Crossing Paths – Crimson’s Creative Challenge #34

It’s been a little while since I participated in Crispina’s challenge. Life and all that. Inspiration and all that. However, today, here I am with a little poem and a responding picture of mine.

Have a fabulous Tuesday – what’s left of it!

Crossing Paths

“We should meet in another life, we should meet in air, me and you.”
Sylvia Plath

How long and how far matter not, in

Time spent sharing our friendship

There is no reason to quantify or qualify

And every reason to cherish it

Be it months or years or decades

Casual, formal, or all in

That old cliché poem

“A reason, a season, a lifetime”

Speaks the truth

The short and the sweet: thank you for our time

The on-going, going strong, let’s keep on keeping on!

The gone too-soon but never to be forgotten?

May we meet again in another realm

Pierre, Patricia, Roxanne, Brenda, Guy, Mick, Richard, Patrick

I’ll be expecting it. Me and all of you

Up in the air

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Word count: 121

For Patrick – One Last Cheers My Friend!

During my break at work last Sunday – Canada Day (July 1st), I was catching up on my emails, reading comments, etc. when I saw I had a LinkedIn message from Hugh. My heart dropped before even opening it. An awful feeling came over me and I had good reason. His message announced that his husband, Patrick, had passed away the previous Wednesday, five days after turning 56. His message said that “a routine surgery that went wrong in every possible way, and Pat fought like hell. I hope somewhere Pat is greeted by Mick saying ” Hey Buddy!!!”

I have been struggling with what to write since then. A flurry of emotions has come up and memories have been flooding my brain and heart since. Instead of sending plain old condolences to Hugh, I thought I would celebrate the times we had together.

He was an oncology nurse when we first met and eventually moved to palliative care. When asked what he did for a living, he would reply “I kill people.” What he meant was, he helped patients go gently into the next phase. When a nurse loses his first patient, he is given an angel pin. This pin he gave to me for Austin…and it is still pinned on my jean jacket.

We met in April 1997. After losing our son, Austin, Mick’s boss sent us off on a holiday to get away from it all and try to regroup from our loss. We had no idea where to go so we went to a travel agent who suggested a cruise. Something that had never occured to us and we jumped on it. We flew to tthe Dominican Republic, settled into our cabin, explored our itty-bitty ship (trust me, it was puny – 60,000 ton, 900 peeps on board and I’m not sure how many staff). Come supper time, we found our assigned table. And there they were, Patrick, Richard, Loretta, Hugh, John, Fred, Wilma (I’m not joking) and their daughter and us. We surveyed our dinner partners for the next week and figured out right quick that Pat and Hugh were a couple even if they had a couple betwixt them. A couple who happened to be Patrick’s sister and brother-in-law. A friendly bunch, we decided.

Our first stop was Puerto Rico and The Boys, as they would forever be known to us, said that, as this was their second week, they had already done the visiting thing and to enjoy ourselves. Which we did.

Day 2 found us in Sint Maarten and who do we run into but Pat and Hugh. A buck a beer from the lady under the palm tree and we were suddenly fast friends. Mick was going crazy, needing to pee out his beer and we all laughed at him. Why do you think we keep going into the water? After his initial reel of disgust, he joined in. After all, where do the sharks, whales, fishes, etc. do their business?

Then we hung out in St. Lucia with Bruce, one of the dancers on the ship – by now, we were hanging out at the “Gay Bar” in the evenings (it was not really one, but we called it that) where music played outside and there was a dance area at the back of the boat.)

Barbados. Oh dear. We went on the booze cruise on the Harbour Master, which is the friendly competitor to the Jolly Roger (one we would take on our second cruise with the boys). The sailed us to this cove where there was one big cloud hovering. The rest of the sky was blue with white fluffy clouds but not for us! After swinging from ropes whilst getting more and more drunk, the rains came. All the participants hovered under awnings. Not us. Mick got them to play music loud and the three of us (Mick became photographer) started to dance. The Macarena was the IN song of the time. Before we knew it, the rest of the passengers realised what fun we were having and joined in.

