Thursday, February 29, 2024

I went to the first meeting of our new workplace book club.  I had a lovely time.  We had read "Lessons in Chemistry" by Bonnie Garmus, and much to my surprise and delight, we talked about the book, not exclusively, but a lot.  We also talked about being a woman, being a mother, being a wife, gender and patriarchy.  One of the women is one of our radiologists and her husband is a family doc.  They have a sharing agreement of total hours worked inside and outside the home, sounds like a good compromise and it keeps their family of six afloat.  I was also home by 8pm which was very nice.

I had promised the dogs a walk today, as yesterday was way too cold.  Charlie has delicate feet and can't handle much colder than -10C.  Right now it's only -17C, so I'll wait.  It's supposed to warm up but who knows.  Certainly not me.

Because Jack has been having a hard time with life and daycare, I picked him up early and we went to McDonalds so he could play at the playplace.  On the way there, we talked about one of his teachers in OSC (Out of School Care), which the preschoolers are transitioning to.  He told me that this particular teacher had told him that if he can't listen, she would lock him in the bathroom.  That's strike two because on Tuesday something similar happened that left him in tears.  Jack loves going to daycare but not now.  I have emailed the owner of the daycare and will talk to her later today when I pick Jack up.  I understand that there are cultural differences, all the women are new immigrants, but this is not acceptable.  

I'm off today, using up holidays before my retirement and I'm just putzing around, deep cleaning some things, moving plants, baking muffins, shredding crap, prepping supper and hopefully walking the dogs.  In the forecast, it looks like more snow which means it will warm up.  Just hoping that happens before I need to pick up hubby and Jack.

Update.  Everything is fine at the daycare.  The owner asked the ladies in the OSC to stop using candy as a motivator and Jack was making up some stories.  He was never told he would be locked in a bathroom.  We've never had a problem in four years with this daycare, which is why it was such a shock.  Lesson learned, almost five year olds make up stories.  Now that I think of it, he had all the staff at the daycare convinced that we all had gone to Disneyland over the Christmas holidays.  

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

 I'm angry, again.  What's new?

Jack has spent two Saturday nights at his mom's place and his behavior has deteriorated significantly.  Whining, way up, tantrums, way up, crying way up, not listening, way up.  When we picked him up from daycare yesterday, he was almost hysterical and couldn't stop crying.  What the fuck does this stupid excuse for a mother do to him?  And why the fuck do we have to keep doing this?

He's been home for three nights and spent two of those nights in my bed, because he crawls into bed with me in the middle of the night, again, not like him.

I'm also mad at his other grandma and his aunt who are supporting Gracie and allowing this to happen.  They always seem happiest when they don't have to deal with Gracie and her bullshit.  But Jack has to deal with it.  She is not a fit mother!

Update, I went outside and shovelled the driveway to work off my angry energy and that helped a great deal.  The young neighbor came over and helped me which was very kind of him.  

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Jack's artwork from the past week.  He was home sick with diarrhea and I had taken a couple of days vacation, so we hung out.  I painted a couple of the hearts too and I had forgotten how much I enjoy being creative.  

The dogs were walked at the dog park.

The day was beautiful and warm, the sky was blue and what little snow we have is melting.

I'm feeling restless, but I always do this time of year.  It's snowing right now as I type, we're supposed to get 4-8 inches.  Should be fun driving to work in the morning.

It was the anniversary of my mum's death yesterday and I forgot until today.  Is that a good thing or a bad thing?  Can't decide but I do miss her.

I took Katie out for lunch today, as I do every Sunday, we had a nice time but she has a very sore left knee.  She had the adult equivalent of a temper tantrum last week and dropped to her knees on the cement floor of the garage.  Her knee is quite bruised and sore.

She has to go for another ECG in two weeks.  There were changes to her ECG that can be fatal, so I've been worrying about that.  I think it takes up more space in my mind than I realize.  If the changes still appear on her next ECG, we'll have to look at changing her anti-psychotics, so she doesn't die.  Fucking hell.

