Arrange Your Letters Carefully Tots


Yes, it’s Dove, I can’t bear to have Ivory in my house.

Cuss words, swear words, foul language, it’s strange to think that letters arranged a certain way and spoken aloud can disturb peoples sensibilities. My parents were quite opposed to using foul language. At least until dad was either drunk, or had involuntarily damaged his body in some way. Then the air around him was lit up with cussing and cursing. My parents thought swearing was coarse and showed a lack of education. It was probably a belief taught to them through the same indoctrination ceremony as I experienced.

At the tender age of six I believed everyday brought the opportunity for new possibilities. My senses were constantly on the look out for new food for my mouldable hungry mind, it was as insatiable as my stomach. As a fresh faced grade one student, I had the honour of walking to school with my older sister Cheryl, she was a cool student in grade three. We didn’t really walk together per say— I kind of trailed behind her on an imaginary chain while she trotted along with her friend. Her grade three cohort was far more interesting than I.

I loved school. I was the epitome of eager beaver. Worksheets? Yay! Lets do ten! So now you know which kid I was— downright irritating to all the other kids that wanted to stay home eating puffed wheat with sugar, and running wild in their passionate youth.

The indoctrination ceremony wasn’t planned. It was initiated after a solo walk home from school. Cheryl, my exasperated keeper, may have been home sick, or taken by aliens. I can’t quite recall. What I do remember, is meandering home behind some teenagers. And these teenagers are fantastic. I would even say passionately majestic. They are using new words. Words I had never heard before. And they are so excited when they use them— such expression, such ambiance they are creating. I feasted upon new words. They made me feel clever and elderly. I put those words in my to be used soon file of my brain.

That night at supper mom and dad are discussing their day.

I feel bubbles of excitement popping inside my body. My eyes shine with excitement as I wait for a break in conversation to demonstrate my new brilliant vocabulary.

Mom turns to me and smiles, “And how was your day at school Debby?”

My eyes sparkle, “It was fucking fantastic mom!” I tout with a dramatic sweep of my arm. “Even though Shawn was a royal asshole in gym class today.” I continue on  following my words up with an exaggerated grimace.

My gaze flickers from mom, to dad, and back again. I can tell they are astounded by my genius.

Mom hurdles to her feet.

I thought she was going to applaud. But no— She drags me to the bathroom by my arm. “Where did you learn words like that?” she hollers. “You are to never use those words. Terrible. I’m so disappointed in you.”

Once we arrive at the bathroom/temporary torture chamber, she turns the water on and grabs the bar of Ivory soap. She gets it wet and proceeds to shove it into my flabbergasted mouth. She is scrubbing like I am a shirt with a stain on it.

“You want to swear? That’s what happens when you swear,” she rants as she scrubs the soap in my mouth. I feel the soap grate against my teeth collecting on the backside. I gag. Bubbles go up my nose and my world is dominated by the unmistakable flavour of soap.

Mom stops.

I choke and froth. I am like a poisoned victim in a movie.

Mom stands back and puts her hands on her hips. “I hope you’ve learned your lesson!” she fumes, and stalks out the door.

I lean over the sink and scoop handfuls of water into my mouth. I drool and foam. I pick away at the soap stuck in my teeth and cry.

Just so you know, I never indoctrinated my kids when they spoke their first swearwords aloud. Now that they’re older, sometimes they spout cuss words like truckers— and I cringe. They have no fear of Ivory soap. As for myself— Well, soap has a ridiculously distinctive and long lasting flavour. Hence my speech is quite clean.

Why, Hello Happiness


“Hey happiness! Thanks for showing up today!”

Oddly enough I just spent the morning reading all the doom and gloom headlines and I am still choosing to be positive.

I do not care. No, not one hair, for all the scare the news does blare. Apparently I am channelling Dr. Seuss.

Just so you know, I don’t live a totally charmed life. I can tell you, my parents are dead, my two sisters live hundreds of miles away, one of them halfway around the world, and I have no job. Plus I am writing without financial success— but damn I am happy.

So you might say to yourself, well obviously she is partaking in the consumption of happy pills. In the teenage years perhaps, but no, not recently, unless vitamins are little tablets of joy. My magical formula is to simply cherish what I do have, and let the crappy parts go knowing they are only temporary.

I am hugely fortunate to be attached to a supportive and loving partner. I have long ago birthed two healthy grown children and now have two amazing little grand girls. I have sunshine in my windows, and food in my fridge. I have clean water, and a choice of clothing. I have friends, new and old, and ones I have yet to meet. I have cousins and Aunties, Uncles, and in-laws. And— I just happened attend the best damn impromptu dance party on a deck last Friday night— nothing like shaking your butt to get out of a rut.

