Saturday, August 30, 2008

My Heart Will Go On

In spite of the mere fact that I own every Celine Dion album ever produced, I can’t profess that I was an ardent fan of hers until I heard her live at the Air Canada Centre on August 28th/08. I will, however, confess that my husband has caught me many times over the years with my head phones on singing along with her at the top of my lungs. When he catches me, he always says “Can you please sing solo?” In our house that means “Can you sing ‘so low’, that we don’t hear you?” That’s usually when I pull the head phones and turn the stereo off.

We ‘drove all night just to get to her’. My husband was driving; we drive to downtown Toronto all the time. On our journey that evening I was preoccupied with my new Blackberry and when I looked up; I realized that we were past the airport. My husband was on auto-pilot. Apparently, I’m supposed to be the talking GPS head and was to be providing him with audible directions such as “exit right on Renforth Drive in 500 metres”...We ended up in Rexdale. Needless to say I took the wheel at a gas station there and we headed downtown. Parking was an issue so our butts hit our seats in the Air Canada Centre at 8:35 p.m., just in time for Celine’s appearance at 8:45 p.m.

Out she came. I couldn’t immediately understand why tears were spontaneously streaming down my cheeks. It was visceral. It didn’t take long for the epiphany. I knew every song and some at critical junctures in my life have been my anthems.

I discovered Celine with ‘Beauty and the Beast’. My niece Belle and I went to see that movie together. She loved it. She was ever just the same and ever a surprise. Leukemia robbed her of meeting her Beast. She will always be my ‘Belle 'of the ball.

My father was my inspiration and best friend. When he died I felt like I was all by myself. .

My daughter is the place I call home. I will always be there for her, whatever it takes. Every beat of my heart, every day without end. I will risk everything and lay down my life for her. After all a promise is a promise.

Then there are the people that make me feel alive. My mom, my brothers and all my nieces and nephews who make my spirits high.

Steve and I dared to break away from the familiar and so far we have succeeded. He and I are meant to fly...

I happen to think that Leonardo Dicaprio is the sexist man alive! I imagine lounging on the chaise and him appearing with a sketch pad and charcoal... (Sigh, my heart would stop not go on). That was the most erotic scene I've ever seen.

I love opportunities. Friends have come back into my life. My best friend Kim is front and centre. In addition I have formed new friendships. What do you say about taking chances with me?

I dedicate this prayer to my cherished Jonathan & Antoinette (James & Adam), Stephen, my Mom, and, my Steve and Hilary. We’ve been together forever. May God guide us with His grace to a place where we’ll all be safe.

Finally I thank Celine for the milestone melodies. I know now why your gift is so visceral.

All for one and one for all!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Seventeen Years eh?

“Just be with me.” - Christy Brown (My Left Foot)

Steve and I are celebrating our 17th wedding anniversary today. I remember the first time I saw Steve. The moment I laid eyes on him I knew he was “the one” and that I would marry him one day. It didn’t matter at the time that he was already “engaged” to someone else. She was a minor complication. I knew he was mine regardless. I didn’t do anything about it. I knew in my heart that fate and/or God would take care of it. I can still hear my dad’s laughter when I came home that night and told him I was going to marry Steve Dow.

Life has a way of moving on and so it went. Twelve months after my premonition my phone rang. Guess who? Steve Dow calling. He didn’t marry the “girl “ and wondered if I’d be coming to visit my parents soon and whether I would meet up with him. You ask how he got my number. Guess who? My dad, who wasn’t laughing anymore. Maybe I was onto something after all.

That was the fall of 1990. I’ll spare you our courtship details. We got married in August 1991, exactly 9 months after our first date. Quit counting... I wasn’t pregnant. Hilary didn’t come until 1994 and we had been married 3 years by then. Like all marriages we have experienced our trials and tribulations, but we have always been committed.

Steve is a very patient man. I have an affinity for animals. In our second year of wedded bliss I brought home Sir Winston the tabby cat that is still with us. Steve graciously accepted him. When Hilary was about 18 months old I decided we needed a dog and brought home a beagle that we named Casey (after Casey on Mr. DressUp). That didn’t last long as Hilary tortured the poor pup. Steve reluctantly drove Casey back to the Mennonite farm in Floradale.

I’m a slow learner, so when Hilary was about 3, I thought it’s dog time now and I came home with the most beautiful Shar Pei. We named her Tasha May. While Steve was not overly excited, I reminded him that he had 2 choices; either a Shar Pei or a St. Bernard...He opted to keep Tasha. She took over his heart and we loved her for her lifetime. Three years ago she reached her peak and developed renal failure. I can’t describe or recount the story of the day that Steve and I took Tasha in to be put down. Thanks Tash for being part of our life. As the neighbourhood kids always said “you rule”.

Then we got Sir Rupert our Olde English Bulldogge. Steve picked him himself. I won’t embarrass my Steve, but sometime if you get a chance you should eavesdrop on Steve singing his good morning and good night song to Rupert. I was never allowed to have dogs growing up and having them in my married life has been a joy. The truth is Steve got into this “pet thing” because I wanted them. I love him for that.

