Monday, December 29, 2008

Maggy May

Today we woke up to the sad, sad news that our dear friend Dawn lost her beautiful girl Maggy. Everyone in our family loved Maggy, she was one of those rare, pure souls that charmed everyone she met. Not to mention that Tex had a huge crush on her. Every time she came to our house Tex would stand on his back legs and get right in her face, nose touching nose. Maggy tolerated his adoration, but the poor guy was way out of his league and didn't have a chance in hell.

In honour of Maggy I have gone into the Ryan archives and retrieved a post Tom wrote about a road trip back east with Dawn and Maggy a few years ago. Here's to you Maggy- Dawn's forever dog - we are better for having known your sweet, gentle spirit:

Maggy and Dawn's Adventure

So, I'm firmly ensconced on the couch, it's still a full week until Christmas, and I'm just now beginning to get on my wife's nerves, when she says "How would you like to travel from Vancouver to Ontario, with two ladies - a Blonde and a Redhead - all expenses paid?"
My right eyebrow rises, just a little....."I'm listening."
"So here's the deal" she says....."Dawn and her dog Maggy are moving to Oshawa but Dawn doesn't want to put Maggy on a plane or train 'cause Maggy might get upset and besides it's a great opportunity to do a favour for a friend and regain your lost karma and find your soul somewhere along the way and besides you love to travel and she's rented a mini-van for her, the dog and you and I already told her that you would love to do it and besides it would only be four or five days at the most and you'll be back in lot's of time to see the Seahawks play the Chargers."
Then she gives me that "Sami" look.
"We'll travel by Interstate 90" I say.
Day One:
Dawn pulls up (6 hours late) in a jam packed van - with Maggy, her beautiful Golden Retriever. It's raining heavily. It's also really difficult to get Maggy to lie down on the comfy bed we made for her. Seems she is prone to car sickness, and so she places her head between the two front seats so she can look out the front window. Maggy is a drooler. We manage to hit Seattle in the pouring rain, at the peak of rush hour. We overnight in Spokane at the 'dog friendly' Best Western.
Day Two:
We drive some more. Maggy is standing at attention, drooling. My right elbow is sopping wet. Drove past the Little Bighorn Battlefield - in the dark. Described to Dawn (perhaps in too much detail) Custer's huge error in judgement by taking one road trip too many. By evening, Maggy is still standing, and she is panting like a steam locomotive, and the van is beginning to smell just a little 'doggy' - if you know what I mean. Overnight at Sheridan Wyoming - enough said.
Day Three:
Maggy and Dawn sleep in, again. Big argument about what exactly the term 'wheels up at 8.00 am' means. Finally on the road by 9.25 a light snow - there's an overturned U-Haul up ahead. This van really stinks. There's a snow storm heading our way from Colorado. I'm getting a nasty rash on my right elbow - and more than slightly annoyed at Dawn's girly driving CD's, none of which include Led Zepelin or Supertramp. Doesn't this woman eat anywhere else but McDonalds??? After getting directions from several late-night liquor stores in Council Bluffs - Iowa - we find our 'dog friendly' hotel and I collapse into my room, a scant 25 yards from the busiest all night truck stop the other side of the Missouri. Highlight of the day was passing Wall Drug, viewing Devils Tower from 20 miles away - and two Strategic Air Command Bases. Still no sign of renewed karma - or my lost soul.
Day Four:
We drive across Iowa - past several birthplaces or grave sites or whatever of US Presidents. Dawn and I seem to be laughing an awful lot today, and Maggy is still standing, but also comfortably resting her head on my wet elbow. A strong wind is at our back, and the countryside is actually quite pretty when you look at it travelling 80 mph or so. Even the storm clouds are clearing. Crossed the Mississippi River today, and Dawn's CD's weren't really so bad once you got past the whole K.D. Lang thang. And I may have caught a glimpse of my lost soul in a corn field, just past the Tri State Tollway - but still no sign of any karma (good karma anyway). Passed South Bend in the dark, and made Windsor Ontario by 9.00 pm. Back in Canada - but a bittersweet moment really - the trip is almost over. Maggy collapses in her hotel room.
Day Five:
We all sleep in. It's actually quite nice to sleep in sometimes. Hit the 401 Eastbound in the late morning, visited two Tim Horton's in one hour, and after passing about 25 RCMP cars enroute - arrive in Oshawa. We are HOME!!! Maggy, (still standing) jumps out of the van, and both her and Dawn get lots of welcome hugs and kisses from their relieved family. Maggy immediately falls asleep on their very comfy carpet. What a nice family. Perhaps Ontarians aren't that bad after all.....but then again, these guys are from Oshawa - not Toronto.
Day Six:
Christmas Eve - Toronto International Airport. Checking in at the Air Canada counter, I'm informed the flight is overbooked, and that I will have to ask at the gate as to whether I'll even get on the Christmas Eve flight home. So much for improved karma.
Then, at the very last minute, the gate attendant smiles at me and says "Looks like today is your lucky day" and hands me a Business Class boarding pass - window seat 5A.
Flying home at 36,000 feet over America, I can't help but think that maybe things are looking up. Somehow the Seahawks / Chargers game doesn't seem quite as important.......and I catch myself wondering how Dawn and Maggy are doing on this beautiful day.

