Suzy Snapper
Sunday, December 31, 2006
Happy New Year!

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I do try not to make true resolutions but this year, I definitely have one. And that is to give my all to my photography and try and make a go of it.

That means more contests, more event photography, introducing myself as a 'professional' and of course, getting my website live.

Happy New Year to all, and I hope 2007 is your best year!

I have always had a fascination with genealogical history...not just the dates and numbers but who these people, my ancestors were. Where they lived, what they were like. Bringing history to life for me, imagining my forebears living through times long ago. The picture below always amazed me from the time I was a little girl. Thinking that my Dad's grandmother lived in the hoop-skirted world was amazing to me.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

As I started to research her story, it became clear to me there was much to find out. This is what I wrote in my old blog in May 2005.

Jane Herkes was born in 1855 in Stenton, Haddington, Scotland to James Herkes and his wife, Janet Hastie. She was the youngest of 4 and the only daughter.

Jane lived a fairly eventful life by the standard of the day, passing away in Vancouver, BC at her daughter, Jennie's on January 29, 1941 at the age of 85.

She married her first husband, Mr. Porter around 1875. Unfortunately, I have yet to find his first name or much information about him, other than she loved him deeply. However, what I do know, is during their short marriage, they had three children: James (b. 1878), Mary (b. 1879) and Janet Margaret (b. 1881).

It would seem 1881 was a difficult time, as both Mr. Porter and Mary passed away in the first few months of that year. Jane became a single mother of one with a baby on the way.

On June 21, 1881, she married her new husband, Andrew Wilson Thomson - a coffin maker and shipwright. It would seem this marriage was arranged hastily as she was pregnant and he was from her church. They left left Scotland to take up residence in Southshields, Durham, England.

James went to live with relatives of their father in Scotland, and although still kept in some contact with the family, seem to have been abandoned by his mother. Janet (called Jessie) also went back to Scotland after her birth. They were seldom spoke of after that and when they were, they were called cousins by my grandmother. I guess half-siblings were not as accepted back then. Census records showed though that they did come back later to live with their mother for a time.

Jane and Andrew had a family of four in Northern England. Andrew was the eldest, followed by Herkes (b. 1883), my grandmother Jennie (b. May 1890), and Wilson (b. 1895).

She was always a difficult personality, and even her daughter left home at age 12 to get away from the turmoil in the house. Later, Jennie moved to Canada to join her children. She lived with the lifelong bachelor Wilson for a while, and finally came to live with her daughter, Jennie Bryant in Vancouver. Jane would be a cantankerous lady and often smack Jennie's children with her cane as they went by.

In Jennie's daughter, Phyllis's words:

When I was about 15 (1940), Uncle Wilson was having trouble with Grandma (because of her age), and moved out here with her to stay with Mom and Dad. She wasn’t very easy to get along with, and was determined that was the way to go, so Dad built a six-foot trellis across the back to get her mind off of it, and one day, we looked out and she was climbing up it (she was over 80 at the time!). She used to drink her tea with the teaspoon sticking up out of the cup, and when I would say, “Grandma, you’ll poke your eye out”, she would say, “It’s MY eye, isn’t it?”

Once, when I was home alone with her and in the bathroom, I heard the front door close. I ran to the window to see Grandma trotting up the street. I didn’t have my dress on, my hair was wet, and I pulled on a coat and ran along 59th Avenue after her. I had to pull her home, with her yelling at me all the way.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

In the photograph above, my Aunt Phyllis claimed 'the old bat was pinching me when they took that picture'. My Dad, the youngest, seems pretty unconcerned though.

Recently, I received an email from a lady in Oregon. She had found my details on a genealogy website and was sure she was from the same family.

My friend in England gave me your address. I am the grand-daughter of James Porter and Isabella Daley Porter and am researching the two families. James had two half-brothers who went to Canada sometime in the twenties (Ithink) with their mother Jane Herkes Porter Thomson. Are you descended fromeither Andrew or Wilson ?

I wrote back, very excitedly as it was obvious that she was our missing link. Not only that, it seemed she didn't have a full picture of our family either.

I was thrilled to receive two pictures from her, essentially fitting together two pieces of our jigsaw puzzle.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Her photo of Jane in 1881 is just before her wedding to my great-grandfather. In the picture above, she's holding James and wearing Widow's Weeds (mourning attire). She would have also been pregnant in this photo.

