Friday, October 31, 2008

Tunes in the city...

I am listening to Ray LaMontagne's latest CD called Gossip In The Grain. There hasn't been one song I haven't enjoyed. The CD was a gift from the Observer. He knows what I like. I am a lucky lady. Ray LaMonntague has a soft, blues, jazzy sound. His music has been on the soundtracks of a few movies, including the movie A Lot Like Love, where I first heard his hit song Trouble. His music is so mellow that, even with the volume on my CD player turned up high, it's not too loud. I am a hunch this album will be in my CD player for a while.

The Observer also gave me the album Closer: The Best Of Sarah McLaughin, a greatest hits collection. It's a sweet listen and saves a lot of CD flipping. There isn't an artist I enjoy more than Sarah McLaughin. Her songs soothe my soul, just as any good music does.

Tonight is Halloween. The Observer and I both share an indifference to this day, though I like how orange gets attention. My nieghbourhood is packed with costumed, loud party-goers. The air is full of laughter, yelling and exciting. A car horn honks about every twenty minutes reminding me that I am in the center of the action.

After dinner with the Observer, I made it home before late. I am in my pajamas loving my new CD. I may not be in the middle of the action, but I am content to live around it. I am enjoying my "party for one."


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sleepless in bed...

My eyes barely closed last night....I just couldn't sleep. I hate those nights. Everyone has them. Thankfully, they don't happen to me very often. When they do, I sure feel sympathy for those who suffer from regular insomnia. My spirits are good, but I have only been up for an hour or so. We'll see what I like by the end of the day.

I am going home and I'm happy about it. I miss my parents' puppy, Riley. I can't wait to feel her squirm in my arms. There's no one that makes me laugh like her. The sun is shinning and I saw a sweet attendant this morning. The day started on high note for me, so I am grateful...


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Twin stuff...

People often ask me what it's like to be a twin. If they don't ask me, they are intrigued when they find out that I have one. Really? You have a twin brother? That's so cool!

It is cool....I guess. Actually, I've never NOT had a twin, so to me, sharing a womb and a birthday is the way life is. No one gave me a choice. I cope well, I'd say. My brother is a nice guy. He goes with the flow, is reliable, funny, and a natural born helper. Growing up, he was the first person I looked for when I was going to throw up. He'd hold the barf bowl calming with one hand and my hair back with the other. My brother rarely panics, even in the path of vomit.

Do we have a "twin connection?" Yes. And no. Having a twin means always having a peer who is related by blood. We have spent a great deal of time together through the years, playing and later, taking high school courses. Throughout my youth, my brother has been right beside me. All that history builds a connection - whether it's because we shared my mom's womb or spent our formative years together, I am not sure. Does it matter? No. All that really matters is that when we blow out our candles every year, we are good friends.

Happy Birthday, my brother. I love you.


The best of the bunch...

The sun has gone down. It gets darker earlier now. My day was quiet but enjoyable. Outside is colder than I thought. It's always colder than I think - hence the reason I have many chilly adventures. The wind has sure picked up. That's why it is so cold, I think. I made a trip to a few stores close to home and was thankful that I didn't have reason to travel farther. I was planning on going home today, but a thunderstorm brewed in my stomach. When intestinal clouds roll in, it's best not to cross area codes. I was a bit sad not to see my family today, but I will head home early tomorrow. It's not too long of a wait.

I do miss my parents and siblings though. Ten years ago, I never thought I would be saying that I miss my family. Of course I have always loved my Mom and Dad and brothers and sister. They have always loved me too. Living under the same roof makes such feelings hard to recognize in family. Waking up and seeing the same people everyday allows us the chance to take them for granted. They are always around and we assume it will always be this way. Being so naive justifies annoying our family members and showing sides of ourselves we would rarely expose to others. We are free to be free. We can be as kind, nasty, understanding, quiet, abnoxious, flexible or as difficult as we wish.

There is a shift that happens as we grow up. We leave home and build our own lives. We see that the world is full of millions of people. For every sweet soul, there is an idiot around the corner. We realize that friends are fickle and distance seeps into even the strongest of friendships. Intentions to get together rarely turn into actual meetings. We leave messages rather than talk in person and eat meals from wrappers rather than a plate while sitting at the dinner table. Life gets busier as we get older. Gradually, as all of these things come to light we mature, we look to the those who have always been there.

We don't get to choose our families. If we end up with a top notch bunch, (as I did) it's a reason to say hallelujah and to give each person in your bunch a hug.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Windy, orange, wet, pumpkin, filtered, coffee

Today is a windy one. I can hear the wind hitting the trees. The roads look a little damp. We must have been hit with rain and I didn't realize it. Listening to bushes and leaves hitting the window at night is a little eerie. Maybe the weather will help bring on the Halloween spirit. Watching the news yesterday, I saw a clip about white pumpkins. They have the same proprieties and consistency as orange pumpkins, except they are white inside. I thought the pumpkins were a funky, modern twist - although I can't imagine why anyone would want to change anything in life that is orange. What colour is more vibrant and alive?

Speaking of things that I love, (which inspired the name of this blog), my french coffee press lost a screw this morning. It happened after my morning coffee, so there must have been a higher power watching out for me. Being the coffee addict that I am, I have a number of different coffee making methods but the others require filters. Realizing I was filter less, I made an emergency trip to the dollar store. They are the only place to carry the exact size to fit my coffee basket and they happen to offer the best bargain, which is an added bonus. The trip over to the dollar store was chilling, but I was sensible enough to wear a coat. Seeing street goers in their winter gear made me a bit sad.

