Tuesday, July 19, 2011

100 things to come....

Yes, I have been away from this space for far too long. I am, as always, rushing around like a chicken after a beetle and can't seem to keep up. But life is relatively good. The kids are happy and curious. I don't have time to stew and we plug along.
I manage to find joy in silly little things and was inspired tonight when I googled "things for kids to do on a road trip" brought me from a list of car games....One click to a link on the page brought me out of curiousity to "how to survive in prison" and then on to "how to survive a high fall". Next was "The life of Viking Women" and then "100 things to be happy about".
I vaguely glanced at the list until I got to #74. "Glueing Things". Five minutes later and I am still giggling. Was this person running out of items for their list or did they truly enjoy the act of using a sticky substance to adhere to items together? Or were they running out of things for the list? I will never know but it reminded me of lists I have made in the past of things I like/dislike.
I suppose these lists were a form of identification for me as a teen. I was motivated to make these lists for the same reasons that I was motivated to do those quizzes in teen magazines. To find out who I was and to mark that identity in some way.
Now, in my mid-thirties, I feel that I have a real grasp of "who" I am most of the time, but I still like to remind myself and have moments with myself where I say, "Wow! That's true! I really dislike that texture....I suppose that is why I am not so fond of potatoes..." Agreeing with myself somehow gives me pleasure.
So for the next few days, as long as I don't forget or get swept up in the tide of all the things that must be done/fed/walked/worked, I am going to create my own list of "100 things to be happy about". I'll let you know if I discover if the writer of the first list was truly a lover of stickiness or merely a glue sniffer....

#1. Making lists.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


I have read a variety of quotes with a similar message. I think anyone who has dealt with trauma, loss or tragedy has come face-to-face with this choice. I also think that, at times, we have all chosen each one of the three options. I just hope that as we all get further from the moment that provoked this epiphany, we manage to choose to let this event strengthen us. To grow instead of be wilted. To swim, not sink. There is no need for one life to be wasted for the sole reason that one life was lost.

Monday, May 02, 2011


The life I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and that in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place my touch will be felt.
- Frederick Buechner

I have a dear friend who is in such dire straights at the moment that I feel humbled by my moaning over firewood and the like. Out of respect for her privacy, I won't go into the details of her issues at this time.

If you feel you are able to help her, please read her blog and see if there is anything you can do.

I can assure you that she is a wonderful and kind-heartened human-being who has shared and helped me and my children in the past.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

fabric kanzashi flowers

A friend of mine has a four year old daughter who has a white plumeria flower barrette that I secretly covet. I imagine what I'd where it with - a tan, a strapless sundress and my pair of orange leather flip-flops. I have searched for ideas to make my very own substitute for this much loved hair accessory.
During my hunt, I discovered Kanzashi flowers. Although the ones I have discovered a far from the traditional Kanzashi worn by Geishas, they are truly awesome!
After showing Liv some of the photos of them online, she and I decided to give our hands a try at this type of art.
Although there are a tonne of tutorials out there, we are adding yet another to the abundant craftiness.....

8 squares of fabric (we used 10 cm X 10 cm pieces found in fat quarters)
A needle and thread
Button for the centre
Glue gun
Alligator clip
1. Fold one piece of fabric in half diagonally.
2. Fold it in half yet again.
3. And again.....
4. Bear with me, this part is a bit hard to explain in words....Fold the two sides of the fabric down as if you are folding a paper airplane....
Get it?? It should look like this on the other side.... 5. Push your needle through the side making sure to pierce all pieces of fabric so it will hold together once they are all strung on.
6. Repeat this seven more times and add them to the thread.
**Do NOT knot between each one as you want them to be able to slide along as you position them correctly at the end!!
7. Once they are all on, your thread gently making sure to not snap it and push through the first "petal" once again so that they arrange themselves in a circle.
8. Once secured, put all the points together.
9. Using very sharp scissors, cut the rough ends off.
It should look like this.
10. Rearrange the petals in a circle and ensure their proper spacing.
It should look similar to this.
11. Pick out the button/s you want to decorate the centre of the flower.
12. Using your glue gun, make sure you get glue on each petal nearest the centre. You want to make sure that they are all secured by the glue.
13. Squish the button on. Large buttons work best!
14. You can actually attach the flower to almost anything - a hairband, a hair elastic, a purse, a shirt, etc. But we decided to attach it to the alligator clip. This allows for versatility because once on the alligator clip, you can clip it to any of these things are remove it to attach elsewhere later on.
15. Using plenty of glue, again try to make sure you touch each petal to ensure that it doesn't fall apart later on.
16. Stick the alligator clip to it. **We stuck a piece of cardstock in between the alligator's "mouth" to make sure that any extra glue wouldn't stick it shut.
17. Once it has cooled and hardened, remove the cardstock and VOILA! A little piece of decorative hair heaven!
Although these look quite difficult, they are crazy easy. Liv and her friend really enjoyed making them and have been wearing them since. I would NOT hesitate to make them again. They took about 30 minutes to make with the girls. I am sure an adult who had made them before could bang on off in 15 minutes or so. SO fun!!!!!!!!!

