The Three Amigos

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Anyway, don’t you just love September? After months of silence, like the good Newfie I am, I begin with chatter about the weather—relentless sunshine with cool breezes off the Pacific, perfect temperatures for just about everything. The whole summer has been like this. In fact, I can’t remember a better summer in my life, well, maybe that summer of 1987—denim cutoffs and the legs to pull them off; a frosted spiral perm; tall, lemony double vodka cocktails and dancing ’til dawn at Club Max with the girls.

Now, with my legs fit for medical support hose, and my grey helmet of hair, a double vodka coupled with vigourous dancing would likely lead me to lapse into a coma. What of it. I’m working semi-hard, playing super soft, and I’ve still got it, whatever the hell that means. I mean it’s not like I’ve become a rickety retiree, frantically fretting over my RRSP in between golfing and baking. No, that would be Neil.

As I write this, it is 8 a.m. on a Sunday morning and he’s already on the 3rd hole fantasizing about being handed a tacky green blazer and hoisting a silver cup above his head on ESPN. Good on him I say, he could use a break from domestic bliss, especially now that our life has changed somewhat. He’s been doing double duty on the caring for a female front. There’s a story here and it’s a lulu.

I suppose it’s all connected to my pathological need for change and chaos. We shrinks call this condition calmophobia: the deep, intractable, debilitating fear of peace and quiet. As soon as one becomes settled with all aspects of one’s life neatly in place, one decides to seek out an immediate and often messy complication. In this case, a small, hairy Mexican immigrant.


IMG_2933 lulu

Yes, against all odds, we’re parents. A miracle some might say given the number of rings around my trunk. May I present Señorita Lulu, adopted from a dog rescue organization called MexPup. She was abandoned in Puerto Vallarta, and through the kindness of dedicated volunteers she wound up in my living room. It was an interesting process—a very detailed application, a home inspection, and several visits with the doggie at her foster home. Apparently, not just anyone gets the stamp of approval to raise a Mexi-mutt. We went to look at her just to take the temperature on our collective commitment phobia. The rest is herstory.

We have no idea what her life was like in Mexico, but there’s some evidence that it was less than loving. We may actually kill her with kindness. The humans in the house haven’t so much as held hands for 14 days, but that dog gets four walks and several hours of cuddles and belly rubs every day. The kitchen looks like a pet food store with fancy duck and liver treats and cans of gourmet dog food that I plan on eating myself whenever Neil is away for more than two days. Designer donut bed. Travel crate with a fluffy mattress. High end shampoo and brushes for her feathery fur. Lavender scented poop bags. You name it, she’s got it. I imagine she wakes up every day, looks at us, and thinks whatever is Spanish for SUCKERS!

For reasons that escape me, she’s indifferent to me yet pathologically attached to Neil. But then again, who isn’t? She’s scruffy, skittish, very picky when it comes to food and drink, and a tad on the scrawny side. She cries whenever Neil leaves, and expects him to cater to her every whine and whim. She’s warm-hearted, values love above all, and is in search of joy in every moment. Sure, she’s a little rough around the edges, but at just over four years old, practically middle aged in dog years, she is fresh out of shits to give about what anyone thinks. I have no idea who she takes after.

IMG_2939 lulu


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No News is Good News

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Well, Finders, it has been a while now hasn’t it? Not much has been going on in my little world, more work than play but balanced enough. Although, I did go to an intensive work conference in Banff, only to return home to find Rusty laid up with a pulled back and the bloody World Cup in full swing. Honestly, I had to get the groceries and everything. Seven more days of soccer to go and this marriage is hanging on by a thin thread. Continue reading “No News is Good News” »


Self Sacrifice

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Me, me, and more me. Then, just when you think you’ve had enough, here comes more about me. Blogging is often a narcissistic endeavour to be sure. Sometimes it seems that it’s a giant verbal selfie (the fact that I even know this word makes me cringe) that says “look at me!” over and over again. I don’t know much but I do know when it’s time to take a break from the festival de moi. Plus, loftier rationales aside, my life is pretty boring these days. Although, World Cup madness and mayhem is about to descend upon my home at which time I will likely be announcing my next book, Hooligan Husband: One Woman’s Story of Survival.

