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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Is it Just Me?

Lately I just cannot seem to stay ahead of the house work.  Okay, well, not just lately, I guess since I had kids, so ummm, 16 years!  I can vaguely remember my mother-in-law coming to visit when I was pregnant with Mitchell, my first born, and I was scrubbing the floors and apologizing for the "mess". And I distinctly remember her saying, "Wait until you have kids, then you will know what a messy house will look like."  And I was still so young, naive and smug, and I thought, just because I have kids, my house will never get messy.  Boy, like I said, young, and naive!

I feel like if I do any writing during the day, then the housework suffers, and if I do housework then no writing gets done.  Add in my part-time job doing recruitment for McMan for foster care, the kids busy schedules, Tim being away more than he is home, and every day errands and demands, and there are some days that no housework OR writing get done.  And the guilt is ridiculous.  I can go to bed at night and be thinking that I should have done at least 5 more things, or I should have returned more emails, or damn, I was suppose to call about that appointment.

I use to be that mom that had craft time, reading time, and cleaning time.  But that was before I started exploring my desire to write again, take on a part-time job, volunteering, and running with the kids. And while we have always been the type of family that is busy, lately it feels like I have no balance.  It feels like every day is just "busy", with no time for such frivolous things as reading, lunches with the girlfriends, or exercise....yep, those things feel like luxuries.  I can remember when we first got married spending a whole day just reading sometimes, and my house would still be clean, and homemade cookies in the cookie jar.  So the question has to be asked, is it just me?  Are my priorities screwed up now, or is life just busier for everyone?

This week I am starting a blogging challenge, where I have to post something every single day for 30 days.  I am hoping the challenge will help me figure out how to fit my blogging into my life on a more consistent basis.  Consistency....I guess that is what I need for my writing, my housework, and my luxuries.  It is making me sad again lately that I am not reading more, that I keep saying to my friends that we should "do lunch" but then never get around to it....and it saddens me that there is always freaking housework, lol.  Maybe if I just work more, I will finally afford that ultimate dream, a maid to clean for me!

What are you going to do this week to challenge yourself?  Do you have balance in your life, and are you fitting things in that you enjoy?  These are all things that I keep, just need to be more consistent!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Some people are just evil.

I am one of those people that if I am sitting still, I have to be reading.  So I take a lot of pride in how much news I read every day, and after having this habit for years, there is not too much that really, really affects me any more.  But last night I read something that actually made me physically sick.  Long after I went to bed, I lay there thinking of what I had read, and all through the day today it has stayed with me and left me feeling quite agitated.  So I sat down to write about it, because that is always how I deal best with things that are on my mind.

This was the article that I read last night that has caused me so much upset: It was written by Nancy King, who has provided the most comprehensive coverage of the whole fiasco that is Fen MacIntosh.