She also had another photo to share, showing my grandmother in much happier times in Canada.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Taken by her son, in Ontario after arriving in Canada in the 20s. It makes me look forward to digging deeper. She was obviously an angry woman, but it may have been circumstance that made her that way.

I hope to find out.
Friday, December 29, 2006
The Walls Have Stories
If there is one thing I've learned, it is that everything and everybody has a story. All you have to do is listen.

Tonight, my brother told a story of a friend of his. While growing up in Ontario, Don's neighbour would always come help the kids set up their hockey nets in the street. The neighbour didn't have any children of his own, and seemed not to want to talk too much but was there for the kids. He was a surrogate father to many on that street and they knew him as Mr. D. Many years later, when Don went back to his hometown for Mr. D's funeral, his widow handed him a box. 'He'd have wanted you to have this, Don', she said. Inside were a variety of medals that Mr. D had earned during WWII. One of those medals was the Victoria Cross, the Commonwealth's highest honour. He never even realized that Mr. D had served. Don couldn't accept that gift but he did ensure they found their way to a war memorial museum so all could appreciate Mr. D's quiet sacrifice.

I work in an old building. When I first arrived at my new job, I was a little taken aback by the sparse setting and the aging office equipment. My file cabinet has wooden handles and notations of company account numbers that have long ceased business.

On the site, we have a very ancient factory that has had many incarnations over the last several decades. In a town where nothing is over a century, our 75 year old factory raises an eyebrow. But times are changing and the building has been cleared out for eventual demolition.

Last week, I received a call from the owner of the company. I was flattered to be asked to do a photographic session to capture the essence of the building before it's eventual tear-down.

It was a unique gift, and one that is continuing to inspire me.

These old-growth beams are no longer used. They are 12" x 12" cedar, and will be salvaged. Likely for use in upscale 'rustic' homes that are becoming fashionable of late. As I walked through the site with the foreman, we talked of the days that this was a booming industry.

This building once housed the fabrication shop that helped build the warships in both World Wars. In World War II, the company had the distinction of being one of the first to hire women machinists. Rosie The Riveter worked here.

Ghosts? As we walked through, I could feel an essence. Be it a spirit, or just many years of sweat and hard work, there was a pronounced feeling about the place. If these walls could talk, they'd tell you of the men and women who toiled here. They would tell you about the boss who pushed a little too hard, the product that never came out exactly as it could and the pride when something did go right. They would tell you of the quiet gratification of seeing a large project leave the premises after many months of hard labour.

How many hands have touched this spout in the last 75 years? I aim to find out. In doing this shoot, I was inspired by something deeper. I want to tell the stories of this place.

When I returned to my office after doing my walkthrough, I was humbled by the number of people who came by my desk to tell me a story about their time down in 'the shop'. This is such a small handful of the people who worked there, and while the day to day grind may get one down, it is the big picture that is proving to be the story here. I will be proposing to management to create a booklet of memories and photographs that will tell take the oral out of the history and make it permanent.

What a fitting end to a building that has held so many memories for so many people.

And most just think I work in an old, decrepit building. Scratching the surface is often worth the effort.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Memories are made of this
A few pictures from the events of the last few days.

"You look BEAUTIFUL, Nana", she exclaimed. "You look like the ENTIRE ocean!"

This is a vision we weren't sure was possible. My Dad may be not the person he was a few months ago, but he is here. And the beautiful thing about children is that they don't see the tiredness, the frustration, and the lingering difficulties...they only see Papa.

Overwhelmed and unsure, but he quickly settled into it.

Sisters are sisters, no matter what age they are.

And of course, no Christmas is complete without the pudding and hard sauce!

It was a fabulous Christmas in so many ways. Many wonderful family memories and a true feeling of how lucky we are to have each other.

And I am now the proud owner of a wireless router again. So looks like blogging will become a LOT easier now.
Monday, December 25, 2006
Merry Christmas!
Merry Christmas to all!

I made a little video of Christmases past but for some reason, Beta Blogger is not being easy today.

So instead of embedding it, click here.

May this day be full of lifelong memories.
Friday, December 22, 2006
During this holiday season, I keep coming back to the thought of how much I appreciate the family and friends I have around me.

