

It was the early 1800s and an influx of immigrants were populating Canada. They came from all over: Norway, Scotland, England and Ireland. As they moved west into the wilds of Canada a few settled in Lanark and Iroquois in Ontario, while the rest were interested in the wide open spaces of the Alberta prairies.  These hardy people were my ancestors and through a series of twists and turns, marriages and births, their DNA came together and I was born.

History books have recorded the lives of some of my ancestors. My paternal grandmother, Ada Murphy, traces her lineage back to Catherine Fetterly Harkness, who watched the 1813 battle of Chrysler Farm from the cellar. Her experience is recorded in the museum at Upper Canada Village, which sits next to the battle site. With a young woman's spirit of adventure, Ada left her home in Iroquois, Ontario to teach in Alberta.

Also on my father's side, my grandfather's family traces their roots to the 1500s but are more recently mentioned in documents about the 1612 Battle of Kringen in Norway where my ancestor Audon Skjenna participated in an important battle.

The background of my mother's ancestors though not documented in the history books, is no less notable. It is known that John Watt born in 1771 and his wife, Mary Inglis, emigrated from Scotland to Lanark in 1821. In 2014 I visited the homestead with my mother and found a small stone from the original foundation which now sits on my fireplace mantle. One hundred years before my visit, after years of battling the intractable land, John's descendents sold the farm in Lanark, freeing my great grandfather to migrate west to the Rossington district of Alberta. My maternal grandmother, Laura Ada Watt, left the farm for Edmonton to work in the big city. In 1939, she was a telephone operator on the Royal train that crossed Canada with King George and Queen Elizabeth.

The Turveys sailed to Canada from England two weeks before the Titanic, settling in rural Manitoba. Family lore has Great grandfather Turvey working at Sandringham with the Queens horses before becoming a farm labourer and railway worker in Canada. My maternal grandfather, William Hector Turvey, left home as a young man, eventually stopping in Edmonton where he met my grandmother. Working in Eatons as a window dresser gave him a taste for retail, so after my mother was born they moved to Medicine Hat, Alberta where he opened a furniture store. At the young age of 56 my grandmother passed away, leaving my mother, just 16 years old, motherless.

It is said that the man who gave me my last name either crept up to the invading Scottish camp and killed the sentry dog, or rode a horse to distract the Scots from the ambush that was about to happen. For his bravery in the Battle of Kringen, the King of Norway granted him lands to augment the family farm.

Skjenna Farm (meaning place in the sun) is nestled in the Gundrandsdalen Valley of Norway with a mountain guarding its back. Several log buildings that were constructed in the 1600s still stand strong - they were built to last like the hardy Norwegians. The farm and family are mentioned in the Nobel prize winning 'Kristen Lavransdatter' books written by Sigrid Undset.
It was romance that moved my great grandfather Olaf from Norway in the early 1900s. His love was Mari, a milk maid.  Olaf's quest for adventure and a new life was amplified by his parent's disapproval of his wife, so the couple left the prosperous farm for North America, living in the U.S. for a time before ultimately settling in Buffalo, Alberta. The second Skjenna farm was homesteaded in 1913 and is still in the family. A hundred years later, in 2013, the extended family gathered for a huge celebration to mark the centennial.

Moving from a centuries old established farm to a tract of barren land in the desert of southern Alberta with only a sod hut for shelter was an act of devotion backed by hardiness and determination. Life was hard then. The area was sparsely populated and the town of Medicine Hat was a full 70 miles away. Crops and vegetable gardens would have been successful only by the grace of God - deep cold and wind in the winter, blistering heat and wind in the summer. Drought and insects plagued them. Water was precious.

My great grandfather visited Norway a few times during those hard years, but had made his home in Canada and didn't take over the Norwegian estate when his parents passed away. The farm was sold and is no longer owned by Skjennas. I was lucky enough to visit the farm, complete with its 500 year old buildings when I was a child.

The sod hut in Buffalo no longer stands, but Olaf and Mari's second house, a small 2 room home, is used as a storage shed. The third house, a two story with a couple of rooms on each floor, was dragged across the prairie by horses. Sheltered within its now frail walls is a trunk full of my great grandfather's diaries. Eight children blessed Olaf and Mari's home. Some were born while they lived in the U.S.; my grandfather, Art Skjenna, was born in Buffalo.

