Month: August 2013

Drawn Into It

I’m a grown woman and I’m not afraid to admit it: I like cartoons. When I was younger, I was always drawn to the happily-ever-after stories of Disney princesses, but as I matured, I realized that they don’t all have to be perfect all the time. In fact, I prefer the imperfect ones; the ones that make me cry, or squirm uncomfortably, or even just leave me in thought when the credits roll. I prefer stories that have an environmental impact to them, something that makes a hero even more heroic because he has failed at his task, or hard lessons about family life. Someday, if I’m lucky, I’ll be able to show my child the value of loss as well as victory, and that striving to be perfect is just living with an unattainable goal.

With that in mind, here are a few tv shows and films I enjoy because they don’t just portray the message that everyone wins all the time, and even if they do it’s at a personal cost or because of a lesson learned.

1. Studio Ghibli: an animation studio out of Japan, you may recognize this name because of its association with Pixar and Disney’s John Lasseter. Their first feature was Only Yesterday, a story about an unwed woman who was now too old to be single, according to her family’s strict standards. She spends the movie reminiscing about life when she was 10, and how much simpler it was. The movie brings up young love, periods, old Japan versus new Japan, and antiquated notions of what young women should do, including obeying their elders. It’s a hard look at a modern woman’s Japan animated in the mid 80s, a time when the feminism movement was hitting its peak there. Yes, there are follow-ups like My Neighbor Totoro or Porco Rosso, movies that you would not think had any particular message. But Ghibli, in its cleverness, just makes you think that upon first blush. I can assure you that each one of their films has a strong and vital message worth listening to.

2. Pixar: on the outside, this funny, childish animation studio may seem all sweet and innocent, but if we remember Toy Story, their first feature, correctly, we realize that Buzz suffers from some serious PTSD after the cherry bomb incident and Woody is prone to anxiety attacks. Finding Nemo is a story about a man who nearly loses everything and his realization that he cannot stop it from happening again – he can only change his reaction to it. That’s some pretty hefty cognitive behavioural therapy happening right there. I find that sometimes they do get off track a little – Cars, for example, wasn’t one of their strongest – but when I cried like a baby during my first AND second Brave viewings, I knew they had found their feet again.

3. Despicable Me: Universal really outdid themselves with the original movie and its follow-up. Granted, the sequel was, like all sequels, more laughs and fewer lessons, the thing that made the first movie shine made it shine as well: a man who believes he has no love in his heart and must therefore be evil finds himself suddenly caring, and three girls who have a dream of a perfect family and instead find Gru. It’s an ugly duckling story combined with Annie, and even though the ending is neat and tidy, there are real emotions and real feelings struggled with throughout the movie. Once again here is a man who, when challenged about what he loves most, makes the decision to put his family before his fame. It’s a good lesson to see, particularly in this age of celebrity drive-thru marriages and divorce.

4. Justice League and Justice League Unlimited: okay, so these two tv shows are about super heroes, but don’t just dismiss them out of hand. These two shows in particular deal with some very adult themes, and though they are rated 8+, I would be hesitant to have anyone younger than 12 watching them. They deal with hard issues like trust, failure, war crimes, genocide, and racial purity. In a world where heroes should win all the time by definition, the Justice League takes casualties. They lose sometimes. They fight amongst themselves. They keep secrets. Things end badly for them many, many times. This is when I would say it’s all sunshine and rainbows at the end of the series, but it’s not. If you are a fan of DC comics at all, you’ll know that it never is. These two shows are truer to the comic than any live-action movie I’ve seen revolving around these characters, which is good, because learning that even heroes aren’t invulnerable is a key lesson for anyone.


5. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic: you all knew it was coming. I’ll keep it short. It may seem overly heavy on the lessons at times, but magic or brute strength are never ever EVER the answer. Hardwork, determination, and trust are always rewarded. For a young viewing audience, that’s the best thing you can hope for.