I should be writing about this beautiful city (now one of my favourite places in the world), posting inspiring photos and all that jazz. The trouble is I’m too busy looking at it with my eyes to stop and capture it on my iPhone. I could entertain endlessly with stories about my job and colleagues, however, I’ve become unexpectedly attached to paycheques and health benefits, so that’s out. Add in my profound laziness and you’re left with stories about my husband’s 80/20 split of awesomeness/stuff that drives me ’round the friggin’ pipe.

At any rate, I’m taking a short time away from blogging to shift my attention to things that are less self-absorbed: discovering a way to grow my hair out so I look less like a repressed old bag circa 1982; finding a spring coat that actually fits a giraffe; researching California wineries to visit on my vacation; working on my cellulite reduction strategy, you know, deep crap like that.

How much time these selfless, high-minded pursuits will require remains to be seen. You’ll survive without me for a short while, all 14 of you. Maybe you could form a support group to cope with the loss. Or maybe one of you could sell up and run off to Greece or Spain for a year, humiliate yourself repeatedly, tell the world about it, and we could all focus on that for a while. Someone should really do it, it’s not hard. I suggest a lottery win and a personal staff (interpreter, chef, chauffeur, immigration counsel) if you really want to make the most of it. I’d offer up Neil only he’s too busy golfing to do anything else at the moment.

Alors, I say adieu until we meet again. In the meantime keep up the search for joy wherever you may be. I promise if anything earth-shattering happens, say, I make another banana bread, or Neil goes on strike, you’ll be the first to know.




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Today’s post is brought to you by the number one: one year of living in glorious Victoria and one year of being employed outside of medicine. Congratulations to me for making the transition from the couch to the cubicle with relative ease (and very little grace), and to my husband for making the transition from sugar daddy to semi-kept man. Naturally, I remain in his debt still, yadda, yadda, yadda, but sooner or later the score will be even and the planning for that happy day is well underway in my scheming brain.

I must say, despite having a grand old time lolling about Europe, this past year has been one more to love. The Victoria move turned out to be a brilliant decision (must have been mine) on many fronts. Sure, it wasn’t easy to leave the beauty of France and Switzerland…







And not a day goes by when I don’t miss having regular access to these…


But I’d say I’ve been making up for lost tarte by stuffing myself full of sushi, pulled pork tacos, pad thai, dim sum, and whatever else this great multicultural country called Canada can place on a plate. I’ve replaced Swiss Alps with snow covered peaks rising from the Pacific, the same ones I see every day on my way home from work. And maybe my former neighbourhood nestled near the vineyards of Lavaux are but a memory (conveniently stored in an iPhoto file)…


No matter, I’m making up for lost wine by sampling the fine local vintages, and I’m currently planning my next adventure (vacation, not moving!) sponsored by the letter S: San Francisco, Sausalito, and Sonoma. The frequent flyer plane tickets are booked and the on-the-cheap accommodations have been reserved. I never met a Chardonnay I didn’t like so California, here I come, well, after a few months of guarding my loonies and toonies (non-Canadians, Google it).

What the next year brings is none of my business. My job is to rise to what meets me, Neil’s job is to feed me, and I guess everyone’s job is to make it count wherever we find ourselves. Raise a glass to the year to come.

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Making Up for Lost Mail

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As many of you may know, I don’t have children, well, unless you count that fool I live with. Honestly, sometimes it’s like having an enormous toddler—someone who crashes through your tidy home daily, has no insight into the damage they inflict, with the added bonus of grown-up man smells, round-the-clock golf watching and, unfortunately, the ability to form full sentences…

Me: “Someone told me today I looked like a movie star.”

Him: “Really? Were they drunk?” (to be fair, I do attract more than a fair share of admiration from our local vagrants, but still)

Me: (after a frustrating and futile day of trying to find a spring coat made for a six-foot woman) “Geez, if only I were five-foot-eight my life would be a whole lot easier. Of course I’d be the same weight so a lot rounder.” (chuckle, chuckle and the ‘I crack me up’ tone was used)

Him: “Yeah, five-foot-eight but 160 pounds.”

Me:  “I believe the number you are looking for is 140. I weigh 140 pounds you moron.”

Him: Silence followed by frantic and pathetic back-pedalling.

