Tuesday, 28 January 2014

B O R E D !

I'm so bored of being bored because being bored is boring.

Post cataract surgery, the nurse smiled and instructed, Take it easy.  Slightly groggy and admittedly still freaked about the thought of some one actually cutting into my eyeball, I somehow muttered, Thank you, as a blue sheet of post-op instructions was proferred. Little did I know that the paper was my Do Not Do list. I hate that list!

The problem?  One week later and I feel 100% fantastic.  Dr. Stein and The Bochner Eye Institute, to my mind, are miracle workers.  Depth perception, bright colours and crisp vision have returned.  I am not and never was, during the whole process, in any slight or debilitating pain. The positive results are staggering. I want my old life back, but there is that blessed Do Not Do list ruling my actions for four interminable weeks and I have only lived through one.  I hate that list!  Insert major swear word here. **!!**??!!**

Do not bend over. (...and I put my boots on how?)
Do not lift more than twenty-five pounds. (... you should see our home after a week of no vacuuming)
Do not swim. (...so nix my daily activity. Wonder when my muscles will begin to atrophy?)
Do not go outside in the sun without solar protectors. (.....ain't they just so "perdy"? I have morphed into a giant praying mantis!)

Do not! Do not! Do not!  The list is endless, but I want my life back NOW.  I hate that list.

Ah, well! When they take me away to the "funny farm", I will clearly be able to see my straight jacket.

Monday, 27 January 2014


Unabashedly Canadian, eh, the Winter version of the Olympics has always been my favourite. Turin, Salt Lake City, Nagano, Lillehammer, I have avidly followed them all.  Quite frankly, though, I am struggling at the moment to make any kind of emotional connect with Russia's Sochi.  Perhaps it is the staggering and obsene fifty billion dollar cost of these games or should I more correctly say, Putin's games.  A "gross misdirection of the country's limited resources" is how the Globe & Mail refers to the price tag. And we thought two billion was a hefty price for our Vancouver games. Rampant graft, baksheesh, and bribes have become new Russian Olympic events.  Sorry, how cynical of me.  Perhaps it is the Russian government's heavy-handed repression of gay rights.  Bravo to the world leaders who are making a statement by remaining home and to the German Olympic Team for its "rainbow uniforms". Kudos to the Americans for appointing openly gay Billie Jean King to lead the U.S. American Team delegation to Russia.  Now that is what I call a strong statement!

Perhaps it is the very real Islamic terrorist threat and the resultant armed camp these games have already become. Worry for the safety of the world's finest will overshadow, for me, any true enjoyment.

Or perhaps, it is simply my nostalgia for our Canadian Vancouver 2010 success and the excitement of welcoming the world's athletes to our soil.  And so.....on this snowy, extremely cold winter afternoon, I am indulging myself, remembering my favourite Vancouver Winter Olympic moments. Why not join me and see if you agree.

The Olympic Torch Relay from sea to shining sea, from north to south. Eager to be part of the pre-games celebrations, Jim and I stood on Yonge Street in Thornhill and witnessed the passing of the flame between two relayers. Emotion packed? For sure and I freely admit to teary eyes.  But then they had had me at the original announcement of the Vancouver Games.

Iconic Vancouver Winter Olympic Mittens.  Two million pairs were sold before the Olympics with another one million on sale during the games. Sold out!  A runaway best seller!  Like little red Canadian exclamation points emphasizing our love of country, these mittens were donned by adults and young alike.  We enjoyed an epidemic of cheery red hands. So popular were they that Oprah Winfrey even mentioned them on her show. Bet HBC loved that promotion!!
I Believe. Niki Yanofsky's rendition of CTV's Olympic theme song accompanied by video clips of our Canadian athletes caused many a heart to burst with emotion.  Count me in on that!  I cannot tell you how many times I viewed "I Believe" on You Tube, each and every time enjoying overwhelming feelings of support for our national team. I still get goosebumps when I watch it.

K D Lang's version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" while clad in a white tuxedo and standing in bare feet atop a column surrounded by millions of twinkling lights. The tragic death earlier in the day of Georgian luger, Nodar Kumaritasvili, made this rendition heartbreaking. Her performance? Mesmerizing!

Opening Ceremony Entrance of the Canadian Team. Need I say anymore?

Alex Bilodeau on Day 2. Finally, an Olympic Gold won on Canadian soil. Thank you Alex for breaking the ice for the remainder of our team. And boy, was that jinx broken as our Canadian athletes surpassed all expectations and the medals poured in.