Fenwick MacIntosh responds to sexual allegations, maintains innocence

Staff ~ The Cape Breton Post
Published on June 15, 2012
SYDNEY — The man at the centre of an infamous case of historic sexual abuse allegations says he’d like to see criminal charges filed against some of his accusers.
Ernest Fenwick MacIntosh wrote to provincial Justice Minister Ross Landry on May 25.
In the four-page letter, MacIntosh notes that he has always maintained his innocence. At trial, he testified that he had no sexual contact with some of the complainants and had consensual relations with others when they were above the age of consent.
The Cape Breton Post received a copy of the letter sent to Landry by mail from MacIntosh, with a return mailing address in Dartmouth but no other contact information. The Post confirmed with a provincial government spokesperson that the letter was sent to Landry. MacIntosh’s lawyer, Brian Casey, confirmed that his client wrote the letter.
In the letter, MacIntosh singles out two complainants, who can only be identified as DRS and JH, saying he believes they should be charged with “perjury, with misleading a police investigation, with mischief and with any other relevant charges.”
MacIntosh’s convictions on 17 counts of sexually abusing multiple young males in the 1970s were quashed by the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal, which found it took too long for the Crown to bring him to trial. He was first charged in 1995 and was convicted 15 years later at two trials. He had been extradited from India to stand trial in 2007. The Supreme Court of Canada upheld the staying of the charges based on delay.
“The appeal court seriously questioned the credibility and collusion of the complainants which the trial judge had ‘ignored’ and stayed all of the charges,” MacIntosh wrote to Landry.
He also made reference to a number of the complainants as having been found not to be boys when the offences are alleged to have occurred by the trial judges, instead they were referred to as young men.
MacIntosh noted he has read media reports suggesting Landry’s department may initiate an inquiry looking into what caused delays in the matter going to trial.
“I would welcome an inquiry, but I would expect any inquiry to focus on all aspects of the case, particularly the collusion among the complainants the blatant misrepresentation of the truth by the complainants, the deliberate lying by at least two of the complainants and the sloppy misrepresentation of evidence by the trial judge, as well as delay issues,” MacIntosh wrote.
He noted that the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal found that one of the trial judges misunderstood some of the evidence in reaching his decision and would have ordered a new trial if the convictions hadn’t been stayed based on delay.
“I’m not even mad at him anymore,” DRS said in an interview after hearing about the letter, noting he remains angry with attorneys, police and agencies involved with the matter over the years. “He is just a sick human being.”
“He never ceases to amaze me, he just wants his profile and people to think it was consensual and this is really bothering him and I’m glad it’s bothering him,” said RM, another complainant.
MacIntosh also detailed to Landry the ways in which he has been affected by the allegations against him over the years, including losing his job, being incarcerated in India and Canada for a total of 19 months, spending an additional three-and-a-half years on house arrest and being beaten twice by other inmates. He said he suffered financially, spending his savings on legal fees, and his health was affected.
Through Casey, The Post requested an interview with MacIntosh. Casey indicated MacIntosh was out of the country and not available for an interview.
MacIntosh has two unrelated but similar convictions on his record dating back to the 1980s for incidents that occurred in Newfoundland and Labrador.

A few months ago, I was literally sick to my stomach when the charges against MacIntosh were thrown out when the courts decided that it had taken too long to bring him to trial.  I guess they all forgot that his victims live with what he did every single day.  But I could not believe the fucking nerve, and excuse my language, but really....where does he get the evilness to come out and say that he believes that the victims should now be charged.  Instead of bringing more attention to himself, and still abusing these victims that he abused for so many years, this man needs to find a rock and get under it.  He should not be allowed to ever have contact with any children again, and he should not be allowed to be "out of the country" if there are still other charges pending!  And give me a goddam break about the "financial" is he affording to leave the country now?  
I am mad at the courts, but I am also mad at myself.  We constantly sit back and let these men abuse innocent children, and then abuse the legal system and get away with what they have done.  I felt totally humiliated to contact one of the victims after the charges were thrown out...I felt like we had all let him down some how.  I would say we are friends now, and he is by far one of the most courageous and inspiring people that I have the privilege to all a friend.  I cried last night thinking of him reading that article.  Can you imagine being abused, having the charges tossed out and then have the son of a bitch who caused you so much grief in the press saying that the victims should be charged?  I don't know how he functions, because I have anger about the situation, so how does he cope?  
I don't think I have ever thought that someone deserved to have something bad happen to him, but I truly think Fen MacIntosh is an evil human being, who will never do anything to show remorse for what he has done.  He deserves some suffering here on earth so that his victims can see it....for they won't have the luxury of seeing him burn in hell.  
My heart goes out to MacIntosh's victims, but also to all the other victims of sexual abuse who suffer in silence because they have been shamed into not saying anything. I feel for them, because their burdens are so heavy.  And I hope that someday there will be a justice system that works for the victims, instead of for the animals who violate our innocent children.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The waiting.

