Today I am Grateful for so Many Things…

This morning, as I made my daily commute to the office, I noticed traffic slowing down and starting to back up.  I was a little miffed; I was going to be late, again. I have no control over traffic, so I shouldn’t let this bother me. I try not to, but being late bothers me. In an effort to take my mind off the delay I plug in my phone and select an upbeat song to brighten my mood. I sang out loud and danced in my car as other drivers looked on with what can only be described as bemusement.

Twenty minutes creeps by much the way the traffic creeps southbound on Dixie Road. As we near the intersection of Derry Road I see signs of trouble. Myriad emergency service vehicles and the very recognizable yellow police tape cordon off the eastbound lanes of Derry Road. This must be a bad one, I think to myself. I stopped being miffed and said a little prayer for all those involve. There is no more dancing today.

Traffic moves slowly, passing only a few feet at a time. No one is permitted to pass through the eastbound lanes and traffic is diverted north onto Dixie. I see frustrated faces drive past me, away from the scene. Don’t they understand? They don’t cordon off accident scenes for fender-benders. This must be really bad.

Traffic begins to move and I see two police officers directing traffic. Drivers rubber-neck to see if they can see anything. Why would you WANT to see anything? I’m close to the intersection now, just three more cars. I hope that I can get through, I don’t want see what’s on the other side of that fire truck. The officer stops the southbound traffic to let the intersection clear; it’s only a few seconds but it’s long enough. I see it. That very familiar and identifiable yellow tarp, held in place by sandbags so that it doesn’t blow away and reveal what lies beneath.  The yellow tarp flutters in the wind.  What is seen cannot be unseen.

It isn’t until much later in the day that I learn a few details. The news tells me it was a male cyclist, hit by a transport truck; he was VSA. It doesn’t get much worse than that.

Once again the traffic moves, the officer waiving drivers through the intersection. I want to close my eyes and look away, but I can’t, I have to drive. I look straight ahead, but it’s there in my peripheral vision; that yellow tarp shining like a beacon on this bright and chilly April morning. Today is Holy Thursday on the Christian calendar.

I do not know who it was that lay beneath that tarp, but I know they lay there alone on the cold asphalt. This notion fills me with profound sadness. That poor soul left this world under terrible circumstances; they were likely terrified, and they were alone. They did not get to say good-bye to their loved ones.  I say a little prayer for them.

My thoughts turn to the first responders. How do they do this every day? How do they cope with so much sadness? How do they start their day with death, and then go home and smile for their families? I saw a yellow tarp and I cried for someone I don’t even know. They do this every day, week in, week out, all year long. It must weigh so heavy on their hearts. I cannot begin to imagine what they go through on a daily basis; but I am so grateful they have chosen a life of service. Without these brave women and men we would be so lost.

I want to hug them all and tell them how much I appreciate what they do every day. We should all be grateful, to them, and their families. I think of them often. I was raised in a military family, but I never thought about the bad things that could happen.  I was a child, I didn’t understand what the bad things were.  I work for an EMS provider now. I’m not on the front line; I am not brave like them.  I can’t be a hero; but they are mine.

Would you do something for me?  The next time the opportunity presents itself, thank them. Wave at them, give them a smile. Teach your children to respect and appreciate them. Pray that you are blessed to never need them, but rest easy knowing that they will be there if ever you do.  Keep them in your prayers, always.

There are organizations out there, like Wounded WarriorsCanPraxis, Tema Conter Memorial Trust and Many to One, that help injured military and first responder personnel, whether those injuries be physical in nature or emotional – like PTSD.  Organizations like The Boot Campaign Canada do their part to help provide funding for some of those organizations and others like them.  You can help too. How?  Be a Tough Mudder, donate Aeroplan miles, or get your boots on.  These organizations do wonderful things; but they can’t do it alone. Call them, ask them how you can help.  They will be grateful you did.

PTSD Support

 

Tow Trucks and Their Drivers

ThisSteven's Tow Truck is my son, Steven.

He is 21 years old and as of March 20, 2014 became one of your friendly-neighbourhood CAA tow truck drivers up in the B.dot.  He’s very excited for his new career; he says the best part of it is that he gets to help people.  He makes his mama so proud 🙂

I drive the 400 series highways in the Greater Toronto Area a lot.  I see accidents and broken down vehicles on a regular basis; I see them just about every single trip.  I know that when there is a vehicle off to the side of the road and there are emergency vehicles or tow trucks present, it is my duty as a responsible driver to give them room to work.  I move over to the to the next lane if there is room or I’ll give them the widest berth possible if there isn’t any room.  We should all do this.

All too often I hear on the news that one of our front line emergency services workers (police, fire, ambulance) or roadside assistance worker was hit by a passing vehicle as they attended to someone who themselves had been involved in an accident or was stopped along the highway.  This is incredibly tragic and so completely preventable.

For all of us who drive vehicles, it is our responsibility to drive with care and caution at all times, but especially when any type of road crew, emergency workers, utility workers or roadside assistance are present.  If you live in the Province of Ontario and have an Ontario driver’s license you should know this because it is in the driver’s handbook.  This link will take you to the Ministry of Transportation Ontario‘s web site.

