Tag Archives: birthday

The ABCs of My Last Two Weeks…NEW POST!

Note: This is another LONG post…a lot builds up in two weeks!  You might want to get a cup of tea or coffee before you start…WM


Airport.  Wednesday night, we took Anna to the airport to fly to Ontario to go to her cousin’s wedding (see Wedding), and see her dad and her uncle (see Cancer).  It was her first time flying solo…she was a little nervous, but got there fine. 

Birthdays.  Summer is a busy time for birthdays in our family: mine was July 17th, Jim’s was July 21st, Hope’s was July 31st, and Anna’s was August 3rd.  Jim’s mom had a party for him at her house.  His sisters were there for the barbecue…his dad and sister, Tracy, were cooking in the rain!  Smoke was getting in Gordon’s eyes!  Hope had a party with her friends at the Carleton Community Centre (see Disc Jockey).  The whole family got together for a combo party at Jungle Jim’s  in Saint John for Hope and Anna on Tuesday night (see Tip).  We tried to get into the new one in Quispamsis, but they would not take my reservation (for fifteen people!)…needless to say, I will not be patronizing them in the future.

Cancer.  We learned a few weeks ago that Anna and Kaylee’s uncle, Scott E., had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  It was a terrible shock…Scott is a truly wonderful man, and a great husband, father and grandfather! Anna hadn’t seen him for four years, so I decided to fly her down to Port Hope for Scott’s son’s wedding this past weekend (see Wedding).  Anna also got to see her dad for the first time in four years. 

Disc Jockey.  Hope celebrated her birthday a couple of days early with eleven of her friends at the Community Centre in our old neighbourhood on the West Side.  Most of the attendees were West Siders, and I felt sorry for the three girls from Quispamsis who were looking rather left out.  Eventually, the kids started to talk to each other, and then they all went outside, leaving me alone in the dance hall with the DJ who I was paying $15/hour!  I went downstairs and told the girls that I was “paying big bucks” for this, and that they’d better come in and start dancing, or I would!  “Don’t embarrass me, Mom!” Hope begged.  Hope was quite happy with her presents: loads of cash and gift cards.  One girl gave her some cute earrings her sister had made.

Extension.  I got another extension at work, until September 30th.  The City has also decided to post the job I’m doing now.  Of course, I applied for it!  I’m enjoying it a lot, and most people seem to like me.  If I get it, I’m going to have to figure out how to manage squeezing in some blogging time!

Found.  We have at least 2-3 cruise ships come into port every week between June and the end of October in Saint John.  Many of the ship’s passengers end up at the Saint John City Market where I work.  Invariably, someone loses something important!  Last week, a lady from New Jersey lost both her driver’s license and her ship card, which I returned to the commissionaires at the port after one of our Maintenance guys found them.  When I got back from my walk in the rain, the woman who’d lost her ID was waiting at my office.  After I assured her that her documents were safe down at the ship, she gave me a huge hug!  This week, a Market customer found a Visa card on the floor, and brought it up to me.  I called Port Security to see if it might belong to one of the ship’s passengers.  When I told the guy the person’s name, he said, “The police just brought me her Amex card, and her ship card.”  She came to get her Visa card herself.  She was breathless, but grateful when she arrived.  “You people are so good!”  I told her that’s just how we are in Saint John!

Girlfriend.  Devin’s girlfriend, Kat, finally came over to our house for a visit.  We were worried about how our neurotic dog, Jake, would react, so we armed her with a handful of dog treats.  Soon, Jake was literally eating out of her hand!

Harvest.  Since the deer have been helping themselves to my garden on more than one occasion, I haven’t been able to harvest much lately…beans apparently don’t grow very well without leaves!  We’ve had two meals of them so far, and will probably not have enough to put any in the freezer (I had about forty bags last year).  I picked a few peas the other day.  The tomatoes are starting to form, however.  I have high hopes for them…the deer didn’t damage those as much!  I should be able to pick some zucchini soon too.  The raspberries are just finishing, and I started picking blueberries this week…should get a few bags of those frozen at least!

Ice Cream.  I love summer because ice cream goes on sale!  I’ve bought four 2-litre tubs in the last two weeks!  Farmer’s Peanut Butter Caramel Cookie Dough is amazing!

Jets.  Some people thought the stunt jets flying over the U2 concert (see U2) in Moncton last weekend were neat.  I did not…I have a recurring nightmare of a plane crashing on top of me!  Of course, they flew over while Jim was at the souvenir tent buying a T-shirt!  There I was, curled into a fetal position with my eyes closed and my fingers jammed in my ears!

Kale.  This year was the first time I’ve grown kale in the garden.  Since we seem to like it both cooked and raw, I think I’ll grow it again next year.  Perhaps I can keep the deer out of it, because they love it too!

Landscaping.  Since our yard now has a very steep hill at the bottom of it, Jim had the idea of just planting a bunch of flowers down there instead of trying to mow it.  I’ve been collecting seed heads from the poppies in our front yard, and hope to dry them and plant the seeds next spring.  I’m having a bit of a problem with mold though…we’ll see how it goes!

Mud.  As alluded to earlier, Jim and I went to Moncton for the U2 concert at Magnetic Hill (see U2).  I had purchased the tickets back in March for Jim’s birthday, because he loves the band!  It rained all day…driving up was a bit hairy at times.  It stopped just as we got there.  As we made our way on to the field, I started to regret leaving Anna’s rubber boots I’d planned to borrow at home.  It seems that 75,000 people traipsing across wet grass multiple times has a negative effect:

These girls were trying to negotiate the mud in front of the concession tents...notice the depth...photo by Jim


My feet in my unfortunate choice of footwear after a trek to the Port-a-potties...photo by Jim

Nails.  Jim decided to trim Jake’s nails while I was at work on Saturday.  Unfortunately, he cut one too short, and poor Jake was bleeding!  After he jumped all over Jim’s clean laundry, we made the dog a makeshift bandage to prevent further stainage!

