I like to think I’m a strong person, but sometimes things just pile up on you, often a reflection of how busy you are. And, the first things to be sacrificed are those things which are ‘frivolous’ or simple hobbies. Hence the lack of posts here, on Twitter, or Facebook. A bit of a spiral downward but now, hopefully things are looking up.

I’m not looking for sympathy but instead, catharsis! It all started in 2009…

First there was the decline of my in-laws. My husband and I met when I was 16, and so his parents have been a large part of my life for more than half of it. To have Harold retire, and then shortly after suffer a stroke, was heartbreaking because if there was one thing he enjoyed, it was spending time with his grandchildren. The stroke was not fatal, but did rob him of the ability to drive and slowed down his participation in the kids’ lives, our youngest only being 2 and 4 at the time.

Then a …disturbed woman… came along, sporadically driving past our house in 2009 but I guess those drive-bys planted the seeds for what would become an obsession with our family and property.

And I got audited. Not a problem, just stressful.

On the positive, 2009 is when Regression hit the bestseller list on Amazon, back when freebies and purchase books shared the same ranking list, and I hit #149 in the Kindle store. Little positives can go a long way.

But, then came 2010 with a vengeance. The stalker lady began not just driving past our home but stopping right in front, watching our family live our lives, upwards of seven times per day. She stole much of our summer from us, as having the kids outside was awkward with a spectator and even simple things like getting the van loaded to go out was uncomfortable. Then my  mother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer.  My father-in-law suffered heart failure and required a pace-maker. Christmas 2010 was very hard as both in-laws were in the hospital and we had to take steps toward finding supported living for them while making appearances in court to redirect the advances of the woman who had begun calling our home in addition to her frequent stops outside our door. Had she been a man, the police would have taken it seriously, but apparently a woman is not considered a serious threat by our justice system. But, we did finally manage to free ourselves from her after our days in court. To this day, I cannot see a silver Toyota Matrix without getting squeamish, and whenever a car drives slowly past our home located on a quiet dead-end street, I have a sense of discomfort. Unfortunately, it happens more often than you would imagine, for a number of reasons…

Packing and moving a home full of memories is hard, and trying to sell that home in a flat real estate market is a challenge; sometimes creativity must be used but it did not ease the burden of responsibility for us, just for the in-laws. And then my father-in-law passed away unexpectedly right at the beginning of summer. Mourning and estate dealings consumed the summer of 2011. Anyone who knows teachers would understand that summer is battery recharge time, and I went into the fall semester already on empty.

I had become the target of a workplace bully in 2010, and tolerated it for over a year before speaking out. Christmas 2011 was spent preparing for a different kind of hearing than 2010. But as anyone who has ever been a victim of this type of violence knows, getting relief from it is virtually impossible…instead I found my teaching assignment changed, a form of punishment for having asked to be treated with respect and courtesy. Years of program development discounted and completely new programs having to be learned and developed. Normally I enjoy a challenge, but as the wellness of my in-laws declined, the ease of familiarity would have been helpful. But I am a workhorse, and pull whatever cart gets put behind me…no matter what type of crap may be piled on it. Even when the odds are stacking against me on all sides

Cancer is not a forgiving adversary, and my mother-in-law’s battle with the disease was lost in early July 2012. I hate the fact that in Regression I wrote about Adya’s mother-in-law dying of cancer…I know it has no bearing, but the synchronicity I’ve spoken about so lightly is distressful in this case, especially since I identify so strongly with Adya. In 2008, while writing Regression, I had no idea I would lose my own mother-in-law to cancer a short four years later.

Another summer of mourning, of wrapping up wounds still fresh from the summer before. I won’t even go into the compounding factors from three other directions which made coping that much harder, but suffice to say that our family seems to attract more than its fair share of malingerers (I’ve written a post about that, too). Then on into another semester…

To top it all off, I’ve been suffering weird swallowing problems which all made sense once my father explained he had surgical correction – twice – for achalasia. Of course. A rare disorder to be added to my list of stupid things which happen to me. Doing diagnostics now, but based upon symptoms I’m a textbook case just needing the barium swallow and manometry results to confirm that I’m going to need a balloon put down my throat to rupture my cardiac sphincter. Joy.

Time for a break. I called it, no rubsies. The fact I had not done anything I enjoyed, such as write a blog entry, or truly sit down and compose (I pushed the first two books of Synergy with the last of my energy), tweeted, or anything in a year meant it was time to make a change. So, I’m taking some time for myself. Getting the tests done. Spending a day doing absolutely nothing. And, although only a couple of weeks in, I think it’s working. Look at how many words I just wrote!

Of course, this semester of my absence appears to be heading for a record number of snow days when busses are cancelled. Can’t have the world stop playing its pranks on me just because I called for a time out.

Anyway, glad to be here once again, and looking forward to returning to the dialogues and monologues I so favoured back before the days of distress!


