Another year older and hopefully wiser…

Last year was the big year, the big five-oh, and I had it all planned. A mother-daughter-sister visit to Ste. Anne’s Spa with my Mom and sister. I poured over their website, checking out every room and cottage available to our number of guests, searching for the perfect accommodations for us. My favourites were saved in a file on my computer, all ready to be shared when it was close enough for us to book. And then covid hit… and stayed. My birthday was lots of fun but I don’t think anyone could say that eating takeout pizza in my kitchen (with family) in any way compares to eating a freshly prepared gourmet meal on a beautiful patio, also with family.

my beach selfieThis year was different. My parents left in early July to visit my other sister, halfway across the country and I gave up on the mega planning. My napkins and candle were from last year and plans were made on a whim. And it was fantastic! I started out with an exercise class (that wasn’t the fantastic part) and then a video call with my parents so they could see me open their present to me. Then I visited friends who lived near my old building, the friends I sing karaoke with. We went to a nearby Dollarama and I found three fall items that I spent all last fall looking for and didn’t succeed. They’re going to look so good in September. They’re so not getting put out now. By that point it was time to head home and I got back just in time to have another friend over for dinner followed by an evening trip to the beach. Plus a video call with Colin. Plus my sister and her boys came over for dinner two evenings later. It’s been busy but a good busy and it was so nice to see everyone.

I thought I would have things more figured out by my 50’s than I do but here I am still chanting “righty-tighty lefty-loosey” when I need to loosen a screw and singing the alphabet song whenever I have to remember where a letter goes. I spent half a cab ride wondering why the driver kept going left when his little robotic directing device was telling him to go right… only to realized I’d mixed up my directions (again). Left and right are very nebulous to me. And I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, although I have changed my mind about being a garbage man.

One thing I have figured out is I need to take better care of my mental health. Years ago I told the man who called me from Canadian Pension Plan – Disability that it felt like something had broken inside my brain and I didn’t think it was ever going back together. I still feel that way. I’ve made strides in so many ways and I’m sure I’ll make more but I need a nap every day because I’m drained by early afternoon. Lately I’ve been too tired to even eat lunch. And my memory is… wait… what were we talking about? Oh yeah, I saw the cutest brown bunny on my walk last week.

So I’m in several online groups, which would be in-person if it wasn’t for covid, and I talk to Colin several times a day. I hang out with at least one friend a day too. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy starts in just over a week and I’ve got my kitties for lots of snuggles and attention. So many positive things.

Evelyn the cypressOne thing I have been doing is decorating my apartment so that it feels more comfortable and homey to me. It’s a lot easier to relax and feel calm in a place you feel safe and at ease, right? I’ve worked a lot on my bedroom and the living room and now I’ve been working on my kitchen, with the help of a Homesense gift card from my parents. I didn’t like the top of the cabinets, it was way too bare. I had one little tin of yellow and orange flowers at the end closest to the stove, I bought them from Dollarama last year. But they simply emphasized how empty the rest of the space was. I took an hour long bus ride to the nearest Homesense and found the perfect pot for my mini cypress Evelyn. I didn’t, however, find the rectangular planters I’d been hoping for. They did have fake marble pots similar to the ones on my table, so I grabbed two of those. Now I needed something long to place in the middle space. I got to the end of the aisle and noticed white and burlap and then the word “kitchen”. It was a big, rectangular framed wall art and just the right size and shape. Basically it was eminently suitable. I took a quick look at the rest of their art but there was nothing else remotely similar. So I bought it and stood precariously on the counter to hang it up. I’m telling you, 51 years old and climbing onto a counter don’t go together well. But I got down, cleaned up, and took a good look and, wouldn’t you know it, I absolutely love that picture. It just ties together the whole room. I might change up the greenery someday but for right now it’s just perfect.

And now I’m going to pull on my super soft nightie from my Mom, give Oreo some scritches under his neck and behind his ears, grab my phone and my favourite peanut butter cups, give Evelyn the cypress a good sniff (because she smells so good), and play my favourite phone game. Because that’s what life is, it’s all about the little things. The big things might be flashy but the little things are the meat of our lives and they’re what counts.

