Friday, July 11, 2014

Memorials, Author Signings, Stalkeratizi, and Crazy Aunts

I have an amazing family. We’re quirky, weird, fun, and flaky. We are fabulous story-tellers and just a bit nuts. We fight like cats and dogs, but don’t say anything bad about one of us or we’ll kick your sorry ass. Nobody, but nobody has the right to say nasty things about my family (except me.)

Last weekend we had a small gathering. We got together to celebrate the life of our recently departed father. Dad died a couple months ago and didn’t want a memorial service of any kind, but we needed closure. So, being who we are, we modified his wishes. We didn’t have a memorial service, instead we gathered together to celebrate his life, not to mourn his loss. It wasn’t a big affair there were only twenty-three of us. A few relatives were unable to make it, but that’s how it goes sometimes. My brother and his wife and their children and grand-children chose not to attend. (But typically they avoid us like the plague anyway.)  There is division in all families and ours is no exception.

Dad was not religious; in fact he abhorred religion in any fashion, but encouraged us to find our own faith, if we wanted to. And we did. We have a variety of faiths in our family; Christian-Moravians, Catholics, Wiccans, agnostics, and atheists, we pretty much cover the entire spectrum. Hell, we even have a minister in the family. So in keeping with our messed-up dynamics, we held our gathering in … wait for it … in a church. Yup! Surprisingly, none of us burst into flame when we entered. 

We placed Dad’s ashes in the obvious place … on the altar. He’s probably still rolling over in his grave because we put him on the altar. (Well, he would be if he hadn’t been cremated.) But worse than that, we didn’t give him a drink, so he’s probably really pissed and is likely to start haunting us for not sharing the booze.

Like the rest of us, Dad was a foodie, so we had a barbeque, shared some beverages and swapped some whoppers about all the things Dad did for us and the things he taught us.

My sister and I shared stories; my daughter shared the story of Dad teaching her to drink Jello through a straw in a restaurant. My husband shared, my aunt shared and several of our informally adopted family members shared as well. We swapped whoppers, we laughed, we cried and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Most of us were true family, but about half a dozen were hangers on. You know those people who come into your life, make their presence known and never leave. Somehow, they just end up being part of the family. I mean you Bob and Karyn. Ken and Lynne, and especially you Shirley! You guys are great and it’s a pleasure to have you in our family. (Do be warned, our insanity is contagious, before long you’ll be batshit crazy like the rest of us.)

My nephew was there, with his wife and his two step daughters. They are lovely young ladies. Different as night and day, but both of them pitched in to help out with the food, the watching the babies and the cleaning up. Hey, if I’m their great aunt, step aunt (?), and I’m mean and nasty, does that make me the wicked step-aunt? I hope so!

My daughters played in the mud puddles with their babies, much to the dismay of one husband. (Who knew Scott was a germaphobe?) It was adorable to watch them splashing around and creating a ruckus and staining their clothes.

In the middle of everything, we broke out a case of my most recent novel and I had a grand time signing autographs. The first time someone asked for my autograph, I thought they were nuts. I’m just a nobody who like to make up stories. Now, a couple years later, I kind of get a kick out of inventing funny things to write when I sign my alias on those front pages.

Mostly, the gathering was all fun and games and good memories …. but there were moments when it got weird. 

I was headed outside to chase after my granddaughter when a familiar face appeared in the doorway. She walked right up to me, gave me a hug and said. “You’ve got a hair hanging there.” She waved towards my face. “In your eyes. Is it bugging you?” She asked.

I said, “No, is it bugging you?”

Obviously it was, because she reached out and gently moved it aside and seemed relieved when it was back where it belonged.

I said “I didn’t expect to see you here.” As far as I knew she wasn’t on the guest list.

“I’m stalking you,” she said. “After all, you are famous now.
I nearly shit myself laughing at her.

“I’m serious,” she said. “I have all your books. I’ve been a fan since the first one.”

Now, I’m speechless, and if you know me well, you know that doesn’t happen often. I stood there staring at her, gaping like a fish out of water. I didn’t know if I should be thrilled or creeped out. Eventually, I broke away from her and visited with other people.

But wouldn’t you know it, she showed up at Mom’s house afterwards. She said she followed me there. And here I thought I had taken a circuitous enough route to throw her off. Fat lot I know. She hung around, drank our booze, ate our food, snapped some pictures of me, hugged me a couple times and generally made a nuisance of herself. At one point I actually had to threaten her with a restraining order!

Seriously creepy I tell ya. CREEEEEEPY! Damned stalkeratzi anyway! Pictures will likely end up on a porn sight. (Love you anyway, Tamara.)

