Happy September!

Well hello dear Bloggie,

Coming at you from a hotel room in Kelowna, British Columbia on this fine 3rd day of September – which would have been my 7th wedding anniversary. (Or would it? Hmmm…I’d like to think I would not have divorced my mentally ill, betrayer of a husband had he not died from cancer…but who knows what alternate reality I would be living by now had things turned out differently…) Anyhow, I don’t have a whole lot of emotion surrounding this day anymore…and I think that is a good and healthy sign.

August has been a stressful month for me. My sister has been quite ill and in hospital here in Kelowna – hence my presence. Most of the month I was on pins and needles, not knowing when her surgery would finally happen or if she would be healthy enough to even qualify. This, plus lots of goings on at work made the month both drag on and fly by simultaneously, if that makes any sense (and it does to me).

I did manage to get up to see my other sister (Me Too) and her wife at their lovely lakeside home, on the Civic Holiday Long weekend…and stopped in at a National Park (another one crossed off the list) along the drive up there.

At Thousand Islands National Park. Check out how straight my teeth are becoming! #Invisalignlove
Just another peaceful misty morning at Me Too’s place.

And I did get to Riverfest Elora 2017. A fantastic festival with such a great vibe – I think this will be an annual event for me. Hopefully next year I can convince someone to join me. I didn’t mind going alone, but naturally it would have been even more enjoyable to have company.

Mother Mother at Riverfest

As I fretted and stressed the month away, I decided to pour my feelings into the paint I was applying on some canvases.

Practically a copy of a painting done by another artist, Elspeth McLean. Don’t all artists start out by copying the greats? ­čÖé This is for the sister I am currently visiting. I named it “Feminine Energy”.
Another finished piece. No name yet. This is an original.

I did find some time to get on the river.

My happy place!

And then I got word that my sister’s surgery had finally been scheduled and was happening within 48 hours, so it was a mad dash to get plane tickets and book a hotel. I arrived in smoke- and ash-covered Kelowna on Tuesday. This has been the worst season for forest fires in 60 years, I’ve been told.

Daytime skies over Lake Okanagan
My feet (de-Birkenstocked) after a day of trudging back and forth to the hospital.
Patio chair after a night of falling ash.

My sister’s surgery was a success and she is steadily improving. And the skies have cleared up too!

That’s much better! Still hazy but at least it’s blue!

I have booked my flight home for this coming Tuesday. Now there is nothing left to do on this Labour Day long weekend but enjoy visiting my sister and eat my fill of Okanagan peaches.

These suckers are HUGE, and tasty.

Rock on,

The WB

 

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79% Shiksa. 21% Chosen People. Still Badass.

Well, colour me verklempt!

For a couple of reasons – first, it’s been now a year and two days since my last TIA ┬áand I have been symptom-free ever since – hoorah!

Second, I did a DNA test with Ancestry.ca and my results bear credence to a family mystery. Behold:

Where I came from

Who my mother’s father was (is?) has always been unknown, at least to my mother and her siblings. My Oma didn’t talk about it. But the family story goes like this: my Oma was in love (and pregnant by) a Jewish man – they wanted to get married but because my Oma was not of the age of consent (21, in the Netherlands back then) she couldn’t marry without her parents’ permission. And that was not granted by her Christian Reformed family. I guess having a child outside of marriage (and preventing my mom from having a dad in her life) was less sinful than marrying outside of the faith?!?

Sheesh, is it any wonder I have such a dim view of religion? My mom was whispered about, shunned, and rejected by people because she was born out of wedlock – as if she had anything to do with the circumstances of her existence!!!

After having to confess her transgression(s) to the church elders, my Oma was sent to Rotterdam, to bear her “sin”…and my mother (product of aforementioned “sin”) was born in 1936 in a Salvation Army home for unwed mothers. That was the story. Then later, I was told the story wasn’t exactly true. Mom’s dad now wasn’t Jewish – he just refused to convert to Oma’s family religion.

