Friday, December 21, 2007


I have to confess, Tom and I are not Christmas people.

For years we did our best to feign holiday cheer, mostly because we gave birth to Tyler “Christmas is my middle name” Ryan.

Maybe it’s just part of the natural order of life, an innate desire not to become your parents. So, if your mom and dad are two old hippies, Tyler’s only option of course is to embrace Tradition.

Because we love and adore our son, we spent years baking Christmas cookies, hand-painting ornaments, decorating trees, and listening to chipmunks singing “Jingle Bell Rock”. We would drive for miles and miles (and stand in line for hours and hours) in order to buy the last Ninja Turtle action figure in the Texas panhandle.

Tom and I were constantly living The Big Lie - that there really is a Santa Claus - and the only way to show your true love for your family was to obligingly spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars on them.

Merry, freaking Christmas!

But like most things in life, you can only fake something for so long before it all becomes too much. So, several years ago, Tom and I decided to finally come out of the closet and admit to the world “Sorry Christmas, but we’re just not that into you.”

The great thing is, it allowed us to really think about who we are, and determine what we think is worth celebrating. In our case it happens to be our family’s health, happiness, and the Winter and Summer Solstice. And oh yes, (to a lesser degree) the Spring and Fall Equinox.

So, from our family to yours, we sincerely wish you a Happy Winter Solstice. The shortest day of the year (at least in this hemisphere).

Tomorrow is the re-birth of longer and sunnier days. Tomorrow is when Mother Earth rises from her wet and windy slumber, stretches her long, pale arms and proclaims “Okay, time to wake up and liven this place up a bit!”

Now, that’s something worth celebrating!

Make no mistake, half-way around the world, in a Bangkok high-rise, the Spirit of Christmas proudly lives on. I like to imagine our little Tyler drinking eggnog by the fire, crooning along with Bing Crosby, and hanging up the mistletoe.

You know? - there’s nothing wrong with that, either.

Merry Christmas baby boy, we love you.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Just Call Me Grace

Before I tell you about my latest stupid person trick - there are two things you should know about me. I am quite shy - and a very big klutz. It’s a scary combination.

It happened last week at work, when I decided to go powder my nose. As I was leaving my office I tripped and performed a face plant – catching my chin on a table edge and knocking myself silly. It’s true what they say, your life really does pass before your eyes - in slow motion – and in my case it looked like a really bad Saturday Night Live skit.

To make a long story short, while I was bleeding all over my office floor, my colleagues insisted on calling an ambulance. Paramedics soon arrived at our building - along with the entire Vancouver fire department.

Every introvert's nightmare. I was so shaken up by the whole experience that I didn’t even have time to check out the firemen, (who my female colleagues assured me were “quite handsome”.)

Sitting in the ambulance, barreling down Burrard Street towards St. Paul’s Hospital wasn’t exactly my idea of a joy ride, and the truth is I can’t even remember if they turned the sirens on. But I will never forget how incredibly kind everyone was to me.

To Cindy, Carla, Dana and Willy - thank you so much for taking control and helping me. You guys rock and I am a better person for knowing you.

To Chris and Steve, thank you for making me laugh – and helping me find the humour in an otherwise embarrassing situation.

And thanks also to Raymond and Ray - for assuring me that life would continue, (even if I had to miss the power lunch with Paul Henderson) – and reminding me that all true Canadian’s proudly wear a five-stitch scar on their chin as a badge of honour.

I guess I’ll have to tell everyone I gave up my body, blocking a hard slap-shot.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Where the Hell is KL ?

Today my game was off – I should have gone back to bed and started over – maybe it would have helped.

It started with a 2:00 am phone call from my son, of which I have absolutely no memory. Fortunately he followed up with an email, smart boy knows when I’m talking in my sleep.
The gist of his note went something like this – I’m in Kuala Lumpur – need money – oh yeah, love to Dad and the pugs.

For anyone who has ever had a child traveling around the world, you will appreciate how well you get to know the good folks at Western Union…..let’s just say that we’re on a first name basis. So it stunned me when they pointed out I had made a mistake on my form - informing me that Kuala Lumpur wasn’t actually in Malaysia – and insisting I fill in the blank with the correct country.

This took me by surprise, as I’m pretty confident in my geography. I’ll spare you the details – but at the end of our “is too / is not” conversation - I was doubting myself. I finally called Tom on the cell phone, who was able to get a concierge to look it up and confirm that I was right.
Maybe Western Union should require all of their employees to watch Carmen Santiago.

It reminded me of the time that Tom and I lived in New Mexico – a state that most people have no idea even exists. New Mexicans love sharing stories about people who think they are located in South America. One of my favs was the time I tried to mail a package from Florida to Santa Fe, and had to convince the postmaster that it really was part of the good old USA.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Eye Spy

After months of denial, I finally broke down and bought a pair of reading glasses.

I’ve always prided myself on having 20 / 20 vision. In hindsight, I probably should have used it for the good of man kind –working as fighter pilot or a sniper - careers that require excellent eyesight. Not to mention that I was often smug, pointing out to Tyler that his need for glasses certainly didn’t come from my side of the family.

But like most things in life, you don’t always know what you have until it’s gone. In my case, it happened over night….literally. It’s as if I woke up one morning and couldn’t read anything that was close to my face. At first I made all of the usual excuses – tried to blame it on fatigue and stress - anything but the fact that I’m getting older.

To add to my humiliation, I’ve discovered that reading glasses are made for people with small heads. Trust me on this. Imagine Mr. Potato head with a tiny pair of glasses and you get the general idea. I am feeling most attractive.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Snow Angels

Saturday morning we woke up to a beautiful white world – cause for great excitement in our little home. If you’re in the south or Midwest and reading this, you’re probably wondering why a Canadian would get excited about a little snow. Contrary to popular belief, Canada isn’t the great white north. In fact, the west coast enjoys a temperate climate – never too hot or never too cold. When we do get snow it stays in the mountains and rarely falls in the city.

My fascination with snow goes back to my childhood. Winter in West Texas can be bitterly cold, but it rarely snows. When it does snow, everything comes to a standstill – no school, no work – due to the fact that most sane and rational people are terrified to ever attempt driving in it.

Once my Dad was having trouble getting me and my two brothers out of bed, as a last resort he told us it had snowed. We shot out of bed like rockets, only to find it had all been a ruse. Granted it was in the middle of July – but we really wanted to believe. Guess we weren’t exactly the sharpest knives in the drawer.

And who can forget the wonderful snow cream my Grandmother used to make – think ice cream but made with snow. The rule was you never made it with the first snow, as it cleaned the air of pollutants – so if it was a one snow winter, you were totally out of luck.

