Wednesday, 25 December 2013

It's Christmas time again!

Good morning everyone! The house is quiet here in the woods as the wolf pack won't be gathering today. It's an odd feeling without the noise and laughter but I'm going to make the best of it anyway starting with some peaceful alone time. This is a commodity I've had very little of the past five months due to my vagabond existence. I've got just the tree lights on and am brewing some café au lait. It's going to be a gorgeous day out here the sky is just starting to turn pink with the sunrise.

Christmas has a bit of a melancholy feel to it as well as it was four years ago mom died. I'm not going to use the euphemism passed away because she is still a very real part of our lives. She hasn't passed us by at all. Natali posted that she had lost some presents and I had to laugh, it brought back memories of mom standing there Christmas morning realising something hadn't made it under the tree. My most vivid memory of that was the first farm set we ever had, which I loved because of the tiny detail. We were watching Gulliver's Travels on TV in February when that gift reappeared! You'd think she had planned it that way.
Then there were the half finished sewing projects, the curse of a working mom with little left over time. I know the feeling, ambition always outweighs time. I've still got flannelette in the sewing room that was supposed to become pj's two Christmases ago. Probably next year, stay tuned.

I've heard from Dayle this morning, crazy woman is already out for a walk. They were all up at 5am as per usual. Now after getting everyone up the boys have gone back to bed. I've also heard from Jess. She's spending her first Christmas at her in-laws. She says it feels strange not being home but her family will now create their own traditions. I get them next year though, no arguing. Jenn and Theo will wake at a more leisurely time so I'll hear from them later.

Oh, look at that the sun is just cresting the trees and casting the most beautiful light on the woods. You may have noticed I've been dragging my heels getting out of Muskoka. Truth is I don't want to leave at all. I'm still looking for an opportunity to work close enough to stay. I can't seem to find where I want to be back south. The job is going well except for the crappy selling season we had these past few weeks. But this damn swamp keeps calling me home.

So, enjoy your time with family. Yes, I know, they drive you crazy but better that than having no one near by. I'll be lamenting the noise on January 10th when the wolf pack descends on us for our belated Christmas. What I need to remind myself of is that we have gathered in additional new family who look forward to our crazy dinners because we are loud and loving and fun. I can always run to the woods if it gets to be too much. Now, to start figuring out where I'm going to sleep those six extra people. Happy Holidays from all of us!

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Thinking on Christmas

'Tis the time of year for buying all the Christmas magazines and falling into a fantasy world of Christmassy wonderfulness! I know there are people out there who manage to get through the season without wallowing in the glossy pages but I refuse to acknowledge THOSE kind of people.
For me the season starts in October when the Christmas Cookies magazine comes out. I have every issue saved back to the year I was married 1986. Each Christmas I pull out the entire stack and plan out my cookie extravaganza. There are recipes that I use every year, zebras must show up for every Christmas, and new ones that I want to experiment with. Last year I finally got my cookie press. Millions of little shaped cookies will be appearing this year!
My biggest issue this year is finding the time. I'm still living in limbo, travelling home sporadically, so having spare time to bake comes infrequently. Add to this holiday shopping hitting the malls over the next few weeks and I think highly strategic planning will be necessary. But I must bake, my soul cries out for it. Also, I must sample, my hips start crying too but for a different reason, lol.

Thinking on Christmas and reading some essays in Victoria magazine made me start thinking of traditions. When I was a kid we would receive gifts from Aunt Matilda and Uncle Wiggly. These were relatives created by my parents to make up for the loss of gifts from our real relatives. Don't worry we weren't disowned by the family, it was just that our parents bred like rabbits and there too many of us to keep exchanging gifts. I don't remember that part but I do, lovingly, remember Aunt Matilda and Uncle Wiggly.
 Aunt Matilda was very practical. If anyone was going to buy you underwear, it was her. But she would also occasionally get you a treat. I remember the Christmas of my first year away at school. I saw a real leather purse at a boutique in Gravenhurst that was out of reach for a starving student. Lo and behold I opened her gift Christmas morning and there was that purse. Matilda must have decided that I was now grown up enough to make good use of such an extravagance. I used that purse for years.
I think Uncle Wiggly was a bit of a dreamer. He always made sure we got books. I grew up in a house full of books and, subsequently, a house full of readers. My father, famously, read the Encylopedia Brittannica volume one through twenty-six for fun. When I was very young I would look forward to the Rupert Annual. This was a compilation of Rupert Bear comics that ran in the English newspaper The Daily Mirror. One of those odd things we Ferriers thought normal. Books from England, why of course, doesn't everyone do this? I say I think Wiggly was a dreamer because through those books we could travel anywhere or anytime. I see him as trying to open us up to all of the possibilities in the world. After all, Uncle Wiggly came to us from a book and was a white rabbit!

