Jo’s visit


renelle joanne

Taken at our old house on Hemlock Street in Timmins.

It  was Sunday, August 3rd, 2014 and about four hours or so until Jo-Anne’s arrival at Toronto airport. I was supposed to be having a rest, but couldn’t seem to keep my eyes closed despite the fact I was having trouble keeping them open. Go figger!

She finally arrived and the evening was spent just schmoozing and quietly enjoying each other’s company. We’re getting a little older now and it’s only natural we should slow down and do things in a more relaxed and dignified manner.

We used to be better at this when we were younger.

– Read any good books lately?              
– I just finished War and Peace again. You know how much I love the classics.    

The following morning found me pretty run down from all the dignified “chatter” of the night before, but Jo-Anne was raring to go as always. First, she informed us that she’d brought a few things with her to give us. Jo is an advocate of traveling light. She tries her best to travel with carry-on baggage only because she hates the long line-ups at the luggage carousel. I find that awfully clever of her, but can’t imagine myself ever managing to pack all I need for a five-day trip into one small carry-on. Here’s how it’s done; a photo demonstration of Jo-Anne’s packing wizardry.

Gifts, with some exceptions, always go on top.


First comes a gift bag from David’s Tea containing a tea infuser and some loose leaf tea of course. Jo clearly pays attention; she knows I don’t drink coffee and love my tea. Delicious!


This is a scarf and belt organizer. Jo has one and swears by it. “Now, where did that  %^$&^  blue and white scarf  get to?”   Turns out she’s right; it’s just the thing when you feel like swearing at something.


She brought stuff for Franco too!  This is an Adidas gift set, which I know he likes, because he actually uses it. Way to pick ’em Jo-Anne!


This is a Roxy designer bathing suit, Nice eh?.                                                           Me: Honey, will this suit make me look fat?                                                                  Honey: Only if you wear it dear.       (and then a shot rang out)


Even Jo-Anne’s live-in student got into the gift giving. She gave us each (Jo and I) a facial mask, which we made good use of one afternoon while sipping on a glass of white. Jo insists that some pictures were taken, but if there were, I have no idea what happened to them. * grin * Thank you Jennifer!!


You can’t see them very well, but this is a really pretty earrings and necklace set, which I have already worn a couple of times and received many compliments on (mostly from myself, but so what?).


Here’s another gift for Franco. It’s a pink spatula that clearly reads Kiss the Cook. Notice how Jo-Anne is attempting to kiss the spatula. The girl can pack a suitcase, but reading? Not so much. 

Up to now she has managed to pack quite a number of things in that one small suitcase, but here’s when it starts to get a little freaky.  If you don’t do eerie/scary, you might want to skip this next part 🙂 Oh come on, don’t be a wuss!


Because I spend a lot of time in bed, Jo-Anne figured I could use a reading pillow.  I use it all the time now. Despite the fact that it arrived in our home in a somewhat creepy way, that pillow and I are practically inseparable.  I overheard Franco telling a friend the other day, that “there are three of us in this marriage”.  I must remember to take it off the bed when I go to sleep at night.


Muffin baking lessons are on the agenda this week, and Jo knows that I will have none of the essentials for doing so. Thank goodness I do have an oven!


Now this is beyond ridiculous, but it was the final item aside from her clothes. The plant didn’t weather the trip all that well, but we’re hoping to bring it back with a little of David’s Tea.

Needless to say that Franco and I were quite amazed at what she managed to pack in that one small bag. I’ve been trying to figure out where she picked up this talent and the only thing I can come up with is the year she took off from school and ran away with the circus.
Jo clown car

After all of that, Jo-Anne and I took a nice longish walk and then went to Montana’s for a delicious Cobb salad and a glass of wine. Very nice way to spend an afternoon. That was also the most activity I had experienced in weeks. It felt great…and it was still only Monday!


Where’s the wine? I could have sworn there was wine!

Tuesday and Wednesday were devoted to a chemo session on one day and a visit to my liver oncologist the next. Not much fun, however my daughter Julie made an appearance for both and was able to visit a bit with an aunt she very rarely gets to see.


A family who goes to chemo together      Gets to be mo’ together                                           I know that’s bad, but it’s my blog and I can put in terrible poetry if I want to.

At this point, I need to mention that Jessica and her boyfriend Tony also came to visit and despite the fact that I managed to get pictures of things like plants and bathing suits, I did not take any pictures of my baby. I probably won’t get that Mother-of-the-Year award again this year.

For our last full day together, we stayed pretty close to home. That was the day of the facial mask and also a very nice manicure that is even now, weeks later, still clinging to my nails. In fact nail polish remover won’t even touch it. I’m thinking of buying my own kit, but I doubt that I could do as good a job as Jo-Anne does.

That evening, we decided to order pizza in for dinner. It arrived a bit late and Jo-Anne scared the bejesus out of the delivery guy who thought he was having his picture taken for some kind of “late pizza vendetta”.  Jo-Anne kept yelling BLOG, BLOG, BLOG which only made him fun faster, faster,faster. Jo’s a runner though and she was finally able to wrestle him (and the pizza) back to our door.


Look at the poor guy’s face. It took a while for Franco to convince him we weren’t a bunch of lunatics. Sure fooled him didn’t we?

In the end, we were able to explain the whole blog thing to him and he explained that he was happy to have any kind of exposure as he was soon to be on Iron Chef. Leave it to us to get a quasi-celebrity pizza delivery guy and for Jo-Anne to turn an Iron Chef into a quivering pizza-doughboy.