The dollar store was jammed with shoppers. Coffee filters are one of the only supplies I regularly get from them, so I knew exactly where they were. Making my way in and out of there quickly was a relief. Dollar store shoppers aren't usually the most patient. They are looking for things quickly and cheaply, This describes a lot of other things in life but coffee ought never to be one.


I'm grateful for...

* My attendant I worked with this morning who filed and cut my nails like a professional

* The way the same attendant knows me well and is meticulous in her work

* My red wind breaker for cold, windy days like today

* My friends wanting to have dinner with me

* Bar soap and how it makes me think of being young

* The sweet lady at Timothy's Coffee today who asked if I wanted milk in my coffee

* My parents being glad to see me when I come home

* Medication

* Sugar Maple flavoured coffee

* Living close to a dollar store

* Strangers who smile at me when I smile at them

* My morning talks with Mom

* New days being fresh starts

* The ability to buy a cup of coffee

* People who honour my call for help

* The colour red

* The way the Observer feels life deeply

* Being OK


Monday, October 27, 2008

Listen here, loopy lady...

I was an indoor girl today. I didn't go outside at all. Just as I was about to head out, the rain started. It's stopped now, but I'm too tired to move far....

I gave away some funky stuff I don't wear - clothes that collect dust in my closet because they just aren't my style. I gave them to an attendant with eccentric taste and who is a bit odd. She was happy about getting glittery, frilly clothes. She said it was fate that saw me today, because most people wouldn't want the hand-me-downs I offered her.

The same attendant is a horrible listener. I told that I didn't need my hair washed. Before I could stop my attendant, she put the shower head on my hair and soaked it. Once my hair is wet, it has to be washed whether I want it to be or not. I asked her to leave the conditioner out of my hair. Seconds before she slathered it on my head, I stopped her. Perhaps she needs her ears cleaned. At the end of the morning, the same attendant told me that she missed me. I stayed silent. You know what they say - if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Two best buds...

Do you have a best friend? Someone who you can sit and talk to for hours about anything? The person who instinctively knows what to do to make you smile? The one you call just because? The person who knows little things about you? Someone who isn't afraid to tell you that you are wrong? The voice of reason in your irrational moments? The shoulder you are comfortable crying on? The person you trust to tell you that there's a booger in your nose? Someone who will tell you the truth, even if it's hard to hear and be compassionate while it sinks in?

I have two best friends. If I had to pick just one, I'd pick a cup of coffee, because choosing between my two best human friends would be too hard. One is in India teaching and building a kick-arse photography portfolio. My other best friend lives a half hour away and works in day care and loves coffee too. One I met when I three years old- the other when I was nineteen years old. They are very different but they both love life. Each friend makes me happy to be alive and seeing both reminds me that great friends are great.

I just saw my local best friend. We spent four hours chatting at Union Station. The second we said goodbye, I started to miss her. I miss both of my best friends.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Bugger off..

I couldn't sleep last night. All this talk of bed bugs is making it hard to sleep. My attendants keep reading the info package out loud. I want to scream the following:

I have already read these papers. I know what they say. There is no need to read out loud. I need to sleep at night and when the same scary, gross, itch-provoking facts are drilled into my head, calming down enough to sleep at night is very difficult, so process the information alone, because you're not telling me anything new. It doesn't matter how many times you repeat the same details, it still means the same thing. I will deal with whatever happens.

Saying this would be rude, so I won't. At the Observer's suggestion, I have moved the papers out of sight. I am tired of hearing about bed bugs. My parents are buying me a mattress cover to stop the bugs from laying eggs in my mattress and prevent me from having to throw out my mattress should bed bugs get comfortable. The cover won't stop them from coming, but it will lessen the damage they can cause. My parents are life savers.

Lack of sleep is causing me to be short tempered. I don't feel chatty or in the mood for listening. I think I hear the Observer's bus outside. We're going out for dinner and the sun just came out after a rainfall. I am feeling my spirits lift. Maybe bed bugs will be in my apartment if they aren't already, but dwelling on them won't help. Yes, I am bugged, but I am telling thoughts of insects to bugger off.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Home with myself...

I am alone tonight. It's dark now and it's only 7:30. Isn't that a little sad? They say there might be a heavy rainfall tonight. The sky was looking grayish earlier, but now that it's dark, it's hard to say. I would have to go outside and I don't have my coat on.

Last night I decided to see if I could get a ride home today at the last minute. I miss my family, especially Mom and Dad. Hearing Mom's voice made me homesick. Since my hometown and where I live now are in different regions, two buses are needed to get from my apartment to where my parents live. Getting home is not simple and either are spur-of-the-moment decisions to travel. I found rides leaving the city, but not from my parents house going back to my apartment. Spontaneously finding rides downtown seems to be easier than it is from my parents' area. When I think about it, the city is bound to have a greater availability of trips compared to where I grew up. There are advantages to being a downtown girl.

I am having a leisurely meal tonight. I ate a spinach salad. My favourite kind of dressing is light barbecue sauce. I know it's a bit weird. Maybe I wrote about this before. My salad was good. The BBQ sauce tasted smokey, which is probably from hickory. My side dish was a few edamame, baby Japanese soybeans in the pod. They are boiled in water and sprinkled with salt. Popping the little beans out of the pod is my favourite part. I heard someone say that edamame is the modern popcorn, but I think ethnic cuisine has a way to go before that happens. Popcorn is a standard, can't-go-wrong snack. Maybe edamame is the Japanese version of popcorn.

My Mom said she was looking forward to our visit. It would have been great to see my parents, but I'll see them next week. We will have missed each other even more than we do now and will be even happier to visit, so maybe that's a bonus.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

A cracker moment...

The Observer and I hung out and he ordered pizza at his apartment last night. Seeing him was great and I miss him today. I was still tired from the previous day's troubles and felt pretty yucky. The Observer was understanding, as always. On my worst days, I can count on him to know just how to cheer me up.