Week in Review: Catch My Breath

What a whirlwind of a week! There was so much to do, and I get the feeling that this is only the beginning; September is going to kick-start a crazy autumn season. Although it’ll be full of crazy while by myself, as MiniSir heads back to Wainwright for two months, which may be better or worse, depending on how things go. To start, we had supper with friends on Monday night – a giant, 22lbs of smoked pork supper – to celebrate a birthday. I spent all day Monday making cakes: a buttermilk chocolate one and a gluten-free banana spice one. Both had cream cheese frosting and sprinkles, because no cake gets made in this household without cream cheese frosting and sprinkles.

Tuesday I went to physio. NBD. Wednesday I had an appointment with a new psychiatrist (that’s right, folks – I’m seeing three now!) at the hospital so it was an emotional rollercoaster of a day. Thursday I spent the day feeling sick and playing video games because sometimes you just need a day to do that, but it was a good thing I did because this weekend was non-stop.

Friday I headed back to the hospital to see another of my mental health professionals, cried some more, came home, got prettied up and went out to dinner in Sherwood Park for their 120th Anniversary of the County celebration in conjunction with the Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) regiment exercising the Freedom of the County. To explain quickly, a “freedom of the city/county/whatever” ceremony dates back to medieval times when certain units in armies had close ties with certain cities. These units got preferential treatment and were allowed inside the city fully armed and ready for battle. In return for letting them rest inside and replenish supplies, the city was guaranteed protection from outside forces and the assurance that no soldier would take advantage of the situation (and fall to plundering or raping, for example). So Stratchcona County, being another namesake of Lord Strathcona himself, thought it would be super cool for the Strats to come into town fully armed and march through to show their friendly association. Got it?

LCol Peyton riding through in his tank. Tanks are the new horses, yo.

The Friday night was a black tie/Mess Kit affair as I did my best to be arm candy for my husband so he could schmooze. In attendance was the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, along with the Mayor herself, the Colonel, the RCMP Superindendent, and the deputy Premier. Yeah, it was tres fancy. We got home around midnight after dropping off our carpooling friend.

We so fancy

Saturday morning, however, was no time for sleeping in! MiniSir had us out the door by 7:30am and off to the base to drop him with the rest of the regiment for the convoy of tanks, armoured vehicles, trucks, and buses to depart toward Sherwood Park. Yes, you read that right, folks: they took their tanks down to “free the County”. LCol Paul Peyton rolled up in his Leopard 2 and hopped out, put on his sword, and proceeded with the ceremony. He was accompanied by his 100 man honour guard, of which my sweet husband was a member. He was so excited to be a part of it, and even more excited about the sword he got to flourish about. The whole affair was incredible. He’s never been a part of a “Freedom” ceremony, and I’ve never seen one, so it was a big deal for both of us.

Sunday we had to do all the pesky stuff that still needed done, like the laundry, etc. And then we were off again to another friend’s house for some more delicious smoked meat; this time beef. We got to catch up with them and meet their little one for the first time, which was a big hit with me.

I know that so far today I’ve done the dishes that have piled up since… last week some time, and vacuumed half the apartment. In a minute, I plan to go have a nap, and then I might fold some clothes. Maybe. This week I have no appointments booked until Thursday and I plan on making the most of the time I have available by finally cleaning the apartment properly (something that hasn’t been done for a solid month now) and catching up on my sleep. Because whew, I’m beat. Being popular is so hard sometimes.

Flat-Out Friday: Cough, Sneeze, Snickt!

I’m sick. Ugh. I have a head cold. My nose is running and my throat is sore. It’s gross.

I don’t get sick very often, which bodes well for how my immune system is coping with all this accident stuff. And since I was battling three very different infections in the hospital (thanks in no small part to all those people out there that don’t wash their hands), it seems my body is getting what it needs from my diet habits now to fight off most of what comes my way. I’m sure I picked this up at the YMCA, or on the bus, or at the hospital – any of the myriad of public places I visit on a weekly basis. But since I can’t very well avoid any of these, I’m taking this as a reminder to improve my fresh fruit intake.