So, jump ahead a decade and here I am with my own children. Once again Matilda and Wiggly return to the family. This time to bring wonder to my own children. My kids don't know a Christmas without them. While Matilda has been able to carry on her practical ways Wiggly has been forced to change with the times. Books are still his favourite gift but he has also given movies and most recently video games. He looked quite pained while wrapping these last two but expanding the universe for his family is more important.
Until last year. Due to difficulties that rocked our little household Aunt Matilda and Uncle Wiggly were found to be failing in health. They were unable to join in on our Christmas. My heart was broken, how would I tell the kids? As expected it went like this; Jessica and Jenni were sad at the loss and Jeff and Greg didn't care. I was disappointed that the boys had not gotten the significance of these two characters in their Christmas. Each year there would be much discussion among the three of us trying to make sure the gifts from Matilda and Wiggly fit each child. How could the boys have not been aware of the part these relatives played in the holiday? I smile and act like it isn't important but it is. I have been sharing a part of my past that helped bring joy and wonder to Christmas, how could they not see that? Thankfully, Jessica and Jennifer get it. Each year they would look under the tree to make sure the gifts from these elderly relatives arrived. Jessica, especially, shares my love for Christmas and would teach her friends about the tradition of Aunt Matilda and Uncle Wiggly. Their true friends also get it because they get our family.
This year, after mourning the loss of my two imaginary relatives, I think it's time for a soap opera scene change. Life is, more or less, back on track and since I've been living in a bit of a soap opera for the past few years I think the return of Aunt Matilda and Uncle Wiggly is apropos. I missed them and they've been living in my heart over the past year. Time to revive them to their former glory. These kids definitely need Aunt Matilda to keep them grounded in the real world, perhaps underwear all around, we'll see. And I fear the boys especially have forgotten how to dream so we need Uncle Wiggly to expand the horizon one more time.
It's early but I'm already in the mood so Merry Christmas!!  I hope you have the gift of imagination and wonder like we do.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Where has the time gone?

I've been trying to come up with something interesting to write about and I realised today that I haven't written since August! How you all must be yearning for the balm of my words to flow over you, lol! The problem is, is that I haven't been doing anything but work. The store is pegging along but it seems to consume my time anyway. I'm kinda homeless right now because I'm still staying with Jess and Alex ( bless their hearts) and I get homesick a lot. I miss my boys, I miss my cats and I miss just being in my space with my stuff. I can't wait for four days off this weekend to sleep in my own bed, bake and cook. The kids are all coming and I'll get sick of their noise ( I don't know where their vociferous ways come from, must be a skipped generation thing) and in the end will feel whole.

It's been a bit of a tough weekend because my second mom died on Friday. As most of you know Brenda and I have been like  "peas and carrots" since we first met oh so many years ago. We shared each other's houses like they were our own and the passing of mom Gefucia is the final chapter with both our parents. Both mom's had the privilege of living long lives and are sorely missed.
I've been thinking about the two most influential women in my life and I realised that as much as I didn't understand the stay-at-home mom thing growing up I grew to appreciate the importance of being the anchor that secures the family during my ten years at home. I am too much like my parents in that I'm perfectly happy in and of myself. Brenda's parents showed me adults who had strong close friendships, enjoyed lives that didn't include their kids all the time and people who gave back to the community. I'd love to be that way but I'm not.  One thing both our families have are crazy senses of humour. May had a wry wit that she didn't parade out often but it's easy to see why she had so many loyal friends.
So, to be a little maudlin here Brenda and I have lost our anchors. Brenda saw her mom as the calm in the chaos and I had my mom as the voice of reason. We're now left to take what we've learned and carry on. I'm sure Brenda will be better at it than me because she plots her course and follows it while I tend to fly in the wind. I've found that the past three and a half years have posed challenges where I could have really used mom's practical advice. Whether I took it or not her comments made me stop and think. Hard to believe that we are becoming the elders in our families. I'm continue to try and figure out what I will be when I grow up!
With the celebration of Thanksgiving this weekend I plan to toast the two greatest women I've known, born in an era when you did what needed to be done and carried on. Here's hoping I stop and think just often enough and look outside myself to include others in my life. Cheers, ladies.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Just sitting and Thinking

So, as of tomorrow I'll have been with Victorinox one month and what a whirlwind it has been! Let's start with returning to the GTA, not what I thought I wanted but it's fitting like my favourite old shoes. I've ensconced myself at Jessica's where I sleep on a cot in the tiny back bedroom and live out of a suitcase. Sounds kinda grim but in reality it's turning out to be comfortable and I have been made welcome by most members of the household. My almost son-in-law and I have had a chance to get to know each other better. Maybe Mom has rubbed off on me after all because I'm not being made to feel like I should move on real quick. Jonathan, the giant master of the house, stares at me reproachfully every chance he gets. He reminds me that I will never be forgiven for making him live with his arch enemy for two years.
As for the new job, it's been one thing after another. Apparently Milton is at the end of the earth. At least it is for people who live in Toronto. The original manager of the store, whom I was determined to get along with despite his ineffectiveness, decided after driving out there for one week that it was too far and cost too much money. Now those of you who recall my previous job where I drove 250km  daily can imagine how I had to hide my incredulity at the thought of a 35km drive as too far. So, flash forward to my getting what I wanted all along which was to be GM of the store. I guess the one thing he did right was move over to make room for me. Now, we had hired an assistant sales manager , this company has many levels of management, who had started training. She came to me last week to talk and assured me that she was going to make it to work even though her car had broken down and she would have to figure out transit from Toronto. I get a call the next day to say that she had quit. Not a big deal because as one of my staff put it, she was just a name on the schedule. Twelve hour days are becoming the norm and I'm the best roommate 'cause I'm never there! Add all of this to the fact that the mall is jammed packed most of each day with over a thousand people walking through the doors daily.
Is it only a month ago I was bored stiff from not working? Next time I send a message out to the universe remind me to think it through thoroughly first. And yes, you're right, I'm enjoying every minute of it. Opening a new store is basically a  wonderfully horrible thing. Whatever can go wrong usually does but I thrive on the challenge of making it work, proving to my bosses that I can do what's needed and then my most favourite part, building a great team. We're getting there. The store is two and half weeks old and I am, of course, worrying about not being perfect at everything already. Where would I be without something to worry about?
Added bonus in this is that I'm removed from the everydayness of life. I'm finding it quite easy to only concentrate on what I need. Is this a sign that an empty nest might not be the end of the world? I've left the boys to fend for themselves up north. I talked to them today, still alive and bickering. I'm missing home though, the boys, my babies ( that's the crazy cat lady talking) and my space. I haven't been baking because I don't have my things about me. Good for my figure but my soul is starving a little. Short-term pain for long-term gain.
Moving on to other thoughts. Jessica and Alex are getting married. It feels like they already are but I get the wish to make it permanent. They're planning a civil service with a small dinner party to follow. I find it strange that my flamboyant daughter is uncomfortable with the idea of being in front of a crowd of well-wishers. I always figured her for the child that would want as much pomp and ceremony as possible. A day all about her, oh and Alex too! Shows I don't know everything. They're both involved in making it represent the two of them. I think their friends will have a good time.
So, I'm exhausted but happy. The gods seem to be telling me that this is a good choice right now. I just need to relax and settle into the job then I can gather the rest of my life back around me.

