I can text you from my iPod!

My husband has a new love in his life and it’s driving me insane. This new relationship is taking up all his time and energy, when he should be spending both of these on me. No, it’s not another woman, but you already saw through my ruse didn’t you? In fact,I’m talking about a bird. In fact, I’m talking about multiple birds. In fact, I’m talking about multiple angry birds. I’m sure you’ve heard of the Angry Birds game; it was all the rage a couple of years ago I think.

At my house, we’re not exactly right on top of current trends. We don’t like to be manipulated by the corporate superpowers who sit around a board room table and decide what we’re going to like this year. Here’s an example. If someone had told you fifteen years ago that you would let yourself be seen in public wearing bulky, plastic shoes that feature big holes all over them, you would have told them they were crazy right? But I’ll bet if I looked in your closet I would find at least one pair of Crocs wouldn’t I? Or maybe you have one of the knock offs. Even the child laborers who manufacture these knock offs are wondering what the hell is wrong with people, that they can be tricked into buying shoes that are already broken. I saw some on sale at WalMart last week and I was tempted, but I held strong.


Woman patiently explaining to her husband why he doesn’t get sex after playing Angry Birds for 16 hours. http://www.knowyourmeme.com

I digress; back to Angry Birds. I’ve never played the game myself, but I’ve watched and heard Franco playing. I don’t really care that he plays the game, but it kills me that he needs the sound on. From what he tells me you actually do need the sound on, it’s not just a matter of enhancing your enjoyment of the game, it’s an integral part of the game. That’s what he told me, but I have since found out that’s not true. If I ever find the mute button, we’ll be having a little silence!

When I was a little girl, I used to love watching the neighbours’ little boys play with their trucks and tanks, their child-sized weapons and their G.I. Jo’s and whatnots. It’s true that a lot of clever people put tons of creative brain power into marketing these toys, but at least they were, for the most part, silent. Any sound that emanated from that play was made by little boys and some little girls too, and the idea was to sound as manly and macho as possible. Little dudes trying to simulate the ka-pow of trucks smashing together, the throaty sounds of powerful engines and the rat-a-tat of machine guns. These little tykes have since grown up and have graduated to the cacophony of stupid, laughing, screeching birds. Maybe it is a blessing that they don’t have to try to make these sounds themselves, and I don’t think there is a judge in this world who would convict some poor crazed spouse for murdering a 50some-year-old man trying to sound like an angry bird. Even if they did convict, there would definitely be a “by reason of insanity” in there somewhere.

insanity cartoonstockcom

You thought I was kidding?

From what I understand – which is blessedly very little – the object of the game is for birds to kill off pigs. You, the player, are the birds and these god-awful sounds are coming from you, or more precisely, from your avatar(s). Should you kill off all the pigs you claim a prize, such as a great big egg. Really? If you don’t kill them all, the pigs laugh at you. Aw, that’s gotta hurt.
laughing pigs

What makes the whole thing worse is that when I complain to people about it, they’re all like “Angry Birds? Nobody plays that anymore.” As I said earlier, we are not the kind of people to just jump on the bandwagon the minute a new trend comes along. Well, actually, I myself, am that type of person, but my husband is not. A couple of years ago, we switched to a modern(ish) cell phone only because the cellphone company phoned us to say that they would no longer be supporting analog phones. You remember those don’t you? They’re about the size of a brick and weigh about as much too. We once had to take the brick in for some servicing at the cellphone store and the young guy at the counter called everyone over to have a look at it. You would have thought it was an artifact uncovered at an archeological dig or something.

Runic writing on the tomb would likely read:

“King Franciscus was buried with this ancient telephone
because of his refusal to be parted from it in life. A curse shall be cast upon anyone who dares to remove
it from this place of interment.”

Sorry, I got a little carried away there. What really happened was that Franco had accidentally locked the phone and couldn’t remember how to unlock it. Nobody at that store had ever worked on one and it was a major dilemma trying to fix our problem. “Dude, you wouldn’t have this problem if you got a phone out of this century.” said the young man. I do stand by my man and I did this time too, if you count standing five feet behind and slightly to one side as standing “by”. I was not embarrassed at all and I didn’t beg him to buy a new phone. No I did not. Okay, yes I was embarrassed and yes I did beg him to get himself a new phone. I was so glad when the phone company called and told him he had no choice but to upgrade. Don’t go thinking that we have an iPhone 3000 or whatever they’re up to now. It does have internet capabilities, but we don’t bother with that newfangled stuff.