I've been wanting to do a post to highlight some of my good friends in the blogworld, but I was initimidated by the fact that I might just unintentially miss someone. If I do, please don't take it personally. It is merely an oversight by an overly exhausted soul.

Over the past two years, I have been blessed by the acquaintance and friendships of people the world over and I am incredibly thankful for that. You've been there through my triumphs as well as some more, shall we say, character building moments. Even if I don't blog as often as I used to, a day does not go by that I don't think of my friends.

On that note, I'd like to highlight and introduce a few people who are special to me. Stop by their place and have a look around, if you haven't heard of them before.

My newest friend, Patti. She is a photographer extraordinaire in Ontario. I met her through a scrapbooking club called Scraptivity! It's a very warm friendly place where I've gained many an inspiration. I was Patti's Secret Santa this season, and I think I enjoyed it as much as she did.

Devon has become one of my most cherished friends and I hope we can arrange to meet when I travel to New York in the spring. She is an accomplished writer, and her unfaltering support has meant much to me. Even though she has had her difficulties of late with Situations, she has not lost her strong spirit and I admire that.

I met Teresa in February in Vegas and she was every bit as warm-hearted in person as she is on her blog. Her ex-husband is on his way to Iraq shortly and I wish him a safe and speedy return.

Monica is an amazingly strong person and though this year has been exceedingly difficult for her in her personal life, her gift for telling stories and her ability to be a strong voice through adversity makes me proud to call her a friend. Because of her, young veterans are beginning to get the help they need as they return stateside after their tour of duty.

Then there's Shannon. Keep her and her family in your hearts and prayers as she faces this Christmas with her husband on active duty in Iraq. Her writing is inspirational, often humourous and always worth taking the time for. Recently, she wrote about a stirring picture that touched me too. She has been there for me time and time again, and she does so with grace, dignity and pride.

Jennifer is a friend of Teresa's. I began reading her blog a bit ago and found her to be very interesting. She and I share some hobbies, including scrapbooking and photography. The mom to 3 beautiful boys, she always has a warm thought or a quick wit to share. Recently, a friend of hers lost her young child and she has been using her blog as a tribute in a very caring way.

Karen, my Utah-ian buddy. Another avid photographer, but she can write beautiful poetry too! To be able to marry those two together is a true gift. This year has been also difficult for Karen, as her Dad has gone through a very serious health problem. As I nursed my own Dad back (and continue to do so), I have felt Karen's kindred support as we both shared a challenging time in our lives.

Red - ok, so he's Red in the blogosphere but I know him by his real name. Actually, we've been friends for what? 11 years? How crazy is that? One day I will write about how we met and the group we are part of that made both of our lives richer. He was also part of a group of friends who attended a wedding in '99 in Washington, DC that was likely the best vacation I have ever had. He has been there for me through the years, picking me up at Heathrow when I visited London and generally being everything a good friend is. Thank you, James, for everything.

On that note, Ian...same group as above. Again, that deserves a post of it's own. Ian was with us in Vegas this year, and I just wish it could have been for longer. We have shared several holidays now...New York (although that wasn't so much a holiday for him as it was Tour Guide 101), Edmonton and Vegas.

Dave, the Marinade King. He's gone through his health troubles this year too (glad to hear things are improving Dave!) but his stories are some of the most interesting out there. Be it a story about himself and his hatred of needles, or about past colleagues, or of his brother's army service, he's always got something intriguing to talk about. If that wasn't enough, more than once, he's been there for me to give me a little pick-me-up or teasing as needed. A good man, Dave is.

Bob - what list wouldn't be complete without Trucker Bob. He hasn't been able to blog as much as he used to and I miss his stories of the days on the road as a commercial trucker. Often, I'd find myself telling his stories around the dinner table much to the amusement of my family. This year, he's seen his own health issues as well as those close to him. I wish him and his family well. He deserves it.

For a little Canadian content, check out WestCoast Chaos. He's from my province, and most times, I find myself talking to the screen 'Yeah, what he said!' Beyond that though, super great guy and I do owe him a beer next time he's in town!

Speaking of Canadian content, two of the best female writers in the Canadian blogosphere - Canadianna and The Last Amazon. I met them, and WCC when I wrote for the Red Ensign Bloggers. Not only well-written, well-researched and well-educated, but geniunely wonderful women too.

If you get a chance, check out ArmyWifeToddlerMom's adventures with her little ones.

