Saturday, December 31, 2011


Each year I write a letter with the past year's highlights. I include it with all my Christmas cards...Now that everyone has recieved their cards (I think) Here it is ....

What a year it’s been! Frankly, I welcome a fresh New Year. ....Oh Hello! And Joyeux Noel by the way! I hope this letter finds you well and ready for the Xmas Season. It sure seemed to sneak up on us. Or am I just reluctant to admit to getting old? They say time flies the older we get. Well I for one say we just learn to process every given moment a lot faster due to gained wisdom. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

About this year. Let’s just say our coffee pot earned its keep. Why you may ask. Well Chris and I drink instant coffee. Yes, I know, I heard many of you cringe just now. Truth be told we aren’t that fussy about our coffee. So our coffee pot only comes out for company. However this year it kept a few teams of people happy and hopping.

Last March we woke up to a flooded basement. Five inches of water is enough to destroy a fully finished basement. Fire dept pumped out the excess water and checked for sparks. Now I am the first person to appreciate a uniform but not in my home wading through my basement in their rubber boots! Home insurance sent a team to pull up floors and rip out all the lower walls. Sure, I had visions of redecorating the mundane beigeness that was my basement but not like this. Watching all the demolition to ones home is heartbreaking while another team of people pack all that you own. It was both a relief and overwhelming. So, to feel helpful and grateful, I can’t count how many trays of coffee and cookies I brought downstairs.

Fortunately both Cleo and Mahault moved out of the house to live in Montreal before this happened. Or should I say, what a waste of a good flood that could have been used to get them to move out? Hard to believe that Cleo just turned 21st last Sept. At that age, I was traveling across country to end up living in Quebec. That was..*&?%&.. yrs ago! Yes, time sure flies, seemed like just yesterday I was arguing with Cleo about the merits of better choices and consequences. Oh, wait, it was just yesterday! At any rate both Cleo and Mahault are going to UQAM (University of Quebec in Montreal) Cleo is in her 2nd year and Mahault, Chris’ daughter is in her 1st. At least they were both spared the whole renovation process. As I was saying....

You know that moment after cooking something on the stove, when you finally turn off the Fan...and give a sigh of relief....AHHHH! Well imagine 7 HUGE fans on full blast for 7 days & nights to dry out the downstairs. So the AHHH moment when they were finally turned off was more like, OMG! MAKE IT STOP! MAKE IT STOP!......OH IT STOPPED..?..CRUD, MY EARS ARE STILL RINGING!

Then the real work begins, after the insurance appraiser, the bank inspector and the contractor have all done their rounds. A long process begins. Rest assured I always had coffee & cookies at the ready. First was preventing a repeat of the flood. As attractive as an indoor pool sounds, swimming among xmas decorations and couch cushions just doesn’t cut it. I think there was even a mouse in the storage area on a Barbie canoe paddling to safety while cursing a blue storm. I assure you it didn’t get that language from me... ahem, but I digress. So we had to have a whole new drain system installed. Meaning one side of the house was dug up completely to fix the blocked drainage. Granted I always wanted my own castle but I was never partial to an actual MOTE. Thankfully it was only temporary.

You know how it is. Once started, it quickly becomes a Now or Never opportunity or obligation depending how you look at it, to consider that (One day we plan to do this, List) As the side was dug out, we decided to put in an Exit from the basement in order to conform to security measures needed to put a client in a room downstairs. Having both my daughter Cleo and Chris’ daughter Mahault, leaving the nest, going to University in Montreal. We had two empty rooms. While we were at it, let’s put in a bathroom where there was none! The expression “Hemoraging Money” comes to mind as these things are out of pocket. But having said that, the investment in our home is worth it and we received a security stamp of approval from the Fire Department and my employers crediting us with an additional space for a potential client when one needs placing.

All in all with stops & starts for whatever reason, the rebuilding took over 6 months. Over which time, every coffee trip downstairs had me familiar with each worker by name. I saw photos of children, was told of break ups, saw video of a grandmother celebrating her 100th birthday! Heard about vacations, renovations, trials and tribulations. I’d bet that some work took just a tad longer than it had too because they all let it be known how much they enjoyed working for us. I also learned that it takes a village to rebuild part of a home. Carpenters, helpers, Electricians, Drywaller, Painter, Plumber, Tiler, and the Contractor that coordinates the whole symphony to perfection. They all worked hard, worked well and I know exactly how each one of them takes their coffee. The whole crew were all really nice gentlemen. When all was said and done, it was bitter sweet saying goodbye but I did a happy dance at the added counter space when we finally put the coffee pot back in the cupboard in mid September!