Friday, April 01, 2011

Photo from here...
Sometimes this whole 'widow' thing gets old. Like the chorus of an unhappy song that gets stuck in your head and keeps you awake. Over and over the words repeat singing those same lines again and again. You try to not pay attention. Try to forget the words. Try to listen to a new song. But your little brain has it so deeply embedded it can't be persuaded to "hear" something else. I get tired of being a widow. I get sick of talking about it. I get annoyed with writing about it. I am over thinking about it. But still it sticks. Stuck in the groove. Firmly planted on repeat. I'd love a new reality. To have something new to think about. A new conversation that didn't ultimately, and at times embarassingly, come around to the fact that my husband is dead. I want to be over it. I am sick of it. I don't want to think about it, breathe it, speak it or feel it. It's old.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets.
Arthur Miller

Friday, March 25, 2011


This morning will mark three years since I've held your warm hand. Heard your snores. Felt safe knowing I was yours.

My life doesn't stop today as it did three years ago....although I partially wish it would. There are appoinments to be attended, childcare to sort out and errands to run.

I'd like to lay in my bed and think of only you. To keen quietly and close my eyes to the empty side of our bed.

But I am terrified that by allowing myself to sink into the grief that still runs so deeply through my heart, I will fall back into that pit of loss. The dark and scary place where time does stop and all I feel is the loss of you.

So I fill my day. To the brim.

I will take the kids to the beach with our notes for you attached to helium balloons. I'll barely allow myself that hour to let the sadness sink in...I need to keep my heart up and my eyes sharp for my little ones.

When this tradition is fulfilled I will begin running again. Focusing on dinner and bathtime. Fingernail clipping and playing referee to intermittent sibling discord.

But after the night has brought quiet and our two children rest, I'll truly feel the loss of you. I'll remember that first night without you. The enormity of the loss. The confusion and unbelievability found in your death. I will cry out for you. I will hold the last dirty shirt of yours close and attempt to smell the long lost scent of you. I will wonder at the ability of others who naively went about their day unaware of this day's significance. And I will miss you as fiercely as I did that first day.

I love you, Jeffrey, with all my heart. I miss you still. And I don't think I can, or will, ever stop.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Happy birthday Baby Pumpkin

Today is Jeff's birthday. He'd be 49.
We'll be planting a blueberry bush and having blueberry pie in his honour today....
I wish he were here to sing this song. One of his favourites....He LOVED to sing it at karaoke. Yes, he loved karaoke. I can still see his left leg slightly bent moving to the music as he sang so hard into the microphone.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

enough is enough

I admit it. I am depressed. Clinically, situationally, whatever anyone wants to diagnose me as. Depressed.

It sucks. Brutally, royally sucks....And for some reason, I am embarrassed. I don't know if I am humiliated by the weakness that this affliction shows or by the possibility that I am "unfixable" or broken.

After the birth of Briar, I was prescribed antidepressants and attended meetings with a therapist who dealt with post-partum depression. I had been feeling "normal" for quite sometime and had been working with the doctor as I was weaned off the meds.....Then Jeff "bought the farm" (SO sick of using "died", "passed", "left us", etc. I don't think he'd mind if I used more colourful euphemisms...especially if they make me giggle...). His abrupt departure meant the end to my declining medication. I have stayed at the dose I was then. A bloody high dose.

I have been at a point a few times since he "went belly up" where I thought I could resume the lowering of my meds. But since we've moved, that phenomenon has halted all together.

I don't know what has changed aside from working outside the home, Liv attending school, not having my sister or Marnie close by, and the much higher living expenses....Okay, I suppose a lot of shit has changed.

There are truly wonderful things about being here....the beach, the community, the cooler weather....

But I want my garden and my crafts. I want to hang with my kiddos. I want time to sit in the chicken yard and gaze at the "Girlz". I want to again focus on my photography and sewing dresses.

But that time has passed and I have to move on.

