Friday, December 28, 2007

The Best Parts of Christmas

My brother and his family came home from Calgary. It was my first time meeting my niece Abigail and the first time my nephew Ethan recognized me. My sister and her husband flew in from England and we got a few special moments together. The whole family together for the first time in years!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Smacking Good Times

I have a special relationship with my Mom's sister. My Aunt has played many roles in my life - babysitter, cool Aunt who has all the nieces or nephews over for sleepovers, and Aunt who gives me a place to crash for night. Most recently we've taken it a step further - she's one of the closest friends that I can name. And as such, girl time becomes a priority.

Yesterday the Husband had plans with a friend. Oh yes, I was invited. But did I REALLY want to go for supper (yum) and spend the rest of the evening gaming (yuck)? I can't twiddle a controller any better than I can crochet. So I called my Aunt. Her husband took charge of their 3 boys and she became a free woman.

We decided on dinner and a movie. Together in my kitchen we cooked up a storm - jumbo pasta shells stuffed with various cheeses and fresh herbs covered in a tomato sauce with Italian sausage and smothered in parmesan. Greek salad with all the fixings. It was fabulous! We dug in and watched a chick flick, taking a break to have tea and cheesecake (we cheated and bought the world's best cheesecake at Double D's - candy cane and white chocolate peach flavors).

Everyone should be so lucky to have their Aunt become their friend. It still blows my mind.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Morning Ramblings

I've been up since 6 AM. It seems that this well oiled machine of a brain has realized that we work days. No more odd shifts. It's the weekend you say? You want to sleep in? Not today - you have work to do!

Sure I do. There are plenty of things I could and/or should do. The gym opens in 5 minutes. I should go hit an early workout. I haven't been for a week. Blame it on a sore back and the Husband working evenings (and therefore being car-less). I should take the dog for a walk. The sun is rising.

I sent my parents a text message thinking maybe they were having a wonderful breakfast that I should be invited to. Alas, I think they're still asleep. The grandkids should have them up soon. I think they should request mama's famous waffles and their Auntie Val's presence. I debated going for a drive and just showing up there. But I wouldn't want to wake them.

The husband is still sleeping. I could impress him like crazy and have the house cleaned up by the time he wakes. He did 6 hours of overtime last night. Paying for Christmas presents, no doubt.

Instead I sit here, writing and nursing a cup of coffee. I think I hear the bathtub calling me. After that I'll work. After that I'll prep 40 lbs of turkey. Oh yes, I'm cooking 2 large turkeys today. I may have only ever cooked one before, but today I'm doubling that. Plus 20 cups of gravy. It's for a good cause - for a mere $2/plate people who would not normally get a Christmas dinner will have a full course meal. While it's cooking I'll clean. While it's cooking I'll take the dog for a walk.

But not right now.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Family Gossip

Since my extended family members are avid readers of my blog, I'm going to have to post family gossip here so that word gets around!

Yes, it's true. Grandma is in the hospital. Her heart was fibrillating and not pumping her blood effectively. So she's on blood thinners and hanging out at Steinbach Hospital for a little while. She's going to be alright.

I wish she was closer. I'd love to see her.

Now consider yourselves informed!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Ready for Christmas

At the risk of sounding repetitive, I'm tired. Work is draining as I try to navigate a steep learning curve with very little support or proper orientation. Weekends we grocery shop, clean the house, walk the dog, and maybe enjoy a social engagement. Before I know it, it's Monday again and I haven't had time to check my emails or catch up on blogs. And so my life is a whirlwind. For another few months.

But somehow we managed to get the house decorated for Christmas. I think it looks pretty good!

Friday, November 30, 2007

For Me

Tonight is my night.

1. Bubble Bath
2. Candles
3. Trashy magazine
4. Chocolate

It's like perfection in an evening.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


In addition to my last post:

It's not that the people who "can't relate" bother me. God knows there are uncountable situations that I can't relate to. It's the people who are closed minded and unwilling to learn. Thankfully, these are few and far between. I've found most people who I've opened myself up to have warm and loving hearts and a desire to share and learn more. It's about attitude.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Mental Health

On Saturday night I had the privilege of attending the "Idea Exchange" at Aqua Books (which is a quaint and jam packed used book store that is just lovely). They do this evening once a month and pick a topic of discussion. A brief presentation is followed by the opportunity to ask questions and discussion ensues with hot, strong coffee.

This time the focus was on mental health and the spiritual component I have a lot to say on the topic of mental illness. It's kind of personal. I'm in what one would call "recovery". They don't talk about "cure" for this kind of thing. Even if it only takes you down once, you get tagged with a diagnosis. Or more often, multiple diagnoses.

I have strong and conflicting thoughts and feelings about when I hit bottom. Most of the time I think I have concrete thoughts. It's well versed in my head. But then I open my mouth and my words just fall out and hit the floor. So most of the time, I stay quiet.

In some ways it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I learned a lot about who I was, what I believed, and found direction. It shaped me more than anything in my past has. It taught me how to deal with uncomfortable emotions, how to be honest, how to fight life's battles. I met lifelong friends and we walked the uncomfortable path towards healing together.

But in many ways - more ways, I think - it was the worst of times. I remember not seeing any light. I remember being forsaken by God. I remember paralyzing fear. I hurt friends. I made terrible choices. My whole being ached from the inside out while I sat in those hospital walls, looking out the window and seeing life continue at the University as if the world hadn't fallen apart. I remember the alone-ness. And friendships that didn't make the storm.

I'm better now. Sometimes I think I'm better now than I was before the person who got so sick. Stronger. And sometimes I believe the exact opposite. I think about the past with blanks. Someone recalls a memory that included me and my mind can't find it. The memories I do have occasionally visit my dreams or invade my thoughts. Mostly I think of people I hurt and disappointed. I think "that wasn't me." I don't want to remember because it hurts. It still hurts.

