Tuesday, September 30, 2014

MEMORIES OF A CHILD

I believe my worst known fear is the fear blood. This fear is probably from an early childhood experience. I know of two childhood experiences. The first childhood experience happened when I was about five; I was playing on the paved area of the schoolyard when I saw a girl with blood gushing out of her legs, she was crying her eyes out and it was pretty freaky. 

The next experience was when I was 6; I was cutting with safety scissors and I accidentally cut my finger, it was only a small cut but the blood was pouring from it. My mother came into the room and freaked out, she called my father who had to take the bus to get home, but when he arrived the entire calamity was over. My finger was wrapped in gauze for like two months. That is why I believe my worst fear to be blood.

Written by Jacob Kendall
Age 11

THANKSGIVING IN CANADA


Since 1957, when Parliament fixed Thanksgiving as the second Monday in October, Canadians have been celebrating Thanksgiving every year with Turkey dinners, liturgical festivals, Thanksgiving Day Classic football games, and Oktoberfest parades.

The Atlantic provinces of Canada do not recognize Thanksgiving Day as a Statutory Holiday, but most federal government regulated companies, such as banks, observe the holiday.

Like many Canadians across the country I will be cooking up a scoff of turkey and all the trimmings, but unlike what they do in the movies, we do not join hands, pray, or recite what we are thankful for. For we go to weekly mass and pray therein. And no one I know likes pumpkin pie!

In the past, I never really understood this holiday. I mean, I'm thankful for what I have everyday, so why would there be a special day put aside for such a thing? I guess, not everyone is thankful everyday, or maybe we need to be reminded of how good we really have it with our Canadian Football League, Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest Parade (Ontario), and amazing farms where we can buy organic free-range turkeys and fresh, just harvested vegetables for our feast. 

Originally, the holiday was about giving thanks for the harvest season, but it has become much more than that. I think that a lot of people use this holiday to not only gather things for a feast, but to gather as a family, as a community, and as a nation. Thanksgiving is about tradition and culture, something we all should strive to honor and continue. We should be thankful for all that this vast country has to offer in all its glorious splendor.

This year's Thanksgiving Day falls on October 13, and with our busy schedules we can all use a long weekend. 

So, from my family to yours, have a safe and prosperous Thanksgiving Day weekend.



Monday, September 29, 2014

THE AMAZING OZZIE

This is a true story.




“OZZIE, No!” Mary said as she saw her cat, Ozzie, jump out the living room window and race over the patio and across the yard. 

She ran down the hallway and out the door after him, but as she was making her way across the patio, her pit bull, La-La, spotted the cat and took off after him. Mary ran after La-La screaming and yelling for her to come back. A minute later she heard the screech of the cat. La-La came out of the woods with a mouthful of white hair and drops of blood on her nose. 

Mary’s heart sank; she grabbed the dog by the leash, yelled at her, and dragged her to the shed to tie her up. “You sonofabitch, if you killed my cat, I’m never untying you again!”

She was heading across the road to where she saw the cat enter the woods when her sister-in-law, Lima, drove up and honked the horn. Lima lived next door.

“Hey, girl, wassup?” she called out to Mary as she got out of her car. 

Mary walked over. “Lima, I think my cat might be dead.” 

“What? What happened?” 

“Ozzie got through the screen in the living room window and ran out; La-La got sight of him and ran after him. A minute later I heard my cat screech and La-La came outta the woods with blood on her nose and hair in her mouth.”

“Ah, jeez,” Lima said. She secretly hated that dog, but would never say anything to Mary. Lima was more of a cat lover, and Ozzie was a nice cat, friendly, with a big black and white, fluffy coat of fur.

“Okay, help me get my groceries in the house and I’ll help you look.”

“Okay, thanks.” 

Lima opened the trunk and they carried the bags in the house. Lima put away her perishables and then they walked across the road to where the animals had entered the woods. Right away they came across the place where the dog and cat had fought. Bits of cat hair lined the brush in a small clearing, but no sign of the cat. Lima went one way, Mary went the other. 

After about an hour of searching the woods, both women gave up and made their way back to the road. 

When Lima came out of the woods, Mary was coming out of her house, with glasses of water. Lima climbed the patio stairs and gladly took the water. It was a hot day, hotter in the woods. 

“Anything?” Mary said.

“Nothing. You?”

