Suzy Snapper
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Is that hold Muzak?
As we (or at least I) wait with baited breath for an email, plans now turn to trip planning. It's a month 'til my niece and I leave for our trip to the East Coast and time to start seriously making plans.

I knew she was related to me when she called tonight to say she'd started mapping out our itinerary. I thought I was the only one that liked to plan that much!

We began looking at the New York portion tonight and booked tickets to Chicago for the Wednesday evening. It's her favourite movie, and she's very excited to see it live on Broadway. Me? I was hoping for Wicked but apparently that's a little too popular right now and not an option. I love any live theatre though so I wasn't too hard to please. When my first choice wasn't available, I let her choose.

I'd like to know a little more about the off-broadway performances though. I have no idea what's good or not, but will look into that a little bit more. Anyone have suggestions?

Other than that, we are planning the NBC tour, a city tour, the usual touristy haunts and of course, Central Park.

Devon, I'll email you shortly but am hoping we can still figure out a time to catch up together.

Other than that, lots of restaurants I'd love to try and just the chance to savour the sites that I don't even know to plan for yet.

My biggest concern right now is my camera. I am very nervous to travel with it. It's bulky and well, not exactly stealth while doing the touristy thing. Of course, my brother has put the security side of things in my head now too, so I am worried about that as well. Alternately, I could take the point-and-shoot but would never get the quality I'd be hoping for. Will have to think on that.

I can't believe it's only 4 weeks to go!

(and with the other situation, I've decided to do a little que sera right now. It's out of my hands. I've said what I needed to and now it needs to be left to become what it's meant to.)
A Peep
Of course, I wrote.

After my post the other night, I spent another restless night debating and decided that it was getting silly. Yesterday morning, I sent a quick little note basically teasing that I felt that he had the advantage. Here I'd emailed him a newsy little letter about myself after his email and then heard nothing back. I also sent him a picture of us together...something he wouldn't have had - as once again I was always the one with the camera. Big surprise there!

I heard last night. It would have been the first thing he wrote in the morning - 7am his time. Apologizing profusely about not responding yet. So much to say, he said, but no idea where to begin. And it is month end. He's a chartered accountant now. Month End is showtime. I know that well...and had I thought for a minute I would have realized it too, given that it's the same at my job.

"I promise to write more tonight (my time)", he said.

So I wait. Feeling mildly bad about bothering him and not wanting to be a pest to him.

Writing that post the other night stirred up a lot of emotions I thought I'd long buried. The funny thing is, even though his mom never thought much for me, I have never held that against her. I did think highly of her, actually. She was only doing what she thought she should as a mom...protecting her son.

And with that, I wait until the next email. I want badly to believe it's going to be a good one, but at the same time, experience hasn't really given me much confidence in that area.
Monday, January 29, 2007
Opening A Door
It has been a bit of an interesting week. Something I thought long buried has stirred in my memory graveyard.

It's funny how something relatively insignificant can have such an impact on your very core. This will be a long post, so bear with me.

A little history lesson in my life for those who haven't been in my world all that long. I did have a soulmate once. Someone I truly felt was my better half.

I started out my teenage years with a boyfriend whom I thought would be my husband. However, after 10 years together, we realized that wasn't meant to be. It had been a decade of doing what we thought was expected. Everyone just coupled up, got married and that was it, right? When we broke up, I was devastated. I had grown up in a pseudo-Catholic household where good girls got married and lived the rest of their lives in domestic bliss. I didn't go to college because I truly believed I was just biding my time until I became a stay-at-home mom. So when I hit 25, and the boy left my life, I was understandably confused, scared and one very mixed up little girl. Looking back now, I see this as likely the very best thing that could have ever happened to me but at the time, I could only see my life in ruins. Even though I knew we'd never been happy as a couple and clearly were not compatible, I simply couldn't imagine ever being with anyone else.