Monday, December 22, 2008


For the past few years Tom and I have been working very hard at taking Christmas back. As a result we no longer buy presents, skip decking the halls, and finally broke the news to Tyler and the pugs that Santa lives only in the heart.

I realize that this will probably sound very bah humbug to most of you, but for us it’s made all the difference in the world. No more malls and credit card bills - no more trying to sneak out late at night with a dead Christmas tree, when it’s mid January and you’re too embarrassed to do the walk of shame in front of your neighbours – not to mention that it’s very difficult for pugs to understand why it’s okay to pee on trees when they’re outside, but not so cool when they’re in your living room.

Christmas is the joy of being home with each other, going for a midnight walk on the Winter Solstice, sleeping in after staying up late watching old movies, simple or elaborate meals that we cook for each other, taking time to reflect on our many blessings.

It also means I can finally listen to one of my favourite albums, A Charlie Brown Christmas, without anyone shutting me down. When we decided to re-invent Christmas, I had a brilliant idea – why listen to music you love only at Christmas, when you can enjoy it the other 11 months of the year? Unfortunately it was a little more difficult to sell my family on this idea, so I spend most of the year in the closet, only finding my groove when wearing head phones. For one brief and glorious month I can crank the stereo and let her rip, dance and play air cello, fully celebrating the season.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Flowers for my honey

Here you go honey, just a little 'thank-you' for painting the kitchen over your Christmas holidays - while I drank beer and watched football.


PS: Go Cowboys !!!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Pillow Talk

Researchers say that the top five things couples argue about are money, work, sex, children, and housework. It goes something like this “Maybe if you’d get off your lazy ass and help with the house, I’d actually be in the mood. Honestly, it’s like having another kid….not to mention that I work too! You have no idea what it takes to run this family, in fact, you couldn’t afford to pay someone for what I do.”

We have a totally different script at our house. Our biggest argument has always been about pillows. You heard me……pillows.

I’m a simple person, I’ve been sleeping on the same two pillows for years (sorry Oprah, I realize that you think it’s important to replace your pillows annually, but why mess with perfection?) Tom on the other hand has been on an endless search for the perfect pillow.

We currently have 10 pillows on our bed, the two that I sleep on, and the remaining 8 are Tom’s. Have you every tried sleeping with someone who needs eight pillows? Not to mention that it isn’t uncommon for us to lose a pug in the midst of all of the feathers, foam and synthetic fibers.

In spite of all of the money Tom spends on his quest for pillow nirvana, he always ends up trying to scam me out of my two trusty companions. Sometimes I come to bed and find that he’s replaced them with a couple of imposter's, hoping I don’t notice. Other times, he's more blatant, and after a great deal of tossing and turning, he rips one out from under my head and hangs on for dear life.