My parents stopped by to drop off some food and supplies. The Observer doesn't live far from them, so getting to his apartment is much easier than getting to mine. Riley came with them and she barked a little. I think being in a different place excited her. Being so tired, I wasn't talkative, but was still glad happy to see them and appreciated that they were there.

The Observer says I watch "intellectual" shows, because I do watch some documentaries. We watched a show I like called Workout. It's about a well-known LA gym and the trainers who work there. Workout is racy, gossipy trash TV. I hope he realizes that I do watch some pretty mindless shows and not everything is "intellectual." There are shows that are meant for pure entrainment value. They are as important as documentaries, but they serve a different purpose. Everyone needs a little trash.

The Observer is on medication that he needs to take with food. He munched on crackers while I watched Workout. Halfway through his snack, he gave me a few of his crackers. It was such a sweet gesture. I will always remember it. It's the little, simple things in life that mean so much. A big picture is made of little parts and life is the same.



There are bed bugs in my apartment building. They have been here before. I am lucky that they have never infested my apartment. This invasion sounds aggressive -or so I hear from tenants. Apartments are being sprayed and bed bugs are moving down each floor. They need to travel a few before they reach mine. Is that good or bad? I'm not sure. It would best not to have bugs at all.

Last night I came home from visiting the Observer to find an information package on pest control at my door. Management must feel that every tenant has the right to be informed of the problem. I agree, but knowing all about the possibility of little bugs biting me in my sleep gives me the creeps. Thinking about them lying in bed makes going to sleep very difficult.

This morning my attendant was reading the info booklet out loud. I wanted to tell her that I could read it on my own and that I really didn't want to dwell on the little bugs, but I just listened.

If bed bugs do make their way to my apartment, at least it won't be a shock. Knowing that I am sharing my home with little critters will not make me happy, but at least I can have my apartment sprayed.

As a little girl being tucked into bed, my parents used to say, "Don't let the bed bugs bite" The phrase was just for fun, but now it means something different. If bed bugs are around, they bite even if we don't want them to. The phrase should be changed to, "Don't let the bed bugs near you." Fortunately, they aren't in my bed.....yet.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

One of my worst days yet..

I just survived my worst day since last Christmas when Mom had a heart attack. That day goes down as the worst day of my life, and yesterday will be known as my stupidest mistake.

Being the adventure junkie I am, I decided to wheel to my doctors' appointment. I knew it would be the last opportunity before the weather gets cold. Now there is no doubt in my mind. After half an hour of wheeling, I realized the weather was already too cold and that it was too late to take the bus. I started out a little chilly, but was still comfortable. The reality that I wasn't even close to the doctors' office and I wasn't going to get any warmer didn't hit me. Maybe sometimes ignorance is a blessing. The wind picked up, so I went to a coffee shop and ordered a coffee and a biscotti. Hoping to warm right up, I stayed there for a bit but had to leave when I finished my snack and remembered that I still had a distance to go. I was shivering and late by the time I made it to the doctors' office. My freezing, disheveled appearance must have made the doctor take pity on me, because she was kind. Throughout my appointment, the nagging worrying about getting home and my (still) cold extremities kept invading my thoughts. How would I do it if I was still cold from the trip there?

Following my appointment, I went to a plaza where I have shopped a lot. Being in familiar territory felt good. I browsed the music, pet and clothing stores and bought sesame sticks at a bulk store for a snack. Somehow I knew I wouldn't get home for a while. My bladder felt full and that concerned me. Cold weather and a full bladder spells trouble.

Well, I did not have a pleasant trip home. The wind whipped and snow flurries fell to the ground. Usually I enjoy the first snow flurries of the season, but I just wanted to get home. Stopping in stores was my attempt to stay warm, but doing so only made my bladder more uncooperative and my arms and legs less able to stay warm. Three blocks from home, my bladder had enough. In soaked pants and freezing, the enormity of my troubles hit me. I was in a fuddle (or pee puddle to be frank.) The cold told my breath away and I couldn't drive my wheelchair for more than five seconds without needing to stop. My whole body was so cold. Desperate, I asked a stranger to drive my wheelchair for me. He kindly obliged. Whoever he is, thank you.

Once in my building, I made it to the floor I live on before the shock of everything overwhelmed me. I urinated everywhere again. The attendant who came to my rescue moved fast. After a hot shower and tea, I still felt shivery. The coldness stayed in my bones until 3 a.m. When I finally warmed up, I fell asleep.

I am happy that I am OK today and grateful to those who helped me when I was so cold and scared. I learned that not every adventure is positive, but each one is an opportunity to learn.


Monday, October 20, 2008

For Grandchildren of the future...

I hope you learn humility by being humiliated, and that you learn honesty by being cheated. I hope you learn to make your own bed and mow the lawn and wash the car. And I really hope nobody gives you a brand new car when you are sixteen.

It will be good if at least one time you can see puppies born and your old dog put to sleep.

I hope you get a black eye fighting for something you believe in.

I hope you have to share a bedroom with your younger brother/sister And it's all right if you have to draw a line down the middle of the room, but when he wants to crawl under the covers with you because he's scared, I hope you let him.

When you want to see a movie and your little brother/sister wants to tag along, I hope you'll let him/her.

I hope you have to walk uphill to school or to the store with your friends and that you live in a town where you can do it safely.

On rainy days when you have to catch a ride, I hope you don't ask your driver to drop you two blocks away so you won't be seen riding with someone as uncool as your Mom.

If you want a slingshot, I hope your Dad teaches you how to make one instead of buying one
I hope you learn to dig in the dirt and read books.

