Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Evolution of Friendship

When I was 16 I met my BFF. As teenagers, we were inseparable peas in a pod that gravitated towards the eccentric. We loved Ashley MacIsaac, Dr. Suess, MC Escher and shopping at Value Village. Ha. When I think back on the adventures we had, I have to laugh.

Unfortunately, as the years pass, we don't see each other as often. Daily phone calls are replaced with sporadic email check-ins and weekend adventures have become afternoon coffee talk. Living in different cities hasn't helped.

When Karla Ann's mom offered to babysit Madilyn so we could take off for some cross-border shopping, we jumped at the chance. It was like old times as we set off in the Beetle on our mini road trip. Where else would we have dinner but at Olive Garden? It was always a favourite on our shopping trips to London. Especially the bread sticks!

What a great time we had... outlet shopping and catching up. Despite our infrequent friendship, Karla Ann knows me inside out. She will forever be my kindred spirit. Thanks for the memories friend.
Last week, I grabbed my mail from the box as I was leaving the house. I was on my way to work and sifted through it while in the car. It contained the usual junk mail, a bill from Bell and a fat envelope from London Health Sciences Centre. The week before, I had signed up to be a Change Bandit for Children's Hospital and I assumed this was my information packet. I stuck my finger in the corner and slid it along the edge to open it. As I read the letter that was included, I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me.

The letter was from the Cancer Genetic Clinic at LHSC. Because of my family history, my family doctor had recommended me. I read and re-read the letter during the red lights on my way to work. They would like me to complete a family tree with as much information as I know about cancer in my family. Wow, how did cancer make its way into my family? It still seems so foreign to me.

The process is, of course, voluntary. This caused me to pause and wonder if it was something that I wanted to pursue. However, I determined that I want to be as proactive as I can be, so I will be completing the packet of info and going from there. It just caught me off guard arriving in my mailbox, as unassuming as it did.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Growing Up and Growing Old

I wish that when I was a kid, I realized just how good I had it. Footloose and fancy free. My biggest responsibility was practicing piano or doing homework.

As you get older, you acquire more responsibilities which leaves less time for fun. It's an unfortunate reality. However, I've decided that worse than growing up is growing old.

I have watched the steady decline of my Grammie's health recently. She is still rather independent but relies more on a cane (and subsequently a walker) and requires more assistance from her family and friends than she did before. I can see the frustration on her face and hear it in her voice when she wishes she could "trade in her legs for a good pair". How discouraging it must be when your body fails you. In your mind you can feel like a 20 year old but the reality is that ankles swell, knees get stiff and organs don't work as efficiently as they once did.

Visiting Grammie used to mean that she might take me somewhere special or I would get a treat. Now I take her somewhere special or bring her a treat. Slowly, the tables have turned. We both still enjoy our time together but it is a different role I play now.

This weekend we attended the Victorian Tea at the Moore Museum. It had been on the calendar for months and we had the perfect day. Beautiful sunny skies, a lovely afternoon at the museum my Grandad worked so hard to establish and we finished off the day with french fries by the river. I loved our day together and I know she loved it too. Just as a kid I would anticipate Grammie taking me somewhere special and eagerly awaiting the big day, it is now her turn to be taken out for the day.

I hope you take the time to appreciate the seniors in your life. Spend time listening to their stories, encouraging them when they get down and don't forget to take them out for a special day now and again.

The Iris

At this time of year, I love to walk through the neighbourhood and see the beautiful irises towering over the other flowers. The combination of their height, deep colours and ruffly petals make them my favourite!

For my birthday this year, my thoughtful brother gave me iris bulbs from his garden. I thought the gesture was sweet and didn't realize until this weekend that irises are his favourite too!

For the past few weeks I've had a couple of iris nubbins just waiting to bloom. I waited patiently and each day would check but they just didn't seem to want to burst forth. Finally this weekend I was graced with my first bloom. Thanks to Mark & Debbie Reddick who brought those bulbs last year to my house warming!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Victoria

Last weekend was my whirlwind trip to Victoria. As mentioned previously, we were presenting at the CEP Media Council. A ten hour trip there and back with 40 hours spent in Victoria...exhausting! But the scenery was great. What a beautiful city. Here are a few of my favourite pics:

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mamma Ellen

Today is Mother's Day. A day set aside by the greeting card companies and flower shops to honour our mothers. That sounds jaded. Don't get me wrong, I play along and get sentimental on this day, but when you have an amazing mom...you should honour her more than once a year!

