Moving again

For most of my adult life the one consistent factor has been moving. From the many houses we bought, renovated and sold during my married life of twenty-three years to my first major move out West in 1993 to be with my then dying mother there was no shortage of moves. During my fourteen years in the Okanagan I moved several times, most often moving in with various girlfriends and before and after caring for my mother. My last move in BC was to the disaster that was my renovation in Princess which I have detailed in another post. When everything fell apart on me and my doctor said I had to get away from all the stress or I would have a heart attack this was the start of my foreign moves. 

After months of research my first international move was to Boquete, Panama. Back then it was a combination of good weather, lower cost of living, doing something where I could make money, and finding somewhere in the mountains maybe as beautiful as the Okanagan. Boquete was a mixture of good and bad, mostly bad after the horrible renovation of Vista Grande which left me penniless and I was forced to return to Canada and had a roof over my head thanks to my cousin in Toronto. After wearing out my welcome at her place I followed a lady I had met and fallen in love with to London, Ontario. That quickly fell apart on me and I lived everywhere from my car to several homeless shelters, finally ending up in my own apartment on Hale where I lived for several years. As I approached retirement age I again searched for somewhere warmer and where I could continue to work to make extra money. 

This time, again after much research, I went to Cotacachi, Ecuador. This move started off better than Boquete, Panama but just as quickly turned into a disaster. That was mostly because I got screwed by my own government. Despite assurances before I left Canada that my GIS pension would be deposited it wasn't, leaving me more and more desperate for six months. By the time it finally came through I was already booked to come back to Canada, this time to Belleville. At the time I had no idea how much Belleville was going to be part of my future. After nearly freezing to death in Frankford and having a breakdown at the Salvation Army in Belleville I ended up in the first of what would be several transitional houses in Belleville, the first being on Murney. From there I moved back and forth between Forin and Victoria, now part of All-Together Housing.

As my one year tenancy was about to expire plus my room rent had gone up a hundred dollars I again started looking for somewhere to go, again warmer and escape the Canadian winter, lower cost of living and where I could work to make some extra money. This time I knew that my GIS pension would end after six months out of the country so I had to find a way to replace this income. I thought I did. Before going I had connected with a guy in Ajijic, the place I was going, and asked about the city portal sites I had built. He said there was nothing there like that and I would have no problem earning an extra five hundred a month to replace my lost pension. That proved to be so wrong. 

Although Ajijic turned out to be my favorite place, far better than Panama or Ecuador, things soon fell apart on me again. At one point the government suspended all my pensions, leaving me thirty-three cents in the bank for three weeks. After that my landlord, the landlord from hell, put my rent up two thousand pesos (about a hundred and twenty dollars) and wanted it paid in advance. This led to the worst decision I ever made when I moved to Chelem in the Yucatan Peninsula when I was offered a month's free rent. Just made a bad situation all the worse and again I was forced to come back to Canada.

After nearly not surviving the flights back the room I thought I had available with All-Together Housing was not available after all. I ended up in emergency housing who put me in a motel in Trenton. The next few days were just horrible, shunting me from various Comfort Inns to the reserve and finally to the CMHA who insisted I go to the hospital first because my sugars were off the charts. After five days in hospital I was moved back into a different room at Murney. Within a week I was then moved to Dunbar where I stayed until moving back to Forin in April of last year. I was then on the Emergency Housing list for my own place. 

In September of last year I was told that a place was available on Turnbull but because of the virus situation I couldn't get anything I needed for my own place, from a bed to all the things I needed. These would normally be available from St. Vincent de Paul or the Salvation Army, but they were both shutdown because of the pandemic. After some back and forth with Housing it was agreed that I could not move; however, I would still not lose my position on the housing list. Then in January I was advised that an apartment at 50 Rollins Drive would be available March 15th. Shortly after I visited the apartment and it looked fine. It would be my first time living in what was a senior's complex and it was disappointing that all the normal activities were all shutdown because of the virus. The apartment was small but at least it would finally be my own place. Progress!

After all the troubles at Forin I was relieved to get out of there, but all hope of ever moving somewhere warmer and with that spirit of adventure that I had experienced so many times before was all gone. Not only was I going to be stuck in Belleville, the last place in the world I ever thought I would live, but I would be facing another Canadian winter, something I thought I had left behind. Belleville is the least scenic place I've ever lived since going to BC, but the virus makes it all the worse. When I lived here before I had friends who took me everywhere from Kingston on summer weekends, to various provincial parks, to local festivals like the Elvis Festival in Tweed, to the Belleville Waterfront Festival, to dancing every week in Belleville and Trenton and simple day trips. Since the virus hit I've done absolutely nothing other than work at home and the occasional shopping trip. Total boredom! I can only hope that things get better post virus. As a hopeless romantic I will never give up on meeting someone to share my life. I am also planning to join the YMCA across the road to quit smoking and get in better shape. I also have my bike that I have yet to ride and I'm now close to the nice paths along the lake.  

For well over twenty years I've always hoped that things got better. Moving to BC gave me the best fourteen years of my life. Even though Panama and Ecuador both ended in turmoil there were some good parts. Mexico was the one place I thought I would live out the rest of my life in, especially when I met the love of my life and was going to get married. Getting dumped by text message came far too close to ending it all for me and I'm lucky I survived. For now I have to accept where I am and focus on some way to earn enough money to go back to Mexico. I refuse to give up on my dreams.   

 

   


Gallery - Messenger Women

For some unknown reason, maybe call it just good luck, for the last few months I have been friended by numerous twenty something girls on Facebook and they all share some very nice photos, some of which you would call “private”. I end up chatting with some of them, many for hours at a time. The first thing I do in our chats is share my photo, which always leads to the question of how old I am. I respond with old as dirt and when they ask again I tell them to guess. It’s good for my ego that not one of them has guessed over mid-fifties and they are usually shocked when I tell them I’m seventy-one. Of course some of them chat for a while and then ask me for gift cards, which I won’t do, both as a matter of principle and because I can’t afford it. The result is that I lose some of them because all they are just looking for is money. A few ask for money to send me naked photos, but I won’t do that either.  