CaliValleyGirl's back in the States after living in Germany and through the deployment of her boyfriend to Afghanistan. Always thought provoking, always worth the time.

It's funny to think that a chance meeting in Hawaii over two years ago could have just been a disasterous romance gone wrong. Instead, it became the seed that allowed me to open myself up to blogging, to writing in general and to meeting some wonderful people. Not to mention, even if I am no longer a military girlfriend, I still feel the support and warmth of a military family. That is no small compliment...I am proud to feel part of such a wonderful group and to show my support for the troops every chance I can.

I will do another post shortly of some of my daily blog reads. I think most of you probably already know of them, but there may be one or two that might interest you too.

But now it's time to have a rest. The next few days will be busy but there will be many pictures to show for it!
Thursday, December 21, 2006
The Log Channel
Just to clear up something from my last post, the Log Channel is just simply that. A video of a fireplace. If you google 'The Fireplace Channel' or 'The Log Channel', there are several sites on the topic.

It's very kitschy (and no, I probably haven't spelled that correctly!), and there's not much to it. But it gets us giggling with the tape of the bejewelled hand that comes in to move the logs every 15 minutes or so.

At first, you'd think it was silly but somehow it's a tradition that has caught on in our household. I even have a picture of it, but somehow Blogger is not playing nice today with pictures.
Continued Traditions
In my previous post, I talked a little about our pre-Christmas celebrations and traditions. I loved the comments posted and it made me realize I'd missed a lot of what we do.

Devon talked about 'Booksing Day'. I just love that term! So much I may have to adopt it. In our family, books are an important part of the day too. We always give each other books for Christmas.

This year, I've given my Dad a book by Pierre Berton called 'Klondike'. It's about the gold rush, which my Dad has invested interest in. His mom's brother used to live in a shack near Yale, working the river. He has many fond memories of spending time with his Uncle Wilson panning for gold in the 1930s. Since his heart attack, he's talked a lot more of these times - much to our interest.

For my Mom, I bought a book called 'The Wreckage'. A love story of the troubles that a Protestant woman and a Catholic man faced as they fell in love in Newfoundland many years ago. It reminded me of my own grandparents struggles as they left Ireland for similar reasons.

For myself, I bought Bryce Courtenay's newest. He is definitely a favourite author of mine, but not well known in North America. We are a year behind publishing on most of his titles, so I've arranged with a bookseller in Australia to send me his latest release. It costs me a pretty penny to have the hard cover shipped from overseas, but I've yet to be disappointed. This year's gem is "Sylvia". A departure from his usual tales of South Africa and Australia, this one tells the story of a child's revolt in Europe in the 12th Century. So far, it's riveting.

Patti mentioned hard sauce. This is also another family tradition that I would sorely miss if it didn't happen. My Mom makes the Christmas pudding in the traditional Scottish way that her mother-in-law taught her. I remember seeing the pudding being strung from the cheesecloths and then boiled to perfection. The hard sauce, a combination of icing sugar, butter and rum, is surely a treat to behold. I must admit, though, that I haven't taken the time to learn how to make it myself and each time, I realize how precious this tradition is.

On even years, we go to my Brother #3's for Christmas Eve. This means we spend time with the little ones, which essentially is what Christmas is all about. Watching the wonderment in the children's eyes makes the whole season special. This year, they are 5 and 2. Perfect ages for the making of a great evening. We also track Santa on Norad, or listen to the updates on the radio. For dinner, we typically have ham and all the trimmings.

Christmas morning comes early. My mom - even in her 70s - is still just a big kid. She wakes up early and calls me at my house to rouse me. I'm usually up though. I pop the presents into the car, pick my Aunt up on the way and head to my parent's place. We open presents, watch 'The Log Channel' on TV and have breakfast. I take my Aunt back home and then come back to my place to reload the presents for the next trip.

In the afternoon, we head out to Brother #2's house for a visit. Brother #4 comes over with his girls as well. My SIL always does an amazing spread of appetizers. They've moved into a new house this year, so I'm interested to see how they've decorated for Christmas. It's hard to believe my brother is now an empty-nester and has downsized his house. Time flies so quickly.

In the evening, we head to Brother #1's house for dinner. My SIL's family joins us as well. We have the traditional turkey and trimmings. The stuffing my SIL makes is legendary. There is never any left!