Old Friends.  We were very fortunate on our trip to Moncton to be able to stay with our friends, Brenda and Chuck.  I’ve known them for about twenty years, and they are always warm and wonderful hosts!  Brenda actually came downstairs in her nightgown when we stumbled into her house at 2:30 a.m. to ask how the concert was!

Brenda and Chuck...still holding hands after three decades together!

Park ‘n’ Ride.  For the U2 concert (see U2), the City of Moncton had organized a Park ‘n’ Ride program.  We eagerly decided to use it again, remembering how easy it had been when we went to The Eagles concert at Magnetic Hill three years ago.  Unfortunately, it worked a little differently than in 2008…it took us 2-and-a-half hours to get out of the concert site and back to downtown Moncton!  Please don’t “fix” what ain’t broke! 

Quiet.  Jim and the girls left yesterday for vacation (see Vacation), and Devin’s at his mom’s house this week.  It is quiet in the house (except when Jake barks at nothing outside).

Reba.  Hope was saying the other day about how she was jealous that I’d met so many famous people (from my days of being married to a country DJ).  She asked me to list some of the people I’d met, and I started: “Alabama (twice), Sawyer Brown, Ricky Skaggs, The Rankin Family, Reba…”

Hope interrupted: “REBA!  I told Gabrielle you’d met ABBA!”

Potato, pototo…

So You Think You Can Dance.  Anyone who reads my blog regularly knows I love this show.  I finally got to watch the PVR of last week’s show this morning.  Sasha dancing with my favourite boy from last year, Kent (an Ohio boy!), in a Tyce Diorio choreographed piece moved me to tears.  I also absolutely adore MelanieMarko, and Tadd!

Tip.  As I mentioned before, there were fifteen of us at Jungle Jim’s for dinner last week.  It’s the first time in my life I’ve ever left a $40 tip!

U2.  Despite the lineups and the mud, Jim and I had a good time at the U2 concert.  I was happy I had purchased camping mats to sit on, and Jim was glad he’d bought binoculars, even though we had to wait while the clerk at the Wal-Mart in Sussex fiddled (unsuccessfully) with the showcase key!  We were sitting in what we dubbed “the senior citizen’s section” up near the top of the hill, in a less muddy part of the field.  A couple of old hippies in yellow rain gear sat to our left and alternated between smoking joints and regular cigarettes.  We watched as inebriated people negotiated (and failed to negotiate) the mud on the way to the Beer Garden.  “What Not to Wear” would have had a field day if they’d had cameras set up at the concert!

Jim and I at the concert...the guy in the red shirt is mad because he got stuck sitting in the Old Fart section...photo by Jim


Vacation. Jim, Hope and Brianna left yesterday for vacation (Anna will take a train from Port Hope to Montreal, and meet up with them tonight).  Jim has a “Six Flags Extravaganza” planned, hitting three parks in one province and two states!  Sadly (NOT – I hate amusement parks!), I couldn’t go with them because I had to work.  I will miss them, but I will also enjoy the quiet and having less laundry and dishes to do!

Wedding.  Anna and Kaylee’s cousin, Corey, got married on Saturday.  I still remember him being the ringbearer when he was five at my wedding to my ex-husband (27 years ago!).  I wish Corey and Christine many happy years together!  Anna got to be the official photographer too!

eXceptional.  Okay…I know this is cheating, but X-ray is the only word I know that starts with “X”.  My granddaughter, Elise, will be two in September, but already knows all her numbers, letters, and symbols (question marks, etc.), as well as the sounds the letters make!  I predict she will be reading by the time she’s three, just like I was! 

Yellow Pages.  We got our new phone book the other day.  For some reason, they’ve started putting the Yellow Pages in the front.  I find that very confusing!

Zebra Stripes.  My girls are crazy for zebra stripes.  Anna has a zebra striped sports bra, spankies, bathing suit, cheerleading bag, and suitcase.  Hope had pink and purple zebra stripes on her birthday cake!

Congratulations on making it through my longest post ever!  Now go have a snack!


Filed under family, food, friends, gardening, music, travel

Nom, Nom…Thank You, Mom!

We pretty much ate our way through the weekend due to birthday celebrations and Mother’s Day…hence the title…

Saturday was Brianna’s 15th birthday…we were invited to Jim’s parents’ house for a combo birthday party for Bri and Jim’s brother-in-law, Chris, whose birthday is May 12th.  Jim’s mom made a delicious ham with scalloped potatoes, vegetables, and broccoli salad (one of my favourites!).  For dessert, we had two cakes: ice cream cake for Bri and chocolate cake for Chris.

Brianna and Grammy...photo by Jim

Brianna and Uncle Chris showing off their birthday presents...photo by Jim

Bri was happy with the underwater digital camera Jim got her…Anna, Hope and I got her a pair of snazzy rubber boots for when the kids go looking for frogs at the pond, and some cash to buy more clothes (because I need more challenge when I’m folding and sorting laundry – I don’t ask “Whose is this?” quite often enough!).