We watched the last of Ted Lasso last night.  If anyone hasn't seen this series, I would highly recommend it.  It's beautiful and funny and heartbreaking.  Of course I cried.

Jack has been with his mom since yesterday at lunch and should be home in about an hour.  I hope things went well for him.  

And that's about it.  

Sunday, February 18, 2024

No new photos right now.  This photo was taken on the way home from Wetaskiwin about eighteen months ago.  That's an Alberta sky for you.

Many years ago my brother had a sweatshirt with the following quote on it. Ecoutez et toute le monde vous entende.  In english it means, listen, and the whole world will hear you.  My brother left that sweatshirt behind when he moved to Florida for a year. I found the shirt and kept it; I loved it and wore it out.

It also made me think about listening.  I have/am ADD and have a huge problem with interuppting people, because if I wait too long to say something, it disappears from my brain, so I blurt.  I've gotten better as I've aged, but I know it was bad when I was young.  I also know that I'm not alone.  Many people do this.  Jack does this and I am in the process of gently explaining to him that conversations are two way, which means he can't interrupt and that people take turns talking.  It's a social skill and it can be learned.

I interrupt much less, but I also don't get my point across always, because, as predicted, I forget what I was going to say.  I've noticed with Jack that he often forgets what he was going to say if he has to wait too long.  The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.  That is why I like to write, because I can go back over my thoughts and sometimes I don't even realize what I was thinking until it comes out of my fingertips and onto the keyboard.  I can also get a complete thought out without being interrupted, because other people interrupt too.

I looked up I Don't Feel Heard the other day on google.  I wasn't at all surprised to find that there were 860,000,000 results for that particular google search.  It is a common problem, in the world, in communities, in families, in relationships.  

I am a sixty-one year old woman, who is also a nurse.  I often feel unheard and unappreciated.  I am also a mother and caregiver of a young disabled woman (my youngest daughter), as well as my grandson.  I often feel unheard and unappreciated, but as a woman, I also realize that most women feel unheard and unappreciated, 992,000,00 results for that particular google search. 

But here's the thing, my husband doesn't feel heard either, and I have no way of making him feel heard.  I can listen to him, I can empathize with him, but he still doesn't feel heard.  Both of us grew up in homes in which healthy communication was never displayed.  Our parents were of the generation that believed children should not talk back, and that children should obey their parents, even if the rules made no sense.

My father was all about the rage and the anger, or fear really.  He wanted to control his children's lives in the hopes that nothing bad would happen to them.  My mother preferred passive aggressive manipulation.  And me, I chose a mix of their styles.  One of the most difficult problems I have, is crying when I'm talking about things that I feel strongly about.  

My husband grew up in a similar kind of post war family, except it was his mother who was the control freak.  She knew better and people should listen to her.  I'm guessing that she never felt heard in her family growing up either.  

So now we have two people who don't feel heard, don't have their feelings validated and don't know how to communicate with each other, despite their best efforts.  The main difference between the two of us is that I think most of the people in the world feel unheard and he doesn't seem to get that.  It's not that I don't empathize with him, I just don't think he's unique.  

Obviously that answer doesn't help us communicate better, and I'm sure he feels even less understood.  But I also think that we have to go back to the source, to fix the problem.  I know with myself that it's my responsiblity to tell people how I feel and why.  I also know that I struggle with this because of my upbringing, but it's still my responsibility.  I also don't expect people to agree with me.  It would be lovely if they did, but unlikely.  The best that I can do is to be honest with myself and others.  I can't make anyone think something or feel something, I can only accept.  

And as I wrote that last sentence, a light bulb went on.  I can't make my husband look at his family or deal with the issues that stem from his family, I can only accept.  I can set boundaries but I can't change him.  Hmmm.  Well, that sure didn't go the way I thought it would:)


Wednesday, February 14, 2024

 Dog park in the summer, above, and dog park in the winter below.

