Saturday, January 31

My First House

I am foregoing the topic for today, which is honeymoon houses. I didn't own a house until I was in my late thirties and it certainly wasn't a honeymoon house. My daughter and I moved there when she was 17.

We had been living in an apartment building on the 4th floor and I detested it. I wanted to have a place where I could have a garden and a dog...two things that were near and dear to my heart. So, in the spring of 1987, we started looking for a house.

We found the perfect one - a little cottage. Everything was on one floor and that meant I didn't have to climb the stairs four flights up to an apartment. Yes, there was an elevator, but more often than not, it was out of order and you risked getting stuck in it if you decided to use it. I even carried groceries up all four flights.

The house we found was beside a church and on the other side was a power transforming station. Both were small and we had that side of the street entirely to ourselves. There were no close neighbors and there were only two houses on the opposite side of the street. A single man lived in one and a single mother and daughter in the other. It was quiet and serene, except for Sunday morning when the street was lined with cars and we could hear the church services going on next door. I tell you, friends, that church rocked on Sunday morning.

The house had a small yard, but it was all that we needed...a place to have a flower garden and if we chose, a vegetable garden. I drove taxi fourteen hours a day at that time and so the vegetable garden never came to be, but we had flowers of all kinds in the front and side of the yard.

The kitchen was huge. The living and dining room were divided by an old fashioned archway and the bedrooms were quite small, but it provided all we needed. I loved that little house. It was while we lived there that we bought Snowball, an American Eskimo dog. He was supposed to be a spitz, but kept growing and before we knew it we had a medium sized dog. He was handsome and a little yappy but he was a lot of fun.

It seemed like life was going great until January 1988, when I became ill and was unable to work for over a month. We got behind on the mortgage and had to put a For Sale sign on the little cottage. It sold within 24 hours and we made a nice amount on it, which we used to put a down payment on another little house.

I don't have any photos of that house to show you, but it was a wartime cottage and so not very fancy, but it was home.

If you would like to join the I Remember When meme, please visit Speaking from the Heart. It's a lot of fun stepping back in time through our memories. ~Blessings, Mary~

Friday, January 30

Farewell, my Loyal Friend

In my previous post, I told my friends and readers that Meeko had collapsed this morning. When hubby took him to the vet, the news wasn't good. Hubby called me and told me that we had two options. Spend money on a series of tests that would be painful for Meeko or euthanize him.

I didn't go with hubby and Meeko to the vet, as I didn't, in my wildest dreams, think that anything this dire would happen. My car isn't running and when hubby phoned me from the vet, I really wanted to go to be with Meeko when he was euthanized. The frigid temperatures killed the battery, so I phoned my neighbour, Marianne to see if I could borrow her car, but she had gone out with a friend to pick up a few things. So, poor hubby had to say goodbye to Meeko on his own...a very hard thing for him to do.

I did talk to the vet and he told me that Meeko's gums were perfectly white, which means he had internal bleeding. He said that Meeko was bleeding into his spleen and that he could do some tests that would be expensive. I asked him if they would cause Meeko a great deal of pain and he said that they would cause pain and discomfort. He could send Meeko home with steroids for the weekend, but he suspected Meeko would pass before Monday. Meeko had gained 7.9 lbs. since he seen him December 1st, and that weight was probably due to a tumor. He had incurable cancer.

When our previous dog passed eight years ago, I told the boys that he had been a loyal companion for 13 years and that it was our duty to ensure he didn't suffer any more than he already had. I thought back to that day when the vet was telling me all of this.

So hubby and I opted to have Meeko euthanized instead of having him go through a great deal of pain. In hindsight, I can see the subtle signs that something was wrong, but nothing to indicate that cancer was raging within his body. Just some whining, a few drops of blood in his stool (diagnosed at the time as colitis) and that was about it, except Meeko continued shedding really bad into the frigid winter. I suspect now that there was no blood getting to the hair folicles and that it wasn't shedding at all, but that his fur was actually falling out. Since his coat was thick, it just seemed like he was still shedding.