Two years later, a friend of mine convinced me to join her and another friend through a backpacking trip in Western Europe. Travel was something I'd read about in books but to actually do it? Little milquetoast me? But Andi was an insistent, brassy Aussie who would take no excuses and for that, I will always be grateful to her.

I arrived in England with my friend L in September 1997. As we waited for that bus to load up on the first morning of the 21-day escorted tour, we were held up by a late passenger. Through the foggy, misty English autumn morning, a dishelved young man came running through the park quite obviously in a panic. His red shoulder-length hair and sour demeanor made everyone wonder what sort of person had just joined us. He shuffled onto the bus, found a seat by himself and made it quite known he did not want to be bothered.

'Dark horse' he was referred to by the rest of the group. 'Stay away from that one', they whispered. Oddly, I was just intrigued.

In the interest of brevity, as there is much to this story, I can tell you the moment we fell in love. Q was sitting on a brick wall in Monaco and I was mesmerized. His South African accent, his wild flaming hair, his way of conversation that would always get us into spirited discussions on just about everything. There was more, but we'll just leave that to my memory. ;-)

At the time, it seemed perfect yet impossible as we excitedly fell deeply in love. We made plans for our future and it seemed the most obvious solution for him to move to Canada. His family was in South Africa but it was a dangerous place and the economy not good. He'd often dreamed of moving but couldn't decide where his life would be.

I returned to Canada, and he followed a few weeks later. Moving comfortably into my little one-bedroom apartment, I'd never been happier. My family was understandably hesitant as it seemed so improbable.

We planned to marry. While he started his paperwork to emigrate on his own, we decided the wedding would happen as soon as it was sorted. The only thing left was for him to go back home to collect his things and for me to join him to meet his family.

It was a blissful time for both of us. We were both in awe of the chances of finding each other, and life just seemed perfect.

The following May, I made the trip of a lifetime. I flew to Capetown to meet him - 16000 miles away from home. For a girl who wouldn't even drive to downtown Vancouver on her own, it was an incredible leap of faith but one that I never even blinked at. As I flew into Capetown to the sun rising over Table Mountain, I felt as if I was fulfilling a dream.

We spent a wonderful week in the city, sightseeing and relaxing before heading inland to his family's home.

That is when the story takes a turn. Unfortunately, I was not what his mother was expecting. She was a strong, opinionated woman who was the family matriarch. I was not Catholic, I was not South African and I was simply not good enough for her son.

I tried to befriend her. I respected her courage and strength that came from raising her 5 children on her own. Not easy to do in any case, but in South Africa - a tragic, fractured country - much more difficult. I told myself in time she would see that I would be a good partner for her son. But I felt very alone. Q adored his mother, and was oblivious to her cruel comments and nasty jibes. I have never felt so far away from home.

We planned for his return to Canada the following September. We bought a ring in Johannesburg that I wear to this day. As my time grew short, I began to get increasingly nervous about our future. Although he swore to me that he would come 'home' to Canada, I knew his mother had other ideas.

On my last day in South Africa, we went for a walk on a local beach near his hometown - the three of us. As he playfully threw rocks into the ocean, his mother came over to me as if to chat. She stood close to me and while smiling broadly, said very coldly 'Don't make me fight for my son. I will win'. I was shocked. I couldn't bear to tell him - somehow I felt that I couldn't. But I was completely speechless and even his coaxing of 'what's wrong?' couldn't make me tell him.

As we arrived the next day at the airport for my flight home, I knew in my heart that it was the last time I would ever see him. My heart was so heavy and I felt and was physically ill. He promised me over and over again that he would be back with me soon. That my fears were unfounded. And while I couldn't tell him at the time what his mother had said, I did tell him I felt she didn't care for me. He vehemently denied it, and I knew I could never tell him the rest of the story.