Even though the pugs and I are loving the snow, we’re really missing Tyler…..nobody loves playing in the snow like Tyler.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Mascot Fever

This evening Tom and I attended the launch of the 2010 Olympic Mascots, an experience that can only be described as surreal. I have to confess - in the beginning I wasn’t really sure how to feel about them – but went with an open mind and the realization that I don't exactly fall into the target market.

Suffice to say that before the evening was over, I was feeling the love. Perhaps it was their dance moves - Quatchi does a mean running man.
For some reason these mascots seemed strangely familiar – you know that feeling you get when you're certain you’ve met someone before - but you’re not exactly sure when or where. It wasn’t until we came home that it hit me, the 2010 Olympic mascots have pug faces!

Speaking of pugs, it’s been a rough week for my babies. Tex has been suffering from back pain, and this morning woke up with a toothache. He’s in the hospital this evening, recovering from dental surgery. It just feels so weird not having Tex home with us - and poor little Maggie is walking around looking for her little brother.

Maggie has been a very bad girl. My favorite TV program is Dexter, a show about a strangely lovable serial killer. The other evening Mags and I settled in to watch this week's episode. I went to the kitchen to get the two of us a snack, and left the remote on the couch....big mistake. Maggie sat on it, activated the parental control, and banned me from watching Dex. Unfortunately she isn’t sharing the code, naughty girl.

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Book Worth Reading

Listening is an Act of Love, a fabulous book that should be required reading.

The book is an offset of the StoryCorps Project, which begin with the idea that everyone has a story. Mobile recording booths travelled America, capturing the memories of people from all walks of life.

Stories of love, forgiveness, redemption, fortitude – defining moments that determine the course of one's life.

I come from a long line of story tellers, so this book reminded me of many a family dinner. Shortly before my grandmother died, I videotaped a conversation with her. Recollections of her life – how she met my grandfather while picking cotton – how sad she still felt about her sister Maddie’s death – the highs and lows of her life.
Most people no longer live close to their families, which might explain why so many of us feel the urge to blog. The need to connect and share the human experience.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Too Sexy

For those of you who have been following the news – People Magazine recently announced that Matt Damon is the “sexiest man alive”. Apparently he wasn’t too keen on the idea – he’s obviously pretty, and smart – realizing that his family and friends will be using this against him for years.

At my house it would go something like this - “You may be the sexiest man alive, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take out the garbage!”. Anyone who has a family knows where I’m coming from.

I personally think that the good folks at People Magazine got it wrong; looking like a movie star doesn’t necessarily make you sexy. In my opinion, intelligence is sexy– mimbos don’t do it for me. Sexy is funny, quirky, dangerous, and often comes with messy hair. And unlike many women, I don’t find men in uniforms sexy.

It’s a safe bet that I won’t be buying Tom a fireman costume anytime in the near future.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Facebook gone bad.

Recently I entered the world of Facebook, and so far it’s been a living hell.

It started innocently enough. A couple of weekends ago I was exploring social networks – trying to determine their relevance to my business world. In the name of market research, I signed up my unsuspecting husband onto Facebook.

Now, before you get all worked up about the implications of volunteering an unsuspecting partner, you should know that a few years ago Tom signed me up for He thought it was a hoot until I started getting emails from old boyfriends. As they say; it’s all fun and games until somebody loses an eye.

In the beginning, Tom was resistant to the idea of being forced to go onto Facebook – actually, he was very resistant - kicking and screaming resistant. God forbid that he should tell the entire cyber-world that he likes 80’s tunes (remember Wham?) and long walks on the beach. My husband doesn’t have a lot of friends – so it didn’t help that one of his very first facebook “friends” was a cat named Phoebe. Tom hates cats.

So imagine my surprise when I realized, somewhere along the way, Tom had become a Facebook junkie. Like most things in life, it’s always the wife who is the last know.

I should have realized something was up when he shared P-kitty’s picks for the Cowboys - 49ers game – or when he asked me if his facebook photo made him look fat. Somehow it just didn’t clue in. I never realized we had a serious problem until my work colleagues started asking me about my leopard print pj’s – information that Tom felt was important enough to share with all of Greater Vancouver.

Not to mention that Tom’s new addiction has had a negative impact on our happy little family. Poor Tyler, it’s hard to flirt with girls or discuss your plans for the weekend when your dad is suddenly one of your most vocal facebook buddies. It even seems that in order for our pugs TexnMaggie to get Tom’s attention, they’re going to have to get their own fb account.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Yada yada yada!

I have a confession – I have a very low tolerance for talkers.

It’ not that I’m anti social, I value and enjoy a good conversation. What drives me crazy are people who talk incessantly –who talk over you –who talk while other people are talking - who don’t listen, as they’re too busy trying to figure out what to talk about next – who talk during movies - who produce an endless stream of mind numbing chatter.

Talkers fall into two camps.

The first group consists of people you know and love. Family and friends. With this group it’s all about management. This is where call display becomes your best friend.

The second group is made up of people you don’t know, and can’t escape from. The dental hygienist who talks about cross border shopping – the masseuse who talks about his recent and messy break-up – the person sitting in seat 14a, who is able to talk non-stop from Vancouver to London without taking a breath. Yada yada yada. They really exhaust me.

When confronted by a ‘Chatty Kathy”, my son Tyler cuts to the chase. He immediately explains that he doesn’t want to be rude and just wants to “veg”. Another good friend has a more passive aggressive approach. She thinks the solution is to carry an offensive book with you, and when confronted by a talker, just pull it out and start reading. She swears it’s guaranteed to shut anyone up.

I’m never sure what to do, and always worry about hurting other peoples feelings.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Movie Night

Tonight was a perfect movie night, rainy and windy outside - comfy and warm inside.

In order to determine which movie we were going to watch, Tom and I had a coin toss. I won - which means that we saw critically acclaimed “The Lives of Others” - instead of “Die Hard with a Vengeance” (for the second time).

I was curious about this movie, as I visited Berlin earlier this year and was quite surprised at my reaction to the city. I wanted to ask people how they felt about the Cold War, and what effect it had on their families – but I didn’t have the courage.
I walked and walked through the streets of what used to be East Berlin, trying to imagine how one wall could make such a difference to so many.

The movie was fabulous, two thumbs up.

Do You Know What Your Pug Is Watching?

David Eng, aka Uncle Dave, is a very important person in our lives.

When Tom and I are on the road, Dave moves into our house and becomes the resident Pug Whisperer. We knew we had our man after his first sleep over – after all, how many people can handle being spooned by two snoring pugs?. Not only do Tex and Maggie adore Dave - but Tom and I have complete faith in his ability to take care of our little darlings.

Last week Dave took Tex and Maggie for afternoon walks while Tom was out of town. When I came home from work, I found he had left an interesting note. It went something like this:

“I noticed that Tex and Maggie aren’t watching CNN - their usual TV Channel - and now seem to be tuned to the Home Decorating network. Are the pugs planning on doing more renovations?”