I hope you have a quiet, comfortable, and peaceful evening wherever you are (and if you have a pet, give them a skritch for me).

kitchen with Pooh mitts

A second covid birthday…

Colin's birthday cupcakeIt’s Colin’s 24th birthday today. I’m not sure how he feels about that age but I’m feeling pretty damn old! For once the stars aligned and the extreme part of our lockdown ended yesterday, which meant my parents and I could drive into the countryside and visit Colin today. Yesterday I got all the bits and pieces of his present tucked away in a gift bag, baked a batch of vegan chocolate cupcakes, and checked my email umpteen dozen times. I’d ordered Colin a Doctor Who t-shirt which has been slowly meandering up from California. It made it through customs on the 10th at 9:41pm and was processed at the “local distribution centre” according to the email, but that had been the last I’d heard. Actually that’s still the last I’ve heard, I had to setting for showing Colin a picture on my phone after he’d opened the rest of his gifts then I assured him that just meant we’d need to make another trip to bring the shirt to him.

Colin and his cardWe lucked out and today was gorgeous. Sunny and quite warm. We sat on Colin’s patio and looked at his little garden with it’s lavender and some sort of succulent (and a bunch of grass which had gone to seed because Colin thought it was awesome). And we ate burgers from A&W… and fries… and my chocolate cupcakes (I made sure to bring plenty of extras for him). He loved all his goodies from me and his morning glory from his grandparents, and was thrilled to pieces with his Super Mario game from them. I’m sure he was playing it before we fully backed out of the driveway. He sent me a photo of the game screen pretty quickly!

Once the lunch, present opening, and cupcakes were done we all were getting more than a little wilted. There was no shade anywhere in the big yard, all the trees seemed to be casting shade elsewhere, and the cupcakes were melting. The cupcakes were an easy fix, Colin brought them inside to the air conditioning. We, however, were not. No one other than staff or clients were allowed in the building, not even to use the washroom. Speaking of which, it’s an hour’s drive home and I have a bladder roughly the size of a walnut. If we could go inside and sit in the air conditioning on his couch and nip into his bathroom that would be one thing, but we couldn’t so we really needed to go. We took a quick look at one of the two ponds on the property, which is seriously right beside his patio. No wonder I can hear the frogs croaking during phone calls! And then we went back to the driveway.

I don’t think I will ever, could ever, get used to covid goodbyes. I should have wrapped my arms around him and squeezed as hard as I could, said “I love you” by his ear, and gave him a kiss on the cheek. He should have kissed my forehead, patted the top of my head, and called me his “pocket sized Mom”. Instead, we stood six feet apart, waved, and said goodbye, pausing awkwardly before heading towards the car and the house.

It might have been different than usual but I am so glad I got to see my birthday boy today. I can’t wait to see him again soon!

Colin and I by the pond1

Planning a long distance covid birthday…

I have always planned the kids’ birthdays well in advance and this was still true for Colin’s upcoming 24th birthday. I found a handful of neat things I knew he’d like but was stuck for a main item to put in the gift bag. No biggie, I knew I’d find one soon. And then the lockdown hit, complete with it’s essentials ban. In previous lockdowns I could browse through stores like Walmart and Dollarama but, in this one, I couldn’t browse anywhere! I began to panic then reminded myself the ban lifted at the beginning of June so I’d still have time. Then the ban got extended until two days after Colin’s birthday. I have ordered him something online and it’s on it’s way. According to the website, it’s heading towards a “DHL ecommerce distribution centre” and has been since May 28th. Deep breath… deep breath… it’ll get here when it gets here. Everything else is tucked away in my room.

And whatever’s left is up in the air. Will we be able to go up and visit him once the lockdown’s been lifted? I know we won’t be able to go inside (thanks to covid I’ve only seen his apartment via zoom and photos) but could we stay in the front yard or sit on his patio? It would be nice to see his patio. If we can physically go there I can whip up a batch of cupcakes (so much easier to serve on a lawn than cake) but will they let someone deliver cupcakes from a local bakery if we’re stuck at home an hour away and can’t be with him? There’s no point in even asking until I get a bit more information. And so I wait. And think maybe I should start pinpointing out which bakeries are even near his country home and which bake cupcakes soon. I looked a little earlier, long enough to know not to bother asking about cakes as everyone is all about the theme cakes and I don’t have a theme cake budget. I have a plain, no sprinkles, chocolate cupcake budget. Luckily that’s Colin’s favourite.

