One of Life's Toughest Moments

Yesterday was tough. We had no choice but to put down our beloved dog, Spade. He had lost the use of his hind legs and couldn't stand up anymore. He shook uncontrollably. On our last trip to the vet she discovered he had a heart murmur. The vet had hoped that he had arthritis and that medication would work, but it didn't, and he would have needed thousands of dollars of tests and surgery to even find out what it was. It was time, hard as it is for everyone.

Obviously this was hard on Tracy and the kids, as Spade has been a member of the family for a very long time. He was the best dog I have ever known. When he had been doing his business around the house Tracy called and asked me to take him and I was thrilled, until she wanted him back, of course.

When I went to pick him up to take him to the vet I was going to try my best to hold it together, but, as soon as I opened her front door he came falling down the stairs to me, his usual excitement to see me but with no use of his back end. It was so sad. To make matters so much worse, my darling little Madison wanted to come with us. She was so young to go this, but it's one of life's tough lessons. Spade had always been her dog as they had grown up together. I knew I had to "buck up" and not fall apart in front of Madison, but it was very hard to do.

The trip to the vet was difficult, not only because Mads was with me, but because Spade kept pushing his head under my arm, as he always did when you weren't paying quite enough attention to him. The tongue was going and the tail was wagging as always. He had that usual enthusiasm that his "Daddy" was taking him on yet another adventure. Thankfully he didn't know this was our last trip. Driving is very hard when you're eyes are filled with tears, as is typing.

When we got there the vet came out to help me get him out of the truck and carry him in. For the very first time ever he didn't want to get out of the truck. It's like he knew, which was really hard. The vet took him into a room and laid him on a blanket and I did the paperwork. Our last moment with him was watching him trying to come to us and falling down, and shaking uncontrollably. As horrible as this was I had some strength in knowing that we had made the right decision. If there had been any doubt that he could be cured, the guilt in putting him down would have killed me. Seeing him like that convinced me that there was really no other choice. I couldn't bring myself to stay and we left before I would completely fell apart.

When I was a kid my Dad had to put our wonderful family dog. Hobie, down, so I certainly had a better understanding of what he went through at the time. We buried him on the hill on our farm and had a little ceremony, with of us bawling our eyes out. When I was younger I had allergies and we could never have a dog. Once I was cured Hobie was our first dog, so it was really hard to lose him. He was full of cancer and there was nothing we could do for him.

As I drove back memories of all the great times with my Spade came flooding back. He was a wonderful dog who will be sorely missed by everyone whose life he touched.

Goodbye My Spader. Rest In Peace boy.

A Real "Youch" at the Dentist

This is the story of a very expensive accident that happened to me when I was thirteen. I had worked by butt off (okay, maybe it's still there) for a year to save enough money to buy a bike. You see, we lived out in the country in the middle of nowhere and I couldn't get anywhere without a ride from Mum or Dad, which, with them both working, was often hard to come by.

Finally I had enough saved to go to Canadian Tire and get my beloved bike. I was so thrilled with it I asked my Mum if I could ride it home - no small feat as it was about ten miles, a lot of it uphill, but I insisted. Seeing how excited I was, my dear mother agreed to follow me in the car. When I turned off Streetsville Road onto Derry West Road, there is a long downhill before I had to turn onto the Fifth Line. I was booting it down this hill at breakneck speed (literally). My mother later said her speedometer read 40 MPH (yes, miles). Suddenly I completely lost control and all I vaguely remember was grabbing at the handlebars. To my mother's considerable horror following me, I launched over the handlebars and slid on my face for about forty feet on the pavement. Youch!

Three weeks later I discovered, in addition to all my other wonderful lacerations - big-time "road rash" I had chipped my front tooth. Over the years I have had everything from a Maryland Bridge" (temporary - I had it for fifteen years), to a tooth fused to gold post in my mouth (I broke it - something they said was impossible) and the dentist has re-glued my "temporary" in umpteen times over the past ten years or so. I've lost track of the cost to date, but it has to be about three grand at least. In June of this year I was eating a Timmies bagel, of all things, when I heard and felt a horrible crack. What was left of my tooth was buried in the bagel. Naturally this sort of thing never happens at a good time. I was meeting my then girlfriend's parents for brunch that Sunday, and I had no front tooth! I called my dentist and he agreed to come in on a Sunday morning, and even brought staff in to do a temporary tooth.

