Music makes me, me!



We’re here for a good time not a long time.  I’ve got a brand new pair of roller skates; you’ve got a brand new key.  When you’re alone and life is making you lonely you can always go downtown.  These are all lyrics from some oldies but goodies that make me feel goodie when I listen to them.  Music has the power to do that to me, most of the time.  I know when tragedy strikes that there is nothing that fixes the pain at the moment but music is the closest remedy that could.

The night before Ryan’s funeral, some friends and family members gathered at my house and we sat outside on the dock with a fire burning in the fire pit and sang songs.  My cousin had his guitar and even though it was a cool September night, he managed to pluck those strings and somehow we sang along.  I was numb, in shock, frozen, but it helped me get through that night.

I think I devoted a chapter to music in The Cedar Canoe because of its great impact on me at that time and it continues to be a major contribution to my well being.  I believe it has healing powers.  Those who know me know that I am a devoted karaoke performer at our local Legion karaoke nights.  And I think it has more to do with being with friends, out and having fun, than the actual singing part.  Laughter is also a great healer. (That’s another future blog).

I also took up the guitar a couple of years ago, just playing around with it on my own, in the privacy of my living room.  I think I’ve improved because the dog doesn’t leave the room when I pick up the guitar now.  She does leave the room when I practice the Celtic whistle.  Sorry Maggie but I just gotta play.

Music can be enjoyed in solitude or with thousands of people.  It can be performed by you or you can listen to someone else perform.  If you are hearing challenged, you can still feel music.  That is the beauty of it.  It was one of the greatest gifts from the Creator.  It’s there for everyone to experience in some way.  Listen to it, sing, play, dance and write.


Poetry Day

Soul Shadow



The shadow of the eagle swoops low overhead

wing tips tickle the cheek and tease

the drums beat rhythmically song of the people

is one of freedom

always there, the shadow of the eagle

shrieks of ancestors not to be forgotten

not to be left behind in rush of the future

we are flying

eagle feather falls to my feet silently

whispers of moccasins that ran swiftly

from the land of the man with the long knives

will always remain free

the eagle wings are spread as it soars

its shadow covers me in assurance

that I belong to him though my eyes are green

Grandmother watches me

the eagle shadow dives and rises

proud and free not to be corralled like a buffalo

and remains with me as a guide

to fly, my soul, be free


Kathy Tetlock

Out of my comfort zone

It was a gorgeous day.  Sunny, fresh and colourful.  The leaves are a brilliant gold now.  I walked to the Legion parking lot where the last Farmer’s Market was being held for this year.  I wasn’t there for the farmers on this particular day but had heard that the Cancer Society was having a fund-raiser book sale and bulb sale.  I’m all for that.

Wasn’t wanting to go. It is really easy for me to stay at home and inside on the weekends.  I like to come home and escape the world, just hide away in my hide-a-way.  Going out where there are going to be crowds of people is not my thing.  But I know that I have to push myself to do it and it usually turns out ok.  A little self talk is required, “Come on girl, you can do it.  It’ll be fun.  You’ll feel good.”  Actually, it’s more like, “Alright, dumb ass, get outside.  Don’t be so lazy.”  Yep, that usually does it.

So I got my dumb ass out the door and started down the street.  I was impressed with the amount of townsfolk who were out and about.  As I got to the corner where the only stop lights in town are situated, I was met with a parade.  Wow a parade, just for me!  People celebrating me going for a walk.  Ok, so not, but there was a little enthusiastic group of environmentalists marching to stop the use of  fossil fuels.  Of course one of my friends was in the lead!  Good for them, out marching and taking a stand and saving the planet.  That really impressed me.  Here I was trying to find an excuse to stay in and hide away from all of this.  You can check out Cristine Penner Polle’s blog at 350 0r

When I arrived at the Market, there were quite a few booths set up outside in the parking lot as well as events going on inside the Legion.  I made a bee-line for the books and bulbs and was happily rewarded.  Found four books that I know I will get great pleasure from reading.  I love Maeve Binchy and Rosamunde Pilcher.  They write very descriptive pictures of their characters as well as the setting which is usually in Ireland or England.

The bulbs have been planted and now when spring comes along, I will have some beautiful daffodils blooming to smile at me and say, “Aren’t you glad you left your comfort zone, Dumb Ass?”  And I’ll be glad.