Most of the people in my life these days get it. They knew me before, during, and after. They've done research and educated themselves. They respect me and think I'm strong. They believe that mental illness should be open for discussion. Not hidden in the perfectness of religion or image. My friends, family, husband surround me and lift me up, accepting all of my past, present, and future. They strive to connect with others who struggle as they did when they watched someone they loved falter. They make me proud.

Occasionally someone just doesn't get it. They don't get that some struggles last in some forms for a lifetime. Or that my normal isn't theirs. And it frustrates me. Usually these are the people who don't really know me at all. I only talk to people I trust about these sorts of things. I said it's personal. You can't know unless you've been there. Or walked to the edge with someone who has.

The old patterns and thoughts are usually tucked away in a safe place. Usually. Sometimes they re-appear in my thoughts. Rarely in my actions. My brain tells me that my body isn't perfect and that it must be. Anxiety grabs ahold. But I'm stronger than that right now. It may take me a little while to realize it, but once I do I'm in a position to win. I know who my supports are. I know where and when to go for help.

Mental illness. Oh yeah. It's personal.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Day Off

I didn't intend for this to be a day off. I got up early, rode the bus, and arrived at work 20 minutes early. I reported to my superior for my first day of orientation to the Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) clinic. Shortly thereafter, I got the news:

"Val, we're going to have to re-assign you because of that cold sore. Our patients are just too immuno-suppressed to have you around."

After lengthy debate it was determined that I may as well return home and peruse the internet, reading about various cancer related topics.

So far I have done some reading. But let's face it - who can read for 8 hours straight? I promise I'll make up whatever time I lack during the remainder of this week. So far I've enjoyed my heating pad (while reading!), played with Bentley, made a grilled cheese sandwich (didn't taste near as good as what I remember from childhood) and a hot mocha. I still intend to take the dog for a walk and peel the potatoes for my Husband's curry that he plans to make tonight.

I love unexpected days "off"!

Sunday, November 18, 2007


My background is Mennonite. As such, I grew up pacifist. I learned to turn the other cheek and to believe that war and fighting were the wrong responses to any situations.

And then I married a Baptist. Not just any old baptist - a police officer! One who fights for safety on our streets and carries a gun. Scandalous!

We've had lots of conversations about pacifism and what that means. It's so ingrained in me that it feels like my very nature. But at some point things turn grey. I mean, if my child's life were in danger, I would want the husband to fight for our child.

The other day we were listening to the radio and I heard someone speak on the subject. I didn't get the name of the person and it was only a couple of minutes long. He claimed that he believed that as a Christian it was right to turn the other cheek if he were in danger. But he also believed that if someone else - his family or his country for example - were in danger, that it was his moral responsibility to defend them.

Any thoughts on this?


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

13 Reasons to Feel Cranky

I've been feeling extra pinchy lately. Upon sitting in the tub to reflect on any good reasons for these feelings, I came up with an early Thursday 13.

1. Deathiversaries. Nov 15th marks one year since Aunt Wendy died. The chaos left behind has been nothing short of tragic. And we miss her.

2. Changing body shapes. As happy as I am about the Baby on the way, the changes I see in my body bother my non-rational, fat-fearing mind. My immediate reaction to the belly protrusion is to think of it as an INtrusion. I'm learning to appreciate the curves. One day at a time. Sometimes.

3. Winter darkness. It's dark when I go to work and when I return. Enough said.

4. Full time work. I'm a much better nurse when I work part time. I like people a lot more.

5. Uncalled for interruptions when all I want to do is enjoy a hot bubble bath.

6. Hormones. I'm pregnant. Blame it on the Baby.

7. Sore backs. And not being able to take anything for it.

8. No snow in the middle of November. Everything is grey and brown. Yuck. I'm ready for a nice white blanket.

9. Cancer. I think only good people get it. The antidote - be nasty.

10. Wind. I don't mind cold if it isn't windy out.

11. Christmas music in November.

12. Malls packed with holiday shoppers. In November.

13. Long bus rides. My commute to and from work isn't any shorter than driving out to Portage. And it's a lot less enjoyable.

Now that I've got that all off my chest, maybe I'll be just a smidgen less cantankerous. I know the Husband hopes so...

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

It's True - I CAN be Surprised

Last Friday I had plans to go out with a friend and co-worker from my days in Portage. When she suggested that I join her in her city instead of mine, I agreed with no suspicions.

I picked her up and we went out for dinner. We walked around the corner and, to my total shock, almost all of the staff I had worked with were sitting there with balloons and presents! I got a gift cert for Sears, a few independent gifts, and these beautiful flowers. I tend to think I'm a hard one to surprise. But apparently, it can be done!
It made me miss my friends and co-workers all the more. Maybe I'll go back. And then leave again. Cuz that was a darn good "going away" party.
But honestly - I miss them.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Pumpkin Carving

It's the Sunday morning of the time change. Just by a push of the button on my clock, my life has gained an hour. I wish the world would do this more often. My newly acquired "up in the morning" sense woke me an hour earlier than what I had hoped for. Thus I have the time to make coffee, eat a relaxed breakfast, catch up on people's blogs, and write one myself. It's not that I don't have plenty of ideas that I want to write about. It's just that work interferes.

As usual Oct 31 came and went. It's really not one of my top ten favorite days in the year but the Husband always seems to enjoy it. This year I went along with him for the first time and participated in carving a pumpkin. His is Homer. And mine is the one eating the poor, unhappy gourd. I'm quite pleased with my result.

Maybe I'll do it again next year.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Big Day

Last Thursday was a big day. First we heard our Baby's heartbeat together, for the first time. And then we picked up our wedding picture that we had delayed framing for almost 4 years. I can't imagine why - it looks stunning! Even works with our purple walls.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Foolish Beliefs

I foolishly believed that working full time, all the same shift, would feel somewhat equivalent to working the .7 of shift work. All those wasted days turning from days to nights, nights to days. As it turns out it's not.