And those are the gems from last week alone. If I were the matriarch of this house he’d be on an indefinite time out in the corner with no allowance for a month. Continue reading “Making Up for Lost Mail” »


Ten Million Bucks and Change

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Yes, it’s true: I’m a lot to manage on any given day—big mouth, big opinions, and not often graced with tactful diplomacy. The people in my life have survived me to date; I offer no guarantees about the future. Like everyone, I’ve made my share of wrong turns and outright catastrophic blunders, but who gives a crap. I’ve learned along the way, left some things better than when I found them, and that’s all that counts. I’ve said before that I don’t believe in regret and guilt, too bad, all those years in Catholic schools wasted.

Will I lie on my deathbed and harbour grievances toward myself? Who the hell knows. What I do know is that even if Satan himself comes to poke a pitchfork in my face at the end of my days, there are moments in my life for which an apology will never come.

Back in my shrinky heyday, I was involved in a project of massive proportion: the start of a transformation of an inpatient unit for severely mentally ill children and adolescents. The unit (like most things in mental health) was underfunded and definitely not a place that anyone would associate with healing. The rest of the hospital looked like a resort in comparison to our dreary space. I joined a crackerjack team of unbelievably dedicated professionals and we rolled up our sleeves to bring about changes to better serve our youth and their families during the most difficult periods in their lives. Continue reading “Ten Million Bucks and Change” »



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At the risk of alienating the Finders still suffering out snow, the park across the street from my place has been blooming for weeks…


I realize it’s ridiculous to have any grumbles at all when the forecast looks like this…


Except that my husband has fully embraced west coast weather by becoming a golf lunatic. Every time I turn around he’s heading to the driving range or hitting the links at some ungodly hour. When I mentioned he was at risk of breaking a body part from dragging a gigantic bag of clubs around 24/7, he went out and bought this… Continue reading “Foresight” »


The Height of Joy

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Recently, another short work trip appeared on my agenda. As I was going through the motions of packing and so forth, I thought (for the millionth time) how great it would be to teleport everywhere like on Star Trek. I’m not known for my patience, especially when any kind of travel is involved. I’ve yet to decide on a life motto, although “instant gratification takes too long” (Carrie Fisher) is definitely in the running.

And then I saw this and developed a whole new outlook. Maybe the joy really is in the journey.

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Good Night, Nurse!

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From time to time I get emails from folks who’ve read Finding Me in France offering their reviews. They are incredibly kind and gracious and say things like, “Oh I laughed and laughed,” or, “You’ve inspired me to travel more,” or, “Overuse of the word arse gets tiresome.” That last one has been my favourite until now.

The other day I got a curious email from a name I didn’t recognize (let’s call her Florence). Her message was fairly direct, in fact, one sentence: “Does the name So and So (again, to protect the innocent) from Corner Brook (town in Newfoundland) ring a bell?” I saw that the email was cc’ed to So and So. Intrigued, I wrote back, “Yes, my head is always ringing with bells.”

It became clear that these two women worked together with the next reply, “ I have just put your book down…magical…laughing out loud in the middle of our recovery room for the last few days…driving So and So crazy…I think my two favourite Newfies should get together for a drink.” Either they both worked at a hospital or my book is currently being used as an anesthetic agent for major surgery.

Then they starting talking to each other and copied me on the exchange:

So and So: “This is one small crazy globe we live on!!!  Love it:)”

Florence: “Yes…I will get some AirCanada passes and we will hunt your fellow Newfie down if she agrees …”

Turns out they’re nurses at a surgical hospital. Florence has become an instant fan, and she must be a good nurse because she gave me a megadose of the best medicine with her next email: “ Trust me…I cannot stop talking about this book….a fabulous antidote to that piece of shit “Eat, Pray, Love”….finally!”

Ladies and gentlemen, if there is a better book review out there I haven’t seen it. Where the hell was she when the cover was being printed? I would’ve begged my publisher to splatter that in red paint right across the front. Oprah herself would’ve been on my doorstep. Instead, two nurses are likely to show up, definitely a more useful scenario for someone in my state of decrepitude. I hope they’re prepared for the amount of care I require. I also hope they make everybody in that hospital buy a copy. Something tells me those two won’t come cheap.



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The Eyes Have It

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Overall this aging business is what I would describe as an up/down affair. I do enjoy being past the years of giving a rat’s arse about what other people think; the times of doing what was expected of me, of being the person I was ‘supposed’ to be. On the other hand, yesterday I woke up and it was hard to pinpoint something that wasn’t creaking, aching, or sagging beyond recognition. Granted I have a few war wounds that render me more decrepit than the average middle aged woman, but still. I expect I’ll need a full time nurse by the time I’m 50 just to haul me out of bed in the morning.