My heart swells at all the blessings in my life. Happy Tuesday. Hugs!

Mosquitos Suck


A world without mosquitos. 

The deadliest creature alive probably munched on you this summer. This dastardly winged creature is responsible for the death of over a million people this year. They are nature’s most efficient carrier of deadly viruses. They are responsible for transmitting Malaria, Dengue Fever, Yellow fever, Encephalitis, Chikungunya, West Nile, the Zika Virus, and even heartworm through their saliva. Can you believe it? They even go after the dogs, the heartless wankers.

That is quite the résumé you have little insect.

And did you know, that it’s only the female mosquitos that suck our blood? I would hope they had a good reason, and they do, it’s for the children— for the mosquito children for Gosh sakes. Does that make you feel any more giving? Here take my blood. You need it more than I, you’re using the protein and iron to make darling little mosquito eggs.

Just jesting. No. No more life essence for you, tiny reaper of death. It only contributes to the horror— these mini-vamps steal our blood, only to create more creatures to steal our blood. Count Dracula was a mosquito. I’m certain of it.

We might curse Mother Nature for the creation of this plague upon nations, but it is a frugal system once your blood goes into the insect. The female mosquito squeezes the water from your blood, and then she pees it out on you as she fills up to maximum capacity on red blood cells. I guess they had time to become efficient. After all, they were here 20 million years before us.

Not only do they pee on you, an abuse I never knew, but did you know mosquitos are magicians? How many nasty needle-like proboscises do you think the heinous little beast has? One? Nope. And the buzzard sounds— Six! There are six needle-like pieces entering your flesh in a mosquito bite. The outer mandibles saw into your skin, the second set holds the tissues apart as they saw, the hypopharynx drips saliva into the opening to prevent blood from clotting, and last but not least the labrum sucks it up by joining up with the hypopharynx to form a straw. Slurp, slurp. How creepy is that? Do you feel violated yet?


A child-like drawing to show all the needles in a mosquito proboscis, and the pee coming out as she hordes the red blood cells and gets rid of the water.

Did you know that mosquito is Spanish for little fly? Which is brilliantly different from a Spanish fly. Well maybe not so different. A Spanish fly is an aphrodisiac made from ground up blister beetles. The term was wildly popular in the 1980’s. When it’s eaten, it’s supposed to make men amorous. A common side effect is death. A mosquito with malaria could kill you too. So when we examine the terms in that light, they are actually quite similar.

Did you know a male mosquito lives for five to seven days? Yet the female can live up to a month. I find that fact oddly satisfying.

Now here’s an odd ball but curious question. How many mosquitos would it take to drain an adult human of their blood? It would take approximately one million mosquitos to drain you dry. But truth be told, you would be dead before then anyway. Your body would be releasing so much histamine you’d go into shock and die long before all your blood had been transformed into mosquito eggs. It’s probably for the best.

And one last freakish question— how big does one mosquito have to be, to drain you dry? In theory  it would need to be the size of a large dog, but then considering the upgraded size of the outer saw like mandibles, it might become more of a person sawed in half magician trick without the revival. I think I’ll stick to the little blood sucking buggars I can smack.

Are you looking forward to winter yet?

What You Did.


I’m putting in my two cents worth.

We all start out from the same place, as wide-eyed innocent children, full of wonder, exploring our amazing and magical world. More often than not it’s the people and expectations from our culture around us that wipes the sparkle from our existence. It happens through dogma and brainwashed beliefs. It’s taught to us young— be normal, work hard, and don’t fool around. Society wants normal, well-behaved, tax paying citizens.

I’m here to remind you that living within the constraints of society’s ‘normal’ is soul sucking. It leads you into the robot factory. Rise and shine, eat, have a big poop, go to work, eat, work, come home, eat, watch TV or play video games. Intermittently, you will shop and buy stuff you need like food and toilet paper. Most of the time you buy hogwash you don’t really want, something the TV tells you to buy, or the latest hot ticket item that this month’s fashion weekly instructs you to buy. Or sometimes you purchase something because your neighbour has one, and your ego wants to keep up with the Joneses. Apparently the Joneses have everything. Granted there are a few people who are exceptions to the rule— they are the ones smiling.

During your week you might occasionally indulge in exercise, socializing, sports or artistic endeavours. You step out of the robot box. That feels whoo-hoo fun. You feel light and energetic, and you promise yourself to do it again, and then obligations get in the way. You find yourself back on autopilot in a lackluster state.

