Go East, Old Woman

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People often ask me to pinpoint the One Big Lesson from my European sojourn/midlife crisis, easy: immigration is hard. I’m not talking little ‘h’ hard like spinal surgeries or finding pants that fit. I’m talking big ‘H’ Hard. I imagine we’re all thinking more about migration these days; how can we not?

I’ve always marvelled at the tenacity of immigrants, but after trying life in a new country I cannot fathom, not even for a moment, the strength needed to grab a few garbage bags of possessions, haul your children from the grips of war, and, with little or no money, travel (I use the word travel very loosely given the perils faced) to a land where no one can understand you, and where no one seems to want you. And then, somehow, learn a language and where to buy food and where to get your children medical care and how to master seemingly mundane tasks like banking and so forth. And then find a job or start a business, and in less than one generation watch those same bedraggled children who began with nothing graduate from university.

People do this all the time and I remain baffled. I couldn’t do it. No way, no how. I did a ridiculously luxurious French Foreign Legion version of an exodus—no war, no kids, no trauma, some money in my pocket, a translator/chef by my side, and I still almost died. Okay, a tad dramatic, but I did want to pull all my hair out every second or third day.

What exactly is my rambling point? Well, once again I am on the move. Strange and momentous decisions have been made; plans, both short-term and long have been formulated, all ready to be thwarted the minute the gods hear of them. The winding path of my journey is circling back on itself as I once again prepare to be an East Coast girl. And not a moment too soon. I was dangerously close to dreadlocks and a career as a surfer/cannabis mogul.

The why of this move is not important as it involves the needs of others and factors that are not for public consumption. But I’ll say this to anyone who’ll listen: I am not happy to be moving again. Every time I do it I say it’s my last and I learn all over again that I’m a big fat liar.

So, here I am in a noisy downtown vacation flat in Victoria, all my possessions loaded on a truck careening down a highway maybe somewhere in Alberta by now. On Saturday I’ll park my sorry arse and recently split open back on a jet that will carry us from one ocean to another. We hope to emerge from the flights married, but it’s dicey at best. Just how many of these gargantuan moves can we love our way through? And how will we ever survive returning to winter? Stay tuned.

I’ve already heard from people who are disappointed by our decision to go back where we started. Puzzling that. How the hell else am I supposed to manufacture another big crisis/adventure? I haven’t won the lottery or married into independent wealth…yet, so something has to give if I am one day to rule a small European country. Or setup in Vienna to write erotic crime novels. Or worm my way on to George Clooney’s staff (shrink to the stars) in Italy. Or become the new face of Depends, shuttling between gigs in Amsterdam and Antwerp.

In the meantime, after five years of the ultimate commute, Neil will finally be in the same time zone as his clients and most of his immediate family, he’s earned that I’d say. I’ll be near friends and family once again, which will make up for the lack of international intrigue. Fine by me, I have the energy of a wet noodle these days.

So, for the few people interested in my little life, there it is. The next big thing is no big thing. It’s all the rage with the celebrities. And once I do it every Tom, Dick and Beyoncé will be looking to trade adventure and upheaval for the steady life. Mark my words, Madonna’s next album: Finding Me at Home—The Old Bag Collection.




Three to Six With Good Behaviour

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I know, I know. I’m the worst blogger on the planet. Not because of my content, no, I remain as entertaining as ever. My crime is posting far too infrequently. But when I tell you why, all will be forgiven. This I know for sure.

Some of you know this about me already: I’ve not been blessed with a spine worth a damn. How and why this old body has reached such an advanced state of decrepitude is not immediately clear. Well, I suppose, a giraffe spine somehow stuffed into a middle-aged woman’s skinny yet flabby carcass, what chance did I really have? Bottom line: on June 16th I got naked, was knocked unconscious by a complicated drug cocktail then flipped onto a fancy table with my arse in the air while a handsome, cocky as hell neurosurgeon got busy with a scalpel, screws, rods, and staples.

This whole mess began in 1995 with the first surgery in St. John’s, then another in London, Ontario, a third in Halifax, and now this one in Victoria, B.C., home of the worst medical system I’ve experienced yet in Canada (despite my surgeon being a helpful and highly skilled individual). It’s my coast-to-coast neurosurgery tour: Bobbi & the Back Stabbers, all I need are the T-shirts.

