Monday, August 31, 2009

Staycation Smaycation!

No. We weren’t on staycation.

Yes. We were home for a week but we couldn’t seem to get away from the lure of work; phones ringing, e-mails being fired in our direction were just too much for us to ignore. A client here and one there became a few more for the both of us. Add the fact that my contractor hubby was doing his magic aka working on renovating the basement/treatment area and you can see that technically this was not a holiday for him at all.

I was the demolition crew. I used to think that Debra in the series Dexter was way over the top with her swearing, that was before reno week. Put a crowbar or a hammer in my hand (don’t get me started on power tools) and the testosterone starts flowing and her character seems totally frigg’n realistic to me man. There’s something empowering, transformative, even Shiva-like about tearing things apart in the service of new beginnings.

So, we caved and headed down to Watkins Glen in the good ole US of A and had ourselves a fabulous time!

We used The Longhouse Lodge Motel with continental breakfast proudly emblazoned on its sign as our home base. Ah, continental breakfast sounds exotic, elaborate, filling doesn’t it? But it’s always disappointing - Tang-like OJ, with a choice between toast, mini donuts or bagels with butter, strawberry or grape jelly – that’s what it really is; O.K. for a one-night stay but not for 5.

So we headed out for brekkie and discovered Savard’s Family Restaurant – great food (cinnamon French toast with real maple syrup – yum!), friendly service and cartoony placemats advertising local businesses with a Where’s Waldo-type theme challenging us to find such items as a brush, leaf, olive etc in the ads. Went there twice, left before finding the marble and the golf ball but worse, forgot to snag some for a fancy dinner setting with some friends. Damn. We’ll have to go back, either that or get them to mail some to us…hmmm.

We hiked Watkins Glen State Park – stunningly beautiful: waterfalls, potholes, well worn stone pathways winding their way up and up, a veritable image of Shangri-La as I view fellow trekkers climbing above and below me streaming through the distance at varying angles, traversing the waterway over stone bridges built by hand in the mid 1800’s - a seamless blending of nature and engineering; an incredible feat.

Later that afternoon we lazed at the public beach of Seneca Lake; I swam in its warm shallow waters.

We successfully found clothes that fit us (yea) at an outlet mall – if I’m a size 0, what the hell is Sarah Jessica Parker; took the Burgers, Beer and Blues cruise courtesy of Captain Bill’s Seneca Lake Cruises on a lovely breezy summer night (being a vegetarian of sorts my fare was a bun with tomato, lettuce and some warm cheese whizzy glop on top – surprisingly satisfying in a comfort food kind of way); savoured seafood dinners and local wines at historic Seneca Harbor Station; were thoroughly entertained by the glass blowers in the Corning Museum of Glass, beguiled by pretty shiny things and delighted with interactive exhibits; and (as recommended by Kathy a most personable, enthusiastic and helpful info centre employee) took in jazz night at the local band shell in the park and loved the neighbourly invite for “free ice cream for everyone at the ice cream truck” announced by the band leader during a break in which a local Christian group sang the lord’s praises, accompanied by a sound machine, to benefit a local camp for troubled kids while a grandmotherly lady passed the hat around.

A real slice of Americana, for sure!

And at the end of the day I’d while away the evening reading in the rocking chair outside our room with a view of the valley and lake below, as a handsome black and white short haired cat named George purred on my lap and occasionally I'd chat with neighbours passing through.

I did yoga a few mornings by the pool and did a few laps alone in the pool late one afternoon as Rod caught some Z-Z-Z’s in prep for the evening boat trip ahead.

Life just went at its own leisurely small town pace – delightful.

And now as my brother Rob put it, “welcome back to bedlam”. I’m too laid back – inertia weighs me down with indecision – but I’m also missing the roll I was on before we went away. Maybe I should make some calls or do some laundry or work on my latest project or clear clutter in exchange for the new items we purchased or read a book or just stare out into the nothingness...

However, Flippy in her role of Poopy Butt Girl and Maya in her capacity as Barfy Kitty bless their little furry hearts have come to the rescue, giving me focus.