“Nothing. Not a sound. He might have been so scared that he just kept running. And if he’s been bitten, then he might be too scared to come back. Damn dog.”

They sat down at the patio table, drinking the cool water. 

“I’m gonna have to keep the dog tied on until he comes back, if he comes back.” 

“Well, if he can find his way back he’s gonna do it at night; you still let him out at night, right?”

“Yah, and he always comes back just before dawn, so maybe, just maybe he’s alright, and he’ll be back around then, I hope.”

“Well, don’t give up; cats have nine lives ya know.” Lima tried to keep it light. “Okay, well, let me know if I can do anything. I gotta get supper started. I’ll get Chris to look when he comes home later. What time is Drake coming home?”

“He said he wouldn’t be back until around eleven tonight, but he’s off for the weekend, so I’ll get him look again, if Ozzie doesn’t come back by then.”

“Okay, chat later.”

“Alright, thanks, Lima.”

Lima went home, put away the rest of her groceries, and started supper. She couldn’t help but feel sad for the cat. Her husband Chris came home from work and she told him what happened. After supper Chris and Lima went once again to look for Ozzie, but no luck. Mary couldn’t join in because it was bath time for her son, Kay, he was only three.

The next day Chris and Drake searched the woods calling for Ozzie, but there was no sign. The search was abandoned, there was just too much ground to cover, and everyone decided that it was in God’s hands now.

The following evening both couples sat around the patio table discussing the pros and cons of pet ownership and told stories about pets coming back against impossible odds. They were trying to be hopeful. 

Kay was asleep in his bed unaware of the situation. Mary had cleaned the cat litter and kept the trays out, to keep up appearances. Of course, being only three years old, his attention and interests lay in cartoons and toys, so he hadn’t noticed the cat not being around.

That night Mary tossed and turned, she just couldn’t get to sleep, she kept thinking about Ozzie. Was he dead? Was he hurt and suffering?  Was he right out there, close to home, but hidden from sight? Was he too scared to meow? Could he meow?

She thought about him all night. She thought about him so long that she thought she could hear the faint sound of his cry. The louder it came the harder she tried to ignore it. She knew it was all in her mind. 

Drake tossed next to her. “Did you hear that?”

“What? Hear what?”

“The cat, it’s the cat, listen.”

Mary and Drake listened. No sound. Drake was about to hit the pillow when it came again. This time he jumped out of bed and ran to the door. Mary followed.

As soon as he opened up the door, Ozzie came limping in, head low. He headed straight for the storage room and went under the dresser drawer.

“Holy crap, I don’t believe it.” Drake said. “He must be hurt. Did you see him limping?”

“Yah. And the way he was holding his head.” Mary turned on the light. “I knew I heard something, but I thought it was just wishful thinking.”

They got on their knees and tried to coax him out, but he would not move. Mary went to get water and food and placed it next to him. He made no sound, just closed his eyes and went to sleep. It was breaking daylight and they both had to get up for work, so they went back to bed, both astonished that the cat came back.

For two more days, Ozzie stayed under the dresser, he did not eat, he did not drink, he did not go to the litter box. He finally came out on the third day and allowed Mary and Drake to inspect him. They discovered a big hole under his chin and scratches on his nose. And, boy, did he smell bad.

“It’s the infection,” said Drake. “You have to bring him to the vet.”

“Yah, I’ll call now, hopefully we can get in right away.”

Ozzie got back to his feet and slowly found his way to his food and water. He ate some food, drank some water, then went back to the dresser.

Kay asked about Ozzie and Mary and Drake told him that Ozzie was just a little sick and he needed to be alone to rest, and that he needed to see the doctor to get some medicine to make him better. Kay understood this and let Ozzie be.

The following day, Lima stayed with Kay while Mary took Ozzie to the vet. 

“He looks better today,” Mary told Lima.

“I still can’t believe that he survived three days in the woods. He’s one helluva cat.”

“I know.” Mary sighed, relieved. 

“Don’t worry about dinner, I’ll get a barbecue started, it’ll keep Kay and me busy.”

Mary thanked her, kissed Kay goodbye, and was on her way to the vet with Ozzie.

That evening Mary, Lima, and Kay sat at the table on the patio enjoying salads made by Lima and Kay. Chris and Drake were chatting and flipping the steaks and chicken on the barbecue. 

“The vet was amazed that the damn cat survived that bite. Just another quarter inch and the jugular would have been severed and he would have bled out in minutes.” Drake told Chris.

