Tuesday, December 31, 2013

It's almost 2014

Can you believe it?
Another year gone, already!
To bring in the new year, I'm going to try to stay awake late enough to watch Royal Canadian Air Farce - Best of 2013.  Let me guess, who might they be spoofing???  (Ummmm -- four specific Senators; Rob Ford; Miley Cyrus; the Kardashians -- are just a few that come to mind.)
The show airs at 8:00 pm.  Wonder if I'll make it????? 
Even if I do, I won't see midnight to be sure.  So the rest of the world will have to welcome the new year without me I'm afraid.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas 2013

Christmas was wonderful.
The day was spent moving from house to house and eating.
We started by joining my little chickadee at her home for what has become our traditional Christmas morning breakfast.  It's such a delight to share that time with them and I continue to count my blessings that they still include us in their morning.
From there, we stop in briefly to visit my good friend, LC -- my other daughter's mother.  This year, she is recovering from surgery so she was a bit of a captive audience, of sorts.  Her daughter (MOD) was there from Toronto tending to her mother so I got to see both this year, which was a nice bonus.
Then it was off to my step-son's place for lunch.  He would have been otherwise alone for Christmas so we took lunch to him.  We had a lovely visit while lunch cooked (chicken gumbo and rice) and we followed it up with tea and dessert.
I ate lightly at both breakfast and lunch because, unlike previous years on Christmas Day when we usually came home and had "beans and weiners" for dinner, this year we went to join my best friend sister and her husband at their table.  My brother-in-law has spent the past several Christmases in hospital and since he would be home this year, my sister was delighted to be able to make a proper dinner.  She was extra delighted to have us join them.  We had a fabulous visit.
Some twelve hours after we had left home that morning, we finally arrived back at our door.
It had been a very long, but fun day.
On Saturday, the 28th, we had our blended family Christmas.
That's the day we all get together (although this year we were missing step-daughter and her family since they were down in Arizona for the holidays) for Christmas brunch.  I no longer do the full-out dinner deal -- too stressful.  So I just do brunch-style eating.  No fuss, no muss. (Well almost, no fuss, no muss.)  I find it much easier than trying to put on a sit-down meal for a large group.
We open gifts, which are handed out by Santa. This year, #2 step-son had the honours (that's him wearing the requisite red hat).
There are always so many interesting gifts passed around.  
And of course, we have to take the group photo.  Nutbar #1 step-son insisted that we take one with everyone in the following pose.
We're thinking we might make it a Fowler tradition.  Perhaps next year, everyone will participate properly.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

It's Christmas Eve!

(Photo © John T. Fowler)
This is a photo of my two-tiered Christmas village -- last year's version.
This year it is much lovelier. My little chickadee visited and helped me put the snow in properly.  There was a blizzard went through town!
We haven't taken a photo of it yet and we really should have done so immediately because now the main building (the focal point of the train circle) has lost its lights.  They are fibre optic and not replaceable or fixable.
So, while the photo that will be taken will depict the snow storm (how fitting, with all the snow we've had already!) it will not present quite the dramatic effect that we see as we admire it each evening.
And of course, the arrangement of presents under the tree will be different too.  There seems to be more this year (and Santa hasn't even arrived yet!).
In any event,
Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Memories of a past Christmas

For some reason, the closer we get to the big day, the crisper my memories of Christmases past (go figure!).
And this year, I can't seem to get images of one particular Christmas out of my mind.
I've told the story here before, but I'll tell it again for recent readers' enlightenment.
It was Christmas, 1963.  I was thirteen years old and I desperately wanted a pair of patterned stockings -- they were all the rage that year.