I just got off the phone with my friend who asked, quite reasonably, if I wouldn’t mind texting her my home address. My answer, of course, was that we don’t do the texting thing. “Would you happen to have one of those pen thingies and perhaps something that would allow you to write on it? … Yes, like paper, exactly.” I wasn’t embarrassed by that nor did I beg my husband to enable the texting app or whatever on his phone. Okay, once again, yes I was embarrassed and yes I did beg. My husband’s mother texts for heavens sake!

Our land line is just as bad. A person calls and just starts talking, like I’m supposed to know who they are. Am I supposed to guess or something? Oh, Call Display…yeah…we don’t have that. Could you take less than two seconds and just tell me your name now because my level of embarrassment depends on how well I know you.

Here’s another example of this hellish backwardness. A caller tells me they’ve been trying to reach me for forty minutes, but my line has been busy. How is that possible? they ask. Well, that’s what happens when I’m on the phone with someone for forty minutes. Oh, Call Waiting…yeah…we don’t have that. Who is this anyway? Oh, Call Display…yeah…we…oh bugger off!

In the interest of keeping this blog as accurate as possible, I had wanted to learn how to play Angry Birds. So, I used my trusty Google and put in Angry Birds. An incredible amount of sh–t came back in the results and I decided that accuracy is somewhat overrated anyway.

My kids bought me an iPod 4 or 5 for Christmas last year.  I love my iPod. It e-mails and texts, as long as I’m somewhere that I have access to WiFi. Still, I feel like I’m almost up to date.

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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. elitedaily.com

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

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. elitedaily.com

– 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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The interlude

Here’s a quick little health update. I have been reunited with my butt.  I know some of you were worried about the fact that I couldn’t find it, so I thought I’d let you be the first to know that we are together again.  Roaman Carcinoma was kind enough to let me know in his own inimitable way, just exactly where it’s been hiding. I have also gained four pounds which tells me Roaman has been feasting on my white blood cells. I had that confirmed when I went to get my chemotherapy and was told that my white blood cell count was far too low for a treatment.  The doctor did mention that this could be an indication that chemo is working overtime, so I’m hoping that what Roaman’s doing there is pulling up his roots and getting the heck out of Dodge and not actually tunneling in for more space.  I’ll have to wait until next week for CT results to let me know for sure. In any event, I won’t be wearing my American Eagle slim jeans for the next while.

Just put the measuring tape away and nobody's going to get hurt. buzzle.com

Just put the measuring tape away and nobody’s going to get hurt.

Those of you who know me well enough, know that I’m a music lover.  This is a fact that I keep rediscovering and it’s always like a brand new revelation.

What is that beautiful sound? If this sound had a taste it would be just exactly like my Mom’s homemade raspberry pie.  Music, you say. Why, yes I remember it now. I used to listen to this stuff all the time and all kinds of other gorgeous noise that made me feel full and happy inside. How could I have forgotten this or left it out of my life for even a day. Oh, that’s right. I was busy being poor little me who deserves no pleasure. Well, glad that little bout is over.  Where’s my Nashville soundtrack?

You remember that feeling you get when you first meet someone and you just know you’re going to fall in love? That person is stuck in your mind and they’re all you can or want to think about. If you’re lucky, that feeling never really goes away, but thank heavens it gets a little more reasonable with its constant demands. That’s the kind of relationship that I have with music. This is such a good, great thing, but it can also be such a bad, disastrous thing. I seem to indulge in a form of self-flagellation  by denying myself the things I love. For example, chocolate, but I’m especially brutal when it comes to music. If things aren’t quite going my way, I will actually pull away from it altogether instead of completely immersing myself in it.