Second night home I’m greeted by the smell of cat poo emanating from the bedroom. Sure as shit she’s had diarrhea all over the heavy bedspread (a precautionary forethought). She spends a few hours in the bathroom with a freshly soaped and rinsed behind to finish off in her leisure while Maya frets outside the door and I do an impromptu load of laundry.

Next morning after their 6:30 a.m. feeding I flop back to bed as usual but before I doze off a slightly crumbly butt rests on my hand – Wow, even more poo has come out of this cat. She gets tossed into the slammer again, but this time with a spare cat box. Maya stands vigil. I fall back into bed.

2 hours later, heading directly into the brig I declare, “Enough of this shit” and step into a pool of warm, freshly squeezed pee mere inches beside her complimentary kitty litter box. We emerge minutes later: feet cleaned, pool sopped up, Flippy’s butt fur trimmed within an inch of its life while Maya makes a get away scattering down the stairs.

I follow the diarrhea odour to its source on Rod’s leather couch – another successful hit by PBG and a typical target of her revenge.

The stress has proven too much for Maya who has, unbeknownst to me, during the day horked up the most massive fur ball, nay Fur Being as it has me shrieking in terror for it is easily 3 ½ inches long and 1 inch in diameter! “What the hell is this thing” I cringe at the thought of touching it until I realize just what it is and then I’m amazed, disgusted yes, but amazed too that this creation has come out of Tiny Perfect Kitty.

And, what is this I smell as I write to you dear reader but the scent of freshly made kitty poo – ah, life is falling into place, virtually shouting, “WELCOME HOME!” - gotta run!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Somewhere a theramin is playing!

O.K. what is it about this dreamwork that brings out synchronistic happenings?

In my last blog I talked about the dream DON'T GET YOUR KNICKERS IN A KNOT and how the very next day my husband Rod used that phrase (which he's never done before) when I was getting frustrated dealing with something other than my knickers. I went on to talk about how to deal with knickers in a knot as opposed to how I deal with Christmas lights in a knot (see the last blog).

So don't I, just at this moment, open an e-mail from a university "sister" whom I haven't heard from in ages. She's sending one of those chain type e-mails which she says, "I normally don't send this type of thing but I liked the message of this one."

After the initial message was a whole bunch of inspirational sayings along with this comment: "you can tell the nature of an individual by how she handles, rainy days, old people, lost luggage, and tangled up Christmas lights". Aside from being an example of synchronicity at work this shows you that I am unphased by the weather, patient with the elderly, accepting of circumstances being sure that they will all work out in the end - a virtual paragon of peace and tranquility with 1/4 raving lunatic thrown in for balance.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Not not, knot.

I have always been curious about prophetic dreams since it was a dream of apparent prophecy that got me interested in dreams in the first place – a dream that luckily, didn’t come true.

In my early teens I dreamt that I would die in a car accident, in which I was the driver of a red car, at the age of 21. I never told anyone about my dream which isn’t unusual as no one I knew talked about dreams.

What does one to do with information that seems fated? Well, for one thing, initially I vowed not to drive. But when I was 18, my 16 year old brother was learning and I said to myself, “If my younger brother can do it how difficult can it be?” After all I was safe until I was 21 wasn’t I? So then I decided to make a pact with fate, “keep me safe” I proposed, “and I won’t drive during the year I turn 21, or…maybe…if I do drive… I’ll make sure the car isn’t red.”

But, while my older brother was giving me a driving lesson in his red Cortina I smacked into a bush having spun off of some loose gravel after stalling on a steep hill. I virtually jumped out of the car and almost fell down the steep embankment a foot or so to the left of the vehicle. Well, that freaked me out because fate wasn’t keeping his side of the bargain and in my dream car there was a male in the passenger seat. That was just a little too close for comfort. It’s one thing if I crash and burn alone but it’s a whole other thing if I take someone with me. I wouldn’t be able to live, or is that die, with myself if that was the case.

I didn’t drive again til I was 30 but, I did establish a life long fascination with and practice of dreamworking.