I Love Autumn

When the lights go out

Our little town was without power for almost 8 hours on Sunday.  It was a scheduled outage by Ontario Hydro as they sometimes do around here.  At first I was annoyed by the inconvenience it was going to cause to my life and routines.  Weekends are short and very precious to me.  I not only had to plan for the outage at home but also at work (making sure the generator, phones etc. are working).  But after about an hour into the powerless day, I started to enjoy and appreciate it; heck I think it should happen more often. 

So what are the benefits to having no power?  Well, there are some, if the conditions are right.  It’s no fun to be without power during the winter, but during the summer, it’s just like camping.  The first thing I noticed was that everyone was outside, rather than inside watching TV.  My teenagers couldn’t play their video games so they actually spent time with me.  They also had to rely on me for food.  I was well prepared with a BBQ and also my little camping stove, if necessary.  We had a delicious lunch, if I do say so myself.

Out on the street, people were jogging or walking their dogs.  Some people were enjoying the air-conditioning of their vehicles and driving around, visiting friends or family.  Boats were out on the lake and laughter could be heard clear across the bay. Children were getting exercise on their bicycles or at the skate park.  Seniors ventured outdoors as well to find a nice breeze in a shady spot.  The town became Mayberry, well okay, not quite.  It reminded me of the old days, back when I was a wee girl and before all of this crazy technology was dropped on us.  We had to invent our own entertainment and we played outside all day until our moms made us come in for bedtime.  Ahh, those were the days!

I’m sure the planet benefited a little bit too.  But now, I have to catch up on my emails, blogs and Face book friends.   Gotta go!

Endings and Beginnings

William on his way

Summer is ending, winding down now (hurricane season is beginning).  William is leaving today to go back to school down South.  I haven’t seen very much of him all summer because he has been fire fighting and we have had a record high of heat and forest fires. But at least when he was off fighting fires, I knew he would be back in a week or two and yes that was probably the most stressful job for a mom he could have picked.  I think I did pretty good in dealing with it.  William has an adventurous spirit so I am sure there will be more stresses ahead but I don’t want to stop him.  I want him to leave the nest and fly, drug free!

He left Saturday morning driving his car, which he inherited from Ryan.  I made him pose for some pictures because I don’t have any pictures of Ryan with his car.  William is off to his beginning of another school year, possibly the last one depending on what he decides.  I am so excited for him, I feel like its me who’s going off to college!

I have been through a lot of good-byes with William.  After my divorce, William chose to go and live with his father, later moved back with me and then moved back with his father.  I did not want to make my children feel guilty or bad about where they lived because divorce is hell on kids.  There were many times when I looked in his empty bedroom and cried.  Now, I am happy that we all get along and the boys spend a lot of time at their dad’s house.  In three years it will be the ending of high school years for Andy and Ben and the beginning of another new era for us all.  Don’t want to think about that yet! 

We all go through endings during this journey on earth, whether it is the end of school, end of a marriage, end of a job or end of a life.  With those come the beginnings of something new.  Change is scary.  The beginnings are something new to adjust to.  My life after Ryan died is different from the life before Ryan died but I am adjusting to it and, with every breath I breathe, Ryan will remain alive in me.

My boys are all doing okay.  I was not sure what would happen to us all when Ryan died.  So when I look at them and see them working, playing and planning their futures, it fills me up with gratitude.  We can do it!!

Me and my boysWill off to college

The Cedar Canoe Rides Again

The Cedar Canoe

“Empty now, it floats down the river, silently gliding through the waters searching for its creator; the smiling young man who lovingly brought life with each piece of cedar he tenderly placed, to create the cedar canoe.  Where did he go? Why did he leave? His canoe moves along paddled by the ghost of a life now gone.”

One of my goals this summer was to get Ryan’s beautiful cedar canoe in the water and use it.  The summer has been a very hot one and the water has been extremely low but we did get the canoe out a few times.  It still amazes me when I look at it.  Ryan made this work of art and he is not here to enjoy it. Strange how our possessions live on when we are gone.

The canoe is quite long and its belly is wider so it’s not that tippy. I feel quite safe in it unless a big boat comes by and leaves waves that are for surfers.  It has been tricky to get it into the lake from our dock because of the low water level this year.  We have to lower it by rope and then move it over near the shore to get in.  It has been easier to get out of it by using the ladder at the end of the dock.  And yes, it has received a few scratches but I think Ryan would be okay with that.  At the end of this summer I have to do some maintenance on it.  It’s supposed to be varnished every year, I think, so I will do that before storing it away and then again at the beginning of next summer.