Unfortunately, on the rare occasion that I do get sick now, I immediately turn into the world’s biggest baby. Of all the worst possible things that could happen, me getting sick is the WORST. POSSIBLE. THING. I turn into a full-on Rarity, wallowing in… whatever it is that ponies are supposed to wallow in. I can’t possibly do anything for myself, and end up eating cake for dinner because it’s made and I just need to find a fork. I call my mum and tell her I need her to make it better, which doesn’t go over well because she’s in Ontario and can’t really do anything about it anyways. But I still tell her she has to.

This is my mum. She’s magic, I tell you. MAGIC.

Because she has magical healing powers. Seriously.

See, when I was in the hospital generally getting my butt kicked by my broke ass and these persistent infections, I would get up in the morning, have breakfast, and go to physio. When I got back, my mum would always be there, waiting for me. I’d put my crippled butt in my wheelchair and we’d go out to the Tim Hortons in the hospital lobby for an iced coffee, half sweet. Usually, Mum would also get some breakfast, because she has this condition where she doesn’t eat until someone pointedly mentions it. Thank god it’s not contagious.

If it was a nice day, we’d take our drinks and do battle with the wasps outside so I could get some sunshine. We would talk as if I wasn’t in a yellow Infection Control jacket with two air casts on my legs and some seriously broken body parts. She’d make me forget I had nearly died and instead we plotted all the kinds of revenge I’d take with my insurance settlement, most of which had to do with going to Disney World and having a kick-ass wedding. She’d take me to the shower and help me bathe, brush my hair and braid it back from my face. And while she did all of this, I healed myself, not unlike Wolverine.

So, if she could do all that then, imagine what she could do when I just have a cold. The germs would fly out of my pores to get away from all the awesome. I could crush this thing like I had adamantium sinuses. Cold germs would be afraid to come near me for fear of being wiped from this earth. I’m telling you, if I am a superhero, then my mum is too.

Now all I need is for her to win the lottery so she can retire and make me chicken soup when I need it. I can’t possibly see how this plan could fail.

Week in Review: What is that Annoying Noise?!

Gosh, what happened this past week? It’s such a blur I don’t even remember. Uhm…

We finished our #yegquesting – for those who don’t recognize what that is, you can catch up here. We officially have twelve entries in to win the night for two at the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald. I really really REALLY want to win. Really. It would just be such an amazing first anniversary experience.

Speaking of which, we have something planned for the Labour Day weekend to celebrate our first year of being irrevocably bound to one another for all eternity. And when I say that, I actually mean that. We jumped over a broom together. It’s totally irreversible now. Unless we jump back over it backwards… But that’s never going to happen. Besides, I don’t know where the broom is anyways.


We had a lot of fun finding the last of the #yegquest clues. We got gelato and then rode on the LRT (Light Rail Transit) across the river to the University on a beautiful evening, and meandered through the buildings until we found the one we were looking for. It was completely relaxing. And then there was the park that was really pretty but after 5 minutes of being there MiniSir and I both agreed we would never live in the neighbourhood. I was half expecting Bible salesmen to jump out of the bushes at us. We gawked at all the people dressed up for the Edmonton Fringe Festival, a 10-day affair devoted to live theatre, as we stole a quiet moment for a photo at one of the locations. And on the very last day, we visited an urban fishing pond (I know, right?) that is stocked with rainbow trout for Edmontonians to fish inside the city. Totally cool.

Fishing is pretty darn relaxing. If more people fished, we’d have a lot fewer douchebags. Just sayin.

I started writing again. Like fictional writing. It’s something, anyways. I describe my current story to MiniSir as a “paranormal romance”, meaning I’m so out of touch with my inner writer that I chose something dumb. However, I have also been looking back through my many stories I’ve started but never finished. There’s a cool one about clones taking over a future society. There’s the ever-popular vampire buddy comedy. And the epic that I started when I was 10 and has had so many rewrites that it makes my head spin… Well, it could use another re-write.