present timeI wish so much that things were back to normal (whatever that is) and that in 1 1/2 weeks Colin would be showing up here all set to play with the cats and camp out in the living room. That I could take him in the backyard and show him where the rabbits live and take him on my neighbourhood walk by the creek and show him the duck pond (with a crane, swans, and geese), the tiny waterfall, and the farm. We’d take the bus to visit all the family and stuff ourselves with burgers and fries. And he’d sit at my kitchen table, pulling out item after item with excitement, eager to see what was next until all that was left was remnants of tissue paper and the bottom of the bag. Then we’d watch Doctor Who, or go visit my friend, or stuff ourselves silly with cupcakes, but we’d have fun at the very least.

Hopefully we can do some semblance of this next year for his 25th birthday but for now we’ll just have to piece the days together as best we can and make this his best covid birthday yet!

A cat and mouse tale…

If you want to know what kind of day I’m having, I can tell you. It’s a “which cat pooped in the food bowl?” kind of day. Although to be fair I think it was more of an Olympic kitty litter kick kind of incident and not an actual squat over the dish. The end result is the same though.

It pales in comparison to my experiences exactly two weeks ago.

Angel sleeping on my bed filteredFirst I saw my grandson on Saturday and shortly after got a gazillion scrapbooking kits (where a gazillion equals six). The next day was Valentine’s Day my cat Angel’s 15th birthday which is obviously very important and required plenty of attention, yummy food, and her favourite stuffed catnip carrot. I didn’t get much done on the computer that day. And finally Monday rolled around and I decided to devote the day to scrapbooking. The kits were already downloaded and sorted into the right folders and albums (I’m just a little organized) and all I needed to do was save my pictures from Google to My Photos then I was good to go.

Except the mouse. just. stopped. Right there in the middle of the screen.

Okay, that was irritating. Obviously the battery must have died, the downside of having a wireless mouse. So I got a freshly charged battery and nothing. Tried Ctrl-Alt-Del and tabbed my way to the shut down menu then the computer restarted with a frozen mouse. Moved the dongle to several different ports and… nothing. I even pulled the second mouse out of the closet (it was a set of two) and that one didn’t work either. At this point I was getting worried and so I called Colin.

His first suggestion was to try remote desktop which, luckily he’d already installed on my computer so I had no problems added it to my phone. I must say that trying to repair a computer by controlling the cursor via a tiny phone screen and one finger ranks just above getting a root canal.

*thinks for a moment*

Marginally

I tried for hours, both with and without Colin, before giving up. I uninstalled that damn mouse so many times!!! Colin wished that I could try with a wired mouse but I didn’t have one and didn’t have any money to go buy one so that was out. His only solution was for me to buy an SSD drive and then he’d coach me, via video chat, on how to transfer all my files over and then format my hard drive. You can imagine my enthusiasm.

Then I remembered my friend has an older computer and, sure enough she had a wired mouse and it worked!!! So we traded mice because my mouse worked just fine on her laptop. And, because of anxiety, it took me two days before I attempted to finish downloading those pictures and over a week before I could bring myself to complete this post. But there hasn’t been a single hint of trouble from the computer since we traded mice and I (thankfully) haven’t needed to buy a new drive of any sort.

And I still don’t know who the Olympic poop flinger is although, if I had to play money, I’d place my bet on Smudge. Then, a couple of days before the flinging incident, I had to give Blackie Boo a bath. She thought I was trying my hardest to drown her which made bath time very enthusiastic with lots of extra bath toys in the water like the pot scrubbie and the dish soap and very nearly a small vase of artificial flowers. Poor kitty. I picked her up to put her on my bed and she started flailing like it was bath time round two. She seems over it now, hopefully, or well maybe I should keep checking my slippers before I wear them for just a little longer. Just in case.

Above: Angel on her birthday
Below: Angel’s birthday layout (because that’s not extra at all). It’s the first layout I made after the computer started working again.
 