I keep focusing on the negative when I should just suck that shit up and move on. I DO NOT want to feel this way. Sad, pathetic, useless, needy.

So I am forcing myself to pull up these bloody itchy socks and face this "Depression Dude" with a sneer on my lips while flipping the bird in his ugly mug.

I have an appointment with my beloved therapist who has agreed to take me on again. I will not allow myself to wallow in the negative (for every bloody issue on my list, I am going to force myself to write something.....happy) and I am making myself go back to my one-good-thing exercise. I don't have the time to do this....But I need to make the time, because I think I am going insane.

I am realizing that it's a damn good thing that I keep this blog. It has chronicled this insidious spiral downward while I was unaware of its' happening. But last night, I sat here and read my posts from the last few months.....and, dude, it was a depressing read.

So wish me luck, I am going to push off from the bottom and attempt to head back up to the surface.

Thank you for all your support, my blogosphere buddies. You rock.

Thursday, March 03, 2011


As the three year anniversary of Jeff's death begins to weigh heavily upon my shoulders, I have been feeling down. All the "small" issues in my life (cracked windshield, accessible childcare, household maintenance, etc.) have become like slivers in my socks. It is impossible to move without their omnipresent reminders and the need to deal with them. At times, I feel as if I could be buried by a thousand little things.
But when I trip, I have you, my community, that reaches back to me and offers to cushion my fall. It feels so very wonderful to know that you are there. Thinking of us. Offering to help.
But it also makes me worry and feel extreme guilt for my pathetic and sad thoughts. It makes me wonder if I am just a sissy. It makes me think, "Come on, Jackie. Pull up your socks! It can't be that bad and, really, you have it better than many others out there in your shoes. Yes, you are having trouble affording the deductible to replace your windshield - but you HAVE a car!"
It's times like these that I am humbled by my life. Humbled by the kindness of stranger/friends. And I am torn. Do I accept help? Or do I take my own advice and "pull up my socks"?
All I know is that I am tired. I am sick of worrying. I am overwhelmed by always feeling overwhelmed. And now, I want to know, is it just me? Or is it an overwhelming situation? Am I not alone in feeling distraught, lonely and exhausted? Is the appropriate reaction to soldier on with my eyes to the ground? Or is it okay to hold my head up and cry out?....Even three years after being widowed?....and is it normal to feel guilt for the thought of considering to accept help?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Photo from here....

I'm struggling. Mentally, emotionally, financially. So I sit and don't write...Actually, I sit and play tetris hoping to forget all the other obligations that continue to flow into our home and spill onto my already overflowing "to-do" whiteboard.

I hate writing about it. I loathe talking about it. But it bubbles forth from my mouth amid tears of frustration and sadness when someone offers the seemingly innocuous platitude, "How are you?". So I try to stay away from others in an effort to not infect them with my black mood. I wear my "happy mask" at work. I attempt to tire myself to the point of unconciousness at night or else I lay and marinate myself in the pathetic thoughts that fill my head.

When I do sleep, I repeatedly dream of Jeff dying in a variety of ways. Always, though, he dies. And always, I fail to save him though I try frantically.

It's been almost three years. I thought I'd be well-immersed into a new life by now. A new page. A fresh start...But I think I am possibly worse off than I was a year into this bloody journey.

I remember receiving an email from a widow who was farther down the path than I was. I was at about ten months post-Jeff. She was at three years. She told me that she was doing worse at three years than she had been that first year. I had sworn that this would not happen to me. I was horrified at the thought. The idea that my grief would not subside in a linear and concrete fashion was absurd.

But now...Now I find myself stuck in this place. Alone. Broke. Overwhelmed.

I was at ten months as well. But somehow, the fresh tragedy and trauma of it had my naive little mind searching for all the hope it could muster. I sussed out any amount of beauty through photography, silence and my children.

Now, life is so busy I can barely focus. "Real life" has fallen into the void that was made and filled it with gusto. I have more to do, accomplish and defeat than I have ever before. I am doing three people's amount of work - raising children, keeping a home filled with a dog, cat and chickens, work to pay for all the necessities....and not managing to make those ends meet. In fact, the ends are often so far apart that I begin to wonder if they are from the same cord.

To supply wood for our woodstove, I have worked out a deal with guy who sells wood - I will go after work on the weekends and chop wood for him. The kids will have to come as I can't afford childcare. All areas of my life seem to be inundated with all these extra obligations in order to creatively patch together some form of relatively rudimentary existence.