I get up at 6 and scramble to get ready to catch the 645 bus to downtown. I get to work at 735, grab a cup of coffee, and relax until 8am. I'm still officially on orientation to Cancer Care, so I have had lots of opportunities to stick my nose into different areas - chemo, radiation, various clinics, Breast Health Center. I follow other nurses, I go to conferences, I sit with families who have their worlds shatter in that instant that the doctor says "we've found cancer in you/ your child/ your spouse". And I watch doctors walk away and shake it off, while my entire being aches, at least momentarily.

At 400 I'm off work. I grab a bus and a few winks of sleep on my way to the suburbs. The moment I walk in the door Mr Bentley charges out and announces that he's been well behaved alllll day and really deserves a walk. A quick snack and out we go. Sometimes the Cuz will walk him during the day which is very helpful. But he still thinks he needs play time with Mum. Then I have a bath/shower, make supper, occasionally work out, prepare clothes and lunch for the next day.

By 930 I'm in bed. And exhausted.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Last Weekend in My Garden

Are you SURE winter is on it's way? My tomato plants are still blooming.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Sister Celebration

My sister came home for Thanksgiving this week. She's my one and only, and I miss her like crazy. I wish we lived close enough to call each other up and go for coffee, but living across the ocean isn't conducive to relationships like that. So we enjoy the few days here and there where we act like sisters again.

Last night Mum, Aunt Carol, my sister, my cousin, and I decided to have a girl's night out. We dined at Hu's on First (yum!) and ended with dessert at Baked Expectations. No schedule, lots of talk, and plenty of laughs.

See you at Christmas Jenny!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

100 Things I'm Thankful For

This list may not have made it out for Thanksgiving weekend, but better late than never. With three turkey dinners in two days, I was just too busy! Also, I think this exercise in thankfulness is one I'll have to practice more often, because it took me a full 2 days to think of 100.

1. Sights & smells of Fall
2. New beginnings
3. Public transportation
4. Living at the beginning of a bus route, ensuring I always get a seat
5. A house big enough to share
6. A dog the size of a horse
7. Who believes my return home is cause for a party. Even if I've only been gone 10 min.
8. Coworkers who throw going away parties
9. Orangina - a perfect going away gift for an obstetric nurse, I was told. Rhymes with one major Canadian city and 1 woman's body part. Mystery is - does it taste more like orange or more like gina? I have yet to discover...
10. Good memories
11. Wood burning fireplaces
12. Candles
13. Strong coffee
14. A sister who flies home on holidays
15. Huge extended families
16. Job security
17. 3 Turkey dinners in 2 days
18. An excuse to eat as much stuffing as I want
19. Warm jackets
20. Scarves
21. In-laws who love me
22. Grandparents
23. A little brother who still thinks I'm cool
24. The Husband
25. Who cleans (albeit obsessively)
26. And instead of cursing that I'm keeping him up with my coughing fits, throws his arm around me and comforts.
27. Gym memberships
28. Stretching
29. Brightly blooming Mums in the cold, pissing rain
30. Sour fruit gushers
31. Electric toothbrushes
32. A church that does tradition non-traditionally
33. Thermophore heating pads
34. Universal health care
35. A comfortable bed
36. An older brother with a heart big enough to pastor
37. A massage therapist who makes me feel comfortable
38. Northern lights
39. People who love my 9.5 wk old Baby enough to buy it presents already
40. Seasonal socks
41. Garages
42. New clothes
43. Old, comfy clothes
44. Distinct seasons
45. Farmers
46. Home care workers
47. Parents who "talk me home" after a night shift in Portage
48. Chips
49. Neighbors who watch out for us
50. Cinema City - cheap movies!
51. Colorful fish
52. Makeup
53. Honesty
54. Life long friends
55. New friends
56. Clipboards
57. Sleeping in
58. My own pillow
59. Doctors who care about their patients
60. Mom's cinnamon buns
61. Bathtubs
62. Toilets
63. 50 weeks of paid maternity leave
64. Parks
65. Long walks
66. Soup in winter
67. Soft serve ice cream. Dipped in chocolate
68. Computers
69. Fancy breakfasts at restaurants
70. Pay cheques
71. Black pens
72. Cooperative patients
73. Dad's big boots
74. The husband's perfectly arranged closet
75. Sandals
76. Sorels
77. Spontaneous gifts from Mum - "It was such a good deal, I just couldn't leave it there!"
78. Flowers for no reason
79. Back supports
80. Razors
81. Friends' successes
82. Marriages that make it
83. Cell phones
84. Girls night out
85. Words
86. The husband's return to the blogosphere
87. A husband whose thoughts I enjoy reading
88. Low German
89. Nail files
90. Afternoon naps
91. Garbage day
92. Open spaces
93. Funk's farm.
94. Bonfires in the country
95. Tim Horton's
96. Filtered water
97. Medical gloves
98. Mechanical pencils
99. Air fresheners
100. Books that challenge my thinking.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

For The Last Time

Today I'm prepping for a round of 3 12hr night shifts. For the last time I stayed up till 2 AM last night so that I can pull an all-nighter tonight. Pretty soon I'll be driving my last scheduled commute to Portage.

I'm going to miss it. I'm going to miss congratulating new parents and giving newborns their first baths. I'm going to miss my co-workers more than anything. They've been such wonderful friends.

And I'm going to hate this learning curve. I hate learning policies and procedures and figuring out which co-workers to shy away from. I hate feeling stupid and all-thumbs-ish, fumbling for answers.

Just like last time. I remember driving home from my first job after graduation, thinking that school had done nothing to prepare me for real life. I remember feeling frustrated and dumb. I remember the co-workers that helped and those who didn't.

Hopefully in a couple of months I feel comfortable at this new job thing. Because right now it just seems kinda scary.


Sometimes I just feel lonely. I make friends easily and have so many wonderful people in my life. But tonight I'm missing all of the ones that seem most important.

1 - Ingrid. I have so much I want to tell her.
2 - Jenny. It sucks having your only sister live across the ocean from you.
3 - Lynds. As if lifelong friends are allowed to move provinces away. And they're not even gone yet.