So this is where the story gets a little confusing. While I was there they took an impression for a bridge. Although Dr. Powell and I had discussed this many times over the years I said I would do it right after I won the lottery. Yet another "temporary", after more than forty years, was fine with me.

Anyway, last week they called, telling me that my bridge had been sitting there since June and they wanted me to come in to get it done. I had no recollection of even ordering one, but it was kind of too late and seeing as how I haven't been able to chew with the temporary, because I didn't trust that I wouldn't just break it again, I made the appointment for Friday. Sidebar to the story is that their accounting person phoned later in the week, threatening to put me in collection for the bridge she thought I had for months. I called her to advise that it was in their office, not my mouth. She had a laugh.

So off I go on Friday to get my bridge - the one I should have had about forty years ago. It goes in fine and the doc admires his work and tells me what a great smile I have. I get up to the front and they inform me that I owe them TWO THOUSAND, ONE HUNDRED AND NINETY DOLLARS!!!!! You could have blown me over with a feather. I was stunned and believe it or not for me, utterly speechless. They had never told me how much this was going to cost, or, believe me, I'd still have a temporary tooth, probably for the rest of my life. I said I didn't have a spare TWO GRAND kicking around, so they agreed to take payments, like that is much better? For a sec there I thought of having them take it back out.

Talk about a painful visit to the dentist! Yikes!

I came home with my brand new smile and started trying to figure out which walls I can live without on the reno. lol.

Yet another sidebar to the story is that just over two years after the accident, during which I was completely blank about the accident, I finally remembered exactly what happened. They had forgotten to tighten the nut that holds the handlebars on. Racing down that hill, the vibration had suddenly made it let go and I had these completely useless handlebars. In my panic I had grabbed at them and, naturally, found the front brake, which I squeezed tight, launching me over the handlebars. The statute of limitations back then to sue someone was two years, or I would have been a very rich man, who could have afforded to pay for all this.

The Heat is On

Back in the days when I had a boat and a life, this heat wave would have been so awesome, but when you're busting your buns on a reno, it ain't no fun at all! Temps in the mid thirties and even hotter in the house are just brutal to work in. We are glistening with sweat and covered in dirt - not a pretty site.

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Ain't camping fun?

Now I remember why I don’t "camp". We were going up to Ashton Creek for Lorenzo’s Cafe’s 10th anniversary Music Fest, and wanted to camp Friday and Saturday nights. I needed to get up there early Friday night to reserve good "first-come, first-served" camping sites for the ski club. After twelve hours in the sun at the festival I also thought driving home was the last thing I wanted to do. So there was the plan. Crystal was getting off early so we could get up to the campground as early as possible.

The plan started Thursday with running around getting the things I didn’t have as an seasoned camper. One find was what I thought was going to be very cool – an inverter to run power equipment. It was on sale at CTC at half-price. What a deal! I do like my coffee in the morning, so I was debating over whether to spend the bucks on a coffee machine just for camping. Now I could run my radio, charge my cell anything that needed power. Way cool!

I was up at 5:30 Friday to start packing everything. Man, you need a whole lot of stuff to camp! So much to remember. The truck was full. I planned to food shop last thing on the way to get Crystal, and had what I thought was plenty of time. Little did I know the whole world would be at Extra Foods when I shopped. I have never seen it so busy. Every cash was open – a rarity at Extra Foods, and there were lineups at every till, so now I was running late, but I thought I would still make it on time to get Crystal. Not a chance. The thousand or so people sitting parked on Highway 97 had other ideas for me. I just crawled for miles towards the dreaded bridge. I finally got to Crystal’s after three, so we started off late.

We had to make a stop on the way in Vernon because I still hadn’t managed to find a table, and I knew there weren’t any at the campground. We did manage to pick up a nifty little fold-up table that turned out to be one of the only things that worked.

Weeks ago I had spoken with the guy running the camping and had arranged to give him a list of who all was camping from the ski club, and I had collected from everyone at the previous week meeting to make sure they showed or were at least paid for. After we arrived and picked a nice spot on the river, the other guy running the campground decided the list thing was no good and he wanted everyone to pay as they came in. Duh! So the arguments started. Eventually he came around and allowed me to pay for each person as they showed up, but it was a lot of running around, when I was trying to set-up camp. The worst was a guy with an RV, for whom I had confirmed the camp had power and water, but when we got there, the power line had fried weeks ago, and the only water was for the whole campground. I finally managed to find him a spot at another campground, but he went the wrong way and ended up back in Enderby. He came back to ask for a refund of his camping money and ticket money, as he was giving up and going home. Guys who don’t get "turn right" should not be allowed to drive an RV.