Childhood sweethearts from their high school days in Medicine Hat, my parents forged a bond that has lasted since 1962. Bringing together backgrounds from England, Scotland, Ireland and Norway, they had 4 children, including me.

My fore-bearers endured many hardships while creating a new life in Canada. I am grateful.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

a bit of a datum… er…data deja vu

The scrabble with the database software is coming to an end. I’ve got 9 tables built already with a few more rolling about my head. Some data (or is that datum) from my PC has been imported - I see lots of excel csv files in my future – I’ve done my share of data wrangling in excel in my past life, hopefully I still remember how!

Today was a day of pleasures much like any other, although I have been forgetting to be mindful at times. I got my hair cut – don’t you just love the feeling of going from shaggy, its too long now and bugging me, to fresh cut. It was bitterly cold, but the sun was brilliant. The squeaky crunch of my boots on the snow sounded so clean. I took my bath early today so that I could float like a dust mite in the sunbeam that streamed into the tub. The sun shone in from every angle. Cold outside, hot bath inside. Yes, life is good. Well, almost all good – part of the bath was interrupted by a long debate about data/datum (I’m pretty sure my eyeballs rolled to the back of my head for a moment)… Favourite tunes erased the cloud of debate.

Do you ever listen to a song and think that it is beautiful and says everything that you want to say… but then look at the lyrics online and see that you’ve missed something important and it isn’t the message you want to send at all?


I remembered every moment between us, and every moment felt more precious as time passed.

~Shannon A. Thompson

Monday, January 12, 2015

geekiness is at maximum strength

I’m just barely able to drag myself away from my tablet… put on your geek shields ‘cause geekiness is at maximum strength today!

Last night, right before bed – dooh! – I downloaded… hang onto your hats… database software for android. Who ho!!!! I’ve long lamented about the redundancy and duplication (hardy har har) in the records that I keep, and that instead of a bunch of word documents, I really needed a DATABASE! Well shiver me timbers there are some in the Play store :-)

I was lying in bed, thinking I’d go to sleep, but the siren lured me into the depths. I had to try NOW. My mind was whirling with the possibilities. I had to jump out of bed to show Carm what I’d set up so far.

Sleep – not.

It is not a full featured database like I would have worked with in my working years, but it does link tables a bit. I’ll have one table with my freezer inventory, and on my menu planning table I’ll add a field that links directly to the inventory so when I’m entering records I’ll be able to select right from that list!!! (sorry for the long run-on sentence)

I am a happy camper (although slightly tired, and more that a little hyped up).

Sunday, January 11, 2015

A mile into the woods

I’ve been so busy writing for the writing group that not only have I not done anything of note (other than doing at least 15 min of house stuff), but I haven’t thought of anything to write for the blog. Brain drain!


I am alarmed when it happens that I have walked a mile into the woods bodily, without getting there in spirit. In my afternoon walk I would fain forget all my morning occupations and my obligations to Society. But it sometimes happens that I cannot easily shake off the village. The thought of some work will run in my head and I am not where my body is — I am out of my senses. In my walks I would fain return to my senses. What business have I in the woods, if I am thinking of something out of the woods

Henry David Thoreau

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Whispered Encouragements–Story #7

I wrote this story in the summer, and after editing help from my Aunt Kristine it has ‘sat on the shelf’. Today seemed a good day to revisit it and get it posted. Having a proper editor was fantastic, however, since she lives so far away and has so much of her own life to be involved in, it was tricky at times. I felt a bit guilty with my demands!


Ron sat on the steps, feet firmly on the sidewalk, his thin body in its shabby clothes warmed by the sun. He felt cheerful, which might have confused a passers-by if they had cared to notice. Suddenly he stood up and grabbing the empty cup beside him, walked out onto the street where the cars were held hostage by the red light.

He approached each car, cup held out. Most kept their windows tightly rolled up and turned their heads from his gaze. He didn't let that bother him though; he knew what it was like to be in their shoes. Sometimes though, a window would be lowered and a bit of change dropped into his cup, often along with a smile and kind word. Either way, he kept his cheerful demeanour, smiling and whistling as he zigzagged between windows.

The cycle of sitting and walking among the cars repeated only twice before he had enough for a coffee. Back on the steps, his legs stretched out on the sidewalk in front of him, he chuckled, thinking of the years of fancy Starbucks concoctions. Now the simple pleasure of a black coffee was enough to satisfy him.