Goodbye to the Rural Wave

Drive down almost any rural road, and you’ll will be greeted by the ubiquitus rural wave – that little flap done by the natives which serves two purposes. The first motive for the motion is to welcome strangers to the neighbourhood. The wave is normally initated by the resident, and returned by the stranger. The second purpose is to advise the interloper that ‘You’ve been seen’…and if something goes wrong, your presence has been duly noted.

Having grown up in, and always resided in, rural communities, the rural wave is instinctive for me. I find my hand raised before I even think about it. But recent events have forced me to stop the greeting for fear another person will misinterpret it the way an invasive individual has done.

I am attending court this Friday in an attempt to secure a peace bond (restraining order) against a woman who mistook my wave for an invitation to become part of my family’s daily life. It got so bad, we would see her sitting outside our house up to seven times a day. Watching the children get on the bus. There when they got off the bus. I’d drive home for lunch and there she’d be. When she approached me like an old friend at the grocery store, I’d finally had enough. You see, I had never met this person before, had not conversed with her other than asking her not to approach the children or beckon the kids toward her car (both of which she did while I was not nearby), and in no way had invited her attention. Or so I thought. Turns out, waving at someone can be interpreted as an invitation. Who knew. She expressed her surprise when I explained -standing in an aisle at the grocery store – that her presence was making me nervous. ‘But, you waved at me!’ I’ll admit, the wave had become facetious for me…’Oh, there she is again. And again.’ But now, I make a point of not waving at people, if I catch my arm in time, so that I won’t be opening a door for someone who obviously has some serious problems.

Where to Begin?

I must confess, I am an inherent recluse and would easily fall into the stereotyped author behaviour of withdrawing from the world and living on my farm, having my groceries delivered to the home, and just staying in. The hubby and kids keep me too busy for that happen. But, part of my reasoning is that so many ridiculous, absurd, and utterly unbelievable things happen to me and those around me on such a regular basis that it is perhaps safer to not do anything or go anywhere!

I would have assumed that normal people have stupid things happen to them regularly, but enough people have told me my ‘curse’ manifests too often compared to normal people, and they have of course urged me to write a book. I am going to. And entitle it ‘Accounts of the Absurd: My Ridiculous Life’. Some tales are amusingly absurd. Some are heartbreaking. Many are outrageously funny in that ‘did that really just happen’ sort of way.
So, when did this all begin? Thinking back over the years, I have to acknowledge that the trials with animals began when I was in elementary school. Living on a farm, you of course get used to the life, and death, of farm animals. But my earliest recollection of an idiotic incident was the day a panel of plywood fell down and squished two of the tiny kittens in the litter I was playing with. I think I was only about seven at the time. That is one of the sad scenarios. Unfortunately, not every tale has a happy ending although most work out okay after much effort and perseverence.

It’s funny. Over the years many a person has bemoaned ‘how easy everything is for [me]’, that I always get what I want in the end. What those people don’t seem to realize is just how many hurdles, many of which were ludicrous, it takes to reach that ‘easy’ end. Yes, I am fortunate to have the many blessings I have and am thankful for them every day. But, I have also had to move Heaven and Earth to get to this point.

Here are some tenative chapter titles
Banking Blunders – why is it every time I try to do a financial move, incompetence interferes? And, not my own, LOL!
Water Woes – No matter where I live, there is always too much water.
Ridiculous Real Estate Deals – The mantra try, try and try again applies here.
The Perversity of People – It might be just me, but it seems like there are a lot of screwed up people out there, and I am the magnet that draws them in. Stalkers, murderers, and just plain wierdos populate my world, and were not invited into it by me!
Animal Antics – Honestly, how many people lose their Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep to a friggin Porcupine? I mean, c’mon, why headbutt the prickly thing in your pen, buddy?
Tales from Teaching – OK, so this field is probably overpopulated with anecdotes. But, you must admit the kid who asked me if I, since he thought I was in my sexual prime at 30, would come to his 17th birthday party since he’d be entering his prime, was pretty creative. The one who sent me pornographic email greeting cards was too. Not that I appreciated either approach!
Vehicular Vexations – I am guaranteed that every vehicle I own will have one major, mysterious problem that haunts me for the life of the vehicle and will never be solved. Thankfully not completely life-threatening problems, but still worrisome. Having driven close to 1,000,000 kilometers in the 23 years I’ve been licenced to drive, there has been plenty of opportunity for roadside irregularities as well.
Humorous Happenstances – There are many little stories that are harmless and silly. But still work cumulatively to drive me toward insanity!

