The Eyebrow of Doom™®© appears to run in the family!


My absence

I thought I would explain my absence. Quite apart from spending all my time caring for my Mom whose Alzheimer’s has been progressing bit-by-bit, as has her deteriorating ability to care for herself, I haven’t had a lot to say. Well… Not quite true. I’ve been spending more time posting obsessively on Google+ and Facebook instead of bothering posting longer stuff here. As well, posting from my phone and iPad was, until recently, a pain in the ass. It’s a little easier.

So here is a family Christmas tree story.

Mom’s Life of Crime

When my mother was still living in Dumfries, Scotland, her father had always brought in a tree that they had dug up the first year they moved to the town, in a tub. After Christmas, it would go out in the shed until it could be planted across the road on the edge of the farmer’s field across the road (now all houses). Towards the beginning of spring, it would be replanted across the road, and before the next Christmas, dug up, again. When my Grandfather died in 1945, my Mom and grandmother had to move out of the manse and into a flat farther away. The tree stayed where it was.

My grandmother had cancer by then, the flat was small, and money was tight (both because of my grandfather’s death and the post-war prices) so a tree was really not an option.

In 1950, Mom really wanted to get a tree for what was likely my grandmother’s last Christmas. So she went to where someone was selling Christmas trees but they were WAY too expensive. So my Mom embarked on the only criminal act in her life.

After dark, she went back to the tree lot and broke some of the lower branches of several trees where they would probably be cut anyway. She took them home, tied them together with ribbon, and her mother had a Christmas tree for what did turn out to be her last Christmas. She died in November of 1950.


Orrrr… Maybe not….

Well… There is a turn of events…

As I have mentioned, changes to the mandate for the government department meant that contact requirements had changed. I was being asked for the new contact to work exclusively on-site, for fewer hours, and pay for parking daily. Due to my family commitments I simply cannot work away from home. I turned it down. As of April 1, I was out of work and feeling fine with that.

Fifteen minutes ago, I got a call from the HR person for the company I work at. “Someone in high places has been putting a good word in for you!” they asked if I was able to work at home would I be inteKrested in a new contract…

I said yes on the spot. I still have to hear the terms but even if it means fewer hours per week, I am interested.

I was looking forward to being with Mom full-time but being able to put more money aside for the time when I really do have to stop working will be better than simply stopping now.

It’s weird, too, because I ran into someone who looked familiar. My grand-nephew is staying with her and her husband. Turns out that she works for the same department as I do in a slightly higher level. She told me that, rather than the Department’s mandate ending in March 2013, there is 7-9 years work left…. Hmmmm….

Skypey stuff

Just had a terrific video conversation with my brother via Skype. I love ya, Sandy!

Photo Hunt: Together

The obvious choices for this week’s Photo Hunt were:

Mom and me, aged 37 and 5 and almost 87 and 55.

This is the first time that my brother and my sisters and I were together for the first time EVER. R to l, Me , brother Sandy, sisters Peg and Shari.

Photo Hunt: Closed

This week’s Photo Hunt theme is “Closed”. The opening of a book and the closing of it.

“…all mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated; God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice; but God’s hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall lie open to one another.” John Donne – Meditation XVII


Jessica Brooke Engelen-VanDenHeuvel

My niece, Jessica, was born on March 31, 1989. She died tragically in a fire, on May 12, 2004.


I am so tired of life being so damn complicated. So many little (or big, depending on your point of view) things converging. In the last few month, I’ve been feeling pretty good. Not having to rely on anti-anxiety meds. Feeling pretty good about even the possibility of not being employed for the foreseeable future, feeling a little excited about getting back into the artistic side of things…. even feeling good about Mom’s health.

Then a big hiccup… and then another little hiccup, then another… and while the odd hiccup might be fine and “bearable” when I get stressed about something, usually something I feel I don’t have too much control over, I fall back on the old patterns of worry… usually about things that “might” happen… “what ifs”… feeling like it’s my responsibility to deal with other peoples’ issues… wanting to do the best job I can but being unable to because of either someone else’s “issues” or because I am so bogged down in my own angst to be able to rationally deal with what I can and let the chips fall where they may where the problems aren’t really mine. Or knowing that the best I can do just won’t ever be enough.

The problem is that, even when I know that I’ve done my part, I don’t like feeling like people are judging me when someone points at me for THEIR failures. And, of course, when I am sitting around waiting for the other shoe to drop when there might not be a shoe ready TO drop.

In this case, there was the Board stuff and then the crappy General Meeting where if fell to me to stand up to ‘splain “our side” of what went wrong, the responsibility of deciding whether I was going to go back on the Board, at least for an interim period, whether the Board was going to include one of the people I had had a disagreement with (it does), and whether I would let down some people who have a great deal of faith in me (I didn’t). Then, when it became apparent that I would have to work with the person who I had a disagreement with… what was I going to do? I did what I had to do. I went over and talked to her and we buried the hatchet… or at least it appears that way. We shall see what happens. But, of course, I feel a great deal of anxiety over what the next few months will hold. At least I feel confident that things will be different this time around. This time, there are two men on the Board, one I KNOW won’t brook and crap (and was on the Board with me previous to this last term) and the other who I have heard has a fairly strong personality and probably won’t take any crap. There is another woman who I know is pretty strong-minded and I am hopeful that things will be very different.

Then, the other day, a family member, 13 years old, ran away from home after being charged with truancy. She was finally brought home by the police but she’s troubled, and with good reason. She was molested when she was little, by a family member and despite the law being there to “protect her”, the police failed her, the Courts failed her, the Victim assistance office of the Court failed her, the CAS failed her and she is a wounded child in need of healing. I am angry because I did what I could to try and get her justice. Her family tried (they were forbidden by CAS and the Crown from being in the courtroom… CAS threatening that if her parents went into the courtroom, they would take the children away). The ONLY reason I was able to make a victim impact statement on behalf of the family was because the DEFENDANT’S lawyer insisted that my statement needed to be part of the record. Even so, I wasn’t allowed to READ it. It was given to the judge during his deliberations.