Me in 1972 with our dog, Dino.  I loved that dog more than anything but he only lived three years.  He had to be put down due to a spinal injury and paralysis; my parents couldn't afford the surgery that might have helped him recover the use of his legs.  I remember writing about him in school.  We were supposed to write something about what we would wish for if we had one wish.  One girl wished for world peace but all I wanted was for my dog to be okay.  I told my parents I would forego a Christmas present if Dino could have his surgery.  We never got another dog after him but I would walk the neighbors dogs whenever I could.  Some things don't change.  I still love walking my dogs.

Today is the anniversary of my dad's death.  I wish I could talk to him now, tell him I forgive him and that I understand now that he only wanted to protect us.  

We went to court again yesterday.  Jack will stay with us at least until July when we have another court date.  Jack will start staying one night a week with Gracie and then in two months, it will be two nights a week, Friday and Saturday.  Gracie started working with homeless people on Monday, I'm guessing at the new navigation centre set up by the local and provinicial government.  She told her mom that because she had a job, Jack could come back and live with her again.  She has a serious disconnect in her brain, not even addressing her addictions and the trauma it's caused Jack.

On the upside, the judge told us to go ahead and register Jack in our local school, until we see what happens going forward.  I told the judge that Gracie always goes off the rails in August or September, every year.  He looked surprised but thanked me for my honest response.  I doubt that Gracie liked it but I'm tired of how her family deals with everything, including her addictions.  If we don't talk about it, out in the open, nothing will change.  So Jack is set for kindergarten, even if his mom goes off the rails.

The down side of him spending more time with his mom is that his behavior always seems to get worse.  Not sure if it's because of how she deals with him or his response to stress, or both.  Probably both.  I try to remember to be patient but it's hard sometimes.  

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Conversations over the past week with Jack.

Jack put my indoor shoes on his feet and then proceeded to shake his bum.  "Look at me poppa!  I do old lady dance."

There was a long involved story about Wyatt at his preschool and apparently Wyatt kept saying fuckin'.  Fuckin' was repeated over and over again as Jack told us the story of what happened at school that day. It took a lot for me to not laugh out loud.  The story ended with Jack telling us that fuckin' was a bad word. 

He asked me this morning, while we were driving, when was I going to die.  He also wanted to know when his parents were going to die and how would he pay for furniture when he was a man.

Explained that he didn't like human food.  Human=adult.

He went to a birthday party yesterday and got a loot bag.  He couldn't find all of the toys from the loot bag this morning and he told us he was angry about that.  Of course he'd left those tiny toys all over the house and I pointed that out to him, as we collected them up and put them back in the loot bag.

 He decorated the lightswitch faceplate this past week.

We go to court again on Tuesday.  Gracie found a job last week, rehoming homeless people, which I applaud but I also know it will trigger her.  Last time she had a job like that, it didn't work out well for her.  There is a lot of trauma and grief involved in a job with homeless people.  One of her clients overdosed, and there were a lot of drugs and alcohol involved.  I guess we'll see.

Good things?

Hugs, from Jack and the big guy
Dog walks
Wonderful young women to work with
Dog love
Lunch with Katie
A few good books

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Last Friday was foggy.  The dogs had a great time at the park, Charlie kept disappearing from sight and then reappearing through the fog.  Most of the snow has melted but we did have a little snow over the weekend.  It's going to be a dry summer without our normal snowpack.  Normally we have, on average, 48 inches of snow going into spring.  As you can see, that's not happening.

When Katie was eleven years old, she hit puberty, or rather, puberty hit her.  Overnight she became violent.  We had three weeks that summer with no caregivers and no summer programs.  I advertised and a young woman answered our ad, her name was Manon and not only was she patient and kind, she knew ASL.  She also kept coming back, day after day.

Her two younger sisters also cared for Katie when Manon moved onto more stable employment, but we always kept in touch.  She is now a middle aged woman and was just diagnosed with breast cancer, the same disease that killed her mother.  Her first treatment was today and I meant to visit her during her treatment, even wrote it on my calendar, and then completely forgot about it.  She texted me as her treatment was ending but I missed her by five minutes.