I have already left the computer to go and see what he was doing, then realized that he wasn't here. I will truly miss him and hubby is heartbroken.
The above photo was taken of Meeko in December. It's one of the last ones I have of him. He was a beauty, so intelligent. He knew every word we said and we talked to him constantly. He was my handsome prince and though the boys named him Meeko, I often thought he had the regal look of royalty.
Relaxing in the sun in the summer of 2008!This is Meeko on the lawn in the spring of 2008. He loved to be outside and enjoyed laying in the snow. Yesterday he spent a lot of time outside. Today it was frigidly cold and I kept him in most of the day. He did get a last walk with hubby, but it was a slow one and he didn't go nearly as far as usual.
Meeko and I on the trail beside the canal in spring 2008. This was where he loved to go when we took a walk. I will also miss him, as we often walked at night under the stars with the moonbeams reflecting off the snow. I wouldn't walk alone in the park without Meeko, but I knew he would protect me with his life. I always felt safe when he was nearby. Goodbye my loyal friend and companion. You will live forever in my heart. ~Blessings, Mary~

A Bit of News and a Pay it Forward

On Thursday night, I had finished my post (below) and tried to publish it. Blogger was not cooperating, so I kept trying. Then I realized that I was offline. I had no Internet. Mmm! This was the second time in three days and I found it a bit frustrating. I went to the phone to call tech support and lo and behold, I had no phone. The line was dead!

We hadn't had the storm that had been expected, so I saw no reason for this. I used hubby's cellphone and called Mom and asked her to call me back. Nothing! I phoned her and she told me that the call went straight to voice mail.

I then called my neighbour, Marianne, and asked her to report it to Bell Canada. I knew they would take forever because first you have to talk to Emily (recorded) and do all the things she wants you to do. You give Emily your phone number etc., and she puts you through to a tech. Emily is often uncooperative and I dislike her intensely. Once you have talked to her, you are put on hold and then have to explain everything to the representative who finally answers.

I was in no mood to go through all this and Marianne told me she would gladly do it. She did and phoned back and said they would be here between 8am and 6pm. Wow! How wonderful. (If I sound a bit provoked here, I was.)

So, back to the gist of things. Hubby took Meeko out for his walk today and Meeko collapsed. ( I will get to that in a moment.) He saw our phone line had been cut by the neighbor last night when he was using the snowblower on his driveway. (Why was he on my property and really close to my house?) The phone wire was cut right where it enters the house. ???

The phone man finally came about noon and I told him about the wire being cut. He took a look and sure enough... I had to give him the key to the basement, as we have no access from inside the house. Hubby got up to go and give him a hand.

Next thing I knew, someone was kicking and pounding on the basement door. I put on my coat and boots to go and see what was going on. Hubby (instead of coming for lock de-icer) had twisted the key and tried to force it. The key broke off inside the lock. It broke flush with the keyhole and there was no chance of pulling it out with pliers.

Now, the locksmith is on the way. This is going to cost about $50 to get the old key out of the keyhole. The phone man did get the line working but we have to call him back after the locksmith has been here, as the phone line is lying beside the foundation of the house.

The locksmith just knocked on the door and he is taking care of business. Then I have to talk to Emily again and the phone company to schedule another appointment. This is probably going to cost. Do you think I should pay the bill and forget it or ask the neighbor to pay the hefty bill?

About Meeko:

He collapsed when hubby had him out for his morning nap. I did notice that he was restless during the night and at one time he howled but I thought he was dreaming. He drank 6 cups of water during the night and I had to get up twice to give him more. That is not like Meeko. He drinks very little overnight.

So, after the collapse, hubby got him home and tried to get him to rest. Meeko spit out some white crystalized stuff. He is rather unsteady on his feet and not at all himself. He is drinking gallons but not eating a thing. I even tempted him with a tidbit of chicken and he refused it. Very unusual.

I think he's been poisoned and hubby is wondering if he found a mouse that had eaten mouse poison. So Meeko has an appointment at the vet for 3:30pm. I will let you know what happens and how he is doing.

Now for the post that I had originally written for Thursday night:

I was visiting Mama Bear at Bears in Exile, and she has posted a "Pay It Forward" Challenge. This is a great way to bless others with a surprise in their mail--using your time, energy and love.

Here are the rules as posted on her blog:
The first 3 bloggers to leave a comment on this post saying they'd like to participate, will receive a hand-made item from me.

Those 3 bloggers promise to post this challenge on their blog (meaning they too will ‘pay-it-forward’, creating a handmade gift for the first 3 bloggers that leave a comment on their blog!!)