A few weekends ago, during a workshop in ACTIVE DREAMING – lead by Ruth Lewis (a student of Robert Moss) using the lightning dreamwork technique, we asked the dreamer, “Could the dream happen in waking life?” Ruth said this is a good way to track ones’ powers of intuition. I became casually interested in this aspect and it has since become part of my dreamwork process.

Well, I had my first prophetic dream a few nights after the workshop!

I’ve been dealing with a challenging situation in my waking life so I decided to take it to my dreams. How can I deal with this frustrating, very intense, energy draining, seriously complicated dilemma that has dogged me for months now? My dreams surely would yield an answer full of symbolism, profound wisdom and deeply powerful images.

But I woke up with nada, nothing, bupkiss – only a fleeting irrelevant image, more like a mental burp really, that I discounted and forgot about; that is until later on in the day when I went to put on my gotchies.

My undies were all tangled up. Wham – OMG just like in my dream!

Now, I know you are saying to yourself. “What kind of stupid dream is that? How relevant is it to the situation?”


Is that starting to make more sense to you?

I often dream in puns and there it was. The saying implies that I am getting worked up about nothing, and I am actually making the situation worse than it really is.

I felt annoyed at my gotchies in waking life; as I did in the dream. What do you do when your knickers are in a knot? The only way to put on knotted knickers is to be patient as you unknot them (Remember we’re talking about essential panties, not Christmas tree lights which, when I last dealt with them, I was patient for about 2 seconds. Then the uncontrollable swearing started; flailing about with them like some crazy person followed. Finally I chucked my conservation ethics along with the big tangled ball in the trash and I felt much better, thank you very much!), and keep your balance while you step into them one foot at a time.

So, it was reminding me to watch what I feed with my energy, take time untangling my energy from the situation, keep my balance in the process and enter back into the situation from my new perspective; taking one step at a time.

Because of the dream and its message I was able to realize 2 light bulb moments in ordinary reality that I probably wouldn’t have recognized without understanding the message of the dream. These waking life situations made me see negative thought and action patterns of mine that were complicating the situation, feeding it and perpetuating the very thing that I’ve been trying to free myself from. Fortunately, once they were revealed and I dealt with my bruised ego, I could take responsibility, forgive myself and let it go – untangling cords of negativity that had been formed. Then the actions that were required to move forward; the change in attitude and approach needed became very clear to me.

Sometimes the small dreams are the really big ones in disguise.

And, as if to emphasize the message an element of synchronicity occured in waking life just yesterday when I was getting frustrated while working on renovations with my husband and he said (and I've never heard him say this before), "Don't get your knickers in a knot". Yup, he did. I kid you not.

Monday, August 17, 2009


What you are about to read is the “stuff” of life. You can’t make this “stuff” up.

You might recall my blog Reader’s Digest Reject #1 in which a friend of ours lost his dentures, while body surfing in Hawaii, on day one of a 3 week vacation. Unable to get them replaced in that time span, he was forced to gum his food for the remainder of his stay.

Well, Rod and I went over to Austin and Linda’s place for a BBQ and who should be there but our friend the body surfer, his wife and another couple (who we’d only met once or twice before), the husband of which is the best friend of body surfing guy; they’ve known each other since they were kids.

Our friend proceeded to tell the denture story in animated detail beginning with, “a big wave came up and slapped me on the back of the head” whacking his head for effect “and blew my dentures right out of my mouth…” making a projecting motion with his head.

His wife confirmed that indeed he was dentureless for the duration and added, “every time we walked the beach we’d call out - here chompers, chompers, chompers - and scan the shore but we had no luck.”

Then to my amazement his friend says, “That’s nothing. I lost mine on the first day of a 4 week vacation in Hawaii and couldn’t get them replaced either.”

He was snorkeling and as he climbed into the boat he pulled the snorkel out of his mouth; inadvertently his dentures came out with it and were flung into the sea.

“I sat at the edge of the boat and watched them float down and out of view as we were motored away.” said his helpless wife whose wild gestures and shouts of distress went unnoticed by her husband and the pilot of the boat til it was too late.

What are the odds? At a table of 8 people, not one but two, have lost their dentures to the waters of Hawaii. Apparently the odds are 2 out of 8. That's a staggering 25% people!