Let’s pause for a second— You do realise we are all just blood and bone with some muscle and gristle thrown in for good measure, right? You do know, that we are all on our way to the compost heap? Yeah? Then why are we stuck in the robot life? Why not have some fun on the way? As a matter of fact, why not have a whole heap of fun? We don’t need to be so serious about living—  Drop the frowsy faces. I’m serious right now! I am the robber with the balaclava on. I pump the 12 gauge shot-gun and fire it into the air. I holler out, “Listen up folks. I’m taking all your frowns. You figure out how to put a smile on your face, because no one is getting out alive.” The dust from the hole in the ceiling sprinkles down, like fairy godmother glitter in the sunlight. “I bring to you a glimmer of truth. The compost heap is down yonder, and while the timeline is individual for each of us— we’re all heading in the same direction— and it’s a straight shot.” So decipher what brings enchantment into your life now, before the clock strikes twelve.

Plug your ears. Ignore all the shoulds, and coulds, and woulds that try to rule your life. I should do that. I would have done that. I could do that. They all come with a big fat BUT on the end. What’s holding you back? Why are you hesitating? Grab hold of your dreams. Can you smell the compost pile? What is keeping you from what you desire? Is it worry and fear? Or is it about other people? And how they would view you, if you did what you actually wanted to do? At this point I am not supporting fantasies of self-mutilation or murder.

I can almost hear people shouting “Money!” It’s a lack of money keeping me from my smile. Well, you know the line from the Beetles song, ‘Money can’t buy me love?’ Well it’s true, and not only that, it can’t buy you happiness either. You need to figure out what it is that tickles your bliss, and puts a goofy grin on your face. You find that truth, and then  actively do more of that. Be more you and less ‘normal’. Unplug from the robot routine and search out your joys. It is in the doing of it which brings happiness, not in the having of it. And how do you want to be remembered when you hit the compost heap? Do you want to be memorialized by what you did? Or what you had?

Moving Sale


What was your first clear memory? Mine is of a hot summer day. My sisters and I are sitting outside on the cement steps in front of a pink house. I’m wearing shorts. I can feel the creeping coldness leeching it’s way from the concrete into my butt. The chill causes my arms to become covered in goose bumps like the hind end of a naked chicken. The coolness is doubly enhanced because we’re all drinking an ice-cold pop. The sweet fizzy flavour dances on my tongue like a tap dancer on steroids.

I recall this with crystal clarity. It’s no surprise to me that my first memory contains junk food. Throughout my life it’s been my lying bastard of a friend. I turn to it when I feel sad, neglected, worried, angry, unmotivated, or drunk. It succours me. It hugs me from the inside out. It is deceitful. We all know junk food is bad for you, hence the word junk. I admit I can’t even pronounce most of the ingredients listed on any package of junk food. That alone should be a deterrent, but sometimes when I’m feeling low it fills the hole. Perhaps some of the chemicals in junk food are  similar to Prozac or Zoloft? I confess I am mentioning Zoloft simply because it reminds me of Zorro. If I need a dose of antidepressant stronger than junk food— I would pick Zoloft. I feel it would be a swashbuckling success.

Anyway, back to sitting on the steps, I remember we are moving on that day. Mom and Dad are packing up the house. We are sedated with pops, and from our position we can’t see the ‘Moving— Kids For Sale’ sign on the front lawn. At this point in my memory, I still don’t have a clear sense of either one of my parents. My Grams I remember, but then again, she is the one who bought us the pop. Maybe it was a successful moving sale? Maybe I got new parents that day? I’m not sure. But I do remember, it was damn good pop.

I wrote this blog in accordance with my memory— wow! Did I get a shock.

A little bit ago I pranced downstairs to retrieve a picture of this momentous day. I was quite sure we had a photo. Imagine my surprise when I see that at the tender age of three I was experiencing memory issues. The house in the photo is grey/black glass flecked stucco, not pink. Plus Shannon didn’t have a pop, poor little trooper. And I wasn’t even wearing shorts. I was wearing my sexy red bathing suit with white piping along the edges. Most surprising of all— is that I don’t look like I was enjoying my pop. But I can tell you for certain that I cherished the soda. I think my expression was from watching all the brawls on the sidewalk. You know, just like on Boxing Day, the ‘Moving— Kids For Sale’ sign was causing havoc for the prospective parents.

So here’s what I do know from my unexpected memory glitch, the feelings in this story are accurate. It was a hot sunny day. You can see it, we are all squinting, and there are flowers growing in the dirt beside us. Plus, we are wearing summer clothing so interested buyers can see the type of future doctors and lawyers they are purchasing. And without a doubt, I did feel chilly from the concrete because cement is cool. Last but not least, of course the pop was delicious, it was created to be dishonestly ambrosial. I still enjoy the odd pop.

So you see, my feelings had been honest— but my eyes were not. So in the words of Obi-Wan-Kenobi –“Don’t trust your eyes, they can deceive you.”



I don’t want to look at you.