Dave is on to something. Choosing the right television show for your dog is far more complicated than it seems. For example:

Animal shows are very bad. Tex and Maggie seem to think that the animals are actually in our living room. Who can blame them if they bark and bluff charge the television, you’d do the same thing if a rhino was in your house.

Sitcoms are risky. Until you watch TV with a dog, you don’t realize how many of them use the
‘barking dog” sound in the background. Comedy’s, dramas, crime, sci fi – at some point in every show – the neighbor’s dog will start barking. This is guaranteed to cause extreme pug howling.

Apparently it’s not just Tex and Maggie who are affected by TV. I recently read an article about a man who’s built a business empire by producing videos for cats. He got this brilliant idea while working as a news producer for a local network affiliate. He noticed that after certain nature shows aired, hundreds of people would call the network to comment about the effect the programs had on their felines.

At first he thought this was funny, but it also made him think about the possibilities. He took a gamble and started making shows specifically for cats and marketing them over the internet. He now sells millions of videos - to all corners if the world – apparently cats speak a universal language. However, if you’re thinking of buying one for kitty’s Christmas stocking, you should know that cats have been known attack their TV when watching the shows.

So, to answer your question, Dave – we have decided to block the pugs from watching CNN – after all, watching Lou Dobbs can’t be good for their delicate psyches. We’re hoping they’ll pick up some handy decorating tips on the HGTV.

Most of all, thank you for taking such good care of Tex and Maggie.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Note from a Friend

Today I had a very moving email from my dear friend Monica. With her permission, I would like to share it with you:

Have just returned from Canada where everyone is wearing a red poppy button as a reminder. It's a good thing and I think of my old naval officer father each time I see one.

But for the last few days I've been in L.A... Today at LAX there were 2 Marines in dress uniform who boarded the flight. I spoke with them briefly and told them how great they looked in their uniforms. They thanked me politely but did not continue the conversation.

Before we landed, the pilot told us we were carrying the casket of a young Marine who died in Iraq. He asked us to remain seated when we landed as the family would be on the tarmac to receive the coffin with a Marine honour guard in attendance - we would disembark afterwards.

I happened to be sitting on the right side of the plane and here is what I witnessed. The father of the dead marine got out of a car with a police escort. He was an old biker with a white pony tail and a Hells Angel jacket, about 50+. His arms were crossed and he was brushing away tears from under his sunglasses as he hugged his body tightly - turning in distressed circles - back and forth, back and forth - as we passengers watched out the windows. After about 20 minutes, the hold opened and a coffin rolled out, covered in the American flag. The 2 Marines on my flight plus 6 others saluted respectfully and gently carried the coffin to a waiting hearse. They folded and handed the flag to his biker father who climbed into the back of the hearse with his son and drove away.

It was an agonizing, solemn scene that I hope never to see again - a father and his dead son's homecoming. Everyone on the plane was silent. I cried.

Pug Love

Ten things I love about Tex and Maggie:
  • I’ve never had to tell them about the starving kids in China, they'll eat anything.

  • Some people call them stubborn, I think it's cool they refuse to do stupid pet tricks.

  • They don’t care what kind of car you drive, as long as you roll the window down and let the wind blow in their ears.

  • They make great air guitars.

  • They’re not going to tell anyone that you’ve been known to do the occasional interpretive dance.

  • It's all or nothing with them – they either love you or hate you.

  • Doesn’t matter if you come home from holiday or from taking the garbage out – they’re always damn happy to see you.

  • They love sharing your eggs over easy and don’t get bent out of shape if you break the yolk.

  • They knew all along that there were no weapons of mass destruction.

  • Their tails act as barometers - curled if they’re happy – down if they’re sad. Shouldn’t people be that easy to read?

Monday, November 5, 2007

12 Steps

Here’s a tip for those of you who are thinking of starting a blog - think twice about what you put in writing. Take it from me, some things are better left unsaid. Never, under any circumstances, talk about the monkey on your back. Trust me, it will come back and haunt you.

For example, if you’ve been reading my blog, you’re aware that I’m addicted to diet coke. In the spirit of keeping it real - I’ve written gritty, real life accounts of my day to day struggle. Big mistake.

For the most part I’ve managed to stay clean, but occasionally I fall off the wagon. Before the blog - most people wouldn’t have thought twice if they saw me drinking a diet coke – in their eyes, I was just another woman enjoying the real thing.

Now if I have a diet coke, people assume I’m on a bender. At one point, I even heard a few of my friends talk about staging an intervention. It’s driven me underground – I now do most of my drinking behind closed doors.

Sure, it hasn’t all been negative – as I’ve meet other people who also struggle with this demon. It’s comforting to know that I don’t walk alone. Steve / Chris, you know who I’m talking to.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Girls Gone Wild

I’m always suspicious when I meet a woman who doesn’t have girlfriends. Seriously folks, without the chicas - I’d be the scary woman on the block - the one living with 20 dogs.

Last week is a perfect example of how much fun a girls night out can be. The women in question:
Monica – an unusual combination of sophistication, glamour and earthiness, a hippie dressed by vogue
Gloria – funny, spontaneous and wise, the perfect partner in crime
Darlene – serene and soulful, totally lacking in desire for the material, focused on living in the moment


Niagara Falls at Night
After two full days of meetings at Niagara on the Lake, the four of us are sharing a ride to Toronto. In the car I casually mention that I have never been to Niagara Falls, a place I dreamed of visiting in my childhood. Even though it is getting late and we’re all a little brain dead, the chicas insist on a detour. I am finally going to see one of the natural wonders of the world.

Love and Sex
After bonding at the falls, we head for Toronto. As we drive the conversation turns to men. Gloria and Darlene discover that they both have a crush on a famous Canadian talk show host, they laugh and compare notes. Imagine our delight when we arrive at Monica’s daughters house and find out she is dating Darlene and Gloria’s crush - the sexy CTSH we had just been discussing. To put it into context – Monica’s daughter is a tall, beautiful blonde - and the director of the Gemini’s and Juno’s. We beg for details, nothing like living vicariously. Monica nonchalantly mentions that it reminds her of the time she dated Peter Jennings – by far the best line of the evening.

Hockey Players
After dropping Monica off, we head to our hotel. While checking in we are approached by Tony Esposito, who invites us to join him and Phil for a drink. Gloria and Darlene explain that Tony is a hockey icon – the Stanly Cup rings should have been a tip off. We pass on the drink, but the chicas manage to get autographs.

The Morning After
The next morning we meet in the lobby for breakfast. We find out that we've just missed the Dali Lama, who is apparently staying at our hotel. Big news – and in our world more exciting then seeing a rock star – we all high five.

A great adventure and exactly what I needed. So much fun in fact – I think the four of us should get matching tattoos.