Monday, 29 July 2013

And the pedulum swings again!

The least I can say about my life lately is that it's never stagnant! It's seems that every time I turn around something else is coming my way. Unfortunately it has felt like more bad than good being flung in my direction. If I go by that saying "God only sends you the trials he thinks you can handle", damn I practically invincible! Well, I'm still standing and saying bring it on.
Four years ago when I made the decision to leave the city and head back north I thought it was where I should be. If I'd been paying attention I would have seen that the powers that be were tossing roadblocks in my way on a regular basis to slow me down to rethink the move. To start the real estate market ground to a complete halt pretty much on the same day I put the for sale sign on the yard. It took me 6 months to sell the house and we ended up buying a house ( a house I love by the way) in between but not belonging to any town. I had a line on two different jobs up here that I accepted at a wage level waaay below my usual, both of which had disappeared before the end of year one. Then followed 11 months trying to find work ending with a job far south and again below my usual pay rate. The stress of this commute led to the health issues I had this spring. Now, I consider myself a pretty savvy person but apparently I'm also stubborn as a mule. The signs were slapping me in the face and I refused to see them.
So, after much discussion with the boys and wholehearted agreement from the girls I made the decision that the GTA is where I belong. To that end I cast my employment search south and within two weeks I had been interviewed and offered a position as part of a team opening another new store at the highest pay rate I've ever been offered! I accepted. Now, a bit of a dilemma figuring out housing. I'm trying to be slow and thoughtful about this, not my strong suit as those of you who know me will agree. I want to make sure everything is working before I pick up the gang and move them again. Enter another open window in the guise of Jess and Alex. For the time being I will be renting space from them giving me a chance to settle, find a house and get everything coordinated and it's only 20 minutes door to door to work.
Sounds like this is all about me and in a way it is. I'm not in any hurry to get the boys out of the house but let's face it, if an opportunity comes up they could be off to the far reaches of the earth! I've certainly missed the girls in the past three years, the trip north being less feasible than we thought ( especially with the demise of the Northlander, grrr ) so being back in the GTA will bring us all together again. Yes, I'm an old softy who wants to be near her kids, what can I say.
So, roadblocks and open roads , the pendulum swings again. I'm loathe to let go of our patch of land in the woods. As I left the city to spend a few days home a rainbow arced over the city. I haven't seen a rainbow in a long time. I took it as a sign that the correct decision has been made. I stepped out of the car at home to look up at a sky resplendent with stars and the scent of evergreens in the air. This is the battle I'm now waging. How do I hang on to Muskoka while living the city life? This something I'm going to take the next 6 months figuring out. In the meantime, I think we may rent out the house up here, if feasible, and thoughtfully find our new stomping grounds. I'm still mulling this over.
Opportunity awaits the three of us back in the GTA. Jeff will have an opportunity to find a permanent job and make his further education decisions. Greg can have a choice of schools with the hopes of finding his niche and the cats will have new nooks and crannies to explore. For now I'm at peace and I'm planning on hanging on to it.
Oh, and come see me! The store I'm opening is at a new outlet mall opening this week in Halton Hills ( fancy new name for the Georgetown / Acton area), 401 and Trafalgar Rd. The company name is Victorinox. Not familiar? Google it. This is the second store in Canada and the first outlet store. I've joined the company to have the opportunity to help grow the brand in North America. Scary and exciting at the same time, mother's milk for me. I'm livin' life on the edge, lol! Then I go home to my cats and kids, bring it on God, bring it on.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