Stop jingling the bell. I’m not that easy. Now that I’ve been around a while it’s time to come clean, so listen up— you’re the one who adopted me. I’m entitled to be crabby. I can feel any way I want to feel. You misrepresented yourself. You were all cuddles and love. You brought me into your home, and told me I was part of the family. And now you won’t even let me up on the counter? I swear you keep me on the floor just so I have to look up to you. And then to top it off you steal my shit with your tiny little shovel? It’s like I don’t even know you! And you’re telling me not to be catty?

Sigh, well, while we’re being truthful, let me tell you— It was I, Graham, your soft little snuggle puss— I let the neighbour’s dogs out, and I don’t care.

Nope. You may as well put that treat away. I’m not having any of it. I might take your hand. You have no respect for my royal lineage. Have you even seen the sphinx?

If you had played your cards right you would have been allowed to pet me today, but no, you called me fat. And I’m not fat. I’m fluffy.

Don’t shake the treat bag, I’m not falling for that. I can’t trust you. I asked for the latest fish tank TV and it hasn’t arrived yet. I’ve been staring out this window all day waiting for some appropriate grovelling, and you have been sadly negligent. So stare at my elegant form if you must, but know, I’m over here dreaming of a flat world so I can push you off and dispose of you without a mess.

This situation is your entire fault you know?

I think maybe we’ve come to the point in our relationship that you need to get a dog. A dog will serve your ego.

Bee Careful


Gramps heard my scream.

He bustled over to see what was the matter.

Only seconds earlier I had been admiring the beauty of the forest, and smelling the newly opened wild flowers. In my six-year old mind I had been anticipating the arrival of some sort of a fairy. On a day such as this it seemed inevitable that one would appear. I had grown weary of waiting and so I sat on a log. I failed to see the bee. As my rump crushed the normally meek and mild creature, it stuck me with his barbed stinger sealing his fate and mine. I jumped to my feet with a screech, clutching my buttock. Poor little bee didn’t stand a chance. After a bee uses his stinger it will die. My fate was much kinder. A tender tush is preferred over death. However death from a sting might yet come for me.

Throughout the years I was gifted with a great many stings from the insect world. The majority occurred on the farm. Once I was stung three times by an aggressive band of wasps. It happened whilst fencing through a thick grove of forest. I vividly recall accidently stepping on their nest and the onslaught of the swarm. The red angry swelling from each individual sting was immediate. No big surprise that I got stung. That was my life as a youth, if I wasn’t falling off of horses and tripping over pebbles, I was tramping through wasp-infested areas like King Kong through New York City. There I am swatting away wasps like a giant ape on the top of the Empire State building bashing away planes. I can’t even accurately count the number of times I was stung throughout the years. All became normal ouchy tender swollen spots, until one day, my body’s immune system morphs into the Hulk offering death as a solution to the invading toxins of the wasp.

The official bulking up of my immune system transpired on a camping trip. We were meeting long time friends and their boys for a weekend of boating and fishing at Pinehurst Lake. We arrived at the campsite; our truck, camper and boat are coated in a thick film of brown dust from the bumpy gravel road. It is a remote lake. Most of the camp stalls are occupied. We stop momentarily, in awe of the view. We gaze upon camping spots shaded by poplar and spruce trees following the edge of the lake. The water along the shore sparkles in the late day sun. A warm summer wind tickles the branches on the trees until the leaves twist in delight. Certainly last but not least, a gaggle of children race their bikes along the road, towels over their shoulders, heading to the wooden dock for a swim. We are jolted out of our viewing pleasure by the honking of a horn. Using the Universal symbol of greeting Rick sticks his hand out of the window forms a fist and slowly extends his middle finger. Way to win a friend Hubby.

We spot our friend’s camper in a site close to the dock. It’s convenient to loading and unloading boats. An empty place beckoned to be filled alongside them, perfect for our camper.

I can see Margie’s slim form sitting in a cloth camping chair. Her blond hair shines in the sun. She smiles and gives us a wave.

Once camp is set up, Rick begins to fiddle with the motor on the boat. He has a small fix to do before he can put it in the lake. Margie and I stand by the fire pit.

She is eating sunflower seeds and throwing the shells in the pit.

“Are you getting tired of camping yet?” I ask. “It seems like you guys have been camping most of the summer.” An annoying fly is using the back of my calf as a landing strip. I feel it crawling on my leg. At least I thought it was a fly.

Margie chuckles. “Are you kidding Deb? I live for camping. All my work is at home. Dwayne likes to cook out here, and the boys are always off fishing or swimming. It’s a holiday, “ she said tossing her head and brushing her windblown hair from her eyes. “The only thing I don’t like about camping is going home.”