The Impossible Dream

It’s been forever since a woman got to me like this

From that first photo it’s been pure bliss

She was the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen

How it would progress could not be foreseen

Much younger than me she clearly was

But I couldn’t let that stop me because

She was my dream girl in so many ways

Every photo of her set my heart ablaze

That she wanted to chat just astounded me

She said she liked me, how could this be?

She thanked me for ”being here for her”

Being really together is what I’d prefer

Her gorgeous hair, her beautiful face

That glorious figure I’d love to embrace

The more we chatted my feelings grew

But that this was crazy I certainly knew

How could a vision like her ever be with me?

There’s simply no chance of ever being “we”

The very thought of her makes my chest swell

No question this girl has me under her spell

She makes me so happy with what she says

She’s simply beyond perfect in so many ways

Every man has a vision of his “dream girl”

Someone who sets his heart in a whirl

Absolutely no question this girl is that for me

Can I stop thinking of her? That will never be

Just to meet her would be a huge thrill

One small part of my dream she’s fulfill

I pray she forgives me for wanting more

My lusting comments she needs to ignore

That I was younger, handsome and rich

Good enough for her life to enrich

Simple things like just walking hand in hand

Would make me the happiest man in the land

My mind races at the thought of a kiss

Boy would that ever be pure bliss!

Impossible not to think about making love

Now there’s the perfect gift from above

But even God says, “hey, you stupid man”

Where’d you get the idea this was the plan?

It’s far too late for you to think this way

She’s far too special. There won’t be a day

When she would ever settle for you at all

You’ll only get hurt when you surely fall

The best you can hope for is the “dreaded friends”

That’s where all this crazy stuff clearly ends

Just be thankful she came into your life

Forget stupid dreams of being your wife

She’s a real catch and one day she’ll find

The man of her dreams leaving you behind

She’s too sweet to be cruel about it

But even a good friend has to admit

That is what is will never change

Believing it’s not would be very strange

So enjoy it while it lasts, lucky guy

And never stop to question why

She came into your life for a reason

Or maybe it’s just for a season

Regardless, enjoy every minute you share

And make sure she knows how much you care

Accept that no one like Chloe will ever come again

That she got to you so much no one can explain.

But the memories of her will endure

Of the love for her you’re totally sure


Abortion - A complicated issue

"The abortion debate is the ongoing controversy surrounding the moral, legal, and religious status of induced abortion. In English-speaking countries, the sides involved in the debate are the self-described "pro-choice" and "pro-life" movements. "Pro-choice" emphasizes the right of women to decide whether to terminate a pregnancy. "Pro-life" emphasizes the right of the embryo or fetus to gestate to term and be born. Both terms are considered loaded in mainstream media, where terms such as "abortion rights" or "anti-abortion" are generally preferred. Each movement has, with varying results, sought to influence public opinion and to attain legal support for its position.

For many people, abortion is essentially a morality issue, concerning the commencement of human personhood, the rights of the fetus, and a woman's right over her own body. The debate has become a political and legal issue in some countries with anti-abortion campaigners seeking to enact, maintain and expand anti-abortion laws, while abortion-rights campaigners seek to repeal or ease such laws while expanding access to abortion. Abortion laws vary considerably between jurisdictions, ranging from outright prohibition of the procedure to public funding of abortion. The availability of safe abortion also varies across the world."

The recent birth of Molly has reignited the debate over frozen embryos. When Molly Gibson was born in October of this year, it was 27 years in the making. Her embryo was frozen in October 1992, and stayed that way until February 2020, when Tina and Ben Gibson of Tennessee adopted it. Molly is believed to have set a new record for the longest-frozen embryo to have resulted in a birth, breaking a record set by her older sister, Emma.

There are an estimated one million frozen embryos in the United States alone right now. If you're somebody who believes life begins at conception, you might see a potential tragedy. If you’re somebody who has long been struggling with infertility, you might wish that someone, somewhere, would send one your way. If you’re a clinic or storage facility, you might see a logistical struggle. And if you’re a former patient of IVF to whom one or more of those embryos belong, you might see indecision, an unyielding maybe that you can avoid dealing with for the not insignificant cost of approximately $1500 per year.

The options with leftover embryos are to use it themselves (an option that might now really even be on the table for those scrambling to raise other kids). Donate them to another infertile couple. Allow them to be used for scientific research. Or simply thaw and discard them. This has raised the debate over whether destroying them is abortion. Those that believe that life begins at conception argue that this should be criminalized. In the US the recent appointment of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court has raised concerns among pro-choice advocates because of her previously expressed opinions. 

"Barrett signed newspaper ad in 2006 sponsored by St Joseph County Right to Life, an extreme anti-choice group

Barrett signed newspaper ad that called Roe v Wade ‘barbaric’
Stephanie Kirchgaessner in Washington
@skirchy
Thu 1 Oct 2020 13.45 BST

6,257
Amy Coney Barrett publicly supported an organization in 2006 that has said life begins at fertilization. It has also said that the discarding of unused or frozen embryos created in the in vitro fertilization (IVF) process ought to be criminalized, a view that is considered to be extreme even within the anti-abortion movement."

"So, what then? When might we reasonably say that personhood begins?

"A starting point that is far more consistent with the facts of biology is not conception but the emergence of the human brain. We declare persons dead when their brains have lost the capacity to govern the core functions necessary for life—breathing, excretion, and the like. When a fetus has developed a brain that can support its basic biological functions, probably at around six months of life, it can be reasonably argued that personhood has begun.