By St. Thomas, Mick tells Pat. “Man, my bar bill is insane.” To which Pat replies: “I have two words for you, Honey… Duty Free.” In those days, you could buy booze and bring it on board and just request juice or soda to go with. I’m going to say it cost us less but I’d be lying.

The cruise over, addresses and phone numbers were exchanged and promises to get together really soon were made.

And kept.

They live(d) in London, Ontario, a good seven-hour drive, which we were all willing to make. They came over in July of that year and lemme tell you… the recycling bin was embarrassing…

Pool noodling it with beverage in hand

Labour Day weekend, they rented a cottage somewhere in Algonquin Park and we went to join them. We got waylayed by the “wolf howl” – I kid you not. You cannot drive through until this is done. People line up for miles every Thursday in August to call the wolves and have them respond. We had no cell phones in those days so the Boys were worried, needless to say. I was about two months’ pregnant and quite anxious to get to a restroom and no – I was not going into the woods, thank you very much!

We spent a wonderful weekend. Richard and Loretta also came by. Then, while sitting out by the bonfire with the radio playing, the news came on. It was four in the morning. Princess Diana had been in an accident. Patrick was devastated. We were all in shock. We kept hearing the reports, hoping she had not succumbed but, as we know, she did.

Sitting on the porch

The following summer we got together back and forth at each other’s houses again. Their place.

Then our place. Lisa and Chris joined in and let us just say, Chris will no longer drink “Banditos” (a pre-mixed bottle of tequila and Kahlua).

We found out the Bolero (our original cruise) was still running and decided to go with them on our second cruise, this time with their friend Patricia (a co-worker nurse of Pat’s. They were known as Boy Pat and Girl Pat ;-). While waiting in line to board, who did we see registering patrons but Bruce! We started yelling “Bruuuuuce!” till he looked up and responded with an “Oh my God!!!”. Needless to say, we were going to have a great time!

We did take another booze cruise, this time on the Jolly Roger…

Maybe we should try something else…

And visited different islands such as St. Bart’s and Virgin Gorda (where our new friend Ellie and I almost drowned and got battered by the rocks.)

More visits back and forth after this cruise (where I think I got pregnant for Aidan!)

It’s too early but I’ll smile anyway

Gay marriage had not been legalized yet so the boys decided to have a Committment Ceremony to celebrate their love for each other. Mick was Patrick’s best man and I was official cake maker and photographer. They had their beautiful ceremony in their back yard on August 28, 1999. Aidan was born October 26. Can you say I was very pregnant? They never even got to taste the cake because they could not find their plates, so the heathens (guests) just started breaking off pieces. By the time they returned with plates, the cake was gone! I worked hard on that sucker!

We went on one more trip together, this time to Costa Rica. We went on a bus tour where the driver passed out from a diabetic episode. Thankfully, the bus was not in motion yet when this all happened as we could have ended up part of headline: “Bus Crashes Over Cliff, All Dead, Twelve Canadians On Board!”

We went zip-lining in the fantastic Monkey Jungle Canope Tour in Guanacaste. Pat was NOT impressed. Terrified of heights, he did it anyway! But when it was over, demanded a cigarette and a beer! After, we went and took a volcanic mud bath.

Something happened during that trip and Pat and Mick had a fight. We’ll never understand the whys of it and even though they made up, the phone calls became fewer and the visists stopped.

I was having none of it and went to visit them one last time by myself.

I called every once and again and we spoke for hours each time, catching up on stuff. Without focusing on anything negative, I was very displeased they did not get invited to our wedding in 2002… I am certain they were hurt by this as much as I was. I’ll put it into the Shit Happens File and leave it at that. Hugh agrees. It doesn’t matter anymore anyway, does it?

I’ll forever be grateful for the friendship we had with these two fabulous people. Hugh and I have vowed to get together soon and I know we will. When the pain of losing his spouse eases somewhat. When the sharpness dulls a tad. We will reminisce some more (We’ve already clocked a couple hours.) We have already laughed but I think we will also cry.