Jon Montgomery and his stroll through Whistler chugging a celebratory pitcher of beer.  Criticized in some corners, I loved this.  He had just won Gold in Skeleton, ladies and gentlemen - a death defying plunge head first down an icy sled run.  Go for it, Jon.  Celebrate!  You earned it.  And what could be more quintessentially Canadian than a tasty cold beer after a sporting event?

Figure skater, Joannie Rochette's Mother flew from Quebec to Vancouver to cheer her daughter on. Falling victim to a fatal heart attack, Mrs. Rochette tragically did not live to watch her daughter compete.  Joannie could easily have bowed out of competition and a sympathetic nation would have understood.  But no, courageously, she skated to a bronze medal and into the hearts of all Canadians.  I will never forget the painful tears Joannie finally allowed herself to shed at the end of her long program.

Women's Olympic Hockey Team.  I love these girls.  Not full time professionals earning hefty incomes, these ladies give of their time, schooling and jobs, to train in the sport they so love. Team Canada quite simply wanted this; they could taste it. Their 2 - 0 defeat of the Americans in the final game won Canada its impressive third consecutive gold medal in Women's Olympic Hockey and inspired a generation of young women to don hockey skates. Way to go ladies!

Sydney Crosby's Overtime Goal.  Canada's sport.  Canada's passion.  Canadian home ice.  An entire nation watching.  To win was a dream.  Crosby's heart stopping overtime goal won a hard fought game and the Gold medal for Canada's Men's Olympic Hockey Team.  From the far reaches of Vancouver Island to St. John's, Newfoundland, from Nunavut to Toronto, streets filled with revellers.  Horns honked, bells rang and a delirious nation celebrated. This was the icing on the cake of a successful games run by an extraordinary city.

Post hockey win singing of our national anthem. Canada Hockey Place on its feet, tears streaming down cheeks, joy radiating on faces, flags waving, the red and white clothed arena, with voices husky from boisterously cheering on their team, belted out our national anthem with a passion that made my heart swell.

Well, those are my cherished moments.  Did I miss any of yours?  The countdown to the February 7 Opening Ceremonies in Sochi has begun.  I wish for the Russian people a safe, secure games, joyous celebrations, and the overwhelming love of country we so enjoyed as host Canadians.  

Go Team Canada! Bring it on!

Sunday, 19 January 2014


There is nothing I love more than the basic honesty of my grandchildren.  "Out of the mouths of babes!" so they say.  This moment happened two years ago, but is one of my favourite Zachary tales.

Does this piece fit here?
 asks Grampa as they work on the puzzle.

Grampa, our then five-year old Zachary replies, you know that piece doesn't fit there. It's the wrong shape and colour.

It's a P.A. day; Grampa and Zachary are puzzle solving.  Zachary, our slight blonde imp of a grandson, is all serious concentration.  Studying the puzzle box-top, his "plan", he begins construction of the picture from the centre pieces out. Astoundingly, no outside frame is created to set his puzzle parameters.  Focus begins entirely on the central pieces.

So, adds Grampa, holding up another obviously inappropriate piece, then how about this one?

His concentration broken and most definitely not amused, Zachary indignantly huffs, Grampa!

Work continues with Grampa joking and offering blatantly misfit pieces up for consideration.  Problem is, puzzles are serious business for Zachary.

Grampa, Zachary ultimately asks, Do you ever use the S-word?

Grampa, now alert and in panic mode attempts to calmly respond. Zachary, there are many S-words. What S-word are you talking about?

Oh, Grampa, he whispers as if not to be heard, I mean stupid. The S-word stupid is bad.

Overwhelmed by relief, Grampa answers, No honey, I don't say that S-word.  Then glancing sideways and peering over his glasses, Grampa asks, So Zachary, do you ever use the S-word!

Thoughtfully formulating his answer and purposefully staring at his Grampa, our astute little Zachary admits, Sometimes.......but only in my brain.

Ah, nods Grampa, properly chagrined.


The lights have been dimmed. Ding!  Ding!  Aum!  Aum!  Ding!  I am in yoga class, thankfully the final minutes of yoga class.  Plank, down dog, forward fold, triangle - this sorry body has survived each and every bizarre, unnatural position. Well, almost.......