This year brought much sadness with the loss of 2 members of our family. My godfather Ed Spence who’s wife Simone is my mother’s sister, passed away in April. I was able to attend the services in Penticton BC and spend some precious time with my aunt and see cousins I hadn’t seen in way to many years to count.

My mother lost her husband of 32 yrs. My stepfather Ben was a big part of our lives. He shared in our growing up and had a good life with our mom. His own children were an addition to our family. I was able to spend a week with mom and see my sisters and step siblings. It’s sad that it takes these difficult times to reunite family after years of absence but it also reminds us how good it is to see each other again.

This year I was reminded how important it is to nurture the relationships we have. Time gets away from us until years pass and we realize we aren’t getting any younger and we have lost touch with many people we care about. Yes, life gets in the way but at the end of the day, our relationships also enrich our lives. With today’s multimedia it’s a lot easier to keep in touch. Drop me a line sometime.

From my family to yours, we wish you a Joyeux Noel and a very Happy New Year.

Monday, June 27, 2011

I KNOW MY JOB...............AHEM

So we had a basement flood last March 12/2011...the whole basement was gutted. Floors ripped up, lower walls all removed along with the insolation. Everything we had down there, was picked through, photographed, packed up and hauled away by ppl who specialize in doing all that for insurrance etc.
Finally, 3 months later, works begins to rebuild! We are thrilled! I am so excited to decorate it to my tastes. It was nice when we moved in, but the choices made ie; floors etc, were not what I would have chosen. Nor was the gas stove...So now is the time to make some changes....YAY!
The former gas stove is for sale...

We bought an insert gaz fireplace instead, to save alot of room and have a more sleek look....Below is our new fireplace, ready to have the wall built around it...

MISC 006
Now begins my interesting* experience....

Installer & sidekick come a cpl days prior to instalation. He measures out the closest he can put fireplace in the corner then puts a check on the wall....I then tell him, I am getting a mantel (from same store) because we are putting the flat screen above, and it's recommended to have a mantel to cut the heat from going directly to the tv etc...anyway, the mantel choices are 60" or 66" so I want him to measure 60" so I can then order the mantel to fit that. I don't mind coming out a few inches to do that...It will also make for abit more slate on this focal wall of the fireplace.

So he measures out the 60" and puts another check on the below. We are all on the same page, he has made his mark, see u in a cpl days ....
MISC 004
Thursday ...I am downstairs talking to the forman/carpenter of the other team who have started working to put my basement back together when the fireplace installer arrives....
He starts to get his stuff together when I ask him..if he remembers our convo from 2 days ago....about measurements etc....when he replies..." I KNOW MY JOB" he is walking out to get stuff from the truck. So I safely assume he
After lot's of noise, inside and out, he seems to be wrapping up when I go downstairs to see the fireplace....Yup, all done, great job...but he is off by atleast 7 inches!...He comes along with is camera to document his installation...when I tell him...."Sir, you were supposed to make it for a 60" wall....He says, "I thought it was closest to the corner?" I reply....that was the 1st measurement...but don't you remember the 2 checks you made on the wall Yourself? The last one is the one we decided on....." I can tell he is frustrated but being as calm as he can, when he says, "Ok, I have to start all over" as he starts walking away....and I say " It's why I asked u in the beginning if u remembered our conversation of 2 days ago and u fired off I KNOW MY JOB...." .....................
He didn't say a word...I think it's because he was trying to keep calm AND knowing HE fucked up...
As he was getting his partner and tools, I spoke to my carpenter..asked if he will be able to cut the mantel to an angle so it will fit flush to the wall and actually fit more to my liking...He confirmed that he when the guy came back, I saved him a cpl hrs of work ...told him I could deal with it...have mantel cut to fit flush...and he replys "Well yeah, it will look much better that way".....I just smiled , but thought....Dude, shut the fuck up...I just saved your ass...ARGHHHH
When Chris went to pick up the Mantel, he told the salesman the whole thing, so they would KNOW... He was sorry that happened and assured us that if I decide to change it , they would go back...I will wait and see if the carpenter can actually cut the mantel, because its partly hollow with metal inside it, and will take some special tools to cut it properly...So fingers crossed....
Just goes to show....u have to keep you eye on the ball even when working with Tradesmen who KNOW THEIR JOBS!!!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


If you have grown up in a small town, like me, you dreamed of bigger and better things. It only dawns on you many yrs later as an adult how lucky you were to have had that experience. I am one such person. Living in a small skiing town in the BC Rockies gave me many memories to draw from....some good, and some bad...I would love to share some of the very good.