Those in the personhood movement in the United States have let their animus toward abortion blind them to the facts that have emerged about human embryology over the past fifty years. And scientists, sadly, have been unwilling to correct them. Conception is the start of something, but it is more the start of the possible rather than the actual. It is not until a being emerges that has the traits necessary for individual existence that we can and should say that a person has begun. How law and public policy want to handle that fact is still debatable. But to ask the law to treat embryos as persons from the moment of conception is to head down a path where the facts ought not permit anyone to go."

Beyond the moral, ethical, political, and legal issue about when does life begin, with the answer to that then affecting abortions, for me it is a very personal argument. 

My son, Christopher, was born in 1970. My daughter, Heather, was born in 1977. Both wonderful kids. The loves of my life. Sometime after Heather was born I noticed that my ex-wife was not getting ready as usual to go to work. When I asked what was going on she responded that she was going to Toronto with her mother to Sick Kids Hospital to have an abortion. Needles to say I was shocked because she hadn't said a word to me about being pregnant. My first reaction was to question why she didn't need my agreement before aborting our child? She said it was her decision alone and did not involve me! Admittedly I didn't know the law but I just knew this was wrong. She obviously wasn't giving me any choice in the matter and it was too late to challenge her decision. It was very upsetting to say the least. One thought that I did have was that this was a clear indication that my marriage was over.

After the solarium company went down I just had to get away. I left home with no idea where I was going but when I got to Dryden I realized that I was half way across Canada and could keep going to see my parents. Shortly after my son and daughter came out for a three week vacation. The best time of my life until the day they had to go back to Brampton. Heather told me to stay out west. She said she had never seen me happier and knew that I had tried so hard, but my marriage was over. It broke my heart, I couldn't stand the thought of leaving her so I drove back home. A big mistake. Then in 1991 I got a phone call that changed my life forever. My mother had been diagnosed with fifth stage melanoma and given less than a five percent chance of surviving more than six months. Having been apart for more than twenty years I knew that I had to go to BC to be with her. I took a flight out the next day. Miraculously they caught my mother's cancer before it reached her lymph nodes so she was given more time. Finally after even more stress in my marriage I realized it was time to leave. I had left home a year earlier but I was still paying for everything and my wife wasn't even working. I told her we were done. I also wanted to spend whatever time my mother had left with her. In June of 1993 my parents drove down to Brampton with me. The house was sold and my Dad was going to sell off all my tools and things. The day I left my daughter was one of the toughest days of my life, but the plan was for her to come out and visit me again so I didn't know that it would be the last time I would ever see her again. The following year after talking to her I drove across the country in the dead of winter to see her but my ex and her new husband hid her away from me and wouldn't let me see her. It broke my heart and I cried all the way on the drive home to BC. That was twenty-six years ago and my daughter refused to respond to me despite numerous attempts to contact her. I saw my son briefly back in 2009 and we made plans for me to meet my three granddaughters but that fell apart after three months of waiting and he blocked me on Facebook and sold his phone.

The point in all of that is that I can't help but wonder about that possible third child. Would that son or daughter be the one who loved her father? Would we have had a life together? Would she maybe have gone with me on my travels? Maybe they would even be able to mend my broken relationships with my kids and grandkids. Would I still have a family that I cherished so much? 

Quite obviously it changed my feelings on abortion when it became personal. Before that I agreed to abortion in cases of rape, incest or when there was an danger to the mother. I also agreed with pro-choice that it is a woman's right to control her own body; however, in cases like mine I also believe that it should be a mutual decision between a man and wife. I don't know if I had the right to object before my ex had the abortion or what the result would have been if we had not agreed, particularly given that our marriage was in big trouble at the time. Her killing our unborn child has obviously had brutal consequences for me and raised many other issues had she not gone ahead with the abortion. Still, I live with huge regrets and the unknown.            

 


Diana Krall

Diana has always been one of my favourite artists. Back when I was building my music library I found a site in Russia that had almost every song she had ever recorded at the time, and I downloaded them all. When it’s time to relax I play them over and over. I’ve never been lucky enough to see her live but that’s on my bucket list for sure. 

As a child, Krall played classical piano, sang in a church choir, and learned to play and sing the Fats Waller songs in her father’s record collection. She began playing piano professionally at age 15 and later studied at the Berklee College of Music in Boston and privately with jazz pianist Jimmy Rowles. Performing in the United States and Canada, she developed a repertoire that included subtle, sophisticated songs and spare accompaniment—a cool jazz rhythm section featuring her own piano, occasionally augmented by discreet string-orchestra backgrounds.


Renovations - Princess

It's said that life is timing. No truer statement could be made about this massive renovation. I was on my way into Kelowna to pay the balance of my first month's rent on a basement apartment I didn't care much for, when, for some unknown reason I checked my email. There was an email from my Realtor telling me about a place in the Princess MHP that was about to go into default and he suggested, although it was a mess, I could probably just takeover the existing loan and renovate the place. I met him there and, well, there rest is history, none of it good.

When I first moved in I wish I had taken more pictures of what I found on closer inspection, but let's just say I ended up pretty well gutting it, redesigning the layout and completely rebuilding it from the ground up. About the only thing I didn't touch was much of the exterior cladding mostly because it was in good condition and fit in with my planned colour scheme.

They had two massive dogs who had basically destroyed whatever lawn there may have been at one time. What little work had been done was very shoddy. When I leaned against the railing on the deck they had it started to collapse and I nearly fell off. They only things that was done right were the two additions, one at the front right with what could be two bedrooms and one at the back with a bedroom and a bathroom.

The reno of the kitchen was total with all new plumbing, electrical, walls, new appliances, flooring and cabinets.

Originally there were two bathrooms, the "fish" bathroom which was the main bathroom in the original unit, and the bathroom in the add-on part at the back. Although I intended to demolish and replace the "fish" bathroom with a new bathroom location, I thought the bathroom in the add-on only required maybe a repaint and replacing the vanity. Boy was I wrong!