Hilary is another story. She is and defines our life. We do everything for her. She is the cement that fuses us together forever. We have had three homes together. Each beautiful and distinct. A few years ago I suggested that we should have a “summer retreat type of place”. Before long Steve found our cottage at Kettle Point. It’s our sanctuary and Steve sourced out locations knowing my obsession and love for the “Ojibwas”.

I have an extreme passion for gardens and Steve goes along with it. He knows every Latin plant name and their bloom cycle. I decided a few years ago that we needed a pond and he drew the plans and made sure Bob dug it out to plan. He feeds the Kio and yells up when the water lilies bud and open each morning. He’s out there weeding and toiling the soil with me. How many other husbands do that?

I have been blessed. Steve anchors me. At the same time he is my kite runner and holds the string while I fly.

Happy Anniversary

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Taste That Takes Me Home

“One's home is like a delicious piece of pie you order in a restaurant on a country road one cozy evening - the best piece of pie you have ever eaten in your life - and can never find again. After you leave home, you may find yourself feeling homesick, even if you have a new home that has nicer wallpaper and a more efficient dishwasher than the home in which you grew up.”
~Lemony Snicket

The other day we were sitting around the cottage talking about homesickness and what 'sense' made us think of home and allowed us to go back. Senses are physiological methods of perception. The traditional five senses are sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste.

Senses tell us:
· What is out in the environment.
· How much is out there.
· Is there more or less of it than before.
· Where is it.
· Is it changing in time or place.

We chatted about the smell of Christmas dinners; the taste of puddings, cakes and pies; the sound of music, laughter and stories; the beauty of freshly fallen snow, autumn leaves and spring tulips; and the feel of a juicy wet kiss, warm tears flowing down your cheek or a tight bear hug.
Ironically at the end of our discussion the sense of 'taste' took us all home. It was some type of food + “milk” that took us there. While my husband and daughter relished the memories of milk after anything sweet, I remembered and desired milk with a ham sandwich.

My first homesickness recollection is that of going to Royal Oak School in MontrĂ©al. Every day I would board the school bus with my lunch packed in the brown paper bag. My mom prepaid the school for the daily carton of 2% milk. By lunch I was so homesick for my mom and 2 younger brothers that I found solace in my ham sandwich. It was generously buttered with real butter, and, loaded with lettuce, mustard and shaved ham. The crowning glory was the ‘wash down’ with the ice cold milk.

Ever since then when I’m not feeling quite so centred, I crave a ham sandwich and a glass of milk. I usually succumb and indulge and I always feel like I have been transported back home.
Wear a moustache!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Sleepless in Qmentum

“The quality of an organization can never exceed the quality of the minds that make it up.”

All of us in quality management know the power of teams. Cross-functional teams whose members bring a wide-ranging diversity to the table often astound us with their creativity and problem-solving abilities. I work with the best Quality Team. In addition, we actually have fun, unless it is accreditation time. Like most Canadian health care organizations Accreditation Canada, formerly known as CCHSA, accredits us.

We just fired the start pistol for our next accreditation cycle and the next 9 ½ months promise to be gruelling, taxing and exhausting. At the end of it, our hope is the delivery of a full accreditation status. If that happens then all of this will have been a labour of love; like counting 10 fingers and 10 toes.

A few weeks ago, the Quality Team met to design our accreditation execution and training plan. As we orchestrated the necessary logistics, we realized that we would not be home much as we travel across the province to prepare our sites for the big test. That is what sets this team apart from other Quality Teams. They are the first to roll up their sleeves, like a symphony each player picks up their instrument, and off, they go.

Like every other accreditation cycle, we have had, some sleepless nights set in. I had my first last night. I am at my cottage and the rain is pattering on the roof, sleep feels good after a long day in the sun. I awoke at 1 a.m. frantic, listing all the items of our critical path in my head, jotting down things I think we have forgotten and this goes on and on like counting sheep to no avail. I remember looking at the clock at 6:30 a.m. And thinking something has to give. The next thing I knew it was 11:30 a.m. so I had a late start to the day.

I expect I will have a few more of those nights. When I get home, I will be checking our critical path just to be sure. In the meantime, I have pulled out my “Sleepless in Seattle” movie just in case...

Friday, August 1, 2008

I Found Nemo

I'd like to propose a toast.
“To all the special ‘f’ words:
· friends...
· family...
· fate...
· forgiveness...
· and forever.”...(My First Mister)

People make choices. Right or wrong? Some win, some lose, but at the end of the day everyone loses something or someone. Some choices resulted in the loss of my Nemos. I found my Nemos again; virtually at least.

My baby Nemo isn’t the ‘run of the mill’ type of person. She IS everything and more. She is edgy, brilliant, beautiful, gifted, creative and talented. She could take me on and while I’d accept her challenge I know she’d could take me down.

I’ve waited for a long time for her and someday we will come full circle again. She rocks! She will be a change agent in this world. Mark my words...I can feel her swimming. (and hear her cussing me at the same time)

"Cheers to Nemo!"