When we got home, my husband said, “Man your aunt can talk. And talk and talk. I swear I thought she would never get to the end of her stories. She definitely has a gift for gab.”

I laughed and said, “That’s our Edna, like the rest of us she’s a story teller. But we let her come because she makes the best desserts and cabbage rolls.” 

Oh, wait! The dessert had nuts (I’m allergic) and she didn’t bring any cabbage rolls! And now that I think about the last time I saw her, she promised to make me poached eggs and I never got those either….. Miserable old boot! (Love ya, Edna!)
I had a great time catching up with my older sister who organized the whole thing. And it was fun getting to know my baby sister and her new man again. (Okay, so he’s been around for years, we just don’t get together often.) It was lovely. Funny how you don’t realize how much you miss someone until you see them again. Andi, I promise it won’t be so long next time. This fall … VEGAS, BABY!

Mom was stoic through it all; she laughed with us and cried with us. I know that inside her heart was breaking, but I think being together and sharing our stories will help bring her some comfort and some peace. I hope so, because she’s our rock. She’s the glue that holds the rest of us nut-jobs together. I’m pretty sure she’s the only sane one in the bunch.

Like I said, my family is great. Weird, nuts, strange, and bizarre, but great. And we are, all of us, including the hangers on and invited in members, bull-shitters! We love a good story and if the real story isn’t that great, we just make it up as we go along! If you hang around long enough you’ll hear the same story over and over and over again. And with each telling it will get more fantastic and unbelievable.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Who's the Crazy one!

I’ve got a long and twisted tale that I want to share. So sit down, grab a coffee, buckle up and get ready because, this is one of those; you’ll-never-believe-this-in-a-million-years stories. Seriously, you can’t make stuff like this up. Truth is definitely stranger than fiction. By the end, you’ll be wondering who the crazy person is.

My husband and I are in the market for a holiday trailer for our land. We need a place to stay because, frankly, I am too old to ground tent comfortably anymore. We aren’t looking for anything fancy. Just clean, mouse-free and reasonably priced.

I’ve been doing the Kijiji thing without much luck. There are a lot of junkers for sale. But, there are also a few deals, and you have to be pretty fast to catch them.

Early last week, I responded to an ad listing a park model trailer for sale in Edmonton. When you live in Calgary, it is difficult to check out a trailer in Edmonton, but it looked to be in good shape and was decently priced. This was one deal I didn’t want to miss out on, so I emailed the owner, Allen, with a few questions and waited for a response. A few days later I had the information I needed and was ready to go view it. The trouble was he needed it moved by the end of Easter weekend. 

I called him up and asked if we could see it. He hummed and hawed and told me he was hoping to book several viewing together to save himself some work because while the ad said trailer was in Edmonton, it was actually at Pine Lake. With only Sunday for us to view it and still meet his deadline, he agreed to show it to us. This conflicted with a quilting course I am taking, but I it did look like a great trailer.

I notified my instructor that I wouldn’t make class. I had barely gotten off the phone when Allen called me and said he had changed his mind and didn’t want to meet us. I was kind of torqued, but what do you do? I said thanks anyway and started getting ready to go to class. Just as I am leaving, Allen calls and says, “Okay, come and look at it.”

This is where the warning bells should have started ringing. 
Sadly, they did not.

Dave and I struck out towards Pine Lake. We stopped in Innisfail to pick up my brother-in-law, Steve. He knows a lot about trailers and we wanted him to help us make an informed decision. Since Steve’s wife was headed to Edmonton to help with her sick father, Steve was in charge of their kids. Everyone jumped into the truck and we went to see the trailer.

We arrived at the appointed place and introduced ourselves to Allen. Immediately, he said he had done a lot of thinking on the drive and now wasn’t sure he wanted to sell it. But since we had made the trip, he would like us to see it. (Again the warning bells should have gone off. But, nope.)

We got to know Allen on the short walk to the trailer. Sometime, before the previous summer, his wife had passed on and he was having a bit of trouble dealing with it. He became misty-eyed a couple times as we talked. He told us how he hated to sell such a big part of his life, but thought it was time to let go. He was calm and rational and seemed happy to sell
Allen’s trailer was perfect for our needs. It was large, clean, tidy, in fabulous condition, and a great price. Have you ever heard the expression “if something seems too good to be true it probably is?” It should have sprung to mind at this point.