It looked like the taps had been leaking in the bathroom because the backboard had been cut out to make repairs. I intended to install a one-piece shower/bathtub unit so the cut-out around the taps wasn't really a factor, but I just wasn''t comfortable just covering it up without making sure it didn't still leak. It did, so we started pulling off the plywood to find the source of the leak. Soon we were down to the sub floor and there was evidence that it was wet. To our considerable shock, when we went outside after running the taps there was water dripping on the external wall. There was also some evidence that the studs had been wet because there was blackening on the bottom. It was becoming more obvious that this was not going to be a cosmetic fix and would require demolition and rebuild.

Once we had removed the vanity and the bathtub we went to remove the old vinyl flooring. Naturally I was hoping it would come up in one piece, so Chris and I got a hold of one side and gave it a tug and it did come up in one piece. To my horror the vinyl and the floor was covered in obvious black mold! I grabbed Chris and we ran outside. It was too late to worry that we should have had breathers on or, better yet, called the HazMat team in. The damage had been done.

With breathers on we removed the sub floor and bleached all the walls and floor joists where we had seen any mold. The plumbing all came out and was replaced with new. All together my minor cosmetic fix cost me several thousand dollars. Just proves you never know what will happen when you start a demo. There's often secrets lurking in those walls.

The Exterior

It's hard to describe just how bad the place was from the outside. It was either damaged or broken down everywhere. No question the place was an eyesore in the park. The first job was to demo pretty well everything. The shed, although in pretty rough shape and empty on the inside, was structurally sound. It had a door opening on the back which made no sense to me because it would only be perfect back there for break-ins. I knew from the start that I would need a place for all my tools and to work because there would be nowhere in the house for this, plus I was trying to live there through all of this. Although I seemed to always be working on a million things at once, I did find time to reclad the shed and build in some great shelving and a workbench. In no time at all it was full.

In general the exterior of the house wasn't too bad, with most of the cladding in good shape. The one exception was at the entrance where they had put the BBQ too close to the vinyl siding and it had melted. I was most concerned about the first impression of the place so this is where I focused on making it look better. The first major job was to remove the old, broken patio door and replace it with the french doors, which made a huge first impression. Then we built the stairs and railings. Then we added a window to make the living room brighter. Then we re-clad this part of the place with new board and the horizontal boards in the highlight colour. Some new eaves-trough and downspouts and some flowers and things looked pretty good.

I might mention that the concrete pad we added was the first time I had ever done this kind of work. I researched it on the internet plus I had help from a guy in the park who saw what I was trying to do and helped me out lending me some finishing tools. I was pretty proud of the job I'd done when it was finished.

I should also mention that there were a number of areas that it looked like it was going to be a problem growing grass. Some of the areas were also out of sight, like the side of the place along the road, so I wanted to make it as maintenance free as possible. I got the idea of creating what looked like a dry riverbed down the side and around the front. What I didn't realize at design time was just how many rocks this was going to take. I think the first full dump truck load was something like 20 yards and that's a whole lot of rocks. I figured that by the time I was finished doing the whole property I had moved and placed about fifteen thousand rocks in total. Yeah, grass might have been easier.


My Life

February 27th

Lenny graciously agreed to let me bunk out at her place again. Ain't she great? Nice to have true friends, who understand what you're going through and help out however they can. Couldn't make her dinner because the ski club was having a "thank you" dinner for volunteers that helped out. Awesome dinner at Teresa's and lots of people - way more than I expected. They are a good bunch. Couple of them were heading down to the Gator to see Almost Elvis, so I said I would meet them there. Roads were a little crazy because of a late season snow storm. Almost Elvis certainly wasn't playing the blues, so dancing wasn't as good as usual, but still had fun dancing with Darlene, Cathy, Donna and Waneta. Thanks for the compliments ladies. I needed them this weekend for sure. Told a couple of them that I was going cross-country skiing today and they said they might join me.

Sunday was the perfect day for cross-country. Bit of new snow last night. Temp just above freezing and no wind at all. Linda wasn't feeling good, and, as usual, the others didn't call, so I wasn't crazy about going on my own, but I wasn't going to waste the perfect day, so off I went. Although I wanted to do my usual run, I knew I was not in good shape, seeing as how this is the first time up this year, but I thought I would just take it easy. I was doing great until I took a wrong turn and ended up bombing down a black diamond hill. Couldn't stop and bought it into the snow bank at the bottom, right in front of two skiers coming up. At least it was nice fresh, soft powder I fell into to break my fall. Did a great couple of hours and I just know I'll be paying for it tomorrow.

Cooked chicken wings and Caesar salad for dinner and played with Sasha and took it easy until I came home. Linda was being cautious about talking about who she knew I was going crazy about, as had everybody all weekend. As usual, when I got home I had to empty the garbage, fill up the pellet stove, do the recycling, fill the humidifier, empty the dishwasher, even do Mum's pills which were empty. So much for "help" from my sister.

Now for the worst part of the weekend, and my life for that matter. Over the last three weeks I've learned that it ended up being a big mistake to be so proud of having a great girl and sharing things with friends. Naturally they only want what's best for you, and to see you happy, so they ask how it's going? I have only myself to blame for unwittingly putting myself in an awkward and embarrassing position.

Not even sure I feel comfortable posting anything public about this, but I have to face up to it and deal with it, so this is a start. It doesn't help that I have the picture of her that I posted right above the computer to look at while she was away. As you know all too well, this has been a brutal three weeks for me. I have been through just about every emotion - pain, loss, sadness, confusion, anger, loneliness for the whole time. This weekend was the worst because, first, as far as I knew she was flying into Vancouver Friday night. Of course I didn't know anything for sure because, well, you know why. I kind of expected she would call from Vancouver, or at least email to let me know she got back safely and when she was coming home. Before the holiday extension, we were going skiing this weekend at Big White, so I hoped she would at least let me know if that was on or not. No such luck. As the weekend drew on and still no word from her, I bounced back and forth between concern that something had gone wrong for her, to just total confusion. I got my answer when I got home and checked my email. There was a brief and terse message, a "dear John" thanking me for the "good times we had."  "Hurt" and "sad" don't begin to describe how I feel.