My Ridiculous Life

Most people have heard of Murphy’s Law. “Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.” Murphy’s Law does not apply to me. You see, in my life I have ‘Bell’s Law’. “Whatever you could not possibly imagine happening in a million years can and will take place at the most inopportune moment when at least one other incredibly unbelievable event is also happening.”
Since I plan to someday write a book about these experiences involving stalkers, appraisers, bank managers, murderers, tow truck drivers, couriers, dentists, cable guys, and various other supporting characters, I would hate to spoil the surprise by telling too much right now. Suffice to say that although the absurd situations I face on a regular basis are not necessarily laughing matters, laughter is about the best way to remain sane! From window frames randomly falling out of walls and hitting me in the head to bank employees quitting on the day I filed my mortgage application and throwing said application in the shredder while deleting all electronic files, or from mistaken identities in restaurants to having my home phone number erroneously printed on a sales flyer which had a circulation of thousands in another country, the outrageously stupid happens to me frequently.
The regular occurrence of the completely ludicrous is such a part of my life that my co-workers pry me almost every week to find out the most recent entry in the curious chronicles of my life. I have heard the phrase “You need to write a book about that…” more times than I can count. All of these crazy events are always beyond my control and it makes me wonder if I am the subject of some reality show attempting to determine the breaking point for a relatively normal human being. How did they get the cameras inside my head? Can anyone say book idea? Guess my next project will be a thriller!
I will say, what allows me to keep my sanity in the face of my curse of the ridiculous is I am so incredibly blessed with the bright points in my life which seem to balance out the burden of the negative and utterly incredible. My four amazing children and husband, my wonderful farm, the serenity of our pastoral setting. To be relatively healthy and financially secure. To have written a book and see it not only in print, but on a bestseller list. To have bred the top bulldog in Canada two years running. The list of my happy places goes on and on. Thank goodness.
I have to think of a title for the Chronicles. Curse of the Ridiculous? Lamenting the Ludicrous? Anecdotes of the Absurd? Inking the Idiotic? There are already enough entries to fill a full-length novel…and I’m not even middle-aged! Here’s hoping that soon the curse of the absurd will ebb away and leave behind nothing but words on paper. Thanks for listening to my lament, and look for it on the shelves of a bookstore some day in the future.

And how busy are you?

I guess I’m in a bad mood, because I’m getting tired of being patronized…when I say I’m busy, usually it means I AM busier than the average person. But, being the polite woman I am, I just nod as the speaker tells me that they are just as busy as I am and so cannot necessarily understand why I’ve said I’m not doing this activity or helping with that cause. I’m not one to bother trying to argue. But, as mentioned, I’m getting a little tired of it so feel the need to vent. Whenever I have to argue something, I like to back my arguments up with facts. Next time someone says to me they’re as busy as I am, perhaps I’ll throw the following at them.

I have four children. According to Statistics Canada, only 2% of Canada’s families have three or more children. And of the 12,437,500 households in the country, 8,896,840 were considered families. Which means that my household is larger (read:busier) than 98.5 percent of Canadian households.

But even more important than that, all four of those children are under age 13. The youngest is 3. Only about 10% of Canada’s families have children under 6. So, if you factor those two numbers, only .2% of households in Canada would be expected to not only have four children, but children under 6 years of age. So my children make me have less free time than 99.2% of the country’s households.

I work full-time. 59% of Canadian women work outside the home, although 73% of mothers with children under 16 work. 26% work part-time. So, from the employment perspective, I have less available time than about 58% of women because I work full-time.

35% of households have dogs, but as a breeder I have eight. I’ll go with 25,000 breeders in Canada, based upon the Canadian Kennel Club’s membership numbers…yes, there will be plenty of breeders who are not CKC members, but there will also be many members who are not breeders. So, only .2% of households operate a kennel. That makes me busier than 99.8% of the population when it comes to my pets.

Few people have horses. I live with four. Approximately 90,000 farms have one or more horses. So, my horses make me busier than 99.3% of the average population. Or, if I just go with those who have farms, I’m still busier than 98.2% of the population.

And those are the things I’m responsible for, I haven’t even started listing the things I do for leisure. But, now I feel better anyway so will end my rant. And, I’m not resentful of the fact I am busy because I choose to have all these things in my life. I’m resentful of people assuming that I’m making an excuse when I say I am busy!

At least I’ve got links to pages of statistics which will come in handy for my parenting course.

“I don’t like the way you are being…”

The day started out poorly – Trinity (2-y-o) woke up around 5:30, which isn’t that bad if she hadn’t done it the night before and Hunter (4-y-o) the night before that; they’re teaming up on me. That seemed to set the tone for the day, as I was a little behind on everything. Dogs were unsettled because I was late letting them out, horses were grumpy because they had cabin (barn) fever, and so on from there.

Tonight while getting the grumpy and tired little ones ready for bed, I was tired and grumpy too. The bedtime story was quickly read, the good night song shortened, and I escaped downstairs as soon as I could since there are still dog chores to do. I hear the pitter patter of little feet upstairs and head up those fourteen steps with a sigh and a heavy tread, ready to scold the wanderer. Hunter slips out the bathroom door as I capture his sister and return her to her room, and he complains he did not get to play any games tonight. In a monotone, standing in his doorway with crossed arms, I explain it’s bedtime and he needs his sleep for tomorrow’s Valentines festivities at school. He looks at me with those glorious mossy green eyes, and says in a very soft voice

“Mommy, I don’t like the way you are being.”

No matter what the day has thrown at me, those little darlings deserve all the love they are used to at bedtime. I cuddled him, showered him with kisses, and tucked him in again with all the enthusiasm his heart desired, gratified to see his tiny smile as he snuggled into his pillow, his mommy-love restored and all things right in his world.

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