“So, the vet gave him antibiotics and pain killers?” said Chris.

“Yep, said the cat would be better in another few days. Still can’t believe it.” Drake shook his head.

The meat was ready and everyone started digging in. 

Kay pointed at the living room window and screamed. “Mommy, Daddy, Ozzie’s trying to get out!”

They all looked at the window, and sure enough, there was Ozzie clawing at the screen. 

As Mary was getting up to take care of it, Kay yelled, “Dat damn cat gonna get him jugger served!”

Everyone stopped eating, looked at Kay, and burst out laughing.







Saturday, September 27, 2014

WE GAVE UP TIM HORTON'S








“Hello, welcome to Tim Horton’s, would you like to try our Dark Roast coffee?” 

“She’s sounds half-asleep,” I whisper to my partner.

“No, thank you, I will have a large regular coffee two cream one sweetener, please,” my partner says to the order box then drives on up the drive-thru.

I hand him correct change.

“You’re twenty cents short, sir.” 

He looks at me, “Did it go up again?”

I shrug my shoulders and reach for more change.

He turns to the cashier and asks her the same question.

“Yes, price of coffee went up again, something to do with a drought in Brazil.”

I give him the extra coin, the exchange is made, and we are on our way. 

“Geez, if the price keeps going up I’m gonna have to start making my coffee at home.”

“Tell me about,” I say. “Didn’t it just go up in the spring?”

“Yah, I think you’re right.”

He starts talking about work and his team and about how great they are being with all the new changes happening. 

I’m still thinking about the price of coffee.

“What’s up with this new Dark Roast coffee?” I say. “It sounds suspicious. I bet you any money that with Tim’s being bought out by Burger King that they are gonna change their supplier, change their coffee. That’s what it’s about. Every time a company makes a change it’s for the cheaper crap.”

He considers this. “Maybe,” he says.

“Hey, you know what?” I say. 

“Yah.” 

“We should buy one of those Keurig one-cup coffee makers. I saw it in the Walmart flyer yesterday. They are on sale for $58. Want to?”

He considers the suggestion. “Well, the price of coffee is climbing steadily, and with the drought, competition from Starbucks and MacDonald’s, it’s probably going to go up again in the new year. Okay, yah, sounds like an idea, it’s time to give up. And if you can do it, so can I.” He looks at me and gives me a nod of approval.

“Well, I guess developing gastritis will make anyone quit. I always told you that Tim’s coffee was gonna rot my gut.” 

He pulls into his workplace parking lot and gets out. I get out and give him a hug-n-kiss and climb into the driver’s seat. 

“When you pick me up later we’ll go together.”

“Okay, have a great day.”

I drive home and get on with my day. 

I pick him up later and we go to Walmart. The Keurig machines are still on sale. He picks one off the shelf and we check out the different flavors and brands of coffee K-cups that are also on sale. They also have decaf, tea, and hot chocolate. He chooses a light blend from Folgers and I choose a stronger blend from Timothy’s. We are so proud that we have become Tim Horton’s free. We pay for our purchase and take our new friend home.










It’s so easy to use. You put a cup of water in the top, turn on the power, flip the filter lever, pop in a K-cup, close, and press the brew button. In less than two minutes a pleasing aromatic smell fills the kitchen. 

My partner is calculating the price of each K-cup and finds that it is indeed cheaper and when he tastes the coffee he is converted. It smells so good that I decide to try a cup of the light blend and it so happens that, despite my gastritis, it does not hurt my stomach. 

“Delicious,” he says.

“I know,” I say.

Our son comes out of the bedroom. “What’s going on? What are you guys eating? What’s all the fuss about?” 

He sees the machine and smells the coffee. “You guys are crazy, all that fuss for coffee?” He stomps back to his room, shaking his head. 

We laugh. He doesn’t know it yet, but he’ll be joining us one day.

Monday, September 22, 2014

YE OLD TOY GRAVEYARD

At an early age my son showed outstanding signs of creativity and imagination and I was always surprised by his projects. Perhaps all those age appropriate creative toys I bought him helped, or maybe it was being an only child, or maybe it was the fact that I nurtured these things in him that made him so. Whatever the reason, I was always amazed at the things that I would find. 