I flew home, and we continued to talk every day. This is long before VOIP or Skype or any of the cheap voicecall methods and my phonebills were incredible. As September came and went, he still believed he would be coming soon. His mother, in the meantime, made every effort to change his mind. She would set him up on dinner dates or send friend's daughters to bring him food while he was working. If I called his house and she answered, she would often just put the phone down on the counter and walk away. Not calling him, but leaving me hanging...not knowing if she was getting him but not sure if I should hang up in case she would.

In February '99, the world imploded. He finally admitted he couldn't leave. He couldn't leave his family. I knew it was coming...but had hoped that it wouldn't. But how could I argue when I couldn't leave my own?

I called him once again the following December and he was so cold. So angry. Bitter and hating, he had taken to a dark depression and I felt I had to move on.

And I did. I met others. I tried to love again, but never felt that beautiful 'complete'-ness. He has always been a part of my heart. I have never been able to take off the ring we bought together, although I did have it made into a pinky ring. I still read the South African news regularly and seemed to gravitate to friends who were from the country. Many of my stories have some sort of 'When I went to South Africa' edge to them. Often, I'd google him but as his name was the same as a famous rugby player, it was impossible to find anything. I tried to find him in the phonebooks when they came online but never could.

Last year, I found his sister's wedding page quite by accident. I saw the family pictures of the wedding. The 5 siblings, the grandmother but oddly the Mother was not in any of them. Had she passed away? There was no contact information on the page and no way of knowing.

Then last Wednesday, I get an email out of the blue. He had been searching too and had found me through one of the reunion/classmates type websites. 'Are you well?', he wrote. 'I've never stopped thinking of you. Please write me back. Love, Q'

Could this be real? I was overjoyed. I must have read that email a hundred times. Those 4 letters at the end...they said so much. What do I write? What do I say? Where do I start?

So I started writing, but I am never short and packing nine years into a few sentences is hard. I tried to be brief...highlighting a few events, giving him my photography website and a few other details.

That night, I watched the clock. Realizing that I was still doing what I did back then. Mentally calculating the timezones. Oh, it's 8pm, 6am there. Well, his alarm must just be going off for him to go to work.

I had felt such a surge of joy that I couldn't contain my excitement. I told my brother, my family and my friends I'd heard from him. My niece squealed 'Do you think you'll really see him again?" I chided her for thinking too far ahead, but secretly, I hoped that I could recapture that feeling of true love. That feeling I'd never really been able to experience since.

It's now been 5 days and not a peep. I try to tell myself not to be disappointed, but I simply can't help it. I have gone over my email to him many times, and I have analyzed every sentence - every hint, every nuance. Did I come across too strongly? Did I say the wrong thing? What did I do?

I sit here tonight and have decided to share it. I don't think it wise to send another email -or maybe I should. I just don't know, but the thought of that door closing shut again guts me. I got my hopes up again - and my logic tells me that's poor judgement but my heart tells me otherwise.
Monday, January 22, 2007
The Games People Play
This particular little task has been floating around the blogosphere for a while but Shannon's post spurred me into doing one myself.

And given my ranting last post, I felt something lighter was appropriate.

1. I have a cousin in California who owns a wild horse sanctuary. We used to go there for summer vacations when I was young and it was always a fantastic time. It's in a very secluded and rustic area of Northern California, and you feel like you've walked a century back in time. Often at night, they'd have a bonfire and a couple of the neighbours would come up. There was one particular man who used to bring his guitar and sing a tune or two, and I knew he was good but he was just simply my cousin's neighbour. It was years later that I learned that man was Merle Haggard.

2. I have an obsessive need to be informed. If someone asks me something I don't know or understand, I will research it until I do. It comes from a bizarre little insecurity of feeling less than intelligent from a few of my teachers. As a child, I stuttered badly and often couldn't get my words out. So I got labelled. It made me very frustrated and if I couldn't speak, I learned I could write. One time in Grade 4, a teacher asked me about the country of Australia and I couldn't get the words out in front of the class. The following Monday morning, that teacher had a 5 page written essay on Australia even though she hadn't asked for it. It was then I started to learn the power of the written word. Since then, it became a love for trivia and knowledge in general.