However, thanks to Ancestry DNA, it seems that the original story was the truth! Mom would have inherited half of her dad’s genes and I have inherited half of Mom’s genes. So given the randomness of DNA mixing, I could be up to 25% Jewish in heritage. The math works.

However, I can’t call myself Jewish because to be born a Jew you have to have a Jewish mother. The dad doesn’t count. This is explained here. I am sure Hitler would have disagreed so perhaps that is why there were conflicting stories floating around about my mystery Opa – ┬áto protect my mom from being picked up during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands?

My dad and his cousin did some digging of their own years and years ago (both are gone now), and said they located the man. He was working in (and possibly owned) a pub in Scheveningen (?), and I also heard his last name was De Jong. My mom did not want to proceed any further because she didn’t want to disrupt his life and the life of his family after all these years, with the sudden appearance of a “bastard” child. Which I disagreed with, but it was not my decision to make. I suspect that she just couldn’t face the possibility of even more rejection, even this late in her life – so who can blame her for that?

Now I am hoping, through Ancestry, to finally find out who the mystery Opa is, or could be. According to the website, they have other members who are distant relatives of mine – 4th cousins – who are Jewish people – who I have never ever heard of and are not connected to the family tree I am building (yet!).

I have to work up the nerve to contact them and see if they can help solve the mystery of the missing Opa. Surely after all this time has passed it will no longer be so scandalous?

Rock on,

The WB

 

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When am I going to grow up?

A former spouse of mine once infamously asked me that question.

Back in the late 90s, I had told him that we should take the kids to a music festival together (Edgefest, in Barrie) for the day. The lineup was awesome, and I thought it would be a great opportunity to show the kids what an outdoor rock concert was all about and how to do it safely and enjoyably. They were excited, as there were many groups/artists they liked; I was excited as there were many groups/artists I also liked. But he pooh-poohed all over the idea. He didn’t want to go. And he didn’t want us to go either. I said that’s too bad – we’d love it if you came too, but we were going, regardless. He then asked me when I was going to GROW UP and stop wanting to do “THIS SHIT”. Well, hello? ┬áI thought he had enjoyed going to concerts with me.

He ended up going, grudgingly – only because there was no way he wanted me to be having any kind of fun without him. (If only he knew how much fun the kids and I had when he left us alone to go up north to see his family for a few days!)

By the end of the summer, I had found a townhouse and was moving out, thus ending our 17 year marriage. Not because of this one stupid comment, obviously…but it speaks volumes about why we were no longer suited to be together.

I have been in love with music since I was a babe in arms. My mom told me when she took me to church as an infant tears would stream down my face whenever I heard the organ play. I asked her why and she said, it seemed to her that I was feeling the music on a visceral level, and it had moved me to weep.

Which is pretty cool – and you’d think a kid like that would be a natural musician – but no. I must have been standing behind the door when the Mystery was handing out musical talent ‘cos I got none.

But what I do have is a major love of music and attending live shows. However, as I am getting older it is getting harder to find people (in my demographic) to attend these shows with me. Especially as I continue to listen to and enjoy new and emerging artists, as well as those I grew up with.

My usual concert buddy – my daughter, Mizz J – is in British Columbia this summer – so what’s a badass widow to do, when there are so many great concerts happening all around me?

As much as it is not my preference, I am going to a 3 day outdoor music festival on my own:

Elora Riverfest 2017 Lineup. So excited!

I just have to go, even though I will be going solo. I learned my lesson from missing WayHome last year. There were at least ┬á16 acts I wanted to see but I couldn’t find anyone to go with me. So I missed them all. Never again.

So this got me to thinking: how many major bands/artists have I seen over the years, since I was a teenager? I tried to write them all down.

I feel like I am missing a few, and a few major ones too. Well, I did come of age in the 70s after all.
I’m going to keep a few pages blank so I can keep adding to the list.

So, I guess I am never going to grow up. Sorry, Husband #1. (Not sorry).

I still see people at these shows who look even older than me, so there is that. Trust me, I look. I am not the only one still doing “this shit”.