As upset as we all were on Sunday, Tim and the boys had to head back to Fort McMurray.  I can remember Tim holding me and saying how exhausted he was just after a weekend, and that I needed to try to go to a hotel in the next few days and get some sleep.  I promised I would, but we both knew I was lying.  Going to a hotel was going to far away from Shayleen.  I wanted her to know that I was there, and not leaving her for anything.  All through Easter Sunday night Shayleen's little body started a new fight.  She got a really high temperature, and she started "tacking" when her heart rate went too high.  So then a nurse was sitting in the room to monitor her along with myself and all the machines. After not feeding her for the biopsy her belly had become distended, so they were marking that every morning to keep an eye on it as well.  It felt like everything started feeling very wrong.  I was scared to go to the bathroom in case a doctor came in and could tell me anything.  One doctor did come in from Public Health, to inform me that I would have to go for testing for HIV and STD's since we had not been using gloves when changing Shayleen or when they were working on IV's on her.  And I would have to call Tim, and he and the boys would have to be tested as a precaution as well.

Easter Monday was another slow day around the hospital, and I felt that something else was off with Shayleen but I could not quite put my finger on it, until I went to change her.  As she lay there on the bed, I realized she was hardly moving her arms, and not moving her legs at all.  I was frantic as we waited for a doctor to come to examine her.  Her little tiny limbs had so much inflammation in them that she had something called pseudo paralysis.  She was in so much pain that her body was not allowing her to move her arms or legs.  They had no idea how long it would last.

And then on Wednesday morning, I met Dr. Robinson for the first time, and as soon as she entered the room, I knew that she had some answers for me, and that I was not going to like what she had to say.  Doctor Joan Robinson was a specialist in infectious diseases, a professor in paediatrics at the Stollery, and I liked her immediately as she got right to the point, and then sat and answered all my questions.

Shayleen had been diagnosed with congenital syphilis, and since we were late in the diagnosis, it had moved into her brain fluid, and was affecting almost every part of her body.  Shayleen was born in 2009, and in that year, there were seven babies born with congenital syphilis that year.  While there was only one other case in the rest of Canada.  Ironically enough the year before Shayleen was born, I had done some articles about the high number of cases that were being diagnosed in Fort McMurray.  Little did I know that it would ever affect me and my family.  Little did I think that it would come to me in such a sad, terrible way.  Forty percent of babies that have it are born stillborn, or die within a few days of their birth.  Tomorrow Shayleen's new doctors would tell us more, but today they needed to start treatment, and she would have to be monitored very closely.  I actually got on my knees that night, I think I had the thought that if I was uncomfortable on the cold hospital floor that God would some how hear me better.  I think it was the only time that I ever prayed like that, and I stayed like that until I got up to start my now nightly ritual of walking, singing and comforting our little girl.  Whatever came tomorrow, we would deal with then.  

Saturday, September 14, 2013

What the heck is supper blogging?

For over a year now I have had this dream in my head of doing something I call "supper blogging". I had hoped to start it a while ago, and then with Tim's accident, and just life being busy, it was one of those things that was easy to put off.

My idea for the concept is that people from all different parts of the community will come to supper, but they have to agree to a ten minute interview at the end of the evening, and only that part will be shared here in the blog.  Whatever conversations we have during our supper is off the record, in order to keep it light and fun.  I want to eventually have it work so that I put up a menu on Twitter and Facebook and whoever might be interested in coming will respond.  Because everyone's schedules are so different I will do one through the middle of the week to mix it up some.  But I realized that some weeks invited guests will also be fun, and that is kind of how I kicked it off.