Fernie BC was a small town of 6000 people. We moved there when I was 5 yrs old. It also happened to be the town where my god parents lived. Ed and Simone Spence. Simone is my mother’s sister. My aunt & uncle owned “Ed’s Sport Center” the sporting goods store on Fernie’s main street.

The store always fascinated me. It wasn’t a huge store but boy, it was chalked full to the brim! My uncle had all sorts of sport equipment, you name it he had it. Skis & boots, skates & hockey sticks, fishing poles & lures of all colours with hooks that could hurt if u dared to touch them. There was also hunting gear & guns and sportswear of all kinds you can imagine how much fun it would be to go see my aunt and uncle at their store.

As I look back I realize how inconvenient it must have been to have a niece pop in after school as often as I surely did but they never let on. I remember feeling special because I could stand behind the counter (being related to the owners of course). My uncle was always patient and usually had a mischievous smile when he teased me about some of the escapades they brought me on. I have stories....but I digress ...

Uncle Ed was soft spoken. Not quiet really, but certainly not a loud man. He was a great dad who was involved in his son’s sports and supported their teams. He always joked with a straight face. If you didn’t know him, it would probably take you a moment to realize he was kidding. If he teased you, he liked you. Uncle Ed was stern but never mean....I don’t think I ever saw him mad...heard him talk to his sons with a TONE a time or two but they deserved it, they were boys after all....I of course never got the TONE...I was the perfect niece...

So many lives were touched by my uncle’s uncle’s store. When I put a brief message about my uncles passing and the store in Fernie, my heart warmed at some of the comments made. One shared that she got her 1st 10 speed bike at that store, another bought her first skis...A hockey player said he couldn’t even count how many hockey sticks he bought from my uncle or how many times he got his skates sharpened there. Another added that Uncle Ed supported the hockey team that he and my cousin played for together. If you didn’t see my uncle at the front of the store, u knew he was in the back either waxing skis or repairing a bike...or the sparks were flying as he sharpened your skates...I used to love the smell of the tools, wax, grease and oil combined in that back room...I remember it still.

Back to some stories...

I was so lucky to be their goddaughter. I had the privilege of going along on some of their short trips away. Ok, I had to share them with my cousins, but it wasn’t all bad! You know how boys can be....Anyway...memories were made to NEVER be lived down...when I say Never I mean Never! They are part of my DNA so it’s a good thing they are precious to me.

One time I brought my little bag, bulging with clothes for a 2 day trip. My aunt and uncle couldn’t help but ask what in the world I had brought. Well...clothes I said. So my aunt smilingly said, ‘Let’s have a look”.....She pulled out 1, 2, 3, ....4, 5, 6...becoming incredulous as she counted just the number of TOPS I had for our 2 day trip....7,8, this time I think she had tears of laugher in her eyes as finally she counted the last 10, 11, 12,.....13! YES...13 TOPS! For a 2 day trip.....All I could say is....I just couldn’t decide!! So I brought them all......(I think I was 11)

First breakfast in a restaurant...the waitress asked me how I wanted my eggs ...I had no idea I just said “Fried”.....Of course my cousins guffawed to no end at that one...

I hold dear my memories with my god parents ...and yes, even my cousins...sure they were boys but they were pretty good to me if I’m to be honest.....just don’t tell them that.

One trip to the states, we stayed in a hotel that had a pool...not only had I never stayed in a hotel before, but omg! A pool!...So of course I am so excited I dive head first in the shallow end, thankfully it’s more of a belly flop because I scraped my chin on the bottom of the pool and came up bleeding.....I still have the scar to prove it. My uncle was right there consoling me with the fact that as soon as I jumped in the pool, all the water jumped out! which I always replied when he teased me...”Oh Uncle Ed!” giggling of course.

I was never to live down that story...even hearing it once more 4 yrs ago when Ed & Simone took a cruise that stopped in Quebec City for a full day. I was thrilled! I hadn’t seen them in far too many yrs to count and this gave us the opportunity to spend a whole day together and for them to meet my husband Chris.....Who was REGAILED with the pool story at the first opportunity of course. I listened with a warm heart in remembrance of good times.