My original plan had been to get there, get camp set-up, relax and have a drink, and start supper. With working my face off with the reno, all I wanted was some relaxing down time. And after going flat out for two days, I needed a break.

The first disaster was the tent. I had bought it a month or so ago, on sale at CTC for half price. When we opened it up it turned out to have been used, and was covered with what looked like tree sap. Not a pleasant surprise. I had also bought a stove with a grill burner, which I thought was so neat to do steaks, bacon and so on. After Brian got it set up and a burner going, Crystal started the potatoes, and I was going to do the steak of the grill. No such luck. The damn grill wouldn’t light no way, no how, and the instructions, like all those written in Chinese, made no sense. So we had to set the potatoes aside and fry the steak in the pan on the only burner we had. Very frustrating. With all the running around for the club, and the camping confusion, and the equipment failures I was NOT having a good time. Then everyone left to go to Lorenzo’s, so we were on our own. I lit a fire just to try to get rid of the mosquitoes, certainly not for the heat, and it worked a bit. My frustration level was pretty high after two days of this, then Crystal didn’t like the noise from people partying, and asked me if anyone was going home tomorrow? That was kind of the "last straw" for me, so I suggested she find a "guy" at the Festival to take her home. What I should have said, even with the frustration, was "someone", NOT "guy", ’cause that upset her and she went to bed. So I was left sipping my beer, all alone, sitting in the dark, pissed off, and couldn’t even go to bed because I had to watch the fire I just lit. When I finally managed to crawl into the truck, the mosquitoes never quit buzzing me, so I hardly slept. Not a great first night.

I was hoping beyond hope that even with the mosquitoes I would at least manage to doze on and off for a bit, but no luck. I was wide awake at 6:00 as usual, but at least I would look forward to my coffee. I had got the coffee maker all ready the night before and just not turned the inverter on. When I flipped it on, the coffee maker immediately went off. New day. More frustration. My neighbor came over and first offered the coffee he had ready, which was great, then informed me my wonderful inverter was only 300 watts and my coffee make needed more than that, but he had 1000 watt unit we could hook to my battery. Great, I thought! The coffee maker was too much even for his invertor, so there would be no pot of coffee ready for everyone. In frustration I packed the coffee maker up in the box, forgetting that it was full of fresh, unbrewed coffee, which promptly spilled all over the box. Breakfast went a little better, as I managed to get the griddle lit and made the bacon. And the swim in the river was awesome. It was already getting hot and that cool water felt great!

Except for the sound system going out for several hours, the festival was what we expected. Great music, late but great. The Salmon Armenians, who I built the website for, were good, except Lody didn’t mention the ski club, as I had asked, but they did mention the site. I also got to talk to Sabrina Weeks, their lead singer and she liked the site. A bright spot. Although it was purdy damned hot we did manage to get a few grass dances in. We even had our picture taken by one of the local newspapers. Dancing in the dark with stones and sticks is quite the experience. We did go down to the actual dance floor once but it was very hot. I danced Crystal into the misters unexpectedly, which the crowd enjoyed.

We had broken camp before going to the festival, to be ready to leave as soon as it was over, which of course was very late. I didn’t get home until after two, pretty exhausted, only to discover that the last flush of the toilet before I left had not gone anywhere and the toilet was backed up yet again. I just had it snaked last week. And, yes, I just HAD to go, so welcome home. Then I remembered I had paid for two nights camping, and didn’t get a refund, and I left my new mister at the festival.

Today has barely started and it’s already not great. Going to be really hot and I have a backed up toilet to add to the heat in the house. I’ve called the emergency number early this morning, but no call yet. Luckily the campground has washrooms, or I wouild really be in trouble. I was at least looking forward to getting out and doing something with Crystal, but she has old friends coming in from Calgary "sometime today", so even that’s a bust.

Hope you are having a much better weekend.

Just another day in Paradise

Well, today started like every other day, almost. Doin my mornin biz, then flushed, and my only toilet overflowed! What a great start to my day. Just about the only thing that worked and it quit on me. Couldn’t believe it when I phoned Mr. Rooter and they asked if I as was a "member", which would apparently get me service today. As a non-member they could come out Friday at the earliest. I asked if she didn’t follow that my only toilet was out, and asked what I do until Friday? No response. After several calls to other plumbers – all of which were "too busy" to help, I called Wieners and the fellow said "we’ll be right out". That’s what I wanted to hear. At least some people have a clue about what customer service still is.