And as if I didn’t have enough going on, a new problem has emerged. I was sitting among my young snappy coworkers when I asked for the blurry presentation projected on the boardroom screen to be brought into focus. Turns out I was the only one a little fuzzy around the edges. So I dragged myself off for a proper eye exam.

Christ almighty it was like a NASA testing lab in there. By the time the 12 year-old optometrist came I was practically blind from all the flashing lights and arrays of letters and numbers to decipher. The young doctor then showed me how clear my world could be with the addition of spectacles and I resigned myself to joining the ranks of girls who wear glasses. Continue reading “The Eyes Have It” »


Rights of Spring

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I’ve been a West Coaster for just under a year now and already I feel entitled to the chorus of songbirds outside my window in late March. Even the assaultive grind of a lawn mower from yesterday morning was welcome. I feel like all my winters spent in the North Atlantic have granted me the right to peaceful enjoyment of spring when it’s actually supposed to arrive. I say this with respect for my friends and family still slugging through the snowpocalypse, but too bad suckers, I did my time. Now I stand under trees and look up to this…


I wonder how I lived so long without a sea of pink clouds everywhere I look, however brief their appearance may be. I’ve always pored over pictures of Japan during blossom season and longed to go there just to stand in a shower of wind blown petals. Certainly living here is a lot more convenient than jetting off to Kyoto, but my dreams of Japan are still alive and well. I’m fascinated by the culture, the history, the language, the possibility of udon noodles 24/7. One of my best friends lived there for a year and her stories have fuelled the desire over the years. I think a gigantic, silver haired woman crashing through the streets of Japan might prove interesting for all concerned.

And now All Nippon Airways has announced daily non-stop flights from Vancouver to Tokyo. Sounds like a sign to get my arse in gear. All I have to do is convince Neil that he wants to go to Japan as badly as I do (easy, he knows by now resistance is futile), cough up a squillion dollars for airfare, grab a float plane or a ferry to Vancouver, fly 10 hours, figure out how to get to Kyoto, maybe Osaka, no problem. Oh, and of course, I’ll have to learn Japanese before I go. How the hell am I going to eat my way through another foreign country if I don’t know how to say, “I’ll pass on the jellied eel, thanks.”

My problem is there are too many places I want to visit. Yes, I’m entitled to spring and also to the independent wealth I feel somehow has been wrongly denied me. So, who’s been to Japan? Let’s hear all about it. I’m jacked up on this idea and once I latch on to something, look out. As the Japanese like to say, shouganai: it cannot be helped. There’s no taming Bobbizilla.



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The Decline of Civilization

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I have nothing remotely exciting to relate on this fine day. Instead I offer you a load of rant and righteous indignation. And let me say that I feel fully entitled to it, perhaps because another birthday has come and gone for me. No big deal really as I have collected 46 of them. Now, I begin in earnest my metamorphosis into a crotchety old bag as I ask one simple question (for dramatic effect I yell with a thick St. John’s accent: “WHAT IN DA JAYSUS IS WRONG WIT PEOPLE?” I’m not talking about war criminals and serial killers here. No, no, I’m referring to everyday people, Mr. and Mrs. Ordinary Citizen. Ladies and gentleman, I implore you: Has decency and decorum abandoned us for good?

It started a few days ago when a completely harmless looking, reasonably clean, appropriately dressed man was walking toward me on the street in downtown Victoria. It was a bright, sunny afternoon with a cool breeze floating up from the Pacific and I was feeling the spring in my step that only Spring itself can create when WHAM! the contents of this man’s nose were sprayed at my feet. The offending blob was forced out at Mach 3 speed as he pressed his thumb against one nostril and blew for all he was worth through the other. Charming. Continue reading “The Decline of Civilization” »


Friends in Dry Places

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At first glance it appears my book may have actually bored some poor soul to death. I’ll admit that’s entirely possible, but in this case I’m blameless albeit shameless. How much mileage can someone get from one goofy book you might ask. Well, it all depends on how clever that someone is when it comes to hiring crackerjack marketing staff. And, as I remind my husband quite regularly, I am a giant smartypants (for the record he agrees about the giant part).