Hey, why does gluten-free cake take so much longer to bake? At least I didn’t leave it out in the rain because I made up the recipe and will probably never have it again. Oh nooooooooooo.

Okay, I’m totally writing whatever comes to mind now. What’s that called? Conscious writing? Or am I just vocalising my inner monologue? That. I think.

So there you go. My insane ramblings have no point on this Review Monday, so here’s one I particularly like: You can’t eat your cake and have it too. If you learn just one thing in your entire lifetime, then learn to say this colloquialism correctly.

Mmmmm. Cake.

My Furbabies

2013 seems like the year where everyone I know is having a baby. You know those years. Sometimes everyone you know is getting married and you have six weddings and you can’t wear the same thing to all of them, and then you need to buy six wedding presents and you’re broke and… yeah. This year I’m pumping out little bassinet/car seat sized knitted blankets like nobody’s business. So I thought, since everyone is doing it, I’d properly introduce my babies: Will, Hope, and Jasper. They are our adopted kids, our parents’ grandbabies, and our source of four-legged love and affection. At times, they can drive us crazy and then they can be sweet or silly just as suddenly. They are sometimes demons and sometimes angels, trapped in small furry bodies.


We’ll start with Will. He’s the oldest of the three, having been around since long before my husband. He is my rescued baby that has grown into a beautiful but kinda obnoxious senior cat. He was named Will because when I got him it was iffy as to whether he’d live. I promised him, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way. You will be okay”, and the name sorta stuck. As he grew, it evolved into “Will Help”, because he thinks he’s people and will help you do everything you don’t want help doing. Lying in the dirt pile while you sweep the floor is a specialty of his. He’s actually more like a dog than anything else – he begs for food, meets you at the door, fetches bits of paper and plays soccer with me. When he was young he broke his hip (I still don’t know how), so he is now without a ball joint in one of his back legs. This means he can’t jump as high as the other cats, but he’s cleverer than them so he figures out how to get up on things pretty well. We are the crips, Will and I.


Hope is next oldest. We adopted her shortly after I got out of the hospital. Will was waiting for me at home when I was released, but it was pretty clear that he needed some feline companionship. Her name is completely a product of how I felt at the time – I needed a little hope. And she is little. Weighing in at just 4 lbs, she’s the tiniest cat I’ve ever had. When we brought her home for the first time, she swatted Will, ran by him up the stairs, and then waited for him to follow, kind of like they were playing tag. This is Hope’s personality in a nutshell. She is the most feline of the three. She will hide in boxes and bags, randomly self-pet but then run away if you try to actually pet her, and every once in a while she turns into a vicious huntress and pounces, teeth and claws out, on your feet under the blankets. Her favourite things include being up high and drinking out of the fish bowl. Her one quirk is that she doesn’t make any noise when she purrs. You can feel her vibrating, but she is silent. She also fiercely protective of her people. If I could make her into a jaguar I would, because aside from that being epic, I think that’s how big she believes she is.


Jasper is the baby. And not just because he’s the youngest. If he could change himself into a baby human, I think he would. He loves sleeping on his back in your arms, is extremely needy, and very vocal if you are somewhere without him. He runs to the bathroom (which is down at the end of the hall) and sits on the toilet, waiting for me to get there. I have to push him off to use it. He doesn’t like cheese or any other human food for that matter. What he does like is belly rubs. Hours and hours of belly rubs (and also being a complete crazy pants when the thunderstorms are rolling in). MiniSir brought Jasper from Kingston, ON to live with us after a stray that my mum took in had kittens. He is, of all of them, his cat. The hilarity of having a cat named Jasper while living in Jasper House on Jasper Avenue is not lost on us, but it is a well-suited name for him. He’s lazy, sleeps under the bed at my head, and if I walk into a room where he is, I always get a “Hi mom!” meow.


My kitties keep me company on my good days and my bad ones. They sleep with me when MiniSir is gone so I have some warmth in the bed beside me. There are days I couldn’t imagine life without them, and there are days I want to sell them to the circus. But I love them all – they are my babies.

