Tuesday, 9 May 2017

WHACK! #@&@*! WHACK!

The smell of the newly mown grass, the variation of vibrant greens, and the panorama of a blue, white cloud-studded sky made my heart swell today. In spite of the biting cold and Michelin-man clothing layers, it was great to be back on the golf course again......finally!

Make no mistake. In no way do I possess even a scrap of talent for the sport. Discovering the passtime late in my life, after retirement actually, and in spite of my horrible game, golf has stolen its way into my heart.


Being outside on a slightly breezy day and breathing in the fresh air of wide open green, green spaces is a long awaited, post-winter tonic. I feel alive again! The beauty of many courses is enough to take your breath away, my all-time favourite being Rancho MaƱana in Cave Creek, Arizona. Truth be known, with those views, if it weren't for Mr. Trump, I could take up residence there.


Aside from the value of exercise. golf is good for my aging brain.......I think! If I was a cartoon when teeing off (driving), the 'thought bubble' above my head would read, "Concentrate. Straight left arm. Breathe. Slow take away. Shift weight. Head down. Keep your eye on the ball. Don't love your shot. And swing........" Try to run all of those thoughts through a seventy-year old brain within a thirty-second period. Aaaach! Phyllis Diller once said, "The reason a pro tells you to keep your head down is so you can't see him laughing." For me......true! Oh, I should mention that golf has been the cause of my increased vocabulary. Who knew that "fabo" means "f**king aweful, but on"? Hah! Obviously my knowledge of the English language is increasing in leaps and bounds.

What? You like fashion? Nowhere have I seen so many peacocks sporting bright colours. Shoes, hats, sunglasses, shirts, shorts, belts, shirts...........the fashion possibilities are never-ending. Where else do you see men in pastel pants and colourful socks?  Now, if only I could muster the courage to wear this:


The camaraderie of a golf foursome, whether family or friends, is nothing short of awesome. The serious shot analyses, group groans, congratulations, bubbling laughter and the 19th Hole continue to draw me to the game.

And finally there is hope. Whack! #@&%*! Ah well, the next shot will be better.

Oh my God, it was great to be back today ladies. Thank you!












Friday, 5 May 2017

A SILENT THANK YOU

While waiting for Jim at Sunnybrook's Holland Centre, I sat transfixed by the incoming parade of patients. New and returning, borderline destitute and well heeled, white and coloured, obese and gaunt, aged and young. Overwhelmed by the cross section of humanity, I said a silent 'thank you' for Canada's universal health care system. Each of these patients, with or without pre-existing conditions,  could afford the care that would potentially improve their life.

Relax! Don't yell! I didn't say that our system is the best the world has to offer. The Netherlands and Scandinavian countries I think lay claim to that prize. I also understand fully that our system is not perfect. Jim is a prime example - a botched surgery and midnight MRI appointment. Yes, I said midnight! Wait times are a plague - waiting for a doctor's appointment, waiting in the ER, waiting for elective surgery. Two of my friends have opted to pay the cost of almost immediate joint replacement surgery in the U.S. rather than painfully wait in Canada.

Yes, our system needs tweaking from its 1960's inception model. However, my Health Card, aside from out-of-pocket expenses for prescriptions, dental work and eyeglasses, means that I and my fellow Canadians will rarely bear crippling health care expenses.


Not so for our neighbours to the south. Under Trump's new health care bill, many people in their sixties will see their premiums rise by thousands of dollars; some could see their premiums double. An American medical friend of ours, before Obamacare, spoke of seniors crippled and wheel chair bound because joint replacement surgery was too expensive for their limited incomes. What civilized society finds this acceptable?

Last week, Jimmy Kimmel, in emotionally speaking of his son's heart scare, said, "If your baby is going to die and it doesn't have to, it shouldn't matter how much money you make......." and then with his voice breaking, he added, "No parent should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child's life".  Kimmel's heartfelt speech was met with a most disgusting response from Joe Walsh, a former Congressman from Illinois. He tweeted, "Sorry Jimmy Kimmel: your sad story doesn't obligate me or anybody else to pay for someone else's health care".  Remember these words when next you step into Sick Kids Hospital where cutting edge, life saving medical care is blessedly free for Canada's next generation.


It should be noted that the surgeon who saved Kimmel's son trained at Sick Kids in Toronto. Jim's surgeon, Dr. Gollish, developed the surgery which will allow Jim to walk properly again. The majority of our doctors, nurses and physiotherapists are second to none.