I kept this photo for last. I love the happiness on Patrick’s face after all the stress (and trust me, he was sta-ressed!) was over, the vows spoken, the food eaten, the guests still celebrating…

You were a character, a generous man, a drama queen, a friend, a brother, a husband. You will be sorely missed.

You introduced me to Holly Cole Trio so I feel it fitting I share one of our favourites.

Weekend Writing Prompt #95 – Devotion

I must admit I was going to go a whole ‘nother way, but then, felt I needed to thank my cousin, Marc, for coming, once again, to my rescue.  I want you do know, dear Cuz, I never take you for granted.  I appreciate your generosity over and over.  And I know a certain Mick feels secure knowing you always have my back.  Je t’aime, mon cousin! xoxo

 

A word prompt to get your creativity flowing this weekend.  How you use the prompt is up to you.  Write a piece of flash fiction, a poem, a chapter for your novel…anything you like.  Or take the challenge below – there are no prizes – it’s not a competition but rather a fun writing exercise.  If you want to share what you come up with, please leave a link to it in the comments.

Word Prompt

Devotion

Challenge

 

To show your love and devotion

Your self and your skills you share

Your time you give with affection

Just say the word, you’re there

 

 

The 2018 Annual Attitude of Gratitude: Bloggers Flood The Internet With Happiness & Positivity!

Dawn Quyle Landau of Tales from the Motherland has issued the 5th annual “50 Happy Things/Attitude of Gratitude” challenge and I am more than pleased to join in once again.  For instructions on the “how-to”, please click here.  Once you’ve figured out how to do it and have been inspired to do it (Why not?  How much can it hurt to bring forth things that make you happy?) click here to add your link.

There is absolutely no order to my following list.  I have set the timer for 15 minutes and this is basically stream of consciousness stuff (i.e. as it comes, I type).  All embellishments are added after the clock has run out and I’ve spell-checked my list 😉

  1. My boys – they remind me that I am human
  2. My home – protects me from the elements
  3. My family – all the way down to second cousins thrice removed
  4. My sisters – despite whatever goes on in life, they are there for me
  5. Mom – without her, I would not be
  6. Friends who are the chosen family
  7. Blogosphere – a world I could not have imagined ten years ago
  8. The friends I’ve made on the blogosphere – I cherish the connections I’ve made
  9. Going to Old Montreal for New Year’s Eve with good friends
  10. Getting on the ferris wheel for the midnight fireworks
  11. Friday Fictioneers – for teaching me how to cut the fluff and get to the point
  12. B – for pushing me to be a better writer while becoming a close friend
  13. My ability and joy of cooking
  14. Sharing my food with those I love
  15. My boys when they help me before I have to ask
  16. My computer – as a tool to connect and write
  17. Internet – bringing the world to my fingertips
  18. Brothers-in-law who help out for stuff that I just cannot do on my own
  19. Girlfriends – to share those things that you just can’t with family
  20. Blogging community – I keep learning
  21. Rochelle for her friendship and for trusting me with her lateest WIP (and any other writings)
  22. Julie for being my “culture friend” and my trusted date for stuff no one else is interested in
  23. Feeling part of my close knit gang
  24. Food – the diversity, the sensuality
  25. My taste buds – which permit me to enjoy all the flavours out there
  26. Good wine
  27. fun work colleagues
  28. New colleagues who seemed to really appreciate me
  29. Clients who appreciate me
  30. My legs for allowing me to take my walks
  31. My big-ass bathtub for when I need to get away from it all
  32. Reading – opening my world to other realms
  33. Writing, which allows me to let go of stuff
  34. Writing prompts that push me to do better
  35. My bed, where I get the rest I need or at least pretend to
  36. My hands which are capable of so much more than I thought
  37. Heating which protects me from the cold
  38. My capacity to love no matter how many times my heart is broken
  39. Being appreciated for what I offer
  40. My wit and sense of humour – keeps me sane
  41. Travel – I need to do more; experience other cultures
  42. The communities I’ve built – virtual and real
  43. Connections I’ve made with people from around the world
  44. A cozy fire, to gaze into, to snuggle with someone
  45. Zeke – who is not getting as much love as he should but will
  46. Eyes – to appreciate the beauty around me
  47. My smile, which seems to be what people remember about me
  48. My camera, which helps me to look at things differently and record the memories
  49. Being able to express myself and be open to others’ opinions
  50. Widow’s pension, which helps to make ends meet
  51. EI which permits me to take the time to rest between jobs
  52. Working a seasonal job which allows me to take the other seasons off
  53. Sense of smell, without it, I would never appreciate food and cooking so much
  54. My body – it may be quite as I would like it to be, but it’s mine and it functions
  55. Dishwashers – because sometimes, doing the dishes just blows
  56. My car – I can go anywhere when I want
  57. My resilience – even though it’s a word that bugs the shit out of me, it is the right word for me
  58. The close friends who will always include me in their happenings
  59. My ability to adapt to whatever life throws my way
  60. My boys – I am so proud of them both for the young men they are becoming
  61. That Iain has decided to go back to school to get a diploma in electricity
  62. That Aidan has decided to pursue an education in animation (yeah, yeah, it has another title that I always forget)
  63. That I know I can count on my sisters for anything
  64. My lack of cynicism – despite the world we live in
  65. My charm that can be helpful when I screw up
  66. Dark chocolate
  67. Camaraderie – that can be found
  68. Facebook – say what you will, I have kept in contact with many because of it
  69. Book, books and more books
  70. Potential for love – I’ve not given up