Sunday was Mother’s Day, of course, but also Jim’s and my third anniversary.  It’s lucky that we’d gone out to dinner a couple of weeks ago in anticipation of our special day being overshadowed by other activities…we were so busy on Sunday, we hardly saw each other!  I’m incredibly happy that our online dating experience turned out to be a success story…Plenty of Fish…you rock!

All four kids brought me breakfast in bed (even Devin, who rarely gets up before noon on weekends…he poked his hand out from under his blanket wrapped tightly around him, and presented me with my silverware).  There were cards and presents too, including my garden stone from last year, which had gotten broken and been epoxied back together.

Mom French Toast made with 12-grain bread...

Anna and I had arranged that Jim would get Bri out of the house in the afternoon so that we could make her a birthday cake.  Hope wanted to help too, but Anna wouldn’t let her.  I told Hope she could decorate a Mother’s Day cake for Kaylee, who was coming over for supper with Scott and Elise.  Jim took Bri and Devin to see the new Thor movie…while they were gone, we made these:

Anna's cake for Brianna...Kerri (the cranky judge from Cake Challenge) would not have been happy with the fondant, but it tasted good!

Hope's cake for Kaylee...the icing was mauve, and a little odd (I don't know what Anna did to it!)...tough to work with...

Kaylee, Scott and Elise arrived just as the girls were finishing the cake decorating.  I was washing the huge pile of pots and pans that had accumulated on the counter and in the sink.  Jim, Bri and Devin returned home shortly after that.  Jim and the kids got right to work making supper: lasagna, fusilli, caesar salad, and garlic bread.  It was nice to have time to just play with my granddaughter (and hard not to interfere with what was going on in the kitchen!).

Elise fist-bumping Auntie Bri...Bri took the photo with her new camera...

Kaylee and Scott got me a HUGE pizza stone for Mother’s Day (we may have to build on another room to store it!).  I can’t wait to try it out…I hope my pizza will turn out as well as Kaylee’s does!

Supper was delicious (Thanks, hon!), although Elise decided that throwing fusilli on the floor for Jake was more fun than eating it!  After licking ten spaghetti sauce covered plates, Jake needs a bath…his beard is a lovely shade of orange now.

Elise sharing her Cheerios with Jake...it's the only time he really likes her...

When we’d finished eating, I showed Kaylee my seedlings, and then sent her out to the yard to gather some rhubarb to take home…it’s just starting now, but when she comes back in two weeks, it will be huge!  Here are some fiddleheads Jim gathered down by the river last week (fiddleheads are ferns that grow in swampy areas…delicious cooked with lots of butter):

Fiddleheads fresh from the riverbank...

After Kaylee and Scott left, we loaded the dishwasher and sat down to play our highly-addictive computer games relax for a while.  Then we watched the two-hour finale of Amazing Race…I was happy with the winners, although I liked all the remaining teams and would have been fine with any of them winning.  I’m looking forward to the premiere of my other favourite reality show, So You Think You Can Dance, in a couple weeks!

Happy Mother’s Day to all my Mom blogging buddies…hope you had a fun day!


Filed under cooking, family, food

Of Pumpkins, Presidents, Pooches, and Puddin’ Pop…

Here’s a wrapup of the last few days in Hammond River:

1. Regular readers of this blog know that I had a really big garden this year…we had frost last week (the rest of the tomatoes are ripening in the basement under newspaper), so it’s time to start bringing stuff in before the snow starts to fly.  I spent Sunday harvesting the remaining pumpkins and squash, and stored them in the basement…the kids each want to carve a pumpkin for Halloween (Hope’s already decided on Mickey Mouse for hers).  I also brought in about eight rutabagas, and cooked them in the oven.  Loads of rutabagas, carrots, and beets still in the ground…they’ll be okay for a while.

Here's a less-scary photo of Puddin' Pop than the last one I posted...

2. Anna slept most of the day on Sunday…her cheerleading team had a “Wakeathon” fundraiser on Saturday night.  Luckily, my dad went to town to pick her up at 7:30 in the morning…Jim is not a morning person!  She was one tired teenager when she got home…they had fun though!

The girls at the Wakeathon...Anna is the tall one in the back with the "Aeropostale" shirt on...

3. Hope was in a baking mood when she got up on Sunday…she wanted to make muffins, so she found a recipe for Cinnamon Muffins and we made them.  They were yummy…tasted like those little cinnamon donuts we used to have when we were kids!  We used wooden skewers to spear the muffins and roll them in the cinnamon/sugar mix…way less messy that way.

4. We’ve had an issue with rodents in the house again this fall…Dad has set traps all over the basement, and a few baits as well.  He’s caught four star-nosed voles in the traps, which he then puts into the compost bin outside…he reported this morning that that latest one he’d caught had been partially eaten!  Can’t wait to see that one in the bin – NOT!  Dad really wants to catch the critter that’s running through the walls of his bedroom and keeping him awake at night…he thinks it’s one of our squirrels or chipmunks.

5. Dad has a couple of good friends who usually stop by on Saturday mornings at the bookstore for a chat…he mentioned that they hadn’t been around for a while, because they were away on a trip to Washington, D.C.  Dad said that he’d encouraged them to stop in at the White House to see if the President had received the Abraham Lincoln bookends he’d sent him.  What??? 

“When did you do that, Dad?” 

“Three or four months ago,” he answered. 

“I’m surprised they haven’t sent you a Thank You note by now,” I said. 

“Oh, there was a box to tick if you wanted an acknowledgement, but I didn’t check it off.”  That’s my Dad…he’d read somewhere that Abe Lincoln had been a hero of Obama’s (as he is for my dad), and decided to send him his bookends, which he’d had for many years.