Boxing Day is a day of visiting. We visit mostly at my Aunt's and catch up with the cousins. Their family is just as large as ours so there's a lot of visiting. Boxing Day also used to be a time for my other Aunt to have us for dinner. She would have all four of my brothers and myself over and put on an amazing spread. More food than could feed double the number, but sadly, she is no longer able to. The last couple years she did put it on, my brother #3 and I spent more time in the kitchen than she did. She just simply was past it. Now she clearly suffers from dementia, which means those times are now just a memory.

By the end of it, although I love my family dearly, I am quite happy to have some down time. It's a busy time for all, and while I don't begrudge any of it, having to drive all over to each brother's home does get taxing.

Merry Christmas to all, if I don't get a chance to post before. May your families travel safe and create wonderful memories during this precious season!
Monday, December 18, 2006
Holiday Traditions
When I was growing up, our big Christmas adventure was our Christmas Eve dinner at a restaurant. For a family of 5 children, it was a treat to go out for dinner and we looked as forward to that evening as much as we did the Jolly Old Elf who would later visit us.

In the early years, it was to a Chinese restaurant. It certainly wasn't typical Asian food, but more a hybrid Western fusion that used to be considered Chinese food in North America. We loved it...I always ordered a milkshake - a decadent treat we only got at Christmas. Later, we started going to an Italian place. The owners eventually got to know us and always treated us to the specials on Christmas Eve. We would have lobsters (of course, thinking back now it was really just jumbo shrimp but we didn't know at the time) and left feeling stuffed and fulfilled.

When my brothers got married and had their little ones, we changed the tradition to an afternoon out and a movie for the kids. It was always an adventure with my parents and I herding 8 Christmas-hyped children through the mall for McDonalds and a movie. Each year became a little more strategic as the kids grew up and became a little more independant.

This became a cherished memory as they, too, grew up. My nieces and nephews are all in their 20s now, yet they remember 'Nana's Christmas Movie' as some of their fondest childhood memories. It was good for us to get the kids without the parents around for some quality time, and great for my brothers to give them some extra time without the kids to get ready for Christmas.

We realized this year that Ms. Thang is old enough now to re-ignite the movie tradition. She's nearly 5 now and well able to sit through a movie. Yesterday, my Mom and I took her to see 'Charlotte's Web'.

It made us think about how important these times are. These traditions. However, small. They connect the generations and the years. For Hayley, she's still a little young to understand why it's so important but her mother was thrilled.

What does your family do around the holidays? What tradition do you follow?
Saturday, December 16, 2006
I've been thinking a lot in the last 24 hours. It has been difficult to process a lot of things but even harder still when presented with pure ignorance.

I have debated, once again, writing about some of the conversations I've had in the past 24 hours because I was concerned about offending anyone who reads this blog. But then it dawned on me. This is MY blog. MY feelings. No one seemed concerned yesterday about how I felt.

Yesterday, I went to work feeling very sad about the previous night's occurances. I called my niece as quickly as I was able to in the morning and found out the inside track of the story. I won't recant here out of respect to those involved, except to say this is a deep tragedy on all levels. There have been three incidents in that department this week alone. One fellow officer was hit by a drunk driver during a roadblock and is now left seriously broken in the hospital. Another fellow officer found out his child had inoperable brain cancer.

So to have this tragedy hit was jarring to even the most senior members.

I came into work and most people knew my brother was a member of that particular department. There were a few that were more than sympathetic. It's interesting to note, though, that those were people with military or police backgrounds themselves.

Meanwhile, some of the most ignorant comments I've heard left me raw and hurting the rest of the day.

One of my colleaques, upon hearing the story, asked (with attempted sincerity), "Is it really true that officers have ticket quotas? And when they're finished they can go home?"

I scoffed. I didn't realize anyone believed that urban legend any longer.

A girl beside her piped in "Yes, they do. I know they do".

"Absolutely not", I responded - probably sharper than I should have, "Where do you get that information?"

She was ready to debate it. I however was not. Simply said, I growled at her something to the effect of when she has actually proof, come talk to me.

My boss was a bigger agitator. "Can you believe in this storm that when I drove past the police department I saw at least TWELVE uniformed officers in a MEETING in a lit room when all the rest of us were dealing with power outages? What gives them the right to use a generator when the rest of us suffer?"

Um, your safety?