Moved all of the older appliances out to the front and put a big "FREE" sign on. Hopefully they’ll get taken away and save me the grief. Got my new stove, well new used stove, and dishwasher. I now have three lovely Whirlpool appliances in my kitchen. When we went to take out the old stove we discovered what has to be the very dumbest renovation thing I have ever seen. Mike Holmes would have a fit at this one. In their infinite wisdom they decided to switch the stove with the counter cupboard, which is fine, except that when we pulled out the stove to unplug it, the cord ran into the cupboard unit beside it. No problem, I thought, there must be a cut-out in the back of the cupboard with the drawers to unplug it. We pulled the drawers out, but, guess what? No plug. The lame-brained idiots had installed the cupboard over the plug!!! How stupid can you get? I guess they figured the stove would last a very long time, eh?

Got my fancy new, sturdy, front steps built. I can now use my front door – finally. Just need to add some railings and some trim.

Worked ’til 9:00 and I’m bushed. Tomorrow will be a better day.

Reno - July 6th

Now that I have my internet back up I’m going to try to record my trials and tribs on the reno a little better. Yesterday the plumbers were scheduled to be here at 7:00, so naturally they showed up at 9:00. The plan was for them to put the bathroom in the suite back together, but this got sidetracked big time. While they went to get the materials they needed Chris and I were to rip off the board and get the room ready. I asked Chris to pull up the loose vinyl and when he did all the back was wet and covered with the dreaded black mold. As usual, one thing led to another and we ended up cutting out the floor to get rid of all the mold. Needless to say no new fixtures were going in today.

Scotty planned to cut off the existing water lines so we could remove all the existing plumbing, so he asked where the shut-off was. Thus began the massive search for my main shutoff valve. They were crawling all under the trailer trying to trace the water line. Assuming it was outside near the main electrical feed I started weed-wacking and cutting limbs to remove the overgrown trees. When we cleared out all the crap we discovered the shut-off valve, which they shut-off and went back to the original plan to cap the lines. Chris and I were still clearing out all the crap and I noticed the water was trickling out, which should not have been happening with the main shut-off. It turned out that the idiot had run an irrigation line off the main BEFORE the shut-off valve, and it was leaking. Duh! I called Laura, the park manager and she said she had to give twenty-four hour’s notice to shut the park water off, so that was out of the question. We had no choice but to break off the irrigation line and try to cap it. The second they broke the line we had a gusher. Watching Scotty’s helper, Tyler, try to cap a blasting water line was funny if it wasn’t so tragic. Then it turned out he had the wrong size fitting, so he had to try to stem the flow while Scotty hunted for the right fitting, which he finally did. Quite the adventure!

Now that we have the moldy floor out we have to let it dry, then cut new flooring for when they come back. The interesting sidebar to the bathroom saga is that there was just a little crack in the original tub. The rest of the bathroom wasn’t too bad, and I considered fixing the crack, if only because this was to be my bathroom during the rest of the renos, and I’m trying to live in the suite, so I didn’t really want to start destroying anything in this area. That one little crack turned out to be a blessing because leaving this mold would have been tragic. I was very concerned about the musty smell when you came in, but I thought it was just because the unit was old and had all the wet ceiling and insulation, but this bathroom turned out to be the cause of most of the smell. It already smells much better in here now that the black death is gone.

Stay tuned.

The big move

First,I have not had internet for over a week. Second, I have just moved. Third, I have taken on the renovation of my life. Not a whole lot of spare time for sure.

I had no sooner moved to my new place after selling Mum’s place than our friendly neighborhood by-law officer showed up at my door and asked me if I had just moved in. When I replied, "yes", he promptly told me I was moving out again. When asked why the blanky blanky he told me I was in a single family neighborhood and the suite was illegal, so I was out of there. My landlady was so miffed she sold the place, closing at the end of June. I had to be out by the end of May, but I was working my buns off on a renovation and had no time to look for a place. In desperation I called the by-law boy and begged to let me stay until the end of June, which he agreed to.