Breathe!  Relax!  Meditate!  Legs crossed, arms at my side, palms open to the ceiling, I am unable to relax.  In fact, I can barely breathe.  At sixty-seven years of age, new to this form of exercise and so-called relaxation,  I know I have blown my right knee attempting the floor bow pose.  I shouldn't have used that strap to yank my right leg into position.  Ya' think?  Who says you gain wisdom with age?  

Aum!  Aum!  Meditate.  Clear my mind.......and what was I thinking twisting myself into a pretzel?  Keeping up with the lithe nimble thirty year olds in class?  I must be dilusional.

Ding!  Ding!  Aum! Aum!  Relax!  Are you kidding me?  I heard my knee snap.  

Ding!  Ding!  Aum!  Aum!  Oh, shut up.  Here I am sitting cross-legged, like Chief Sitting Bull, with searing pain radiating up my right leg. Aum!  Aum!  I may never untangle myself again.  Ding!  Oh, that reminds me...please call 911.  I know I am injured for life.

Aum!  Aum!  Egad!  Now they have all joined in the chanting.  Are you kidding me?   Perhaps I will interject with a shrill blood-curdling scream.  Definitely not relaxing for everyone else, but it sure as hell would make me feel better.

Aum!  Aum!  Ding!  Ding!  And the session has blessedly ended.  "Achy breaky" body untangled, this world class athlete (?) hobbles to the locker room.

PostScript.  Two torn menisci in my right knee and arthroscopic surgery scheduled for March 5 this year.  So it has been back to daily swimming at Uxpool.  Safer, don't you think?

Saturday, 18 January 2014


Sunday's clouds, heavy with the burden of snow, skid by at a speed that belies their weight; they mask any hope of daytime sun.  Driven on chilling winds, the snow swirls like a whirling dervish.  A great day to finally get at that book, he muses.

No sooner does this welcome thought cross his mind when the peaceful silence is shattered by his phone's urgent ring.  To quell the unwelcome disturbance, he reluctantly answers.  Yes, I see.  His brow furrows.  And how did this happen?  Ah! Is the patient in much pain?  Concern radiates his gentle face as he strains to hear the answer.  You'd better bring him in then.

Must be serious to cause them to leave the warmth of home today, he mutters as he makes preparations for the patient's arrival.

An icy gust assaults him as he opens the door to two anxious faces and their precious bundle, wrapped warmly in a heavy blanket.  Follow me.  He leads the forlorn party to the table.  I'm going to examine him here, he gently explains as he carefully lifts the patient to the table.  Eyes widen as the ragged gash on the patient's arm is revealed.  After carefully examining the angry wound, he turns to the frightened faces and calmly states, I can handle this here.  I am going to clean the wound and then stitch it up.  About twenty stitches, I would think.  His confidence creates a small measure of relief.  You may remain during the procedure if you wish.

Competent hands begin to stitch the wound closed.  He can feel their worried stares as each stitch is neatly tied off.  Surgery completed, a loving smile appears on his face.  He will live.

With an infectious yelp of glee, Morgan grabs her teddy bear and clasps him to her heart.  Grampa, you saved him!

Friday, 17 January 2014


CTV News this week aired a story on the ever increasing number of retired Canadians who have opted to re-enter the work force. Why? The unexpected cost of retirement. Obviously focus was solely on the financial woes of retirees. That may well be true, I reasoned, but I don't believe this return to the work force is simply about the money.....not for all retirees. There is far more involved here.

In  2006, I mulled over my potential retirement with a dear friend, a retired Senior Vice President with the Royal Bank of Canada, whose sage counsel I deeply respect and appreciate. George asked me what he referred to as 'HIS three critical questions'.

"Can you afford to retire?"  Yes!

"Can the company survive?" Never one to have dilusions of indespensibility, I quickly responded with a heartfelt, Absolutely! And it is time for fresh blood to move the brokerage forward from where I have built it.

"Can your ego take the loss of position?" Jim will tell you that I laughed out loud before answering with,  You are joking, right!?!

Ooops! Not so fast, Daphne. From June 2007 when I sold and stepped away from Royal LePage York North Realty, two internal demons reared their ugly heads and threatened my dreams of a fulfilling retirement.