Ron remembered how his colleagues would rib him for his easy laugh and positive outlook. Looking skyward he thanked the heavens for the gift that kept his life bearable now. He hadn't expected it, but life had dealt him a series of blows. First, there was the economic downturn that lost him a well paying job.  Then, working behind the counter at McDonalds for minimum wage took its toll on his marriage. Her family didn't help the situation; too concerned with status and material possession's to be sympathetic, they blamed everything on him. The inevitable came and she divorced him, keeping the house. He moved into a cheap apartment. Not long after that, the job at McDonalds disappeared; high school kids on summer vacation would work for less.

He carried his resume everywhere, peddling himself to high tech firms, hamburger joints, and everything in between, but no one wanted a man in his fifties. Eventually his savings were depleted, leaving him with no rent money and he found himself standing at the door of the homeless shelter, all his possessions carried in a small bag. Where else was there to go?

He didn't have any family to speak of: his parents passed away years ago, and he couldn't remember the last time he spoke to his brother. Long hours at work hadn't left much time for a social life; the few friends he did have were embarrassed by his situation and failed to return his calls. Standing there, hand on the doorknob, he felt more alone than he ever had.
Stepping over the threshold, Ron was warmly greeted by another man. 'Welcome, I'm Dave', and glancing down at Ron's bag he added, 'you'll soon feel right at home'.

Even though they had never met, their mutual disadvantage created an instant rapport. It didn't take long for him to feel at home there, it was so much better than the dingy room he had shared with a bunch of cockroaches. It was better than being alone too. He thought of his new friends: some were alcoholics, trapped in a life of dependency; others had some sort of mental illness, struggling in their own heads; the rest were just like him, with a bunch of bad luck behind them. With nowhere else to turn, they clutched at the companionship of each other, desperate to be accepted.

Now, sitting on the steps with his legs stretched out on the sidewalk, he smiled again. He had to admit it, he was happier now than he had ever been with the half million dollar house and a wife nagging him to make more money. His life was simple. 

Looking up at the traffic, he thought he saw a familiar face in a passing car - his hands shook enough to spill some coffee. She didn't turn her head, and he was glad. He could deceive himself into happiness, but not when it came to her. He tried to convince himself he didn't miss her, but he did; not the later years with all the nagging and fighting, but earlier, when they were in love and had everything. As his spirits started to drop he heard his mother' soft voice reminding him that every day is a gift. For a moment he was a small boy being held in his mother’s arms while she whispered encouragements in his ear.

He drank the last swig of his coffee and stood up, shaking his head to clear it. Memories of his past life started to fade again, and the singing of the birds in the tree next to him brought him back to the present. Standing on the sidewalk in front of the homeless shelter he smiled. A passer-by smiled back at him.


Friday, January 9, 2015

extraordinary hues

I was stretched out on the futon, luxuriating in the sunspot and wondering what trivia I'd think of to write about. A bit of movement outside by the road caught my eye. It looked like someone thinking about turning around at the top of our driveway so I watched for a moment and, as the vehicle backed in, the words FEDEX caused me to jump up, dogs spilling every which way. Santa was coming and I had a pretty good idea what he was bringing.

Carm ran out before the driver gave up on our gate and through our window I could see a very large brown package grasped in Carm's arms. Like a sail propelled by winter winds, the box rushed Carm back to the house. We carefully, (and I mean carefully), ripped open the package to reveal the huge canvas reproduction of Van Gogh's Almond Blossoms that we ordered for the front hall.

There is a billboard sized wall that faces the front door, its bareness a slight irritant to me since we could never figure out what to put there. The Van Gogh episode of Dr. Who inspired me to go on the internet looking for more of his work, not with the hallway in mind, just idle curiosity. I've always loved 'Starry Nights', and the one with the crows speaks to me as well. I wasn't thinking of the hall until this reproduction jumped out at me - I loved its vibrant colours and cheerful subject. THAT was what I wanted to see every time I came in the door - a reminder of spring and rebirth and life itself, painted against a brilliant blue that reminded me of a summer sky. I recalled the apple blossoms in the trees in front of our house that flush with pale pink in the spring.


I'm often a bit hypomanic in the spring when these blossoms start to form. I’m like a super hero whose senses have been enhanced – colours especially seem to take on more extraordinary hues. The picture reminds me of that delicious, delirious state of euphoria, contrasting the long grey days that chase me at the end of winter. Perhaps what I love best about Van Gogh is his ability to express on canvas my feelings and emotions.