Happy Second Anniversary!

Two years today. It’s been two years, and I’m still standing. Thank you to all of you for your love, faith, and understanding. It’s been struggle after struggle and fight after fight, but with all the support it’s been tolerable, and with a safe place to express myself, it’s been healing.

Flat-Out Friday: Blaze of Sorry


I’m going down in a blaaaaaaaze of sorry…

Oh Bon Jovi. Thank you for being so incredibly corruptible to meet my needs. Because this is how I feel – like I’m getting shot down in some sick, apologetic hailstorm of crap. I have had a bouquet of GPs since the accident, and aside from the one that had a stroke and can’t be blamed, only one of them has had any real idea of how to treat me. The others – well, I’ve been called a junkie, had a whole team of doctors refuse to assign me one person to oversee my case, and now I have one so fixated on my weight that she disregards my perfectly logical requests.

I went to see my family doctor on Monday morning, armed with the information from the occupational medicine doctor from Calgary. I was anxious to see her as she is going on medical leave for 4 months to have a hip replaced, and I wanted to make sure I had some things sorted out while she was away. The first thing she always does is ask how many times a week I swim, to which I respond “twice” because it is currently the upper echelon of my physical ability. Shaking her head as though I’ve done something wrong, she then asks me how much I weigh. When I stand on the scale and it hasn’t changed since the last time, she tsks me. TSKS ME. As though swimming and gaining muscle is going to somehow make me lighter. She doesn’t mention the inches I’ve lost around my stomach, even though I can now fit into clothes I last wore over a year ago. Still not daunted, I launch into my story about the specialist visit in Calgary.

The first thing I bring up is the issue with pelvic fractures affecting fertility. I ask for a referral to a fertility clinic to explore it further. She shakes her head again, with the response that any referral to a clinic of that kind is such a huge investigation that unless we have been actively trying to 2 years to get pregnant and haven’t, she won’t even consider referring me. I indicate that it’s been two years since the accident (two years exactly on Monday), and that we haven’t been using any contraceptives since. She then suggests that maybe the fault is with Matt. Deadpan, I inform her of his four children with his ex-wife. When she sits and stares at me blankly, I counter with asking for imaging of the area – MRI, ultrasound, xrays, all of it – since I’d like to know what it all looks like now, 2 years down the line. Again, a shake of the head and she tells me that there is no imaging that will show the amount of scar tissue build-up (a complete lie) and that it won’t prove anything. Her last parting shot on the subject? “You don’t even know if you want to have children, so you need to make up your mind first.”

Excuse me? 

How is it even possible that the health care system is so broken that, instead of trying to figure out if it is even possible for me to have kids, I have to decide if I want to try and then try and fail before they’ll do anything. It seems backwards to me. Don’t see if it’s even possible – just put yourself through all kinds of mental anguish trying to decide and then not getting pregnant anyway.

The second issue I bring up – the nerve damage and possible effected reflexes – is met with complete ignorance. She has no response for me, even when I ask for a neurologist’s opinion, as if we’ve reached the point of no return and she can’t be bothered with me any more. Indicating that she’ll wait until the specialist’s report is in her hand, she berates me for my weight again, a parting shot before she opens the door signalling the end of the appointment, and tells me to make an appointment for December when she’s back from her surgery.

So what now? What am I supposed to do for 4 months without a GP and no direction? Apparently losing weight should be on the top of my agenda, but the way I feel about my doctor right now, she can go rub salt. I’ll weigh what I want, I’ll swim as much as I want, and I’ll feel good about doing it. If my weight goes down, then fine, but if not, then fine. 

I don’t care.

I’m waiting for the specialist’s report, just to see what my lawyer has to say, and my psychiatrist, and my physiotherapist: professionals that actually give a crap and care about my care. I’ll go from there. And if my doctor doesn’t happen to be involved for the next four months, whatever.

It’ll all be in the reports anyway.