My Grandad T. had the same birthday as Abe Lincoln...

6. I smelled a skunk just before I was about to let Jake out into the back yard the other night (I decided to take him out on the leash out front instead!)…we saw one dead in the road near our driveway yesterday…reminds me of a song!

7. We took the Toyota to Canadian Tire yesterday to have new snow tires put on…while we were waiting, we visited Jim’s parents.  The guy at the service counter told us it would be an hour-and-a-half, and they were true to their word.  Jim is quite excited about the new tires…we were “testing” them on the highway on the way home…he took his hands off the steering wheel momentarily: “Look…no more wobbling!” he said.  I was disappointed when we got home to find that Jake hadn’t folded the two big piles of laundry in the family room…we may have to look into trading him for a more industrious canine!  He can undo zippers on lunchbags…why couldn’t he fold laundry?

8. Last night, we had Puddin’ Pop (Elise) and her mom and dad over for supper…it was Scott’s 27th birthday.  Scott had grown a beard in honour of his birthday.  I had roasted a couple of small chickens, made mashed potatoes, corn, and a Whipped Rutabaga Puff with the rutabaga from the garden.  It was amazing and easy: just threw some eggs and bread crumbs in with the cooked rutabaga, and used the mixer to whip it.  We had two cakes: Black Forest, and a Cinnamon Coffee Cake for the non-chocolate lovers (Devin and Hope).  Jim and the girls got the cakes ready in the kitchen, lit the candles and carried them in.  I brought up the rear, and started counting 1-2-3, and burst into the Happy Birthday song…all by myself!  They’d gone ahead without me, and had already sung it.  Everybody (except me) got a good laugh out of it!

Scott sharing his popsicle with Elise...

After supper, I played with Elise a bit…she had a great time grabbing my glasses off my face and trying to get hold of my dangly earrings.  I’ve missed her since I last saw her two weeks ago.  We’re looking after her on Saturday while Kaylee and Scott go to a wedding.  I told Kaylee she’d better have instructions for me:  have never put on a cloth diaper in my life!  I’ll have to remember not to throw them away!  Hope will help me with that, though…

9. Thanks to the Internet, I finally have an idea for Halloween costumes for Jim and I for his sister’s party Friday night…big secret…will post photos later.

10. My friends have been having some good fortune this week:  my buddy, Guy, was elected to his municipal council in Lavigne, Ontario; my buddy, Jamie, was in a BMW Mini TV commercial (click on his name to see it – he’s the bald guy trying to break the egg); and my blogging friend, Lin, got to meet David Sedaris who talked to her while autographing two books (click on her name to read all about it)!

The new municipal councillor - Guy...


Filed under books, cooking, family, food, gardening

Opposites Distract…

A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked.  Bernard Meltzer

Today was my friend J.T.’s birthday…he turned 68, which for anybody else, doesn’t sound like a big deal, but J.T. was supposed to be dead 20 years ago.

I first met J.T. in the spring of 1999 through a local publishing company…J.T. was looking for someone to do the press for his manuscript, a satire loosely based on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.  I was provided a copy of the final draft of the book, which I read before the meeting. 

The publisher had given me some background on J.T. before we met…he had survived a bout with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma a few years before (he later told me he had been given six weeks to live in 1990).  He was a confirmed bachelor who lived with his elderly mother.  He liked cats.  He was extremely intelligent.  He had been a “bean counter” for a major corporation before being forced to retire due to illness.

We met in the publisher’s office.  I had no idea what to expect…J.T. came in and the owner introduced us.  He was of medium height, extremely slim, pale, and had just a small ring of white hair on his mostly bald head.  Wearing a fisherman knit pullover and dress pants, he looked older than his almost 57 years.  J.T. wore glasses, and carried a briefcase.  I would soon discover he had two other pairs of glasses he constantly called into service as the need arose.

I don’t remember much of that first meeting, except that I was nervous.  I remember complimenting him on his work…it was good – funny, poetic, and descriptive, all at the same time!  J.T. talked about his book, and what he was looking for in the way of press releases.  He was very direct, to the point of bluntness at times…there was nothing “touchy-feely” about him – he was all business!  He scared the hell out of me!

We completed the press stuff over the next few months.  While we were working on that, the publisher had run into a major legal glitch…publication of J.T.’s book wasn’t going to happen any time soon.  It was soon afterward that our assocation became more personal than professional.

We started going out to lunch on J.T.’s birthday.  He was shocked that I would even remember it – he often didn’t.  J.T. always insisted on paying, even though it was his birthday…I once tried to slip the waitress some cash while he was in the washroom, and he caught us!  He literally grabbed the cash out of her hand, gave it back to me, and presented her with his credit card!

Lunches with J.T. were always interesting…he is a right-wing conservative, and I’m a left-wing liberal – we’d have spirited discussions about politics, and fling double-entendres across the table.  He is detail-oriented to the point of being anal-retentive, and I am Queen of the Procrastinators!  He’s cynical, and I’m a Pollyanna!  I’m a mom, and he’s never had any children.  He used to joke about being a “dirty old man”…he’d had relationships, but never found anyone he wanted to be with permanently.  I’ve regaled him with the gory details of my dating over the years (whether he wanted to know or not).  Over lunch, I discovered that J.T. loved music and books as much as I do, and once I visited him in his home, found that we shared a love for beautiful antiques.  J.T. has a fondness for England, and has travelled there many times as an adult.  He told me about growing up being raised by his mother and grandmother…he was an only child, and spent a lot of time being sick in bed.  J.T. used the time to read every book he could get his hands on…consequently, he could shame many of the contestants on Jeopardy.

