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


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


Back "Home" again

As my initial post on this site says the primary purpose of it is a sort of diary but mostly just in case any of my kids or grandkids ever want to know about me. My daughter, Heather, hasn't spoken to me in twenty six years, which breaks my heart. My son, Chris, hasn't connected with me in more than ten years, despite my attempts to reconnect with him back when I lived in London, Ontario. As for my grandkids I met my son's oldest daughter, Danielle, when she was just a baby and we did reconnect when I was in BC. We chatted quite a bit until I assume her Dad put a stop to that. I've never connected with his daughter, Merissa. I did connect with his other daughter, Mackenzie, back when she was fourteen. Again we chatted back and forth and we were even going to meet when she came to Mexico, but she cut me off when she came to Puerto Villarta and stopped chatting with me just a suddenly. The saddest part of this whole thing is that I have no idea what I did to deserve this. Not a soul has ever explained why they won't talk to me. No one was ever stronger about family than me and my kids know that. Sadly they not only cut me out of their lives but did the same for my entire side of the family. It hurt their grandparents, my Mum and Dad, terribly. My brother and sister and my kid's cousins never heard from them again. No clue why.

Being forced back to Canada, something I figured would never happen after moving to Mexico, started back when I was living in Riberas del Pilar, just east of where I was originally in Ajijic. First I lost one of my pensions because I had been out of the country for more than six months and this was about a third of my measly pension income. Then trying to get my critical diabetic meds turned into a disaster when my friend sent insulin instead of my dry meds. It took months to get to me because she mailed them instead of sending them courier as I had asked and, of course, it was garbage after not being refrigerated for months. I called the pharmacy back in Belleville to explain what happened but they refused to renew my medications without a doctor. I started researching getting my meds in Mexico but that proved impossible because of the costs. I did go through a very lengthy process with their version of public medicine and managed to get a one month supply of insulin. 

Then my landlord from hell who had given me nothing but grief since the day I moved in suddenly demanded two thousand pesos more a month and wanted it now! The fact that according to our lease he had to give me thirty days notice, plus he could only increase the rent annually by five percent meant nothing to him. The studio apartment was a nightmare with either no water, no electricity, or no internet and infestations of ants and, so much worse, cockroaches! Those little buggers are hard to kill! I was terrified chasing them around the apartment. 

It was at this point that I was ready to just give up. I researched whether an overdose of insulin would kill me. It wouldn't. Back when I was unceremoniously dumped by my fiancée by text message I was just going to swim out in the lake far enough that I couldn't make it back, but I was too much of a coward to do that. After crying my eyes out for days I managed to pull myself together and try to go on, but here I was in a desperate mess with no idea what to do. Just when I was thinking about getting the sleeping pills and just laying down on my bed and going peacefully a guy messaged me on Facebook offering me a free apartment for a month in Chelem in the Yucatan, about two thousand miles away. Desperate to just get out from under all this stress it seemed like a better option than going back to Canada. It wasn't. 

Getting rid of all my stuff was yet another nightmare. My new friend, Anny, in Guadalajara offered to sell my things for me, which would have been great if my criminal Uber driver, Salvador, hadn't stolen half my things in the move to Anny's place. Then my equally thieving dentist offered to buy my big screen, very expensive monitor and printer, but then refused to pay me, coming up with new fictitious bills he said I owed him. It took months to get my printer back from him but somehow he managed to destroy it. When my friend, Arnie, eventually managed to get it back for me it wasn't working and he couldn't get a dime for it. Another four hundred dollars gone. My four hundred dollar LG monitor was ripped off by the dentist, along with the executive two hundred and fifty dollar executive chair I gave him. I never calculated how much Salvador stole from me but it was at least my expensive desk, a coffee make that I had promised to Anny, and countless other things that the guys he hired stole. Add the cost to fly to Merida and that "free" month's rent cost me a fortune. The entire move was one of the worst mistakes I've ever made. 

Not only did I lose a fortune moving to Chelem I also hated it. Something that the owner forgot to tell me when he offered me the one month free rent was that the place was sold as of the end of November so I would have to move out. The US purchaser was going to be charging nine hundred dollars US so I couldn't possibly stay. Not only that but after living for the better part of two years in the most perfect climate in the world I was now living in an oven. It was unbearably hot and humid. Mid thirties and higher every single day. The place I lived was on the beach, which might sound nice, but it wasn't because the wind never stopped howling. It could have blown me off the balcony. When I managed to catch the little crowded van that was transit to Progreso to shop I nearly fainted walking down the main street. Just brutal! One day when I was trying to get my glasses fixed I did actually faint. The shop owner called for help and the EMT folks got me to the hospital where they gave me insulin. At the time I didn't realize that the public hospital that they took me to was miles from the downtown where I needed to catch the van back home. 

After not being able to find an affordable place to live, trying in vain to survive without one of my pensions, and running out my meds, particularly my insulin, I knew that I had to give up and go back to Canada, which broke my heart. I contacted everybody from the consulate to the Embassy trying to get help with the flights back to Canada, but that was just another disaster. I was trying to figure out whether to go back to the Okanagan or to Belleville. Although the flights back to Kelowna were cheaper, I think because the connection was out of Puerto Vallarta, I couldn't get answers from the CMHA in Kelowna as to whether they had the type of housing they had in Belleville. I was also under the belief that rents were cheaper in Belleville, which was totally wrong. Rents are insane, especially in a place as horrible as Belleville. I had been checking out flights every day and at one point found flights to Toronto that were as cheap as I'd seen. When you are checking these discount airfare sites nine times out of ten when you go to book them they are sold out. When I found these flights and expected to get the same "sold out" to my surprise the flights were actually booked. It was too late to change my mind and cancel them because there were no refunds. There went half my pension money to pay for the flights. 

Now I was booked out, flying from Merida to Mexico City to Cancun to Toronto. Worst flights ever. I was going to be in the air or sitting around airports for twenty-four hours. Even the lady at check-in at Merida commented that I had terrible flights, asking if I couldn't have done better? In a bit of a last minute panic I ended up donating most of the stuff I had bought to live. The lady I gave it all to said she could sell some of it, like my brand new coffee maker, but she never gave me a dime. She did setup a driver to take me to the airport for 600 pesos. The owner of the house had picked me up at the airport when I first came but he made no offer to take me back to the airport.