Friday, November 2, 2007


One of the perks of my job is the people I work with – creative and interesting individuals– many of whom have become close friends. Case in point, a recent business dinner at Peller Estates Winery at Niagara on the Lake, which can only be described as magical.

Like most of you, I enjoy a glass of good wine and have a fairly good understanding of what it takes to bring it to my table. But this dinner opened my eyes to a whole new world, the philosophy of the grape.

For example, veraison – the instant that the plant decides to shift it’s focus from the vine to the fruit - a turning point that determines if a wine will be great.

Similar to life – the ability to listen to our inner voice and trust intuition can make all the difference. Maybe Bacchus was on to something.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

In the News

California Fires
I have many friends in southern California, people who live in the fire zone, fortunately everyone is okay. Lesson #1 - If you’re an affluent white person, help is on the way.

Brittany Spears
I confess, all this coverage on the Brittany’s of the world drives me crazy. It’s our fault, as we live in a culture that craves dirty laundry. Lesson #2 - you know you’ve hit rock bottom when K-Fed is the responsible one.

I'm off to the T-dot - (that's Toronto, Mom) - see you all when I get back.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


Today while walking to work – red, golden leaves – amber sun – crisp fall air.

Tonight while walking the dogs – full Hunter’s moon – a beautiful luminous world.

A good day to be alive.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


I’m a PR chick, which means that my family and friends aren’t quite sure what I do for a living. It’s simple really, I work with media – so when I travel I’m especially interested in finding the pulse of the local media.

One of the first things you notice when visiting foreign countries is how graphic the media coverage is. In North America, we aren’t used to seeing images of mothers crying over their child’s dead body, as we eat our morning cornflakes.

My recent trip to Europe really got me thinking about how other nations perceive Americans. I have to admit, it’s not a pretty picture.

One of the many challenges that America faces, is the fact that George Bush has done so much damage to America’s diplomatic relationships. The truth of the matter is, to the rest of the world, he’s the bully in the sandbox. The one everyone is afraid to piss off, but dreams of kicking the shit out of someday. In this day and age, you can’t afford to be a diplomatic buffoon – I’m sorry, but Americans deserve so much more from their leader.

The world is getting smaller, and like it or not we are all connected. It is going to take a global effort to deal with the real challenges facing the human race. Global warming, over population, degradation of the environment, poverty, war – you get the idea, ....and it's time George did.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Movie Trouble

When it comes to movies, Tom and I speak two very different languages. Fortunately, we recognized this fact early on in our relationship, and realized that if we were ever going to make it - seeing movies as a couple may have to be avoided at all costs.

To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, this is a breakdown of how different our views are:

Mika’s Criteria for a Good Movie

  • Subtitles
  • Independent films that are best seen on the big screen
  • Complicated plots
  • Unrequited love
  • Flash backs or dream sequences
  • Ambiguous endings, leaving the viewer to imagine what happens next
  • And yes, clowns or mimes crying on the beach are a good thing

Tom’s Criteria

  • Little or no dialogue – just people shooting at each other
  • No chick flicks
  • A naked woman is good, two naked women making out with each other is better
  • Car or helicopter chases
  • Things blowing up
  • Everybody speaks English, except for the bad guy, who speaks English, but with a thick accent
  • A simple plot, which always consists of good versus evil – and even though it’s touch and go – good always kicks ass in the end
  • People should never, under any circumstances, break out in song or dance.
  • Music should only be heard during the actions scenes, and preferably something by Aerosmith
  • And anywho - why pay to see a movie, if it’s only a matter of weeks before the DVD comes out?

Things have come to a head since Tyler left home, as baby boy has always been my movie buddy. Sure, I had to suffer through the Disney years - and there was that horrible pre-pubescent period when I had to go see Biodome– but eventually, Tyler and I shared a love of the same movies. When he was living at home, we used to go see movies on a regular basis. Afterwards, we would go for a bite to eat and discuss the merits of the show we had just seen.

Maybe it was an empty nest thing, but when Tyler left home, I decided that Tom and I should give the whole movie thing another try. I have to say people, it hasn’t been easy – in fact it’s been hell.

First of all, if Tom doesn’t like the movie, he has no trouble expressing himself. Unfortunately, he does this during the movie. Loud whispers in my ear such as “You owe me, babe – you owe me Big Time” - or - “Why are you putting me through this?”

Tonight I convinced my husband to go see “Across the Universe”. In case you haven’t noticed I’m a hippie chick at heart, and this movie had my name written all over it. It was touch and go, let’s just say when the singing started – amid a scene portraying football players dancing like ballerinas - Tom started to moan. But eventually he kept to himself and quietly watched. To make a long story short – I loved the show – Tom sort of liked it.

Going home in the taxi, I pointed out how the movie’s time period – the 60’s – parallels our current political situation. How even though back then we were fighting the Vietnam war, we were also fighting a living room war at home, civil rights, the generation gap, etc. - and how the Beatles were so far ahead of their time, and the realization that their music now captures a new era.

I could see Tom was thinking about his response, and after some time he held my hand and answered - “Yeah, like, someday people will think the Beatles were aliens, like Mozart or something”.

Maybe there’s hope for us yet……

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Need to Read

I may not be a great writer, but I am a great reader. My need to read started at a very young age – I still have all of the books from my childhood. Not to mention that the only time I skipped school was in fifth grade, so that I could sneak home and finish reading Gone With the Wind.

Today, almost all of the books I read are passed on to friends and colleagues. I only keep the books that really move me – books that I plan on rereading throughout the years - this is one of them.

A Three Dog Life, is so beautifully written that I forced myself to read slowly, as I didn’t want to finish it. It is a memoir - about life, love, and the ability to continue when faced with the unimaginable.

The author, Abigail Thomas, didn’t start writing until she was in her late forties. A comforting thought, and also a reminder that it is never to late to get started.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Femme Fatale

Maggie is a femme fatale – I’m not sure how she does it – but the men in our family find her irresistible.

Tex, Tyler and Tom all fawn over her, attending to her every need. Case in point - according to Tom, I need to loose a few pounds – but Maggie, well she’s just big boned.

Today she had a little mishap, a small dewclaw injury, and at the first sight of blood Tom rushed her to the vets office. By the time I got home everything was squared away - Maggie was no worse for wear, sitting on Tom’s lap, and already on her second round of doggie treats.

As Tom was comforting her, I overheard him softly say "Nobody puts Maggie in a corner."

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Last in Line

Everyone has an Achilles Heel – for me it’s my knees – a result of poor genetics, years of basketball, Texas twirling, and two surgeries in the late 70’s. A few years ago my doctor suggested that it was time to consider knee replacement, predicting that if I didn’t act soon, within a year I would have a total knee blow out. I weighed my options and decided to wait, reasoning that with time there were sure to be advances in technology.