About a week before Christmas, I was home from school. (I don't recall why; obviously I must have been sick.)
I had the house to myself and decided I should go snooping for gifts.  I just HAD to know if I was getting a pair of those stockings!
Well, I found the cache of presents and eventually identified one that had my name on it that felt like it might be just what I was hoping for.
I oh so carefully opened the package -- and there they were.  They were blue and black with a diamond pattern.  Truly the most beautiful pair of patterned stockings in the whole wide world!
Then I did the unthinkable.  I just HAD to try one on.
I remember shaking as I put the stocking on and pulled it up my leg.  And then I pranced around my parents' bedroom, admiring the sight.
I was still shaking as I took the stocking off and carefully folded it to put it back in the package.
But look!  Now the one I tried on was all stretched out, noticeably bigger than the other one.
So I quickly put the second stocking on and stretched it up my leg so the pair would match again.
Then I very carefully rewrapped the package and returned it to the hidden stash of gifts.
And I remember on Christmas morning being very nervous when it came time to open that gift.
My mother, who knew how badly I wanted those stockings, was watching closely as the package was handed to me.
What was I going to do?  I knew I had to act surprised and excited.  And I figured I could do that easily, since there was so much other commotion going on with our large family.  But would someone notice that the stockings were already stretched?
So I opened the package, let out a squeal of delight, and immediately proceeded to put the stockings on.
There, of course they're stretched, I'm wearing them!
That was the year I learned a very important lesson:  the surprise is so much sweeter if it is shared.
Here we are 50 Christmases later, and I have never again gone snooping for gifts.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Let's try again

I've decided to try yet again to find Philip Nowlan.
Remember him?
He's the cute baby in this 1957 photo:
He's the grandson of my maternal grandmother's sister, Mary Jane Gizzard Docker Danaher, making him my 2nd cousin.
All I can surmise from the paper trail I've found is that he was born in June 1957, possibly in Canada but could have been in the USA, to parents Joan A. (nee Danaher) and, I believe, James Nowlan.  He has two younger sisters, who of course would also be my 2nd cousins.  Their mother died in October 2004 in Silver Springs, New York.
It blows my mind to learn that this family lived so close to us and I only found out about them last year.
You see, my research from years ago had indicated that Joan Danaher had moved to Canada from England to become a nun.  I stopped looking for her.
It was only when the above photo surfaced last year that I started tracking who the child could be.  It is inscribed on the reverse, "Philip Nowlan To Aunt Sarah & Uncle Sam with love from Philip aged 3 months Sept 15 1957."  (Sarah and Sam were my maternal grandparents.)
There was also a photo of my grandmother's sister, Mary Jane:
Inscribed on its reverse was, "Taken in 1940 died 1946 aged 56. To Aunt Sarah from sister Jane from your niece Joan Nowlan."  This helped me further identify the baby's mother and his relationship to me.  Read about Mary Jane's story.
I would love to connect with my 2nd cousin Nowlans and share with them information they might not have about their mother's lineage.  Surely they would be interested!

Monday, December 16, 2013

That EASY button must be broken

I shop on-line all the time.
Hate shopping in malls.
Too many people and too much walking.
I am a somewhat frequent buyer from Staples for our many office supply needs.
Generally, I love the convenience of ordering today and receiving tomorrow.  Works like a charm.
Anyway, MHYC's school recently held a fundraiser wherein one could buy gift cards for various retail outlets and the school would receive a percentage of the value of the purchase.
Generous Grandma bought a significant number of cards, several of which made their way into Christmas packages.
But a few were to be used specifically by us in our day-to-day operations.  Like the two $50.00 Staples cards I bought.
Last week, Staples sent me some discount cards. (OK, I'm sure they sent them to lots of people, but I only received the ones they sent to me.)  These cards offer savings of $15.00 off an order of $100.00 or $20.00 off an order of $200.00 -- but only for on-line or phone orders.  They cannot be used in stores.  OK by me, since I rarely shop in store.
I save up my orders to wait for these discount cards.  (Sometimes, the discounts are even higher.)  They are routine promotions.
Yesterday, I sat down to place my order of just over $100.00.  I wanted to use my $15.00 discount card and then pay for the order with my gift cards.
No can do.
I couldn't find anywhere in the process to enter the information about the gift cards.
This morning, I called their toll-free number to ask how I use gift cards to pay for an on-line order.
Can't be done, I'm told.  Gift cards can only be redeemed in stores!
Says so right on the site, I'm told.  (Yes, if you look up information about gift cards.  The cards are not explicitly referred to anywhere in the on-line purchasing experience.)
Quite perturbed, I decided to take advantage of the $15.00 savings so I placed the order, paying for it with my credit card.  (I'll use the gift cards quickly enough throughout the year, I'll just have to go into the store to do it!)
Imagine my surprise when I received the order confirmation and saw the following advice at the bottom of the statement:

Hold on to your Staples Rebate Visa Cards and Prepaid Gift Cards
until your order has been received."