Rock on,

The WB

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At Odds with My Blog; Georgia O’Keeffe Saves My Day

Dear Blog,

You know I’m mad at you, right?

First of all, for making it hard (if not impossible) for people to comment.

Secondly – and this is new – now you are making it damn hard to post pictures. Correction: it is still easy to post pictures. It is hard to post pictures that haven’t been cropped by you dear Bloggie, such that people’s heads and more are missing.

I’m going to have to change my blogs’ theme again, or maybe learn some damn code so I can try to address all these problems I have been having with YOU lately.

In the meantime, I am doing other, easier shit with my free time than get my blood pressure up trying to figure out what the hell went wrong with you, Blog.

Today Mizz J and I went to the Big Smoke to see the Georgia O’Keeffe exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario. ┬áPicture taking was verboten but here (fingers crossed) is a picture of the art book I purchased afterwards, at ye olde gift shoppe:

Most of my picture of the book I bought. GRRRR!

Once again, dear Bloggie, you have taken it upon yourself to crop my picture even further than I had done so before I uploaded it. ARGH.

Anyways, I am not going to spend any more time on this.

What I really want to say about this exhibit is that I LOVED getting up close and personal with the paintings. I generally always do but today especially so. And here’s why.

I saw the artist’s pencil sketching on the canvas that didn’t get completely covered up the layers of paint applied (Red Poppies). I saw the tiny triangle of bare canvas in the painting where the artist didn’t quite fill in the design (Jimson Flower) where 2 colours met. I saw where the artist tried to refine the edge of the stem by painting a lighter colour over dark green and the green of the oopsie was still apparent underneath (Cala Lily).

It was wonderful to see all the little errors because it gives me freedom and permission to not be perfect either. If it’s good enough for Georgia O’Keeffe and the entire art world, well….

Rock on,

The WB

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Father’s Day Remembrance of My Dad

Dad changing weeks-old me. I feel like there has got to be a “stubby” (old-style beer bottle) somewhere, just out of camera range. Photo taken sometime in August 1959.

My dad has been gone for I think about 20 years now. He tried to be a good dad despite the deck being stacked against him but his demons got the better of him, especially in later years. The rest of the family experienced the brunt of this as I was already out of the house when his drinking got bad. I only witnessed snippets of what my sisters and my mom had to endure, and that was awful.

The dad of my childhood was my shining star – patient, loving, just, wise and good. The dad of my teen and adult years was prejudiced against others; domineering; tortured; addicted to food, coffee, booze and cigarettes; and often downright scary. He was the poster child for a hurtin’ unit. And boy, did he know how to hurt others – especially my mom and sisters; especially when he drank. How did he lose his way so badly?

I know he witnessed things during the German occupation of the Netherlands in World War II that no human, let alone a child, should ever have seen. He lost his own dad while he was very young and then his mom remarried and this changed his life forever in so many ways. But Dad never talked about his demons and he hated to admit any weakness or that he needed help. He lived a life of denial.

I loved him and it broke my heart when I grew older and realized he was not the dad I thought he was and that we didn’t even share the same values anymore. Did we ever? We must have, or how did I come to value honesty, hard work, helping those in need, being accepting of others, and keeping an open mind? It didn’t just come from Mom. My childhood self remembers that Daddy instilled these values in me too.

I could see the dad of my childhood return when he interacted with my kids. He started to calm down a bit once he retired from full-time work. He stopped smoking and seemed more at peace, at least on the surface. But then he died suddenly of a heart attack at 63 – ┬áthe result of years of abusing his body and genetic predisposition.

Now – ┬áwith what I have learned by this age about human nature and failings – I often wish Dad was still around, so I could talk to him about what was eating him up inside…and show him compassion and love…and forgiveness for the deep hurts he inflicted on his family.

But that will never happen. And now and forever, I will never really know him.

Rock on,

The WB

 

 

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My Decorating Style can be Described as Pornographic, Apparently

How’s that for a click-baity title, huh?