Still in a bit of panic I started looking and found a sort of alright place in Kelowna for the 15th and gave her a deposit. It wasn’t great, but passable. I said I would come back Monday with the balance. On Monday I was on my way to the bank to get the money, when for some unknown reason I checked my email. There was one from my Real Estate agent that they wanted me to look at, mostly because it had an assumable mortgage – unheard of for manufactured homes. Well, after a whole lot of negotiation I ended up taking over the mortgage, and life as I knew it changed forever. The listing said "it’s as rough as they come" and that turned out to be an understatement, but it had huge potential – great corner lot, steps from the beach, four bedrooms, European kitchen, but it was sort of in an abandoned state of disrepair. Roof has been leaking for God knows how long. Three-foot high weeds where a lawn should be. A lot of goofy, badly done renos attempted, but most of it was clean-up, which I knew I could do. It was listed at $47k, but I ended up taking over the mortgage of $28k, so there’s some room to make money.

Been a lot of very long, HOT, frustrating days tearing out all the bad. I have an open-air bathroom (no walls), wires hanging everywhere, no ceiling or insulation (great in this cooking hot weather) and a gazillion things to do everywhere. Friends who’ve seen it are kind enough to not tell me I’m nuts and they nod and agree I’ll fix it up to be "just great". Hopefully we’re all right. Today I was scraping off the old torch-on patching on the roof and got some big tarps to cover it up "just in case it rained". Talk about good timing. We had a torrential storm tonight with some of the heaviest rain I’ve seen here. I would have had a new indoor swimming pool without the tarps. Phew!

Not much else to report. Obviously been consumed with working on the place. Crystal also has allergies and the pollen is driving her nuts, so we can’t do much outside. Managed a bike ride, roller-blade and we went to the Canada Day celebrations, which nearly killed her. I’m organizing a camping trip to a Blues Music Festival in Ashton Creek on July 22nd, which should be fun. Crystal and I are hoping to spend some time in Vancouver soon, so we can bike and blade Stanley Park and go to Granville Island Market. Wouldn’t want to live in Van, but nice to visit. I am also hopelessly behind on building a website for one of my fav groups – The Salmon Armenians, but the guy that hired me is very understanding. I’m supposed to have it ready for their website launch gig in Ashton Creek. Won’t be going to Merritt this year, with day pass prices of $90. Yikes. Last time I went for a day it was $45.

Going to post reno pics as I go, to see all the changes.

The day my family was dead to me

Even though I blogged about it before, it is impossible to really describe just how hard it was to get Mum into a care facility. Not a day went by that I wasn't on the phone, harassing anyone who had anything to do with getting her into a facility where she needed to be. At one point, after she had been on "emergency" status for quite a while, which basically means they are waiting for someone to die, sad as that is, I managed to get through to the actual guy in charge of assigning spots. After a lengthy conversation about Mum, he finally said to me that he had three hundred and fifty people on the "emergency" list and far too few facilities to put them in. He asked me what I would do in his situation? I understood his dilemma.

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New month - more work

Well, a new month and just more work. Starting to see some progress now that we've started actually building things and not just demolishing everything. The plumber was here and I'm so close to actually having a bathroom! Yippee! The old "open concept" blue bathroom will soon be history. The first coat of mud is on and the new sub floor is down.

We'll be moving the bathroom cabinet in soon and laying the vinyl, then (ta da) the toilet will be put in. The sink will have to wait for the counter-tops I've ordered, so this will be about ten days. Very impressed with the vanity cabinets I got through Home Hardware. They're from a company in Peterborough, Ontario called Masterbrands. About the only KD furniture I've ever put together in my life that actually was simple and went together exactly the way it should. They obviously wrote the instructions on this side of the pond, which is welcome change, and they had lots of pictures to show you what to do. Very smart. I'm looking at them for the kitchen cupboards now too.

The old green siding is starting to come off. I haven't finalized the plan for this area just yet, but something had to be done because the siding was damaged in this area - putting the BBQ too close and so on. The rest of the siding is in great shape and I may look at just painting it. We are painting the white stripe that goes all the way around the house a matching darker green colour. Looks good.

Going to take a bit of a break this weekend from the 12 hour work days. We're going to Vancouver for the weekend. Really looking forward to blading in Stanley Park, biking downtown and going to Granville Island, IMAX, Boon County and maybe Whiterock if we have time. We might get to the big fireworks finale if it's not too crazy downtown.

My Life

February 27th, 2005

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 2005

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 2005

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 2005

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 2005

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 2005

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 2005

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.