My thoughts on Gratitude

I'm going to start this by saying that life is not a bed of roses right now. Due to my health issues this spring I left a company that treated me wonderfully to take a job close to home. This has turned out to be a disaster and my self esteem has been dealt yet another blow.
For most of my life I have lived by the credo of positive thoughts bring positive actions and reactions. I lose touch with that now and then while in the midst of some crisis or other but can usually return to my positive frame of mind. For the past four years I've had real difficulty seeing what's good and lovely in my life as I struggle financially.
On Saturday I lost my job. I'd like to say unexpectedly but it wasn't really. The execution of that departure is what hit me. The owner of this company is, quite simply, a bastard. He's a spoiled man/child who is used to everyone letting him get away with bad behaviour. I was not his choice for hiring and he made that clear from the moment I walked through the door. I have never been treated with such contempt and disrespect in my life. So, I had one foot out the door but I was working on setting up my next move. Nonetheless, I came home in tears to the open arms of my son, Jeff. I know he was even more scared than me but he held me and let me cry it out. I am so grateful to have him in my life.
Then I texted my rock, Brenda, who thank god was up here. She sat through my ranting and gave me a better perspective on things and lunch. I'll be honest, I'm having a hard time figuring out just where I fit in in life right now. Brenda made sure that I knew I was valued. I love her for that.
Sunday I had a glass of wine and talk with Colleen. Our paths have crossed since we moved to Muskoka and we clicked from day one. I won't go into some of the icky parts of our lives that we have in common but we understand where the other is coming from. I'm going to be making use of her real estate talents but just having another shoulder is invaluable. Thank goodness we found each other.
I'm sitting here listening to CBC ( as usual) and they're discussing gratitude. It's funny how things come into your life just when you need to hear them. That's what sent me to my blog. I have quietly embraced all this new age mumbo-jumbo because I've seen evidence of controlling your universe. It's time to take these moments I have right now to center myself again and focus on bringing positive energy back into my life. My Wayne Dyer discs will be dusted off. Yes, I do listen to him. He approaches things with a sense of humour and practicality that that I can work with.
If I haven't said it lately I am so grateful for my family and friends. The older I get the more I appreciate the wonderful people who cross my path. I truly believe that everyone comes into your life for a reason. I'm trying to figure out why this bastard had to cross my path but, guess what, I came into his life for a reason as well. I'm sure he learned nothing from the encounter. I have learned to appreciate those people I've worked for who saw value in my contribution.
As for making use of Colleen's real estate talents, that's a story for another day. Plans to be made.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Feeding My Soul

I had the house to myself today for the first time in months and what did I do with myself? I spent it lazing around. Laundry, that ever present spectre, was attended to and I did my favourite activity, bake. Just a batch of cookies but the satisfaction concocting in the kitchen always brings was just as evident.
With that in mind I just want to let everyone know that Muskoka Brownie and Baking is still in business. I'm working closer to home so I actually have time for myself so please let me know if you need any baking.
I know most people don't share my passion for cooking and baking but I've been thinking on the zen of baking. I think it comes from the same place as all of my creative endeavours, the desire to create something. There is nothing more relaxing than knitting a sweater, baking a cake or sewing an outfit ( provided the damn thing fits once you're done, still not used to my current body shape). People look at me as though I was from another planet when they learn that, yes, I still do all of these crafts. I call myself the Canadian Martha Stewart, just without her money. Handcrafts are a " good thing".
At various times in my life I haven't been able to fit crafts into my days and I always find that my soul shrivels a bit during these times. Without an outlet for some of my ADD brain I find myself becoming antsy and unhappy. One top or a piece of jewellery can instantly cure these ills and I have something new to wear!
My sisters share this passion, although we each express it differently. Joy knits socks, we all love her socks. Dayle creates jewellery, I'm always up for a gift piece. Now my daughters are getting into it as well. Jess sews and bakes. Jenn draws and is teaching herself to cook. Another generation takes up the torch. In my family we women have been crafting since at least my great-grandma. Before that there is no known history but mom would tell us stories of her mom and grandma. Grandma Kilpatrick was an excellent baker and loved to knit.
I think growing up in a house where crafting activities are all around definitely shapes you. Nothing was pushed on us but the opportunity to learn was always there. Provided, of course, the particpants have enough patience to survive each other. My learning how to sew in zippers and clothing learning to fly is a story that has gone to the grave with mom. As I tell it I was the perfect student, everything went beautifully from the beginning and nary a cross word was exchanged. Since mom isn't here to contradict me that is how it went, that'll teach her.
Being left-handed has given me a few difficult moments when first learning to sew and knit. I finally had to figure out knitting on my own. The strange thing is I now knit right-handed. Grandma was left-handed as well. I wish she had lived long enough for us to knit together.
So, I sit and plan my next project, large or small, and feed my soul.

Sunday, 12 May 2013


Today is Mothers' Day so I thought I'd post a picture of my kids natural and accrued. I am truly blessed.  This was from Christmas 2012 when I got the whole gang matching pj's. Rather than scoff at the idea they all lived in them the whole day and we have created a new tradition!

I never thought much about being a mom as a young woman. I new philosophically that I'd have kids one day. Most girls did back in the stone ages. I just never gave any thought to the reality of being a mother. As the book goes, " it was the best of times. It was the worst of times". When Jessica was born I fell in love. This lovely little thing trusted me literally with her life. I'd like to think I took to mothering right off but the reality is there was a lot of trial and error. As each baby arrived I fell in love all over again. Who knew that I'd take to being a mother?! In the end it has become my biggest raison d'etre.
I became fascinated with watching my kids grow through the various stages. Early babyhood was endlessly intriguing. One week your arms belong to the universe and the next week you are able to control their movement, those fingers are tasty! Getting to hear that belly laugh that only babies can produce come out of all four of them still warms my heart in memory.
Years have passed and as the kids grow and leave home some things change and others never will. I've had to learn to step back and not try to fight all the battles. Apparently the ex and I have taught them well because as young adults they are kind, funny, ambitious and, it appears, well adjusted. I still worry about them constantly because I only want the best for them and the best doesn't always come along. I've tried to picture my life without kids and I honestly can't. My family has grounded me, frustrated me and brought me joy. Without them I think I would have lead a very solitary life as I'm far too content being alone. God knew what he was doing.
My mind was wandering off in another direction today as well. I read my sister-in-law's blog about her class reunion and I wondered once again why our graduating class has never bothered to have one. My sister Dayle's class gets together regularly, with classmates coming in from all across Canada to see each other. In the past few years a few of us have started making an effort to get together and that is usually a lot of fun. Maybe it's more significant that we have chosen as a small group to rekindle old friendships. It's not the standard picture of the school gym reunion where everyone has to wear nametags (gad) and gossips about each other behind their hands.
We show up warts and all with no need to impress each other. We share stories and jokes, and companionship that still exists after all these years and our diverse lives. We've lost two of the gang in the last two years and it leads us to make a greater effort to remain in contact. This works for us. No fanfare, just friends making time for each other.