Just last week, Virtignia and I were out for a short walk and for the first time in months, I put my iPod on. Fortunately Virtidge bops around inside my head, so we can share the same equipment.  I decided to indulge and played just the free stuff that I get from iTunes in French and English. Almost without exception, I can say that every song is a great one and I’m constantly amazed that these folks aren’t raking in millions and having huge sold out tours. I’d be lying if I told you that the thought of sitting in their packed audience enjoying their sold-out show doesn’t put a great big smile on my face. Seriously. I want to dance down the street, but I’m still too shy to do stuff like that.  Not to mention that the cane would be somewhat of an impediment.  Although I could use it as a prop if I had the right accessories.

fred astaire

Okay, I can see how this might not work for me. But you get the point right?

I’m happy to say that I can still get so lost in my own head when I’ve got music playing in it, I will frequently break out into song wherever I am. Just a line mind you, but right out loud. I did that a few months ago and really startled the poor lady standing next to me. Unfortunately for her the song I was listening to was Dreams by Fleetwood Mac and the line that I randomly chose was “I keep my visions to myself”. That was probably pretty creepy for her but I thought it was kind of funny.  She did tell me that I have a nice voice, however she might have been afraid that I would hex her or something.

I’ve been having a lot of trouble with my throat these last few months; some kind of “consider yourself at home forever” kind of laryngitis. Some days a whisper is all I can manage and if you’ve ever had any voice training at all, you’ll likely know that whispering is the worst kind of torture you can inflict on a voice.  Most days I just sound like Betty Boop and that’s not quite what I’m after either. I really want to be able to go back to sing to my old folks sometime in the near future, so I’m hoping they’ll soon figure out what’s wrong and fix it. I’ll sing Ramblin’ Rose as many times as they like, I promise.

In the old days, I actually held some ambition of really pursuing a musical career, but time and the erosion of my poor voice has kept me on a more realistic track.  I still think that if I could get my pipes back in shape, I might be able to do the odd gig here and there, but I know that even if I were younger, and more talented, I wouldn’t want the lifestyle that goes with it.  It’s a good thing I’m well past the age that there’d be any danger of me becoming some kind of out-of-control pop star idol.

today.com britney spears

When you’ve got cancer you don’t just shave your head for the helluvit, though I came darn close with my last haircut.                                                                                                                                       today.com

I’m quite happy with the way things were back when I was still able to get an evening or even a set in. At performances, when I would introduce myself as Renelle Rico-Guerrero, I always used to joke that though I would never become a big name in music, at least I could be a looong one. Pa-rum-pum! I take laughs wherever I can get them.

Music does have it’s little jokes with me too, so it’s not just one-sided. I have a demo CD that I recorded when I was with a quintet called the Alias Tim Reed Quintet. It consists of three songs and so help me no matter how many times I try to update it, when I make copies, the song names invariably come up correctly, but artist name always says “Unknown Artist”.  Funny ha-ha!

My sister Jo-Anne is coming to visit this week. So excited!!  I wonder what next week’s blog will be about? If it’s not about Jo-Anne’s visit and I mention that my husband is mad at me, you’ll know we had a really great week 🙂

Before I sign off, I need to share with you something that happened to me this week that still makes me tear up, laugh and especially want to sing.  There is this hat that I fell in love with and decided that I need to knit it for my daughters, Julie, Jessica and moi.  We all tried to order it and ran into some kind of problem. (Insert your joke here.) In any case, I posted a whine on what I thought was Pinterest (you can see how the problems I have become a little more obvious right?) and there it was right on Facebook. In any case, little angels were working behind the scenes and managed to secure me not one but three copies of the pattern.  Forgive me my little music cliché, but I would call that perfect harmony.


This is a gorgeous hat. I hope I don’t screw it up!                                                                          Jo Storie handknits

I hope you enjoy this song. Love me like music by Heart.

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Safe as houses

Here’s something you may not know about me. I love a really good storm. The kind that wakes you up out of a deep sleep and practically rolls you right off the bed. I was laying in bed the other night, listening to an especially scary one, my eyes tightly shut, yet unable to block out the phosphorescent lightning strikes. The short-lived suspense of the massive BOOM! is the best part of course.

We learn when we are young that a storm is nearing you if the time between the lightning strikes and the huge noise becomes closer together and that it is receding when they get further apart. It gave my heart a little thrill, to know that all this was happening just outside my window. There was I, tucked in my bed, safe as houses, being secretly titillated. Just scary enough to keep me wondering when the next one would be, but not enough to send me running out to the living room as I would have as a child. Safe as houses.