I miss Jeff and all he represents so fucking terribly that I am sure I am exhausting my "talk-about-it-whenever-you-need-to card" with my friends. I know that I should be at the point where I am no longer comparing my life "before" to my life "after". But when I am down....It is so hard to forget the fact that life was once so different.

I need to work on smiling. Remembering to see the silver linings. I attempt to drill it into my head and even write crap about how it's not so bad....But it's just hot air. It is bad. It sucks. And I am fucking sick of it. I want to lay down and give up.

**I just want to clear something up as I worry that I didn't explain how thankful I am/was that the firewood guy had accepted my offer of chopping wood in exchange for "free" firewood. He has a family to provide for as well and I don't want it ever to seem that I feel that because I am a widow with two little ones I am exempt from having to pay my way though life. It was so very kind that he accepted my offer. As it turns out, my father paid for a cord of firewood for me saving me the time and effort of having to spend the weekend chopping. I felt truly supported by my small community when I asked if "firewood guy" would let me work for wood.

Friday, January 28, 2011

safety freak

Photo from here

My minivan has a back-up beeper installed and I never fail to safety goggles when required.
I realize that teenagers at the bus stop snicker as I stride by sporting my safety vest covered in all its' reflective glory and a red light flashing out a constant reminder of the whereabouts of my hindend.
And in the past, I would have worried that this safety gear would identify me as a complete dork. A safety freak. Now I see it as protecting my kids.
By wearing this protective paraphernalia, I am hopefully preventing the possibility of creating two little orphans.
I am terrified of leaving them alone in the world. Without Daddy....and then without Mommy.
I have stopped short of wearing bubble wrap beneath my clothing. But I do get my flu shot and wear a helmet when riding my bike. For my kids. I'll do it because they do still need me.

Friday, January 21, 2011

who you were

Some of the fishing companies that Jeff had worked for would provide jackets for the crew with their name embroidered on the shoulder. Once when asked what Jeff wanted marked on his sleeve (he had a plethora of nicknames that could of been used in his name's stead), he had remarked, "Just Jeff". When his coat arrived with "Just Jeff" scribed upon the arm, he had thought it was ruined. I had thought it described him perfectly.
Recently, I have noticed that the person who Jeff was and who Jeff is now imagined to be has shifted. I feel that I alone (aside from his mother and sister) can remember him with his real faults and with his true strengths. To others, he has become an icon.
I've heard him described as a 'Viking'. I've heard another express that he thought Jeff would have loved playing a Wii. When telling a dear friend how Liv had a MASSIVE temper tantrum and that I had (in the heat of the battle) told her that her father would have not stood for her hitting and kicking me, the friend said, "Oh yes, he would have. He was a sucker when it came to her."
I understand that the phenomenon that occurs when someone has died - they become someone in many people's eyes that they actually weren't while they breathed. But it angers me. I find myself correcting other's opinions, recollections and estimations of Jeff's personality. At times, the listener wants to stubbornly hold onto their new 'version' of Jeff. They argue with me, "I know Jeff would have given Briar a toy gun!"
But they're wrong.
He was huge, tall and strong. He could be crushingly terrifying - but he wasn't a warrior....at least not once he was old enough to have some sense. Jeff hated video games and thought they were a waste of time. Although Liv had Jeff in her pocket, he believed that children must treat their mothers with respect and kindness and at times, he was annoyingly intolerant of her childish ways. Jeff did hunt. He had guns. But he swore that they were not toys and that he would teach both of our children the proper use of these tools.
I am amazed and resentful that some people believe that they knew him like I did. I despise the image that they have created. I want to remember him as he was - Just Jeff.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I' m here. I'm having difficulty feeling "up" and creative. I feel beyond overwhelmed. I feel sad....and somewhat lost.
Liv is struggling in school. Academically she excels....Emotionally she is filled with anxiety and fear. It pains my heart. I want to help her but don't know how. She refuses any support I try to offer in the way of therapists, doctors, etc. I try myself but I am no expert in the way of childhood grief. She is angry....and it spills through our home like a oil slick.
Briar is doing well. He is loving playing L'il Duffers hockey. He's developed an avid interest in dinosaurs. He finds the sadness and stress in the house unbearable.
Life is too busy to comprehend. I am exhausted and sad.
I feel....embarassed that my path through grief has not continued in a steady and linear fashion. I feel like my musings are boring, repetative and redundant. Hence the reason I have rarely posted in the past few months......Sorry. I miss you. I miss your comments and being connected to those out there "in the darkness when I scream - someone can hear".