Friday, 26 April 2013

OK, this time I'm MAD!!!!

I'm am in the mood to rant so I'm going to use my little forum to vent my frustration. I'm a mother, no news there, and like all mothers when someone wrongs one of my babies I go into hunt and kill mode. Now as a modern, moderately sane mom I let my children fight their own battles even though given a chance my now rusty big-boy voice could be brought out to tear someone a new one. The best I can do is try and publicly shame today's wrongdoers.
My oldest, Jessica, gratefully joined a company called BLUE GIANT two and a half years ago. She was hired to do data entry and went in with very little experience. The pay was good, all looked rosy. Once in she was basically forced to take on the task of covering reception as well as various times of the day. This at the same time she was taking care of her own position. Six months in she was moved to a sales desk to take over some accounts, cover reception and in the beginning still do some data entry for the other sales people " because they were too busy and couldn't learn the system". This promotion was given with no raise in pay, more accountability.
Due to lack of training and support Jess had to deal with a few meetings discussing errors. I'll be honest, I didn't really believe the tone of voice Jess said the HR lady used when talking to her. There were always remarks about how young she was, she was 21 when she started.
In an aside, Jess has the grand privilege of having severe migraines. Due to the lights in her office she would frequently end up in the washroom throwing up and disabled. Instead of treating this as a real condition her HR chose to ignore it and make no adjustments to alleviate the problem. If she was in a wheel chair you bet your bippy they would make the space work. Jess ended up using all of her sick days and vacation days to have time off to recover from the headaches.
Flash ahead a year, Jess takes care of two sales reps including one that no one wants to even talk to. He is self-important and careless and Jess is constantly having to follow-up and correct his mistakes. His customers have come to rely on Jess because Kevin can't be bothered to deal with the smaller customers.
After two years of this BS Jess has had enough but keeps doing her job while starting to look for another position. Then suddenly in February a decision is made that 'restructuring' is necessary and Jess is made redundant. Always a blow to the ego even if you have one foot out the door. Ok, she now has no job and doesn't really know why. Great thing is customers and sales reps contact her as soon as they find out to lend support and offer references and jobs ( if she wants to move to the US).
As  any normal Canadian would do Jess starts to get her EI account set up, just in case. And like any normal Canadian she trusst that her former employer will do what is expected and get all paperwork where it needs to go. Not expecting to need the EI Jess rode out her severance checking occasionally to see if a decision had been made on her EI. A month and a half goes by and Jess unfortunately hasn't found a job. It looks like she'll need to use the EI. Let's look and see why the account hasn't been approved. What, the ROE hasn't even been filed yet? WTH?
Calls to the HR department yield nothing so on my suggestion Jess sends a strongly worded email to Kim asking why the ROE is still not filed. Jess forwarded the answer and my jaw dropped. The snide and condescending tone used by Kim/HR saying that she wasn't a mind reader and how should she know what happened to the ROE made my blood boil. She finally deigned to send another copy to Jess which she forwarded to EI.
So, now it's three months since Jess was terminated. EI has received her copy of the ROE they're going through their process, please wait until April 25 for a decision. April 25 comes and goes and no decision. Jess calls and learns that, number one the company has never filed an ROE for her (against the law, people) and two the copy Jess sent them had been improperly filled out so they couldn't make a decision from it. This is when my mother lion instincts kicked in. Having been in a position where I've dealt with terminations for years I knew that you must file an ROE with the gov't. You have a work week to file the ROE after termination. They've even made it easy for you and put it on-line!
Now, being who I am my first inclination is to get on the phone freeze this person from top to bottom with my wrath. I have taught my children well how to hold their own in a confrontation and Jess is a master but this is her first time dealing with assholes whom she trusted to do the right thing. I have gently guided her, after venting, and we shall see what happens. This company took advantage of a girl anxious and willing to learn and move up, tossed her out and is now still screwing with her. Somebody hold me back 'cause momma lion wants to kill something.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