What? For Me?

“Blessed are they who expect nothing, for they will be pleasantly surprised.”
Marty Rubin

I worked the last Christmas party at the golf club Friday night (yay!). Finished at 3:00 a.m., got home by 3:15-ish, changed into comfy PJs – coz there is no way in hell I was gonna just hit the hay and fall asleep.  Doesn’t work that way.  Got take it down a notch, yanno?  Poured myself a brewskie, started reading blog posts and answering comments and, once I started yawning, went to bed by 4:30-ish.  Was still not sleeping by 5-something.

Finally did conk out and was wakened (woken? awoken? awakened?) by my damn dog at 8ish.  Managed to hold back and NOT kill him, let him out, returned to bed and fell back asleep until 11:00.  Not what one would call a proper amount of ZZZs.

Gave up on the idea of getting more sleep and dragged my sorry ass downstairs to make myself a coffee.  Made like a slug in front of the computer to see what was new and exciting and by 11:50 got a text from Sophie asking if I was home.  I replied in the affirmative and she said she and Charles would be right over.  I answered with an “I guess I better get dressed then!”

I totally didn’t blog about it (and if I did, I tagged it horribly because I can’t find it) but last August, I helped out at Sophie and Charles’ wedding, wrapping bread, lighting candles, but mostly playing bartender.

Anyway, they must’ve been around the corner because I was not finished dressing when the doorbell rang!  Sheesh!

Their mission was to give me a gift as a thank you for helping them out!  How sweet.  And how wonderful.  How totally unexpected. I’ve been given a spa package including an exfoliation with a massage.  Can you say PERFECT timing?  To receive this type of gift right after my last day of work?

Woot!

Only, it ended up NOT being my last day.

At the beginning of Friday’s shift, Hélène, my boss looked at me, practically batting her eyes and whined said:  “You really don’t want to come and brunch with us on Sunday?”  Read:  “You sure you don’t want to work with us on Sunday?”

I laughed and said… “Are you saying you really need me to come and work?”

“Yes.  It’s the members.  You surely want to say goodbye to them? (No, I really don’t).  They’ll be happy to see you. There will be 100 of them.”

Sigh.

I’m such a suck.

So all my going on and on about the 14th being my last day of work for the season for real?   Nope.  Not only did I agree to work today, on Sunday.  But I had to be there for 9 am.  Now, I know for most folks, this is more than reasonable.  However, I have been on the start at 4:00 pm, finish in the wee hours beat for the past month.

Alarm clock at 7, coffee, breakfast, shower and work at 9.  I kinda have to admit that though I was okay with NOT seeing the members one last time?  They were kinda nice and sweet and every single one asked me if I’d be back next season.