I bob my head in agreement, “Yeah, I know what you mean, going home means laundry, grass to mow, and a garden to weed.” The assumed fly is still pestering me. I lift my leg up towards my butt thinking the fly will take flight. However, the fly is not a fly, and the sting is immediate. It’s like a thousand little spankings all on top of one another. I couldn’t even blame the insect— it had to defend itself from being crushed.

“Dammit! Fricken son of a bitch!” I mutter hopping around sideways. I swipe the back of my leg insistently in case the toxic critter is still on me.

“What? What Deb?” Margie questions with motherly concern. “Did you get stung?”

I look down at my feet to see the black and yellow wasp squirming on the ground. “Yeah I did. Dirty little bugger.” I said. My calf muscle throbs. I step on the wasp squishing him into the dirt effectively putting him out of his misery.

“You’re not allergic to bees are you?” Margie asked.

I shake my head, “No. But I’m going to grab some ice to take the sting away.” I walk towards my camper, “Hey?” I turn back. “Do you want a cooler?”

“No Deb, I’ll grab us a cooler. My treat.”

I nod, “Ok, but the next ones on me.”

I grab my ice and return to the fire. Margie’s three boys and our two kids are seated around the metal fire pit spitting sunflower shells into the flames. Our husbands Dwayne and Rick are organizing their boats for a quick fish before dark. It wasn’t going well for Rick, he would occasionally utter curses and stomp around to the toolbox for a different tool.

I took a seat beside Margie and put an ice pack on my sting. The relief was nearly immediate. “So what else is new?” I ask.

She leans back into the cocoon of her camping chair and crosses her legs taking a sip of her cooler before answering. “I’m painting the downstairs in our house. I’m choosing bold colors,” she said with a shake of her head. “I never thought I would use such intense colors but I seem to be drawn to them lately.”

I raise my eyebrows, “It’s a gutsy move,” I comment. “But maybe you need a big change.” I said as I feel a warm flush spread through my body. An intense itchiness begins to develop on my buttocks. I wiggle inconspicuously.

Margie is oblivious. “So, after the basement’s done, I’m going to paint the feature wall in the kitchen red,” announces Margie looking at me expectantly.

I give her an odd look and say, “Red? You really want to go red?” I couldn’t imagine red in a kitchen. Mind you, I was picturing fire engine red— like the color my butt must be. Oh, I was ridiculously itchy. I discreetly waggle in my seat again.

Margie flips a few strands of loose hair behind her ear and continues to explain, “It isn’t the candy apple red color I want, but more of a brick red.”

I nod aggressively noticing my neck is now uncomfortably warm and itchy as well. “You’re pretty brave to go with that much color. I don’t think I could do it.” I confess as I feel my ears begin to grow hot and itch inside.

“Margie smiles, “Well the hard part will be getting Dwayne to go along with it.”

The urge to scratch becomes unbearable. I leap to my feet and start scratching, my neck, my back, my butt— everything. I rub at my ears massaging them into my head trying to relieve the itchiness inside.

Margie and the kids stare at me like I’ve lost my mind.

I continue scratching. “I think I’m reacting to the sting.” I said to no one in particular.

I race to my camper to look for an antihistamine. I remember that antihistamines are good for allergies. Nothing. I had nothing. Damn you children of mine! Why couldn’t one of you have allergies?

I lift up my shirt to look at my stomach. I’m covered in hives the size of dinner plates. I look at my sides, my shoulders— they all have giant raised red areas.

I bolt out of the camper and call to Margie,” Do you have any antihistamine?”

She doesn’t.

The fellow who is managing the campground walks up at that precise moment.

I greet him with a flurry of questions, “Hi, how are you? You wouldn’t happen to have any antihistamine in your truck would you?” I ramble on, “I just got stung by a bee— well not a bee— but a yellow jacket— and now I’m having a reaction.”

He looks at my flushed face. “Do you feel like your ears are swelling, got hives, and is your throat is tight?”

My eyes bulge a bit. I do have a tight throat. That was new. “Yes. All of those things. I have all of those things, “I fluster.

“Then I think you should go to the hospital,” he said, “People can die from reactions like that.”

I glare at him. Thank you very much. You jolly, jolly, little man. That is exactly what I wanted to hear.

He writes something on a piece of paper and hands it to me. “This is the number for the hospital in Lac La Biche. It’s about a forty-five minute drive. There’s no phone service for the first half hour.” He peers into my face, “You know, I read somewhere that you should stay calm when you have a reaction. If you get worked up your heart pumps faster and your symptom time speeds up.”

Hmmm, it seems to me I read that somewhere too. Yes, now I was scared. I try to swallow, and my throat resists.

“Deb, are you okay?’ asks Margie.

I could see from Margie’s expression that she didn’t think I was okay— and I sure didn’t feel okay.