I said "Don't you think it's more effective for them to actually meet to discuss their plan during a storm that to go off without any direction at all?"

He continued "Well, they should have closed the blinds or something."

Excuse me?

Not many people understood the impact of the shooting itself and that was a little hard to take. Oh, it's part of the job, I heard. Sure, the job itself is more dangerous than most but a shooting of a friend does not make it any less painful.

Think of that guy that you have coffee with at your office. The one you don't really know but say hi to in the halls.

Now imagine him being shot during the work day and watching the paramedics perform CPR right in front of you.

Not so easy to take.

I am just so tired of arguing. Of defending. There are bad apples in every profession. People who colour reputations of an entire profession. Accountants are boring, Sales people are aggresive. It doesn't mean everyone is and it's a disservice to think so.

Tonight is my Christmas party. I am in two minds about it, but since I've been asked to do the photography I will go. I hope it will give me a few hours of enjoyment in what has been a truly challenging couple of days.

(oh, and by the way, I did jinx myself after all....)
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Heart In Mouth

Tonight, I remember a little too clearly what it is to have a brother in the police force.

An officer - a brother in blue to my own brother - was shot tonight in a local suburb, the same one my brother works out of.

He will survive, thanks to the bullet proof vest he wore. The physical injuries are minor but the reverberations to his psyche, his family's, his colleagues and the families of his colleagues will take much longer.

I drove home blissfully unaware tonight. It's raining on the coast. I'd forgotten my cell phone at home, and decided to turn on the Christmas Carols and tune out the world. No conversations, no radio, just time to myself.

I get home to find 7 messages on the phone. All from my niece telling me to call her before I turn on the news.

My heart was in my mouth as I called her back.

"There was a shooting", she told me. I felt a deepening in my chest.

"Your Dad's at work today, right?", I asked, mentally calculating my brother's schedule. He's on the desk now. After 25 years on the beat, he took the front counter desk job after last year's heart attack. He is a beat cop, through and through. He loves the social atmosphere. Helping people. He'll tell you about taking a bad guy down a peg when needed, but his true stories are those about the children and the homeless people he's befriended over the years. His favourite show is Adam-12 and he often remarks that they should show it at the academy for training purposes.

"No, it's not him. We don't know who it is. But Dad's staying at work until things settle down."
I started rattling off names. Is it Red? Is it ... ? Listing off all the names of the friends who have graced my brother's couch during football season over the years. Is it...Oh, god, don't tell me it's Baby Cop!? A couple weeks ago, my niece and I took the kids down to the Santa Claus Parade. My brother was directing traffic with an officer who looked far too young to be doing the job. My niece yelled out to the guy. "My Aunt called you a Baby Cop!", she teased. He smiled broadly and stood proudly, "14 months on the job, ya know, but I'm doing what I've wanted to do all my life!" I couldn't help but grin.

That was the same day we met a homeless lady named Laura at the parade. She proudly introduced herself as my brother's friend. When we told her we were his family, she smiled a big toothy grin "Well, then you're my family too". She was in her late 50s, with ripped dirty clothes and a strong unwashed aura about her. We watched the parade with Laura, grabbing freebies from the vendors and giving them to her every chance we got. She told us how she always loved to run into my brother because he'd make sure she had a warm coffee and a snack.

"I honestly don't know, Auntie Sue", she said - bringing me back from the memory. "We only know it's not a veteran".

My reverie gone, I began to feel sick.

My brother's journey to driving a desk has been a rollercoaster. He's been shot at, he's been involved many precarious situations, and he's been in severe car accidents. But his career has been typical of every policeman out there. He's never once complained. Oh sure, he has his days when the world gets him down, but he's spent his life doing what he's always wanted to do and being surrounded by those who do too. Because of him, there are at least two boys who grew up to be police officers.

We were happy to hear he'd been transferred to desk duty. No more night shifts, no more scary nights when we knew anything could happen. But desk duty is not without it's dangers either. When I was 10, a police constable in my hometown was shot as he came around the corner to help someone who came in. That young constable left a wife and two young daughters.

It stuck with me from that tender age. My brother had just been through the academy at the time. I began to understand what it was like to be a police officer's sister even back then.

Police officer shootings in Canada has become all too common. Mayerthorpe alone last year cost us 4 of our finest. We have long prided ourselves on being the kinder, gentler nation in North America but we're no longer able to claim that.