I have felt some very peaceful, happy moments this summer.  I am grateful for them because I have felt like the old me at times.  Maybe it is possible to have happiness again!  Ryan’s canoe is part of my peace.  Thank you Ryan!

Facing Fears

Out of the Darkness 2011

I’m afraid of the spiders that live in the Out-house. They might crawl up from down below and crawl into somewhere I don’t want them to be, (you know what I mean), or they might swing down from above and land on my head. I am basically at their mercy when I’m sitting in the biffy. I’m not sure if I’m afraid of a bite because I’m not afraid of mosquito bites or fly bites. I think I am afraid of their creepiness. It creeps me out that they have eight legs and can run like hell and also spin a web from which they can swing from like Tarzan.

I don’t hate spiders; they have their good qualities, as we all know. They eat bugs, which is good but it is also creepy. I’ve seen a spider try to eat a huge dragon fly that was caught in its web. How scary is that! Of course, I freed the dragon fly. I love dragon flies.

My greatest fear has always been to lose a child; for one or all of my children to die. I first felt that fear inside me the day that my first child, Ryan, was born and it will stay, I think, with me until I die. When Ryan died, my greatest fear was realized and I wasn’t sure what would happen to me. I did not want to go on living. I had no choice, but to go on because I had other young children to look after. So for me, it’s a continual search of ways to help me go on while I am still on planet Earth. And I know that Ryan does not want me to be unhappy and disconnected. My greatest fear came true and I am surviving! It can be done! There is no perfect way to do it, I just keeping going and looking and searching and seeking. That keeps me busy. If I’m busy then I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself. This fear does affect my life and my surviving children’s lives because I am so afraid to lose another child, now that I know the pain intimately, that I worry more which causes a lot of sleepless nights for me and annoying phone calls to my boys from their mom asking them where they are and what they’re doing. (Wow that was a long run-on sentence). I’m working on this though; obviously I can’t be phoning them for the rest of their lives to make sure they’re in bed safe at night. That would be weird and they would probably get unlisted phone numbers.

This summer has been a test for me because William is a fire fighter and we have had an extremely busy forest fire season. He is away for two weeks at a time and I can’t phone him. I didn’t sleep the first night he was gone on his first trip but it has gotten easier. I didn’t freak out when he told me that his camp site was totally destroyed by the fire and he and his crew were air lifted out of there. I think I am learning to give over to the universe what I have no control over. I see progress.

Other silly fears have left me since Ryan died. I am no longer afraid of making mistakes or taking chances. I’m not afraid of saying what I believe and speaking up for myself and my beliefs. I’m no longer afraid of making an ass of myself for a good cause, or of laughing, dancing and singing in public (most of the time).

I’m no longer afraid to tell those I love that I love them.

Flowers for Shirley

I lost my best friend, my sister, Shirley, on September 10th, 2004 to breast cancer.  Her birthday is July 24th.  As I was driving to Winnipeg on the 24th, on the way to my Aunt Chriss’s funeral, I didn’t get over to the cemetery to visit with Shirley.  Ryan is buried next to her, so I always visit the two of them.  In life they were together a lot and in death they are together, I’m sure.

I talk to Shirley all the time and still ask her for advice.  She was my older sister and always had the answers, even if they weren’t what I wanted to hear, she told it like it was.

Shirley taught me to enjoy the little things.  She had the most fun when she was with people she loved and doing the things that she loved.  She loved to go camping and so I would go camping with her even though I didn’t really love it as much as she did.  It was such fun for her to plan her meals and cook them outside.  That was great for me, cuz I didn’t have to do any cooking.  I will  have to dig out the pics I have of Shirley when she was camping and add them in later.

I have decided that this being the long weekend, I will take my boys camping.  No, I have never done that before and I’m hoping that Rick will come along but if he doesn’t, I am going to do it anyway.  Shirley would.  I am going to dig out the pics and bring them camping and talk to Andy and Ben about their wonderful Aunt who is still with us in our funny, and silly memories.

Strangely enough, Ryan loved camping too and he would also go camping by himself.  He would go off into the woods all alone with his canoe and camp for a week.  I don’t even like going to the bathroom alone!