Yet another lesson learned - don't EVER be honest about your feelings.    

February 23rd

For anyone following the saga of the long lost girlfriend (yeah, both of you), it might have seemed odd that I haven't said a word about it in days. Actually, I know, anyone who knows me finds it odd when I have nothing to say. Well, there isn't anything to say really, only because there hasn't been a single word - no email, no postcards, no nothing. It's a very strange situation for sure. At this point I don't have a clue when she's even coming home. It's already Thursday in Fiji and she'll be leaving at some point because it's a four hour drive back to the airport, and a nineteen hour flight home to Vancouver. I would assume that she probably wants some "catch-up" time at home before going back to work on Monday, so I doubt she won't be back until late Sunday, but you never know. I certainly haven't been right about anything with her so far, have I?

I'll freely admit to being more confused about this "relationship" than I've ever been in my entire life. I find it so hard to believe that I could have been so wrong about someone. We spent so much time together and we talked for hours and hours. I thought I knew her at least enough to think how this holiday would go, but I could never have been more wrong. They say "absence makes the heart grow fonder". I guess you could add "absence makes the brain clearer" as well. When I put the holiday experience together with the stuff that happened before she left, I get a pretty clear picture of how dumb I've been. All the affection; the "wuv" you; the cards and gifts; "celebrating" our one month anniversary; and talking about the longer term and making plans to do stuff together, like take lessons to develop a dance routine for us, all seems so empty when I realize there never ever was anything coming back from her. How could I have missed this when it was so damned obvious? I guess when you are blinded by falling in love with someone you don't pay attention to the fact that they don't feel the same way. You just wish for it, but that doesn't make it happen. Even though some things should be painfully obvious, like refusing to let me do something for her for Valentine's Day, which I know is brutally clear to just about everyone on the planet except me, accepting the truth means you have to give up on your dreams of it being the way you had imagined.

Regardless of how badly it turned out, and how painful it has been to accept the way things really are, I know I am a better man for having been through all this. I have learned my lesson and will be much more cautious the next time, even when my heart tells me differently. I know now that expressing my true feelings too soon is my worst enemy, not my friend. I will pay more attention to the signs - the reality and not the dream. I will try to keep uppermost in my mind how much it hurts to be so wrong.

I have always believed that there is a woman out there who wants what I want - love, affection, trust, treating each other like the two most special people in our lives, caring more for the other than ourselves, putting their needs first, respecting and sharing in their hopes and dreams, and knowing that, with them, our lives have more meaning and are so much better together, than apart. They light up the room and our hearts when they walk in. We think about them all the time, not out of need, but out of love. We miss them horribly when they are not around. We only find true peace and comfort in their arms. We know honest passion when we make love. We are devastated by any upset or argument, or anything that jeopardizes our future, like health issues or family situations. We are free to be ourselves, without any reservations. We can feel genuine kid-like happiness around them, and we laugh and laugh together. We sense a whole new optimism about life, and we can confront our problems with the confidence that having a strong relationship brings. None of this exists when you are alone. I know that all too well, because, obviously, I am alone.

"It takes a minute to have a crush on someone, an hour to like someone and a day to love someone, but it takes a lifetime to forget someone."

- Author unknown.

February 20th

Got out of my gloomy slump (a glump?) a little this weekend.

Saturday got off to an interesting start. Tracy was going to look at a boat in Peachland and she asked me if I would mind coming along with her to check it out. It was a chance for me to see the kids again, so I jumped at it. It was terrific to see Bray and Madison again. They are getting so big! We had a ball and took some pics. They dropped back to the house to see some of the renos and say high to Mum, although Mum had no clue who they were, of course. Threw her a little when Bray said, "good-bye Grandma." 

Lenny graciously agreed to put me up for my one-day weekend break. I was cooking dinner for her Saturday, then we were going to the Blue Gator that night, and hiking on Sunday. Her boss, Heather, had a friend, Judy coming in for the weekend, so the plan was changed to dinner at Friends, then to the Gator. We had a great meal, that I couldn't afford, at Friends, then we were off to the Gator to see one of my favs, Dogskin Suit. I was shocked when I walked into the Gator because they had done some major renos since I was last there. It's about twice the size now and awesome. Big new dance floor and more seating.

It was one of those weekends that prove Kelowna is the biggest little small town in the world. When we sat down I noticed a blonde sitting at the table next to us, and thought I might be lucky enough to know her. When she went out for a smoke I followed, and she immediately said "hi, Gary", and I realized it was Wanita, my buddy Greg McCarthy's ex. We did some catching up and she asked me to dance, which was great. At one point she was sitting alone at the table, so I went over to ask her to dance, she said she didn't want to leave the table because she was waiting for some friends to arrive. Next thing I see Marv and Sylvie, my sort of ex, come walking up to the table, so we had a laugh that we all knew each other. Darlene was there, the lady I planted the tress for, and John Grant and Erin, so I got lots of dancing in. John asked me if I liked hockey cause he gets Rockets tickets a lot and takes his son, but sometimes his son can't go, so he asked if I wanted to go with him. Bonus!

When I was talking to John and Erin, we mentioned the dance lessons from Tom and Deb, and I said I was hoping to take them with my new girl, but things were a little uncertain with the whole "holiday" thing. I explained what happened to John, and the first thing he said was "oh, she's with a guy then, not a girl." Funny that everyone draws the exact same conclusion. Erin was listening, and she asked if this was the girl she knew. When I said yes, she said that the girl she knew was a "sweetie" and would never ever do that, so don't jump to conclusions.