I answered with that vague, “We shall see…”

So NOW I can celebrate and book my two-hours of relaxation…

Which I now feel is even more deserved.  No?

I know this is a Thanksgiving song… and I am giving thanks so…

Sunday Musings

I used to do a Gratitude Sunday/Sunday Gratitude/Weekend Coffee Share, in which I gave thanks for whatever happened during the week.  Somehow these posts have fallen to the wayside.  I think it’s time I brought it back, different format, though.  Doing challenges like Pegman and Weekend Writing Prompt are all fine and dandy but as a result, I was feeling a loss.

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
Marcel Proust

Maybe that loss is being felt because I’m frankly exhausted  – a term I find gets overused by those who are merely tired.  We seem to have entered the age of extremes so why should one not be exhausted instead of merely tired.  I must admit defeat.  I am bloody exhausted.  A co-worker and I were talking last night before the big 260-person benefit evening, that this October, in particular, has been particularly grueling.  It’s supposed to be the slowing down of things at the golf club.  Instead, it has been one event after another and we are just plain exhausted.  I just did a nine-day run and frankly, today could not come soon enough!

So what did I do on my one day off that is supposed to consitute my “weekend”?  Well, once I got up at the crack of 11:00 am (I worked until 1 am the night before…) I made myself a couple of coffees and had a bite to eat.  Then.  I have a fabulous brother-in-law, Sébastien, who changed my tires for me.  As I sat there watching Sébas and his son, Nicolas work together, joking and ribbing each other, innuendos galore, I could not help but smile.  I then drove home with tears in my eyes.  I couldn’t help it.  I couldn’t help but think that my boys did not get long enough with their father to learn stuff.  I will never forget Iain telling Mick, lying comatose, that he couldn’t leave yet as he still had so much to learn from him.  Broke my heart.  It’ll be four years and I can still hear this clear as day.

Could not decide between the following two quotes, so have included both.

“Boys do not long for fathers who will usher them through the gauntlet of psychological disconnect. They long for fathers who have themselves survived intact. Boys do not ache for their father’s masculinity. They ache for their fathers’ hearts.”
T. Real

“You can’t love your mother or father if you don’t also have the capacity to grieve their deaths and, perhaps even more so, grieve parts of their lives.”
Glenn Beck, The 7: Seven Wonders That Will Change Your Life

I got home, unloaded my summer tires and Iain was clearing out the shed.  I asked him if he wanted to come with me to the market to get the goods to make salsas and jellies and he said that nah, he had some stuff to do…

“God know that a mother need fortitude and courage and tolerance and flexibility and patience and firmness and nearly every other brave aspect of the human soul.”
Phyllis McGinley

I hid my disappointment and went to the market.  It’s amazing… Just yesterday – I swear it was yesterday – it was September.  I had told myself I would get all the stuff necessary to make salsas, that we’d go apple picking and visit David at his Britannia Mills mini-farm to pick up hot peppers to enhance our goodies.   Well. So much for that.  Here we are October 21 and my hopes for getting anything besides pumpkins were, to say the least, slim at best.   Luck was on my side.  I snagged a couple of boxes of not-so-beautiful tomatoes for ten bucks, plus 2nd rate apples that are “not fit for sale” for $15 instead of $22, as they are not perfect (pffft!), a box of bell peppers, a couple of braids of garlic, onions, a couple of pumpkins, some honey – because, when in these markets, everything looks fabulous.  Was so bloody cold, I forgot to take a pictures of the market!  Darn.  Iain did go to David’s on Friday, so the pepper situation was taken care of.

Goodies to make more goodies

Home once again, I unloaded my stash and Iain was washing his car.  Brought in the goods and he moseyed over to see just what I had managed to find.  Was as pleased as I was so…  I canna lie, there was a liltle bit of pleasure on my front – again hidden.

I started chopping veggies for the salsa, asked Iain which peppers he wanted me to use and made two different batches of salsa.  I took it as a good sign when I went up to his room where a serious video game was going on with Aidan and his friend, gave him a spoonful, he took, coughed, and said “Was not expecting quite that much heat!”  Mom still can rock it.