I also subscribe to the philosophies of “No pain, no gain” and “If you don’t use it, you loose it”. Which means I’m determined to continue doing the things I love, expecting my knees to get with the program and cooperate.

One of the things I love is travel – and even though I think everyone should see the great cities of the world – my real passion is walking the back roads - always choosing the road less travelled. This often means long extended treks that get me to the places I really want to be.

Occasionally I find myself hiking with strangers, and used to believe in the full disclosure rule. I would explain the situation to my new travelling companions, telling them not to worry if I chose to do a crab walk down a steep mountain slope, as it was only a knee thing. I no longer do this, as once when hiking in the Bugaboos I started to feel like the special needs hiker in the group. I couldn’t help but notice that my fellow companions would get right in my face - talk in a slow, clear voice - assuring me that they were very proud of me - and knew I could do it.

The other challenge with hiking with strangers is the pressure to keep up with the pack. This is important for several reasons, the first being that the slowest person sets the pace for the entire group. I never want the condition of my knees to have a negative impact on anyone, so my personal goal is to always position myself in the middle of the pack. My rational being that I don’t have to lead, I just want to ensure that I am not responsible for slowing everyone down.

The other frightening thing is Tom’s theory of “Bad things always happen to the Last Native”. He often points out that you only have to watch a B movie to know that the last person in line is doomed. This applies to all genres – war movies, science fiction films, and especially Tarzan shows. The last person will inevitably disappear from his platoon, be abducted by aliens, or eaten by the lion.

Trust me on this, you never want to be the last native.

The Tao of Travel

My husband once called me a binge traveler, referring to the fact that every spring and fall I am in constant motion. I’d love to have the ability to pace myself - imagining how lovely it would be to go Christmas shopping in Paris – or head south of the equator during the short, dark days of winter. Considering that much of my travel is planned around business, the only option is to embrace this “boom or bust” lifestyle. Here are a few travel tips I’ve picked up over the years:

Less is More.

  • Unless your part of the British Royal family - or long to be a Sherpa - resist the urge to over pack.
  • Stick to wardrobe basics, neutral colors that you can easily mix and match.
  • When packing don’t fold your clothes, roll them. You’ll find they take up less room and don’t wrinkle.
  • Splurge and buy a bag with four wheels – trust me, it’s worth every penny.

Immerse yourself in the local culture.

  • It might seem like I’m stating the obvious, but I’m amazed how many times I’ve encountered miserable travellers – people who are unwilling to move beyond their comfort zone.
  • See the icons, but also make sure you walk around the local neighborhoods.
  • Don’t be afraid to use public transportation – especially in big cities where subways will allow you to avoid traffic and reach your destination sooner.
  • Eat locally – not only will you broaden your horizons – but you’ll find the food is fresher and less likely to cause stomach problems.
  • If you have dietary restrictions, always carry a card explaining exactly what they are, in the local language. I speak from experience, having watched poor Tom trying to act out “Lactose intolerant” on three different continents.
  • Make an effort to speak the local language. Granted, if you’re like me this might cause more than a few smiles – but people appreciate the effort.

Shit happens

  • When things go wrong, do not have a meltdown. Chances are you're going to need people who can help you sort things out - people who are used to dealing with the public - brow beating them is not going to help your cause.
  • Always remain calm and polite – you’ll find that you really do catch more flies with honey.
  • Do your research, otherwise you might unintentionally offend the locals. Once, when entertaining a group of Japanese business men, I decided to propose a toast. I raised my glass and said “Cin Cin” - which is perfectly charming if you’re in Italy - and roughly translated means “to your health”. I couldn’t understand why my well intended toast caused so much discomfort. It was only later that I learned that in Japan, Cin is another word for Penis.

Hiking Across Britain

Saturday, September 29, 2007

On the Road

I will be working in Europe for the next two weeks. In other words, I don't have time to blog about that amazing dream I had last night. See you when I get back!

Love Actually

Anyone who follows the news will be familiar with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's recent speech at Columbia University. According to the Iranian leader, there are no homosexuals living in Iran.

I’m not sure about you, but wouldn’t this make a great sequel to Brokeback Mountain? Replace the ranch with a jihad, and you get the general idea.

The sad truth is, it wasn’t until 1974 that the American Psychiatric Association no longer classified homosexuality as a mental illness. Not to mention that Gay couples living in America, still do not have the right to get married. Are we living in the dark ages?

My grandmother used to say that at the end of our lives, love is the only thing we take with us. At that time - I didn’t appreciate her wisdom - thinking it was just another cliché.

People do not choose to be gay, they are born that way. I’m not sure about you, but I don’t think a loving God would ever put someone on this earth just to suffer. In fact, the very survival of our planet depends on our ability to protect and respect the diversity of life

My Grandmother was right, love is the only lasting thing……

Monday, September 24, 2007

Puma in the Hood

Last night when we took the Pugs for their walk – Tex had a melt down.

He normally loves our nightly strolls, so it came as a bit of a surprise when he dug his little heels in and refused to move. We tried everything – promising treats, gentle coaxing, and finally insisting that we were the Alpha dogs - so move it! Nothing from our bag of tricks worked. Left with the option of dragging an unwilling pug down the sea wall, we decided to just pick Tex up and head straight home.

This morning we felt terribly guilty when we found out that several of our neighbors had spotted a cougar prowling around Granville Island – and all of this happened around the same time that Tex refused to budge. Texie-Baby has always been very intuitive. Who can blame the little guy for not wanting to be part of the food chain. On the other hand, his sister Maggie was totally oblivious. Bless her heart, she’s never going to be the dog that alerts her family when Timmy falls in the well.

Even though we live smack dab in the middle of a city of two million people, we are used to seeing wildlife in our neighbourhood. Over the years there have been seals, sea lions, herons, ravens, hawks, eagles, skunks, coyotes, racoons, otters – and once Tom and I even had to stop traffic so a beaver could cross a busy intersection. But a Mountain Lion takes things to a whole new level.

Well, time to go. Have to take the Pugs for their nightly stroll.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

"It" Moments

Last week I was working in New York City, needless to say it was a little disconcerting going from Haida Gwaii to the Big Apple. Trust me, moving from island time - to the hustle and bustle of the big city - is a study in contrast.

Over the past few years, I’ve undergone a revolution. I am no longer searching. I've learned that if you are always trying to fill the voids, you miss the important things in life. So much of it is out of our control – the only sensible thing is to let go and learn to live in the moment.

Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean that I am always in a state of nirvana – life still has it’s ups and downs– it's all part of the journey.

So at the risk of sounding like a drama queen, here is my New York “it” moment.

This is a cell phone image from the roof of the Met, where I'm sipping a glass of champagne and taking in the sunset. Feeling connected, blessed, and overwhelmed with love for my family and friends.