“I think I’d better go to the hospital.” I said with tears filling my eyes.

We walk over to Rick where he is working on the boat. I am still scratching, although at a much more controlled pace now. Calm, I must stay calm.

I can feel the negativity hanging in the air where Rick is working. He is bent over the engine at the rear of the boat. A dark cloud encircles him and tiny sparks of lightening shoot out towards us.

“Rick, I need you to take me to the hospital.” I announce.

“Yeah, in a minute.” He rumbles not bothering to look up.

Margie examines me with her eyes. “I think you should go now. Do you want me to take you?” she asks in a quiet voice.

“No.” I said stubbornly, Rick can take me.” I didn’t want to ruin Margie’s evening— like she was going to have a big party now anyway. Silly me.

Margie frowns and then glares at Rick. She puts her hands on her hips to hold up her big girl pants. “Rick.” She orders. “You need to take Deb to the hospital right now.”

He throws his hands up and turns to us with anger in his eyes. “I’m trying to fix this!” he growls. He notices my swelling head and flushed face. The storm in him subsides and a calm acceptance crosses his face. “Lets go.”

As we pull out of the campground I can’t help but wonder if I’ll ever see my kids again. I focus on calm breath, in and out. Rick speeds down the road and dust billows behind us. He suddenly realizes how serious this could be. The tightening in my throat increases, but the air continues to flow in and out of my lungs.

We arrive at the hospital. The admitting nurse takes me into the examinations room immediately. She takes my blood pressure and concern emanates from her face. Nausea rises up and I fight against it.

The doctor arrives. “You’re having an allergic reaction.” He said.

No shit Sherlock. Tell me something I don’t know. Maybe I was getting edgy.

He looks at my hives and scopes out my throat, “We are going to give you some medicine to counteract the reaction, and we’ll put you on IV to raise your blood pressure artificially.

My color was gone, the nausea rolled through my guts.

The nurse pushed a needle into my arm and injects me with the miracle cure. I instantly feel cold and dizzy. I can barely lift a hand and I think I might have to puke. My blood is gone and I am a ghost.

The nurse is sweet, an older lady with warm hands. She tries to insert the IV for fluids into my hand. She fails three times. My veins are collapsing. I see the worry in her face, and the raw edge of panic. She switches to my other hand and after three more tries she succeeds in getting a vein. After about five minutes with fluid running into my body I start to feel better.

The nurse wipes her brow and sighs with obvious relief, “Whew. I haven’t had that tough of a time getting a vein for years.”

I close my eyes and smile. I’ll get to see my kids in a while.

When they release me the nurse pulls me aside. “Make sure you carry your Epi-pen, everywhere you go. Next time you might not have as much time. I haven’t seen a reaction that severe in a long while.” She shakes a finger at me. “I’m not kidding. Carry your epinephrine pen.”

I admit to becoming lax about carrying my pen. This story is my reminder to start carrying it again. My hulk of an immune system is just waiting for the opportunity to bust out and run rampant once again.

A Lei for a Good Marriage


Diamond Head Lighthouse on Oahu 

Testing a marriage has never been so easy as missing a flight. A number of years ago my sister Shannon, and I met in Honolulu for a small holiday. I live in Canada and she lives in Australia. It seemed a logical place for us to meet without having jetlag tag along too.

My sister’s husband, Kane is Australian. Back then, he was an officer in the Australian Army. By some odd coincidence Kane was also in Honolulu on Army business with his unit. Kind of like an exchange of military minds. I’ll show you my machine gun if you show me yours. How far can your soldiers run, mine can run farther and faster with their pants around their ankles than yours can. It is a full-fledged testosterone festival really— whose is bigger, faster, and more powerful.

I like Kane, he’s fairly easy to be around— Which is good— I mean he would have to be, since he’s in charge of the big guns and gets to blow things up. But seriously—Talk about stress relief, boom! Blast another hole in the ground.

Kane picks me up at the Honolulu airport. Shannon’s flight doesn’t arrive until the evening. So we take a tour around Waikiki beach, which includes a walk through the local park. I can’t help but notice the women are more unclad than clad, and it would take less effort to get undressed or dressed than in the frozen wonderland of Canada.

The hours whizz by and then it is time to pick up Shannon from the airport. Did I mention that people are excellent drivers in Honolulu? They are excellent to drive you to the edge of a nervous breakdown. In the end I just stopped looking at the traffic and looked at Kane’s white knuckled hands on the steering wheel. No worries— Hang loose. No wonder there is a soft drug culture on the island, they need something to get through the daily death defying commute. I assume that since they are Islanders, they are better with boats, but I never confirmed that theory.