Angel's 15th birthday

Half a century…

me and my cake croppedFifty years old. I’d counted ahead years ago and knew it was going to happen in 2020 but that seemed so far away… sometime in the distant future. It was so unreal, I couldn’t wrap my head around it. To be honest, I never thought I’d make it this long. And here I am, halfway to a hundred.

Fifty doesn’t feel like what I thought it would feel. I don’t feel that old. My shoulders hurt occasionally but that’s it for pain. I love to go for hikes. And if my local mall ever offered a slide as an option instead of stairs I’d be first in line.

But little things trip me up. I can’t believe 1990 is 30 years ago. How did it get so far away so fast? And I’m finding techy things more and more confusing, which feels weird as someone who once worked in technical support. I don’t own a television and have no clue how to operate modern remote controls. I don’t even know what half the buttons are on my microwave.

My birthday was yesterday and I had my parents, sister, and nephews over for dinner. We had curry, pizza, and vegan cheesecake then opened presents. It was a lot of fun and so nice to have everyone over. My place might not be large but it’s welcoming and I think that’s more important.

The presents are put away, the couple of cake slices are in the fridge along with the last serving of curry, and the wrappings are down the chute. My celebration is done for another year. Now it’s time to get on with life and living. I’ve got another fifty years to work on!

Happy birthday Colin!!!

Twenty-three years ago, in the middle of a thunderstorm, I gave birth to a chubby 9lbs 11oz baby who looked remarkably like Winston Churchill. I resisted a sudden urge to name him Winston (probably for the best) and named him Colin. Time went on, as it does, and he grew and continued to grow quite a bit beyond what I thought was necessary. He thought his height was great and proceeded to call me his “pocket sized Mom”.

When you get right down to it you go into the hospital and, after a lot of pushing and pain, you’re handed a baby. There’s all sorts of advice for what to do when they’re babies and toddlers and when they’re talking back in elementary school but a dearth of information on what happens once those babies are gone and moved out. I think today, going to Colin’s place, it really hit me that my children, the skippers on sidewalks and hunters of ladybugs, have well and truly left the nest and built homes of their owns. I’m so happy for them but I hope I’ll still have family dinners and visits for years to come.

Today was the first day visiting Colin at his new place, which is right out in the middle of nowhere, a very lovely nowhere by the way, I love what they did with the place. Colin was happy to see us and thoroughly enjoyed his lunch and his presents. As always, it was over too quickly but hopefully we can stay longer next time.

Colin opening present1

Colin opening one of his presents. I believe this one was pjs

Colin and my card

Colin reading the card from me

Dad, Colin, and Mom

Colin and my parents

Colin and I close

Colin and I

Happy birthday!

It was a month before Colin’s birthday and he was turning 11 years old. I was trying to decide how to celebrate when Colin announced he’d like to go to Build a Bear for his party.

“That’s a pretty big party,” I cautioned him.

“But it’s a really big birthday,” he exclaimed.

I was pretty sure the 13th birthday was the important one and told him so.

“No! It’s the 11th birthday! The two numbers are the same and that won’t happen again!”

“It’ll happen when you’re 22 years old,” I commented and got a deep sigh.

“Mom, that’s ages away!”

I got the party organized and Colin ended up with 14 guests. They had a ball making their bears and, unlike that lady making the internet rounds for collecting every guests Build a Bear for her daughter, the guests all went home with their creations..

Then there was Colin’s 22nd birthday. The day went like usual. I got laundry washed and Colin played on his computer and with his computers. Then I went to take the cakes out of their pans and they crumbled into a million little pieces. I tried to spread frosting as best I could but it really was nothing more than a pile of cake bits topped with frosting.

I lucked out. I promised Colin I’d transfer money onto his prepaid credit card and I did so on the 8th. They stopped accepted deposits on the 9th and the cards are all closing on June 30th. So, out of sheer luck, Colin ended up with his birthday money after all then went onto Steam to do some downloading.

We walked over to Pizza Pizza to order their two pizza special before chatting on the way home.

I was about to put one of those spinning flower candles on the “cake” when Colin stopped me.

“I want to save that for a birthday that feels real. This one doesn’t. I didn’t even get a phone call from anyone.”