Friday, September 14, 2007


When you go to the Queen Charlotte's, you realize why the Raven plays such a prominent part in native mythology. According to the Haida’s, the Raven is know as the trickster and is credited with creating life, the moon, stars and sun.

You have to experience the Raven first hand to understand what the fuss is about. Scientist consider Raven to be the most intelligent of birds, often comparing their cognitive development to that of a dog or wolf. Wild Ravens have even been know to mimic the sounds of cell phones and car alarms

Everything about the raven is larger than life - just think of them as Rock Stars on wings. Unlike other animals, the Raven looks you straight in the eye and tells you what it thinks. Most of this interaction is humorous, but there were a few times when I felt like shouting “ you talking to me!?”.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Back in the Saddle

Just back from the Queen Charlotte's, a place I have always dreamed of visiting.

A beautiful archipelago that consists of more than 460 islands – often referred to as the Galapagos of North America – home of the Haida Nation.

Here are a few of the highlights:

Distance Traveled: 2278 KM

Places visited: Queen Charlotte - Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve – Prince Rupert – Prince George

Modes of Transportation: Commercial airline – float plane – ferry – train – zodiac – car

Traveling companions: Juice, Susie and Midgie

Wildlife spotted: Raven – eagle – deer – bear – kingfisher – moose – humpback- seal - dolphin

Bonding with the Chica's: Finding a romance novel on the train and reading steamy passages out loud

Culinary highlight: A picnic on a remote beach – doesn’t everything taste better when you’re in the wild?

More stories to follow.....

Sunday, September 2, 2007

The Fighting Ryans

Last year, when we visited Chile with our good friends Scott and Janice – we were a bit surprised at all of the free advice we received from the locals. Everywhere we went, well meaning citizens from all walks of life would approach us with warnings to be careful. Very careful.

Tom and I found this perplexing, and soon we decided it had to be Scott and Janice. After all, they are as nice as they look – a wonderful, trusting, Canadian couple. On the other hand, anyone who meets us Ryans would immediately know that we are a street smart, take no shit kind of couple. Or so we thought.

When we (okay, when I) decided to renovate our little home, everyone tried to warn us. They all shared their own personal horror stories of Contractors Gone Bad. We appreciated the good advice and politely took note – but we never really thought it could happen to us. We decided to add new flooring to the hallway, stairwell, both bedrooms, tile the bathroom floor, paint all the walls, and completely overhaul our kitchen. All at the same time of course.

By now, we should have a brand new kitchen and bathroom, but in reality we are a full two weeks behind schedule. We have no kitchen sink. Our unplugged refrigerator is in our living room. Tom’s home office also includes a dishwasher, oven, and somebody’s electric sander. We have been eating ‘take-out’ for 15 days straight - and just last night I caught my husband washing the dishes - while having a shower. Our sweet house guest from Thailand has been surreptitiously checking for earlier flights home. The pugs seem befuddled.

Are we worried? Of course not. We’re the fighting Ryan’s! And after all, according to our calculations - everything should be completed by Friday. This will be perfect timing, as we are expecting a cheque in the mail……

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Many years ago, I meet a very interesting woman who worked as an art therapist for the Florida Penal system. Her work focused primarily on inmates who were serving life sentences – hard-core criminals who were capable of unimaginable acts of violence.

I like the idea of art therapy, and have a funny feeling that the person who invented the discipline was most likely a mother or father. When my son Tyler was a little boy, he was a prolific and talented artist. His art was a barometer of his feelings, often telling Tom and I what was really going on inside.

For example, when Tyler was curious about the “birds and bees”, he went through what we now refer to as the “Penis Period”. Basically, for weeks, everything Tyler drew had a penis. Houses, fish, trees, people (both sexes), the sun – it didn’t matter, it was all about the penis. It didn’t take long to figure out that perhaps it was time for Mom and Dad to initiate a discussion on the facts of life.

When Tyler was four, he had a pre-school teacher who recognized his special talent. We were thrilled. It was so validating for her to recognize what Tom and I already suspected – our child was a budding Picasso. She was a wonderful teacher and spent a great deal of time nurturing our little darling – encouraging him to verbally express how he felt about his art. At one point she started transcribing his stories - verbatim. Tyler was in his element and loved going to school each day.

So it was no surprise to see that many of Tyler’s masterpieces were suddenly on display in the foyer of his school. In fact, his art was the first thing everyone saw when visiting the school – an important first impression. Needless to say Tom and I were very proud parents – arguing over whose side of the family he inherited his wonderful artistic talent from.

Life was good in the Ryan family - so imagine my surprise when I picked Tyler up from school one sunny afternoon and detected a slight chill in the air. Maybe it was my imagination, but it seemed like the teachers and other parents weren’t quite as friendly as they usually were. In fact, I would go so far as to say that people seemed to be avoiding me. I tried to shake it off, telling myself not to be paranoid.

However, over the next few days, things did not improve. Let’s just say that I didn’t like vibes I was getting. I pride myself on being a people person, so it troubled me that I couldn’t figure it out. Was it something I said? Did I have bad breath? What in Gods name could it be!

Coming into the school one day - I noticed a crowd of parents admiring and discussing one of Tyler’s paintings - which of course was accompanied by a story describing what it meant to him. It was a large and colorful canvas which depicted me driving a car – and in the backseat of that car Tyler had drawn several TV’s and numerous boxes. The accompanying story talked about how Tyler wanted to be a smuggler when he grew up - just like his Mom.

It was fun trying to explain what it “really meant” to all of the other parents. I pointed out that it actually referred to the time I bought a TV in the states, and a kind border guard allowed me to cross into Canada without paying duty. Tyler must have heard Tom jokingly refer to me as his “little smuggler”.

It didn’t matter, the more I tried to explain to the other parents, the deeper I dug a hole for myself. It was as if I had said, “I am not an alcoholic, really I’m not!”

As you can imagine, this was a very embarrassing moment in my life. On the positive side, it did settle one dispute. Tyler gets it from his father’s side of the family.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Construction Zone

When I was in the process of buying my convertible PT Cruiser – aka “Stella” - the car salesman made the comment that he bet I was a “bra burner”. He was quick to assure me that he meant it as a compliment - referring to the fact that I was making a major purchase without my dad, husband or brothers there to guide me.

I certainly wasn’t offended by his statement and took it as a badge of honour. For me it’s all about ensuring that woman and men have equal choices. If a person of either sex decided to take a sabbatical from the corporate grind and stay home with the kids for a few years – I’m all for it. Seriously, can you think of a more important job? I’d like to live in a world where either gender could pursue their dreams and determine what they want to be when they grow up – rather than society dictating what is appropriate.

That’s not to say that I don’t love being feminine and appreciate my husband’s desire to take care of his family. Tom can be very protective of the women in his life - which usually consist of Maggie and me – and lately includes Marot, our house guest from Thailand - whom we have come to think of as a daughter.