BOREDOM. Like the sugarplums of Christmas, visions of travel and vacations danced in my head. But what of the time in between? "24/7 to zero", I have learned, requires a full paradigm shift, a shift at which my brain stubbornly balked. Before retirement, I promised OREA to teach a "few" hours a year of real estate courses. My thought was to pay it forward in gratitude for a long, prosperous, happy real estate career. This industry had been good to me. By January, 2008, however, sheer unadulterated boredom drove me to my phone begging OREA for more hours. Part time teaching became my life preserver, my buffer between 24/7 and zero. And five years of teaching blessedly provided me with time to figure out this 'excess time on my hands thing'. 

Thankfully, I now find myself busy enough to wonder how I found time to work, But wow, did I initially goof. Go figure!  After family, working to build a real estate career and then a brokerage filled the largest portion of my waking hours. Hobbies?  Outside interests? Who had time?  Hindsight, they say, is twenty-twenty.  Harry Emerson Fosdick (gotta' love the name) in speaking about retirement stated, "Don't simply retire from something; have something to retire to."  Where were you when I needed you, Harry? 

Far more painful than my boredom was the EGO BRUISING I suffered with the loss of my Broker of Record/Owner moniker.  Sure didn't foresee that!  Oh, George, how insightful you were to ask that question of me and how dead wrong I was with my glib answer.  In truth, I suffered a sense of loss and displacement. After thirty years of being responsible for my own success and of being in charge, I even railed at the restrictions and rules of OREA.  If you had asked Jim during his working years to describe himself, he would have answered, "Father, husband, school principal."  He never defined himself by his profession. How shocked I was to realize that I had.  Looking in the mirror, I now wanted to shout, Who are you anyways? 

All is fine now, but it has taken me five agonizing years of this part of my life's journey to arrive at the point when I can simply say, I am ME and smile when I add, Retired ME!  Retirement, I have learned, is a beginning, not an ending.


Saturday, 11 January 2014


Cunningly providing no grave, painful hints it sneaks up, insidious in its growth........

7:30 a.m. (2012), prepping for my Course 3 class at OREA, I impatiently jerk my glasses from my face and begin to polish away the persistent smudge that is clouding the vision in my left eye. The overhead I have thrown up is a grey-black blur. Out, damn spot, out, I say, smiling as I quote good old Lady Macbeth. This attempt at smudge removal, no matter how sparkling my glasses may be when I leave home, has become an unwelcome morning ritual.

A nightmare late night drive up Brock Road to Uxbridge this past autumn finds me white-knuckling it. The lights of oncoming traffic glare with blinding halos. I am momentarily disoriented, unable to discern in what lane the cars are travelling.  Please, I silently pray, be in your correct lane.  It becomes shockingly evident that I am also experiencing difficulty in spotting objects on the road when I cross a set of railway tracks without even noticing them on approach. And then the rain begins. Damn! Now I lose sight of the centre and shoulder lines on the shining black surface. I might as well be driving blind. As panic sets in, neck and shoulder muscles feel like they are being twisted in a vice.  When at long last I pull into our driveway, my forehead drops onto the steering wheel and hot tears of relief stream down my cheeks. Badly shaken, I vow from hence forth to avoid night driving.

December 2013. A day I have put aside with happy anticipation for Christmas shopping at Upper Canada Mall abruptly ends before noon. My vision, blurred by a tangle of fizzing, garishly colourful electric lights, has resulted in a violently throbbing headache. Disheartened that I am now even sensitive to bright store and Christmas lights, I grudgingly head home.

Cunningly providing no grave, painful hints, insidious in its growth, the inocuous cataract in my left eye has developed so slowly that I was, at first, unaware of my declining vision. How frequently have I heard friends and family mention cataract issues? How frequently have I dismissed the malady's importance?  Of course, now that it is me, I get it. Typical!  But so profoundly has my eye sight declined that my window on the world today is a murky, dirty windshield.

Thank heavens the solution is a simple one - cataract surgery.  So on Tuesday, January 21st, I will head downtown to the Bochner Eye Insitiute, to the capable talents of Dr. Stein.  This is a first!  The first time I have eagerly anticipated a surgical procedure. Bring it on! 

Here's looking at you.......soon!

Monday, 6 January 2014


Precise as Swiss clockwork, our phone would jangle immediately after CTV's Dave Duvall (remember him?) completed his weather report. Knowingly, Jim would turn and smile at me as, with rolling eyes, I answered,

Hi Mom.

Dear, Mom would proclaim with great authority as she instantly launched into a complete breakdown of the weather forecast for the next day, the very forecast Jim and I had just witnessed. I still marvel at the fact that Mom could not understand that we too were watching CTV News and thus were privy to Mother Nature's plans. Perhaps, she just felt that she was more adept at relating the forecast. I could never quite bring myself to cut Mom off mid-stream interjecting that we already knew what the weather was to be. Hmmm! Really? were my most frequent responses.