It was a bit of a rough go at first, what with the allergic reaction to the antibiotics complete with skin blisters, as well as four straight nights with not a moment of sleep. Then came the embedded staples, the removal of which was a bit traumatic. I wound up in the surgeon’s office for this as my GP was out of town. It involved a fair bit of rip and tug, and just as I was looking for a stick to bite down on I heard the surgeon ask kindly, “Are you okay?” I was not at all okay and I turned to tell him so when I saw that he was actually talking to Neil, who I’d forgotten was in the room. Neil, in a state unlike I’d ever seen him, green and pasty, managed to croak out, “Do you need me here?” After he was quickly banished, the surgeon said, “A bit delicate is he?” Hardly. This is a man who has been putting on my underwear for weeks now. He’ll be doing toenails and leg shaving until December. He’s as tough as they come. And this is what marriage vows are actually for.

Now I’m sort of bed bound; strict orders to avoid any bending, lifting, and twisting for at least three months with caution for a good six. I can sit but only for as long as it takes to eat a meal, which means a haircut is out. You should see the hair, Einstein is the word that comes to mind.

I’m the most bored I have ever been in my entire life. It feels like every day is 49 hours long. I’ve watched every piece of crap on offer on Netflix including a binge watch of every episode of Orange is the New Black, way grittier than anything I usually take in. I knew I was in too deep when Neil asked me how my day was going and all I could say was, “Bitches be CRAAAAZZY!”

If there’s anything good to be taken from this whole debacle it’s perspective on what’s next for us. Given the reality of my back, it might be good to get back to reality a little. But first I have to survive this seemingly endless test of my impatient nature. I’m doing all that I’m supposed to, behaving myself on all counts (I’ve always been very good in bed), but honestly, it’s a mild form of torture to lay about this much. If only my body healed as fast as my mind warps.

Anyhootie, enough about me. What’s on your back lately?





Natural Disaster

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My friends, sometime the old adages are so true it’s just bloody scary. The cliché du jour is this: The more things change, the more they stay the same. Most of you know that while my chronological age suggests the backside of middle age (and a middle-aged backside), my functional age is more indicative of an incompetent toddler complete with tantrums and narcissistic demands of the highest order.

I speak of my inability to be left alone for any period of time. I continue to display a propensity toward catastrophe when left to my own devices. It seems that the minute my cooking, cleaning, errand running husband purchases a plane ticket the gods conspire to create calamity. And this time, as Rusty took off for a week long work trip, my world began to unravel. Again.

He’s done this a number of times before, leaving me adrift in foreign lands. But this is Canada, my homeland where things are easy, right? And it would’ve been had I just stayed in bed. It began with water, ended with ice with some lasagna thrown in the middle.

I’d been fending for myself for about 5 days when things went seriously awry. I was down 7 pounds thanks to dinners of crackers, yogurt, and chardonnay (anyone looking for a reliable diet this is it. I call it the Dependence Plan), but my healthy consumption of filtered water remained intact, that is, until I somehow dropped part of the Brita jug cover into a very full garbage disposal.

After a protracted rooting about with kitchen tongs I decided a new jug was the answer. Of course I forgot to buy replacement filters. Back to the store. The filters I bought, all 3 of them, for some reason didn’t work. The water cascaded down the sides leaving me with water akin to what one finds in a community pool.

My instinct was to toss the jug into the street and drive over it repeatedly with the car. Instead, I raced back to the store to beat closing time, all the way cursing the idiot at Brita who dared to make defective filters. I mean has everyone just given up in this world? How can people be so harebrained? I was so frustrated by the time I got home that I jammed filter number 4 in the jug and finally, 2 hours after I started, had a glass of clear, cool, non-chloriney water. Once rehydrated, it dawned on me that I hadn’t put the filters in right. Sweet Jaysus. Brita filter person, mea culpa. You are a genius, I’m an idiot. What kind of person with advanced education can’t figure out a water jug? Me.

The next day I decided I’d had enough of this foolishness. If he can do it, I can do it. I would breech the threshold of the forbidden cave and cook a magnificent meal. I opened the freezer and there it was, the perfect solution: a frozen lasagna. Sure, he bought it but I’d have to bring about the miracle. And miraculous it was.