A few weeks ago I had some guests lined up, and close to the day that it was suppose to happen, they had something come up and they couldn't make it.  I was still nervous about how it was going to work, so I did the only thing I could think of, and called some of our best friends, John and Kerin MacLean and asked them to join us for supper.  In all of my posts I plan on posting my recipes, and interviews with the guests, but in order to keep this first post somewhat shorter, I will tell you that night I did a three cheese dip and a variety of cheese and crackers for appetizers, and then did a mushroom risotto, and beef wellington with a red wine rosemary sauce and homemade lemon meringue pie for dessert.
I did not put them through the agony of being interviewed by me when they were so good to be my guinea pigs on short notice.  But Kerin works at Ecole St. Paul  and John works at Williams.  They have two kids, Sam and Colin, and all of them are constantly active in the community.  You can catch them volunteering at such things as the Festival of Trees weekend, at the schools, and with John's fellow employees.  They are the kind of friends that everyone wants, they helped us so much in the last two years, and were the ones who looked after Shayleen so that we could take our first vacation alone in 18 years!  I was happy that they were my first supper guests, it made me relax, and Kerin has only been encouraging in all my crazy ideas that I sometimes get.

And then in a recent conversation with Country 93.3 Radio morning host, Jerry Neville, he said that he would love to come some night.  I immediately thought to myself that he and his wife Jen Pick Neville would be the perfect first "official" guests to have, as they get to eat at all the big events in town, and are so active in the community that it would be wonderful, stimulating conversation as well.  I mean, why not just jump in and have people over that are real foodies, and well known throughout the community.  Nothing like freaking yourself out on the first go around.

The night before they were coming, I had my menu organized, and thought I was totally a head of the game when I went to the grocery store and got every single thing I needed.  And then I got home and Tim, hubby, says, "You're making lasagna?"  Of course, being a man, he didn't realize the seed he had planted, and that night, and most of the next day I thought, "Damn, does my lasagna suck?  Should I make something else?"  But given that it was a Thursday, and I had a full day of running with the kids, cooking, and trying to clean up at least a little bit, I didn't have time to start getting to the store again.

So I went with bacon wrapped waterchestnuts in a sweet and sour sauce, and Mexican pinwheels for appetizers.  The chestnuts are something that one of my friend's had at her birthday party way back in our college days, and they are easy and everyone loves them, so they are become a staple in my favourites to do.  The same goes with the pinwheels, it is just flatbreads spread with a cheese and pepper mixture, but they are kicked up with some Epicure spices.  So again, easy to make and always a hit.

I went with the lasagna as the main course with breadsticks and homemade ceasar salad to round it off.  And then I finished with Frozen Chocolate Cheesecake, a recipe that my friend Donna George from Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia shared with me almost 9 years ago, and again, a favourite.  I went with this menu because they were things I was comfortable making and that people always seemed to like over the years.  But in the weeks to come, I will be experimenting and doing theme nights.  I also hope to do a night just for women from Fort McMurray and do all desserts.  Another night, I want all local youth from the community, another night with seniors, and my ideas go on and on....

When I told the kids who was coming for supper, they were impressed, and I didn't even have to try to convince them to be home for the evening.  And supper was all I had hoped it would be.  Years ago I had a column that I called "Around the Kitchen Table" and I when I started my blog, I carried it over for the simple fact that I love the conversations that start around the table.  For some reason when sharing food and drink people relax and open up, and that night as Jerry and Jen sat with my family, and my son's girlfriend, Waneita, some great conversation happened.  We talked some about life, the community, and Jerry shared some entertaining stories that my kids ate up.  It was so interesting hearing about some of the things he has done, the people he has met and his passion for Fort McMurray was evident in all the stories he shared.  Jen was absolutely charming, and she had lots of funny side stories to Jerry's, as she often finds herself being his right hand woman in Jerry's busy schedule.  In fact, during one of the nicest moments of the evening Jerry shared that he really couldn't do all that he does(and he does alot) without Jen and everything she does.

I had hoped to share some time with Mitchell's girlfriend to add to this blog, but the girl is busy!  So hopefully I will get to talk to her in the coming days and I can add to this, as she has had a very interesting few months, as she just came back from Advanced Aerospace camp in Quebec.