When you learn to use computers, I hope you also learn to add and subtract in your head.

I hope you get teased by your friends when you have your first crush on a boy\girl, and when you talk back to your mother that you learn what soap tastes like.

May you skin your knee climbing a mountain, burn your hand on a stove and stick your tongue on a frozen flagpole.

I don't care if you try a beer once, but I hope you don't like it. If a friend offers you dope or a joint, I hope you realize he is not really your friend.

I sure hope you make time to sit outside with your Grandma/Grandpa and go fishing with your Grandpa.

May you feel sorrow at a funeral and joy during the holidays.

I hope your mother punishes you when you throw a baseball through your neighbor's window and that she hugs you and kisses you at Christmas time when you give her a plaster mold of your hand.

These things I wish for you - tough times and disappointment, hard work and happiness. To me, it's the only way to appreciate life.

- Paul Harvey

The events that life is made of...

I haven't been outside. It looks like the rain may be here. The roads look a bit slick. People I have run into in the halls say that it's cold out. Most of my morning was spent talking on the phone. My Mom and I chatted for a while. We talk about three times a day - morning, late evening, and right before she goes to bed (her bed-time is earlier than mine) After hanging up from Mom, I called my best friend. It's been about a week since we chatted. I miss her. We compared our weekend Italian affairs - hers a wedding, mine, a baby's baptism. In the European culture, big milestone events have much in common. There is a huge crowd of people, lots of beautiful decorations, tons of food, big bottles wine, an inviting open bar, espresso, an elaborate centrepiece, (and always a game to win it), lots of hugging, kissing and champagne glass clinking and good fun.

The baptism the Observer and I went to yesterday was beautiful. The whole event was classy and everyone was friendly. There was more fish than is usually customary at special events, but it made for an interesting twist. The star of the day, the baby who was baptized, slept for most of the meal, but we did see her awake for a few minutes, which was fun. Yesterday I realized that no one ever remembers his or her baptism, only family and friends who are there. Maybe we are only meant to remember events in our lives where we play an active role, like graduations, confirmations, birthdays and our weddings. Both birth and death are events that we will never be able to recall.

My friend told me about how there was a giant espresso maker (that sounded like an espresso fountain) at the wedding she attended. Guests lined up, took a big glass and could put whipped cream, chocolate, Baileys liquer or cinnamon in their espresso. Just hearing my friend talk about the espresso fountain made me excited. It would be my heaven. I have heard of chocolate fountains at weddings. Having one would be yummy, but if I had to pick between chocolate and espresso, coffee would win. I would opt for espresso straight up with sugar. The great things in life are great on their own without fancy additions.

Isn't it interesting how just hearing about something we would enjoy makes us happy? I suppose that's a good thing, because there is not enough time to do everything in life we would like. Some things, however, we must experience. For me, it's espresso fountain (or a similar invention.) One day, I'll get to try one, an event where I'll play such an active role that I'll never forget it.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Predicaments of a smelly, frustrating kind...

It's a another sunny, beautiful day. We are lucky. I am wearing my new top. I think I am the picture of fall, sporting all of these flowery, bright colours. I am tired today. I was late going to bed. My evening attendant showed up late and wasn't answering my calls trying to tell her that I had an emergency. When she arrived at my apartment, I was in a bit of a "predicament." Thankfully, my attendant was very understanding and gave me a top notch shower. I think she knew that I was in such a state because she was late. Not being able to walk doesn't make me too sad, but getting in "predicaments" does. Having no control over when people arrive for help after you're counting on help sucks. My body doesn't stand for lateness. How can I blame it, really? Everything involving my care is very scheduled. Over the years, I have taught my body how to operate on a routine. It doesn't always corporate, but most of the time, I can predict what my body needs and when.

I hate being dirty, even a little. No one likes it, I suppose. I spend days worrying about whether I still smell. The Observer understands. We are both clean people. He always smells great. I am feeling a little melancholy. It's almost time to go the christening. Once I get there, I'll be OK. A small part of me worries that I smell, but hopefully people will not my smile and not my stench.

I get to sit beside the Observer, so if I do smell, he'll be kind. That's why I love him.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

The coffee-drinking, reading- cookie-eating old lady...

I am solo on this sunny Saturday. My dad has involved coffee drinking, reading, eating cookies and a trip to the drugstore. It's been a calm, peaceful day. When I opened my eyes this morning, I wondered if I would feel lonely. Having no concrete plans can seem a bit scary - a little like not knowing what to do with free time. It's a pleasant feeling but not every day.

My attendant lent me a book called Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures by Vincent Lam, the winner of the 2006 Giller Prize. I mentioned to her that I wasn't reading anything specific. I started reading it today and I am hooked. She told me not to rush through it, but I have a hunch that it won't take me long to finish. The novel paints a detailed picture of the life and demands of med students, which makes sense given that Vincent Lam is a Toronto doctor. I remember hearing about the novel while on a taxi two years ago. I made a note to try to track the book down. I love when good books are passed on, especially by people I respect. My attendant is compassionate, logical, non-judgemental and wise. I like her and am always glad to see her any time of day. If she enjoyed the novel, the odds are pretty high I will too.

Up until now, I haven't felt lonely. That's the amazing part of a good book. We become transformed and mesmerized by the plot and characters without having to go anywhere. The day is not over yet, but with cookies from the Observer in my tummy, having drank a few cups of hazelnut coffee and my novel to think about, I think I'll be OK.

I may watch some TV later and drink some herbal tea. The Observer said that sometimes I sound like an old lady. Maybe he is right, but I am happy and isn't that better than sounding young and miserable?


Friday, October 17, 2008

Picking the right table...