Naturally the first flight out of Merida was delayed hours. I wasn't too worried because my layover in Mexico City was something like ten hours. Despite the fact that I was connecting on the same airline all the way to Toronto I still had to get my luggage in Mexico City and check it in again for the flight to Cancun. That meant I was hauling my luggage around for hours at the airport. I might mention that there is nowhere to sit or spend time at the airport Everything was closed overnight and the Krispy Kreme donut place showed that it opened at three o'clock in the morning. I remember seeing all kinds of people lying on the floor and at the telephone booths. I couldn't believe that they had nowhere to even sit. Eventually I saw them getting ready to open the donut shop and I asked the guy when they would be ready. He was nice enough to let me get a coffee and donuts before they were actually open. The donuts, delicious as they were, proved to be a big mistake. 

It was something like six in the morning for my flight to Cancun. Again I had a very long layover before my final flight to Toronto which was scheduled to arrive around midnight in Toronto. I had already booked and paid for the bus to Belleville but it wasn't leaving the airport until six-thirty in the morning, so yet another long layover. Then disaster struck. I was sort of half sleeping on a bench, not realizing that I was actually going into a diabetic coma. A very nice airport staff lady shook me and asked me if I was okay? I guess my mumbled response raised concern and the next thing I knew was that I was being wheelchaired to their emergency clinic. The doctor there spoke good English and gave me insulin and brought my sky-high sugar levels down. They wheeled me back through security again and back to my bench. I still wasn't feeling great and I hadn't slept in quite a while so I guess I doxed off again. Next thing I knew another airport official was shaking me telling me that I was about to miss my flight. As she wheeled me down to the gate I heard my name being called over the PA system. They got me on the plane and stuck me in the first seat where I believe the flight attendants normally sit. 

After finally getting to Toronto more than twenty-four hours after first leaving Mexico I went through challenges with customs but they let me in. First trip after getting my luggage was, of course, Timmies for coffee, something I had missed for two years. It was delicious. Then it was a matter of finding somewhere to sit and wait the hours until the bus for Belleville arrived. When it finally arrived and I showed the driver my prepaid ticket he said that I was only allowed one piece of luggage, but finally agreed to load my two pieces. When I first booked the bus I assumed that it would be stopping at the bus depot downtown. Wrong! It stopped at a truck stop off the 401, miles from downtown Belleville. Staff at the store told me that it was a twenty dollar cab ride to downtown. I didn't have twenty dollars. In desperation I called my friend, Doral and she agreed to pick me up. She said her and her friend were on their way to a dance at the Legion so invited me to come along, which i did. I still can't believe that after two days of horrible travel and little sleep, if any, I was able to dance, but I did. 

The place I had to live just a few days ago, before I left Mexico, now wasn't available so Doral called the Ontario Works emergency housing number. They arranged for a taxi to pick me up and take me to a motel in Trenton for the night. It wasn't great but at least I got to finally have a much needed shower and sleep in a bed. In the morning I learned that OW took me to Trenton but they wouldn't take me back. I talked to the owner of the motel about staying but he was really disagreeable and said he wanted eighty dollars a night. He did say that people in another room were going back to Belleville and they would only charge me ten dollars. Thus started a couple of very crazy days with them. After we stopped downtown to get me a winter coat the police followed us to a parking lot and said that if the van moved they would arrest us. It had something to do with the muffler. Somehow we ended up on the reserve and they dealt with finding us a place. Off we went to Napanee to the Comfort Inn and they even paid for food for us. The next day we were supposed to get the van fixed but that wasn't happening. They went to the band office again to see about housing, but when they came back they said that I was out of luck because I wasn't native. I broke down crying. I couldn't take anymore. Then they arranged for me to stay the night at their daughter's place on the reserve. The apartment was disgusting but it was all I could do at least for the night. Then the police showed up because the landlord had seen me go in and I wasn't allowed to stay there. A very nice police officer called emergency housing again and then drove me to the Comfort Inn in Belleville. It was my first decent night. 

The next morning two staff from the CMHA picked me up and I did their intake interview. Their only condition was that first I went to the hospital. When I got there my sugars were out of control and I spent the next five days being picked and prodded every hour until my sugars stabilized. Then they took me to a disgusting room at 12 Murney where I had stayed years earlier at 10 Murney. The room had no closet, a broken dresser and a horrible single bed. I wondered how I was going to survive but at least I had a roof over my head and it was better than what I had been going through since i got back to Canada. I was only there a few days when they told me that I was moving to Dunbar, the senior's residence, because some guy living there couldn't handle the stairs. Well, home again, sort of.               

   


Why this website?

This website got its start way back in September of 2008 and I could only have wished that it started many years before. It is a diary of sorts of my life and includes various events, thoughts and photos from my travels. 

The primary purpose of this site is for my kids, who have long since abandoned me for reasons I have never understood, and my grandkids, most of which I have never met and they were told that I was dead. 

It’s ironic that no one is stronger on the value of family than me and my kids know that. Nothing will fill the emptiness in my heart being separated from my family. I have lost both of my parents and have nothing to do with my own brother and sister, both of whom did horrible things to me, which only serves to make my own kids and grandkids even more important. Every day I pray that any of them will find me and contact me. When my granddaughter, Mackenzie, contacted me on Facebook Messenger i was beyond thrilled, but after discussing meeting when she came to Mexico for a wedding she suddenly stopped talking to me. I have no idea why.    


Life Lessons Learned

This website involved a huge amount of research for every imaginable graphic, website, research paper, quote or news item about lessons that people had learned. I was hoping that it would help a lot of people avoid making the same mistakes that I and others had made and would become the portal for a lot of discussion on the issues I raised. Nothing ever became of it. 


Moving on

As I said in my sticky post this site is part diary and partly for my kids and grandkids, just in case they ever want to know about me. My kids, Heather and Chris, abandoned me years ago for reasons I will never understand, and four of my grandkids have nothing to do with me. My one joy was Mackenzie, who contacted me on Facebook back when she was fourteen, but then she stopped talking to me, again for reasons I don't know. 