3. I was suspended from school twice. Once in Grade 1 for 2 days for kicking a boy in the jewels. He'd called me a 'crybaby'. He didn't do it a second time. The other time was in Grade 7. I was being teased and became enraged. I slapped a boy twice my size as hard as I could. It was severe enough to leave a 5-fingered handprint on his face. I was called into the office and suspended for 3 days. However, much later, my mom told me the principal had been apologetic to her as he had been more proud of me for standing up for myself than angry. The 3-day rule was a zero tolerance policy. I never raised my hand to anyone again, but I learned that day that I did have a line and once crossed, I had a temper beyond anything measurable.

4. My biggest regret in life is missing the birth of my niece's son. I was with her through every moment of her pregnancy, and was to be at the birth. However, when she went into labour, I chose my job over my family. I had recently been off work for an illness and felt guilty about taking more time. I was laid off a month later anyhow, and it is one of my deepest regrets. I don't suspect I'll ever have another chance to be at the birth of another human being, but if I do, I will not let anything take precedence.

5. I have personally traced 4 lines of my family tree back to the 16th century. I started it when I was merely 10 years old. Not really understanding the significance, but with a strong need to know, I began quizzing my elder family members. I have hand drawn, child-like scrawled papers showing my tree, and writing out the oral history. It is my intention to write their stories properly one day. One day is getting a little closer all the time.

Ok, I'm not going to tag anyone directy, but I do hope you'll play. Tell me if you do.
Reader Advisory
Reader advisory: This story contains content that may be considered graphic or offensive.

That was the refrain of the day as the trial of the worst mass murder in Canadian history got underway. Robert Pickton, the pig farmer accused of murdering several dozen women at his farm was first arrested on February 22, 2002. A day that unfortunately was an important date in my world because it was the day that Ms. Thang was born. There we were on the way to meet our new family member, yet the news on the radio was unbelieveable.

The trial - nearly 5 years in preparation - has long rumoured to be a horrific display of the most intensely depraved human being to be known in our times. And today, the first day of the trial proved that 'we ain't seen nothing yet'.

Quoting the CBC:

They found two five-gallon laundry buckets stacked inside each other.
The buckets contained the skulls, hands and partial feet of two of the missing
women, Abotsway and Andrea Joesbury.

Police later discovered both heads had bullet wounds. As well, Joesbury's personal belongings were found on the Pickton property.Prevett also told the jury that the skull, hands and feet of another missing woman, Mona Wilson, were discovered in a plastic garbage can.

He said 14 human hand bones were also found at the farm. One was identified as that of Georgina Papin, another of the six alleged victims. A tooth was also discovered, and identified as that of Marnie Frey, who had also gone missing.

That, unfortunately is only the tip of the iceberg. There are many more stories regarding what was displayed in court today. It caused one family member to break down, running as fast as she could for the door when the details of her relative's demise became public.

He's been charged with 26 murders but he claims 49. Says he had hoped to finish off at a round number like 50, but he got sloppy.

Reader advisory. I understand this is not for the weak of heart, but it occurs to me that by censoring our delicate sensibilities here, we do ourselves harm.

We SHOULD be sickened. We SHOULD be revolted, disgusted, offended and horrified. But to block ourselves away and not listen to the difficult words and details is to allow those women who lost their lives to further fall into the silence. To cleanse our world of the true details is to give power to the man who took their lives, and to trivialize the brutality that these women endured.

If we continue to bury our own heads in the proverbial sand, we only cause greater damage to our own reality.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Last Year
Just a quick clarification from my last post. I do not think 30 is old, but to a 5 year old who thinks my Mom's age is 15, 30 is REALLY old. =)

Now that I'm feeling better, it's time for a little retrospective.

1. Where did you ring in 2006?

At my best friend's house. It was quiet little house party but we heard the wonderful news that she and her husband were expecting.