J.T.’s mother passed away a few years after we met…he sold the house and moved into a one-bedroom apartment.  My dad helped him move…there were at least forty boxes of books!

One year when I called to invite J.T. out for his birthday lunch, he told me that the cancer had come back, and that he wasn’t up to going out.  He called me at Christmastime though, and invited me to come for a traditional English high tea.  J.T. had inherited the family dishes…complete with silver tea service and three-tiered ceramic serving plates.  He made all the finger sandwiches himself (lobster, roast beef, and cucumber), and sugar cookies for dessert.  He ordered a fruit flan from the local grocery store.  Also in attendance were J.T.’s other friends, two women who had helped him when his mother was alive. 

We arrived at J.T.’s tiny apartment, where floor-to-ceiling shelves held thousands of books, DVDs, CDs, and knickknacks.  We made ourselves comfortable on the antique furniture, gingerly balancing our teacups as we munched sandwiches and made small talk.  We always left with full stomachs!  All my friends were jealous when I told them about J.T.’s Christmas teas!

About four years ago, I called J.T. in early October to make arrangements for his birthday lunch.  He casually mentioned that he had been in hospital with a heart attack in September, and almost died!  I hit the roof!  I told him that if anything like that ever happened again, he was to call me!  “That’s what friends are for!” I told him.  He protested that there wasn’t anything I could have done…I repeated that I still wanted to know!

J.T. mostly just watched me eat at lunch that time…his doctor had him on a very strict diet!  Two bouts with cancer had killed a lot of his appetite anyway.  He seemed pleased with the Thorne Smith book I gave him for his birthday, though: The Glorious Pool, a hilarious farce from the 1930’s.

In 2008, I spoke to J.T. in the fall…I wasn’t able to make birthday lunch with him because I had a bad cold…an infection could kill him!  J.T. explained that he was getting ready to start another round of chemo…the cancer was back for Round 3.  He was scheduled to begin December 1st. 

I didn’t call J.T. last year, although I thought about him several times…I think I was afraid to call and find out his number had been disconnected.  I had no way of knowing if he passed away.  I was also really busy with “stuff” going on in my own life…being laid off from my job and the birth of my first granddaughter.

This morning, I dialled J.T.’s number, hoping he would pick up…he did!  I said, “Happy Birthday…did you remember?”  After a stunned silence, J.T. said, “Wendy?”  He was genuinely pleased to hear from me!  It wasn’t long before we were back to our old bantering back and forth, although we didn’t cover politics before construction workers at his apartment building made it impossible for us to continue our phone conversation.

J.T. explained that he had just had a bone marrow sample taken, and that there was “something going on again.”  In his resigned way, he sighed, “It’s just going to get worse.”  Optimism is not something J.T.’s ever been noted for!  We couldn’t meet for lunch today, because he was still “weak as a kitten” from five months of chemo, and I’m still recovering from my fall cold.   Disappointing, but not the end of the world…we’ll do lunch next year for J.T.’s 69th! 

Love ya, J.T.!  Happy Birthday, you old fart!


Filed under friends, memories, self-discovery

Happy Birthday, Puddin’ Pop!

The phone beside our bed rang.  It was 5:20 a.m. on September 9, 2009.  I roused myself from sleep to answer it…my oldest daughter, Kaylee, was on the other end.  “We’re going to the hospital,” she said.  “I can’t take it any more.”  I promised to meet them there.  The time had come…I was about to become a Gramma (although at 48, I was far too young!).  I did a quick sponge bath, threw on some clothes, and hastily applied enough makeup to avoid trauma for the nurses.  Jim got dressed and stumbled down to the car to drive me to town.  We arrived at the Saint John Regional Hospital about 6, after stopping at the Tim Hortons Drive-Thru to grab tea and a bacon breakfast sandwich.  Jim dropped me at the front door, and headed back home (he had to go to work later).  I boarded the elevator and rode up to the Labour and Delivery Unit.  I explained to the nurse at the desk that I was looking for my daughter, who was in labour…she led me down the corridor to the room where I would spend most of the next 15 hours.

When I arrived, Kaylee was in a lot of pain.  Scott was holding up quite well.  We met the two nurses who would be taking care of Kaylee while she was in labour.  One was about my age…we hit it off immediately.  She was the kind of person I like – a straight-shooter, but with a sense of humour.  She’d been doing obstetrics for more than 20 years.  The other lady was slightly younger, and I somehow missed that she had a hearing problem.  I kept wondering why she seemed to be ignoring me when I spoke to her.  Her colleague explained that she read lips (while she was out of the room on a break).  After that, I made a point of looking at her when I talked…

The first “doctor” who came in to examine Kaylee looked like he should have been wearing a “letter jacket” and holding a basketball rather than a stethoscope.  “Does his mommy know he’s a doctor?” I thought.

After a few hours, the doctors decided it was time to give Kaylee the epidural she wanted (I went “au naturel” for all three of my labours – I couldn’t talk Kaylee into that).  The anethetist was very cute…he was tall, and had prematurely grey hair…I kept hoping he would come back to check on her!

Once the drugs kicked in, I was about as useful as tits on a bull.  I had pictured talking Kaylee through breathing techniques as my labour coaches had with me…none of that was needed here!  I sat down on one of the rather uncomfortable chairs, and wished I’d remembered to bring a book.  The hours crawled by…

Scott’s dad made a brief appearance…it was my first time meeting him.  Nice fella.