Sunday was a bit of a bummer cause, first I wanted to go cross-country skiing, but Lenny wasn't up to it, so we were doing a hike. Judy was joining us, but when Sunday morning came, Judy was "sleeping it off", and Lenny wasn't doing anything except crash on the couch. I ended up taking Sasha (Lenny's dog) for a hike myself. Got some good pics for the hiking website, and managed to train Sasha to actually come for me off the leash, which was great.

Still in a bit of a "funk" but at least took my mind off things for a bit. Stay tuned.   

February 17th

Well I finally heard from the long lost "girlfriend". Now she's staying until late next week, not arriving into Vancouver until Friday at 11:00 pm, with no idea when she'll be back into Kelowna. I can just hear the tongues wagging now - yes, I guess he's showing her a very good time, and she wants more. Oh well, at this point what's a few more days. I wasn't expecting an invite to the wedding anyway. Oh, and by the way, not a word about the Valentine's eCard, naturally. Did I expect anything else? Live and learn, I guess.

Even sadder is the fact that I've been in a sulk, dreading the thought of learning the truth at the airport on Sunday. I've been feeling that horrible sense of loss when a relationship is over, and it hurts so badly. You try to pick yourself up and get on with life, but it all seems so empty without that special someone. They always say it's better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all, but right now, I can't say I agree with that. Not a very happy camper, that's for sure.

February 16th

Okay already - so I am an idiot. I get it. Sometimes having lady friends to talk to really sucks, cause they make so much sense all the time. Sometime it's better to just be a clueless man, and fumble your way through life, than to actually understand the female mind.

In helping me through my confusion over the Valentine’s Day "massacre" with my "girl", survey says I am clueless and I don't get it. Why would she not give me the information on where she was staying so that I could do something special for her on Valentine's Day, even when I had to spoil the surprise and tell her why I needed it? She knew how difficult it would be for me to have her away on such a big day for me, and how important it was, but she refused to give me her "girlfriend's" name, who the room was booked under. Made no sense. Well, survey says, it isn't a "girlfriend" she's with; it's obviously a "boyfriend". That explains why she refused to give me any information; why she said she wanted to have no "connection" while she was there; why she hasn't made any attempt to email me, and why she hasn't even received the eCard Valentine I sent her. Duh! Wake up Gary.  Okay, I get it. I may be older, but obviously not wiser. I want to think only the best of people, and trust them, so don't confuse me with facts. Sometimes you just want something so bad that you ignore the reality of how things really are.

Although I hate hearing the truth, I defer to all those wise women who are true friends and want only the best for me, and don't want to see me get hurt. I'm listening and I promise to learn. Don't forget, I am a "hopeless romantic". We just hate the truth when it isn't the least bit romantic. You could have at least humored me when I suggested she was staying in a grass hut on a deserted island with no contact with the outside world, and that explained why I hadn't heard from her. Damn you!

Even though. sadly, you are no doubt right about the boyfriend thing, I hope you are also right that she will still want to be friends, if not boyfriend/girlfriend, because I truly was looking forward to doing all the things we talked about. I have a ski pass to Big White, and she agreed with me holding off going until she came back. We talked about going cross-country skiing, and she said she would try to learn roller-blading. And the big one - she is my all-time favorite dance partner, so I hope we can always dance, no matter what. Against my better judgement (okay, so I don't have any) I went to the Corral last Saturday, if only to refuse to admit to myself that I couldn't go without her, and it was lousy. I didn't enjoy dancing with all my "regulars" because they just didn't get it, and kept asking me what the hell I was doing when I tried some of the moves I do with her. We talked about taking dance lessons together and I hope this is still on for her. Hopefully the "boyfriend" understands.

Clueless in Kelowna. 

February 14th

This is the day when those in love feel that special glow of being with someone special. It's also the day when those people without someone special feel lonely and depressed, and wonder what they are doing wrong in their lives.

My "sweetie" is in Fiji, a million miles away, and this makes this day all the harder. It's a day ahead in Fiji, so I sent her an eCard for Valentines yesterday. I was hoping beyond hope that she would find the time to at least send me an email or let me know she got the card, but no such luck. As an admittedly "hopeless romantic" guy, Valentine's Day is the most special day of the year to me, and it's sad to see it as just another day. Before I found out she would be away on Valentine's I had made reservations for a special table by the window at Earls, down on the lake - something that's almost impossible to do because it's THE romantic spot for Valentine's. I was going to have roses on the table for her, and get her something special for our very first Valentine's Day. All of this was trashed when she informed me she would be in Fiji. As sad as I was about it, I tried to arrange to send her flowers at her hotel in Fiji, and emailed the hotel to make the arrangements. They had no one by that name booked in, I assumed because it was booked under her friend's name. I tried to get her to give me the information, without telling her why, but she wouldn't without her friend's "approval". Finally I had to spoil the surprise by telling her why I needed it, and she still wouldn't give it to me. So much for feeling "special".

Instead of feeling that warm glow of being special to someone, all I feel is the incredible sadness at what might have been. Not exactly what I had in mind for Valentine's Day, 2006. Hopeless Romantic? Nope, just another sad lonely guy.

January 30th

What a difference from last weekend. This weekend was one of "failed expectations". Part of the problem was my sweetie was still very sick, and worried that she would still be ill when she had to fly off to Fiji next Friday - a scary thought with a head cold. Friday night was me cooking dinner, and watching movies, so she could rest. This weekend was Snowfest, so there was lots going on to do, but Crystal wasn't up to going out much.

Saturday night was a big deal for me, as it was the last night Crystal and I would have for quite a while. She's leaving on Friday afternoon, and not coming back until late Sunday night in two weeks, so that basically toasts three complete weekends - the only time I get to leave the house and caring for Mum fulltime. This meant Saturday night was the only break I would get in the next whole MONTH. Yikes! Talk about pressure to make the best of it! No matter what we did Saturday night I at least hoped I could spend the night with Crystal at her place. When we talked on the phone to decide what she was up to, she informed me that she wanted to get a good night's sleep and preferred that I didn't stay over. That was a blow! My one and only night in a month was toast. We ended up going to the Corral because she felt she wanted to at least try to see if she could get some dancing in. We did have a couple of hours of great dancing, but this was certainly overshadowed by going home alone at the end of the night.