It turned out that my sister worked then had an over dinner meeting so didn’t have time and my parents are on a mini vacation and left their phones at the hotel all day. But Colin got his birthday phone call at bedtime and was so happy.

It’s hard to see your kid unhappy, no matter what age they are. Luckily this was a short lived disappointment because he was fine yesterday. And next year I’ll work at making him a better day.

20190608_114956_hdr-01

Colin having a birthday lunch with me and his grandparents at our favourite restaurant iThai

The near birthday fiasco…

I’d say it started yesterday but it really started just over a month ago when my ex-husband had his birthday. Ever since we separated he’s insisted he wants no birthday celebration at all. No calls… no cards… no presents. He doesn’t want to remember he’s ageing, leave him alone. Then, after the date, he’s mad because no one remembered his birthday. General cognition and cause and effect are not his strong suits.

This time he decided to get back at Emma for not calling. Never mind Emma never calls anyone. Never mind she’s having problems with her phone. Never mind she doesn’t keep track of dates. He was mad and he was retaliating. So he called Kait and told her he was going to deliberately misgender “Colin” in a birthday Facebook wish to get back at her. A) because that’s what loving and kind Fathers do and B) because there was no way posting his ignorance on Facebook could blow back at him…

exbirthdaywish

Emma knew just what to say

The first thing that confused James was absolutely no one wanted to here his side on why he’s misgendering his own child. So he explained anyway…

exbirthdaybirthcertificate

Then my friend Robin told him to step on a Lego and he literally took that to be a death threat…

exbirthdayfreehugs

And my friend ran with the Lego death threat. Because we all know how deadly a block of lego is when you step on it…

exbirthdaylegodeath

It’s funny in some ways but this is a grown man, Emma’s father, on her Facebook page the night before her birthday. And here is when he really started showing his true colours. First by using gay as an insult, then his above comment about not supporting “lgbt crap”, and finally by deciding Robin must be trans and referring to her as “it” and that “trans freak”. Along with this…

exbirthdaystraight

Kait finally had enough of him, after being on the brink for months, and blocked him…

exbirthdayrainbow

… and her post whooshed right over his head

Then it just got plain pathetic…

exbirthdayend

My ex and I talked a lot about being parents, when we were young and engaged, and how we wanted to raise our kids. He wanted to be a hands on Dad, something he hadn’t much experience with (as much as he loved his father). It’s like he set out to do the exact opposite.

I almost never mention my ex-husband on the blog and this thread is exactly why. He’s a living train wreck of a man, a person who lives solely to tear down other people.

Today is Emma’s birthday. She played Undertale before school while I watched then we went out for dinner with her Nana (mmm… potato curry), and now she’s heading out to Value Village to look for computer parts and/or a phone… as happy as can be. Then she’s having birthday pudding, since she decided it was too hot for cake. There was no mention of her Dad, he’s a non-existent part of her life and, sadly, that’s how it should be with him.

Emma and her new purse

Emma with her new purse and sucker

On dinner guests and why my cat is purple…

I was heading out the door for a (futile) look for bike locks at Dollarama when my phone rang. It was my friend A letting me know her fiance’s birthday was today, the day of our dinner party. He was turning 16 (with a few decades experience… and a year to grow on). I promised I’d make a cake to go with dinner and mentally decided to run into Metro for a cake mix. I have an amazing from scratch recipe but it’s better for cupcakes than layer cakes.

I got home at the four hours until company mark and did a quick clean and sweep of our place before placing one scented candle in the middle of our table and the other on the fireplace mantle. The candles were a gift from A and S so I figured they’d be appreciated.

Just over an hour later I stepped over Jeremy’s HotWheels track (asking them, once again, to put it away) and took two aromatic pans out of the oven. Fifteen minutes later I looked at an irreparable mess. I joke that frosting is an amazing glue but there’s a limit to what it can do.

crumbled-cake

Almost recognizable as cake

I frantically messaged several of my friends and one (thankfully) suggested making cake balls. I can do that! Smushing cake bits into frosting then rolling it into balls is in my skill set.