Of course, the people who ARE around don't seem nearly as significant when your heart is hurting. I can't imagine life without:

1- My parents. Love them to bits.
2 - The Husband. My rock.
3 - My extended family. Amazing supporters.

The Husband and I need to find ways to meet more couple friends. It seems like we have our work circle friends and that the couples don't really come together. We have no idea how to go about doing this. But it feels like a void.

It's 2:30 AM. I suppose that might have something to do with feeling blue. Perhaps it's time to tuck in, snuggle into my heating pad, and have a good long rest.

Friday, September 28, 2007

All That STRESS for Nothing

I've been stressing with worries about this little life I'm carrying. So much, in fact, that I landed up in Emergency yesterday morning. My hormone levels weren't rising as expected and I'd had some spotting. The Doctor was fabulous and sent me for an Ultrasound. The technician didn't give me any clue as to what was happening and told me I'd have to wait till the next day for a report. Unless it was urgent, then the scan could be read in Winkler. So the Emergency Doc called that hospital and got the report - a single, live "fetus" measuring 8 weeks 2 days with a reassuring heartbeat of 166 beats per minute.

And I could finally sleep.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


I have days that my head consumes me. Anxiety, despair, worry. I lose sleep and I argue with the Husband. My thoughts are skewed and my faith is shaken.

But somehow I can still put on my nursing uniform and go to work. And be one heck of a good nurse.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Mmmmm... Supper

Today's my birthday.

Last week I made a visit to the farm and picked my menu. It's not something that is done every year. But I picked a handful of delicious looking recipes from a book. Recipes I have never tasted before. I informed my Mum that this is what I would like for my birthday supper, as the Husband would be working and I would need to come for a visit to make my day feel special. Who could deny a pregnant birthday girl such a gift?

Not my Mother, that's for sure.

The menu for tonight includes: Wheat Berry Salad, Mediterranean Chicken, Caribbean Crunch Squash. Ohhh, and a fish fry for those not quite as adventurous.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Magic of Blogging

Alternative titles for this post:

Complaining Pays
If You Don't Get What you Want - Whine
Someone at Cancer Care Reads My Blog
I'm Smarter Than I Think

So, just today I got a phone call.

"This is Jenny from Cancer Care. Are you still interested in the full time term position that you interviewed for here? Because we're offering it to you."

Stunned silence

"Uhhh... do you read my blog? I mean, can I sleep on it?"

I have to give them a decision by tomorrow.

With official "Knocked Up" status, things get more complicated. Yes it's true, I'm 6wks pregnant.

My current job has great staff. I have sick time accrued there as well as holidays. I have a permanent position. I don't like the commute nearly all the time. The job is heavy on my back. But I like it.

This job is temporary. What if I get sick too often and don't perform well? I'll be on probation for 3 months. What if I can't pull my load and they let me go? Sick time taken would be unpaid. But that would be okay because I'd be working more hours. Full time. All days. No more day/night switching. Easier on my back. I'd see the Husband more. But I would have no job to return to unless a permanent came up for me.

And if I wasn't able to perform well and keep this new job, another job at Portage would be waiting to be filled. I could pick up casual here, there, anywhere. I just wouldn't have sick time or holidays.


Friday, September 14, 2007

Job Hunting Blues

I recently decided that I wanted to work closer to home. The 1 hr commute is long, especially in winter with a sore back. In the city here, I could take the bus to work and our one-car arrangement would work better.

So I sent out my resumes. I heard back from a couple of place and got myself 2 interviews. I thought I had done okay. Not stellar, but okay. But I didn't get either.

Because of a recent change of events around here I had already decided to stick it out in Portage until my 2 year commitment is over early next year. Financially it looks like it'll be a better deal.

But I really would have liked to have the chance to turn the jobs down....

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


I love Wednesday mornings. It's pig hauling day for Mom and Dad. That means a trip into the big city. The hard work of scaling and fighting hundreds of pounds of pure pork muscle into the trailer for the trip gets the appetites going. And so, a breakfast stop at Aaltos is mandatory. Every week is the same - same time, same place. The whole family knows it. If I'm not working, I'll often haul myself out of bed to join the parents for breakfast. Usually the Grandparents show as well. When there is food, the Grandparents will crash. It's a universal law. Occasionally various other family members show up as well. Good food, conversation, and laughter ensue.

Today I even got presents from Grandma! Yummy smelling hand soap for me and for my rockin' cousin who lives at my house. Also, I got hugs x 3. For myself, the Husband, and Cousin. Sweet.

And now, with a full tummy I'm going to return to bed. Call me lazy. But I'm tired and I have to work an evening shift. I'll take Bentley for a walk before I go to work. I promise.

Friday, September 7, 2007


I have a friend that I love dearly. We've been friends for many years and I'm the Godparent to her awesome teenage son. Our relationship has always been close and strong. But we go through phases where neither of us calls or emails and we just pause for a while. Until one of us (usually myself) picks up the phone or taps away at the keyboard and touches base again, picking up right where we left off. Sometimes I tease that I'll tell her important details of my life via my blog. She reads it even when we're "on a break". Today I'm tempted to do that. I have something important to tell her.

love this picture

I wonder if she'll call.... ?

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Weather Currently...

SMOKE and 15 degrees at 11:20 PM.
I had no idea "smoke" was a weather condition.
(I stole this symbol off the Environment Canada weather website)

Yes, Mother

My Mom told me that she expected to see this picture of me with an unusual facial expression on my blog. So here it is, for the world to see. I am SUCH a compliant child.

This one is a recent birthday party at the farm. I just like the amount of family that I see on it. I really have the best family a kid could ask for. Most recently, I've discovered support from extended family right here on this very blog. How cool is it to have my great Aunts commenting and cheering me on?! Love it.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Remind Me to Keep My Big Mouth Shut

I've been doing patient transfers for the last couple of days. That means I escort a patient from one hospital to another for tests, Dr. appointments, etc. Stable patients are transferred by Medivan and unstable patients by ambulance. I usually opt for the stable patients.