While working on my second batch of salsa, Iain came in to chop peppers and ingredients that he planned to turn into hot oils and  sauces.  His dehydrator has been working on drying out one of the peach somethings (not sure if they’re ghosts, morughlas, reapers or what – all’s I know is they are friggen hot) so he can turn them into chili powder – not anything you’d find in your standard grocery stores…

I looked at him and said, “I know you don’t like anything mushy, but I really enjoy when we work on something together.”  I just got a look.

“Isn’t this the truth of any good mother? That in all of our lives. We worry only about those we brought into this world, regardless of whether they loved us back or treated us fairly or understood our shortcomings.”
Adriana Trigiani, Big Cherry Holler

I know I can never fill in their father’s shoes, nor do I want to.  I can give them what I can.  I can be there for them in my capacity.  There will always be those moments where I’ll think, “Damn, Mick should be here teaching them this lesson” but that is, I know, futile.  And I can hope that I’ll be enough.  And that one day, they will think back and say – Mom was there when we needed her and did the best she could.

Canada Day in Quebec

I have a love/hate relationship with my province at times.  Especially on Canada Day.  I am blessed (thank you, Mom) to be perfectly bilingual.  I like to say I am what P.E. Trudeau wanted our whole country to be…as comfortable in English as I am in French.  Plus, look how much my father looked like him at a certain time of his life – in a handsomer way, of course…

I went to both English and French schools so I got different history lessons… History being that “unbiased” retelling of the past… I used to joke that I could not remember which were the “bad” Indians because I got both sides of the English/French history – just so I’m clear… there are NO bad Indians…  Who lost in the battle of The Plains of Abraham in Quebec?  Well, that depends on which side you were on… I can’t claim one or the other, frankly.  The English/French thing has been going on since… I’m a Square Head Frog, or a Bloke Pea Soup…

I get frustrated because St-Jean-Baptiste Day – exactly one week prior, is a Quebec holiday and everything under the sun is closed; come Canada Day, not so much.  St-Jean-Baptiste cannot be moved, Canada Day can – I mean for companies giving you the day off… if they fall on a week-day, St-Jean must be taken on that day but Canada Day can be moved to the Friday or Monday, whichever is closer.  Banks and such are closed but you may have to work.  I don’t agree with this.

My friend Joe shared this beautiful pic on Facebook yesterday, so I snagged it for my post.  Our parliament building beautifully lit up.  I apologise for not giving credit to the photographer (still waiting for Joe to tell me if he took it or he himself snagged it…)

I love where I live.  It’s a beautiful province within a beautiful country.  We have wild extremes when it comes to climate, which is normal, considering how vast a territory we have.  There are issues, yes.  I think pretty much every place has.  Here in Quebec the language issues and desire for separation from Canada drive me nuts.  The Separatists come and go and each time they try to rally the troops, they fail. (Thank God.)  It would break my heart if they ever did succeed.  While I don’t want this to be a political post, it kinda sorta is.

It’s Canada Day!

I thought I’d share a few little funnies with you… coz, that’s how I roll.

From 2010… so different Prime Minister but still same old story…

I have been trying, for three days now, to find a text I read a long time ago about a Quebecer on vacation.  When asked where he’s from, he says Quebec.  The other person says, “Oh, that’s a country?” To which he gets the reply of “no.”  So the first guys says, “Then why not say you’re from Canada?” And it goes on and on about trying to explain that the Quebecers like to call Quebec a Nation because they are distinct.  Sadly, I cannot find it to save my life.

And this little spoof from “This Hour Has 22 Minutes” from 2014 – shows how this separation issue goes on and on…

And, of course, as many of you are Americans… must have a little funny between the ‘twixt of us… ‘coz ya know, we really do love you guys and we do share the longest undefended border…

So to all my Canadian peeps, I say:  Happy Canada Day, eh!

And, let’s take Rick Mercer’s advice… Go out there and visit this beautiful country!

Oh!  How could I forget to add this!!