I haven't done anything really productive today. Dad came by to drop off a pair of pants. Seeing him is always great. He touched up parts of my wall where the paint was peeling. We got to talk over coffee. I wheeled over to the subway with Dad and said goodbye. I missed Dad as soon as he was out of my sight. I still do.

The next best part of my day was seeing the Observer. Before this afternoon, it had almost been a week since we've seen each other. For us, that's a long time. We went to Swiss Chalet for dinner. Though I ate a bit too much, I enjoyed my dinner and hanging with the Observer. He's so cute. I asked the waitress for separate bills. I feel better going dutch. Equality is the modern way. Well, the bills took a long time coming and the Observer left the table to see what was taking so long - or so I thought. After a few minutes I saw another waitress pass ours a bill and nod. The Observer told me that the hostess was holding the door open. I knew he sneakily paid for me. He is one tricky guy. I am trying to be more gracious when it comes to accepting generosity - whether financial or a kind gesture. I opened my mouth to object, but remembered my new goal and thanked him. Accepting a kind gesture is hard, but the spirit of giving can be spoiled by an ungrateful recipient. I hope the Observer knows how much I appreciated my dinner with him...

Later, we went to Starbucks and had coffee. There is always a table designated for people who use wheelchairs. It's in a far corner and is wider than the others. It's unoccupied ninety nine percent of my visits there. Not tonight. A young lady was sipping a large beverage, nibbling a cookie and chatting on her cell phone. Her presence would have posed a bigger problem if it wasn't for the empty table beside her. I suggested the Observer go on ahead and order his frappuccino while I held the table. The Starbucks barista spotted me and inquired if she could ask the girl to move tables on our behalf. I shyly said, "No, it's alright. We can make due with this table." I hate making a scene or drawing attention to myself. I would rather quietly make due in less-than-ideal circumstances. The Observer came over to the table, muttering quietly about how he couldn't believe people could be so self absorbed. I ordered my coffee and returned to find the Observer sitting at the designated table. Something must have happened.

When it comes to space and accessibility, the Observer is sightly more outspoken than I. This difference is a positive one, I think. The Observer likes to have enough space to be comfortable in a public place and will speak up to ensure he finds it. I, on the other hand, would prefer to be squeezed into a corner than voice my disconnect. Don't get me wrong; I can speak my mind if I feel I must, especially when rights, privacy, care, safety or my loved ones are concerned. Any one of these issues get me fired up. Space and accessibility are not all that important to me. Doesn't that sound odd coming from a girl who uses a wheelchair? Maybe steps, curbs, small tables and tight corners are hurdles I simply let go. They are small challenges and life would be easier without them, but I am content to live with them. Yes, drinking coffee at a table where I can comfortably enjoy it matters to me, but it matters to anyone else who uses a wheelchair too, including the Observer. Part of me knows that someone in the same situation will speak up eventually. I realize this may sound like I am passing the buck or leaving the dirty work for others to clean up, which is probably true. After all, no one person can pick up all the garbage on the streets, can they?

After spending my life faced with many obstacles, I have come to understand that not every one is meant to be overcome. There are hurdles that are easy to navigate around without having to expend energy to jump right through them. I save my voice for issues that impact my personal life and the people in it, because if I fought every little battle, I would run out of swords. Maybe that's part of the reason the Observer and I found each other - so that together we can help each other enjoy every day and every cup of coffee to the last sip.

What could be better?


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Living and dressing colourfully...

I have a new shirt. Remember how last week I was talking about a shirt from the sale rack I wanted but disappeared? I found it! It was hiding in the corner and it was on sale! My good fortune must be a sign that the shirt needs to find a home in my closest (or maybe I really wanted it). I have a lot of shirts - more than I need. Somehow, I feel better knowing that I made three different trips into the store to look for that specific shirt. I didn't buy it for the sake of buying something - I really wanted it. My taste is pretty conservative; nothing too flashy or revealing. I like colours, especially orange (you think??) and red. Bright colours liven me up and make me feel happy.

My closet and drawers do hold about six white shirts. My Mom is a big fan of the classic, crisp white top. I do think the white shirt look works for anyone, but who we are and our skin tone depends on what we pair the top with. I like wearing a white shirt with red, brown, or (surprise!) even orange pants. Too much of one neutral colour washes me out and I feel boring. I think two extreme colours (like white, orange or red) contrast well. I am no "fashionista" but I do try to wear clothes that show my sunny side.

My new shirt is a white three quarter length top with funky, orange, pink and brown flowers on it. I am hoping to go for the retro chic look. I am planning to wear a new pair of brown pants with my shirt.

This weekend I am going to a baptism for a baby girl with the Observer and his family. I have never met the baby, but I hear she is beautiful. All babies are. Being around babies, children, and elderly makes me smile. Each population is at the extreme end of life - the beginning and the end. Maybe I am attracted to extreme stuff - like the colour orange or red. Isn't that ironic since life is about finding balance? Perhaps I am meant to be a little colourful.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Simply spectacular...

Today I went to the St. Lawrence market. It's easier to get around on the weekdays since there are less people. My family buys their breads and bagels from the market. Everything seems fresher and less expensive there. Maybe I just tell myself it is because I like making the trip. The vendors seem to waiting to talk and have their foods sampled. I never stop and linger in one place but I do stop, browse, smile and move on. It's a funky place that reminds me of the greatness of simple, fresh fare.

There is a clothing store nearby, so I decided to check it out. I have shopped there before and they have some good deals. I saw some affordable, classy, black pants, but the store doesn't sell my size. I took this as a sign that I don't need new pants. The store is connected to a grocery store that reminds of the store where my family has shopped since I was young. I stopped in just because the store reminded me of home. The atmosphere is a bit more professional than other grocery stores in my area and produce is more expensive, but it was a refreshing change. The store wasn't jammed with people or merchandise. I had room to move. I was a bit hungry and found half loaves of french bread on sale. Good bread is one of life's pleasures.