If I am angry and heartbroken, you can imagine how her step-father feels. He tried to protect her and feels he let her down, even though he was the one who caught the perpetrator in the act of molesting her and, instead of killing him like he could have, he called the police believing they would protect her and justice would take its course. It hurts to feel so helpless.

And the pain that he feels won’t ever go away. Neither will her pain, or her mother’s pain… or my pain… I know. I work every day with the legacy of physical, mental and sexual abuse. from the Indian Residential Schools. I know that people carry this pain for the rest of their lives and while redress and apology helps, it doesn’t make all the pain go away…. ever. And we can’t heal her. We can only give her the support she needs and hope that she will accept that support… and hope that it isn’t too little… to late.

This is rambling. I know. It’s just how things are, at the moment.

One day at a time… one day at a time.

The one thing I can say, though, is that I have had some kind words and support, when it has counted, from some dear friends. They know who they are… and I love them dearly… If only I could give back half as much as they have given me.

Thank God that’s over…

Not complaining… Christmas was great… Well… As usual, despite the fact that I could have gone shopping any time over the weeks leading up to it, I didn’t. Despite my taking the 23rd and 24th off to “go shopping” I really didn’t do any “shopping” until the morning of the 24th… and pretty well all in one place. I bought gift cards, either for specific stores/restaurants or gift credit cards. When I DID try and shop for some little gifts for the neighbourhood kids, I did so at the dollar store but they were already putting up their St. Valentine’s Day stuff. I mean VALENTINE’S DAY, for Pete’s sake! Not only were the Valentine’s Day things going up but most of the Christmas stuff was packed away.

I got the full week before Christmas and New Year off, a combination of public holidays and paid time off from my company. What did I do? I slept, for the most part. I fell back into my up late and sleep through the day.

In between, I  spent the morning of Christmas Day at the hospital for an embarrassing problem which wouldn’t have (or might not have) been a problem had the stores and/or my doctor’s office been open, fielded crises both within and without the family (people just can’t accept that other people have the right to feelings and opinions — not EVERYTHING in a family is the WHOLE family’s problem — not EVERY situation requires EVERYONE to take sides!), and hoped for snow.

But I’m glad it is over.

I have yet to take the tree down!

My TV that I bought just over a year ago died yesterday and I couldn’t remember where I bought it nor could I find the receipt so the only thing was to buy a new TV. Luckily, I did have yesterday off which came as a bit of a surprise because I actually started working before I found out. Since the TV I picked still had the Boxing Day prices on it, I got a deal, so that was a welcome. Of course, the new TV is twice as large as the old TV so I may have to put it on the opposite side of the room!

Artist's interpretation of television's size

This evening, I went out and got the replacement recycle bins after some helpful Hanna (I suspect that it was the mother of the neighbour, who doesn’t live here but likes to interfere) took the ones that had been assigned to us which had an old unit number on it. I had found one of my indoor ones halfway up the street on someone else’s porch. Now I have ACTUAL recycle bins, with OUR unit # on them, which fit into the new cabinet I bought for our porch. They fit perfectly and, unlike the old indoor bins we were forced to use, aren’t split. I bought new indoor bins, got the kitchen waste bins and during the recent melt managed to get the cover on the air conditioner (just in time since it snowed last night!).

I’m exhausted but hopefully all this means that I can now be more organized inside and outside the house, and will make things easier, all round.

New (old) family.

My mother left Scotland back in 1950 and emigrated to Canada. Both her parents were dead and she was an only child She had several cousins but they lived in different parts of the Britain and Scotland. She was teaching but because in Scottish schools teachers were required to strap children and my mother just couldn’t bring herself to do it, she was looking for other work. Unfortunately, now that the war had ended and men were reentering the workforce, whenever she applied for jobs, she was always up against several male candidates and they were the ones who got the jobs.

After listening to a talk one evening on Canada, the next day she went down to the travel agent’s and booked passage to Canada for the next week. She got a colleague to take over the last two weeks of her classes and didn’t even tell her employers she was planning on leaving.

The next week she boarded The Empress of Scotland for Canada. Some friends saw her off.

A few years ago I said “It must have been an emotional day for you, saying goodbye to everything you knew.”

She said “I never looked back”.

She kept in touch with her cousins and few remaining Tocher aunts, her mother’s sisters. Most of her father’s family had cut their connection with her parents towards the end of the war. The last of his sisters had cut her connection when my grandmother, by then very ill with cancer, said that she no longer had the energy to look after a niece who had been staying with her and my Mom (Grandfather had died at the end of the war).

She was very close with her mother’s family, though and remained in contact with her cousins over the years, until they all passed away. Her cousin Kenneth had divorced many years ago and his children stayed with their mother so we didn’t have contact with them. I never imagines that all these years later, through FaceBook, we would suddenly find each other!

Last week, my cousin Mags (Kenneth’s daughter) messaged me on FaceBook and this evening, her sister Sue friended me.

Mags sent me a photo of her grandfather, John Tocher. I’d never seen a photo of him before, so I was thrilled! John Tocher was the designer (apparently never credited but confirmed by Mags) of the Portobello Wave Pool, Edinburgh.

Uncle John Tocher (seated right)

I think Uncle John looks like “James Bellamy” (played by Simon Williams) from “Upstairs, Downstairs”.

Portobello Wave Pool

I was so pleased to have been contacted by Mags and Sue and look forward to getting to know them…

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