For a wild change of topic: Sometimes when I look at the stats for my blog I notice that older posts have been read by somebody. I often click on the link to see what I wrote. It is fun to see what I was doing and thinking in the past, although often I am slightly horrified at what I had written. "Why did I use that word?", "I should have written it this way", are some of the things I say to myself.

I remind myself that seeing fault means that I may be improving my skills - which is a good thing ;-) .


I experience a period of frightening clarity in those moments when nature is so beautiful. I am no longer sure of myself, and the paintings appear as in a dream.

~Vincent Van Gogh

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Fuelling the body

Part of my resolution to get healthy was to be more inventive with our menu. I find I get in a rut and make the same things over and over again till I’m sick of making them and we are sick of eating them. To help this I have a calendar that I enter every meal onto – I sometimes look back to see what I was making last year, often only to be discouraged by seeing the same or similar things. Rarely, I’ll be reminded of something good that I used to make. The key, I think, is to have more meals to chose from so Monday night I made something new.

Sweet Potato Falafel with Yogurt-Tahini Sauce from the fat-free vegan website graced our plates. They were reasonably easy to make, delicious, and as a bonus, it made 4 servings – leftovers! Hurrah! We had them wrapped in tortillas. Next time I might try a steamed cabbage leaf, or maybe a collard leaf as the wrapper. Also, I’ll change up the tahini sauce to be based on chickpeas to sneak some better protein into the meal.

What healthy meals do you make?

At Carm's uncle's wake on Tuesday I was watching the video of photos passing by. Suddenly, with a jolt of recognition, my much younger self was on the screen. I haven't seen that self for many years (maybe even 20), and was surprised by the almost featureless visage. There were no lines of experience around my eyes or fattening up of my cheeks. The wisdom gained from years of learning how to live with a mental illness did not shine out of my eyes. I looked smooth and innocent and young. Hum.

If I could tell that younger person anything, what would it be? Perhaps I'd tell her never to give up hope. I'd tell her to enjoy each moment that she lived her dreams and to not put any of that living off to the future. I'd tell her to go ahead and cry if she had to, it wouldn't last forever, the tears would abate. I'd tell her that she would be ok. I might even tell her not to eat so much!!!

Speaking of ok… aside from yesterday, which was an out of the house all day sort of day, I've done my 15s. The thing about 15 minutes is that it is easy to tell myself, 'well, it is only for 15 minutes, you can do it'. And so I start… and find that once I am doing that thing I don't stop at just 15 minutes. Inertia has been overcome.


The shared meal elevates eating from a mechanical process of fuelling the body to a ritual of family and community, from the mere animal biology to an act of culture. ~Michael Pollan

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A final gift

Christmas-Eve-Angel-Image-GraphicsFairy-1024x1024The radio woke us up this morning with news that with the wind chill the temps are dropping down to -37C today. They weren't exaggerating. The wind whipped the lose snow around, stinging cheeks and noses. Tears streamed down my face walking to and from the car. I was certain at one point that my eyeballs were freezing. As we were driving from place to place I could see that the trees and other plants were still imprisoned in their icy armour.

Zio Matteo's funeral was this morning, at the same church that Carm and I got married in over 25 years ago. During the service I glanced around the church building and its artwork, trying to distract myself from the visits of funerals past and future. I wasn't keen on visiting with these ghosts. Not today.

I remembered the minister at my Aunt Jean's funeral telling us that the gathering of friends and family, some from great distances, was the final gift from my departed Aunt. She reminded us to take the time to re-establish our relationships with those we hadn't seen for a while.  The wise words from the minister changed my views on funerals and the gatherings that happen around them. At the lunch after the internment, we made sure to spend time with Carm's cousins from Toronto, hopefully renewing those relationships. We visited with Aunts and Uncles that are only seen at weddings and funerals. It sounds strange to say, but I had a good time at this funeral.

The table is a meeting place, a gathering ground, the source of sustenance and nourishment, festivity, safety, and satisfaction. A person cooking is a person giving: Even the simplest food is a gift. ~Laurie Colwin

Monday, January 5, 2015

there before me

The sun broke out from behind the dark clouds while I was on the treadmill this morning and there before me stood some trees, ordinary trees, their limbs normally brown against the white snow. However, those simple trees had been made extraordinary by a glittering cloak of ice that sparkled in the sun. Light refracting through the branches created blue, purple, green, red and yellow pinpoints of brightness. Like coloured Christmas lights they flickered in the sun. Brilliant white lights highlighted other branches.