2. What was your status on Valentine's Day?

Sorta-kinda-dating. The Dude and I had a wonderful date on the 13th (so as not to put too much emphasis on Hallmark Day) and we talked on the phone on the 14th for hours. However, what I had no idea at the time, was that it would mark our last 'real' date. Things imploded somewhat rapidly after that, once again strengthening my belief that the 14th is cursed for me.

3. Were you in school anytime this year?

Photography courses! I also took some online writing courses as well.

4. How did you earn your keep?

After leaving the last job, I took a new job with a longer commute. Same type of work - raw materials buying. It took me a while to settle in, but I'm quite happy now. Other than that, I made some extra money doing photography at events.

5. Did you ever have to go to the hospital?

Had my knee operation on February 21. It wasn't a 'real' hospital but a private clinic. I probably should have gone numerous times during the last quarter of the year as my other issue became very intense, but instead I just dealt with it myself (not a smart move, by the way).

And of course, the family stuff. My Dad spent a month in the hospital in October. And my Aunt was in hospital for 3 weeks in April with a small stroke.

6. Did you ever encounter the police?

Other than the off-duty ones at my brother's house? Nope.

7. Where did you go on vacation?

In February, I met a group of friend in Las Vegas for a couple days and in April, I went to Tofino for the best friend's wedding. In July, we spent two nights in Princeton with my family. A great little getaway and likely the last time our whole family will ever be travelling together again.

8. What did you purchase that was over $500?

There's been a few (cough) shopaholic (/cough) binges this year. The Nikon D80 has to be my most favourite though, and the 70-300mm lense. Oh and the 400-800mm lense too. My new laptop in May - oops, nearly forgot that.

9. Did you know anybody who got married?

My best friend. I was in the wedding party and it was the event of a lifetime.

10. Did you know anybody who passed away?

My cousin-in-law, Rick passsed in February of ALS. It was tragic to watch this vibrant man waste away and while a blessing in the end, we still miss him terribly.

My next door neighbour also passed away in September of cancer. She found out Christmas Eve 2005. It has been so hard to watch her husband after her death though...50 years together and he worshipped her.

A highschool friend of mine also lost her 5 year old daughter to brain cancer in October. If there is one thing in this world that is completely unfathomable, it's seeing a child go through a terminal illness.

My Mom's best friend died of cancer in August as well. She was strong lady, with incredible class. She passed away tragically in a hospice that truly does not deserve to have it's license. 4 days before she died, she fell out of bed and broke her shoulder and arm. They chose not to treat her because they felt there was no point. I understand things must be rationalized but I fail to understand how someone can be left in agony during their last hours.

12. Did you move anywhere? Nope. Just jobs.

13. What sporting events did you go to?

Other than my old job's baseball tournament in August (where I had a blast practicing photography), not a one. Oh, wait, I did watch one of my niece's ball tournaments as well.

14. What concerts did you go to?

Bif Naked (or was that 2005?), Great Big Sea (February), Julio Iglesias (sometime in August), Kenny Rogers (September). I feel like I'm forgetting one but I can't remember it right now.

15. Are you registered to vote? Yes.

16. If so, did you do your patriotic duty in 2006?

Um, blush, funny story there. I was on a date with The Dude. We didn't realize it was as late as it was. I didn't make it. I am still feeling incredibly guilty about that.

17. Where do you live now? Same place I have for 7 years.

18. Describe your birthday. A group of friends met up with me at our local casino. We had a buffet and then spent a little time with the slot machines.

19. What's the one thing you thought you would never do but did in 2006?

Travel as a 'disabled person' in February. I went to Vegas, while almost completey immobile and using a cane. Trust me when I say it is an eye opening experience to see what disabled people must go through in an airport. While the Canadian side was fantastic and stress-free, the US side was sadly lacking. I was left in tears, and extremely frustrated by the entire situation.

I also never thought I'd see my Dad have a heart attack nor be the one to call 911.