Labour progressed, but the baby wasn’t liking the process of travelling down the birth canal very well.  About seven o’clock, it was decided that they would take Kaylee to the operating room, and attempt to use forceps to deliver the baby.  If it didn’t work, they would do a C-section. 

Only one other person was allowed in the operating room…Scott, being the dad, was the logical choice.  He changed out of his street clothes into the operating room scrubs.  Unfortunately, the string on the pants was broken.  He called me from the bathroom with his dilemma.  I asked the nurse for another pair of pants, which she brought.  Scott put on the second pair of pants, and then decided to make a pit stop before going into the operating room.  He had a small accident…he managed to dribble on the baggy pants while he was doing his business.  I flagged down one of the residents, and explained the situation and the need for a third pair of pants.  Scott was standing behind the bathroom door, throughly embarrassed that I had told the doctor all the details.  I told him that when the baby grew up, I was going to tell her that her father was so excited to see her, that he peed his pants!  If looks could kill, I wouldn’t be typing this now!

The medical staff loaded Kaylee on to a stretcher, and I went to the waiting room.  Scott’s mom was there, and we had a great conversation while we were waiting.  I’d never met her before.  Finally about 10:00, Scott came out and told us that Elise Marie Louise Lee had arrived.  She weighed 6 lbs., 12 oz. and had been delivered by forceps at 9 p.m.  (making her birth date 09/09/09 at 9:00 – will never forget that).  I called Jim, and he said he’d come to pick me up.  Then we went back into the room to see Kaylee and our new family member.  Scott’s dad and his wife arrived soon after that.  Jim came, and I met him in the waiting room and brought him in to see the baby.

We all went home…I went to bed right away…it had been a long day! 

Anna took this photo of me and Elise...she was a few days old here...

Today, Elise is a child of few words: cat, puppy and baby are her favourites at the moment.  She is a very happy baby…rarely gives her parents a moment of trouble.  She is quite squirmy, and will not sit still for a story.  Elise is now able to stand on her own, but hasn’t taken that first step yet.

I always said I wouldn’t be the kind of grandmother who forced people to look at endless photos of her grandchild…guess what I carry in my purse: a photo album filled with pictures of “my” baby in case I run into somebody on the street who doesn’t have Facebook!

My Pig-Tailed Puddin' Pop!

Happy Birthday, Puddin’ Pop!  I’m so happy you’re in my life!


Filed under family, memories, self-discovery

Crazy Eights…

Since this is my 88th post, I am focussing on the number “8” today:

1. Jim and I started going out on May 8, 2008.  It seems like we’ve known each other forever!

Jim and I - Winter 2009 in our yard...

2. My birthday is July 17th – 1  + 7 = 8.  I am one of eight cousins on my mom’s side of the family.  I moved to Canada when I was eight years old.

3. We have lived in “our” house for one year and 8 months.  We still love it as much as the day we moved in on November 29, 2008

Our house (not our vehicle)...

4. Anna celebrated her 16th birthday on Tuesday, which is divisible by 8 (16, not Tuesday)She was born (eight days late) in the eighth month of 1994, and weighed 10 lbs., 8 1/2 oz. (no epidural – OUCH!).  That baby grew to be 5′8” tall.

My Sweet 16 Girl: Anna...


5. Our new living room furniture was also delivered on Tuesday.  There were 8 pieces: couch, loveseat, chair, ottoman, recliner, coffee table, and two end tables.  There is now seating for 8 people in our living room (if somebody sits on the ottoman).  It was about 8 seconds after the delivery guys left that we discovered the 8 cm. (about 3 inches for the Americans) rip in the top corner of the couch (they came and exchanged the couch the next day).

This is our new furniture (we got different tables though)...

6. When I came to the bookstore yesterday, there were 8 boxes of books waiting to be put away (I did five of them).  There were also five boxes of books to evaluate – it was basically junk – I kept only 8 books out of the whole bunch!

7. We got home from getting groceries just after 8 p.m. last night (we spent $80-something at Superstore).  I noticed that I now have 8 sunflowers open in the garden.  I left Jim and the kids to put the groceries away, and rushed outside to pick blueberries.  When I first went out, there was an 8-point buck standing in our field (that’s only the second time I’ve seen a buck out there).  There were a couple of does too.  In the front field, a flock of Canada geese were feasting on bugs stirred up by the recent haying activity.  I picked the blueberries, which took an hour…it’s a minor miracle that I didn’t spill them as I swatted at the approximately 800 bugs which insisted on flying up my back and down my pants!

This guy is like the buck I saw...

8. Proposition 8 was defeated in California yesterday!  Jim and I and our many gay friends are all very happy about that…gay marriage has been legal in Canada for several years (it was legal in 8 out of 10 provinces and in 1 of 3 territories from court decisions beginning in 2003 until July 20, 2005, when the Civil Marriage Act legalized same-sex marriages nationwide).  It’s about time the U.S. stepped into the 21st century!  My friend, Nancy, wrote her blog post about that today: http://nancygedney.wordpress.com/2010/08/04/hooray-prop-8-is-dead/

Gay Pride Flag...


Filed under blogging, family, gardening, memories, nature, rants, self-discovery

Of Birthdays, Bieber, Balloons, Beans, and Blueberry Pancakes…

Last Saturday was the day my youngest daughter, Hope, elected to celebrate her 12th birthday…she isn’t actually twelve until the 31st, but since that weekend is a holiday weekend in Canada, she often has trouble getting people to come to her party (Anna has the same problem with her August 3rd birthday).