That's a lot of hand-made love being passed around! ; )The gift can be any price range--though I'm thinking that keeping it small will be sufficient--and you have 365 days to make/ship your gift!!So, the person receiving this will be definitely surprised when a surprise shows up unexpectedly in their mailbox!

As you can see, if everyone cooperates and "pays it forward" this spreading of love could go on for a very long time.If you want to participate, just leave a comment telling me so and then repost this on your blog so that you can pay it forward to 3 others, and so on, and so on, and so on.......You can still leave a comment on what you think about this even if you don't want to participate!!I'm anxious to see who the first three will be who want to participate in this venture of spreading our love for another!

Come on one and all. Let's join in the fun and then we'll post photos of the handmade item that we receive. This will be FUN!

Enjoy your weeked. In our area, it's to warm up and I'm hoping to get out and take a few photographs of the area if I can get my camera to cooperate. ~Blessings, Mary~

Wednesday, January 28

A Snowy Winter Day

New Year Myspace Comments

About midnight on Tueday, it began to snow and it has continued to snow ever since. We have a nice bit of fresh white stuff to cover the dirty snow that fell last week. We have quite a pile on our lawn and it is still snowing. I'm hoping it stops soon.

Michelle called today and she was in a pickle. They had called her into work and she had the TV repairman coming. She wanted to know if I could come and stay until he got there.

I looked out the window and winced. I really didn't want to go and I told her so, but of course I agreed. After all, what is family for, if not to help out when it's needed. So, I got ready and headed out.

The roads were in deplorable shape. I drove only about 40 km per hour, and everyone else was going about the same speed. I saw no speeders, which is an indication of how bad the roads really were. Even the main roads had not been touched by sand or a snow plow. Go figure. I had been snowing for over 12 hours and the city hadn't sent out the trucks. Since they didn't allow enough money in their budget for the 125 centimeters of snow we've received this year, I suppose that had something to do with it. With no money left in the coiffers, they will be going in the red. What were they thinking? We live in Canada and Canada is well known around the world for snow. However, since there was a decade or so that we didn't get a lot of snow, they seem to think we're not going to get any now.

Anyway, instead of the usual seven minutes, it took me 15 minutes to get to Michelle's. She left for work but not before informing me that the boys didn't have their key. She thought she would be home and there was no need for it. I told her I'd stay and make sure they arrived home safely.

She had only been gone a few minutes when the phone rang. It was the TV repair people. Their man was stuck on the 401 Highway and he wasn't going to be able to make it. Could they come Friday?

At that point, I decided to come home. Hubby said that he would go and pick the boys up from school so I could work on my writing. I was thankful, as when I got out onto the roads, they were even more slick than they'd been when I was driving over there.

Hubby picked up the boys and got them safely home. Brandon phoned to let me know that Grandpa was on his way home. Everyone is safe and sound. The boys' Dad got home about 4pm and Michelle got home about 6:30. She said the roads were better when she came home because the snow plows had gone.

If you live in an area that is receiving snow or in one of the states that has received freezing rain, only go out if absolutely necessary. Be sure to have a emergency kit and a flashlight in your car. Stay safe and be warm. ~Blessings, Mary~

Tuesday, January 27

Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's

How many times when you were a kid did someone say to you, "Look me in the eye?"

When we talk to people, we tend to look them in the eye unless we are feeling guilty about something. One of the biggest myths is that if someone doesn't look you in the eye, they are lying.

As all my regular readers will know, my grandson, Brandon, has Asperger's Syndrome. People with Asperger's have trouble with social situations and they seldom look people in the eye. It is very difficult for them to look directly into someone else's eyes. For years, we told Brandon, "Look me in the eye," or "Look at me when I'm talking to you." Now, after years of training, he often does look us in the eye when he's talking to us.

My neighbor, Marianne, the same neighbor who fell and had to have surgery (she's doing great by the way) gave me the book, "Look Me in the Eye my life with Asperger's," by John Elder Robinson. This man was 40 years old when he was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. All of his life he had trouble in social situations. He called his mother "Slave," his father "Stupid" and his younger brother "Cubby." Why did he do this? He had trouble associating with people who he had not named himself and he couldn't feel close to them until he had given them a name. When his little brother grew older, he changed his name to "Varmint." This was his way of identifying the people he was close to.