And now for something completely different

I've sort of been avoiding writing for the past few weeks because I'm trying to decide whether or not to share the latest event in my life. With the loss of another friend this week, Debbie Askin, I'm definitely feeling mortal. Three weeks ago I collapsed in a grocery store with a seizure. I woke up in the hospital with little recollection of what happened. The biggest problem with this was I was still in Barrie and all alone. Not to worry, as soon as I was coherent I was on the phone connecting with my gang and the girls and Theo rode to my rescue. They brought me home that night and I was basically out of it for the next few days. The boys collected my car the next day. I love my family.
Now I'm waiting to have a doctor say my brain is fine so that I can have permission to drive again. Needless to say this puts a huge crimp in my life since, as you all know, I do nothing but drive everyday. I'm not trying to make light of this because, while I know I feel better, if the doctor doesn't agree or my tests show something I may have to take a leave of absence. Then how do I take care of the family? There's a stressor I don't need.
This happened to me once before 33 years ago. Let's just say it wasn't the best year of my life; my dad had died, Roy had died, I'd broken up with Mark and I was just finishing college. I'm pretty sure stress was a major factor in that seizure. So now I'm trying to figure out what caused the latest episode. I don't feel stressed but there must be underlying factors. The drive, of course, my constant worry about money, goes without saying. Maybe it's an age thing. It has certainly made me feel my age, lol.
My kids were rocks at the hospital but they're so much like me that I can't really tell how scared or worried they are. No one has said anything since but I get the feeling they're on high alert. Jeff has been great. He thinks he's being useless since coming home from school but I think the timing was fortuitous. He's turned into my chauffeur putting up with my gentle driving advice. It's well known that I am the world's worst passenger. That comes under that giving up control thing, not my strong suit.
So, Wednesday is D day. I go see the neurologist to get the results of my tests. I am nothing if not a great salesperson so I will be doing the selling of my life. The papers to reinstate my licence are waiting in my purse. I refuse to think that I'll come home without them signed. It's not foolish wishful thinking. A week ago I could almost feel something snap back into place and my head felt better than it has, quite frankly, in months. Now to make the doctor see that it's true. Wish me luck and don't worry I will not be collapsing again any time soon, I promise.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Is Spring Really Coming?

The arrival of the warmer weather is coming none too soon. As you all know I have spent the winter driving 250kms a day back and forth to Cookstown through any and all weather conditions. I'm tired and oh so done with bad roads. So, while I'm enjoying dry highways our road is turning into quicksand! That old saying that winter flows into months of heavy sledding comes true in Utterson every spring. This week we've had thawing, creating corduroy, then freezing again, hardening the corduroy and now to mush. No flooding yet so I guess we should count our blessings, lol! And it continues to snow!!!
Spring always brings about a re-evaluation of things more so than the turning of a new year. With the return of daylight I like to make plans for all that spare time that will suddenly appear. The gardens will, this year, become those shining examples of an English garden I so desire. My lack of a green thumb doesn't factor into this dream. The snow is still covering the ground so there's still a chance I'll obtain the skills! Then there's my gazebo plans. I see all of these lovely, gauzy sitting areas on Pinterest and dream of such a backyard. The reality will have to be more of an airtight lockdown if we actually want to sit outside but I can drape gauzy bits inside the enclosure to block out the bug-proof walls, lol. I'll be sure to post pics if the dreams come to fruition.

So, Happy Easter to everyone. We're not a religious family but I've always tried to instill the importance of this holiday in the Christian calendar. Whether you believe that Christ is the son of God or not try to remember his teachings. Here we go back to my credo for life, live by the Golden Rule; Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. Plain and simple, treat people the way you want to be treated. That's it. I follow this every day at home or work and so far it's working!
Now, go find the chocolate eggs and enjoy you can eat salad and yogurt tomorrow.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

The greatest Woman I've Ever Known

I've been thinking, as I do frequently, about my mom. It's been three and a bit years since she moved on and I still have a hole in my life. Not that I expected not to miss her but more that nothing/ no one has come along to fill the hole.
The most recent prompts came from Jessica and Dayle. Dayle is going through one of the most difficult times of her life. Her beloved Greg is not well and the burden of this falls squarely on her shoulders. Being her mother's daughter she's doing what needs to be done and ignoring the pain that must be folllowing her daily. I know she has been talking to mom but it's just not the same and though I'm trying to be a better sister it's just not the same. Sometimes you just need your mom.
Jessica's prompt came yesterday. Jess is transitioning between jobs and was at an interview. She took the subway by mom's old apartment and would have loved to have hopped off, had lunch, and talked to Grandma about all the opportunities opening up for her.
What was it about this woman that she still inspires such love and admiration? I think it comes from her genuine interest in everything and everyone. Having lived through the Great Depression and WW2 she learned to make something out of nothing and how to carry on although I'm sure she had fears dogging her many times. I can't imagine having the man that you love head off to war and disappear. Later to come home sick and I think suffering from what we now call post traumatic distress symdrome. But mom carried on, built a home and a family and proceeded to make a huge difference in so many people's lives.
I think both of their slightly warped senses of humour helped get them through some tough times. A trait that has definitely been passed down to their children. I know in my life if I didn't laugh I would have cried, a lot and I know that's what's helping Dayle remain sane right now.
I don't know if mom was actually aware of the impact she had on everyone who knew her. I do know that she was insecure about being a good friend, something I share, because she was perfectly happy with her own company. I know that, having returned to Bracebridge, when anyone finds out I'm Mrs. Ferrier's daughter I will hear nothing but praise for her. I'll always believe that mom found her calling when she started teaching. She was able to communicate with teenagers in a respectful and humourous way that, in return, earned their respect. Never afraid to make a fool of herself I know my friends found her to be the most human of teachers. Highly intelligent and always eager to learn she passed on this enthusiasm. Most of my friends had her as a teacher for at least typing class and I often hear that this was one of their favourite classes!
Mom taught, and therefore worked fulltime, most of my life. She worked for ten years to receive her degree in education and kept on learning adding several specialist designations until late in her career. All of this done while raising us three girls ( my brother, being much older, was on his own by then) and holding together a household where my father was frequently absent. Our house full of girls must have been maddening and I realize now that she had little outside distraction. A lot of people would ask if I hated having my mom at school all the time but the reality is I didn't. There was a definite generation gap between us, mom being 42 when I was born, but she knew teenagers becuase she dealt with them every day. That didn't make her less strict but I felt that, while she didn't always agree with our choices, she at least knew we weren't the only ones making them.
Mom was a born leader, another trait we share. There wasn't a committee created that mom wouldn't be leading once she joined! Not out of arrogance but because her keen intelligence could quickly see what needed to be done and how to do it. If there's one thing all of us Ferrier girls have in common is our lack of patience for fools. Look at a situation, determine what needs to happen and make sure it does. Don't dither, oh god, don't dither! I'm sure there were a few people who found mom's confidence overbearing but they are genuinely few and far between. I think it's because it was tempered with fierce loyalty and a willingness to roll up her sleeves and do the work.
Mom, like me, needed few friends. What she had was a small group of very close friends who supported each other. I know some of her friends in her later years were the best she ever had. Brought together by the proximity of the seniors' apartment complex she gravitated to a group of people who stimulated her intellectually. She would tell me about their discussions on world matters that I know I never have with people. Rob, Pat and Abu came from diverse backgrounds but with mom as the catalyst they came together as a loyal group right to the end. Mom outlived each of them and a little piece of her died with each one.
I often joke that I want to be just like her when I grow up and I continue to strive for that. The voice in my head and now in her grandchildren's heads. Do what needs to be done, remain loyal to your loved ones, never stop learning and remain humble. I didn't realize it growing up but because of both of my parents thirst for knowledge we were never taught to look down on anyone because of colour or race. If you are educated you realize that everyone has something important to contribute. Look outside your small world and get to know the rest of it. Then treat everyone with the respect they deserve.
I wish I could hang out with my mom and it brings tears to my eyes thinking that I never will again but her legacy lives in all of her kids and grandkids. I'd like to think that we're decent caring human beings and what could be better than that.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