Yesterday afternoon I got called in for an escort. My patient needed to go to Health Sciences Centre for an MRI. Everything went fine until the end. Right when he was ready to go, I called the Medivan for a pickup. No problem. But a few minutes after that, the Doctor called saying to stay there until he could come down and take a look at the films. So I cancelled the pickup.

I was sitting with my patient when I heard the phone ring. The MRI girl sounded frazzled and called me to the phone. The dispatcher was incredibly displeased that I had called "before my patient was ready". Now he had sent out a vehicle and he couldn't get ahold of them, which meant they were probably in my building. I tried to explain that it was most unusual that a Doc look at the films immediately (my patient has significant status and I believe got some special treatment here). That the plan had been to do the test and take him right back. There was no reasoning with the dispatcher. He stopped short of calling me names and questioning my competence, but not by much. I was just about in tears and the MRI girl and I agreed that he must be a terrible human being.

This morning I did another trip. One of the guys with the Medivan was someone I'd done transfers with numerous times. He sat with us in the back and the other guy drove. We started chit-chatting and I said "I got an earful from a NASTY dispatcher yesterday."

Lo and behold, a familiar voice piped up from the driver's seat "Are you Val?" I said that I was and he informed me it was him, and that he'd had good reason to be nasty. And we relived our argument, just a little politer for the patient's sake. But I stood my ground on the action I had taken. He had been ready. Plans changed at the last minute. "No, obviously he wasn't ready." Ya da ya da.

What are the chances?

Next time, please remind me to keep my big mouth shut.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Ethnic Night

One of the most wonderful things about cross-cultural marriages is the food! I am Mennonite. The Husband's family hails from Guyana, South America. His ancestors come from India. Family gatherings on his side always promise a variety of foods from various ethnic roots. My mother-in-law knows how to whip up extraordinary dishes. Always without a recipe.

When we first got married, I promised the Husband that I would learn how to make his favorite kind of roti. Roti is a kind of flat bread and there are many different varieties. I asked his mom for roti making lessons. She happily agreed. I watched as she measured everything by hand. Then she would pour it into a spoon or cup or whatever so I could write a recipe down. She taught me how to tuck and roll the dough, and how to make sure the texture was "just right". After cooking it on the stove she gave it a few seconds to cool before throwing it in the air and clapping it to make that flaky texture. Very tricky!

Tonight I shall make roti. I have done this once on my own before and I have been searching for company to give me the excuse to give it another go. The Sm'allards will dine with us tonight. The Husband swears it's a close second to his Mom's. The Husband, of course, is in charge of the other ethnic dishes. Tonight's menu includes chicken curry and baji - a spinach dish.


Friday, August 24, 2007

Can't Help But Wonder...

There is a little bar close to my house. They have a little sign near the highway that has specials on it or whatever. Most recently while driving past I noticed that they were advertising "Erotic Bingo" on Thursday nights.

Don't try to tell me your mind doesn't wander imagining what that might consist of.....

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


For most of my life, I've thought of anger as a negative. Hatred as a "sin". Anger and hate are feelings I shy away from. They scare me.

With the recent turn of events around here, I'm understanding anger in a different way. Anger can be self righteous. Hatred can be neccessary. Anger and hatred together can be fuel for positive changes. The passion of these feelings can be the driving force to do what needs to be done. It demands self respect and in turn increases self esteem.

Anger and hatred are required right now. But not forever. Eventually those feelings turn caustic and eat you up. But for now, go with the passion and energy it's providing to set boundaries and change life for the better.

And that, is a new perspective for me.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Illiterate Auntie

Make that Abigail Elise Salome Funk. I got 2 out of 4 of the names spelled wrong in the earlier post. Whoopsie.

And isn't this the most beautiful picture of Daddy and Daughter? The rose is from Grandma Funk, who insists that every baby girl needs one perfect rose.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Welcome Additions

Abigail Elyse Shalome Funk.
6lb 11oz August 16/07

Born to my brother David and his lovely wife Kendra. Little sister for Ethan! I'm so excited for another wee one added to the family. Too bad Calgary is so far away... we'll visit in a month or so.

Also, wecome to Kedusha! Increasing our human household population to 3. So glad you're here. We hope you find yourself comfortable and at home here very shortly! Bentley is thrilled for another walking buddy.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Growing Things

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin... Matthew 6:28

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Who Put the "FUN" in Funeral anyway?

Over the last week or so, I've been searching for places and things give me solace. My soul feels a bit ragged around the edges and my person doesn't feel like myself. Here are a few that I've found:

- The Farm
- The Husband's arms
- Bentley's watchful gaze and head in my lap
- Work. People are a wonderful distraction.
- Long walks
- Strong cups of coffee
- Loving Parents and Grandparents
- My Aunt spending an evening with me
- My Bed
- The musical stylings of Blue Rodeo
- Hot Baths
- Siblings and friends calling, emailing, text messaging

I'm really blessed. It's just that I don't always feel like counting my blessings. Hopefully I'm back to blogging more faithfully soon...

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Snapshot of Death

It always surprises me
That when things or people die
That life around them
When all I want to do
For a little while

Saturday, July 28, 2007

In Our Spare Time We Fight Fires

Yesterday the Husband and I spent a glorious day relaxing together. It was a generally stress free day out in the sun. In the evening we kicked up our heels and watched a movie on TV, our dog splayed out between us. The Husband went to the kitchen sink to rinse out his glass.

"Hey Babe. It looks like the neighbors are having a bonfire," he said. After a moment we both thought that was strange. The neighbors are usually in bed early. And they have no fire pit. The Husband turned off the kitchen light for a better view. "It looks awfully close to the garage," he said, before going outside to investigate.

He was quickly back at the door. "Go wake them up! I'm going to douse it." I rang the doorbell and pounded on their door while the husband poured water on the small fire that was burning by the wall of the garage. The neighbors groggily stumbled out of their house and pulled out the hose for us. They watched as the husband and I sprayed down the embers.