Brandon often calls Jordan, "Manuel." Don't ask. I have no idea why. His pet name for his mother is her maiden surname and his father... well, it depends on the situation but he has a couple of names he calls Dad as well.

After reading, "Look me in the Eye," I asked Brandon if he calls everyone a pet name because that makes him feel closer to him. He just said, "I don't know."

When I read what the author had to say in this book, I saw the light about a few things that Brandon does. This man struggled his entire life to age 40, thinking he was a misfit, weird and eccentric, yet he was a genius in some areas. Have you ever seen KISS' smoking guitars or the ones that the flames shoot out of. Well, John Elder Robinson was the one who created the pyrotechnics for KISS' guitars. He was also good at motor mechanics and a host of other things. This man is truly talented and today his book is a New York Times Bestseller.

If you want a real look into Asperger's Syndrome or if you are an Aspie that has trouble understanding some of the things you do or the way you feel at times, please read this marvelous book. It's the inside scoop on living with Asperger's.

From the back cover:

Ever since he was young, John Robinson longed to connect with other people, but by the time he was a teenager, his odd habits - an inclination to blurt out non sequiturs, avoid eye contact, dismantle radios, and dig five-foot holes (and stick his younger brother, Augusten Burroughs, in them) - had earned him the label "social deviant." It was not until he was forty that he was diagnosed with a form of autism called Asperger's Syndrome. That understanding transformed the way he saw himself - and the world. A born storyteller, Robinson has written a moving, darkly funny memoir about his life that has taken him from developing exploding guitars for KISS to building a family of his own. It's a strange, shy indelible account - sometimes alien, yet always human.

John Elder Robinson will let you get into the mind of those who live with Asperger's Syndrome. He allows you to see what he's seen and walk a mile in his shoes. This is a must for every parent, grandparent, teacher or anyone else who is close to a person that has Asperger's. As you turn the last page, you will more understand these people who are sometimes unfairly labeled. Be sure to pick up a copy or inquire at your local library. Everyone should read this book in order to understand those who live with this disorder. Those adults who have been diagnosed with Asperger's really should read, "Look Me in the Eye." It will give a much different outlook on many of the things that are obstacles in your life. This one is being passed on to Brandon so he and his parents can read it.


"Look Me in the Eye," is also available as an Ebook and on audio from Random House Publishers. If you are sensitive to foul language, be sure to buy the version that is shown here. The unabridged version is one that I avoided only for the fact of the foul language.

Robinson's brother is Augusten Burroughs, author of "Running with Scissors." This is another must-read. It has also been made into a movie.

Monday, January 26

Writing Contest and a Sunday Visit

Tracy at Pix-n-Pens, is hosting a Flash Fiction Contest and I've entered. The rules state that the story cannot be more than 300 words. You must also use the following words: cougar, stampede, riding breeches.

It's been years since I wrote anything as short as 300 words, but the exercise was a lot of fun. Even if you aren't an experienced writer, put on your thinking cap. Drop over to Tracy's and join in the fun. The prize is a copy of Miralee Ferrell's book, Love Finds You in Last Chance California.

If you enjoy reading a good book, here's your chance to win one. The contest will be judged by Miralee Ferrell, the author of the book.
In other news, Jack and Melissa dropped by on Sunday to visit for a spell. Griffyn is such a delight at just over 18 months. I gave him a package of crayons and asked him to draw me a picture. He sat on the floor for over half an hour and scribbled on a piece of blank paper, making his own creative designs. When he tired of that, I got out the Duplo Le*go that belonged to Brandon and Jordan when they were small. He loved these colorful blocks. I had two pails of them and told him that he could take them home. You would have thought I'd given him a million dollars. He wouldn't let his Dad have them and carried them by the handle.

When they were getting ready to leave, he wandered into our bedroom and for some reason touched the light. It is a touch lamp and it came on. Then it was a game. He was excited when he was able to turn the lamp on and off and chortled with delight. What a charmer he is. I love him to pieces.

Tarryn and I had a cuddle. He was fretting and Melissa said he needed his soother, which was in the car. I told her he didn't need it, took him from her and sat in the rocking chair. We rocked back and forth and he could see our reflection in the glass of the china cabinet. He was good as gold for a long time and I enjoyed rocking with him.