On the weekends, our house is a BFZ (Bra Free Zone). After the grind of the work week it’s all about comfort. I don’t think having a BFZ is unusual. Anyone who has ever strapped on a wonder bra will appreciate the desire to break free – at least on Saturdays and Sundays.

For the most part Tom handles all of this estrogen quite well, after all he has Tex and Tyler to help add some testosterone to the mix. But this weekend, the poor guy is a little stressed.

This is Day One of our construction project, as we are in the process of remodeling our bathroom and kitchen. Considering that Tom and I have two tools - duct tape and WD40 - we thought it would be a good idea to turn it over to the experts.

Imagine our surprise when the first guy to show up at the door looks like he could be a fashion model. It is easy to imagine him as Mr. August – the buff centerfold of a Handyman calendar - raising money for young, muscular construction workers in need. Young Marot, and even Maggie the Pug noticed his brawny beauty and both started working it.

Tom’s protective instincts kicked in. He suggested that for the next little while, the woman in our house might want to skip our usual BFZ weekend attire, and dress more "appropriately". I reluctantly agreed, but only if I could buy Tom a tool-belt of his own.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Ride Like the Wind

Saturday, August 18

Tom and I sleep in – this time as a result of the late night fire alarm and a humongous side of beef. Come to think of it, we always sleep in on road trips – and invariably hit the road at a tardy 10.00am. We jump out of bed, and grab a quick smoothie on our way out of Wenatchee, promising to make lunch a special event.

Tom suggests that we drive towards the Yakima Valley, as he has a “good feeling about it”. I personally think he just wants to burn the other side of his face. We find a great Blue Grass radio station out of Moscow, Idaho, and point Stella south.

What a beautiful drive, the scenery along the Columbia River looks like something out of a John Wayne movie. Even the names have a western feel to them, places like Rattlesnake Hills, Saddle Mountain, and Quincy. At one point we pass a very large and mysterious array, which reminds of us Nevada and leads to a lively debate. Twenty miles later we are still arguing whether it’s Area 51 or Area 61 – bets are placed.

Finally we reach the heart of Washington State’s wine country, where we decided to tour a few wineries and stop for lunch. One problem though, where are the wineries? Tom drives around aimlessly, and I resist the urge to make a snide remark about homing pigeons. As we travel through the small towns of the Yakima Valley, we can’t help but notice the huge discrepancy between the “haves” and the “have nots”. Some areas look more like Mexico than America – neighbourhoods that are made up of migrant workers who are here to harvest the apples, pears, grapes, and countless other fruits.

We finally find a winery – and as we enter the tasting room we are greeted by the owners pug. This is a great sign, our luck has turned! We high five each other and remind ourselves to buy a lottery ticket. We leave with a few bottles of vino and directions to several other good wineries. We enjoy our wine tasting, but have no luck in finding a restaurant. Even a picnic is out of the question. We have wine and grapes, but are unable to find a baguette or chunk of brie – in desperation we end up pulling into the Taco Bell just west of Gleed.

We decide to head toward Mount Rainier, as neither of us have ever seen it up close. The landscape quickly changes from high desert to rain forest, and we try to choose which mountain road to take. One road is faster but less scenic – and the other is gnarly and twisted - reaching an altitude of over 7000 feet. We aren’t even sure if it is paved. The stormy weather is closing in fast. I say we should go for it, take the winding road. Tom says he is worried about Stella. Worried about Stella??? It dawns on me that Tom hasn’t been bonding with me during this trip, he’s been bonding with my PT Cruiser. It’s always the wife who is the last to know.

Even though it is misty, Mount Rainier is spectacular - and Stella performs like a star, hugging the wet road as we twist and turn along the steep slopes of the mountain. At one point, Tom feels the urge to yell at the top of his lungs “Ride Stella, ride. Ride like the wind!”

As we leave the park we spot the perfect roadside diner, a little place called the Copper Inn, and fellow travellers are lined up out the door. They all say this place is famous for it’s wild blackberry pie, and after two helpings, we both agree that it lives up to its reputation. In fact, I would go so far as to say the pie alone made the trip worth while. We leave with a loaf of homemade bread and a jar of blackberry jam.

Tomorrow will be an easy drive. We’ll be home in time to read the pugs a bedtime story. And I catch myself already looking forward to my next road trip with Tom (and his new found friend Stella) – wherever it may lead us.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Ride Stella Ride!

Friday, August 17 – Day One

Morning: For the past two weeks Tom and I have been out of sync, living in two very different head spaces. Past experience has taught us that a road trip is the perfect remedy. Some couples go to therapy - we find there is nothing like the open road to help you get your groove back.

Driving along the first few miles of the Trans-Canada Highway, we agree on the rules of engagement:

Avoid interstates - travel only the “Blue Highways” (okay, we just broke this first rule.)
Eat locally – no chain restaurants
No set itinerary, we intend to let our whims dictate the direction we take
And most important of all, we are on a quest to find the perfect slice of berry pie

Vancouver is cloudy, with a forecast of rain, so we decided to head towards the sun. I suggest we stop and pick up a guidebook on the Pacific Northwest. Tom proudly reminds me that he is the human equivalent of a homing pigeon - he assures me a guide book will not be necessary. Having lived with his “unique” talent for many years now has given me a new appreciation for the necessity of female astronauts – there comes a point in every trip when someone has to get out and ask directions.

Afternoon: We are driving through the Okanagan with the top down – the sun is shining, and the day is getting hot. I am covered in sunscreen and wearing a hat – Tom has decided to go au naturale. We listen to classic rock, stop at numerous fruit stands, and drive through beautiful vineyards. Highlights include spotting the Spotted Lake and a large bear eating fruit from a tree. I know this is going to sound crazy but it sure looked like a grizzly – do they even live in these parts?

Evening: We cross the border and head into Washington, USA. Driving through the Okanagon the only difference we see between our two countries is the o. The sun is still high in the sky, and it’s at least 85 degrees. We thank our lucky stars we have a convertible.

After passing miles and miles of orchards, we realize it’s getting late, and we are almost out of gas. Driving the last 20 miles on fumes we pull into Wenatchee for the night. Wenatchee, the Apple Capital of the World. After checking into our hotel we head to the local diner where we intend to sample the local delicacies. The look on Tom’s face, as he realizes they have brought him what appears to be an entire side of beef – priceless. We must remember that the portions are much larger in the US of A. I can’t help but feel sorry for the poor guy, not only is Tom facing a mountain of beef – but the entire right side of his face is sunburned. It is as if someone has drawn a line down his face – one side is white – the other is beet red. This is one of the hazards of driving in one continuous direction, on a hot, sunny day, in a PT Cruiser convertible. I, on the other hand, have no sun-burned face at all.