There was a lot of stuff in and around the trailer that he no longer wanted. Things like a shed, lawn mower, yard tools, barbeque, patio furniture, bedding, dishes, and indoor furniture. We shook hands on a deal, for his asking price and a bit extra to cover the peripherals and agreed to pick everything up within the week. The logistics were tricky, as the RV park is not yet open for the summer and they only let you move trailers in the early morning while the grass is still frozen. It would be tricky, but with Steve’s help, do-able.

Thinking we had a deal, we headed back to our vehicles to complete the paperwork. Then, Allen said he wasn’t sure he wanted to sell the place where he and his wife had spent so much time. Understandable. So, he asked if he could think it over and call me Monday morning. We dropped Steve and the kids off and went back to Calgary, to await Allen’s decision.

Allen had requested to be paid in cash, so first thing in the morning I went to the bank and withdrew the cash for the deal, just in case. There was a tentative plan to make a special trip to Edmonton to complete the deal. Morning came and went. Late Monday afternoon, he called and said he wanted to talk to his daughter about the sale and would call me Tuesday. I really felt bad for him; he seemed so torn and undecided. At the same time, I wondered if perhaps he shouldn’t have talked to his family before posting his ad.

Tuesday he asked if he could let us know on Thursday, but wanted to be sure we had the money just in case. Thursday, he promised he would call on Friday. By this time, I was getting irritated. I understood his dilemma, but come on! This whole yes-no-yes-no thing was getting frustrating. I wanted to say, “just make a decision.” But, I knew he was hurting and decided to be patient and tried my best to be understanding. Every time he called, he sounded like he was in tears and we talked for about fifteen minutes.

Friday he called early and promised a decision by three. About three-thirty he said yes, the trailer was ours.  Twenty minutes later he called and said he wasn’t sure and needed more time. He would call us around seven. In spite of wanting to give him a good shake and tell him to make up his mind; I sympathized, empathized, and was as kind as I could be. 

Seven came and went without a call. He finally called after nine. He was very apologetic but he didn’t want to sell it.

Gak! I was so frustrated and disappointed. I mentioned that we were in Innisfail for the night, and that if he changed his mind he could call back. (Yes, I am a glutton for punishment.)

Allen did, indeed, call in the morning and said he had been thinking about everything that our original deal had included and thought he hadn’t asked enough and wanted to keep the lawn mower and weed whacker. He mentioned that he had received tons of calls on the trailer and said that in the end he had decided not to sell it.

Good God, I just wanted to slam my head into the wall. Days ago, we had made a verbal agreement, so he really couldn’t ask for more money. Was this his way of hinting for more? I didn’t know. Dave and I kicked the money idea around and I called Allen back offering a bit of extra cash and renegotiated which things were to be included. Allen would keep the yard tools, dishes and bedding and get a better price. This still left us with a hell of a deal on a great trailer. Allen said had to think about it. Because we were tired of the run-around and wanted to get home, I gave him a deadline about forty-five minutes away and sat back to await his decision.

He called and said he was ready to sell. For sure. Since he was leasing the RV spot, he had to pay his fees before the end of the weekend or release his spot. Each time we talked, he reiterated how difficult it was and that every time he changed his mind, he updated the park as well. He must have been driving them nuts with his indecision. I know MY frustration was reaching new levels.

But, now the deal was on. We set a meeting place and drove to Red Deer to meet, complete the transaction and register the trailer.

He was late.
After an hour and a half I knew he was having second (third, fourth?) thoughts. Finally, I called and asked if he was lost. He said yes, but he showed up five minutes later, in tears. He was extremely apologetic and hoped we didn’t think he was crazy. In the end, he said he couldn’t sell. We talked a while before wishing him well and leaving. It wasn’t easy being sympathetic, I can tell you. But we were, in spite of being disappointed. I thought that a person would be sure of their decision to sell before even listing the trailer for. But, maybe that’s just me.

Fifteen minutes later we were well outside of Red Deer, on our way to Calgary when he called and wanted to sell.

I asked if he was sure.

YES. He was 100% sure he wanted to sell to us. He seemed to be certain, and grateful that we had been so kind and patient with him.

At the next overpass we turned around and headed back. All the while, we kept repeating that this was nuts. We were crazy for thinking this deal would happen after all this rigmarole.

We arrived, Allen apologized and I climbed into his truck, money in hand, and he started the paper work. He wrote quickly at first, but with each successive line, he became slower. At last all the blanks were filled in, but he hesitated to sign. Finally after much internal debate, he signed but refused to give me the pen to sign with.

Eventually, I got frustrated and said “Clearly, you aren’t ready to sell your trailer. I understand that this is difficult for you. So I’m going to go now.” 

He said, “Wait, don’t leave yet.”