She opened the garage door and smoke poured out. The glass from the window had broken and lay shattered on the concrete floor. Small wisps of smoke continued to trickle out of the wall of the garage. We decided it would be best to call the fire department to make sure there was no more burning inside the wall of the garage that we couldn't see or douse.

The fire department arrived with sirens blaring, despite the fact that the neighbor told them the fire was out. They tore down pieces of the wall and found smoldering embers a foot or two higher than what we had been able to hose down.

The immediate suspected cause by the fire department - arson. Actual cause - neighbor burning weeds at the side of the garage with a weed torch and assuming stucco can't burn. She even came out a couple of times after torching to make sure nothing was burning. Amazing how an ember can smoulder. We found the fire almost 4 hrs after the fact.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


Yesterday I got the phone call. Ingrid is really sick. She's been placed in palliative care, her husband said. I knew it was coming. I'd received no response to the email I'd sent her last week. Most unusual.

I met Ingrid in 2000 as a 1st year university student, shyly poking my head through the Mennonite Chaplain's office door. She loved me immediately. I kept her safely at arm's length.

Later that year when I fell sick, she visited me faithfully in the hospital. She never told me how to feel or gave me the kind of pat answers that made me want to open fire on so many perfect Christians. She just told me that she loved me and showed me that I could trust her. Always gentle.

When she retired we kept in touch. She was one of my biggest fans when I hit the road to recovery. Always cheering and believing, never judging. We created "breakfast therapy". For the price of breakfast I could throw jumbled, whacked out thoughts at her for hours and receive love and sensible advice. She would encourage me through one feeling and one bite at a time.

She loved my friends and family and spent time with them because if I loved them, she certainly did too. She never charged a penny to the people I sent her way for various things.

She told me she loved me when I couldn't say it back. She worried when I struggled despite my insistence that she shouldn't. Always asking if I was working too hard. She watched me grow from brokenness to a fragile kind of strong.

She saw me through various relationships and rejoiced at my wedding. That day she gave me a clay water jug with a letter describing the life giving qualities of water and the life she had seen grow in me. It made me cry.

Her last bout of cancer was last year, at the same time as Wendy died. I begged God to make her better. My heart couldn't handle two great losses. I wrote her a goodbye letter then and sat with her as she struggled for breath and wept as if my heart would break. She rallied and went home. But she remained weak and sickly. Our relationship changed. Visits were short and not filled with talk of my most recent struggles. I wanted to protect her, not transfer the weight on my shoulders onto her frail ones. I took the opportunity to always tell her I love her and responded to her hugs that have a way of enveloping my soul.

I've noticed my prayer has changed to "God, don't let her suffer long. And help me please". I don't know if I should go see her one more time. I don't want to be fragile, to have my heart fall out of my eyes in tears. I don't want to feel that giant Ingrid-sized void

She's going to die. And I already miss her.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

How I Became my Mum's Sister

My mum grew up with two sisters - Carol and Wendy. Mum was the oldest, Wendy the youngest. For the last number of years the sisters have had "sister's weekend". It meant a chance to get away from the humdrum of life, rent a hotel room, relax in the hot tub, shop to their hearts' content, and play limitless hours scrabble.

Unfortunately, dear aunt Wendy got sick in November of 2005. ALS first took her voice, then her swallowing, coordination, and all other muscle control. By last summer she was in a hospital, unable to cavort in the summer heat with her sisters. Or her children, for that matter. And by November 2006 she was gone.

Unwilling to abandon tradition, Mum and Carol planned a sister's weekend last summer. But the hole that Wendy's absence left was too great a gap. Just the two of them didn't feel complete.

This is how I got invited. Mum said that since I have no sisters nearby and they are missing one, perhaps I should come along. I didn't put up much of a fight. The real sisters reminded me that it would be a trial basis. That meant driving them around and playing Scrabble (one of my least favorite games).

I passed trial last year. Only to learn that the trial period is indefinite, as defined by the sisters.

This year we decided to take a weekend trip across the border. Like an obedient servant I made arrangements, drove, and played my least favorite game for hours. Never winning. Winning would lose me marks in the trial. I came close to passing this year. Until the trip home. Whoops.

And that is how I became my mother's sister. Almost. Which is MUCH better than becoming my sister's mother. Wendy's void will never disappear, and I certainly don't try to fill it. They'll miss her forever. As will I. But spending time with her sisters and her kids reminds me that she was here. Plus, weekends out with two of the women I admire most, women that I can laugh and cry with, is always a good time.

Here are some photos of the trip:

Monday, July 23, 2007

What's in a Name?

I'm taking a vote. What name did you like better? The old name was "Mostly Whatnot." The new name stands at the top of my page.

Please let me know. And check in shortly for "How I became my Mom's Sister" Hopefully tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


I've been on the verge of Grumpy lately. Sometimes even over the verge. So, in true grublet form, here is a list of things I hate most these days.

1 - 68 hrs of night shifts in a one week period

2 - Scoliosis

3 - Spinal surgeons' wait list times. 2-3 YEARS for a CONSULT?! Come on.

4 - Men who get married 8 months after their wife dies without giving a damn about the kids

5 - Gas prices. And fuel mileage on gas vehicles.

6 - Sharing a house with an almost non-shift worker. We hardly even live together anymore. Just share the same house.

7 - That Dad has to get another job to pay for his habit. Namely - farming. Now he's a floodway expansion project employee on top of all the farm work. Also, that Mom has to work at all. And that she has a stupid boss.

8 - Dogs who eat their beds. Bad dog, Bentley!

9 - Sleeping when it's sunny out.

10 - 2 hrs of commuting in addition to 12 hr shifts

11 - Families who refuse to let go for dying parents. A simple goodbye and permission to let go would send him straight to heaven.

12 - Church politics. Women in ministry, recognized or not, have influenced me more than all of the pompous EMC'ers that sit on the board to keep women out put together.