My hands closely resembled mud mitts when Jeremy exclaimed something unprintable. I turned to see our dining room and half of Smudge coated in purple wax… the scented candle still rocking in the corner. Thankfully no one (and nothing) was burned but this was two hours until company time, we had exactly two cake balls and a room that looked like it was decorated by Jackson Pollock.

candle-wax

The cat was pretty well decorated too

A frantic call to vet gave me the instructions to a) put some ice on the wax and b) when informed the cat was now one third wax, to wait for time to take its course. At that point Smudge was trying to moon walk out of the wax and Jeremy was scraping the floor with my good metal spatula.

“Leave the wax for now,” I asked them. “It’s time to take Angel to the vet for her shot.”

I was giving Jeremy an extra 15 minutes to get ready, knowing they’d need it.

“I’ll need a harness,” they announced five minutes later.

“Umm why? She doesn’t need a harness in her carry box.”

“But I’m anxious and want to carry her,” Jeremy announced.

“And you have to walk across a busy road,” I protested.

I was up to five misshapen blobs and our company was coming in just over an hour. The cat was still purple, there was a coated spatula on the dining room floor, and I hadn’t even started dinner.

“But the carry box is breaking,” Jeremy informed me frantically. “I can’t put her in there!”

“Why didn’t you tell me before now,” I blurted.

MELTDOWN

Once Jeremy calmed down, they left with Angel in their arms at three minutes to her appointment and I settled in to making the rest of the cake balls. I declared enough at 15 balls… if anyone wants cake-ball batter, I have half a bowl sitting in the fridge complete with a teaspoon.

Time to make dinner and, I realized with dawning horror, I had nothing but a jar of marinara sauce and noodles. I was going to make fresh rolls but that time got taken up with purple wax and exploding cake. And I had been planning on buying fresh veggies for the sauce and a bottle of frizzante but I was so pleased to remember the cake that I forgot.

Jeremy walked in with Angel and almost immediately right back out again with a list of exactly three items. Pop, leaf lettuce, and four nice soft dinner rolls. There wasn’t any point in adding veggies at this point. I didn’t have time to cook them.

“That’s not fair,” Jeremy blurted. “I just got home.”

“Do you want to wash the baking dishes and set the table instead?”

“Fine, I’ll go,” they sighed at fifteen minutes to company.

The grocery store is a five minute walk away. Five minutes later I could still hear Jeremy chatting with a random stranger… eight floors below. They got home one minute before our company arrived with a container of mixed greens, four bottles of pop, and four bags of potato chips.

“Umm, Jeremy, where are the buns?” I asked as I looked (again) through the bags.

They sighed. “Buns are boring Mom! That’s why I got chips. Only boring parties serve bread.”

“And what are we going to sop the leftover sauce up with?” I asked and they stared at me blankly.

“Chips are still cool!” they retorted, waving a bag of jalapeno chips in the air.

The guests were great and everyone enjoyed the cake balls (thanks K!) but, much to Jeremy’s disappointment, it’ll be a while before I invite guests over for dinner again. Smudge and I need to recover.

Happy birthday to me!!!

birthday Doctor Who 10th

Since the 10th Doctor never actually showed up, I’m taking Jeremy camping instead. Plus I made myself chocolate peanut butter cupcakes 🙂 The first year I became vegan, my Mom made a bowl of fresh fruit because she doesn’t know how to make a cake without milk and eggs. I’ve made my own cake ever since. This year’s will be the best so far.

Jeremy tried to convince me that today’s opposite day, which means I’m supposed to give zir a present instead of vice versa. I’d say it was a nice try on zir part but zie woke me an hour early then started begging for video games so zie’d have something to do in the car. In essence, since my Mom bought the present and I bought zir three (four?) games, I did buy zir a present. The kidlet’s about as subtle as a sledgehammer but just as effective.

And we’re heading off for five days of swimming, hiking, and exploring. All I know is there’s a large pond (which Jeremy says is at least as big as a football field… or three even), two beaches, caves, hiking trails, and trees. Jeremy assures me there’s lots of trees. I’ve never been there and can’t find any pictures so all my mind is picturing is lots of ????? and a gravely, muddy beach with lots of weeds. Jeremy didn’t mention either so my mental image is probably (hopefully) off.

See you in August!!!!!

p.s. Depending on cellphone service, I might stick a picture or two up on Instagram 🙂