Both boys gave me kisses while they were here and before they left, Griffyn gave me a "bear hug." He can give a real good one too.

Talk about making my day. The visit from the entire family was great, but kisses and hugs from little ones were wonderful. ~Blessings, Mary~

Sunday, January 25

Memories of Home

I lived in one house throughout my entire childhood. It was on a rural Ontario farm and the adventures I had there were wonderful. I loved farm life and working in the barn and fields amongst the men folk. I also spent a lot of time helping my grandmother with housework and gardening.

My Dad and I didn't get along very well when I was young. Thinking back now, I think we were too much alike. We were both set in our ways and rebellious. We both thought we knew the way things should be done. Dad also had a trigger temper that would explode when we didn't obey him. I was determined to do things my own way and so we often clashed.

I met my childhood sweetheart when I was eight years old. We were just friends back then and had lots of fun skating, riding our bikes around the countryside and just talking. As we grew, so did our fondness for each other. By the time I was sixteen and he was nineteen, we were determined to get married and start our life as adults.

Mom was mortified. Dad said, You make your bed, you lie in it. And so on April 16, 1966, we were married.

Hunting for our little apartment was a lot of fun. We couldn't afford much. My future husband drove truck for a feed company. I worked in a factory making asbestos and fiberglass liners for school bus seats. I can't remember exactly how much he was making per hour. He brought home approximately $48 a week. I worked for 65 cents an hour.

We looked at several apartments and then one day we viewed an upper. That wasn't exactly what we wanted but it was cozy and cute and, most importantly, it was furnished. We had very little of our own. The rent was $65 a month - just within our budget.

Aunt May had a wedding shower for me and I got all kinds of useful things. An iron and ironing board, pots and pans, flatware, dishes and all of the things you need to start up a household. Back then the groom didn't attend the shower, but we were ecstatic with all the great things we were given.

The little apartment had a curving staircase. At the top was the hall with the living room directly ahead. If you turned left and went down the hall, the first room on the left was the bathroom. It was tiny. I mean really tiny. About 5 feet long and 4 feet across. You literally walked in, sat down or stood in front of the sink, did your business, turned on the spot and walked out. There was no bath tub. It was in a common area and was shared by the people who lived in the other half of the upstairs.

When you passed the bathroom in the hall, you came to the kitchen. It was approximately 10 feet by 8 feet. There was enough room for a table and four chairs. There wasn't a lot of room to move around. It had Barker board on the walls and was decorated in red and white. The landlord had gone to a lot of work to make that little kitchen cozy and warm.

Our bedroom wasn't big either. Probably 12 feet by 8 feet. Our three-quarter (mattress of 49 inches) bed was against a wall and on the opposite wall were two chest of drawers. There was just enough room to walk between the bed and the chests to crawl into bed. There was no closet, but there were nails on the walls to hang clothing.

The living room was the largest room in the apartment. It and the bedroom had hardwood floors. The kitchen and hall had red and gray linoleum. In the living room was two divans that were about the length of a loveseat. We had a small black and white TV and that was it. We were able to get two channels. Toronto and Buffalo. However, I swear we could get more entertainment on that little TV than we can now with satellite.

We were able to get a colored phone installed after a few months and we were so proud of that sage green phone. It was the kind you dialed and it matched the walls perfectly. That was a status symbol in our eyes. Not everyone was able to afford a colored telephone.

Our first major purchase was a cabinet stereo. It would play 33 RPM records or 78 RPMs. It also had an 8-track tape deck. We had no tapes but did have a few records. The AM/FM radio was a luxury. We paid $199 for that cabinet stereo and paid it off in installments. That's the first time we'd ever had credit and made sure the payments were in on time every month.

We lived there three years. Then, when I got pregnant for Michelle, we knew we had to find larger quarters. My brother was living in an old store that had been converted into apartments and there was a place available there. We gave thirty days notice (the norm in those days) and moved into the larger place. That meant buying a three room grouping of furniture on time. It cost us $400 for all three rooms and it was all top quality.

Though I've lived in a few apartments and houses over the years, I will always remember that little cozy apartment that was the first place I lived other than my childhood home. Though we didn't have much, we learned to be responsible adults. That apartment still holds many happy memories for me.

If you would like to join the I Remember When meme, please visit Speaking from the Heart. It's a lot of fun stepping back in time through our memories.