I have a day-bed in my home office. It makes a handy space for naps or reading or for when I have a houseful of stay-overnight guests.

I found some cute throw pillows at Homesense one day. I loved the designs and the colours so much they came right home with me. Behold:

Colourful, comfortable, and inviting, no?

Mizz J was studying on the day bed one day last week. Oh boy, was she studyingthe pillows.

Mizz J: Mom, did you look at these pillows before you bought them?

Me: Of course! You know how much I love colour and mandala designs!

Mizz J: Did you look closely at them?

Me: Why?

Mizz J: Take a closer look.

Me: OK.

 

 

 

Closeup of Pillow

Me: OK, yeah. I ‘m looking but what am I supposed to be looking at?

Mizz J: Look closer. Much closer.

Mizz J points to a part of the design.

 

 

 

Once seen, never to be unseen.

Me: Huh? What the…!!! OH MY!!!

Cut to Mizz J killing herself laughing at her ol’ mom’s realization of the not-so-hidden design on her pillows.

Hope this post made you laugh as much as I┬ádid when I discovered my pillow…er…porn.

Rock on,

The WB

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It’s Race Day but Not for Me (plus other updates)

Back in February I committed to another half-marathon race. I started training for the Niagara Falls Women’s Half Marathon (again). Things started out well but I began to struggle as temperatures rose and distances increased. I made the decision early in May that I would not participate, as I couldn’t meet the minimum pace required to finish the course in time.

This was a tough decision to make and initially I felt defeated and like a failure. I have successfully trained for and completed 5 half-marathons and I have never had this problem before.

I had no idea why I wasn’t improving despite adhering to my tried and true schedule of training walks. I wondered if maybe I was developing exercise intolerance due to the daily medication I now have to take (thanks TIAs!) or if work was kicking my ass even more than I suspected. What the hell has changed?

I made an appointment to see my doc for a physical and blood tests were ordered. My clever doc ordered a TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) test to be done along with the “usual suspects” of blood counts, lipid profiles, blood sugar etc. I downloaded my results on Friday and noticed the TSH levels were reported as abnormally high, meaning my thyroid gland may be under-performing. Hmmmm….this explains a lot of symptoms I am experiencing, not just my poor performance on my walks.

I am making an appointment to discuss this with my doc first thing Monday, to see what the next steps are. I do feel a bit better now about my inability to meet the pace requirements for today’s race. I know I made the right call to pull out, even though a part of me wishes I was on the course with all the other runners and walkers right now.

Anyhow, it does seem that indeed something has changed and I will get that investigated further and addressed. Stay tuned!

In other Badass news, I have experienced a setback with my rooftop garden as well. Thanks, Mother Nature.

Remember this idyllic scene?
Immediately after a microburst of high winds and rain.
Rebuilt. Badass Rooftop Garden v. 2.0

Looks like this gardening adventure is going to be a “fall down 7 times; get up 8” type scenario. Still up for the challenge!

In Kayaking news, I took my newest acquisition out for its maiden voyage. (I’m stopping now with kayak purchases, I promise!).

Meet Smokey Robinson! Joining Pink Floyd and the Rev. Al Green in my kayak fleet.
Life is sweet on the river.

When the weather is bad, I play around with my art supplies. I put together a new storage cabinet yesterday for my ever-expanding collection of pencils, crayons, markers, inks and paints.

Bringing order to – and hiding – chaos. Thank you IKEA.

Here’s a sneak peek at a work in progress.

Acrylic Flower of Life design inspired by “dotillism” artist Elspeth McLean.

Rock on,

The WB

 

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Sunday morning Shinrin-yoku*

*Japanese term: forest-bathing

Hello, Yellow Lady’s Slippers
Hello, Dog Violet
Hello, Mayapple
Hello, last of the Trilliums
Hello, Buttercups
Hello, Teasel
Hello, fresh new Fern
Hello, favourite tree trunk
Hello, Celadine
Hello, Frog
It’s a great day to be alive, doncha think?