Friday arrived all too quickly and found us helping Jo-Anne pack (not that she needed any help). It had to be a much easier endeavour packing to go back now that all the gifts had been distributed and also due to the fact that we hadn’t done any shopping.


Good times always come to an end much too quickly. Thank you God for pictures, memories…and blogs.

You may have guessed that parts of this post are fictional, but that’s how I try to keep things fun for all of us. The very real part of this whole post is my gratitude to my amazing sister Jo-Anne.

We used to be better at this when we were younger.

– Read any good books lately?                           – Shut up!

Thanks Jo-Anne for your fabulous visit. During a summer that wasn’t and a period in my life that you helped make bearable, thanks is never enough, but it’s the most I can offer right now. I LOVE YOU !!!    ❤

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Where does the time go?

Dear readers, friends and readers, readers who’ve become friends…

I bet you feel that you’ve been abandoned by me over these last several weeks. No, I have not given up on you, nor on me. The truth is, I just got home a short while ago, having spent nearly two weeks at St. Michael’s Hospital, being poked, prodded, scanned and examined by a whole bunch of people and various departments. I have to add, that despite the above, I was also coddled when the pain was too much and comforted when I was overwhelmed or just weepy.  I don’t know about the other wards, but when you are a guest on Oncology at St. Mike’s, there doesn’t seem to be too much to ask for or anything they won’t try to do for you.

I blame the fact that I did not work on my blog while in hospital, directly on my husband. Franco was quite disturbed at the idea of having my brand new laptop out in the open for anyone to pick up and walk off with. I really didn’t believe that this could happen, and I’m not alone in this belief. In fact, one afternoon while Vertignia and I were in the TV room, there was a charming gentleman there waiting for his friend who was a patient on the same floor. We started to chat and I commented on the fact that he happened to have two laptops with him. He explained that he had picked them up from his friend, to sell them for him as quickly as possible because he was in desperate need of some money right away.  If it were not for the fact that I had only just bought my own, I would have been tempted to buy one from him. The prices he quoted were an absolute steal and besides, he was just such a nice guy.  We discussed my own laptop dilemma and the blog and he, in a very gentle way, scolded me for my lack of trust in people. Virtignia, a very kind and trusting person herself, agreed with him and they convinced me that Franco and I were being overly protective. I said that I would settle the matter once and for all and insist upon having my laptop in my room no later than the next day. The gentleman – I never did get his name –  said that was a great idea and when I got up to leave he asked me for my room number so that he could drop by to say hello the next time he was in the hospital. Sometimes, you just meet the nicest folks, and I was disappointed that I never saw him again. However, it may be that Franco and I were not being overly protective, because I heard that someone was arrested for stealing laptops on our very own floor. I sure hope they didn’t steal them from that sweet man who was just trying to help out a sick friend.

Roaman Carcinoma always laughs at this point in my story.  I find it very sad that there really are some people who will take advantage of others who are sick, and vulnerable.  It’s also alarming that there are people naïve enough to let themselves get taken in by these con artists. Thanks heavens I’m not one of them. In the end, I guess it’s a good thing that Franco absolutely refused to bring my laptop, even though I was very angry with him at the time.

Apart from my hospital stay, there was also my sister, Jo-Anne’s, week-long stay. You’ll ‘ll have to wait for another blog to hear all about that because I believe it deserves a post all its own.  After all, she did most of the

And now two weeks or so later, here I am in my own bed, with my precious laptop husband, still suffering from the pain that had landed me in hospital, but with better, stronger pain medication, and a little more insight into the exact cause of it. We have it narrowed down to two things. The first thing being cancer in my sternum where the pain is located, and the second, a simple fracture of my sternum brought about by one too many falls due to my otolith dysfunction. The investigation is ongoing. The fracture has been confirmed, but whether or not it is causing all this pain is still uncertain. We’ve also determined some of the things that aggravates it, the worst of which is typing.  That might not be a big deal for a lot of people, but for a blogger, it’s very problematic.  How funny is that? Alanis Morissette would say that it’s ironic. In fact she could probably write a whole song about all the ironies which seem to dominate my life.  It would probably go something like this:

To the tune of IRONIC  (of course)

Last April turned fifty-four
Started up a blog, cause I hoped to do more
But like a black fly in my Sauvignon
I found out that I’d already waited too long
And isn’t it Ironic…don’t you think

Now I have chemo every other Tuesday
People say keep hope, it’s the very best way
It’s the same advice, that I find so hard to take
Who would have thought, it figures
And isn’t it ironic…don’t you think
A little too ironic…yeah, I really do think…

 Apart from the typing, the cancer has taken quite a toll on my singing voice, which was one of the reasons I started the blog in the first pace. At that point in time, my voice was finally recovering from years of stress brought on by our car accident and all the medical and legal fallout that went with it. I reasoned that if I put in writing that I was going to start singing again, I would have to follow through or risk looking like a total loser. No sooner did I get started, than my cancer was diagnosed and to top it off, one of the medications attacked my voice and made talking, never mind singing, a challenge. So, I decided to go with the flow and keep on blogging, but I find that certain arm movements – typing in particular – make my sternum hurt unbearably. Hard to blog when you can’t type 🙂

I have lots and lots to share with you and will definitely do so, just at longer intervals.  Now that I’m out of hospital, I can allow myself to work on my blog a little each day and hopefully, it will result in something entertaining enough to keep you interested.

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