Many years ago my dear Dad showed me a thick binder that he said was his father's diary of his life and asked me to read it. I barely knew my grandfather, having only met him once when I was a kid, so I didn't have a high degree of interest in him. That said, now that I am a grandfather to five grandkids I wish that I had taken the time to read it. 

This post is about where, why and when I have lived where I have in my life. It starts way back when I was maybe two or three years old so i don't have much of a memory about that time.

I was born October 4th, 1949 at St. Joseph's hospital in Toronto. My parents lived on Centre island back when there were still houses there, so my Mum was rushed to the hospital in the middle of the night by the fireboat crew. Quite the entrance. I don't know how long they lived on the island or why they moved, but the next few years were spent at an apartment in Ajax and on what was called the Donalda Farm with a guy nicknamed Bumpy. Later it was to become the start of Don Mills. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My parents then moved in with my maternal grandmother, Jenny Hardy, and grandfather, whose name I don't remember, at 7 Hugo Street in Toronto. I just researched the house and it's for sale. Boy, has it ever been renovated! 

I believe at the time my Dad was still either still teaching driving or he may have started working at the Texaco refinery in Port Credit. I don't remember my mother working back then. 

My grandfather died soon after we moved in with them so I have pretty well  no memories of him. I think he was only in his early fifties when he died.

I went to school at Perth Avenue Public school up until about grade five, I think. I loved living on Hugo because it was a different place and time. On the weekends I would be gone at daylight and the only rule was that I had to be home before the streetlights came on. I rode my bike everywhere or I took the streetcars, buses and subways all over the city. My favourite place to go was High Park and I spent a lot of hours there. My best buddy back then was a guy named Ralph Sholemberg, whose parents only spoke German and not a word of English. I vaguely remember going to his parents for dinner and somehow managing to communicate. I also had my first love, Sharon, who lived just a few doors away from me. She was my first "blonde", something that would last a lifetime for me. She was also a polio victim and walked with a limp. She was a doll. 

When I was twelve we moved to what I thought was the middle of nowhere to a farm on the Fifth Line north of what was called Streetsville back then, now part of Mississauga or I believe more specifically, Erin Mills. I was really mad at my parents because I went from being able to go anywhere in Toronto to being marooned miles from anywhere. I took the school bus to Churchville Public School so I had to take the same bus back home after school and couldn't spend any time with my school friends who lived in Churchville. Our house, which wasn't really a farm, but was on two acres surrounded by the actual farm, which was owned by Jack Fraser, was at least three miles from Churchville so it was a very long bike ride. In around Grade 7 or 8 I did fall hopelessly in love with my first fantasy girlfriend, Roxanne Rollings. We spent hours on the phone, which was a "party line"  so I annoyed everyone, especially my Dad, when Roxanne and I talked for hours. I would gladly do the long bike ride to her parents in Churchville. Our relationship never progressed beyond the dreaded "friends" and she ended up marrying my buddy Wayne Wilson.

To buy the place, from his years in the Navy my father got a loan for ten thousand dollars from the VLA. Moving there was like going back in time. There was no indoor plumbing so we had a well and an outhouse, which was brutal in the winters. There was a pot-bellied stove in the kitchen and pipes running throughout the house, although it was still freezing in the winter so we had kerosene heaters in our rooms. I still remember my Dad freaking out because he had put too much wood in the stove and it was overheating. He was draping wet towels all over it trying to cool it down. I spent the next few years helping my Dad renovate the place, not realizing at the time how much he was teaching me things that would come in handy later when I renovated all my houses over the years. We turned one of the bedrooms into a bathroom which was wonderful because we didn't need the outhouse anymore and I could actually have a shower. The old coal fired furnace was replaced with an oil furnace, I think and the stove was gone. The kitchen was totally changed and it's funny that my Dad actually went with my design, including the rather unique hanging kitchen table. We stripped all the walls back, removing all the old God-awful lathe and plaster to expose the amazing wood beams in the living room. He had the old insulbrick covered with aluminum siding.

We planted a massive garden down the middle of the acreage in front of the house. We got a thousand seedling trees from Orno for free and planted them around the perimeter of the lot out front. My mother managed to destroy them all when the guy from the farm asked her if he could cut the field grass out front. She forget about the tree saplings and he cut them all down. All our work gone. 

When I was sixteen I couldn't handle my father's brutal discipline anymore. I'd had my last strap so I left home and moved in with my buddy David Kirk's family in Streetsville. It was around this time that I got into my first group, The Tempests, with Dave, Don Thurston and Chris Hayes. I was also the first time I learned just how much girls liked guys in groups and I became quite popular with the ladies, something that would last for about ten years in various groups. The Bow Street Runners. The Clyde Valley Show band, HappyFace (my favourite). 

I don't honestly remember whether or not I moved back home at some point, although I must have. Then after a three week vacation trip out west to BC  my Dad decided to sell the place in Streetsville and move to Penticton. There was some thought that I would go with them but the place didn't sell so my parents put it off for another year. By then I had met my soon to be wife, Janice, so there went any thoughts of moving out west with my parents. My Dad had bought an apartment house in Brampton at 226 Main Street North and I had moved in with a buddy, Russ Bird, to the smallest apartment you could imagine. When I got married August 16th, 1969 Russ moved out and Janice moved in. After Chris came along we moved into the much larger main apartment on the ground floor. Sometime later I bought the place from my Dad with only a hundred dollar down payment and private mortgages to the hilt. I think we paid nineteen thousand dollars for it. 

When I had more than I could stand being a landlord we put the place up for sale, asking twenty-five thousand I believe but it didn't sell. I had been looking at single family homes believing that Main Street would sell and I found 29 Fairglen Avenue. It was a total mess when we looked at it. The minute we walked in the front door you could smell the dog pee in the carpets, which had been nailed into the floor below. The living room was orange shag carpet and black fabric wallpaper that made it look like a dungeon. The bathroom fixtures were propped up on two by fours. All the bedroom doors had been broken into when it had been a rooming house. Although the house itself was a disaster I knew that I could fix it up. It was on a huge lot right beside a big field at the rear of a factory. At the back was the CN rail line but there were very few trains a day. It was the first house you came to coming into the neighborhood but it was a very well established area with mature well kept houses. I knew I could bring it up to the standard of the neighborhood. It showed very badly though which the Realtor agreed on and my ex didn't even want to go in after she smelled it at the front door. I told the Realtor that I would make an offer but it would be low ball. I think it was listed at something like forty-nine nine thousand but I offered forty-two. It got accepted. 