A few weeks ago I posted on my FB page that I had watched " Eat, Pray Love" and decided that I didn't need a man, I needed a champion. I found it strange that this post ellicted not one comment. If I post about the cats or the weather the feedback is immediate and extensive. This got me thinking about how people had reacted to my post.
My first reaction was to question my putting the post up at all. Then I wondered if people thought that it was a crazy notion wanting a champion. In this age of "equality" how could I possibly want someone who would dote on me and take care of me? Frankly, at this stage of my life only a man with champion-like attributes would be worth the effort. I'm finished taking care of everyone who crosses my path. I think I deserve a little pampering and gallantry.
My next thoughts were, maybe people think I don't deserve someone like this and it was just better to ignore the post. Such is the paranoia brought on by the constant contact FB has created. Nonetheless I still wonder why no reaction to my post.
As for "Eat, Pray Love" I knew exactly what Liz was going through. My escape has been to Muskoka. Not as exotic perhaps but just as drastic. My soul was dying in Brampton and I continue my search for happiness.I'm not sure if this is where I should be but it works for now.The nest isn't quite empty so choices for the near future must include other people.
So, while I profess to not needing a man in my life if a champion crosses my path I hope I'm smart enough to recognise him and welcome him. He has to love cats though, that point is non-negotiable.
Whither I goest, so go they!

Monday, 14 January 2013

I've said before that my endless drive to and from work affords me time to think. This week I've been going over business ideas and I keep coming back to teaching kids ( and adults if they want) the basics of cooking. Too many families rely on quick foods and takeout to get a meal on the table. I'd like to create a program where I teach teenagers five fairly simple recipes that will make them self-sufficient in the kitchen. They can cook for themselves when left alone and hoefully take over at least one meal a week to help out their parents.
I forced this on my children at an early age, 12, I was working deadly retail hours and felt that I shouldn't have to come home and make dinner as well. I assigned one meal a week to each of my fabulous four. I'll admit that some took to the task more enthusiatically than others. Jess loves to cook. Her first meals were simple but dinner was on the table and it was quite tasty. Jenn wasn't interested in learning to cook. If I left clear instructions they would be followed but creativity didn't come into it. Jeff also took to cooking taking over much of the cooking once the girls moved out. Greg is my biggest challenge. Never one to do anything without a discussion/debate the thought of putting together a meal on his own never enters his head. Soup and grilled cheese is about the extent of his talents. So, I have experience in trying to light the culinary fire in kids.
I spend a lot, and I mean a lot, of time on pinterest. I'm always looking at recipes to pick up new ideas. What I've learned is that few pinners bake from scratch! Cake mixes, fridge rolls and oreos seem to be the basis of many recipes. There was one " fabulous" slow cooker soup that involved opening at least five cans. My blood pressure rose just thinking about the sodium content! The idea of a slow cooker is to use raw foods that need time to cook, dried legumes, carrots, potatoes etc and simmer them slowly to release their flavour and nutrients. Add broth, herbs, fresh garlic and onions and you have an easy soup that makes your house smell wonderful and is ready for supper.
I grew up in time when packaged food was new and exciting. Mom would bring home the latest and greatest for us to try. Instant potatoes & Bisquick jump instantly to mind. Now I cringe when I think of them. Biscuits, pancakes, dumplings and yorkshire all stem from the same simple combo; eggs milk, flour and a fat ( in my house it's usually butter). If you need to have a mix let me blend up a natural version that keeps on the shelf.
These ideas along with some others that are percolating in my brain would make up a five class course. Recipe book with these and some other simple recipes would be provided as part of the class. Now, who thinks there's a market for this out there? How do I poll the kids to see if there'd be enough to make it worthwhile. I'm open to suggestion!