Rock on,

The WB

 

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Garden Badassery

Once upon a time, a princess lived in a regular home with a garden that she loved to tend to. Unfortunately, she married a crazy wizard who cast a love spell on her which ate up all of her free time. The princess never had time to look after her garden anymore. The garden became just as crazy as the wizard, from missing her touch and shadow. Instead of bringing her joy, the garden made the princess sad and more than a little mad as it reminded the princess of all that she had lost.

Then the wizard sickened and died and the spell was broken, at long last. The princess widow moved from her little place (now a place of sadness) and claimed the wizard’s castle as her home. She spent the next couple of years ridding the castle of the effects of the wizard’s long, crazy rule and became transformed into a badass princess widow as a result.

The princess widow still had no time to devote to a garden even though she was now free to do so. She hadn’t forgotten her love of growing things and vowed one day to create a little garden in her castle aerie, overlooking the village.

And in the spring of 2017, the badass princess widow finally could make this dream come true.

The beginnings of the Badass Rooftop Garden
Copper tag proclaiming that here grows the world’s most expensive pole beans ($3.95 for seeds; $200+ for containers, soil, stakes etc.) ­čśë
Cherry tomatoes, basil and rosemary
Mint and Lemon Balm, for future fresh leaf teas
Pole Bean Buddha

And she went back to growing things happily ever after.

Rock on,

The WB

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A-Z Reflections of a Survivor

Survivor Badass

Made it through another April and another A-Z Challenge. This is my 3rd year (and 3rd year of successful completion!).

I found having a theme made it easier to write the posts, actually. This was NOT what I was expecting at all. And, also in the NOT what I was expecting department is this: I think I have decided to actually put off retirement for a bit longer than I was thinking at the beginning of the challenge.

I was so sure, that by working through all my little trepidations, by April 30 I would have convinced myself to pull the plug at 60, if not sooner. I also was thinking of moving, once retired, to my lakeside dream abode.

Instead I am (surprise!) undertaking yet another renovation project at Chez Badass – once again investing in my current space and making the people at the bank love me even more than they already do.

This time the foyer (shared space between my tenant and myself) is getting an overhaul, as well as the bathroom on the stair landing, just outside the apartment proper (as a second, guest bathroom). I’m also fixing up the former janitor’s closet off of the foyer, to be a kitchenette for my tenants’ use, and making a bunch of other little improvements too. The ceiling in this closet has to be removed in order to get at the plumbing for the landing bathroom so it seemed the perfect time to do the other improvements to this space as well.

I have to thank my sponsor (Full Time Employment) for making this renovation project happen. ­čśë

With regards to the lakeside dream home, it could still be a thing. However, I am not as enamoured of the idea as I have been for the past 6 months.

Let’s face it – I have it pretty sweet right here. The library, recreation/seniors centre and many shops that I patronize are all within easy walking distance (5-10 minutes for most). Also within walking distance are the river and some beautiful trails. My building is commercial as well as residential, so I have year-round property maintenance set up. This means I don’t have to cut grass or shovel snow – ┬ájust pay others to do it for me (and claim as a legit business expense). And because of the zoning of the property, I can park my future Airstream (drool) or what-have-you trailer right in my driveway, year-round. Some years ago, I checked the bylaws and this was confirmed by the city staff. Public transit is available practically right outside my doorstep. I still get mail delivered right to my door. And I can pick up the City’s free downtown wifi in my office if I had want to.

Pretty much a retiree’s dream set-up, doncha think?

I’m still going to be checking out waterfront real estate options as I ramble around the province, and I’ll be loving the idea of moving to each place under consideration for at least 15 minutes. I may change my mind (yet again) but if I do move, there’s a lot of boxes that need to be checked off first.

I figure now that I can probably get my lake fix via camping, renting a cottage and/or crashing with visiting  Me Too for bit every summer.

Going through this exercise and theme has made me appreciate what I do have even more.

Rock on,

The WB

 

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