Christopher's friend, Stephanie, spoke of her doctor father's decision to leave South Africa to practise in Canada where the health care system is a "shining example". Remember to say a silent thank you next time you flash your Health Card and receive quality, free treatment. Thank you Tommy Douglas for your foresight. Thank you Canada for your compassion.


Sunday, 23 April 2017

A HEARTWARMING TALE OF COMPASSION

In desperation, he twisted and turned, attempting to extract his trapped leg. Sapped of energy, over time his efforts weakened. In distress, his mother's high pitched, heart piercing piping sounds increased in intensity. With an evening forecast of high winds and heavy thunder storms, the situation had become dire.

The AEF (American Eagle Foundation) maintains a series of live nest cams across the U.S. Viewed by thousands of followers worldwide are Washington D.C.'S National Arboretum two cams set up in the nest of bald eagle parents, Mr. President and The First Lady and their two, yet to be named eaglets, DC4 and DC5. (www.dceaglecam.com) For many who follow their development from chicks to fledglings, these eaglets become like adopted children.


During the early evening of April 20, as he ventured to the edge of his nest, DC4's right leg became lodged in a hole in the stick rails. Watching the drama unfold were thousands of distressed viewers who began contacting the AEF in unprecedented numbers. So overwhelming was the outpouring of concern for the flailing eaglet that the AEF posted online, "Thank you for the phone calls and emails alerting us to the stuck eaglet in D.C. We are aware and monitoring the situation. We will update as we can".


Three organizations, the AEF, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Sevice, and the National Arboretum, in evaluating the situation, determined that the best course of action would be to rescue the eaglet and have him checked out for injuries. An eagle with a badly injured leg would never be able to survive in the wild. Racing the severe incoming weather, Matt Morrison, a professional arborist, climbed 80 feet to the now heavily swaying nest and freed little DC4. In radio contact with a veterinarian, Mr. Morrison reported that DC4's leg exhibited abrasions and swelling. It was decided to bring the eaglet down to the Maryland Zoo for blood work, X-rays and a total check. The ultimate hope was to return DC4 quickly to his parents and home.


What followed next could not have been written any better. DC4 passed his physical and on April 21st, just 24 hours later, our hero rescuer re-ascended to the 80-foot high nest, announced that "the eagle has landed" and released DC4 to his home.  Before descending, Matt Morrison bent forward, kissed DC4 on the head and....


.... as he began his descent, shook his finger at our little eaglet warning him to "stay away from the nest's edge".


To cap the happy ending, anyone watching the cam that night would have had to smile at DC4 and DC5 as they slept.


One cannot help but be warmed by the love, caring and compassion that took place over these two days. Oh, that we could spread this kindness and goodwill everywhere.















Monday, 17 April 2017

CAN WE ALL JUST TAKE A CHILL PILL

As a child, no boogie-man threatened me from the corners of my room nor did a monster reside under my bed. I was not even conscious of nightmares disturbing my sleep until I was around twelve years of age, but by then those dreams haunted even my daytime thoughts. It was the era of a heated up Cold War, NATO versus the Soviet Union, and the Cuban Missile Crisis. It was the era in which we worried that a leader's hair trigger madness could launch nuclear armageddon. And it was the era of air raid siren testing and war preparedness rehearsals in school classrooms. Not surprisingly my fertile adolescent imagination became haunted by horrific dreams of war. A recurring night terror found me alone, unable to find to my family as air raid sirens screamed and bombers thundered overhead. With over 10,000 nuclear weapons worldwide and current international conflicts, I can only wonder how my youthful mind would have reacted today.


Assad of Russian-backed Syria dropped sarin-based chemical bombs from war planes on his own citizens. Forever seared onto my brain cells are the horrific images of children gasping for air, foaming at the mouth, choking and writhing. What monster perpetrates such a crime, especially in full knowledge that innocent children will die horrible deaths? Justifiably, our world was outraged. Without any long-range policy in place and against all of his election rhetoric on not allowing the U.S. to remain international policeman, Trump launched a missile strike against the offending Syrian airfield. Now heavily armed U.S. and Russian destroyers patrol the Mediterranean and not in a friendly alliance. What is that old international relations rule about the danger of two opposing super powers filling the same vacuum?

The bombing of the Syrian air base was followed soon after by the dropping of an MOAB in Afghanistan against ISIS. The MOAB, nicknamed by U.S. Forces " The Mother of All Bombs", is the most powerful non-nuclear ordinance used thus far in combat. Its mushroom cloud is visible for 20 miles. At 30 feet in length, weighing in at 21,000 pounds and with 11 tons of pure TNT, the MOAB allowed Trump to live up to his election promise to "bomb the shit out of ISIS". I am not opposed to ridding our world of ISIS, but here's the crunch. Not to be outdone, the Russians announced that they have created "The Father of All Bombs" with 44 tons of pure TNT. Wow! That must be some mushroom cloud! Oh goody, a non-nuclear arms race.