I happen to have an amazing mom. I'm certain there are many out there that feel the same way about their own mom, but you can write about her on your own blog :)

My mom is the most selfless person I know. She is constantly doing for others and without herself. Her caring and nurturing personality made her an ideal nurse and all of her co-workers at "the Haven" (Twilight Haven and then Meadowview Villa) called her Mamma Ellen. As a kid, she knew how to: fix anything, proofread English papers, create amazing science projects, how the song you were practicing on piano was supposed to sound, and counsel you through whatever trial you were going through.

She instilled my love of music firmly within me. She sang to me before I was born and never really stopped. We would sing in the car, around the piano, at church, in the kitchen...well, you get the picture. Our repertoire of songs and lyrics is so extensive that many times a word will trigger an outburst of musical spontaneity.

My mom encouraged me in whatever venture I set out upon. She has been my biggest and unfailing cheerleader and her enthusiasm doesn't diminish!

The past several years in my family have been trying. She has had 2 daughters battle cancer, a sister-in-law (this term does not do justice the relationship between Mom & Peggy) also battle cancer and an extended recovery and transitioned her own mom from her home of 60 years to a seniors apartment. She has been a rock throughout all of these challenges because she knows the people she loves need her to be. In addition to the emotional support she has been nurse, medical translator, appointment scheduler, shuttle service, babysitter, hand holder, shoulder to cry on, prayer warrior, decision maker, peace maker and encourager. I am amazed at how she has handled the curve balls thrown her way.

So, here it is. My Ode to My Mother. Happy Mother's Day to my very favouritest woman. Thank you for all you do, all that you are and most of all, for my middle name :)

Friday, May 04, 2012

Thoughts on dads, weeds and memories.

Thank goodness for Dads. They really come through when it comes to projects around the house, don't you find? Since becoming a home owner last year, my Dad has been most helpful. In fact, I think the house has become a bonding agent for us.

This week he helped me out with my pathetic lawn. Somehow weeds have overtaken where the grass should be and it was looking rather ragged. I think it actually bothered Dad more than it bothered me, so we made a date for him to come and help me get it under control.

We worked out a system where he raked and I pulled what was left. Of course, we picked the hottest day of the year to do this...and it was humid. Hard work but fulfilling once we sprinkled on the grass seed and stretched out the garden hose to water.

At one point it started to rain. Not intense, but a gentle rain. In those moments I was transported back to when I was a kid and picking up rocks or pulling weeds with my siblings. We would squeal with delight and start to sing "it's beginning to rain rain rain" when the rain started. It meant we could quit and head for the house.

It's funny what triggers a memory and the things that are actually stored in your memory. The rain didn't last this week and we got the job done. Now I just need to wait to see little green shoots appear on my front lawn!

Thanks Dad! You're the best.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

PREZI-riffic

For the past several months, I have been working on a presentation as part of a sub committee of my union (CEP). The committee had been formed in the fall to research and compile a white paper on the effects of multimedia/social media on journalism. My co-worker Scrappy is chair of the committee and brought me on board in February to design a presentation and website to display their findings.

The process has been such a great experience that is outside my every day duties at work. Originally Scott had been compiling their information into a Power Point. When I saw it, I had one word: Prezi. If you have not experienced a Prezi, you should check it out here. It's a pretty slick little piece of software for presentations. Once I showed Scrappy the demo, he was convinced. We have spent many hours perfecting our little Prezi and I must admit I am happy with the results.

In addition to building the Prezi, we have deposited our research and resources onto a website. And, as a value-added bonus to the web, we interviewed local tech analyst Carmi Levy about the current and future state of journalism. All shot on my iPhone and edited with iMovie, I am quite happy with the result. And, since I couldn't save our Prezi onto the website we whipped up a PowerPoint that contains the same info and is downloadable/viewable on the web.

So, everything culminates this weekend in Victoria at the national conference. I'll be making a mad dash there and back but looking forward to seeing the final product and its reaction.