Way back when I was putting Finding Me in France together I had the good sense to include a chapter on my French neighbour, Jean-Claude. He was pleased that I did so and he takes a copy wherever he goes. I’m happy to announce that he is now officially the Head of International Marketing and Publicity for the world’s least famous book.

Once again he’s upped his game. This time my doodles were dragged to a desert in Morocco where the movie The Hills Have Eyes II was made. A savvy marketing ploy given that the plot of the film (a group of National Guard trainees find themselves battling against a vicious group of mutants on their last day of training in the desert) is almost exactly what happened to me in France. And speaking of highly trained mercenaries…




What team of mutants could even hope to conquer this warrior? He could kill anyone in his path with kindness. Every time I get an email from him that has attachments I take a moment to savour the anticipation of clicking them open. I never have a clue what’s coming next and he makes me laugh out loud every time. I am instantly transported back to our petite rue in the small Burgundy town where I spent so many happy hours in his company.

I imagine fancy New York publishing houses have publicity departments with enough employees to make Walmart look like a corner store. But me, I’ll take my leather clad Sultan of the Sand with a heart the size of the Sahara. Well played JC, well played.


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Spring Forward, Fall Down

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Well, another hour of daylight means winter is on its last leg. Here in beautiful Victoria the signs of spring come on early and come on strong. The towering B.C. cedars are growing greener by the minute and the cherry blossoms (one of my favourite things on the planet) are bursting open with the white and pale pink hues that herald the arrival of happiness. Victoria has more cherry trees than I ever imagined possible, a lovely bonus of the decision to settle here.

Normally, I’d have a mess of pictures for you, however, I’ve only seen the blossoming beauties them from my car on the way from my apartment to the drug store. My recent work trip took me to the heart of the polar vortex. I took a total of five flights and on the last one about half the passengers appeared to be suffering from some sort of wintery plague. So it’s not surprising that a few days after touching down I was struck down with a fever, sore throat, and a tidal wave of mucus unlike any my poor head and chest have ever seen. It began as an amusing mental challenge: me versus the virus with the odds of victory stacked heavily in my favour. I mean how bad could it be I thought as I forged ahead into battle.

Four days later, as I lay on the floor in a fetal position in sweat soaked pyjamas, nose rubbed raw, surrounded by empty NyQuil boxes and a mountain of crusty tissues, I conceded defeat. It’s absolutely incredible just how much phlegm one human head can produce. I was no match for that beast. At one point I was moaning and groaning and whining and whimpering so much I thought oh wonderful, not only am I dying, I’m turning into a man. Continue reading “Spring Forward, Fall Down” »


Tour of Duty

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And so the Olympics have finally come to a close. Those were the longest two months of my life, although I have to admit being completely impressed by Team Canada, especially our women representatives. The marriage remains relatively intact, a feat deserving of a gold medal (me, not him). If I’d had the budget I would’ve had my own closing ceremony, fireworks in the living room and everything, just to celebrate the removal of that red-headed lump from the couch. Ironically, as he rises like Lazarus and returns to his regularly scheduled baking, I’m off on a multi-city work trip that’s jam-packed from start to finish.

Speaking of work, my co-workers often refer to me as Big Buzzard, and this Feathers on Fire Tour is unplugged, sans laptop. I know, I know, why would anyone attempt something so dangerous? Well, I am proud to say that I am a devoted, hardworking, excessively compliant employee, so naturally I won’t spend a moment writing goofy posts or Googling luxury Italian villas or watching flamenco dancing videos on the company’s time and dime. I make special note of this on the off chance that my boss is reading or plans to have me under surveillance. The surgeon will be here momentarily to separate the great machine from my upper thighs. I’m hoping for a painless extraction and minimal withdrawal. If anyone happens to spot me wild eyed and sweaty in an Apple store this week feel free to stage an aggressive intervention.

My rambling point is that there will be a short blog break. I’m confident that all 14 of you who hang out here on a regular basis will be able to find novel ways to entertain yourselves in my absence. I’ll start you off with this bucket list of travel destinations. All you have to do is decide which one you’d hit first after your lottery numbers come up. To those of you who are independently wealthy: decide which one you need me to scope out for your next moneybags festival. I can vouch for the stunningly charming #3, and when you hit #13 you’ll see where my fancy pants globetrotter husband completed his high school education at The School of Hard Knocks. Until we meet again…




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