Sunday was even worse. I had hoped that we could spend our last full day together. Ron and Wendy were taking Mum out for breakfast and then to the casino, so we would have the day alone at least. I suggested I get some movies and cook a nice roast beef dinner, then we could cuddle and watch our Sunday night TV - all so Crystal could just get some much needed rest. No deal. She can't handle Ron and Wendy's smoking in our house, so my plan was toast. Not exactly what I wanted after feeling so bad after Saturday night. I'll admit to the start of some serious doubts that this was going to be so "perfect" after all. I know that it's the stress of caring for Mum fulltime and feeling that no one cares what Gary wants, and it's all very unfair to a new relationship with Crystal, but feelings are feelings. I almost didn't go to see her at all, but realized wallowing home alone in my self pity wasn't going to solve anything. It would have all been different if she wasn't sick, and simply didn't want to do anything I wanted to do, so I knew it was unfair to judge her this way. And we've had such good times, and so much promise. The very thought of it being over brought me to the verge of tears.

I doubted she was going to be well enough to do anything, like go skating, so I picked up a movie. It was so indicative of my day that even her DVD conspired against me and wouldn't work, but I eventually figured it out with the kind help of Hillary at Shaw. Crystal cooked a great meal and we sat down to watch Hustle and Flow, which then promptly started breaking up and wouldn't play properly. Could anything else go wrong today? No sooner had we eaten dinner than the phone rang and it was my sister informing me that they were leaving early and asking when I was coming home? I told her not to tell Mum any particular time, but that I would be home soon. She called again when they were leaving asking me if I was going to be on my way soon. When I avoided making a commitment she said Mum was freaking out, afraid to be on her own. When I said that was nothing new - she did that every night, my sister's smart-assed reply was to ask me if I go out every night? I've been telling everyone that Mum is not eating; balling all the time, and shaking, scared about she doesn't know what. No one believes me. The second Wendy walks in the door Mum wants to have a drink and party. She eats and goes off to the casino, just like everything is great, which it's not. I get all the bad stuff. Wendy sounded so judgmental that I wasn't dropping everything and rushing right home. I guess I am not entitled to have any life at all. Crystal was on the phone and I had paused the movie for a while, just long enough to start feeling guilty about not getting home and knowing that I now didn't have time to watch the movie anyway, and if she had come to our place like I wanted in the first place, I wouldn't be stressing about all this, so I gave up and left.

Did I find Mum in am emotional turmoil when I rushed home, or wandering around the park scared? No, she didn't even acknowledge me coming in. She was watching TV in her room, blissfully ignorant of how she had destroyed my last night with Crystal. What should my sister have done? Well, if she had a clue about Alzheimer's, or if she gave a damn about me, she would have told Mum I was trying to enjoy my all too brief break from caring for her and I would be home when I got home, and to stop pulling this shit. She had my cell phone number and Crystal's home phone number, and could call if there was a real problem of any kind - not the ones she so conveniently fabricates when she doesn't get her way.

Crystal did call later and we talked for our usual marathon, and she made me feel better. I am starting to realize more and more that nice guys really do finish last. No matter how hard I try to be accommodating to everyone and consider how they feel, no one give me the same respect in return. If I was a miserable, self-centered, prick that puts himself first, like so many guys I know, at least people pay attention. That's just not who I am, so I guess I'm doomed. I realized that all of what's going on now, especially with Crystal and I, which is the first thing I've done for me in forever, started with Christmas. I was as entitled to Christmas as anyone else - even more so when I've done more than my share of giving everything up for everyone else. My buddy was driving seventeen hours to spend Christmas with me, and we had been invited to friends for Christmas eve. My sister informs me at three in the afternoon that they're leaving for ten days to Vegas, and want to "get away early". Gary's plans? Who cares? Instead of just rolling over like I always do, what I should have done was tell her I had made plans based on her telling me she would be here, so either stay or take Mum with you. It's time for someone else to share the load.

Special moments? None this weekend. Not a one. And this when I face the next three weekends with more of the same, and no one to share any chance of "special moments" with. This sucks the big one. Watch this space. Things are going to change.          


My Life at September 2012

It has been a long and bumpy road, no question. How I have ended up in this situation, penniless, working part-time at minimum wage, alone and in a city I loathe, is the result of mistakes and just plain bad luck. All of us have many "turning points" in our lives, moments or decisions that changed the direction of our lives completely. Location plays a huge part, obviously. Where we are born and where we chose to live during our lives, Marriage, Kids, Career changes, Death, Loves and the people who come into your life, as they say, for a "reason" or a "season".

 

Up until about 1992 I had had what you would call a "normal" life. Got married in 1969; had two wonderful children, both of whom were heavily involved in sports, which I loved. After twenty-three years of marriage I finally accepted that it was never going to be what either of us wanted, and now that the kids had busy lives of their own and hardly had time to see me, I made a life-changing decision. My parents, brother and sister had moved to the Okanagan in 1970 and we had seen each other on rare occasions for many years. In 1991 my mother was stricken with fifth stage melanoma and was given only a five percent chance of survival. For various reasons I had been working around the clock, trying to keep a roof over our heads, while my ex didn't even try to get a job, and my doctor told me I was a poster child for a heart attack if I didn't make some radical changes. My marriage was dead in the water and I wanted desperately to spend what remaining time my mum had with her, so, at the encouragement of my kids, I moved West and spent sixteen glorious years in paradise.