So now we owned two homes and had to arrange bridge financing through our bank, BMO. The day the listing expired our criminal agent, Max Harris, offered us a low ball offer, threatening us that the Real Estate company would sue us if we didn't accept his offer. I told him to go to hell and reported him to his broker. It ended up that the next door neighbor bought the place. Years later my cousin took me to see some of the homes we had owned over the years and I was surprised that 226 Main Street was gone! Totally raised. No idea why.

We spent the next five years on Fairglen. This photo is around the time we listed it. I wish I had more photos of all the work I did. We bought the place in the winter so I didn't know that there was a giant hole in the front yard where they had removed a willow tree, a tree whose roots had pretty well destroyed the sewer line, which had to be replaced. When we bought the place there wasn't a single bush in front and the house was painted purple and green, and the roof shingles were coming apart. I had George Kent Aluminum do all the siding and added railings to the front porch. We also replaced the roof and I did all the landscaping including sodding the front yard on which I made my first landscaping mistake. I meticulously screeded the topsoil to be perfectly level before I laid the sod, not realizing that you don't make it perfectly level because you need it to drain. No sooner did we have lovely green grass than we also had mushrooms. 

This was also the first house on which I learned that any and all renovation work would only be done by me. My ex never once lifted a finger to help. All she did, and would do for the rest of our marriage, was complain about the drywall dust. Fast forward though and she was very happy when all my renovation work on nine houses turned our hundred dollar first investment into more than a hundred thousand dollars, every dime of which she got when we split. Lesson learned. When the work on Fairglen was just about done I started looking around again. I think it was a curse that would last a lifetime but once I got close to finishing renovating a place it was time to find another place to renovate. It became the story of my life. I think we sold Fairglen for fifty nine nine. From here we bought the one and only new house we ever owned. I had seen a sign for the new development called Elderwood Place and stopped in to the sales office to check it out. I was pleasantly surprised to not only love the designs but learned that there was a ravine lot still available. A higher price but to me well worth it. It was a really interesting experience visiting it as it was being built. I managed to convince the builder to let me install a complete home sound system as it was being drywalled even though we hadn't officially closed yet. Even with the lot premium I think we paid something like sixty-four thousand for it. 

It was around this time that I got into Real Estate working with Kyle Jamieson Real Estate who were part of the Welcome Home Group. Had the market not gone nuts at the time I may well have stayed in Real Estate for the rest of my life. Part of the problem was that mortgage rates went so crazy that you couldn't even get a commitment on a rate before closing. I was just too moral at the time and would never ask a client to do anything that I wouldn't do. I remember a deal on a house in Caledon that I couldn't get a second mortgage rate commitment on from anybody. My clients would need to just take a chance that the rate would be affordable on closing, some sixty days in advance. My client, John, asked me if he should sign the deal. I told him that I wouldn't so he shouldn't and he agreed. As it turned out rates in sixty days had gone completely insane and they would never have been able to afford the house they were going to buy. I lost both ends of the deal but kept my morals, something a lot of agents weren't doing at the time.

Another, and more major issue, was that I spent six months working on a mall development plan in downtown Brampton. The existing very small mall was owned by a company called Pacific Paving in Mississauga. I worked closely with the owner, not only designing the expanded mall, adding a second story of offices, but I also got approval from the city to add another access on the main street, greatly increasing access and visibility for the mall. To put the deal together I had to negotiate with four property owners of the houses on the main street, careful not to give them stars in their eyes when they realized what the deal was all about. One of the homes was run by Big Brothers and I agreed to find them another location as part of their deal. The corner lot, the one most critical to the whole deal, had gone into foreclosure and had been bought by the owner of Goodison Insurance. It hadn't closed yet so I met with him to offer him a deal he couldn't refuse. He had bought the place for forty thousand dollars and was going to spend probably at least that much in renovations. I offered him double his money not to close and even offered to find him another office location. He refused. To this day I remember the meeting that Kyle Jamieson and I had with him trying to convince him to sell, even going so far as to disclose to him the whole mall development that had been approved by the city and on which the three adjoining property owners had agreed to sell. He didn't care. The city really wanted this development and I remember a conversation I had with the planning department in which the city employee said maybe they wouldn't grant him a building permit for the renovations he wanted to do. Despite my six months of work going down the drain once again my morals kicked in and I couldn't agree with the city forcing him to sell to us. It spelled the end of my Real Estate career.

(Sidebar. Although I had this photo of Elderwood I went looking for anything I could find on the address. To my considerable shock I found that it had just sold for, are you ready for this? Seven hundred and forty thousand dollars this past July! Here's the video - http://tours.vision360tours.ca/122-elderwood-place-brampton/nb/. A lot has changed over the years, like adding a pool, but it was fun to see how all the landscaping I did had matured)

Now faced with almost no income and mounting debts there was no real choice other than to sell Elderwood. Although I was an agent and therefore had to disclose that on the listing I knew what a great layout the house was and how incredible the lot was backing onto the ravine, so I listed it at the unheard of price of ninety-six thousand dollars. It sold in two days, cash, no conditions, quick closing, so now where do we go? It all happened so fast that we had no time to look at buying another place so I found a townhouse rental at 124 Ashurst. This was a development that was originally marketed as executive townhouses but that hadn't worked out so there were a lot of rentals. It was a five level townhouse backing onto a schoolyard.

No sooner had we moved in than our next door neighbor said she was going to sell. I think the ex's parents helped us with the down payment but we got it for a pretty good deal because the neighbor wanted out quickly and wasn't paying a Realtor because she was selling to us. Happy as I was to be owning something again what I didn't realize was that this was going to be the worst move ever! We were only moving next door so why bother boxing everything like you would in a normal move? What ended up happening was a thousand trips of handfuls of things, not boxed. Just imagine moving your cutlery next door. Yet again I renovated the whole place. I decided to remove the wall between the kitchen and the dining room, and add cabinets on the opposite side of the kitchen. We were going to Florida for a short vacation so I hired a cabinet maker to build the new cabinets. That turned out to be a total disaster because when we came back he hadn't finished the work. We had no water and no electricity in the kitchen and it was a messy construction zone. We had nowhere to cook or eat. I was not a happy camper to say the least. 