At the airport we sit outside the terminal for international arrivals, the terminals themselves are in the building, but they have a spacious open area outside with concrete planters, benches, and wide sidewalks. The evening is warm and balmy, most people sit outside while they wait. Kane and I are chatting. Actually, I’m listening because that’s my area of expertise, and Kane is chatting because that’s his specialty.

A loud round of laughter erupts from across the way. It’s a couple of female security guards, one is sitting on the bench, and the other is standing facing her. They begin a little jostling type horseplay. It becomes louder, and more aggressive. Then in one angry motion the security guard that was standing grabs the other one by her pony tail. She pulls her backwards slamming her head into the concrete planter. I quickly get the feeling they are not practicing members of the Hawaiian ‘Hang Loose society’. As my jaw hangs down loosely in shock, all I can think is: I will not now, nor ever, create problems for the Honolulu airport security.

Finally Shannon’s flight is called and the people who cleared customs begin emerging from the building. We watch other people being greeted by family, friends, and tour groups. Still no Shannon.

Kane and I exchange glances. She should come out soon.

The arrivals dwindle and it is only ourselves, and one tour company waiting.

Where was Shannon?

A disheveled older couple enters the waiting area, they glance around in confusion and then the tour company representatives greet them with open smiles. They leave.

Now it’s just us.

A security officer pushes his way through the doors.

Kane steps up to the man, “Excuse me, are there anymore passengers left to come through from that last flight?”

“Just one woman.” he said giving us a reassuring nod. “She should be through shortly.”

Kane and I exchange glances again.

We turn our focus to the door willing Shannon to walk through.

The door swings open and an thickly built woman walks past us towards the taxi cabs.

Kane gives me a clenched jaw look. I’m sure his head would have popped off if he didn’t have such a thick neck. He marches to the phone muttering “She missed the bloody plane, I just know it she missed the bloody plane.”

Oh I felt like laughing until it hurt— but then I would be the one getting their head smacked against the concrete planter. What can I say? My unfortunate response to stress is to laugh.

Kane’s response to this particular stress is to get wound up so tight his face turns crimson and his ears get sucked into the sides of his head.

The phones were no help. Shannon was not at home, and all the phone numbers he had that might help him locate her were on the army base. So off I went with my half-crazed brother in-law to the army base.

Did I mention we had to drive there? Did I mention how the Hawaiians drove? I think I did. Well at this point Kane drove worse.

I tried to reason with him, “You’re right Kane, she probably did miss her plane. She probably got her flight time wrong.” I proclaim while trying to remember a Merry Poppins tune to sing to calm him down. Anything… I would have said anything to have the calm, rational, within a decent speed limit Kane back. But no. Now he is hunched over his steering wheel like a demon in a flaming red minivan. He looks like Taz off of the cartoon Loony Tunes. “Me got to get me wife!!!” At that point I knew I had better just sit back and take my revenge by writing this all down.

Once we arrive at the army base Kane is out of the van in a dash. He is bearing down on his subordinates (Did I mention Kane is a Major in the Australian army), they stand at attention while Kane barks out orders to locate one of the Captains. Shannon was friends with the captains wife, she was supposed to drive Shannon to the airport.

I took a seat at the front of the barracks right where Kane indicated I should sit. Exactly where he indicated I should sit. I did so immediately and without hesitation.

“Stay there.” He orders me.

He stalks to the phone on the desk and dials a number. Some poor soldier on the other end of the phone gets his ears blasted off when Kane didn’t get the information he requested.

Kane slams the phone down and stalks down a hall.

While Kane is gone I observe a drunken soldier making his way toward the front entrance. His eyes turn to me like a mouse to a piece of cheese.

I turn my chair and face the other way hoping to avoid any type of contact.

The fellow zigzags his way behind me. I can see his shadow on the floor. His breath is coming over my shoulder in fumes. I sit very still hoping he will leave. Nope. No such luck.

He makes his way in front of me and pulls up a chair across from me. He is struggling with obvious issues of balance and focus. He stares at me with bleary eyes. I imagine I seem very out of place to him. A female civilian on the base who appears to be alone. He flops down into the chair, and leans forward about to open his mouth.

I could sense what was coming. I was cringing, knowing for certain whatever he would say would not go over well with Kane. After all Kane had designated himself my protector. With Kane due back any second I don’t think this man could fully appreciate the danger of speaking his chemically altered, at this moment, no IQ mind.

The first half of a word began to come out of his mouth— And that’s when Kane flew back into the room.

“Can I help you soldier!” snaps Kane.

Amazingly the drunken sod bolts out of his chair and stumbles up the stairs as if Kane had ignited his butt on fire.

Kane looks at me and demands, “Was he rude to you?”

“No Kane he wasn’t” I answer quite truthfully.