20. What is one thing you regretted this year (2006)?

Hmmm...can I say this here? The Dude is my big regret. I still miss him terribly. I know I shouldn't but I do. I still can't hear The Fray's 'How To Save a Life' without feeling sad. We do still manage a friendship - for which I'm grateful - but our connection is gone.

21. What's something you learned about yourself?

I can deal with crisis situations well. And I have minimal patience for people who play the drama card on things that truly aren't that dramatic.

22. Any new additions to your family?

Callie, my brother's bull mastiff joined our family in September.

23. What was your best month?

Hmmm...I don't really know. This has been a year with some serious challenges. However, the summer was fun. Good weather and good friends.

24. What from the news will you remember 2006 by?

The Litvenko murder (why would they possibly kill a spy in such a dramatic way as with radiation?); Saddam Hussein's demise (December's a bad month for dictators - just ask Romania's Ceaucescu.); the Stanley Park storm damage. And so much head is still filled with many media facts. That's the downfall of being a newsjunkie.
Monday, January 15, 2007
My Latest Picaso

That's me walking my dog at the bottom. She had a little trouble with the dog's name so my Mom helped her with 'Molly', but she was very sure she wanted to write my name - so I am henceforward known as 'Sox'. Interesting to note that I have the same hair colour as my Mom.
If you look closely at my Dad - Papa - you should see Ms. Thang. Apparently he is carrying her. Like I would think differently. Silly me.
This is the first picture she has made for me. I couldn't be more proud! I told her 'When you're old - like THIRTY - I will pull this picture out and show you again. You'll love it, I promise!'.
She didn't quite know what to make of that comment, but she did know I was happy with what she gave me. It will be treasured forever.
The Reunion
I mentioned a few months ago that I joined the committee for our Class of 1987 high school reunion. As with most things that I get my mind into, I have jumped into it with both feet, full force. And I am loving it.

Surprisingly so, actually.

I was part of the group in 1997 that organized the 10 year. It was not an easy task for so many reasons. Part was our lack of experience, part was old wounds that don't quite close over completely and another part was simply that we hadn't quite moved that far away from who we were in high school.

These last 10 years though have been remarkably different. I know that's true for me, and it's proving to be true for the others on this group as well.

We have 5 women on our committee - all passionate, motivated and dedicated. But completely different in personality. Our end goals are the same but how we are getting there is an interesting path to say the least.

In high school, the other girls did socialize together. Two of them would clearly be considered the 'popular' ones in the stereotypical sense. Another would have been our class president but for a lack of a few votes - something that she still feels fairly strongly about. However, I'm the odd one out here. I never knew quite where I fit in back then and often felt out of place in my own skin.

I wasn't one of the popular kids. I didn't drink. I didn't really even know how to socialize that well. The friends I did consider close were more in the academic/music type programs. But even there, I was a fringe player. It took me a long time after high school to realize who I was and become confident.

When I joined this reunion, it filled me with a lot of old feelings I thought were long gone. It's funny how incidents can still have power over you two decades later. But that's part of the lesson to be learned here. I am no longer that girl who was scared of her own shadow.

I created a website for the group and have been overwhelmed by the response. I am more motivated each day as I see people joining, adding new photos and chatting on the message board. However, when I say it motivated me, I say that with a grin. Motivated to the nth degree. I probably spent 25 hours on the website and related reunion business this weekend alone. I had to pull myself away from the computer last night as I searched through our missing list and tried to play detective.

It has just been such a positive experience for me, even with some dredged up past experiences, that I want everyone in the group to have a chance to reconnect and find the same thing I have. That we've grown up pretty well. And while we may have gone off on our separate paths, we still have a lot in common and it feels very good to reintroduce ourselves again.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
The Holiday
I haven't spoken too much of my impending holiday for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, there's the jinx factor. Everyone who has followed my life lately knows it's been a little on the dramatic side, leaving not a lot of room for planning ahead.