I also turned the upstairs bathroom into sort of a spa by adding tongue and groove wood panelling everywhere including the ceiling. Again more by accident I had seen a listing for another place on Mara Crescent. It was the general contractor's place and had a lot of improvements over the standard houses in the development. Upgraded doors. French doors into the living room. Massive jetted tub in the upstairs bathroom. Huge deck off the back of the house. As it turned out the owner, the contractor, was building a place in Caledon somewhere and needed a six month closing, which made it a hard sell. I was in no hurry though so I had my agent and friend, Greg Smith, make him an offer, I believe something like a hundred and sixty thousand and it was accepted. When Greg then asked about listing our townhouse I told him that I was in no hurry so let's list it at the highest price ever in the neighborhood and see what happens. He disagreed, of course, but the idea of double ending the deals appealed to him. Nothing had ever sold for more than the low fifties before but we listed at sixty-nine nine. I remember the agent's reactions on their inspection. They couldn't believe the expanded kitchen and the bathroom in particular. Within days we had multiple offers at full list. Not only was this wonderful but the prices where we were going were going up like crazy after buyers discovered the double cul-de-sac neighborhood. After we moved in six months later we learned that our next door neighbors had just paid two hundred and twenty thousand for a standard model.

As per usual I got to work renovating yet again. I turned one of the bedrooms into an office, adding wood tongue and groove panelling and turning the normal clothes closet into drawers and doors office storage. I ripped all the woodwork out and added new moldings to all the doors and windows. I had a door installed between the garage and the kitchen to make it easier to unload groceries when we came home in the winter. I added interlocking paving stones to the front yard and did a lot of landscaping, front and back. I wish I had a photo of the work I did in the back because I added beds with posts cut at different heights and lots of flowers, bushes and trees. I'd love to see how it all looks today. 

Well , as John Lennon famously said, "Life is what happens while you're making other plans". My twenty-three year marriage was over. I had tried and tried everything to make it better but nothing worked. We hadn't slept together for five years and there was no love left. At the time my buddy Jim had said "if you wake up and you would rather be somewhere else it's time to leave". He was right. I was working installing a new computer system at Fellowes Manufacturing in Markham, traveling back and forth to Brampton every day, which took forever if I took the 401. Instead I would head up into the country and take the scenic routes. Partly because some of the work I did could only be done after everyone had gone home I started staying at the local Journey's End motel. It was so great to just get up, shower and be at work in a few minutes. Shortly after I started working on the contract at Fellowes I got involved with their Executive Secretary which I won't go into here, but I was now paying a lot to stay at the Journey's End full-time, plus paying all the expenses of the house in Brampton. My ex hadn't worked for months and clearly had no intention of finding a job, so I told her I was done. Not only would I not keep paying for everything but it was time to sell the house. I gave her no choice. 

The market had changed a lot since the mortgage fiasco where people where buying additional places by buying the paper at the sales offices, and property values had fallen some twenty-five percent. The timing wasn't great but I knew that this had to come to an end and now. I listed and sold quickly at one eighty-nine nine, a lot less than we could have got before the crash but at least we still made money, or should I say that my ex still made money. Given my past I wasn't going to give a nickel to a lawyer so I gave her every dime after we closed. When I left for BC to be with my dying mother I took my last paycheque from Fellowes and that was it. All the work I had done for those twenty-three years amounted to not a cent for me.

Off I went to BC to be with my mother, who had been given less than a five percent chance of surviving more than six months because of her fifth stage melanoma. We had been apart for more than twenty years and I just wanted to spend whatever time she had left with her. She ended up beating the odds and lived another nineteen years before the cancer came back and took her. For some unknown reason, and despite my daughter having told me years before to leave my marriage and go out west where she said I was so much happier, my move out west cost me my daughter, who hasn't spoken to me now in twenty-six years. I've never had a clue as to why. She cut off my whole side of the family which really hurt my Mum and dad who did nothing to deserve that. 

When I moved out west in July of 1993 I lived with my parents at Shady Rest until they went south to Yuma for the winter, as they had done for some seventeen years. I remember the day they left in October. I closed the door, got my coffee and sat in my dad's leather chair, alone at last. I had no one to worry about except myself for the first time in my life. I was so happy. 

Little did I know at the time that I would live in a whole lot of places during my fourteen wonderful years in BC. To my considerable regret I was never able to buy anything or I would have made a fortune, so I always rented or was living with someone.

 

 

 

In no particular order these are some of the places I lived:

I'm not sure when I lived here or even how I got here but it was one of my favourite places. It was a second floor apartment that had a small kitchen, bedroom, laundry, dining room and a large living room with a gas fireplace, then a master bedroom, bathroom and a large area open to the living room below on the second level. I had a large custom made desk in this area. I loved that with the flip of a switch I could have the fire going. It also had a nice balcony and I had a parking space in the garage below. Although at the time it was expensive at eight hundred a month, I rented the upstairs bedroom to a guy who worked for Bell and he was rarely home. He would just pop in to do his laundry then he was gone. I think he paid me three hundred a month so that helped.

 

 

 

 

 

I think I met Karen Faloon at the Corral and we got involved and I moved in with her for a time. Of all the women who got renovations out of me Karen got the most. Not only did I remove the spa she never used in the basement level and replace it with a laundry, but I also renovated the kitchen in the apartment that she rented. She had a nice pool but her lot sloped steeply from there to the back of the lot. I had an idea how she could recover all this wasted space and she agreed. I raised the back of the lot about twelve feet building a perimeter wall of railroad ties all pinned together with rebar, then had loads and loads of fill brought in through the field at the back of the lot. I then added an irrigation system and sodded the lot. It was a ton of work and in the heat of the summer but it turned out great. Shortly after that she started planning our retirement for me which I didn't care for so I left to the place on Lanfranco.