As I reminisce about these precious child hood memories I hold in my heart that they are mine to keep for ever as I say one last time “Oh Uncle Ed.....I will miss you.....

Friday, January 14, 2011


Last Sunday, we moved Cleo to her first little appartment. I say little because it is literally a 1 room apt, with a closet/hallway kitchen and bathroom, here we call that a (1 1/2). It's perfect for her needs right now. The great thing about it is , she couldn't be better located! She can walk less then a block to University. The street she is living on is the *HUB* of Montreal...St. Denis is considered THE place..lined with boutiques, bistros and to school and hopefully she can get a job close to there also. I am very excited for her...
Needless to say, most places aren't too clean when you move in. It isn't an understatement to say, this place, all be it small, was filthy! I was just itching to roll up my sleeves and put my bucket full of cleaning products to good use!
Before staring, we did some shopping. A new shower curtain, curtain poles, organizing unit above the toilet..her own broom, mop, hanging hooks and assorted storage items to better organize what little space she had.

I think I scrubbed that bathroom for over 2 hours but I have to admit enjoying it lol...Yes ..I know, sounds weird but when u start with something so dirty, it's so rewarding to see what a difference u can make. I swear that bathroom shined when I was done with it! Every tile, grout seam and ceramic around the tub was fresh and clean!! It was so satisfying to hang the shower curtain, place the towels and toiletries in their rightful place, and finish with a nice rug! I had to take a pic lol. Chris was putting the toilet shelf thing together and hanging curtain rods and placing hooks for coats up in the appartment while Cleo was unpacking boxes. So we were all busy making it a home..

Her walls still need stuff on them but the bed and bureau are all set up and most of her things are unpacked. She has a few shelves to be put up above her desk area so I didn't photograph that..but the window below looks out to her cool is that! Once she gets a job close by, she wont even need to get a bus pass, big expense saver!

Many have asked me if it was hard as a mom to see her get her own place. To be perfectly honest, not really. I think my biggest adjustment was when I left her dad 10 yrs ago and we had joint custody. So I got used to having her 1 week on, 1 week off. I became acustomed to her being at her dads more in the last yr also , as the transit system is more efficient where he lives, so when she started college, then university, she would be there more often then here. So as she transitions to her own place...I think it's a big change for her but not so much for her father and I .

That said...I am super excited for her and as a mom, I wanted to make sure I helped with the new place ie; cleaning and helping find a home for her things etc. I'm glad I had been putting things aside for her over the past few yrs, like dishes, towels, kitchen stuff..not to mention raiding my own pantry to fill up her cubboard full of easy, quick foods she can heat up or throw in the microwave lol...

At the end of the very long day, the last thing we did in her appt was wash the floor thoroughly, put down the large rug we brought from home, make her bed and be happy with all we did. I was fidgetting around thinking of what else I could do when Cleo says.."Maman, I can deal with the rest".

I think that is what I needed to walk away. I knew my job was done when she was ready to see me much for me as for her. If that makes sense lol. I left with a light heart knowing her place was clean and fresh and pretty well set up...It's her adventure to live now..with me peeking in when I can ofcourse....and to drop off some toilet paper and a bag of groceries every now and then lol

Monday, January 03, 2011


This is my yearly review letter. I do one each year to send with my xmas they have all now been recieved I am sharing on my blog...Happy New Year!

Another year has flown by. I hope this letter finds you all well and ready for the next one. As for us, things are good. We have enjoyed our new home for over a year now. That's enough time to know we love it and it's also far from perfect. Takes a year to figure out what needed fixing and where ones priorities should be. I will concede that a spa ISN'T a priority, spending a $1000 repairing the existing irrigation system IS...although I could still enjoy a spa and water the lawn from said spa using a bucket, but that's just me. I am thinking the spa idea may float back to the surface in a few years....shhhhh. There is an existing list of improvements to deal with until then. Thankfuly, only cosmetic in nature. As I'm thinking of it, I have started an adjacent list for cosmetic improvements on myself, a wish list of sorts...I wonder if spackle comes in skin tone? Now that would be a 2 for 1 deal if I ever saw one!