The instructions said to lay the lasagna on a rack to cool. Given that I’ve been in this kitchen about 5 times in 2 years, I grabbed the first thing I saw not noticing the graceful arch of the cookie cooling rack. The minute I turned my back the whole thing flew off the counter. I launched a panicked resuscitation for the rug and my dinner but neither survived. I’m not sure which loss was more distressing.

I threw out the rug, ate another cold, hobbled together dinner, and decided to take the ‘tomorrow is a new day’ approach. The next evening I braved the kitchen again only to find a freezer full of melted food. The matter is still being debated, however, it’s possible that during the mayhem of the Lasagna Incident I left the freezer door open. I still say Rusty’s overstuffing it is to blame, but either way I had to dispose of most of the food, test the freezer, get replacement food, honestly, how much can be expected of one person?

I started out by saying things stay the same, but I seem to getting worse. What used to be amusing (Neil was considerably amused by my recent exploits) has become embarrassing. Thankfully, no one really knows how inept I am apart from you folks who I know practice discretion at all times.

I mean it’s not really my fault now is it? If you’ve been banished from the kitchen how can you be expected to take it over willy nilly? Still. This is outrageous and has to stop. No more will I be dependent on that man for my survival. For the love of god, a woman is about to take the helm of the U.S. presidency, so surely I can be commander in chief of my own home. I mean when he’s away of course, I have no desire to overthrow the current regime.

But I can tell you this: Next time he leaves I will be fully self-sufficient. Starting now, I’ll put something toward my goal every day, and when the next trip rolls around I’ll have enough saved to hire an entire staff. I call it the Independence Plan.



The Wicked Witch of Winter

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Well, here it is, March 16th, a day like any other; an ordinary Monday, unless you live in Newfoundland where you are toughing out the blizzard that comes every time this year. I don’t even have to check the Weather Network to see if the place is socked in with snow. The reason I know is because I was raised there, and for almost every one of my 30 years spent on the Rock, there was some sort of weather apocalypse on or around this day—a special nod from the universe, the heralding of chaos, a reminder for everyone of the power of the gods. Naturally, it is the day that marks my entrance to the world, and those gods have been laughing ever since.

The magic number of snow storms is now at 47. I cannot recall a childhood birthday party or an adolescent, alcohol-fuelled, dance ’til you’re dead rampage that was not marred by the plague of a North Atlantic Winter (yes, capital W, you just have to live it to believe it). Now my people, the Irish, call it “Sheila’s Brush.” Sheila, my arse. This is totally about me, as is everything on this good earth: Bobbi’s Blizzard. You’re welcome.

But on this particular birthday, I’m aging (exponentially I might add) among the daffodils and cherry blossoms. It seems wrong somehow, an act of treason for which I may never be forgiven by my brothers and sisters shovelling while cursing my climactic influence. Too bad suckers. I did it for 30 years, I’ve paid my dues. Of course, someday I may find myself back in the land of Nor’Easters and spend my birthday hiding from the townies wielding torches and pitchforks. To those who will bay for my blood: have mercy on an old bag who can’t decide what the frig to do with the rest of her life or find pants that fit.

Until then, I promise I’ll feel badly while stuffing my face with chipotle pulled pork fajitas and chocolate fudge cake, my requested birthday meal this year, a gift from the talented and equally old Rusty. He’s cooking up a storm, as he should be. By the way, did I ever tell you about the time he was standing at the stove, stirring and sautéing when the sleeve of his robe caught the edge of a gas flame? Well, the terry robe lit up, and without missing a beat with his spoons and spatulas, he dropped it on the stone floor, stomped on it, and kept right on cooking, buck naked, for like half an hour. Fierce I tell you. He’s braver in the face (and lower bits) of hot splatter than I would be. But I digress.

So, despite me being responsible for the current state of the east coast, it wouldn’t kill you to send me your good wishes. In fact, unless you want an epic snow-nado-cane for Easter, you better send a fat check as well.





All Madness, No Method

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28 days into 2015 and already any resolutions I could have made (don’t believe in ’em, by the end of this sentence you’ll know why) would have been torn to shreds (as resolutions always are, and there’s your answer). I have eaten every piece of chocolate in British Columbia; I have become a champion avoider of exercise; the wine has been flowing freely; every movie on Netflix has been watched, twice; I’ve stayed up late and emerged from my cozy bed later still; my swearing is worse than ever. If I’d made a resolution to become a doughy, foul-mouthed layabout, then I’d be the Queen of New Year’s Day.