 

 

 

    

This was an end unit single level townhouse that was actually quite nice. It had a nice layout with two bedrooms, one of which I used for an office, a bathroom off the master bedroom, a large living room, a dining room and a galley kitchen plus a small backyard off the living room. It had kind of strange crawl space under it but I stored a lot of stuff there. Being a rental I didn't do any major work but I did fix up the entrance with some nice plants and chairs. The managers of the complex were nice folks who I got along well with.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then through my buddy, Wade, I met the first real love of my life, Tracy. We hit it off from the start and were soon dating. After a couple of months she asked me to move in. It made no sense for me to be paying rent for my place because I was never there so I gave my notice, although I was breaking my lease but they gave me no grief about it.

No surprise I'm sure that I started renovating Tracy's place from top to bottom. I did every room in the house. I completely redid the garage from a place you couldn't move in to a very organized one with shelving and a work bench. It was such a mess before that she didn't even know that she had a pit in the floor to change your oil. I designed and built what I called Molnar beach complete with a fire and water feature using an old stove her grandfather had given her and a sump pump waterfall. While her and her Mum were enjoying the Merritt Mountain Music Festival I totally renovated her one son's bedroom and repainted all the kitchen cupboards and installed a new kitchen floor. After a very bad breakup that nearly killed me I moved again, this time to Menu Road back in Westbank. 

 

 

 

This was a basement apartment, my first actually. It wasn't great. My upstairs landlord was a real party animal who constantly had loud parties. There was no insulation in the ceilings in my place so it was really loud. It also had a steep driveway which I was the only one to shovel in the winter. It did have nice views of the lake. I got involved with Ans and she invited me to move in with her so I gave my notice to Doug and moved out. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before my Dad passed away in 2005 I was living with Ans on McGinnis Road in what was then called Westbank, now called West Kelowna. Yet another place i renovated extensively for her. I installed new flooring in both the kitchen and main bathroom. I renovated the basement apartment and built shelving and a work bench in her garage, plus I pulled out a dilapidated garden under her deck. I replaced all the moldings around the house and again did a lot of landscaping out front. Our less than great relationship ended when she didn't listen to me about my dog, but more importantly I had to move in to care for my Mum after my Dad died in my arms. My brother and sister gave me no other choice.

Before all that happened my Dad had finally agreed to sell the place and get my mother into the care facility she so badly needed. I agreed to renovate their place, for free of course, and they moved to my sister's in Revelstoke while I did all the work. I pretty well went front to back except the living room, repainting every square inch, remodelling all the old kitchen cupboard doors and drawers, adding a dishwasher and more cupboard space, replacing the tired flooring in the kitchen, ripping out the dated half wall between the kitchen and the living room, and much more. I put in some very long days and it was made all the worse by my mother's constant badgering about coming home. When I was finally able to let them come back they were very happy with all the work I had done. They put the place up for sale but at much less than I told them to. My Dad called me that they had an offer for sixty-nine thousand but I told him to decline. He did, thankfully. 

Then, of course, the worst disaster of my life happened when he died in my arms. He had done nothing about getting my mother into a care facility so that wasn't an option. I moved in to care for her, which became the worst experience of my entire life. I spent some eight months trying to get her into a place and finally did manage to get her into Winterhaven in Kelowna. Then my idiot sister, who never accepted just how bad our mother was, took her out of the care home and, well, basically ended up killing her. Another story.

After Dad died I knew that it was not the time to sell the place. Mum had just lost her husband of some fifty-eight years. She was suffering from advancing Alzheimer's. I knew that if I got to work I could make some further improvements that would get more money when I finally got her into care and could sell the place. I pulled down the illegal carport that was falling down. I renovated the shed, adding proper shelving and a work bench. I replaced the horrible orange shag carpet in the living room. The biggest project was something i had been trying to convince my Dad to do for the thirty some years they had lived there and that was to renovate the beach area. It was pretty well useless because it just sloped down to the water. The concrete curbs my Dad had placed trying to keep the sand in had been torn away in a storm and were gone. With the help of a local kid who needed a job I built a perimeter with railroad ties, stepped back and lagged together with rebar, deep into the ground. I then got load after load of clean beach sand delivered and wheel barrowed it all down to to the new beach, building it up several feet to be level. Then I added a fire pit and horseshoe pits with the pins concreted in properly. I added steps up the front wall and built what I believe was the very first rock crib dock on the lake. When it was finished I added a plaque dedicating the dock to my Dad. No idea if that is still there although I doubt it. The manager of the park came by one day and called it the Shady Rest Seawall. 

After I got Mum into Winterhaven I listed the place for one hundred and thirty-nine nine, the highest price anyone had ever asked in the park, especially considering it was Indian land which can't be sold, so you could only rent it. My parents were paying four hundred and seventy-five dollars a month pad rent. Still reasonable for waterfront property on which they paid less than a hundred dollars a year in taxes. Friends of mine who owned the same lake frontage close to Kelowna paid sixteen thousand dollars a year in property tax. Once again my Realtor thought I was nuts but understood that I was in no hurry to move. He sold the place for one hundred and thirty-six thousand dollars cash to a group from Edmonton who were setting up a family syndicate to share the place.

Once again I needed to find somewhere to live. I moved to an interesting place. Uniquely designed homes that had two levels, one facing the street and one facing the back off the laneway. I thought that they were what I would call "mortgage helpers' where the owners could live in the upper floor and rent out the lower floor. Boy, was I wrong! No sooner had I moved in and still had boxes unpacked, than a by-law officer knocked on my door and told me that I had to move. He told me that these places were never zoned for multiple occupancy and they were not allowed to have stoves on the lower level. Oh, great! I had to move again and in a panic. My landlady upstairs was pissed but she couldn't do anything about it. She ended up selling and moving to Prince George. 