There’s an expression you don’t hear all that often and one that, as just now, I have long used incorrectly. I’ll come back to that, if it’s okay.

I am sure that like me, you have been following the series of horrendous events that have been occurring in faraway places, yet simultaneously right in our living rooms. I keep thinking about about all the frightened families, the young children and babies who cannot possibly comprehend what is happening in their little worlds. I wonder what goes through their innocent minds. Was there any warning at all or were they maybe just sitting down to an evening meal and trying to recall if the weather had forecast a storm?

A few days ago, I read that it was estimated that a child was dying on average about once each hour since the onset. I’m sure that statistic has changed by now, but to tell you the truth, for better or worse, it’s not one that I care to track. Each of those deaths is one too many.

Before you think I’m going to turn political on you, let me assure that any real knowledge I may possess of world events is an embarassment and something I plan to work on. So, at least for now, I have no idea who is to “blame” and I don’t feel it’s my place to pass judgment. What does continue to assault my heart and my brain is that while I was enjoying my thunder storm the other night, at that very same time, others were listening to a similar din of their world falling apart. Alike, yet it couldn’t be more different. Theirs, not an expression of Mother Nature’s amazing powers, but an
unfolding expression of hatred so strong, that it can rain down blows on neighbourhoods and reduce everything to rubble in mere moments. It’s an intolerance so vicious that it can pluck an airplane out of the sky and attempt to obliterate 279 souls. Were the children in bed when it was happening? Were they watching a movie on that plane? Were they running to find the comfort of a parent; safe as houses in the harbour of loving arms?  I pray that I am right, and that as time will prove, those souls and the hundreds and thousands of other dead or maimed have not been erased from our hearts.

The images that have come unwanted, unwelcome into my home haunt me. Yes, I could turn the TV off, and ignorance being bliss, I can just go along my merry way. However, channel surfing can’t change the fact, that our world neighbours have the right to be seen and heard. Don’t erase the pictures of people devastated by loss too profound for most of us to even imagine. Express your opinions, impose your sanctions; that’s the beauty of living in a free world, but let’s find a way to work together to stop killing our future.  The best I can do is blog about it in the comfort of my room on my freshly purchased laptop. Who is going to go out and get these children new parents? Who is going to fill the arms that ache to hold that loved one, just one more time? Who decided that I get to sit down to dinner with my children this weekend while those families attend funerals?

I’ve been struggling with my own inner demons, trying to make sense of my own uncertain situation. Am I going to die? Well, certainly we all are. The real question in my mind though, is if God were to grant me my wish and give me more time, what would I do with it? Would I make a meaningful contribution or would I continue to observe my own personal status quo? I’d like to think that given a chance, I would try to do more. I won’t kid you – I am the last person you would ever find at a refugee camp, handing out supplies and caring for sick people. I wish I could be that person, but I know that I don’t have the kind of resilience it takes to adequately deal with others’ pain and suffering. So for this day, I blog about it. More blah, blah, but it’s all I’ve got in me right now.

Years ago, I read a book by Marina Nemat called Prisoner of Tehran. One of the most compelling parts of her story, to me anyway, was how  her world completely changed over the space of a normal teenage weekend. She went away to the country with her parents for what should have been a pretty homespun getaway and came home to find armed tanks lining her street. I have gone to listen to her speak about this, and of this, she is very certain. If it can happen in her cultured, progressive Iran, well, then it can happen anywhere. Is our guard down?  Canadians, we’re so polite. Will we come home
one day from a trip to the supermarket and find someone in our home telling us we must leave, we don’t belong here anymore?  Listen carefully, I think there may be a storm approaching.

Anyway, “Safe as Houses“.  What does it really mean? The link will explain, but  in a nutshell, it doesn’t mean that your home is your castle, it doesn’t mean that you are any safer there from harm than anywhere else, though one would like to think so. It just means that the word safe is being used to mean sure or likely, but not secure. I’ve read this expression many times, without really taking the time to find out what it really means. I will try not to use it incorrectly again.