After we knew that my Dad would survive, I booked a trip in early March to Washington, DC and New York with my niece.

It will be my first REAL holiday since July 2004.

I've taken a couple of days here and there. A trip to Vegas that was challenged by inability to walk with a bum knee. The other trip was to Tofino for a friend's wedding but it was a busy time and I was only off for 1 day.

So this trip is the first vacation in far too long.

We are booked to fly into Reagan National on March 3. A friend of mine will pick us up and we'll stay with her that evening. The next day, we'll meet up with another friend from Maryland and tour the beautiful city of Annapolis. My niece isn't sure about this, but like I said to her, any chance to see a new city is a good experience.

On Monday, we'll go into Washington and book into a hotel close to the Smithsonian - my main reason for wanting to go back to the city. In my trip to the city in 1999, it was one thing I missed seeing. I also want my niece to see all the rest of the landmarks.

On Wednesday morning, we'll hop a train up to New York city arriving in the afternoon at Penn Station.

From there, it's a short cab ride over to the same hotel I stayed in when I travelled there in 1999. Close to Time Square with beautiful rooms, I was surprised to see it had stayed so resonably priced!

The next four days are up in the air. We have so much we want to see in Manhattan but no set plans. I've requested tickets to show tapings, and we will definitely catch a Broadway show or two, but other than that, we just plan to take it easy and see where the adventure takes us.

We fly out on Sunday morning.

I find my mind starting to wander these days and start thinking about the trip. I really haven't let myself focus on anything in the future for so long, that it's hard to get my mind around the fact that we will be having this trip at all! It has been so hectic, so dramatic, so in-the-moment for months now that I am well ready for a break.

So any suggestions? What should we see?

In other great news, CaliValleyGirl is now CaliValleyFiance! Go over and congratulate them!
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
That Weather

Another week, another storm in Vancouver.

It seems that this season has been the worst in recent memory, having at least a dozen significant storms in the last several weeks. Significant enough to cause property damage that is.

I've been fortunate...the worst I've had to show for it is long commutes and a damaged eave from a heavy icicle.

But others not so much. Our BC Place Stadium stands dripping and damaged, as the roof was ripped open by a storm last week. Stanley Park, the jewel of Vancouver, is suffering heavy losses from the wind having felled several thousand trees.
My brother works up in Squamish and he reports his area is resembling a war zone with trees over everywhere. One area has estimated 14,000 (!!) trees down in one square kilometer. He works as a pipe layer so with the storms they have been unable to work as the ground has been too saturated.

A friend on Vancouver Island bought his first new truck ever, having spent years with second hand vehicles and was astonished to find the following day a huge tree had fallen right on top of it.

This afternoon, the wind began to howl at work. Then it caught the glass front door, whipped it back and it very nearly shattered. We had to secure it with a bungee cord.

My commute, normally an hour was nearly two and a half!

Tonight, I sit here watching the intermittent hail storms and the trees whip back and forth in 80km/h winds and wonder what possibly comes next. I believe snow is on the horizon and us Westcoasters just simply don't really do well with that stuff.
Monday, January 08, 2007

In my continuing fascination with family history and general history, I was going through some old papers the other day. I am so fortunate to be the beneficiary of the many pieces of paper and photographs kept by my family over the years.

This includes many unique artifacts that as time goes by is proving to be more than just a heartwarming link to my ancestors. Recently, I uncovered something quite significant.

This is the armoured vehicle my grandfather drove during his stint in the Royal Irish Constabulary. He served with them during the midst of 'The Troubles' beginning in 1918 and leaving when the disbandment happened in 1922.

It is something we were always raised not to speak of. The Troubles. The Irish story. He left his beloved country in April 1922, during the aftermath of one of most stunning assassinations of our time. Michael Collins.

When he came here, he built a new life and left that one alone. But his home country never truly left.