Just as I was on my way out the door to give a landlady my deposit on a basement apartment in Kelowna, for some unknown reason I checked my email. There was one from my Realtor telling me that there was a place in the park next to my Mum and Dad's that was in "rough shape" but he knew what I could do from what he saw at my parent's place so he said I should take a look at it. It was one of those life changing moments. His comment that it was in "rough shape" was an understatement at best. It was a disaster but I did see that I could make some good money if i did all the work. I basically took over the financing that was in default and moved in. I spent the next year and a half working day and night, seven days a week, stripping the place back to the studs, redesigning the whole place from top to bottom. I replaced the entire kitchen. I added two new bathrooms. I added walls. I resided the place with Hardyboard. I added to the concrete driveway. Of course I landscaped completely, adding new sod and an extensive rock garden. I rebuilt the shed. I tore out the falling down deck. I redid the roof from adding to the support beams to recoating the roof. I did laminate and tile flooring to the whole place. I replaced all the plumbing and electrical, which I also upgraded. I bought a fridge, stove and dishwasher. After I had looked at three other homes to renovate, done the CAD drawings for them and was ready to put in offers, I needed to list my place. I hesitated a short time because I still had to finish the baseboard in one of the rooms. BIG mistake. 

The Realtors I called because they had a lot of experience selling manufactured homes said it was the nicest manufactured home in the Okanagan. They wanted to list it at one hundred and forty-nine thousand dollars and said it would sell quickly. I told them that I wanted to put offers in on three other places so let's list at one hundred and thirty-nine thousand to get a quick sale and they agreed, obviously. Quick sale means no expenses and nice commission for them. I signed the listing on a Friday. The following Sunday there was an article in the local newspaper quoting one of the local Westbank Indian band chiefs, Noll Derriksan, saying that anyone who buys on native land is "stupid" because they could get their notice to vacate at any time and lose everything. He added that the crazy prices people were paying were the result of "greedy agents". Overnight the market collapsed. No Realtor would touch me for fear of getting sued. No lawyer would touch it. Even the native trust company, Peace Hills trust, who I had arranged a mortgage with in case my place didn't sell, backed out of their written commitment for the mortgage. I had run up debts with Home Hardware, Canadian Tire and Home Depot and now had no money to pay them. What was I going to do?   

My doctor at the time basically said that I was a poster child for a heart attack because of all the stress I was dealing with. He told me to just find a way to get out from under it to save myself. I started researching where I could go and settled on Boquete, Panama. I made arrangements to rent a house there, which turned out to be yet another mistake. What ended up happening with my place was the worst thing ever. My electrician who I let move in after he and his wife split up let snow build up on the roof despite me telling him how important it was to clear it off, and the roof collapsed. My hundred and forty thousand dollar place was now worth virtually nothing. My buddy ended up selling it for sixty thousand to a kid who never paid me in full. I had lost everything including my year and a half of work.  

Off the Panama. This was downtown Boquete. It was very small but showed the dangers of renting a place over the internet. It had no hot water so I had to pay to install an on demand heater. Despite me telling the girl I rented from that I was diabetic and needed a fridge for my insulin there was no fridge so I had to buy one. Things like pots and pans and dishes were sparse so I had to buy a lot of day to day things. The dog in the yard behind the house never stopped barking from morning to night so working was hard. Then I came home to find the power off and I learned that the previous tenant hadn't paid the bill for three months. My rent was supposed to include everything but suddenly I had to pay extra plus pay the previous tenant's overdue bill. I moved.

 

 

 

 

 

Next came yet another challenging and disastrous renovation. My friend in Boquete, Elizabeth, took me to see a place she was thinking of buying, Vista Grande, up on the hill overlooking Boquete. Although she decided not to buy it the owner from Kelowna did call me to ask if I was interested in renovating it so he could sell it. I moved into the lower apartment and got to work. I've written many stories about what happened with this place so I won't go into it here again, but save to say I ended up being forced back to Canada, thankfully to my cousin's home in Toronto.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not much of a picture but my cousin basically saved my butt when things went so badly for me in Panama. She gave me a roof over my head and fed me too well for about six months before I moved to London, Ontario. I did do some minor maintenance for her and renovated her small bathroom in the basement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My first place in London was the hotel. Things were very complicated with following Denise because she was still married but she was getting ready to leave him. For whatever reason we didn't discuss getting a place together, and we never would. I couldn't afford to stay in a hotel so I started looking for somewhere to rent. I soon discovered that London was an expensive place to live. I ended up renting what was basically a little more than a room in a tiny house with three other tenants. It was a nightmare trying to all share one fridge or to cook. I lived there in the winter and there was nowhere for me to park my car, so I found a place across the street where the tenant had no car and they let me park my car there. That meant that I would shovel the driveway there to get my car out, then come home and shovel that driveway too because no one else would. Although I did do some small renovations in her garage we eventually had a dispute and she threatened to lock my stuff in the garage. I left.    

 

 

 

 

Next came the strangest place I ever lived. It was a small studio apartment in the middle of the upper floor but had no windows. A couple of skylights were the only way I could tell if it was day or night and sometimes the weather because there would be snow on them. I wasn't here very long because I got a call for geared to income housing, but I did like being downtown.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ah, the very first apartment building I ever lived in. I quickly learned that it is no way to live. Everything from the laundry to the elevators was annoying. Add a bed bug infestation, my car being broken into and destroyed, and the landlord company wrongly coming after me for over two thousand dollars in overdue rent, which turned out to be someone else, and it was my last apartment building. After five years of wasting my life away I left London to move to Cotacachi, Ecuador, yet again trying to find somewhere with a lower cost of living. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I planned to go to Ecuador and was looking for a place to live I obviously had not learned my lesson from Panama. I rented a cabin way up on the mountain outside Otavalo. It had such a great view and i was looking for somewhere with peace and quiet. After the first month or so there I made what I thought was a good deal with my landlady to rent long term including everything and meals. That didn't work out and I had numerous problems with them like them letting everyone in the other cabins help themselves to the firewood that I paid for. The worst part was when I got carbon monoxide poisoning from the fireplace and came within minutes of dying.