One day, while dusting the bookshelf, I came across this:








And being the respectful mom that I am, I snapped some pictures, dusted, and placed the books back on the shelf. It wasn't until we moved out of that place that I pointed it out to him, and we started joking and laughing about it. He had forgotten all about it.




Wednesday, September 17, 2014

THE LOST YEARS - LIVING WITH PMDD

Of my 47 years on this planet, I have actually lived 29.5, because for 2 weeks out of every month I am out of my mind and out of my body. I live in my memories and past. Every bad thing that has happened to me, every bad decision I have made, and every bad thing that I have done comes back to haunt me. And because these memories come forth, for those 2 weeks, I live in fear that something bad will happen. When I drive, I have the dread that I will get into a car accident, when I leave my son home alone to run an errand, I feel that something bad will happen while I’m gone, and when I go to bed at night, I have bad dreams and nightmares and fear that something bad will happen to my son in the next room while I sleep.  If I go for a walk, I see a coyote cross my path with razor sharp teeth, if I take a bath, I see a snake coming through the drain hole in the tub, and if I have any kind of weird pain, I have cancer. 

It starts with insomnia, for 3 nights in a row, with an overwhelming sense of fear. I toss, turn, and beg, but sleep eludes me. After the bout of insomnia, a head-splitting migraine develops which can last up to 2 days. Then, my entire abdomen will swell; it seems that digestion completely stops, even though my craving for food increases. I become tired, so tired that it is difficult to get out of bed, to stand up, to do household chores. My head spins and I have dizzy spells. It’s like I can feel the blood flowing through my veins, my body tingles all over. My anxiety increases so much that if anything should make me upset it will trigger an anxiety attack.  I cry easily. Lights are brighter, sounds are louder. I feel like hiding. I can’t concentrate and I forget things, I’m moody and irritable, I feel so bad that I can’t talk, and I become so overwhelmed by my emotions that all I want to do is sleep.

I don’t know what I am doing during this time. I am restless and anxious. I think about the most stupid things. I say stupid things. I do stupid things. My house is a mess, I ask myself philosophical questions about life, and I become very withdrawn. I feel out of control, like I am on a bad “mushroom trip.” 

I never knew what it was that made me this way until after I had my son, when I suffered a case of post-partum depression. I was extremely nervous as a new mother – I could barely believe that a child came out of me – and I was that way for quite some time. For the first month I couldn’t even believe that I had had a child. However, I took very good care of him. I bathed him, I fed him, I held him, I loved him. As a matter of fact, he was more in my arms than in his crib. I had a wonderful relationship with my son and my partner. However, as time went on, I had this increasing sense of doom. I began having visions of throwing my baby over the balcony. I had him in winter, so I didn’t even dare go close to the balcony doors – we lived on the 14th floor – and it wasn’t until spring that I was actually able to just open the balcony door.  

About a month later I became very stressed. I started thinking about going back to work, about daycare, about leaving my son with strangers, and I got very depressed. I started having headaches, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep. Then everything just got to me, especially the sounds of the city. I thought I was going to explode. I thought I was going crazy. I couldn’t take it anymore and decided that I needed a vacation, so I packed up and went to the country to visit my mother. I felt better and everyone enjoyed meeting my son. I got settled in and thought that everything was going to be okay, but it started happening again. I became supersensitive to everything. I was so irritable I couldn’t stand myself. And when my son would become cranky, I’d strap him in the car seat and go for a drive. While he slept, I’d calm myself down and try to make sense of what was happening to me. 

I became so beside myself that I finally visited the doctor. After telling him what was happening to me he diagnosed me with a condition called Pre-menstrual Dysphoric Disorder, a severe form of Pre-menstrual Syndrome. The causes are unknown, but one theory suggests that during ovulation, with sex hormones fluctuating, there is a lack of the feel-good hormone, serotonin, which causes the symptoms associated with PMDD. The symptoms last just before ovulation right up to menstruation. The symptoms are: 
1. Feelings of sadness or despair, or even thoughts of suicide
2. Feelings of tension or anxiety
3. Panic attacks
4. Mood swings or frequent crying
5. Lasting irritability or anger that affects other people
6. Lack of interest in daily activities and relationships
7. Trouble thinking or focusing
8. Tiredness or low energy
9. Food cravings or binge eating
10. Trouble sleeping
11. Feeling out of control
12. Physical symptoms, such as bloating, breast tenderness, headaches, and joint or muscle pain

He said that I had probably had it since my first menstruation, but just didn’t know what it was. He told me that my symptoms had become worse after I went through the pregnancy. He said that I wasn’t going crazy and gave me a prescription to “help” with the symptoms.