13 - Fake nice. Love me or hate me. But don't pretend to love me when you hate me.

I believe I've created a Tuesday Thirteen. I know the rules are for Thursdays, but I've never been one to follow rules. So there.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


It's strawberry time! There's nothing I love more than fresh berries grown right here in our province. Portage is, of course, the strawberry capital. There are so many strawberry farms that their prices are quite reasonable. Around here, U-pick is $8 or $9 per pail. Out there it's $6.50, buy 10 get 1 free. I won't subject my back to such torture, so I usually buy the pre-picked
at $9.50/4litre pail (also buy 10 get 1 free).

Strawberries with sugar, vanilla, and milk are pictured above. I also made strawberry pie, which I was going to take a photo of as well. However, I found the pie was more like a wonderfully sweet soup as I cut into and the berries slid to fill the gap where the last slice had been. So no picture.

If anyone wants some, place your order! You'll just have to drive to my place to pick it up.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Here are some shots of my first attempts at gardening:

See if you can find the attention craving dog hiding in these (nobody wins a prize for finding him... sorry)

And lastly, the all important Herbs including lemon thyme, oregano, mint, and parsley.

Monday, July 9, 2007

It's Not Fair!

I never thought that I was the kind of person who figured life should be fair. I really didn't. I've always thought that children should learn that life isn't fair so that they can be prepared to accept the fact when they are adults.

But recently, I've caught myself saying "that's just not fair! Why do they get this, and I don't?" and other similar whiny statements.

Then I catch myself. Because I really don't like whiners. And life really isn't fair. If we all got what we deserved, we'd all be in much worse situations.

And I will just have to keep reminding myself of that.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Pansy Caterpillar

It turns out that the Pansy has an enemy. Mine were starting to look a bit pale. On closer inspection, their leaves and flowers had small holes in them. On even closer inspection, spiky brown caterpillars were gnawing at said holes. And so, I googled these pests. Turns out they're called "Pansy Caterpillars". Funny, that's what I would have named them.


Guess who bought pesticide today...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


The loving son couldn't stay with his dying Father last night. This time, he needed to tend to his Mother. I assured him that it was okay. I would check on his Dad frequently and make sure that he was comfortable. I promised to call if there was a change in his condition.

And so I found myself attending to this dear man. In the wee hours of the morning, the constant ringing of call bells waned as needy patients drifted off to sleep. Not so with this man, for he was in pain. I administered a dose of morphine and pulled up a chair. I held his wrinkled hand and stroked his grey hair. He told me of the severe pain he felt, and my stomach twinged in sympathy. "But I won't let that discourage me now," he said "for I am on the threshold of Glory".

He told me of a vile soldier with a temper and a lust for "the bottle". He talked of the moment his life had changed forever as the Divine broke through his drunken stupor. He talked of how he spent the rest of his life telling others about his God. And he probed the condition of my soul.

Outside, a thunderstorm raged. I drew up the blind and we watched together. Lightning cracked, thunder boomed, and the rain poured. He continued to preach, babbling at times in a drug induced haze, quoting scriptures by memory. Passionate. Definite. He held his abdomen and groaned, and I got up to give him another shot.

Finally he fell into a fitful sleep, still not free of the pain. I tried to imagine this gentle spirit as the man he described prior to his life changing experience. I found I could not.

When I was sure that he was sleeping, I quietly left the room. I could hear an infant crying. Mum was tired and needed to sleep. I swaddled the baby in a warm blanket and walked to the nursery. I pulled the old rocking chair over to the window and turned off the light. I rocked and cuddled the Baby. Satisfied, she closed her eyes and slept, her head on my chest. A brand new life, only hours old. Next door to a life well spent. Either end of the spectrum so close that I could feel the breath of life and the whisper of death rolled into one sensation.

Outside the storms raged. I watched, feeling a sense of calm instead of the usual nervousness as I cradled the infant. And I pondered life, and death, and my state of in-between-ness.

A few moments of this and then.... a call bell. I gently put the sleeping Baby in a crib as I went to attend to another patient, my spirit refreshed.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

How Plans Change

The original plan this year was to take a frivolous trip, just the two of us in Oct. We were going to fly across the ocean to visit my Kid Sister and Brother In Law in England (or wherever they happen to be at the time) and cavort about Europe.

However, the Husband really wanted to do some serious work around the yard this summer. And I really wanted to take a trip. We compromised. We would beautify the yard during the summer and then take a road trip to the West Coast - a place the Husband has never been.

Now plans change again. The In-Laws are planning a family trip in January. We're going to Disney World. And since we can't do it all, our other plans are out the window.

I must admit, I'm a bit disappointed. Maybe if I had kidlets I'd be a bit more excited. But honestly, I'd rather go on a holiday with my husband. Just the two of us. The In Laws are great people, but sharing accommodations for a week won't be as relaxing as what I was hoping for.

Friday, June 22, 2007

It's Just What I Do

Last night was potluck night. I offered to bring dessert. My Aunt Carol had made a fabulous Brownie Raspberry Trifle a while back that I was excited to try. You can never go wrong with trifle.

I worked the night before. When I got home in the morning, I threw a brownie into the oven so that it could cool while I slept. 4.5 hrs later I got up, had some coffee, looked at my flowers. Around 430 I decided I should get a move on, so I went to Superstore to grab a few things I would need. Namely, chocolate pudding and raspberry goodness. Note the lack of milk in my list...

I scurried down my sidewalk only to be stopped for a pleasant conversation with the neighbors. Shortly after 5pm I began my project. My deadline was 6:15. I realized rather quickly that my shopping list had fallen short. So out I went. I was on my way down the sidewalk announcing to the neighbors that of all things, I had forgotten milk.

"I have milk you can use," neighbor #1 responded. I assured them that I could buy my own. But she insisted and proceeded to give me an entire carton of 1%. "I just need a cup and a half. I'll bring it right back," I said. She insisted that they always buy too much and that they really didn't want it back.