And we mustn't forget the seriously unbalanced leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, who with nuclear power, has announced that he will test long range missiles weekly. Trump has ordered a naval strike group to move into position near the Korean Penninsula. Into the vacuum.......you get it! Russian and Chinese ships have now moved into place to shadow American ships. Dear God!

Does anyone else feel that our world is again like a chess board gone mad? I just want to scream at the offenders, STOP! CAN WE ALL JUST TAKE A CHILL PILL. Remember. This isn't a game. We are talking the survival of mankind.








Wednesday, 12 April 2017

I ACCEPT THE CONSEQUENCES

Carved over the ages, crevices and deep folds criss-cross the battered and weathered landscape. Deep grooves have developed into gaping valleys. Oh, what Father Time has wrought. No, I am not gazing at the glorious Grand Canyon, although I wish I was. Instead, in the harsh light of our ensuite, I am examining my aging face. When did those facial fine lines morph into such heavy wrinkles? Oh my!


I figure I have three options. 1) totally freak out and search for a mega-talented plastic surgeon longing for the ultimate in professional challenges or 2) do as a sign I once read suggests, "Go bra-less; it pulls the wrinkles from your face", or 3) view my wrinkles as a reflection of the awesome lifetime experiences I have enjoyed. Although the bra-less suggestion holds great appeal, I am opting for #3.

Wrinkles, experts hypothesize, are caused by a life of excess - too much sunshine, to much exposure to pollution and too much drinking.

Yes, I have enjoyed a life of excess.......sorta'......but I have loved every moment of those awesome experiences. For sure I have exposed myself to excessive sunshine - beach walks and exploring Barbados, hiking and golfing in Arizona, sailing Lake Ontario and the Caribbean, travel to the Mediterranean..........If that sunshine has created the thick lines that carve their way through the skin between my eyebrows, I happily accept the consequences.

Excessive pollution? I don't think so. Excessive drinking? Not really. Weeellllll! I  do admit to loving a glass of wine and have, on the rare occasion over-indulged. Don't fret, my friends. I shan't name any accomplices. If wine has caused the wrinkles which carve their way down my cheeks, I merrily accept the consequences.

Those crevices, once mere crows feet, that grace my mouth? I love nothing more in life than to laugh. Zany laughter with my sons and husband, contagious chuckles with my grandchildren, rocking guffaws with my colleagues and friends. "Laughter is the sound of the soul dancing." If the imperfections around my mouth are due to excessive laughing, then I joyfully accept the consequences.

Mirror, mirror on the wall, this vision is not the face of the child my Mother patted to comfort or my husband caressed as a young newlywed. This face and its wrinkles do though tell the story of my blessed life. A life of sunshine, laughter and wine. It doesn't get much better and thus I accept the consequences. My face may be wrinkled, but I don't feel old. As aged wisdom knows, "There are no wrinkles on the heart."




Monday, 3 April 2017

WHO ARE YOU WEARING?

Conversation in the dressing room at Uxpool after swimming last week:
Fellow swimmer: "Ooooo! I love those pale gray jeans. Whose label?"
Me: No immediate response, just my usual stunned expression accompanied by the scrunched eyebrows of total puzzlement.
Fellow swimmer: Filling in the silence, "When you get home, check the label. I would love to get a pair......if you don't mind".

Moments later, sitting in my car, preparing to drive home, I lay my head on the steering wheel and laughed, laughed until my sides ached and tears rolled down my cheeks. For a nano second, just a nano second mind you, I had felt as if I was in a procession of stars parading down the red carpet during awards season wearing a major designer's one-of creation. You know..........that moment when the celebrity interviewer asks, "and who are you wearing?"


After thirty-five years in the real estate industry, I am no stranger to high quality, smart 'labelled' attire. As a new sales representative, "You only get one chance to make a first impression" had been drilled into me by my first broker. I was deeply, in hindsight too deeply, influenced by the 1975 Malloy book, "Dress For Success". My closet today still contains some of those name brand blazers, pants and what Jim refers to as his favourite (not) "here come de' judge," suit. Yes, they still fit. Problem? I have very few places to wear them. To be honest, I thankfully have no one I need to impress but myself. Such is my glorious retirement. Don't get me wrong. Clean and neatly dressed, I appear neither like a drug addict nor homeless lady, so you can remove that image.