For the sake and safety of my son and all of his tow truck driving brethren, and anyone else who’s job requires them to work on the open road – PLEASE, I implore you – be respectful when you pass them on the highways and byways.  Give them room to work safely.  Their moms and everyone else who loves them will be eternally grateful.

This public service message is brought to you by ‘She Who Nags Because She Cares’ 😀

15 THINGS I’M AWARE OF ON WORLD AUTISM AWARENESS DAY

Some things we should all be much more aware of…

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autism111.April is Autism Awareness Month.

2.April 2nd is World Autism Awareness Day.

3. Today and all through April there will be more talk, more posts, more ads, more stuff sold, more people arguing about what caused Autism and still the numbers of children with Autism will rise.

4. For me everyday is Autism day. My son is brilliant, funny, clever, handsome, and amazing; he also happens to have Autism.

5. Children are being diagnosed with Autism in record numbers. Businesses, charities, celebrities, etc. are making record profits off the fears and vulnerabilities of parents.

6. Governments may say they’re aware and are doing a lot, but in truth, they just aren’t doing nearly enough.

7. Some parents hold mock funerals when their child is diagnosed with Autism. Is it just me or is that super creepy?

8. There are opautism13en doubters, closet doubters…

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Happy Pancakes, Tuesday!!!

Yes, I realize it’s Shrove Tuesday to all ye who be Christians, which means tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. If you don’t already know the history of Shrove Tuesday, here’s some great information I found on this web site:

The Origins of Shrove Tuesday

Shrove Tuesday originated during the Middle Ages. As in contemporary times, food items like meats, fats, eggs, milk, and fish were regarded as restricted during Lent. To keep such food from being wasted, many families would have big feasts on Shrove Tuesday in order to consume those items that would inevitably become spoiled during the next forty days. The English tradition of eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday came about as a way to use as much milk, fats, and eggs as possible before Ash Wednesday began. In France, the consumption of all fats and fatty foods on this day coined the name “Fat Tuesday” or Mardi Gras.

Originally beginning on Sunday, Shrove Tuesday was a three-day celebration that culminated in large feasts on Tuesday night. By the beginning of the 20th century, however, the event was restricted to the Tuesday observance. Carnival became associated with Shrove Tuesday, in part from the Spring Equinox celebrations that were practiced by the Romans and the ancient tribes of Europe. The word “carnival” comes from the Latin carnem levare, meaning “to take away the flesh”. However, in the New Orleans and Rio de Janiero celebrations, public revelry and carousing have become the tradition for Carnival around the world. It was mostly as a result of the Carnival celebrations that the Church restricted the observance to a single day.

and that’s all well and good… but I’m just in it for the flapjacks 🙂

Gluten free, banana-blueberry pancakes

Gluten free, banana-blueberry pancakes

The 1st Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me

three monthsOn June 26, 1992 – after enjoying a lovely dinner with my BFF (Sandi) and her hubby (Humberto) – I began to experience excruciating abdominal pain, right behind my bellybutton. As the evening progressed and the pain worsened, Sandi decided it was time to go to the hospital. She called a cab and off we went to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Toronto. It was early on a Friday evening so the ER was on the quiet side, it didn’t take long to see a doc. Apparently my symptoms presented as appendicitis and they ran a number of tests to determine if that was the problem, but to no avail. I no longer recall the exact number of of male doctors who presented themselves for a “look-see” but it wasn’t until a female doc arrived and asked a very pointed question that we actually made some headway.

She said, “Is there any possibility that you could be pregnant?” About an hour later the doc came back to report that I was, in deed, preggers. I was extatic! But hold Steven's first Christmasyour horses, said the doc, you’re pregnant with pain. Let’s keep you overnight, run some more tests and see if anything funky is going on (I’m paraphrasing, of course). More blood tests and an ultrasound revealed that it was too early in the pregnancy to reveal anything. In the morning, they let me go home with the proviso that I go see my family doc and schedule another ultrasound in three weeks.

Everything turned out A-OK and On March 1, 1993 at 5:45PM, my beautiful blue-eyed baby boy – Steven William – was born. I won’t get into all the gory details of the actual delivery, but let me say this, had I not been frozen from the waist down, those salad tongs would have been REALLY uncomfortable.

Words cannot express the utter joy and pride I feel for both of my boys; but today’s post is dedicated to my first born.

Long hairSteven, before I met you, I never imagined the magnitude of love a person could feel for another. The moment I first laid eyes on you it hit me like a tonne of bricks. I was overwhelmed with love. Just thinking about the day you were born brings me to tears.

21 years have gone by in dizzying flash. That skinny little boy who ate like a horse but never gained an ounce has grown into an amazing young man… and quite handsome too. Your kindness and compassion for others leaves me bursting with pride. Your honesty and integrity are virtuous; keep these with you always for they will make you a great man.