I’m Every Woman


Bea Arthur

I always thought that as I grew older, my taste would become more discriminating. When I was younger, I pictured myself at this age, dressed elegantly day and night, in long flowing silk caftans, with my hair always done and my makeup just so. I suppose I watched a little too much Maude.
Don’t get me wrong, I do like to dress nice, but I’m just not willing to pay Holt Renfrew prices.

Before I continue, I need to introduce you to another valuable member of my crew here at Virtiginy. You’ve seen her hanging around, shall I call it my Mast Head? Maybe that’s a little too grand. Let’s just call it a mast head without the fancy capital letters. She’s the little flaxen-haired thing who always looks just a little overwhelmed by things. Her name is Virtignia or sometimes I call her Virtidge.


Ah! Here she is now.

Just so there’s no wondering about it, the name is pronounced Virtidgnia. Don’t you hate it when you’re three quarters of the way through a book and you’re still tyring to decide how to pronounce a main character’s name? Stuff like that sometimes makes me want to dig in my heels and draw a line. I will refuse to watch the Harry Potter movies, because then I might finally figure out if that little witch’s name is Hermyonee or Hermeeown, or is it even something else?  Let me just say that I started a new book while I was right smack in the middle of Half-Blood Prince, but I think for the general good of this whole blog, I will finish it, the last tome and maybe finally get over myself for having read the whole series at my great age.



The new book is called All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews, in case you’re interested. It’s relatively short and I’m enjoying it so far.

Anyway, back to Virtignia. She may look discombobulated and somewhat befuddled but when Roaman Carcinoma isn’t all up in her face, she can be quite the little go getter. Recently, Vertidge and my friend Paulette got up a shopping trip together and of course, they asked me along. What an eye-opener. I’m not going to pretend that I’ve never been to a thrift shop before, nor will I try to have you believe that I’ve never been to a yard sale, because you may have seen some of my clothes. Heck, you may have owned some of my clothes. Seriously though, my previous visits were mainly saved for around Halloween time, so the kids could get their costumes. I always thought that the idea was to get real clothes and fix them up so that they looked creepy or funny but it seems the thoroughly modern thrift stores bring in brand new costumes, never been worn, still in the plastic ferheavensake!

Somehow I knew going it that this trip would be different. I decided to go deep, deep undercover at the Value Village. And why wouldn’t I, when they have all the name brands at a fraction of the cost?

The first thing I noticed was the rows and rows of clothing. Better, make a plan. Plan A; stop looking at stuff that’s not in your size. Just because you like it, doesn’t mean it’s going to shrink or stretch itself to fit you. Plan 2; am I looking for anything in particular? No, to heck with plan 2, no fun. Plan 3; fritter through the aisles picking things up willy nilly remembering that 10 years ago a size 8 fit more like today’s 4, so effectively, you throw out Plan A and just shop freely. So, after much looking and careful examination to find the flaws in my carefully selected items(there have to be flaws) I came home with two white tops and a designer dress. Okay, one of the tops had a tiny little stain on it, which didn’t come off in the wash as I assured Franco it would and the dress was seriously out of date. This is where the fun part comes in. Because the dress length was mid-calf, I thought that shortening it would be the update it needed. I spent an entire afternoon, pinning, unpinning, repinning, marking, ironing and then finally hand sewing a new hem. And there it was, a perfect new dress for only $12! Did I mention that I don’t sew very often? It’s a little bit too big and I completely ignored the fact that I don’t have the right body shape to wear horizontal patterns, but…$12! I wore it to a funeral the very next day. My very own, almost, creation from V.V.’s. That’s what my sister calls the store.

VV dress

I look like a box.

I can see why people get bitten by the thrift store bug. You go in and the possibilities are everywhere. Everything looks too good not to buy. While I was there, I was thinking that when one of my daughters gets married I could probably find something suitable among the racks. I’m not so foolish that I think it could all be from the same dress; but you take the sleeves from one, the bodice from another and the skirt from still another and you’ve got yourself a one-of-a-kind dress.


What was she thinking when she paired that dress with those shoes????