My dereliction of duties has arisen from a situation known all too well to me: funemployment. My job here in Victoria finished up in late December. And even though I knew the end was fast approaching, I made very few concrete plans beyond lounging and gorging and wearing sweatpants morning, noon, and night, a few lunches with clever girlfriends thrown in here and there. Now in the interest of full disclosure, I haven’t been entirely neglectful of my responsibilities as a sensible adult. I’ve had my teeth cleaned, been for a full physical, and the mammogram and annual gynaecologist visit are set for next week (ladies, it’s a goddamn mardi-gras for us, isn’t it?).

And so, it is time to turn to the The Great Matter, The Big Question, The Dilemma of 2015: what’s next? Once again it appears that all options are on the table. Naturally, your first idea for me will be a return to France. To that I say non, merci. The thought of facing French bureaucrazy and verb conjugation again makes me feel sweaty and weak and 98 years old. Now Italy or Vienna, that might would be worth the paperwork. Again, language rears its ugly head. England calls to me as well. I already have the UK passport, and I just know I could give that Dowager Countess at Downton Abbey a run for her money.

Of course, being the chaosaholic that I am, the oddly radical choice would be simply to stay put in Victoria. I walked to the bakery today for the regular ration of dark chocolate ganache tartes. The sun was shining, the thermometer hit 15 degrees above zero (Americans, that’s Celsius for spring), the smell of freshly cut thick grass wafted on the breeze, and daffodils made a cheery appearance. This is a typical January here making it hard to argue with the logic of settling in for the long haul.

Now before all my east coast friends start hurling their snow shovels at their computers, let me say that there has actually been some loose talk chez nous about heading back to Halifax, a move that would give Rusty a hometown advantage, and I suppose he deserves some measure of consideration in all this despite my now well developed phobia of the True North Winter.

But then again maybe he should stick to cooking and supporting my wifestyle, and leave all major decisions regarding our future to me. The other day, fresh off a Skype call with a buddy working in Ho Chi Minh City, he asked me what I thought about us possibly living in Vietnam. Ever the open-minded soul, I responded with, “Sure, we could do that.”

True, I wilt horribly in humidity, speak no Vietnamese whatsoever, have a deathly fear of giant tropical bugs, details, details. I was particularly encouraged by the obvious job prospect for me there. Let’s face it, a pale, silver haired giraffe could make a killing as a side show attraction; people would fork over millions to gawk at such an exotic creature. Christ on a cracker, imagine me standing in a circus tent, soaked in sweat, covered in heat rash, randomly screaming, “COCKROACH!!!!!” No, even I can’t sell that mess.

Once again, I have no idea what the future holds. Does anyone ever? I’m in the weeds with neither map nor compass to return to the world where mature people know what the hell to do with themselves. I’ll “offer it up” as Catholic mothers are fond of saying. And by that I mean wait for one of you to make a case for where I should go and what I could do there. At any rate, it’s clear my next book will be another runaway best seller: When Good Shrinks Go Mad: A Cautionary Tale From the Couch.







Eight is Enough?

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Allow me to tower above you while on my soapbox for a moment. Oh who am I kidding, any one of you could be on stilts and you’d still be looking at my bellybutton. The point is I am celebrating eight years of wedded bliss today and I have something to say about marriage. Of course when I say bliss I mean eight years of clothes on the floor, bathroom doors open at all times (him, not me, I favour medieval padlocks), and one word answers to probing, philosophical questions—Me: “Do you think that the rise of ISIS is related to the increasing depth and breadth of global female empowerment?” Neil: “Dunno.” But I digress.

I don’t know why people get married. I’m not even sure why I got married for the second time. Perfectionist I suppose, get it right or die trying I always say. So far, this union is going reasonably well. We’re still speaking to each other for whatever that’s worth.

Maybe folks get hitched to have kids? Silly really since you can put an ad on Craigslist, have a tupperware jar of sperm dropped right to your door and away you go. Or pay some random woman ten grand to carry and deliver, a bargain as far as I’m concerned. Shotgun wedding? Seriously, nobody gives a crap anymore. The ladies have landed and the religious crowd just needs to deal. Continue reading “Eight is Enough?” »


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. Continue reading “Self Sacrifice” »



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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.


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.


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. Continue reading “Good Night, Nurse!” »


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” »

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