On Monday, Jim took Hope to Sobeys to order her special photo cake…she is crazy about a young singer from Ontario called Justin Bieber…you may have heard of him.  He sings that song that keeps getting stuck in my head: “Baby, baby, baby, ohhhh!” Anna Photoshopped a picture of Hope and her teen idol together…this is what Hope wanted on her cake.

Anna's Photoshopped Picture of Justin and Hope...

Hope had invited about seven or eight friends to her party…I asked her to confirm how many were coming Saturday morning before I bought the food.  She was disappointed to find that only three girls were able to make it…”Having my birthday in the summer sucks!” she declared miserably.  I had to agree with her…mine is July 17th…I almost never had kids I knew from school at my parties…

We went to town to pick up the snacks and the cake.  Hope decided to have takeout pizza from Greco instead of the tacos she’d asked for originally…I was fine with that…it was deadly hot on Saturday, and I really wasn’t excited about cooking.  Anna helpfully reminded me of Hope’s allergic reaction to Greco pizza a few years before, after we’d already decided to get it…I decided we could risk it…the allergy had happened after repeated consumption over a period of weeks.

We got the chips, pop, ice cream, and Smore makings.  The cake was gorgeous (and not really expensive)!

The cake...

After we got back, I picked some blueberries.  Then I went on an expedition in the yard to find some good marshmallow-roasting sticks…wading through the thistles in our front field, I came to a likely-looking bush.  Whoops…don’t think so!  They were wild roses…a little prickly.  I went to the side yard, where there was some dead wood on an old apple tree…perfect!  I cut several sticks, and cautioned the kids not to wreck them…good sticks are hard to find!

While I was outside, Hope busied herself blowing up balloons…her oldest sister, Kaylee, hates them: “I’m going to chase Kaylee around with them when she gets here,” Hope said.  Such a loving sister…

The party was set to start at four…Jim and I went to pick up the pizza…the guests arrived while we were gone.

We arrived back to find out that one of Hope’s friends had issues with eating cheese…I felt bad because I didn’t know…she said she’d just pick it off the pizza.  We all ate pizza and garlic fingers (the adults took theirs out on the deck where it was quieter).

After supper, Hope opened her presents…quite a haul considering the small guest list…she’s in town spending her birthday money as we speak!  She pretended to be surprised when she opened her cellphone (we’d picked it up on Thursday – she’d been using it constantly since then).  The girls had a great time batting the balloons around the living room at each other.

Then it was time for cake…Hope requested “Justin’s head.”  I cut carefully around his haircut…Hope winced as I sliced under his chin.  She stuffed the whole piece in her mouth at once!  Her friends, most of whom were not Bieber fans, took turns poking his chest with a sparkler…mean girls!

Hope and Justin's head...

Justin's head disappears...

Kaylee had requested some veggies from our garden…I took her and Scott outside and harvested some salad greens, some chives, some peas, and gave them a bag of green/yellow/purple beans I’d picked the night before.

I played with Elise a little bit before they went home…her hair and teeth are coming in nicely…can’t believe she’ll be a year old in September!

Elise...ten-and-a-half months old...

Hope and her friends played on the trampoline, and then Jim lit a bonfire in the firepit for them to do the Smores.  They weren’t outside very long before deciding to come in.  Up to Hope’s room they went to giggle and do what tween girls do…paint each other’s nails, and listen to bad music too loud!

I stayed up way too late writing my blog, and went upstairs to bed about 12:30.  I told the girls they would need to settle down, since I was going to bed.  About 1 a.m., there was a knock on my door…Hope reported that the girl with cheese problems didn’t feel well and her dad was coming to get her.  I heard the dad arrive (Jake barked) but fell asleep after that…I have no idea what time the girls finally conked out… 

Hope called me on the intercom at 9 a.m. Saturday morning: “What are you making us for breakfast?”  I felt like a truck had been driving over me…rolling back and forth, repeatedly, the entire night…

After consultation with the remaining two party guests, Hope elected pancakes and hash browns for breakfast.  I dragged my butt downstairs in my jammies to prepare their feast.  Opening the fridge to get the milk, I saw the blueberries I’d picked the day before…I’d surprise the girls and put them in the pancakes!

Pancake Batter...

That went over like a lead balloon: “They’re kinda sour, Mom,” said Hope.  I thought they were amazing!

Blueberry Pancakes...yummy!

During breakfast, Hope informed me that one of the girls needed a drive home…luckily, the other girl lived close by.  I decided to ask her mom if she’d mind dropping her off.

When 11:00 came, the mom arrived, and she said she’d drive the extra kid…good thing, because Jim wasn’t up yet…

After the kids were gone, our Sunday went back to normal…got the dishwasher and the laundry started…Anna and Hope went back to their usual arguing…

Anna’s 16th birthday is the next one…don’t know if she’s having a party or not…can’t wait…


Filed under family, food, friends, gardening, music

It’s My Birthday, and I’ll Pie If I Want To…

Today is my 49th birthday…yes, I know…it’s very hard to believe!  I am fortunate and grateful for good genes and good health!

We woke up early this morning, as we had planned to go to St. Martins for the Town-Wide Community Yard Sale they were having as part of Old Home Week…I love yard sales (see https://writerwoman61.wordpress.com/2010/03/30/yard-sales-the-thrill-of-victory-and-the-agony-of-the-feet/).  We had planned to leave the house at 8 a.m.  We did well to get out the door by 8:20…after stops at the Credit Union and the gas station, we were on our way.