So we sat and waited. Dave and I tried everything we could think of to get Allen to make a decision. We weren’t trying to force him to sell, just to reassure him that it was getting a good home and hoping to make his decision easier. We talked about the grandkids and how we would be using his trailer to build a legacy for them. We showed him pictures of our land so he could see where it was going. We offered to pack up his stuff and deliver it to him to save him the emotional toil of having to go back to the trailer. We played the “our granddaughter just had heart surgery” card. We played the “it is going to a good home and not to Fort Mac for rig workers” card. We whined, we pleaded, we begged. We sympathized. We admitted our frustration and our love for his trailer.

I wanted to scream. I felt like pulling my hair out. I wanted to kick him in the nuts. But, I stayed calm and sympathetic. I felt bad for his pain, for his indecision, but when does enough become enough? If the trailer hadn’t been perfect and a fabulous price, we would have walked away long before this point.
It couldn’t be more obvious that this decision was tearing him apart. Allen asked if he could have a smoke and think. We willingly agreed. After all, we had already invested hours of our time and put hundreds of miles on our vehicles. What did we have to lose, besides our sanity? So, we waited. All the while the clocked ticked away the precious time we needed to register the trailer and meet the RV Park’s deadline to move it. This was Easter weekend and the licensing place was closed Sunday and Monday.

After what seems like hours but was probably only ten minutes, he came to our car and said the deal is off.
You’ll be impressed; I didn’t scream OR kick him in the nuts.

We wished him well and headed home. On the way, we called Steve and told him the deal was off. We had kept in the loop with every change as we needed him ready at a moment’s notice to haul the trailer for us.
We were certain that this was over and done with. As we drove we decided that we would check out some RV places and hit Kijiji and begin our search again. Clearly this deal was not happening.

Sunday morning, my phone rings. Allen.  I chose not to answer it. But he called five times in ten minutes and left two messages. After listening to his voice mails, I picked up call number six of the day (and it wasn’t even eight thirty.)

He wants to sell.

“Are you sure?” I asked him.

“YES. I have decided to move on,” he agreed emphatically.

In spite of our doubts, we agreed to meet him in Red Deer to complete the paperwork. We reminded him that there was no way we could make the pick up under the park’s schedule as Steve was busy and there was no longer a way to register the trailer. Allen then made arrangements to extend his lease for one more week to accommodate this. We checked with the park ourselves; they were frustrated with Allen but had agreed to the extension.

So, hoping he had finally made up his mind, we headed out to meet him. On the way, we updated Steve who suggested that he was willing to risk his wife’s wrath and leave his in-laws Easter dinner early. We were going to take a chance and move it unregistered, just to get this done. We confirmed with the park, again. All they needed was the bill of sale and they would give us access to move it, at our convenience. Preferably as soon as possible.

Theoretically, we were good to go.

We didn’t even get outside of Calgary before Allen called again to say he couldn’t sell.

I said, “Seriously? You’re changing your mind again?” I had had enough. “Allen,” I said, “we are done.” I may have hurt his feelings. You know what? I don’t care.

So, I ask you ... Who is crazy? Is it him or is it us? 

Thus ends the misadventure. Unless he calls again.


Just an update ....... he has called twice today.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Angelic Bliss, Firey Hell or Summerland?

March 8, 2014 was beyond doubt the saddest day of my life. It is the day my father, Floyd Corbin, passed away. He had not been well for some time, it is a blessing that the end was quick and relatively painless for him. He fought a long battle with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) as well as the after-effects of a couple of strokes. But, he is no longer in pain and is finally able to rest. He leaves behind a loving wife, four children, seven grandchildren and a boatload of great-grandchildren. He leaves a multitude of friends as well.

Our family is of mixed faiths. Some of us believe in reincarnation, some in Summerland, some in Heaven and Hell. I'm not going to debate the afterlife here. That is not the purpose of this post.

What I want to say is that this is an extremely difficult time for our family. We will miss Dad dearly, our world is much poorer without him. We'll miss his irreverence, his laughter, his teachings, his mockery, his love and all the good things he brought into our lives. The best thing about my father was that you always knew where you stood. No lies, no bullshit, no doubts. If you did wrong, you knew it. If you did right, you knew it. When he was proud of you, he told you. There was a comfort in always knowing where you stood and what was expected of you.

He spent many years serving his country in the Canadian military, worked in the oil patch and was quick with a joke and loved to laugh. He always claimed that he didn't like people, but there was always someone around, someone visiting or asking about him. He had more friends than anyone I have ever known. If he met you, you were his friend, and he would remember you years later. He had friends from every social class, and every walk of life. Well, except politicians. If you knew him, you knew that he had no use for politicians of any leaning.