Here’s the scary part. Once you’ve spent sufficient time and energy working on something, no matter how it ends up looking, you actually think it looks amazing. Nobody will notice that the seams aren’t even. Even if you find a really close match in colour, the pieces will never match exactly, so better to just go with a different colour altogether. Red sleeves on a lilac dress. What a statement that would make! My daughters are always so supportive of my creative endeavours, I know that they would be thrilled if I added a bit of pizzazz and skipped the predictable array of mother-of-the-bride gowns.

When the wedding pictures are developed, people will certainly ask, “Which of these ladies is your mother?” And Julie or Jessica will proudly answer, “Oh you can see her head peeking over the shoulders of those two groomsmen. And you see this shoe here behind the big potted palm? That’s her! Oh you remember her now! Yes, that was a very unique dress…”

I missed the 50% off sale for card holders last Sunday because I was too sick to go. Stupid cancer! It takes all the fun out of things. I had my eye on a Jones New York dress that looked just like a lab coat, but in linen. I was going to shorten it, since I know I’m capable of that now. I’m sure some other lucky person snapped up that little gem.


Where’s my butt?

My derriere seems to have gone on walk about and I’m not even sure exactly when it left. Just so you know, I’m not asking any of you if you have anything to do with the disappearance of my butt. I’m pretty sure all you nice folks know exactly where your butts are and in the usual course of things, so do I! In fact, not so long ago, in these very blog pages, I was complaining that my ass may have been taking up a little too much prominence on the overall landscape of my body.

I began to suspect that something might be amiss a couple of weeks ago. I was sitting outside on my favourite lawn chair, doing a crossword puzzle, when I noticed that I could feel the mesh from the chair right through my clothes. Normally, there should be a cushy layer there that keeps everything comfy, cosy, but not so this time. I added a little pillow, the problem was solved and I didn’t give it much further thought.
But it does give one pause as to how this can happen. Do you sit down in a chair one day and then get up and leave it…er…behind? Perhaps I’ve been sitting on it too much and it just decided to give in to the pressure. Can’t blame it for that.

Like most people my age, I can get dressed and undressed in the dark and be pretty much oblivious to any mirrors that I’ve grown so used to having that I don’t even notice what’s in them anymore. However, while visiting at my brother’s house I was accosted by a full-length mirror in the guest room and that’s when the big truth hit home. I looked once, adjusted positions, turned around again, but there it was…gone! From the bottom of my shoulder blades to the tops of my calves, I could find no protuberance, no distention, no curve worth mentioning. Where did it go? Is there some kind of virass going around that we haven’t been warned about?

I started thinking about what I’ve been eating, and it’s true that my appetite hasn’t been as it was prior to the advent of Roaman Carcinoma. You remember him don’t you? He’s my new BFF who likes to trail around my body and leave behind little reminders. It’s also true that I have not been depriving myself of any of my favourites. This usually makes for a happy bum. No more “bran” muffins for me. Bring on the full-fat, lard-laden cranberry/blueberry calorie explosions please and then top it all off with a peanut butter cookie.

It wouldn’t be so bad, except that Franco professes to like this part of my anatomy. Seems to me I had to fight with him from putting something about chasing it ‘til death do us part in the wedding vows. Honestly, these Spanish guys, you know?
I’ve been trying to keep the ugly truth from him, but I think he’s starting to wonder why I always seem to be walking towards him and never away. At some point, he’s going to run up from behind me and grab a couple of fistfuls of air. The back pockets of my jeans are gaping ever so slightly and don’t think stuffing them with tissue will help. Had I been given the choice I would have parted (happily) with my tummy and kept the junk in the trunk.
I know, you probably think I’m an arse, an arse, a narcissist (darn stutter), but you kind of get used to where things are and how they fit. I’m getting older, set in my ways. So I’ve decided to launch a campaign to find myself and if you think you can help, well I will be sitting over here at my house perusing cheek implant magazines.


Of course this isn’t a picture of my own butt, however, if this one decides to claim me I’ll try to be a gracious host and I’m sure Franco will do the same.

Just thought I’d let you know that I’m also able to finally cut back on the steroids that I’ve been taking to keep Roaman on a leash and hoping that my moon face will convert to normal again. This makes me wonder. Do you suppose that my round butt has migrated to my moon…AAAAARGH!?!

Thank you for letting me get that off my chest.

OH NO !!!
My chest


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