Like most wives, I feel it's my duty to be his psycho therapist, helping him get to the heart of the matter. If pushed, he’ll blame his pillow issues on his health, secretly hoping to play on my sympathy. This can range from a crooked spine, an old rugby injury, or a sunburn he got in Mexico during the 80’s which he’s sure has resulted in bone cancer. I personally think it’s the result of being the youngest of four boys, which means that during his formative years, it was every man for himself.
It is my hope that someday Tom will finally realize that the pillow does not make the man - that you cannot really love yourself, until you learn to love your pillow - that even if all of your neighbors take their pillows and throw them off a cliff, it doesn't mean you have to follow - that sometimes the right pillow has been there all along, you just have to open your eyes and see it.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Places I can Roll

Tom and I had a whirlwind romance, we had only known each other for a few months when we decided to leave our jobs, uproot our lives in Dallas and move to Santa Fe. Chalk it up to youth, that crazy time in life when you’re too young and naive to know better. It started as a fluke, over a beer in a neighbourhood pub Tom asked me a simple question. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? Going for dramatic flare, I wrote Santa Fe on my napkin – within a week we had moved there.

In hindsight it was a crazy thing to do, and even though it sounds romantic, it was a constant struggle to make ends meet. None of that mattered, I loved every minute of my life there. Santa Fe is one of those rare places that has always seemed to speak to my soul; lilacs and pinion trees, beautiful old adobe houses, dramatic lightning storms, warm golden light. Unfortunately we eventually had to leave. Abby Hoffman once said that even though Santa Fe is incredible, it’s also a very difficult place to live as there is no middle class.

Fortunately life has brought me to Vancouver, where I really feel I belong. I never take this feeling of being at the right place, at the right time for granted - as there have been times in my life where I have lived in beautiful places that just didn’t feel right. It’s not that I was unhappy, it’s just that there was something missing. It's as if I was on an extended holiday, passing time but never really calling it home.

I don't want to go new age, but why is that some places just feel right? Places that inspire you , elicit a spiritual connection. Here are a few places where I could hang my hat: Portland, Sedona, Hanalei, Nelson and Sydney.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Dream On

The Ryan's are a family of vivid dreamers, as in sleep walking, sleep talking, crazy, lucid dreamers. Even the pugs seem to have doggie dreams, and often bark, pant, moan and twitch while they sleep.

We also have reoccurring dreams, here are a few of our favs:

Tom's top pick goes something like this:
He's living in a flat in London, when suddenly there's a knock on the door. When he goes to answer he's surprised to find it's the Queen - not the old queen - but the young queen (who according to Tom is quite the babe). Anyway, the Queen comes in and asks Tom if she can crash at his pad, seems this whole Queen thing is really starting to get to her. Apparently the queen is looking for a career change. Tom of course has to convince her that even though it's a tough gig, the world needs her. After a great deal of cajoling he finally gets the Queen to return to her duty.

Mika's pick:
I like to call my favorite dream Alaska Man. In the dream Tyler quits school and moves to Alaska - where he grows a beard, wears plaid flannel shirts and has the whole Grizzly Adams thing going on. After a quick game of Rock, Paper, Scissors, Tom and I decided that it's my turn to go to Alaska and bring Tyler home. When I get there, I find that even though he's poor, Alaska kicks ass. It's beautiful, there are bears, a cool bar where we hang out with the locals, Northern Lights, and something that looks an awful lot like a dodo bird. The dreams ends with me being incredibly proud of my son, Alaska man. Who seems to have figured out what life is really all about.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Moment of truth, lately life has been a bit of a struggle. For months it's been one thing after another - my knee injury, Tex's back surgery, the fact that our little nest egg has taken a serious hit with the drop in stock prices, Sarah Palin - oh yeah, did I mention that our son lives in a country that is currently undergoing a coup? Let's just say that neither Tom or I have been at our best.

This evening Tom and Maggie went for a walk and returned minutes after leaving our house. Even though Maggie seemed a little spooked, Tom insisted that Tex and I join them outside, ordering us to make it quick. I wasn't too happy to be going out wearing only my bathrobe and Tom's dress shoes, but just decided to go with it.

There in the moonlight was a big bushy skunk, who slowly saunteered across our lawn as if he was inviting us to admire him. Sometimes if we're really lucky, life sends us beautiful reminders of what it's really all about.