Daphne, your Mom is on line 2, Jackie, my secretary would announce.

Picking up the line as I watched the snow swirl outside my Newmarker office window and understanding fully what was to follow, I answered, Hi Mom.

Dear. Genuine concern radiated in her voice. They are calling for heavy snow in York Region and that is where you are! 

I wanted to giggle in response that I hopefully knew where I was and could already see the snow. Instead I bit my tongue and listened respectfully to the apocalyptic afternoon forecast.

Sternly, she advised me, You must leave. You have a long drive to Thornhill, you know. 

Thank you for letting me know, Mom. I will get out of here as soon as possible. Hopefully, she was placated.

I was not alone in my "Weather Lady" notifications. My sister and brother enjoyed similar forecasts and warnings. At the memorial service for Mom after she sadly succumbed to multiple strokes, loving references to our "Weather Lady" were numerous. The best story was related by my husband, Jim.  In 2002, my brother, David, and his wife, Lorraine, planned a September trip to Florida. Shocked to her very Caribbean ancestral roots, our beloved Weather Lady alarmingly announced to one and all that September is hurricane season. What were David and Lorraine thinking? No doubt Mom attempted to arrange a direct link through to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. Nothing was made of Jim and I who were off to the Royal LePage Conference in Halifax. Too mundane for our Weather Lady, I think. David and Lorraine? Well, they enjoyed a lovely, warm, incident free Florida vacation. Jim and I? We survived Hurricane Gustav's vengeful attack on Halifax. Go figure! 

From the bottom of my heart, I must say that I miss my Weather Lady, her evening weather reports and frequent apocalyptic advisories. What I would give to hear our phone jangle after the weather forecast. I miss Mom so much so, that I am now accused of picking up her Weather Lady mantle. I find myself emailing Matthew with winter storm advisories and tornado warnings. I know his reaction; I've been there. I just can't help myself. Christopher, who resides in beautiful St. John's, jokes that he hears about pending gale force winds and Atlantic Hurricanes first through me and then on the Weather Network. 

And my response? Sorry sons. I come by it honestly.  I am just channeling your beloved Gramma, our Weather Lady.

Miss you, Mom! By the way, how's the weather in heaven?

Friday, 3 January 2014


2:30 a.m. and a booming thud awakens me. Another frost quake, I reason. Unlike the first experience, I do not sit bolt upright in bed waiting for a plane wing to slice through our bedroom ceiling or our furnace to violently explode.  Just dozing off, I am treated to a second, but lesser, thud that shakes the house. After shock, I muse and attempt to fall asleep, but the damage is done. I am awake! I should say, I AM AWAKE!
The glare of the digital minutes ticking by on the radio alarm clock taunt me as blissful sleep is now agonizingly elusive. Puffed and re-puffed pillow. Stretch, curl up in a fetal position, left side, right side, back!  Blankets thrown off, blankets pulled on. Where are you, sleep? Please find me.
3:30 a.m. and wide-eyed, I stare into the darkness. Random thoughts do battle with each other in my brain. Is the window open? We sleep with our window open - a slight slit in the winter, wider during spring, summer and autumn.  Nestled between Yonge Street, Bayview Avenue and Highway 7, our old Thornhill home for thirty-five years serenaded us with a nighttime symphony as our community grew around us - the remote rumble of trains, scream of sirens, screech of tires on Yonge or Bayview, distant hum of Highway 407 and the occasional roar of jet engines on their approach to Pearson  Never had trouble sleeping before, I tell myself.  Ears alert and sensitive, I now listen to Uxbridge - silent, peaceful, serene. Perhaps this silence is deafening, I wonder.
4:00 a.m. Count sheep. Think monotonous thoughts. Name all of the books you read last year. Better yet, name all of your teachers from Kindergarten to Grade 13. And then I glance at Jim, soundly sleeping like a baby. Damn! At this moment I could learn to hate the man I love. I overcome the selfish urge to shake him awake just for the company. Come on, Hypnos, help me out here, I beg.
4:30 a.m. Uncle, I grudgingly mutter, admit defeat and drag my sorry body to the kitchen. Early, early morning coffee in hand, through bleary eyes I watch our world slowly come to life for another day.