Passing through Fairfield, we saw our first “Garage Sale” sign.  It was in front of a shabby country house with even shabbier outbuildings.  Anna decided to stay in the van – she said it looked “too sketchy” for her to get out.  The rest of us (minus Devin, who hates shopping) headed up the driveway towards a large garage.  It was a complete surprise: inside, an older man in overalls greeted us warmly and made small talk about the weather.  Everything was laid out neatly on tables, or displayed on pegboards along the walls. I found a pretty Ironstone cream and sugar set made by Ridgway in the Jacobean Brown pattern.  I paid $3.

This is the matching cup and saucer for my cream and sugar...

Jim found another bird feeder (just what he needs)…one with small holes for finches.  Hope bought some jewellery.  I found a book I might have purchased had it not been musty-smelling.  We headed back to the van.

Our first stop in St. Martins was the Village Market Building.  This was where the Book Fair was advertised to be.  Unfortunately, there were very few books, and a lot of yard sale stuff.  Jim took Hope in search of a washroom while I bought three books for $7.  Once Jim got back, we headed down the very busy Main St.  We decided the best course of action would be to get out and walk. 

After a couple of hours walking and shopping (along with an ice cream break and another pee break), we had accumulated some more treasures: two more books ($2), a Beanie baby bear, a ceiling fixture with a fan, a large clamp, a Five-Star binder, and a pair of soundproofing headphones.  We were tired and hot, and close to one of Jim’s and my favourite places in St. Martins: Fiori’s Restaurant (see https://writerwoman61.wordpress.com/2010/05/07/eating-around-new-brunswick/).

This is Hope's Beanie Baby bear for July...her birthday is the 31st...

We went in…Brianna added a tongue and eyebrows to the happy face drawn on the whiteboard beside the door…I quickly herded the family in and we sat down at a table.

The restaurant was busier than usual…one waitress was running her buns off!  She took our beverage orders: Brianna ordered “Chocolate From The Cow.” Then we studied the menu, some of us longer than others:  Hope took forever to decide what she wanted…after another bathroom break, she finally landed on the children’s breakfast with a pancake (Jim told her he’d pay extra to get sausage and bacon). 

Jim had the Mexican Fiesta Platter (which is what he usually orders).  Brianna ordered the Chicken Caesar Salad in a tortilla bowl.  Anna settled for the BLT Wrap, and I had the Veggie Panini.

Everybody’s food was excellent: the Ciabatta bread in my Panini was amazing!  The filling was tomatoes, cucumber and baby spinach.  A side salad with lettuce, cucumber, dried blueberries, and raspberry vinaigrette completed the plate.  I ate every bite (including Anna’s dried blueberries!).

The waitress was still having difficulty keeping up, so one of the owners, Mike Fiori, came out of the kitchen to clear our table.  He told us a story about an artist who lived across the street.  When the waitress came over, I asked what the desserts were today:  She advised that there were three kinds of cheesecake, Death by Chocolate cake, a brownie with brownie frozen yogurt and caramel syrup, or pecan pie (all desserts are homemade by Barb Fiori).  I informed her that since it was my birthday, I would have the pecan pie.  The staff brought out my piece of pie with a birthday candle stuck in the top, and they were singing, “Happy Birthday!”  I wasn’t a bit embarrassed!  Mike said I must be “29”!  I agreed that I was “29 again.”  That pie was absolutely heavenly (of course, I’ve rarely met a pie I didn’t like, except cream pies!).  Jim, Anna and Hope had the blueberry cheesecake, and Brianna polished off every bite of her “Death by Chocolate” cake.

Heavenly Pecan Pie...

The best part of the meal (besides the fact that I didn’t have to pay for it) was that five of us ate for $76 and change…great healthy food including dessert and taxes!

We were all stuffed as we walked back to the van…

When we got home, I headed for my computer…wow…lots of my friends had sent me birthday messages!  I thanked them all, and then caught up with some of my friends’ blogs (check out the links on the right – not a bad writer among them!).  The kids gave me their presents (Dad gave me some money earlier in the week to get my hair done): Hope gave me a gift card for Shoppers Drug Mart, Devin gave me small earphones for the computer at the store (so I can listen to music, but still hear the customers come in), and Anna and Brianna gave me big headphones for my computer at home (so I can drown out the sound of the TV or the kids’ music while I listen to mine!).  Jim and I are going tomorrow to pick out my big gift from him: a new bike!  Kaylee, Scott and Elise are coming over for supper tomorrow night too.  I finally bought a playpen for when Elise comes over…she finds every bit of lint on my living room rug when she’s here, and tries to eat it!

Kaylee, Elise and Scott in June of this year...

After the presents, Jim, Anna and Brianna took off for Hampton – Jim had arranged to photograph a friend’s wedding, and took the girls along as helpers.  Devin helped me hook up my new headphones, and then I looked up my St. Martins book purchases: not bad – spent $9, and got about $105 U.S. worth of books.  I was pleased…

I paid $3 for this book...it will be listed online for $20 U.S.

Hope was happy too…her friend who just moved to Miramichi was in town visiting her dad, and invited her over to go swimming…Hope had been feeling left out about not getting to go to the wedding, but she was okay now!  Off she went with her friend.

Dad and I watched one of the Ron James DVDs that I got him for his birthday…I love that guy…he’s hilarious!  It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen it – it’s still funny!

This is the DVD we watched tonight...there are three more...

So…it’s been a good day (and the only work I’ve done is make supper)…I’m still looking forward to the birthday party at Jim’s mom’s on Wednesday (that’s his 48th birthday – she’s having a party for both of us).  I’ll post pictures of that too!

Thanks to everyone who made this last birthday of my forties a happy one!


Filed under books, family, food, friends, memories, self-discovery, shopping, tourism