Once back in the house I went to work. I made tiny trifles for the neighbor folk as a thank you gift. They were tickled pink and offered to give me milk any time.

I assembled the rest of my creation, topping it off with fresh berries and mint leaves. At 6:10 I was done. I quickly fixed my hair, put in my contacts, gave the Husband some quick instructions, and flew out the door.

The dessert went over well. Half of it remained post supper. And God knows, trifle is never good the next day. It turns into a sweet, soggy soup. I decided the staff at the Vic Emergency deserved sweets for their coffee break. My other neighbor was working the evening shift and promised to return my bowl.

You'd think that this frenzy came to be because of the night shift I pulled the night before. But truth be told, even if I'd been off for a week I would have pulled it off last minute. It drives my mother and the Husband crazy. They plan. They get things ready early. Not me. It's just what I do and how I do things. And it always turns out.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Waking Up

It's 11:54 AM and I am sitting in the basement in front of my computer in my nightie, sipping a cup of Java as if it's truly life-giving. I'm drowsy. We got a new mattress yesterday and the old spine isn't particularly impressed. Here's hoping they learn to get along in the next few days.

I don't know what to do with my day today. The house was cleaned on the weekend and is still pretty much clean. Did the yard work yesterday. So there's really nothing I HAVE to do. There are even leftovers in the fridge for supper tonight. How often does THAT happen??

The Husband is at work. The Dog is outside. This place is quiet except for the hum of the computer and the swishing of the washing machine.

You'd think that I could find peace on a day like today. But my mind races. I hate being idle. I can't relax with myself. I'd rather be working. After all, I had all day yesterday off too.

Maybe one day, like if I ever have kids, I'll appreciate this kind of quiet. But for now the quiet is deafening. I need to make a plan. Get busy. Do something.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


The husband and I have decided to simplify. Until now, we had two vehicles. And quite honestly, we needed them. Otto, the magnificent Jetta and Mikey, the cutie pie Golf. Incredible cars! Both were TDI (diesel). Both got a phenomenal 800-1000km/tank. I had been just about to write beautiful poetry, bragging that not ONLY were our cars so fuel efficient, but that we were still paying a mere 83.9 cents/litre.

Recently we realized that our current lives only required a single vehicle. And so, our decision to simplify entails loss and gain. Both of our babies were taken from us. In their places stands a Passat. Which, if you know low german, sounds similar to a horrible insult.

Welcome to Penelope the Passat! She's a beaut, and will save us wicked money. Unfortunately, she's a gas model. So much for my Ode to Diesel prose. I sure will miss those boys. Here's hoping they find loving homes.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


How can the weather forecast dudes be wrong SO often? Last night they called for severe thunderstorms, possibly tornadoes. All we got was a gentle rain. They could only have been more wrong had the sun been blazing.

I think weather forecasters should be elected. Like MP's or MLA's. You know, one per riding. I'd vote for my Dad. He can get up in the morning and be pretty exact on his predictions for the next 24-48 hrs. He's almost always right.

Besides, I've been bargaining with God to be in control of the weather. I'm not quite there yet, but I think I'm making progress. I'd make the fields yield bumper crops every year. Well, at least my Dad's.

We'd be an amazing team if I controlled the weather and he predicted it.


If I could erase any time in my life, it would have to be from late 2000 - 2002. It was horrible. Beyond horrible. Traumatic. I made the worst decisions I could make during this period and got into the most trouble. More than most young adults. I veered so far from my real personality that I wasn't me at all.

Some people who only knew me back then have a bad taste in their mouth. People who never spent 5 minutes talking to me or having any interest or concern for me occasionally feel that it's their prerogative to air their opinions of how I used to be.

I don't know how to feel about that. My immediate response is anger. But then I wonder if perhaps I should pity them. They never stuck around to see who I've become. And trust me - I'm hard enough on myself for my past mistakes. I certainly don't need anyone else's judgements.

Monday, June 11, 2007


Early in nursing school we had to learn many medical abbreviations. We were tested on these to ensure our competency.

The other day in report prior to my shift I heard an unfamiliar one:


I asked my coworker what it meant.

"Funny Lookin' Kid"

Why didn't I learn THAT in nursing school?!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The Days In Between

It's the uncertainty that consumes me. It pushes me to the edge of reason and my grip on sanity slips. My mind refuses to focus, as unwanted thoughts tiptoe into my subconscious before breaking in to my thoughts, conversations, and actions like a thief in the night. Thoughts intrude at work, in the car, as I try to fall asleep. Words slip out in conversations, betraying my privacy.

During the days in between, nothing is certain. Questions rule my life. My faith shakes like a leaf in the storm. Hopes begins to grow only to have dark clouds gather and winds blow, strangling the life hope offers. The best and the worst vie for first place in my thoughts. Often, the worst comes out on top.

The days in between symptoms and diagnosis. Rain and sun. Seeding and harvest. Unemployment and a job. Empty arms and a baby. Failure and success. Loneliness and relationship. Dependence and independence. Questions abound as I demand that God show me favor in an unfair world.

Then it comes. The answer. Good news, or bad. At least now I know. My thoughts settle. I sleep easier. Now I can make a plan. Direction can only be found if I know my starting place. And I can hang on to the delusion of control just a little longer.

It's the limbo that drives me to the edge....

Cichlid Update

Since my post regarding my baby fishes stimulated a number of comments, here is a bit more about the world of cichlids.

Babies are called "fry". I find it easier not to name them individually because 1) they all look the same and 2) chances are they won't all survive. Right now I have the Collective Squirt, consisting of 3 fry and the Collective Bruce, consisting of 8.

I thought I had transferred 8 babies over. My latest count showed 11. Them babies must have been hiding in ornaments. All are doing well, even the wee ones.

Here's a shot I stole off the internet that shows my kind of promiscuous mama holding her babies just prior to release. Note the eyes inside her mouth and the very swollen lower part of her jaw.