By then Kane had the cell number for Shannon’s friend. Within minutes we found Shannon. She was at that moment sitting in a restaurant having supper with her friends getting ready to leave for Hawaii. Have you ever traveled over the Date Line? It can be very confusing, after all it was Friday the next day there, and she would arrive Thursday the day before. Or was it the other way around? Anyway, Shan missed her flight and she did not even know it until Kane broke the news, talk about a shocker!

Shan arrived the next day, I was so glad to see her. The moment I saw her I endowed her with a brilliant blue orchid flower lei. The Hawaiian lady who sold it to me said it was good for marriages.



She is grace.

It transpires without effort within the flowing rhythm of her heart.

She is unacquainted with the dictionaries definition of grace, which is bound and emotionless within the confines of a book.

Her grace is a feeling far more than bold print, and practiced words.

Her image inspires my heart.

A bud to a blossom in a flick of the wrist.

She is a sigh of the spirit.

She is a breath from the soul into flesh.

And my eyes and my heart are in awe.


Shadows of Joy

Version 2

Inner joy is reflected everywhere, even in your shadow. Sometimes I look at peoples shadows and think “Damn.  That’s a happy shadow. The maker of that shadow must be off the charts ecstatic. I wish I was that happy.”

The thing is, sometimes I am that happy. But I want more. I want merriment to walk in my shadow every day. And I can do it. And so can you… because in the long and winding road of life, I’ve come to understand the path to joy, is easiest to follow by taking each moment as it comes. The shadow people had no plans that day except to go to a parade. They didn’t know it was going to be sweltering, or that the fire engine would shower water for people to enjoy. They had no plans to dance in the street. Living in the moment led them into that spirited moment. The only plan they had that morning was to go to a parade.

Taking each second in your day as they come, does not mean, to have no plans. You still have certain hygienic obligations to fulfill in order to maintain the benefit of companionship. And then, there is the small but large business of having a job, doing household chores, paying bills, and much more in order to survive.

It was ten years ago I realized I was a control freak. It took one conversation with a friend, to recognize how absurd I was, when it came to controlling the details of my life. We are discussing some vague health issues I was experiencing. I am pondering the numerous symptoms, and searching for the possible diagnosis on the Internet. As I fretted over my situation my friend finally asked, “Why don’t you just go to the doctor?”

I pulled back and stared at her with a shocked look in my eyes, “I can’t possibly go to the doctor until I know what’s wrong with me.” This answer seemed perfectly reasonable to me. Wasn’t I in charge of every possible outcome in my life?

She stared at me with equally wide eyes, and began to laugh at the preposterousness of my answer. After a moment I saw it too, and joined in with a hee-haw chuckle.

She called bullshit on me. It was my dazzling moment of enlightenment, when I realized I needed to learn how to let go. At that moment, I understood my thoughts had a strangle hold on my life. By preplanning for every action, I killed the possibility of joy. Happiness cannot live without freedom of expression. I still fight the impulse to create outcomes for my plans because of my need for perfection. I am a self-confessed recovering control freak. I am by nature tenacious. Which can be a good thing, if you fall over a cliff, and are holding on by the tips of your fingers. Don’t let go. But if you’re teaching a 4-H calf to lead, and it suddenly darts away at breakneck speed. And you are being dragged behind leaving the peelings of skin on the gravel. Let go— For God’s sake let go! Being tenacious in that situation is not a wise choice. That was my youngest sister, by the way. In our family, we always felt like we had something to prove. We mimicked the processes our parents used to live their lives. We were unwittingly brainwashed into feeling everything we did needed to be beyond reproach, or we were proved lacking. We were taught if we were not perfect, we fell short as human beings.

I lived the majority of my life thinking that way. Shoring up against failure, so I could appear perfect. Now I know, both perfection and control are an illusion. Not that it made it any easier to change. Quite frankly it’s hell. I still struggle. Sometimes it takes a crowbar and ten strong men, to pry me away from planning all the negative outcomes of a situation. Especially when I am feeling frightened, or vulnerable. Generally, that’s when life looks at my scared scenario’s, and hands me one I’ve never thought of, saying, “Hey! Do you really wanna be perfect? You forgot this one.” It’s proof that living your life in the future, and trying to head off all the possible calamities, will only give you a sore neck from looking for all those conceivable catastrophes. The only influence we have over our lives, is that— if we look for problems we find problems, and if we look for solutions we find solutions.

Our anxiety does not come from thinking about the future, but from wanting to control it. — Kahlil Gibran

So hey, lets think in general terms with positive endings, rather than planning for the possibility of World War 3, or a zombie apocalypse. Go to a parade and see what happens. I guarantee, we too, can be joyful shadows and obscenely happy human beings.