Jerry and Jen both hail from Nova Scotia and have been in Fort McMurray for going on three years now.   Jerry has been doing radio and even some TV since the young age of 16!  He started out at Q104 in Halifax and at one time was working in Montreal when he almost became a writer for Jimmy Kimmel.  After arriving in Fort McMurray, both have embraced and fell in love with the city.  Jerry will be hosting the Run for the Cure in October, as well as the Harvest of Hope.  And in early November he will be emceeing the Keyano Gala, and in between his job at the station, these events and live on location events he also works all the home Oil Barons games, where he gets the crowd pumped up and cheering for their team.  Both are proud supporters of all the food bank drives, and local minor hockey. You wouldn't think they would have time for fun, but they love the outdoor activities here and especially love their golf games at MacDonald Island.  They have also started to learn to skate on the outdoor rinks here last year, gone skiing at Vista Ridge, and even snow mobiling with the club here in town.

I asked Jerry when he sleeps!  He is up and out the door at 3:30a.m. for his morning show on Country 93.3 where he makes being stuck in traffic almost bearable for people during the morning commute.  During the summer, he then loves to hit the golf course when he gets the chance, and then off to any events in the afternoon and evening.  Last year when he was in the Keyano play, Hometown, he averaged about three and a half hours sleep each night over a two month period!

Jen works at the SPCA in town, and says the best part of her job is that when it gets stressful she can go out back and pet some of the animals.  She just organized the Paws in the Park event and had a great  turnout and some much needed funds were raised for the SPCA.  I had heard that Jen had a love for Elvis, like I do, and she said that the first time she went to Graceland it was a special trip for her Aunt, herself and her mother about a year after her father had passed away.  Her aunt had always loved Elvis, and then had been a tremendous support when they had to make the decision to sell the family home and part with her father's effects.  The trip was one they had dreamed of, and they had a fantastic time. A few years later, Jen and her aunt were able to go back at Christmas time, to see it all decorated, as they both love Christmas as well.

When I asked what things they had to do when they returned home to Nova Scotia, Jen was quick to answer that she has to have a feed of lobster and scallops with her mom, and Jerry said it would totally just going to spend some time with his mother.  Many always say that they go to a favourite pizza or burger place, for Jerry, it is the apples from the Annapolis Valley that he misses the most, and loves to go grab a few of his neighbour's trees when he is there in the fall.

I was almost boggled thinking about their schedule here in Fort McMurray, but then Jerry said some things that made me realize that there is more behind his bubbly radio personality than some might think.  Jerry said that after watching his father slip into dementia and then passing away over a very short period of time, he really started living a bit differently.  He said that he is a perfectionist, and a workaholic, so it is not his work schedule that makes him work so hard, and lose the sleep, it is his need to have things perfect for his show, the Oil Baron games, etc.  But he said that after his father passed away he has really tried to live every day to the fullest and to make a difference in his community in people's lives if he can.  He also spoke passionately about the various events that support anything to do with cancer.

Jen said that there are a few new things at the SPCA.  You can now sign up to be a monthly donor to help out the shelter, that is a no-kill facility.  You can go in to get personalized tags for your pets in case they roam off and whoever finds them can call you.  There is also another program where you can "sponsor a kennel" and once the pet in it is adopted, you will keep sponsoring the next pet.  They have a fostering program at the SPCA where you can take a pet into your home on a short term basis until their forever family is found, and they are always looking for people to come in to walk the dogs.  So you can help out and get some exercise!

Both could not say enough how much they love the lives that they are able to live here in Fort McMurray, the people they have met and some of the really fun things that they have been able to do.  I was so happy that we got to sit down with them and share our stories, and evening of food and great conversation.

When I open this event up, I won't have the luxury of preparing any questions to ask the guests who will be coming, but I believe everyone has a story to tell, and that it will be great fun hearing and getting to tell all those stories!  Special thanks to Jerry and Jen for helping me finally realize that I can do this, that it will be fun and interesting, and everything that I had hoped it would be!