Now how, I ask, can there possibly be a need to hold on to a gift card for an order that could not be paid with a gift card?
I've sent an e-mail of complaint/inquiry to Staples, suggesting that their EASY button is not so easy to use after all!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Strange Week

It's been a strange week, indeed.
I ended up in a fibro flare-up this past Sunday, for reasons I can only surmise, but the difficulty persisted through to Tuesday evening.
Truth be known, it had actually started on Saturday when my little chickadee was visiting but I didn't recognize the signs.  Sometimes these things have to hit me -- hard -- before I know what's happening.
Anyway, by Monday I sure as hell knew what was going on let me tell you.  I could barely put one foot in front of the other.
Needless to say, I hadn't done the treadmill on Sunday, and I didn't do it again on Monday, or Tuesday.
As the flare-up worsened, my hands became terribly inflamed.  I couldn't even pick up a pen to write.
Tuesday morning, very early, I called and cancelled by physio session.  There was no way I was up to making the round trip to the big city.  I ended up sleeping the morning away and that was obviously what my body needed.  By that evening, it was evident that the flare-up was fizzling out.
When I woke Wednesday, I was feeling alive again, with only the normal level of pain and discomfort.
Good thing, too, because I was lunching with my Angel that day and I don't get to see her nearly often enough so I would have been really upset had I been forced to cancel that date.
Of course, yesterday being Thursday, that's my do nothing day because my massage therapist comes to my home.  (I did do the treadmill on Wednesday and again Thursday though.)
My massage therapist asked me what I had done to bring on the flare-up and as I answered her, I realized that although I pace myself when putting up my Christmas Village, it really does take a toll on me.  I had hauled stuff out of storage on the Wednesday, did minimal assembly on the Thursday morning, considerably more assembly on the Friday, and had help with the rest on Saturday.  But the damage had been done by then and I suffered for the next three days.  As much as I love having it, it is evident that I pay a huge physical price.  
Today, I've been up since well before dawn (as I have been every day this week) and caught up on the housework that hasn't been getting done all week.
So there you have it.  Not sure how I'll handle Christmas next year.
But my village is now in place, and every evening I turn on the lights and enjoy the beauty of it.
It's worth every bit of pain!
This is last year's village.  It looks infinitely better this year, with the snow that my little chickadee helped arrange.  ("There was a blizzard came through.")                                             (Photo © John T. Fowler)

Friday, December 6, 2013

My generous, thoughtful RMT

Yesterday was my aaaaaaaahhhhhh day -- best day of the week.
And my massage therapist made it an even better day by showing up with a present in tow.  She brought me a hand-made hat and scarf set, in honour of my having allowed Suzanne to shave my head again.
It's a lovely, comfy, very warm hat that will do a wonderful job of keeping my noggin protected through the winter months while my hair grows back.
Such a thoughtful gesture.
I guess, to paraphrase Sally Field, "she likes me, she really likes me."

Monday, December 2, 2013

Busy day tomorrow

Today, I'm headed into the big city.
Originally, I had a hair appointment for this afternoon but obviously I don't need that now.  The appointment had been made to coincide with my early morning dental visit scheduled for tomorrow morning.
Now, I'm essentially going in so that I can overnight at my little chickadee's place because of that early morning dental appointment.  Saves trying to make the commute in the early morning, which is often a challenge because of the high traffic volume.
I have a few stops to make on my way into the city so I'll leave here early enough to allow me to get them done and still arrive before dark (which descends upon us soooooooo early now).
Tomorrow, MHYC and I will do our usual breakfast routine, after which I will go to my dental appointment.
After the dentist, I have physio which I moved from its usual 1:00 pm spot to 10:30 am so that I could get out of the city as early as possible.
Following my physio session, I'll head back home and stop at the grocery store which should put me right on time to make my 1:00 pm doctor's appointment.  I called last week to book time with her to discuss blood work prior to my tummy tuck surgery.  Just want to make sure everything is as it should be before going into that.
Better safe than sorry has always been my motto.
So I should arrive home tomorrow some 24 hours after having left home today.
But I will have covered a lot of ground in that 24 hours!