After dinner I try to convince Tom to join me for a swim in the hotel pool. He is a bit of a germaphobe and is convinced that every one who jumps in a public pool immediately pees. Even though he isn’t ready to take the plunge, he offers to cheer me on from the side lines. Once we get to the pool it becomes apparent that all of the other adults staying at our hotel also have pool issues. I am the only person in the water who is over 10 years old, which makes me a good target for cannonball practice. Good times.

At bedtime Tom starts telling me about a special show he recently saw on Dateline - in which an infrared camera is used on hotel bedspreads – and of course, finds all kinds of disgusting things. I beg him not to go “Howard Hughes” on me.

At 2:30 am our hotel fire alarm goes off. After evacuating, Tom and I spend an hour walking around the deserted streets of the Apple Capital of the World. A weird mix of antique shops and bingo parlors.

To be continued…….

Sunday, August 19, 2007

On the Road Again

Last week, Tom and I decided to hit the road. You see, things have been a little tense in the Ryan household recently. I’ve been on a two week holiday, while Tom has been working on multiple projects from his home office. Let’s just say Husband and Wife have been in two very different mind sets. Tom has been worried about meeting deadlines – while I’ve been sleeping in, cranking the tunes, looking at old photo’s – and starting, but never finishing several major home projects.

Our relationship was built on road trips. We put over 250,000 miles (miles, not kilometers) on our old Mazda – with our sweet baby boy Tyler riding shotgun in his car seat. The Mazda is long gone and Tyler no longer lives at home. I’m not exactly sure when it happened, but at some point Tom and I became far too busy to bother with road trips.

A couple of years ago I bought a new PT Cruiser convertible, a car that Tom loathed at first sight. You’re probably wondering why a good and dutiful wife would buy a car her husband detested. Like most things in life, it’s a complicated matter.

For starters, Tom didn’t think we needed a car. Vancouver and NYC are very similar in one respect - many people who live in either city choose not to own an automobile. Both have excellent public transit and walking is encouraged. After much “debate”, Tom caved in, and washed his hands of the whole process.

When I came home with “Stella”, he freaked out. According to Tom she looked like a mini-hearse, and he thought that driving a convertible in a temperate rain forest was not exactly a wise move. I told him not to be so silly, the pugs loved riding in the car (even if they did get a little wet).

Most of all, he was worried that people would see him driving Stella and think she was his mid-life crisis car. To have people associate a PT Cruiser - with this special time in his life - was more than he could bear.

I did my best to alleviate his fears - pointing out that Stella was actually quite sporty – and had an excellent safety record (a very important fact as she would sooner or later end up being our son Tyler’s car.) I also pointed out that driving around Vancouver in a blue PT Cruiser - with a bobble-head Pug on the dash - proudly proclaims “I am a man with nothing to prove - and I am quite comfortable with the size of my Johnson!”.

These arguments did not have the affect I was hoping for. Tom continued to hate Stella with a passion – and when he did have to drive her around town, he always wore sunglasses and a hat.

To be continued………

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Girl in a Bubble

Over the past few days, I have received several messages from Tyler’s friends that my dear sweet boy is miffed at his Mom for my not responding to his e-mails. The truth is, sometimes I hit the wall and just need to unplug.

I can understand why CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies are starting to declare email bankruptcy. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to just hit the delete key, and start fresh?

The attached photo illustrates my point – while hiking in the wilderness - a friend of mine used his Blackberry to settle a dispute. We are almost at the point where one can go anywhere without loosing contact with the outside world. Case in point -who can forget the recent story of a man who climbed Everest - only to find himself in very serious trouble. He was actually able to call home and say goodbye to his family, only minutes before his death.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate that there is an upside to all of this communication. I’ll be the first person to call for help if I ever find myself lost and in need of assistance. Hell, there have been times I couldn’t survive without using my cell phone to order take-out.

I also love the idea that my beautiful son can travel around the world and send frequent emails home, assuring us that all is well - and to please send money. When Tom was Tyler’s age - he was backpacking through Europe and North Africa - his family often went months without hearing from him. Something I can’t even begin to imagine.

So if you’ve been trying to reach me, don’t send out the search party just yet. Next week I plan to re-connect with everyone. And not to brag or anything, but I work a mean Blackberry.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Six Degrees

Six Degrees of Separation - I love the theory that everyone in this world can be connected within six degrees. Here is how even Tex and Maggie are truly connected to Kevin Bacon:

Tex and Maggie, two naughty and adorable little pugs who are only six degrees from Hollywood's elite.

Tom Ryan - aka "Pug Daddy" - responsible for convincing his reluctant wife to play a supporting role in several Hollywood North productions.

Mika Ryan - mother of Tex and Maggie. Upon her husband's insistence, once acted in a block buster movie, co-starring Katie Holmes.

(Okay, so maybe I was more like an extra - and in the spirit of keeping it real, the movie sucked.)

Katie Holmes, Hollywood sex kitten, mother of Surie and wife of Tom.

Tom Cruise - SSG, scary Scientology guy - and not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Before dissing Brooke and jumping on Oprah's couch, he actually made a few good movies, including "A Few Good Men" . Tom co-starred with, (drum roll please......)

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Kicking the Habit

This afternoon, I hit bottom.

Rock bottom.

Tom could sense something was wrong as I quietly headed out the door, under the pretense of doing a few “errands”. He even went so far as to say “Honey, you’re not having an affair, are you?”

The truth is - and this is painful to admit - I just needed to sneak away and have a Diet Coke. Badly!

I’m taking a few weeks off work, and rather than relax in some boring tropical paradise - I decided to stay home and tackle my to-do list. It’s a long list, and includes: paint the bedroom, renovate the kitchen, lose 20 pounds, learn the basics of the Romance languages, reread Proust, and most important - kick my Diet Coke habit.

To help me reach some of my goals, I’ve been going to the gym all week and working out with a personal trainer. Mike is a big, strong man from Eastern Europe, and he trains many of the professional athletes and celebrities who call Vancouver home. He’s a wonderful guy, but by the time we reached day five of my workout program Mike’s accent wasn’t sounding quite so sexy.

During today’s session I had an epiphany. There are people in this world who actually get paid to kick ass. Legally. I’d bet the farm that these so called “personal trainers” are people who never need therapy, walking around all day with a big smile on their face.

I don’t want to point fingers or anything, but it’s actually Mike’s fault that I needed to sneak out for that diet coke. When you’re in as much pain as I am, it’s easy to throw yourself a pity party. And what does every great party have? Diet Coke, of course.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Reading Room

Just finished my second great read of the summer - Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith.

Even though I loved the book, I’m not really sure how I feel about
Anne Lamott. She writes with candor about her inner diva– which makes for a great read, but at times made me cringe.

However, don’t let that stop you from reading her book. She has a gift for finding the spiritual in the mundane and tackles the big issues with clarity and insight.