I couldn’t help but gasp at the beauty and wonder of Nature that blesses us with such a sight after thrashing us with that same ice hours ago.

I tried to capture the lights on my camera, but for some reason the branches seemed dull and bare. Maybe it was just my fanciful brain working overtime!


Okay – I’ve been reading too much or have been hit on the head with some stick that makes me want to wax poetic. But really – I can see more trees draped with coloured lights out of my window as I write this. Please note though: it does not make me want to go outside (I heard that it is cold out – minus 17 with gusting winds at this moment!).

So far (just 4 days in mind you), I’ve gotten my 3 15s in and have doubled up on some of them. I’ve been writing for my next writing group and it has been going well, thanks in no small part to my parents, whose heads are full of history and tidbits. I think I’ll have to write two versions: a short one for the group and a much longer one for our family history. There might be enough material to write a whole chapter!


Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties. ~Helen Keller

Sunday, January 4, 2015

champagne and lobster

Carm’s uncle passed away this morning – he was just 3 months away from being 90. Leaving this world is never a happy thing, but sometimes it is a mercy. 

It got me thinking…

When I die (which I’m not planning on doing anytime soon), I want everyone to celebrate my life with champagne, lobster, and chocolate, or some other extravagant treat. Sparklers would be nice too. I don’t want people to be sad for me - I want them to remember that I lived a good life. I got to live my dreams. I got to experience life’s ups and downs (maybe more than some people!). I would be leaving this world without any regrets – and who can hope for anything better than that.

I want my ashes cast into the wind that blows across the open prairie, so that my carbon, my star stuff, will merge with the earth to fertilize the fragrant sage that is my headstone.


We seem to have weathered the worst of the storm. There wasn’t as much freezing rain as forecast, but still plenty of it. Everything is covered in a sheen of ice. The snow that fell last night is burdened by a glacial crust. Rain is falling now – there is nothing slipperier than ice with water on top. The temperature is expected to plummet tonight – I hope the roads dry off before that happens…


Carm got the snow blower running, man-handling it up and down the laneway, while I shovelled the front deck. The snow was so heavy and sticky that it clung to the shovel, and needed to be knocked off before the next load.




After we had both finished our tasks I took the dogs on the short route through the field. Wow. What a hard slog for all of us. I don’t know who had it worse: me crashing through with every step; Bella taking a few steps before crashing through; or Spike sliding on the ice which held his weight 80% of the time. Kabira stayed home – she had gotten her fill quickly. At one point she was on the snowblowed laneway and suddenly pounced into the deep snow. She looked pleased at the crackle beneath her feet.


I am always saddened by the death of a good person. It is from this sadness that a feeling of gratitude emerges. I feel honored to have known them and blessed that their passing serves as a reminder to me that my time on this beautiful earth is limited and that I should seize the opportunity I have to forgive, share, explore, and love. I can think of no greater way to honor the deceased than to live this way. ~Steve Maraboli

Saturday, January 3, 2015

chairs beside the fireplace

Every day when I write my blog I imagine that you are sitting with me in one of the wing chairs beside the fireplace. If it is cold or snowy out the fire will be blazing and we’ll have our legs stretched out to warm our toes. We are sipping tea or coffee and talking about our day. I seem to do most of the talking but pause to let you have a word. Sometimes I laugh at what I think is my clever repartee and you force a laugh as you didn't think it was that funny (you are probably right). Never mind, my feelings aren't easily hurt. In real life I stumble over my words and lose some to outer space. I can never think of what to say. But here, at in our two dimensional chairs by the fire, the words flow more easily.


Tiny things to write about: "Write last year's fortune cookie. It got everything right."


"Unhealthy eating will take over your life." I didn't start off the year that way, but by the beginning of April I was off the rails. I felt bad: sick and stodgy with acid reflux. But, like an alcoholic grasping a bottle in a brown paper bag I couldn't stop. It started off with a period of slight depression where I just didn't care. Then good mood or not, I really didn't care. I kept telling myself I'd get back on track later. Well, later never came, at least not last year. Now, with x pounds to lose again I have to care. My health has been compromised and I want to feel good again.

Why, oh why, if it makes me feel sick, do I keep eating that junk?