When I had had enough I moved to Cotacachi but couldn't find a place anywhere so I stayed in a hostel, the name of which I've forgotten. The couple who ran it were very nice and the cook would often make me something special. I kept looking for a place but there was nothing. I happened to mention that I was looking for a place to my doctor and she said that her daughter was moving out of an apartment that I might like. I did and moved in. It had some challenges, like the two big dogs on the roof of the place across the road who never stopped barking day and night. Things fell apart on me thanks to my government not paying my pension as promised so I had to limp back to Canada. My dear friend, Heather Paul, who worked with me forty years ago at Indal Products, said her son had a place north of Belleville that he was renovating to sell, so maybe I could help him in exchange for rent. Her son, Greg, was amazing. He gave me his VIP points to take the train from Toronto to Belleville and he put a lot of things in the house for me, like a fridge and stove, washer and dryer, bed and a pellet stove. Unfortunately the pellet stove failed and I froze my butt off for a week. I ended up collapsing in tears at the Salvation Army and they managed to get me into transitional housing at 10 Murney in Belleville. 

From there I went to where I am now, 20 Forin Street, then 51 Victoria Street, then back to Forin until I left for Mexico in September of 2017. My rent for a room had gone from $397 a month to $497 in one month and I knew that I could get a whole apartment for less than that in Mexico. After horrible experiences in both Panama and Ecuador I was very cautious about Mexico, figuring that it might not be any different, but it sure was.

Thanks to a new friend in Mexico, Francis Dryden, I managed to rent a huge two bedroom apartment in Ajijic for six thousand pesos a month (about $360 CDN) for six months, which was the term of my tourist visa. If Mexico didn't work out I had no idea what I was going to do when I came back to Canada, but I figured I had to try. I had put all my stuff in bins and stored them in the basement at Forin. I fell in love with Ajijic the very first day and my plan immediately changed to figuring out how I could stay forever. Long story how that failed including getting dumped by text message by my fiancée after we returned from a trip to Toronto to apply for my visa to stay in Mexico.. 

When my landlords put my rent up fifty-seven percent to ten thousand pesos a month I searched desperately for somewhere else and found a studio apartment in Riberas del Pillar. That turned into yet another nightmare with the landlord from hell and days and days with no water, no electricity or no internet. The ants and cockroaches also made me crazy. The place did have a nice pool but I only used it twice in over a year living there. 

When all hell broke loose with losing one of my pensions, running out of my meds and the rent going up two thousand pesos illegally, I made yet another huge mistake. A guy on Facebook offered me a month's free rent in Chelem in the Yucatan. I had to get away from all the stress I was under and couldn't find anywhere to live where I was so I went. One of the biggest mistakes of my life and I ended up coming back to Canada yet again. Total failure and the loss of my dream of getting married and living happily ever after. I debated whether to go back to Belleville or the Okanagan but an official with the city of Kelowna told be bluntly that on my pensions I couldn't afford to live there. I was also offered a room back at Forin, although that didn't turn out either. 

After a horrible trip back I ended up being put in a hotel in Trenton for the night. The next morning I learned that I had no way back, but then the hotel owner put me in touch with some other people who were coming back to Belleville and would give me a ride. That turned into a disaster and I ended up in the Comfort Inn in Belleville. The next day I was accepted back at 12 Murney on the condition that I would go to the hospital first, which I did. My sugars were off the charts and it's amazing that I didn't die but after five days in the hospital I was okay. I went to Murney and into a horrible room. I was only there a few days when I was told that I was moving to 49 Dunbar which I understood was the seniors house. After a few months there, again with numerous problems and coming close to getting evicted to the street, I was moved back to 20 Forin, where I am now.

At this point I am consumed by guilt over all the mistakes I've made and the things that have gone so wrong. I miss the Okanagan but my parents are now both gone and my life would be a pale shadow of what it once was. I am not in any shape to be able to downhill or cross-country ski, water ski, rollerblade, or hike and I would never be able to get my "toys" again, like my dirt bike, my snowmobile, my boat or even my rollerblades. I would be able to dance again at my favourite bar, The Corral, but I will never have a car so even that would be doubtful. It's also very expensive to live there now with rents having tripled since back when I was there. I do have quite a few friends that have stayed in touch with me over the years so that would be nice compared to the zero friends that I have here in Belleville. 

Belleville was never my first choice and I only ended up here more by accident and circumstances. The city has nothing to offer. I'm supposedly near the top of the emergency housing list but rents in this city are insane so unless it's geared to income there's no way I'll be able to afford anything. Having spent a lot of time in Kingston before on weekends I would much rather live there and I've been trying to get on their geared to income list but that's proven to be very difficult. There's a lot more to offer in Kingston, with a beautiful and thriving downtown, unlike Belleville, and a lot more to do. I also think that once the virus is over I would have a lot more opportunities building websites for businesses. I'm still going to hate the weather but it might be the only place I can live, unaffordable as it is. 

My dream was to marry and live out my life in Mexico. Even after that fell apart and nearly killed me I still loved so much about Mexico. The climate is perfect. The culture, the festivals, and the Mexican people are wonderful. I miss it every day and hate that I had to leave. I doubt that I could ever afford to go back because I would again lose one of my pensions after six months. I would have challenges getting my critical medications. Even when I went I was very worried about what would happen if I got sick and ended up needing the hospital. I couldn't possibly afford that. There's no public healthcare like there is in Canada, so I would end up dying or returning to Canada if I could even do that. The whole virus thing has made that even worse now. Not only that but life in Mexico is now a whole lot different because of the virus. No more taking the crammed buses. No more festivals or parades. The bars and restaurants are mostly closed still. My first attempt at building the local website was a disaster and I never made a dime. Would that be any different? I knew that I failed because I couldn't find someone local to work with me to call on clients and I have no reason to believe that would be any different. 

There's been two times in my life that I had serious thoughts about ending it. The first was after my fiancée broke up with me by text message. I cried for days and saw no reason to go on. I love her more than life itself and could not have been happier that we were getting married. Losing her and not understanding why tore my heart to pieces. I only thought of swimming out in the lake far enough to not make it back. I came dangerously close to giving up. Although i survived, the next time was after everything fell part on me with losing one of my pensions, running out of my meds and what happened with the landlord from hell. I had no idea what to do. The last thing I wanted to do was come back to Canada. I started researching if doing an overdose of insulin would kill me. It wouldn't. Then I was just going to get enough sleeping pills to do the job. Lie down on my bed and go peacefully. Had I not gotten that fateful message on Facebook from the guy offering me a place I might not be writing this. 

Stay tuned. Hopefully there will be more to the story.