 

What I did not know when I left was that it would cost me my relationship with my kids. I believed that they would come out again to visit me and my family and we would again have the wonderful times we had enjoyed earlier when they had come out for three weeks. Both kids said they had never seen me happier and encouraged me to move. For whatever reason, and this will haunt me to my deathbed, my ex chose to cut-off any contact with my kids and no matter how hard I tried, would not let me see them. After making contact with my daughter, she asked me to come down to see her. I drove across the country, in the depths of winter, nearly buying the farm several times, only to arrive back in Brampton to discover my ex and her new hubby would not let me see her. I hung around for three weeks, staying with my son's family, to no avail. I never saw my daughter again after leaving her in 1993. It crushed me and never has made any sense to me. I reconnected with my son through Facebook in 2007 and I had high hopes that we would be together again, but he chose to again cut me off. I was most upset that my father had passed away and my mother was suffering from Alzheimer's, but they had made no attempt to contact them in all those years. It broke my heart.

 

After losing my parents I took over a foreclosure on a mobile home in Westbank and worked fourteen hour days, seven days a week, for a year and a half, completely gutting it and rebuilding it into a showpiece home, one I was told was the best in the Okanagan. The day before I was to list it, one of the local Indian chiefs came out in the press, stating anyone who bought on Indian land was "stupid", because there was no tenancy and all their parks would be shutdown and condos built instead. Overnight the market crashed. Not only could I not sell it, but I also lost the financing I had. My doctor told me that my stress level was "off the charts" and I had to get out from under this burden, no matter what. I managed to put the place in the care of a good friend, and my other friend agreed to look after the place until I could hopefully sell it in the spring. I left for Panama in 2007; however, instead my so-called "friend" let the place go to ruins, most critically not shoveling off the heavy snow from the roof, and it collapsed. The repair estimate was over twenty thousand dollars and I had no hope of paying for this. My buddy managed to salvage a distress sale, but I lost everything.

 

My time in Panama was no picnic either. I was renovating an apartment complex for a guy back in Kelowna, but he didn't pay me for my work. I had also given temporary shelter to a Panamanian family who were facing being on the streets. They were only to stay for two weeks, but after two months I had to get the police in to get them out. When they finally moved out, they stole everything that wasn't nailed down. They never even paid me for the two months I had fed them. I was left with $21 in my bank and no hope. I also had a gall bladder attack and ended up in the hospital, where they nearly killed me with their antiquated surgery techniques. I barely escaped with my life. My dear cousin back in Toronto offered me shelter, so I sold everything I could get my hands on and flew back to Toronto. She saved my life at the time.

 

As luck would have it, mostly bad luck, during my time in Toronto I met a woman from London on the internet. We talked for hours and she eventually came to visit me, and, well, it was love at first sight for me. I honestly believed she was my soul mate and we would be together forever, so I moved to London to be with her. Tragically, she got secretly involved with another guy on the internet, and went to meet him behind my back. It was obviously over between us and now I was just left stuck in a town I hated, alone, broke and very unhappy. I ended up on assistance and living in a men's shelter. Somehow, through all of this, I managed to get a part-time job at Home Depot, but I am not getting enough hours to survive. The Salvation Army Centre of Hope paid my last month's rent to avoid my eviction, but I can't pay December's rent either, and will again face eviction. A small glimmer of hope is that the London Housing Corporation has finally contacted me about getting a "geared to income" place, but I can't even meet with them until the end of December, and there is no guarantee that I will be approved. I am at my wit's end. There are many days I have dark thoughts. I am also a diabetic, about the run out of my meds yet again. The last time I went through that and had no meds for six weeks, I ended up in the hospital with a sky-high sugar level of 24, which is the stage for a heart attack. Maybe, after all this, it would be merciful.


Jewl

Into every child’s life must come a first pet

To care for, love and cherish and yet

There comes a day you know they’ll regret

A day that will make you so very upset.

 

For no matter how much you love them to death

They don’t live forever. They will take their last breath.

To a child this loss is a whole new feeling

That makes them cry and sends them reeling.

 

It’s so hard to make them understand it’s okay

To grieve their loss in their own special way.

To them it’s a pain they have never had

It makes them confused and so very sad.

 

We all go through it and we remember the pain

Our first thought is we’ll never have pets again.

But time heals all wounds and we soon recover

We learn that to go on we’ll soon have another.

 

Millions of pets go unwanted every day

Unloved and put down in such a cruel way

But you gave life to one so special to you

She knows that it was the right thing to do.

 

She wants you to remember all the good times you had

And not to dwell on her passing and be so sad.

Think of all the fun and joy she gave to you.

Smile when you remember her and don’t be blue.

 

To keep her alive in pain would be cruel

Think only good thoughts of your friend, Jewl.

In the days ahead you’ll miss her so bad

But remember she doesn’t want to make you sad.

 

She’s in a better place, free from pain

And she’ll want you to love another again.

More little joys like her will come your way

To fill your heart with joy. You’ll be okay.

 

Jewl will never forget her good friend, Emily

Who loved her and cared for her as much as could be

No better could she have been loved by anyone

Have only good thoughts, like the heart she won.  


Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

I shed a tear for a fallen soldier today

Why did a young man need to die this way?

I didn’t know him and he didn’t know me

But he believed in “stand on guard for thee”

Not since Dallas have I felt this way

Our innocence is gone too this day

We know that life will not be the same now

True Canadians share regrets, yet somehow

We must find a way to get through our grief

To hold onto our values and our belief

That our beloved country is still strong and free

And that we can handle the threats to you and me  

Our peace-keeper role has gone astray

Sad we have to pay for it in this horrible way

Our great “melting pot” has some cracks in it now

We struggle to accept that and yet figure out how

To guard ourselves against those who preach hate

And to all stand together before it’s too late

If you don’t like our country please don’t come

Keep all the violence back where you come from

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, for those we didn’t know

Now stands in lasting memory of brave Corporal Cirillo