One afternoon a week, I volunteer at Chances Are, a second hand store that sells gently used or unused clothing, linens, small housewares and books at very reasonable prices. Thanks to the generosity of Uxbridgeans, a high percentage of the donated goods are of extremely high quality. Annually, our little store donates in excess of a quarter of a million dollars to the Uxbridge Cottage Hospital. Staggering! One afternoon a month I also volunteer in the Hospital Gift Shop, a surprise little gem of a store. It is difficult during these volunteer hours not to stumble on bargains.

Those gray jeans? Jones of New York. $4.00 at Chances Are. Leaving the pool, I began imagining my answer that day to the reporter's, "and who are you wearing?" and that is when my uncontrollable laughter ensued.

Soft gray Jeans. Chances Are ($4.00)
Matching long-sleeved top. Chances Are ($3.00)
Quilted knee-length winter coat with fur lined hood. Chances Are ($10.00)
Leather gloves, new. Chances Are ($8.00)
Scarf, new. Uxbridge Cottage Hospital Gift Shop. (A whopping $19.00)
Sketcher shoes with snow-tire like treads. Mark's......and that's a story for another day.

And that, ladies and gentleman, is what I was wearing. There is just no denying my fashion plate status!





Wednesday, 15 March 2017

NINJA JIM

"Surmounting difficulty is the crucible that forms character." Tony Robbins

In January, 2005, Jim underwent knee replacement surgery. Six months later, relatively pain free and in great shape, he was climbing 'munroes' with me in Glencoe, Scotland. Thus in June, 2014, when hip replacement surgery was recommended, Jim had no qualms. Same hospital, same surgeon, a surgery considered not as extreme as knee replacement.....what could possibly go wrong?

"That's not right,"commented our very observant physiotherapist friend Cathy when she and her husband David visited Jim the day after his surgery. What Cathy had noted was that Jim's right foot on his affected leg lay on his hospital bed at ninety degrees to his left foot. Using a pillow, she immediately propped the foot up to vertical. That would be Clue #1. Oh, Cathy, we should have listened then!

A year later, strolling the beach at their cottage, Cathy nodded towards Jim who was walking ahead with David. "Something is definitely wrong, Daf; his stride is totally off. He needs to go back to his surgeon." Jim now walked with his right foot at a forty-five degree angle to his left. That would be Clue #2.

Clue #3? Despite extensive therapy and ongoing corrective exercises, the tendency of Jim's right foot to remain now at ninety degrees to his left plus his discomfort and pain when tempting to pull it in parallel to his other foot, increased. Then the tripping began. After a bad fall in Newfoundland and two severe stumbles at home, Jim reverted to using a cane, but now his hip discomfort and pain became constant and grew in intensity. A solid night's sleep was a rare luxury for him.

Long story short, almost three years after the original surgery, after countless X-rays and MRI's, a second medical opinion at Sunnybrook's Holland Centre diagnosed the problem - two muscle groups were never re-attached during the initial hip replacement surgery. Whaaaaaat?

Historically, a ninja was a skilled fighter in feudal Japan. Modern vernacular designates anyone who survives a treacherous obstacle course in life as a ninja. To me, Jim has earned the title. Yes, he worried and yes, he complained about his discomfort. Did he beg his doctor for pain killers? Did he stop living? Did he sit in a easy chair at home, using his condition as an excuse. No! No! No! During the three years since his disastrous surgery, Jim has refused to stop living; he has refused to limit himself.


Walk down the road with your right foot at a ninety-degree angle to your left and imagine your hip burning with pain. Come on. I dare you. Now in that condition, walk the streets of Paris for eight days straight, never resorting to transportation. Better yet hike both coasts of Newfoundland like that. Have you seen those trails? Don't forget to climb the stairs and treacherous rocky trail to Brimstone Head on Fogo Island. Then let your spouse talk you into three weeks of walking and hiking in southern Italy. Oh, don't forget to suggest that, in that condition, you climb every tower/campanile in sight. 


At home, clear the driveway and paths of snow. Oh, while you are at it, help others on the cul-de-sac. Put out the garbage, work in the gardens, mow the lawn, rake and remove the leaves and, best of all, lay new hardwood floors. Yes, I said lay hardwood floors! If you want to head into town for a movie, evening out, parade, whatever, insist on walking!

On Monday, Jim will finally undergo corrective surgery at Sunnybrook in what will be a lengthy operation. Recovery, too, we have been warned, will present its challenges, but nothing that my Ninja cannot surmount with 'parallel feet' as his goal.

I salute you Ninja Jim. I love you. By example, you have taught me the truth to Nelson Mandel's words, "It only seems impossible until it's done".