Monday, 7 January 2013

Every day I think about wishes and dreams. I have long wanted to run a bakery cafe. I have it all planned out. It's going to be completely different from the other cafes in Muskoka.We'll serve fair trade teas and coffees and offer afternoon tea featuring home-baked treats. The bakery will offer a selection of delectable gourmet treats made in small batches from recipes I've developed and collected over a lifetime. I've got the colours picked out and you already know my logo.
Everyone who tries my baking falls under it's spell. I hear all the time that Bracebridge needs a good bakery but, for now, it remains a dream.
Instead, I've been drawn back into the retail ratrace. I'm actually pretty good at starting up and building the business for new locations. I've had the pleasure of taking products I believe in to the public and create a welcoming atmosphere in which to shop. Over the years I have made friends of customers and they're who I miss most when it's been time to move on. I'm just tired of doing all of this to put money in someone else's pocket. But I drive for hours to keep hearth and home and tamp down my hopes of doing what I love instead of what I must.
The question is how do I make the dream come true? I read about female entrereneurs who started on a shoe string. I'm finding that I need to think bigger than that. Without a store front from which to sell my product I can't reach enough people to make a living. Within that storefront I'll need a commercial kitchen. Therein lies the biggest stumbling block. Setting up a professional kitchen costs tens of thousands of dollars.
 2012 sorta dulled my spirit.This is generally pretty difficult to do because I truly do believe in the positive outcomes of things and that there's something good in every experience. I'm still trying to find the silver lining in the past year. I was about to hang a sign in my entranceway saying " abandon all hope, ye who enter here". I can't let this dream go because without it I disappear. I become the same person I've always been doing things for everyone else and forgetting what I need.
So, while I get my house in order after this tumultuous past year, the bakery sits behind me percolating. I'm going to do what I need to for now and then pull the project out again, dust it off and bring back into the light. Maybe the next time the planets will align to bring all the necessary components  together. My customers are out there just waiting to come in sit down and enjoy some treats and good cheer!  Just, not yet.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Happy New Year! I've no idea if anyone is reading this but I'll carry on as though someone is out there.
I'm tired of defending my positon as a cat owner. Whenever I talk about my cats, which is rarely, I feel it necessary to, half jokingly, reiterate that I'm not a "crazy cat lady". The reality is, is that I'm not. Who I am is someone who has rescued seven cats, yes I said seven, from if not death then at least a poor existence in a shelter. No cat pics posted, no cat sweaters and no cat chatkas.
Hailey joined our family after the death of my buddy Toby, best cat in the world. A haughty calico, she deigns to let us live with her. Next came Jasper and Jasmine. They joined us after we moved to Heart Lake. A small symbol of freedom. Jasper quickly became my best buddy and Jasmine, well as I always say, thank gooness she's beautiful 'cause there's not a lot going on in there.
Bert and Jon joined us while I worked at Petsmart. Jon was a miserable old sod who just didn't fit in. Jasper hated him at first sight and made his life miserable. Flash forward Jon moved out with Jessica and now is king of the hill and happy as a lark. To hear those two converse is entertaining. Bert, the only cat whose name we've changed, was listed as not playing well with others. This does tend to be true with cats but with us two-legged creatures he's the most lovable cat I've ever met. He sold me on the idea of the greatness, and madness, of black cats!
Angie arrived shortly after our move to Muskoka. She is an older black who is overweight and was abandoned by her previous family. She had been at the shelter so long we did actually fear for her life. Now she is still a little pudgy with a gleaming coat and has become my shadow. Us old girls gotta stick together!
The final two joined us last February. Geordie and Pip are black kittens who had spent their whole lives in a cage. They had been at Petvalu since Christmas and I resisted as long as possible . We hadn't had kittens before and they have added an element of excitement, shall we say, to the household.
Each of the cats has a distinct personality and are members of our family. Dog owners say this all the time with no recourse but people scoff and ridicule me if I say this. Cats love you because they want to, not because you fed them and rubbed their bellies.They have enriched mine and my family's lives for years. How can that be bad?
Yes, my house is currently full and the chances of someone wanting to get involved with quite so many animals is slim but I've taken on the responsibility of their lives and I will live up to that responsibilty. Pets aren't disposable things that you off-load simply because they become inconvenient
I was listeningto CBC this morning, as usual, and heard that " Thriller " turns 30 today. First off, holy jumpin', thirty years where'd that go . Next it brought back a memory of a road trip I took with three girls to Montreal.
At that time I was managing at Legs Beautiful in Toronto at King and Bay. We were a small and close team and we got it in our heads to head to Montreal for May 24th weekend. At that time the mall closed down on the weekends because there was no one in the office towers to shop so we had three days off. This is one of the few truly spontaneous things I've done in my life and it was a blast We had no other plans than to hit the city and see what happened.
Where does Thriller fit in you say? Well, I had a Renault 5, my first car and the one I learned stick on, that I had Mark outfit with a cassette player. State of the art technology, I might add! We had four tapes for the twelve hour round-trip drive. We cranked the music, opened the windows and sang our stupid heads off. Needless to say we knew the album by heart by the time we got back. Our digs in Montreal were ashabby aprtment belonging to Dawn's sister-in-law. Who cared the weather was great and we spent most of our time outdoors.
Like most memories I can't remember specific details but I do remember riding the Metro all over the city and laughing.
So, thanks CBC for reminding of that trip and to Dawn and Lisa I hope you're healthy and happy.
I'm here today to shamelessly promote my daughter's artwork. Jenn graduated art school in June and is looking for an entrance into the publishing world as an illustrator. I love her more humourous work and anything to do with children's books. Take a look at her stuff on deviantart ( under hyacinth-zofia)and society6 under Jenn St Onge). She'll do custom work as well. My company logo was a birthday present!
If anyone knows anyone who could use her work pass it on.