I came home and ate bread and drank steaming black hazelnut coffee for dinner. All afternoon the sky looked cloudy. Every now and then I would stop shopping to size up the sky and clouds. I wasn't close to home, so rain wouldn't be good. Thankfully the rain waited until later tonight. I felt sprinkling on the way home from a stop at the drugstore.

The leaves are beautiful. The red ones are my favourite. I spent the better part of tonight talking to the Observer, drinking strawberry herbal tea, and listening to some the best songs I know on my computer. The cars are swooshing on the wet roads. I can hear them through the big window that is right beside me.

My stomach has been a big challenge this weekend. It has prevented me from seeing the Observer as much I would like. Whenever I am in this state, I spend more time with my parents and need to stick to home as much as possible. I know the Observer understands, but not seeing each other is hard. I will be back to my old self soon. In the meantime, the pretty leaves will have to be reason enough to smile until we meet again.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Well, I just returned from an extended Thanksgiving with my family. The holiday was special, as they all ought to be. We celebrated with at my brother and sister-in-law's home with her family, a first for all of us. They are sweet, loving people and our families get along well. Given all my sister-in-law is going through, having both families together seemed right. All the food was colourful, festive and delicious, a big reason to be grateful. We learned that my sister-in-law will need fewer chemo treatments than originally planned, which is a huge gift. She is still the same person, but I look at her now and remember what life is about. It's about laughing and crying. It's about touching and having space to breath. It's about being together and being alone. It's about holding on and letting go. It's about trusting and feeling hopeless. It's about reaching out and maintaining privacy. It's about indulging and being selective. It's about being open and being straight up. It's about being grateful and wishing things were different.

Life is lived in polar opposite terms. One day may be white and the next could be black. Perhaps we survive only by waiting for black to turn to white.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

I'm thankful for...

  • The last year being so challenging and how it brought my family closer
  • That I discovered how great BBQ tastes when used like salad dressing
  • Sweet potatoes
  • My top-of-the-line computer
  • Maddie staying with us as long as she did
  • That my parents had the courage to let Maddie go
  • My computer
  • Riley
  • Mom and her recovery
  • Red peppers
  • My sister-in-law getting treatment
  • The Observer
  • Holidays
  • Livng downtown
  • Coffee
  • My Dad
  • That my sister found such a great person to marry
  • My belief that life works out despite all the bumps we enounter




I was just in the elevator with a girl who is obviously high on drugs. She was making no effort to hide it. I've seen lots of people in the same state in my area. Some pockets of downtown are worse than others. The girl looked familiar. I remember seeing her in the summer in one of the roughest places. Actually, why was I there? My adventure streak isn't always the safest urge to act on. I noticed the girl in the elevator had an automatic door opener. Since she can clearly use a key to open an apartment door, she borrowed the opener from someone who needs it. Thinking about this made me nervous. A physically vulnerable person giving free access to living space to a drug addict is asking for trouble....

For my own piece of mind, I called my attendants and explained that I had just seen a shady lady with a door opener. The person I spoke with knew who the girl was connected to in the building. Maybe I seemed nosey and paranoid to call and inquire, but it's better to double check, isn't it?

Who people allow to have access to their apartment is none of my concern. It's a free country, but some people make me wonder.....

When life is already uncertain, why would we risk our safety by being around unstable people? I'll never understand, but that's OK. I can't understand everything in life.


Friday, October 10, 2008

In the simple world of great coffee...

I went shopping tonight. You know when you NEED to get out there moving and seeing people or you think you'll go crazy? That's where I was at.

It's fun to window shop and browse. It was perfect weather. I was without any layers and was comfortable. For me, that's something. I'm usually the first to feel the cold.

After three and a half years of living near a huge mall right in the city and making countless shopping trips, I finally memories the floor where my favourite store is located. I have aimlessly wondered about people watching but mostly trying to find my top store. Today I memorized how to find it. This is big. No more wandering for me. I am little sad that a shirt I was going to buy is gone, but it's my fault for taking so long to make up my mind. It's not like I really NEED another shirt; I have lots.

I watched this little toddler cry as someone she and her Mom were shopping with was leaving. Her little arms were reaching out from her stroller and her face was all squeezed up in a sad expression. The woman she was reaching for stopped, gave her a hug and said, "See you tomorrow." It was so sweet. The little girl was very cute, even though she was sad. The woman who was leaving meant a great deal to her. I hope to matter to a little person in that same way someday.

On my way home, I made a Starbucks stop. Shopping and Starbucks seem to be my ritual when I'm a solo city girl. I had a decaf coffee with a shot of cinnamon syrup. The coffee was delicious - very sweet, but soothing and hot.

There are about five police cars at the subway and it looks as if it has halted service for now. Hopefully nothing dangerous happened, but the appearance of five police cars including the chief tells me otherwise. Maybe it's best that I'm blissfully unaware. I'll keep thinking about the great cup of coffee I drank and pray that all will be resolved at the subway soon.
Remember how ealier today I was feeling "OK"? I was reflecting on moods changing from day-to-day. Well, perhaps they change hour-to-hour thanks to some people watching and coffee shop calm.


Hum drum...

Have you ever wondered why one day we can feel so amazing and the next not great? Isn't it puzzling? Moods change so quickly - kind of like the weather.