We have been battening down the hatches this afternoon in preparation for the storm that is bearing down on us. Worse than the snow that is already falling is the freezing rain forecast to follow it. With memories of 1998’s ice storm and the resultant 9 day power outage, we always try to be ready when freezing rain is in the forecast. Buckets of water for flushing the toilets are filled, Graces water & dog water are changed, and drinking water jugs are re-filled. The soup cooking in the crockpot should be ready before the storm has really geared up - it can be warmed up on the wood stove. Firewood has been stacked near the big stove downstairs. We are ready for at least a few days without power. Longer than that requires a plan ‘B’.



Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, January 2, 2015

Yesterday’s fortune

15 minutes for each resolution today!


The first writing prompt in my new book is "Write yesterday's fortune cookie. It got everything wrong."


"You are working hard toward your goals." Humph. Yesterday? Not so much for one goal. The treadmill stayed stuck in the corner, it's umbilical cord to the power grid laying limply on the floor. Quietly it stood, like a sentinel over inactivity and indulgence. Bette Davis's eyes glared from the TV screen, their insanity memorizing me, pinning me, to the sofa.


I did write toward my goal yesterday - yesterday's blog post was followed by the first draft on the next writing group topic. We start back at the beginning of our guide book so it only makes sense to start at the beginning - my beginning. Several hundred words about my ancestors rolled off my fingers into the first draft. I have some dates to confirm with my parents, a bit more detail to write, and then it is ready for the January 15th reading.

To further inspire me, I read a few pages from an Alice Munroe short story. She is brilliant “Her teeth were crowded to the front of her mouth as if they were ready for an argument”. How does she even think of things like that? It takes me ages to read every page as I devour the same page over and over again desperately trying to absorb her prose into my pores. I study her punctuation with the fervour of teenager listening to their favourite singer.


I'm a little bit excited today as I sent in the order for the 2014 printing of my blog, as well as Spike's Alberta Adventure. If I ever have any question about how much I write, I just have to pick up that book, all 250+ pages of it, to see a stream of verbiage spewing from my fingertips. I had no idea that I babbled that much!

Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, 'It will be happier.'  ~Alfred Lord Tennyson

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year or 15 minutes of fame

Happy New Year to everyone! I hope everyone made it through the night safely and with good cheer.

We had a lovely time celebrating with a few guests. The Chinese food worked out well, however, we ordered/cooked double of what we needed! We usually over do the food, but this year we went bonkers. Not to worry, it is all packaged up into meal sized containers and is frozen in the garage, in state for some desperate night (forget about this stash when reading resolution 1 below). We talked and talked, just barely remembering to turn on the TV for the final count down, and then talked some more.

Luckily, the roads were clear and dry for everyone’s trip home – it is actually a green New Year, which is unprecedented after our green Christmas.

I'm spending my first day of the year as I always do - hung-over. Not from booze, but from too much food and way too late a night. It was after 3am when our last guest left, then Carm and I rushed around cleaning up some of the mess. Finally to bed at 3:45 only to lie (or is it lay - my brain is too fuzzed to remember) awake until past 5am, and I remember seeing 6am come and go… ugh. The dogs had to go out at 8:30, and took forever sniffing all the exciting 2015 smells. Oh yeah, I still have a cold. Hence the incoherent, rambling post of the sleep deprived.

Part of my trouble sleeping was angst about resolutions. In the past I've been anti resolution feeling they just set me up for failure (and I hate failure), but now I'm thinking there are some resolutions that I'd like to turn into habits.

Firstly, and most importantly, I'd like to take better care of my health, and that means cutting out all the junk I've been stuffing into my face for the last several months. Stupidly, I've felt slightly sick since noshing the naughty, but yet I continue. Enough. Back to healthy Eat to Live meals. Back to the treadmill (not today), if only for 15 minutes at day. Back to feeling great.

I'd like to commit to writing for at least 15 minutes every day. Any 'get better at writing' tips that I've read has had this as the top point. I can do this. Jo Ellen brought me a little book of writing prompts that I will use when I'm uninspired. I may not post everything that I write, but I will do it! I will become a better writer!

The last resolution? I want to do at least 15 minutes of something around the house every day. It could be cleaning or something more major, but I want to create better 'doing something' habits.

So that is my 15 minutes a day resolution for 2015!

Am I meeting my resolution this first day of 2015? Almost. Way more than 15 minutes was spent washing dishes and putting stuff away from last nigh - check. Writing for at least 15 minutes - check. Treadmill for 15 minutes - not on your life!  Tomorrow… there's always tomorrow!

Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instil in us.

~Hal Borland