Just like a GPS can unexpectedly take you to a warehouse full of prostitutes and drug dealers, life has a way of throwing us curve balls. I recently got one of those myself but the ball was thrown directly at my sternum. I had major chest & back pains. Found myself rushing to hospital in an ambulance. If I wasn't in so much pain, it would have been a lot of fun. Suffice to say that after ruling out the worst it was figured out that my gallbladder has been making its own gem stones. Now, under normal circumstances I could actually appreciate this, as I love making jewellery but some warning would have been nice. Kind of scary thinking our bodies can have symbiotic reactions to ones hobbies...remind me never to take up Shot-put!

Over the year I got on the workout wagon. Yes that wagon has heavy duty chucks. I was very consistent and actually developed some good muscle tone. Lost a few inches here and there but my weight hardly budged. My fat cells are hanging on for dear life. Frustrating to say the least, especially as month after month, I hated every minute of it more and more. Those who say they started to love it are all on drugs. In the past month, since my gallbladder episode my workouts have gone on hiatus. My body is in negotiations with my brain to get me back for another season with promises of better scheduling, less work, and a big raise in results. My brain still isn't buying it. My get up and go, got up and left. I think its sitting on a beach in the south of France somewhere. Thankfully I'm not worried, it will eventually makes its way back to make sure I get back on that wagon.

In other news, Mahault, Chris' daughter is living with us and in her 2nd yr of college doing very well. Cleo has graduated college (CJEP Lionel Groux) in arts. One of her art projects was chosen to take part in a province wide contest/exhibition. Having been chosen, the school payed for her to take part in the weekend long exhibition and workshops in central Quebec. She didn't win but had a terrific time. More for the partying aspect then educational of course! Put college students from all over in one place for a weekend and see what happens! I can just be thankful she made it back in once piece!

At the end of her college yr, she was also chosen with 5 other artist to display many of her works in an Art Gallery in St Therese the city that's home to her college. She then applied to UQAM (University de Quebec A Montreal) and Concordia University in Sceneography which is a 3 yr bachelors program that covers everything in arts/theatre from designing costumes, sets and graphics to building, sewing and producing everything. They only choose 20 students per year out of hundreds from all over. We were thrilled when Cleo was chosen by both schools, giving her a choice. She started at UQAM this fall. With the workload at school, her job and having to work on productions till all hours, a big change is near. She has been commuting with the public trans system. It's not cutting it so we are looking into finding her a small apartment in Montreal. It will be a new adventure for her and very different for me. The sprouting of wings! The big step! The transition into responsibility! The realization that my baby will be leaving her crap all over floors, doorknobs and counters SOMEWHERE ELSE! It's emotionally overwhelming just thinking about it. Needless to say, we are proud of her and hope to get her nicely set up before the next term starts in January.

Living near Montreal means that most people commute for work. Montreal is an island so traffic always backs up at all the bridges. So even though Montreal is only aprox 30 mins away, someone who needs to be at work at 9:00 am would have to leave by 6:30 am. Yes, it's ridiculous. Chris worked in Montrealfor the past 6 yrs, it took him 45 mins to get there. He applied and got a new job just 10 mins away! We are thrilled! He’s still a supervisor in a chemistry field but no longer in pharmaceuticals. It's such a gift to be so close to home for so many reasons. I don't have to wait an hour for milk, or bread or if I need him to open a jar for me, after I got it lose first (you know how that works). Not forgetting the savings in gas and wear and tear on the car. OH! and Chris being home a lot earlier of course! To top that off, Chris has gone back to University 3 nights a week! He wants his Industrial Project Management certificate so the deal was no keggers or bringing home pretty young students to do homework! So far my smart ass has top marks in both classes. Good thing his ego is brought back to reality when he gets home to his wife LOL!

We still have our three clients living with us. Luc, Jean-Pierre and Raymond. All doing well, regardless of their handicaps. I think it's far more challenging dealing with two college/university students then three mentally & physically handicapped adults! Granted Luc is blind, wears diapers, moans and manages to move his chair and the kitchen table across the room most days. J-P is almost blind, likes to hum out loud while wearing his radio headphones, not a pretty sound let me assure you, I think a couple of cats in heat on top of a broken violin would be preferable. Raymond has to be reminded that he can let the snow actually land on the ground before shovelling it all up! He’s the same with the rake in fall...the leaves don't have the time to hit the grass, he has them in the bag before you know it! Life can be called interesting in our house to say the least!

So there you have it. Another year in review from our house to yours. We wish you all a terrific Christmas and New Year’s season. Thinking of you all as we look forward to a new year, new adventures and new experiences.