I'm feeling OK. My eyes barely closed last night. I think it's because I had coffee in the evening. In the grocery store a few days ago, I noticed a new kind of hazelnut flavoured Maxwell House blend. It's very yummy. My average lately has been about three cups a day, a bit more than usual. The TV in my bedroom saved me from bored em. Oddly though, I can barely remember what I watched. I guess I was more tired than I thought, but why couldn't I sleep?

The sun is shinning. It's been a bright day. I haven't been outside yet, but I can tell. Maybe I'll venture out tonight.

The Observer is seeing friends tonight. I declined the invite. I had a hunch that I wouldn't be at my best. I miss the Observer, but we will get to see each other tomorrow. Hopefully, after a good sleep, I will feel more like myself. I suppose that I'm glad moods change so frequently. Feeling one way all the time would be boring. Maybe I should have tried counting sheep. Nah, TV is more exciting...


Thursday, October 09, 2008

just beautiful...

i tried to get a library card today. the guy at the desk told me that i needed to show proof of how i was and where i live. after riffling though my purse, i could only find identification, nothing saying where i live. i left. i'll be back tomorrow holding a paper with my address on it. once i left the library, i went to the grocery store. my plan was to stick to salads today, but i was so hungry. i bought a pumpernickel kaiser. it was good. salad was my dinner. i guess it was a two course meal if you count the kaiser bun.

i watched an old tape of recorded Oprah shows from months ago. i switched VHS tapes and forget about the one on top of my TV with shows I haven't watched.

i was feeling warm not long ago. i went outside to get air and cool off. it's amazing weather - not too good - not too hot. a homeless guy said "have a good night and take care." i wasn't looking at him, but i think he was talking to me. i said nothing, but was thinking about how the night is beautiful and i just had to go outside to realize it. beautiful parts of living are just beautiful; we rally have to do anything but live to feel their purpose.

- ocg

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The times-they-are-a-changin'...

It's a rainy Wednesday. The way Wednesday is called "hump day" makes me laugh. It's drizzly and grey out.

The Observer and I went to see Nick And Nora's Infinite Play list. There seems to be trend in new films to show the imperfect, real elements of being young. It's entertaining and refreshing. Movies that are too "over-Hollywood-ized" get old. No one has a perfectly, primped image and lifestyle. I'd much rather watch a movie with characters who pass gas, lose control of their emotions and aren't immune from being human. Nick And Nora was very real and sweet in a not-sappy way. The Observer and I both enjoyed the film, which is always a plus. Our movie tastes match occasionally and differ the rest of the time. There are very few movies that I love. I'm a difficult viewer to win over. The Observer LOVES films and knows about casts, directors, and story lines. He impresses me. Unlike myself, he has seen more films and likes a few genres. When we both see a movie we enjoy, it usually does well at the box office. I think the soundtrack will be a bestseller. With the word "play list" in the tittle, the soundtrack ought to be good. There were some less known bands and tracks that will probably gain popularity. These days, offbeat art and entertainment is attracting attention. New trends are interesting. The pendulum swings with time. Sometimes plain is the fad - other times the more eccentric the better. Whatever direction trends take, I hope that I will always be able to proudly wear my orange pants and enjoy sitting in my orange sun room. Hopefully hump day will always mean Wednesday.


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Spilling, ripping, and learning...

If there was any doubt in my mind that summer is long gone, it faded today. I had a medical appointment in my old neighbourhood. Being my "big find" of the season, I had to make one of my last trips before it's too cold. Why take the bus if we don't have to?

I met a new doctor today. She was kind, soft-spoken and insightful - all the qualities I respect and look for in a doctor. I was pleased. It's refreshing to meet professionals who I click with.

I went shopping this afternoon. In the bookstore, I grabbed a book by the cover. Bad choice. It ripped and fell on the floor. I left the store quickly hoping no one saw my accident. At the drugstore, I knocked a bottle of blue Pine-Sol cleaner. It seeped everywhere. I told an employee. Maybe the second accident was a lesson to be honest when we destroy things by accident.Today is my Dad's birthday. I bet he has knocked over some bottles of cleaner and ripped a few books in his lifetime and look at how amazing he turned out. Of course, he probably fessed up to every mistake he made...


Monday, October 06, 2008

Sweet and low...

I'm having a "party-for-one." Loud, beautiful, happy tunes are blaring from my computer. I'm typing in the dark.

It was a sunny, fall day, but I am ashamed to say that I spent very little time outside. In fact, I did very little - just read and watched TV. I was one lazy girl. My apartment building has a new superintendent, and I met her on my way out for some air. She seems friendly and helpful.

My family had dinner together last night to celebrate my father's birthday. Dad will be fifty-six-years-old tomorrow. It was great to catch up. Riley and the Observer were introduced and Riley licked the Observer's bald head, which made me laugh. I was very tired, so I found many things funny. I met my brother's new "friend." From what I could tell, she seems VERY outgoing. She said more to me in five minutes than my brother's last girlfriend said in two years. I know the Observer will really click with her, as they have a similar bubbly nature.

I saw my sister-in-law bald for the first time. She stills looks like herself but tired and thin. Riley didn't lick her head, but maybe it's because they have met many times. Maybe Riley was licking the Observer's head to symbolize shaking this hand.

I think I have a hint of a double chin. It's bothering me, of course. The last two days have been full of yummy, rich, sweet, and seasonal treats. My face feels rounder. Its not the end of the world. I've felt this panic before. My weight concerns seem so insignificant when I think of all that my sister-in-law is facing. My Dad's birthday and Thanksgiving are both causes for celebration. Why do I focus on my weight and food when there are so many other important, special things going on around me?

I just heard these lyrics from a song called Sweet and Low by Augustana:

anywhere you go,
anyone you meet,
remember that your eyes can be your enemies

the rain is gonna fall
the sun is gonna shine
the wind is gonna blow
the water's gonna rise...