A couple of weeks ago, 3 officers were shot in Winnipeg. That barely even hit the national news, yet 3 families suffered through that call we all most dread. I felt for those families, both blood and badge. I did a quick search to try and gain more knowledge into the event. The vitriol spewed forth infuriated me. "That poor man was only defending his home", one blogger vented. "The damned pigs must have scared him to death". Keeping in mind that those officers were there to serve a search warrant on a drug house. Scared to death? Well, maybe you should stop pushing drugs and ruining my country, then!

There was, however, an insightful article, "Police Shooting Hits Home" that struck a cord. Mike notes:

"Unfortunately, Thursday’s shooting has only reaffirmed a message that all
police officers learned a long time ago. When they put on the uniform,
they are also wearing a target. "

Sad world we live in.

Tonight, I wait for word on my brother's badge brother. I wish him a speedy recovery, both mentally and physically. He has good support.
I originally took this post down last night after hearing that this incident was the tragic result of friendly fire. During a takedown of a crack house, a fellow officer fired his weapon and hit his brother. There are many criticisms in the media these days about police officers, and I wasn't quite sure how to deal with this on my blog.
My first reaction was to circle the wagons. Take the post offline and hide. But that's not the right answer. I have however edited my post slightly so that it is not easily found by Google searches.
I often hear people slag police officers but I have learned, through the years, to disengage myself from it. Arguing inflames the situation, so staying quiet often difuses it. Even The Dude was very disrespectful towards the police, and it caused a great rift between us. One that made me lose a lot of respect for him.
When an officer fires a weapon, it is a split second decision. They are trained to react. But they are also human. My heart goes out to not only the officer shot this morning, but also the officer who fired his weapon.
I know them both, I know their families and I know how much everyone is hurting this morning. My heart weeps for all.
My Favourite Place
First off, I'd like to apologize for my absence around here. Lots of things percolating behind the scenes, and this new Blogger Beta is causing some headaches. It's not so easy just to pop in for a few seconds and with the busy days, it's hard to find time.

My Favourite Place...can you guess where that might be?

As I walked into our local bookstore, I realized how much it fills me with a deep calmness and enjoyment. It's somewhere I don't often go, simply because I get so enthralled with the pages that surround me.

I don't see books. I see hopes, dreams, frustration, hard work and accomplishment.

Sure, the books catch my eye. But I see the people behind them. I see that lady who upon moving to the US from Vancouver, decided to fulfill her dream and began writing in her walk-in closet. I see that man over there who, as a boy in an boarding school in 1940s Africa always wanted to tell stories.

As I meander through the aisles, I see late nights, writer's blocks, searching for those right words that just won't come. I see the people who help them, researching strange facts just to make sure the story works.

I see first drafts, second drafts, third, fourth and so on. I see hearts and souls poured into pages that ultimately face the worst critic other than themselves...their publisher.

And I see the wait to get it into print, and the indescribable joy of seeing your own name on the cover.

I also see the crestfallen feeling as the realization hits that your book is only one of thousands, and that your voice is only one of a crowd.

That's why my trips to bookstores always end up in the purchase of several discounted books, like forgotten little gems in a massive treasure chest. It's where I have stumbled over my most favourite authors.

That's also why I have one full room devoted to books. 6 ceiling high bookcases, filled to overflowing and not able to part with a single one.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Taken from an idea through Flickr Toys and using an old CD case with the bottom installed upside down, this is my Christmas gift to my family and friends this year.

I've been giving out samples to a couple of close friends recently and have had some great feedback, so I figured it wold be a good way to show off my photography.
Christmas is for kids
Today was our Kids' Christmas party for work. It was held at a local skating rink and this was the first time I'd ever taken Miss Thang and Little Dude to something like this. It meant a couple hours driving this morning but it was worth it.

Miss Thang had only ever been on skates once before, but she took to it like a fish to water. She was so independant and each time she lost her footing, I would get a stern warning 'I will DO this MYSELF'. This little girl needs skating lessons! I'll bet by next year she'll be spinning circles around us.

When Santa came out, we were the first in line. Santa truly was happier than this picture shows, but he was just warming up at this point.

And just to prove a point, I also got on skates for the first time in 20 years. Holy crap, I forgot how much they hurt your feet! It was like riding a bike to some degree, and I found my stride fairly quickly but the pain of those torture chambers crunching my bones didn't sit well. So I wasn't on them for long.