Dad could tell a story like no one else. He could stretch the simplest event into a long running, dramatic or hilarious tale, usually with a bit of embellishment or exaggeration for fun.

Laughter abounded in Dad's presence. Jokes came fast and furious, as did teasing, puns and uncontrolled giggling. A few of my fondest memories include digging garnets in a pit of mud, rock-picking on mountain-sides and in fields, stopping beside the highway to talk to deer and cows. Then there were the camping trips, family vacations, winter carnivals and dog sled runs. He taught my children how to drink jello through straws. He taught me to stand up for myself and for what I believe in. He told me to take no shit, but to give it out when someone else deserved it. To befriend everyone, because no matter who you meet, they have something worth sharing.

While there are no real words to explain what he has meant to me, I do know this. He is in a better place. He is pain free and his mind is clear. And those of you who knew him know that no matter where he ended up in the afterlife, he is kicking back with a beverage, people are gathered around to hear his words of wisdom. And, there is no doubt that he is telling who-ever is in charge how they should be running things. And he is loving every minute of it.

As for me, I will miss him, always.

I love you Dad. Wherever you landed, give 'em hell.


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Welcome, My Wee Grandson

Let me start out by saying that life is absolutely amazing!
A couple of days ago, my darling daughter and her husband just celebrated the arrival of their son, my first grandson.

Please welcome the newest addition to my heart, Benjamin Scott.

He is the most precious young man. I adore him already, and I am so proud of his parents! They are so loving and gentle and caring.

What astonished me, is how quickly I fell in love with him. And now I have a problem ... I have two adorable grandchildren to play with. (Ya I know ... not really a problem.)

I was a lazy ass before, but now, I have another perfect excuse to avoid housework, cooking, writing and quilting..... there are two adorable, cuddly, perfectly precious babies who desperately need my loving.

So, on that note, I am off to get some baby cuddles.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I'm Kind of a Cut-Up

As usual, today's post is related to what is on my mind, not about quilting or pattern design.

Admittedly, on occasion I am easily confused. But, I'm trying to puzzle something out here, and I can't quite make sense of it.

This weekend Hubby and I were camping. And by camping I mean, no running water, no shower, no outhouse, no electricity. No other people for miles around. Think deep woods survival. Roughing it in a tent and cooking over a campfire. On Sunday, I reached into a deep bin of dishes and silverware and being a klutz, I managed to skewer the inside of my forearm on a sharp knife.

According to television crime dramas, the wound is in what could be considered the 'defensive position.' You know, where a knife would strike me if I had my arm up to protect my face. So we pack up our junk and head into the Drayton Valley hospital to get it stitched up. I show up in the emergency room bleeding like a stuck pig, filthy from camping all weekend, my legs and arms covered in bruises (because I am a klutz and bruise like a peach). My hair looks like I was caught in a windstorm and I haven't showered for three days. Frankly, I looked like I had been in a brawl. I talked to five different members of the hospital staff and not one of them, including the doctor, asked how I got a knife wound in such a weird spot.

Now, flash back to about a year and a half ago, give or take. Way back then, we had fish for supper one evening and somehow I managed to get a small fish bone stuck in my throat. (Probably because I was starving and eating way too fast.) I tried eating a piece of bread because I heard that might dislodge it; but it didn't work. To make a long story short, the next morning, my throat was still bugging me so I went to the South Calgary Health Center to see if there was still something lodged there.

The nurse takes me into the back and starts asking me questions. One of the questions was "How are things at home? Is everything okay?" That stumped me, I didn't know what she was getting at. I finally managed to determine that she was asking about domestic abuse. What the hell? My response was, "Tell me how that has anything to do with a fishbone in my throat and how it is any of your f-ing business?" Seriously, I'm a chubby girl. I'm not skinny enough that someone might be force feeding me by ramming whole fish down my throat.

The concept of asking patients about abuse pissed me off. I didn't have bruises, scrapes, cuts or broken bones. (And don't give me a lecture on how the questions might help someone, I had a damned fish bone stuck in my throat, not a wound that might come from being battered.)

Does this make any sense to you? I get a fish bone stuck in my throat and get the third degree, and I have an awkward knife wound and nobody even asks how I got it?

Like I said, I don't get it!

Oh, the cut was small, but deep enough that I needed it sutured. Only one stitch but it hurt like hell when they stitched it without freezing. Had to get a tetanus shot too. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. (And I'm getting a getter bin to store the dishes and sharp knives in.)

Rant finished.