I don’t think there’s anything I have left to teach you.  You’re about to leave the nest for good and move far away and as sad as I am that you’re going, know that I’m so Blue Mountainproud of you for all that you have accomplished.  I know there is much greatness in store for you.  Always remember in life, do what you love so you’ll love what you do.  I would like to leave you with some words from the great Dr. Seuss (yes, he’s still important, even today) – this isn’t the entire poem, just the first third.

Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own.  And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

You’ll look up and down streets.  Look ’em over with care.
About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.”
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

And you may not find any
you’ll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you’ll head straight out of town.

It’s opener there
in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.

And when things start to happen,
don’t worry.  Don’t stew.
Just go right along.
You’ll start happening too.

OH!
THE PLACES YOU’LL GO!

Happy Birthday to you, my beautiful boy.

No matter where you go or how far away you are, you’ll always be my little Stever.

jays game

Top Five Films

celluloidIs it really possible to think about all the films that I’ve watched – and believe me, there have been plenty – and boil them down to my top five favourites? Oh how the hell would you know?  Only FIVE, eh?  Maybe my top five John Cusack films (the cool of you will make the connection)… but pick five from the hundreds, nay THOUSAND (of) films I have watched in my life time.  I don’t think it can be done… but hey, we’ll give it that old college try.

As a quick aside, top five Cusack films… easy-peasy:

  1. Gross Pointe Blank
  2. High Fidelity (natch)
  3. Grace is Gone
  4. 1408
  5. Say Anything (25 years ago, this was my #1 pick of all films… after ET… and Bambi)

Wow, I just realized how many years I have been hangin’ around this rock – not saying that I’m old per se, just been around for a good bit of time.

The next five Cusack films would be

  1. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
  2. The Jack Bull
  3. The Griftersigor
  4. Igor (still can’t hear the name Kevin and not laugh)
  5. Runaway Jury

We won’t talk about “Money for Nothing”.  I know, all actors make stinkers at some point in their careers, but this was the stinkiest.

Back to the topic at hand – my Top Five Films.  There are quite literally hundreds of thousands of films that have been made since the dawn of celluloid, perhaps even a million.  I’d count them for you but that would take too long.  I’m sure someone on the interwebs has already done that.  Wait here, I’ll check…

…Insert Jeopardy theme song here…

So the answer is, roughly 700,000 not including shorts, indies, porn and Bollywood (according to IMDB)… so in total, probably over one million.  But considering the speed at which films are generated these days, if you read this next month the answer could be two million.

I enjoy many genres of film; action, adventure, rom-coms, comedy (I loves me a good slapstick), disaster porn, tasteful erotica (you know, sexxxy… with a plot), and of course, chick-flicks.

Frank N FurterMaybe I should go with my fave from each genre, or top five from the flicks that I actually own…

I have a small collection of about 150 films on DVD and – as of the typing of this blog – and four on Blu-ray.  I also have a selection of films on VHS because I haven’t found them yet on DVD.  I still have an old school VCR just in case I ever want to watch them (it’s not plugged in wasting electricity, it just sitting there, collecting dust).  Anyway, these are movies that I watch over and over; enjoying them just as much the 37th time as I did the very first time.

Okay, top films by genre (from my personal film library… and there’s way more than five):

Disclaimer: these are my picks from the films that I own.  You may very well disagree, and that’s fine, this is one of those times I am not asking for your opinion or to debate my choices.  I’ve included my definitions of categories as well.

  1. Action (defined as thrilling and exciting … hero-type stuff): Die Hard (two is my favourite)
  2. Adventure (defined as not your everyday-type stuff): Indiana Jones (preference is for #3 although they are all quite good)
  3. Animated (defined as, well, animated): Ice Age
  4. Chick-flick (defined as girly-type film without being all kissy-face): Steel Magnolias (Return to Me is a very close second, throw in Legally Blond and you’ve got the trifecta of chick-flicks)
  5. Comedy (defined as really fucking funny):  Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  6. Disaster Porn (defined as epic destruction for destruction’s sake): Earthquake
  7. Drama (defined as boring to teenagers and most men): Casablanca
  8. Erotica (defined as sexy and plotty all at the same time): The Delta of Venus
  9. Fantasy (defined as stuff that doesn’t happen around here): Lord of the Rings
  10. Family (defined as G-rated, kid friendly, wholesome-type stuff): ET
  11. Horror (defined as that which scares the living piss out of me): The Exorcist (Director’s cut)the Exorcist
  12. Musical (defined as lots of singing and perhaps even some dancing): The Rocky Horror Picture Show
  13. Rom-Com (defined as funny AND romantic, kissy-faces):  10 Things I Hate About You (also scored high in the Teen Angst category)
  14. Sci-Fi (defined as outer spacey-type stuff): Star Wars (Episodes four through six)
  15. Teen Angst (defined as teenager growing pains-type stuff – not a real film category, but how the hell else was I going to get Mr. Cusack on this list): Say Anything
  16. Western (defined as cowboy-type stuff, lots of dirt and horseys): 3:10 to Yuma

Well, there you have it.  My top five films looks a lot like 16.