I was interested in hearing what the kids all thought, and I think if they were not Jerry Neville fans before, they are now.  They loved that he talked and shared so openly, and they thought Jen was a total sweetheart and super smart.  Above the kids gathered with Jerry and Jen for a picture, and then a great shot of the guests of honor.  Afterwards I thought I should have done the picture "Around the Kitchen Table" and I will try to do that in the future.  When they arrived, we were talking drinks, and Jerry said he would have a Pepsi, it was the middle of the next day when I realized I never gave it to him!  So I will have to work on my details, lol.

And now for the recipes!!

Bacon wrapped water chestnuts
Wrap a water chestnut in a half a piece of bacon, and keep it in place with a toothpick. I usually use a whole can with a half a pound of bacon. Cook at 350 degrees for about a half an hour, and then drain any grease off.  Mix 3/4 cup brown sugar with 2/3 cup ketchup and pour over the chestnuts, bake for another half hour.  Super hot when right out of the oven, so let them cool for a few minutes before serving.

Mexican Pinwheels
Mix 1/2 cup cream cheese,  1/2 cup grated mozzarella and cheddar, 1 Tbsp. red pepper, 2 tsp Epicure Cheese and Jalapeno Dip mix, 1Tbsp 3 Onion Dip, and 1 tsp. Louisiana hot and spicy dip mix.  Spread mixture on flatbread tortilla, cut about 2.5cm thick and back at 450 degrees for about 5 to 7 minutes.  You can serve these with sour cream and salsa to kick them up even more.

Cape Breton Style Lasagna(to keep it easy)
Cook about a pound a half hamburger with a chopped up onion.  Drain off fat and then add 28 oz. of tomato sauce(your preference)...I usually use good old Prego mushroom sauce, one jar).  Put a little sauce on the bottom of your casserole dish, then a layer of lasagna noodles.  Then a layer of meat sauce and another layer of noodles.  Then put a container of cottage cheese, and then the rest of the meat sauce.  Then top it off with mozzarella cheese, or add some variety by finishing it with the four cheese Italiano mix that you can buy at the store pre-shredded.  Bake for about 40 minutes at 350.

Frozen Chocolate Cheesecake
Mix 11/2 cup oreo crumbs with 1/4 cup melted margarine and press into a 9X9 square pan.  Beat 2 tubs of spreadable cream cheese with one can of Eagle Brand Milk.  Melt four squares of semisweet chocolate and blend into the cream cheese mixture.  Then add in one tub of Cool Whip.  Put in freezer for about three hours before serving.  Sprinkle with Oreo crumbs, and serve.  Delicious!

I hope you all will enjoy the stories that I get to share with my supper blogging, and try out some recipes too!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Time to cry...just a little.

From January 1 until June of this year I went to Tops and lost every week.  It was slow, and I complained about how some weeks I only lost a half a pound, or a even a pound.  And tonight I went to get weighed, to try to get back in a routine, and the disappointment I am feeling in myself is gross.  Not only did I gain 2.4 pounds in the last two weeks, I am now back at 192.  I thought that when I left the 190's I would never be back again.  And yet, here I am.

I feel like crying, just a bit...why does losing this weight and keeping it off have to be so hard?  How do I get a grip on my emotional eating once and for all?  When extremely stressed, I don't overeat, and I also don't eat very well at all.  But when I am worried about Tim or the kids, I eat.  And since I have always called Tyler mine, I have been eating ALOT.

In the next few weeks, I will share all this is going on with me medically again.  I have been put on puffers to help my lungs some, so I have been scared to try exercising again since I was struggling so much with my air.  And a few months ago we found a lump in Nathanial's chest, which the doctors said they thought would go away on it's own.  But then he got another lump on his hip and now we are meeting the surgeon on Wednesday as they think it will have to be removed and sent away for pathology.  I have hardly slept since his second ultrasound a week and a half ago, when they called the very next day and said they wanted to see us about the results.  It is one thing to handle tests and results when it is yourself, but quite another thing when it is your child.

But again, it should not be a reason for me to stuff myself, right?  I need to keep thinking that, and get back on track!  My first vice that will have to go is the pasta....and bread.  Wish me luck(and maybe Tim too as I fight my way through cravings, lol).