Maybe I will listen to the words a few more times...


Sunday, October 05, 2008

A win...

I am in the middle of watching Sledgehead, a CBC documentary on the Canadian sledge hockey team. Sledge hockey is for wheelchair users and people who cannot skate. It's similar to hockey by played while sitting on a sleigh-type seat. I am not interested in sports, but am interested in this documentary as I know two players. The show discusses disability stories and preceptions too. One player was my boyfriend for two weeks at camp. He was cute, fun and popular. I see he has done well for himself and that makes me happy. The second player I know was my camp boyfriend's best friend. He was handsome, arrogant and competitive. During the document, he was suspended from a game for breaking rules. Even at 13, he seemed like that kind of guy.

Canada's sledge hockey team won the national championships. My camp boyfriend helped score the winning goal. I cried. It's not easy being challenged and it's not easy excelling at hockey, but the team did. I think it is amazing that people from my past are so successful, even if one is conceited. I don't think my camp boyfriend remembers me, but it was fun to watch him win.


Saturday, October 04, 2008

Simple satisfied...

Downtown is very busy tonight. Streets are jammed with people lining up to see works of art by Toronto's finest creators. The Observer and I went to one of our favourite Italian restaurants for a late dinner. It was quite the brisk trek, but well worth a little chill and distance for delicious food. There was an air of sophistication in the restaurant. I get the hunch diners who frequent the place are serious about food. I had a salad with grilled peppers, feta cheese and walnuts and two many slices of crusty french bread. The Observer and I thought the seasonal pumpkin desserts looked too good to pass up. We shared a slice of pumpkin brandy cheesecake - calories I don't regret consuming. The Observer loves pumpkin pie, so I suggested we share a slice. The pie was good but the cheesecake was amazing. I have had my share of pie over the years, so maybe I am a bit choosy. We rarely share two desserts. I suppose it is equal to both of us eating a dessert each, which doesn't sound so indulgent.

The trip home from dinner was relaxing, because the area is so well maintained. People are safe. We stopped at Starbucks halfway home for a chance to talk and warm up. My coffee warmed my insides and made for a comfortable trip the rest of the way.

There is more noise, chatter and traffic outside. I feel like the Observer and I unintentionally avoided all the downtown action. Instead of lights, crowds and noise, we had our sense of adventure, good food, a pleasant neighbourhood and each other. The city is full of so many people and places, but when it comes down to it, we really only need a few basic things to be happy.


Friday, October 03, 2008

Getting hit with a dose of laughter and reality...

I just got home from meeting a friend at Union Station. She is the kind of friend everyone needs, because she is so kind hearted herself. I love her. There are a lot of people I really like, but only a few who I truly love and my friend is one. Anytime I see her is special and she reminds me of how it's important to choose our friends wisely. Maybe everyone feels this way about a best friend.

We chatted over sandwiches and coffee for four hours. Only females can stay in one place and talk for that long. Actually, anyone can, but ladies really enjoy it. While I waited for my friend to a arrive, I got excited looking for her. It was a bit like the happy anticipation one feels while waiting at the airport to greet a family member. Isn't that silly? I saw my friend two weeks ago and all we were going to do was hang out a train station.

As usual, I enjoyed watching people come and go. Unlike my last trip, I failed to see any old friends, but at least I got to spend time with an important one. On my way out of Union Station heading towards home, a guy was rushing through the doors obviously trying to catch a train. When he saw me, he slowed down, backed up and opened the door. I was touched that he stopped in mid mission to help me. I hope he didn't miss his train.

On my way home, there were about five police surrounding a major intersection. Just as I made it to the crosswalk, I saw a man on bicycle and a taxi driver arguing. I overheard the bicycle rider say that he was almost hit by the taxi. While he was yelling, the rider was blocking traffic four ways. No one could cross the road, no cars could move and everything froze while we listened to the man yell. Cars honked and people yelled. A nearby police car came over and yelled at the bicycle rider to take his anger to the sidewalk. I had to laugh over so much yelling. Only in the city can we end up frozen in the middle of a heated argument.

Last night I watched a documentary called That's My Time, the story of well known Canadian comedian Irwin Barker's show on terminal cancer. Barker talks about the truth in mortality and tries to poke fun at issues that make most of us squirm. I knew nothing about Mr. Barker before watching the documentary, but I saw how, underneath comedy, there is realness. It's just a bit lightened up. Irwin Barker surpassed his life expectancy, so now he is living on bonus time. He stressed not letting any illness stop anyone from being creative, because that is how life goes on. Mr. Barker probably would not have stopped traffic to argue with a taxi driver who almost hit him. Irwin Barker probably have smiled and told the taxi driver that getting hit would have been a quick and somewhat painless death, unlike dying from terminal cancer.


Thursday, October 02, 2008

Lost and found...

I found the remote control for my bedroom TV. Somehow the clicker ended up burrowed in my pillow case. Huh. How could I not realize it was there? You would think I would feel a hump when I was lying down. So many people got down on their hands and knees to look for it. When something is lost, have you ever noticed that we end up searching far and wide? We rarely focus on what is right in front of us. My attendant who discovered the remote was so excited that she was jumping up and down screaming. I was happy too. Her reaction made me laugh. I'm still laughing now. I hate not knowing where something is - important or unimportant. Clearly, based on how many people who got down and dirty to hunt for the lost remote, I am not the only one. Watching TV is not my main hobby, but I do enjoy my late night shows. Being without a TV remote for last week wasn't the biggest inconvenience in the world. Feeling the excitement of finding the missing clicker was almost worth a week of sticking to one channel. The whole incident reminded me that sometimes what we are trying to find is closer than we think - in this case, right under my head.