She's coming back on Friday to have a Port put in, so I'll get a chance to see her then.  Bloody hell.

This morning at work I spoke to my manager and asked if I could bump up my retirement to the end of June so that I would have the summer off.  The only reason I chose the end of August date was because I was worried about money.  We saw our financial advisor last week and money will not be an issue when I retire.  So I was at the desk, talking with my coworkers before I started work, about retirement and money and one of my coworkers asked me quietly if we could talk.

Lihua is an Asian woman, mid fifties, no children and no debt.  She told me that she had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and wondered about pensions and enjoying her life.  She never told any of us that she was diagnosed with breast cancer and she managed to have six weeks of radiation treatment without any of us knowing.  I just realized there has been a change in her over the last six months and we've all wondered about it.  She says exactly what she thinks now, no filter, no sugar coating.  It's funny to watch sometimes but I'm guessing that's where it came from, a cancer diagnosis kind of puts shit in perspective.

My daughter in Vancouver surprised me when I told her about bumping up my retirement.  She asked if I was going to have a party and then said she would like to cater it.  I was surprised and touched.  So I'm having a party, at the end of June:)

Here's a shot of Charlie, just because he's so handsome.

And here's a shot of me and Jack.  I hate having my photo taken but this one turned out not too bad.  My cousin said I look like my mum.  I do.

Friday, February 2, 2024


My neighbor is seventy-seven and she still works.  She's lived with her son for the last eleven years, since she left her abusive husband.  Two weeks ago, her trunk latch broke, hubby helped her out with some zip ties.  Her sister requires surgery but also waits hand and foot on her senior, incontinent husband who refuses to wear a daiper.  Other stuff going on too.  Last week, her car wouldn't start, the trunk light had been on for the past four days and had drained the battery.  She sat at Shoppers Drug Mart for hours, waiting for AMA or her son to help her.  Shoppers is 3 km from here, I could have walked it.  

She finally made it home after dark, just as we came home from supper out.  Her son was helping her, had boosted the car and and removed the lightbulb in the trunk.  She started telling me what had happened and then burst into tears, so I gave her a long hug and listened.

She's never asked for help, doesn't like asking for help.  She lived her whole life with an abusive man who threatened to kill her.  The police didn't take her complaints seriously.  She sheilded her two sons from the abuse she suffered.  She's a cancer survivor.  The son she lives with is seriously depressed, an alcoholic and doesn't really talk to her.

I asked her why she didn't call us for help.  Her words, "I don't like to ask for help."  I asked her who convinced her that she isn't allowed to ask for help.  She didn't know and it breaks my heart to see a lovely lady, a hard working woman, so afraid to ask for help.  

She's not alone.  I hate asking for help, although I have improved with age.  I got so used to doing it all that I just did it.  Also, if you don't ask for help, nobody can say no.  You don't make yourself vulnerable, don't open yourself up for hurt.  It's a form of protection that just hurts.  Nobody can do it all.  We all need help sometimes.

Our society also encourages the myth of the individual, that self reliance is all important.  Except we're all babies to begin with, requiring care.  We all get sick, we will all die and unless we have a catastrophic death, we will require care while we're dying.  Humans need each other.  We need a human touch, a hug, a kind word.  We are more a collective than individuals except we seem to have forgotten that.

None of us would eat if there were not farmers.  None of us would be able to buy goods unless other human hands had made them, packaged them, and driven them to our city or town.  When we're ill, we need doctors, nurses, and techs.  All of us rely on each other without even realizing it. 

My lovely neighbor, and me, we isolate ourselves in hopes of avoiding pain and rejection.  It's not possible.  To be alive is to open ourselves to pain and rejection, and to still go on, to deal with it, to forgive, to have compassion with ourselves and those that hurt us.  None of this is easy and life seems filled with suffering, no wonder we seek so desperately to avoid pain.