It did, though, feel good to realize how far I've come in a year. Last year, I was on crutches with my knee!

Thursday, December 07, 2006
Well, the good news is I don't have to wait too much longer for my little operation.

On January 2, I will undergo the minor female procedure that is intended to allow me a life of less chronic pain.

I thought I was ok with it. I found out a couple weeks ago, and put it out of my mind, but now it seems looming.

The doctor has assured me that I only need 2-3 days recouperation time. I have arranged for my niece to stay with me for the few days that I'll need her.

I'm cautiously optimistic that this is the beginning of the end of these rather unpleasant problems that have surfaced. It would sure be nice not to have to take codeine every day just to function.
C-List Blogger

Are you an A-List Blog or somewhere down the line? Click here.

Who knew?
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Pet Peeves
Everyone has them. I try not to have many but there have been a few that have been popping up lately.


The degree or type of spicyness is NOT always a preference. When I ask a server if it something is spicy, it is a medical issue. I can't eat anything in the pepper family. While I may even like it, it does not like me.

Last night, I ordered bruschetta. The menu said 'tomatoes, red onions, garlic and spices'. As usual, I ask what spices. None are peppers so I go ahead with the order.

It arrives to our darkly lit table, and looks fabulous. I take one bite, and to my horror, find a jalapeno in the mix. This is not just any pepper, but one that I have a severe intolerance for. I only had a sliver but that was enough. I ask the server again, and am told 'Oh sometimes, he just throws those in there to make it better'.

Better. Hmmm. Better meant I have been up since 2am, popping Immodium and reading. Which meant my 1 hour commute was, shall we say, a little heart stopping. When someone has an IBD, it's no different than an allergy or intolerance than people with peanut allergies have.

Yeah, better.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Shades of Grey
I have been debating about this post for a few days now. I am a strong believer in jinxes. There is no earthly reason why I should not be able to shout certain things from the rooftops without them coming down. But they do.

So hesitantly, I proceed.

For the last year and a half, I've been developing a friendship with a salesman at one of my vendors. With this company and the one I worked for previously. He is a very sweet person, and one that I find much to talk about with.

Even during the whole Dude situation earlier in the year, he was supportive. Always a great shoulder when things were confusing and troubling.

I don't know when I started to see him differently. It was some months ago though. However, I'd only ever talked to him on the phone and through email.

Last August, I did a site visit to his company for work. It was no ordinary site visit. There were arms brushing, awkward glances and I noticed the girls at the front desk were watching how we interacted. I liked that. After the site tour, he and I went for lunch. It was liked getting together with a long lost friend, filled with nothing at all business like. We talked of his childhood, his family, his previous relationships. Before we knew it, it was 2 hours later. We both needed to return to work. I blamed heavy traffic on my late return to the office. I'm not sure what he used.

We kept talking over email for the next couple of weeks, but nothing serious. Sure, I was interested but I have no idea how to make a move or put myself out there. He's been through a lot too and is a bit on the shy side.

Then my Dad had his heart attack. I pulled away from pretty much everything. Turtled, big time.

A week and a bit ago, I got an email. 'Where'd you go? Get a boyfriend and forget me?', he asked.

What has happened since has surprised even me. I guess the colour slowly goes out of your world when you don't have something to look forward to. It's gradual and muted, so you don't notice.

The colours of my world are suddenly grippingly vibrant. I'm laughing more and smiling more than I thought I could.

The emails, several a day, make me grin from ear to ear. But I'm hesitant to share it with anyone, lest I jinx things.

He has asked me to go out with him for dinner and a movie. The catch, though, is when. We're working on that.

Today, life feels very good.

Vancouver, British Columbia
A patriotic Canadian full of visions of a better Canada, random thoughts and a lot of hot air. Who am I? A struggling writer and photographer trapped in a corporate buyer's body. Steel shopping by day, and freeflowing prose by night. One day I hope to have the nights become my days, but am intimidated by the sheer amount of people who share my dream. So I read. A lot. I learn. A lot. I push myself. A lot. The world is a small place, and getting smaller every day. I'm proud to have friends in every corner of the earth, and abide by the old adage that there are no strangers, only friends we haven't met yet.
This is a Flickr badge showing public photos from cdnsue. Make your own badge here.