So, the math goes: 47, which is my current age, take away 12 years up to the first period, equals 35. Divide that by 2 and you get 17.5, add the 12 years and you get 29.5. Of my 47 years on this planet, I have actually lived 29.5.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

WHY DO BAD THINGS HAPPEN?



Have you ever noticed that at the very moment when your finances, worries, and affairs seem to be in order, something will go wrong with your car or a bill-collector will come to collect something even though you thought that all your debts were paid, or some other misfortune gets thrown in your lap?

Sometimes, I get so afraid of what is going happen next that I lay awake at night frozen with fear, worried that I will lose my finances, or that something will happen to a family member, or some great catastrophic event will leave me and my family homeless and in dire need.

There are so many wonderful things to be thankful for: FACTORS of life: Food, Agriculture, Clothing, Transportation, Occupation, Resources, and Shelter. If you are Christian, like me, then you tend to be thankful for the Word, Gift of the Holy Spirit, Forgiveness of Sins, and Everlasting Life. Then there are things like the fairly stable weather, I mean we still have a summer and a winter. And, if you live in Canada, there is government healthcare, welfare, unemployment insurance, and pension, even though our national debt is in the billions of dollars. We have clean air (WHO places us 3rd for the cleanest air on the planet), fresh water, and a beautiful cottage country. And, most importantly, we should be thankful for family and friends.

But it doesn't matter how thankful you are, or where you live, or what your religious beliefs are. Bad things are inevitable. They happen to everyone, regardless of the money in your bank account, your status, or age. Bad things happen to good and bad people alike.

Some spiritual people say that bad things happen for a reason, for spiritual growth, to teach us a lesson, to teach us how to be stronger, kinder, more patient. Have you ever been in a situation where you secretly ask for patience? "God grant me patience!" you might yell when a car just cuts right in front of you and you have to slam on your brakes to avoid hitting it. Well, maybe that car was a test of your patience. 

Some people say we are all born of circumstance. Every human being is born into a social and cultural setting, a community with family, language, religion, etc., and usually, when we are raised in the same surroundings, we develop the same way of thinking, which can be deeply imbedded in the human mind. The values, morals, and ethics of a single culture that dominate a region can be extremely influential and hard to get away from. Right or wrong, those values are promoted by the community and government. People mostly live and die in the social class they were born into. Therefore, if you are born poor, then you will likely die poor. 

Others believe in the negative laws of Karma. We've all heard these expressions: "As you sow so shall you reap" or "An eye for an eye" and "As you do unto others so shall it be done unto you."   The science side of this states, "For every action there is an equal and opposing reaction." Even today's common knowledge expresses this principle in the saying, "What goes around, comes around." This is the law of karma, of cause and effect.

A lot of people believe that the devil himself is loose on the earth, wreaking havoc and misleading the entire inhabited earth. 

Bad things can happen when we make bad decisions. For instance, making a major purchase without thoroughly weighing the pros and cons can have bad consequences, a ripple effect even, like buying a house or used car. You might have the money for the monthly payments on that beautiful home, but do you have enough for the maintenance, yearly property taxes, and damages that seem to come up from nowhere?

There is no scientific proof, but some people who believe in numerology say that bad things happen in threes, like death. I myself have noticed that when one person I know dies, two others follow. This is known as the Confirmation Effect, which is the tendency to accept evidence that confirms our beliefs and to reject evidence that contradicts them. 

Anyone who has studied Darwin's Theory of Evolution in high school will remember his take on Natural Selection. He viewed everything as resulting from designed laws, with the details, whether good or bad, left to the working out of what we may call chance. Bad things happen to people to weed out the weak. 

Then there is the power of positive thinking. Apparently, nothing bad will ever happen if you have the power of positive thinking. Some people think that the power of positive thinking can make you the Prime Minister of Canada or the President of the United States! The power of positive thinking makes everyone flock to America to become rich and famous. It will even save you from all the bad stuff in the world. It can even save you from death! It will take you out of the gutters of hell and place you on the clouds of heaven, or so I've heard. So, if bad things happen, then you are a negative person and bad things happen to negative people. Not a very nice concept, is it?

Why do you think bad things happen?