The picture above has the notation 'Scorpion given over to the Free State Army 1922'. What has always intrigued me about this photo is the obvious historic significance of it. Not to mention the Model-T car in the background.

I've tried to search the internet to find more detail but have not had a lot of luck. It seems quite a few shared my Grandad's quiet resolve to let that time go quietly. Sure, there's a lot about the Sein Fein. The IRA. But not so much about the RIC, or the Royal Irish Constabulary.

This weekend, I found this picture. It is that same tank some time before but was seriously damaged by years of improper storage. The original was so yellowed that I was surprised to discover upon the first few stretches of restoration that there was a name on the tank. At first, I thought it said 'Scorpion' but I am not so sure. Maybe something in Gaelic, perhaps?

My Grandad unfortunately is covered by a nasty stain. I am new at restoration and not at all skilled. I am taking it one pixel at a time.

The most intriguing part though is the response I received from an Irish museum. I casually forwarded these pictures to them to gauge their response. Apparently, only two of these armoured vehicles are still in existence and there are no known photographs of them during their service in Ireland.

It would seem this find is a little more than just an heirloom. It's a piece of the past that has been missing. I am working with the museum now to donate copies of the restored photos for their display.

Sunday, January 07, 2007
Two Years
Little Dude is not so little these days. Our little Pirate turned 2 this week and today was his birthday party. I had a cake made by a friend and it turned out phenomenal once again. She has a side business called Delectible Edibles and it certainly does live up to it's name.

The kids were given pirate hats and eye patches. "Shiver Me Timbers" and "Arrrrrr! Matey!" were the words of the day.

It was a fun time, but I am home and exhausted tonight. Definitely improving over last week but it's a bit slower than I would have expected.

My Dad is also improving but it is scary just how sick he has been. Yesterday he asked when I have my operation, and had no recollection of driving me to the hospital at all.

Thursday, January 04, 2007
I'm taking a little longer to bounce back than I thought I would.

The surgery was a success. Relatively simple and a great experience at the hospital. The nurses were fantastic and everyone treated me very well. They have sent the results to pathology and I'll have things confirmed in about a weeks' time that there's nothing further to worry about.

I left and had a few hours when I thought this was going to be a piece of cake. Apparently however, reality set in during the night when the freezing wore off. Since then, it has been somewhat challenging.

So I've been sleeping a lot and have decided to take the rest of the week off to recouperate. I had hoped to go in tomorrow but things just aren't working quite in the way they need to be.

Tylenol #3 is my friend. In a big way right now.

In the midst of this, we have a little crisis brewing with my Dad. He has been declining in the last 10 days healthwise, and it's not like he was ever truly well after the surgery either. He's become a vacant shell. He is confused and befuddled and not at all the person we know.

It became even more apparent in the last couple days. When he drove me to the hospital the other morning, it was terrible. I thought I'd have to tell him to pull over and let me drive. He was completely unaware of where he was.

My Mom and I talked about the possibility of a stroke. We had been warned that this was a possible complication to a heart bypass. In any case, we knew he needed medical care.

Today, my Mom convinced him to go to the doctor. He may be vacant and confused, but he is also angry and not easy to deal with. But he agreed that something wasn't right.

It looks like he has a severe chest infection. They did x-rays and lab tests and everything pointed to a fairly severe infection. It would explain most of his symptoms and thankfully is not a stroke. It is serious though, and he needs to go back tomorrow to have the labs redone. If they're not significantly improved, he will likely need a couple days back into the hospital.

So no rest from the drama here, unfortunately. But at the same time, if there is one thing learned, it's to take one thing and one moment at a time.
Monday, January 01, 2007
Down and Out
So, tomorrow I'm having my operation. A hysteroscopy. It's not a big deal in the scheme of things but I am a little more nervous than I'd like. Right now, I just wish it was all over with.

I spoke with the unit nurse tonight and she calmed a few fears that I had. Now, it's just a matter of getting over it and moving on.

With that, blogging will be light until I'm upright again.

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.
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