This has been a beautiful, hot summer but my flowers have suffered a little bit.  I can’t blame it all on mother nature, I’m not the best gardener, but I took some pictures of flowers today and am sending them to Shirley. 

Shirley, these are for you and I’ll see you at the campsite.

Get the Canoe in the Water

Summer really is a short time here in Red Lake and most of us try to cram a lot of things into it.  There’s the pressure to get the garden in, get to the cottage, clean and maintain the cottage (if you’re lucky to have one), get to the beach, go fishing, camping, running, hiking, and of course – traveling.  School is out and everyone has to hit Highway 105 to get the heck out of here.  It’s time to visit relatives or go shopping or take that two week driving trip out West or East!  And then of course, if you’re getting married… whew!  There’s a lot to do.  But that is because, we end up sitting around all winter, waiting and dreaming about summer.

For me, it’s important to relax, as well, and just smell all of the smells, soak in the water, and imprint the view of beautiful Howey Bay into my eyeballs so that I can remember how it looks once it is frozen over again.  Every Morning, I enjoy sitting on my deck overlooking Howey Bay, with a cup of tea, and watching the loon familyswim by.  There are two baby loons that are getting bigger every day and they can now swim underwater a little bit but their parents are still feeding them minnows.  It is so precious!!

I love to just sit and read a good book feeling the breeze off the lake, if there is one, and listening to the birds singing.  Those are thesensations that remind me that I am real and I am alive.  Having a cocktail by the lake is nice too.

I want to go for a canoe ride so desperately!  But first, I have to convince my BFF, to join me.  My goal is to prac

My perennials are blooming despite the drought we’re having and they are doing better than last year.  So I can go into the front yard and spend time pulling out weeds now and then, if I want to and enjoy all of the colours there.

My main goal this summer is to practice steering and paddling the canoe, Ryan’s cedar canoe.  It needs some loving and attention and so do I.  There is nothing more peaceful and serene than paddling a canoe on a still, calm evening around a lake.  That is what my soul aches for.

We are currently in forest fire season and there are a lot of fires out there surrounding our peaceful little community.  I haven’t seen my son, William, for a week.  He is on a fire crew this summer.  Yes, that is a little stressful for me.  I didn’t sleep the first night that he left on his first week out.  But this is his second time out and he loves what he’s doing.  He shared his stories with me from his last trip and it does sound exciting.  But it is also dangerous and I have that great fear of losing another child.  I don’t want to hold him back either so I am trying to be brave and let him do his thing.  I want him to have a full and complete life, as long as it is.  That is out of my hands.

I will just canoe around the lake and think of peaceful things.

The Loon Family

Work is a Good Thing

Today I return to my job after my wonderful vacation of a week!  The sun is shining and it is going to be a beautiful day, no matter what happens during the day, the sun is still shining!  Of course that can change too, at any time in this area. 

On my healing journey, I have found that routine is good.  I really need a routine to keep me grounded.  It’s when that routine gets mixed up that I struggle, so I always try to have some kind of routine.  I am fortunate that I love my job.  Yes, I might complain about it now and then, but really, I do love it.  That is the important thing.  I have had jobs in the past that I hated going to every day and that makes life miserable, even if you’re not going through a personal struggle.  I tell my sons, that the crucial reason to get an education, is to be able to have employment that you love and value.  That makes life make more sense.

Last night I slept like a baby, right through the night and I also appreciate that.  I have many nights where I still dream of Ryan or I wake up and have insomnia.  So, when I sleep through the night, it seems like a little miracle.  But then, the guilt hits.  Am I forgetting Ryan?  My greatest fear when he died was that I would some day forget his smile or the sound of his voice.  It is almost five years later and those images and sounds are still vivid in my memory, so I don’t think that will ever happen.

The traumatic way in which Ryan died is what keeps me awake at night or gives me the nightmares.  Post traumatic stress disorder, I believe is the term.  And that is a big one to deal with.  But, I can see progress, definitely, just in sleeping patterns.

I used to wonder how survivors of wars and of the great holocaust could go on and live a “normal” life.  I do not compare my situation to theirs in any way but I have a little bit of a glimpse into what they go through.  I have learned that you can heal some things, but mostly, you learn to live with things.  Your life is different.  It is a continual journey of healing and sometimes of just coping.

Having said that, however, for me, I notice the little changes in the way I feel and I can see the light ahead.  It is a journey that takes a life time.