Therefore, I feel it is my responsibility to issue this travel alert.


Beware the waters of Hawaii, they will claim your dentures if you are not alert!
Bring an extra set with you.

Better still; go to Hawaii while you still have your teeth!

Thursday, August 13, 2009


This Saturday the inspiration for this cartoon turns 95 years old. At the time of this cartoons’ composing, my friend Pat Dix was about 76.

Pat is the mother of Pam (a member of the Council of the Sleepover). She has been a friend of mine since I became an adult, but even before that she was someone special to me.

When I was a child she had, long beautiful black hair that she braided and secured to her head with exotic combs. But she’d let it flow freely down her back or in a single braid in the summer when she was gardening. The summer sun tanned her olive skin to a perfection envied by us teens who’d spend hours slathered in baby oil with sun reflectors made of Reynolds wrap angled at our necks to get just the right distribution of rays.

She worked hard at Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital handling the autoclave in the sterilization unit. Then her refined good taste, sense of style and natural elegance shone through as a sales woman at Birk’s – later to become People’s Credit Jewelers (managed by my uncle Lou). And her sense of adventure, challenge and passion for reading was employed in her position as the Bookmobile lady for the local library. During a time in which many of our mothers stayed at home she worked out of necessity – having been widowed in her 40’s. I was well aware of this and admired her strength and all the things that she could do.

Her home is filled with her artwork. Oil paintings adorn her walls; one of a beautiful, slender, black woman comes to mind as do the many landscapes. Her skills as a craftswoman are displayed on upholstered chairs which she has elaborately embroidered, quilts which cover her beds, picked-thread-work runners and table cloths. I’ve watched her do counted threadwork – in white relief no less, and manage countless bobbins of thread, skills I could never imagine having the patience for in my wildest dreams.

I think we really became friends when Pam was away in other places and I would continue to visit Mrs. Dix, who began insisting I call her Pat and we’d have a coffee and talk about art and life. She includes Coronation Street and the motor sport racing circuit amongst her many interests. She always had time for me, made me feel welcome and appreciated.

The best thing someone can do for me is to teach me a skill and help me perfect it and I am eternally grateful to Pat for teaching me how to knit. For a few years I belonged to various informal weekly knitting groups that met at her home: one was comprised of members of the council and another consisted of my sister-in-law Patti, her sister Maureen, and me.

I’ll always remember Pat and me sitting in her sun room, working on our projects; waiting for Patti and Maureen to arrive. We’d hear their car pull in to her gravel driveway. There would always be a substantial pause before a car door would slam. Then Pat and I would crack up (she’s got a great laugh accompanied by a broad smile that crinkles up the corners of her eyes) at the decibel level increase that occurred as Patti and Maureen chattered to each other on their way to Pat’s door. “Here we go.” Pat would chuckle. Pat’s a low key sort and those evenings would be filled with fevered discussions and much laughter. I’m sure we wore her out on many an occasion but you’d never know it as she always welcomed you in with a smile, every time.

With her love of colour, texture, design and her innate teaching ability, she inspired me to knit; she was surprised at how quickly I picked it up but I know it was due to her inspiration. And for years I have taken my work over to her for her perusal.

So, the cartoon, well it was an actual conversation which I slightly shifted for it was Pat who told me the story of going to a fast food restaurant and having a little “twerp” call her ma’am and how she hated it because it made her feel like some little old lady.

I was thinking to myself, "but, Pat you are" when she continued, “it’s not fair” she said, “being in an ageing body; all young people see when they look at me is wrinkles and grey hair when inside I really feel like I’m still 20. They don’t see the young person inside.”

Just last Christmas when Pam, Glyn and I were having a knitting night at Pat’s I reminded her of that conversation and I asked, “I guess you still feel like you’re 20, eh?”

“No, not 20” she paused for a while, smiled and then chuckled, “probably around 30”.

So Pat from my 18 year-old self to your 30 year-old self.


And, to everyone else, next time you’re talking to a 90 year old remember to say hi to the 30 year old inside.
(cartoon copyright Nance Thacker 1990)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Stones Speak

As I walk along the shore thinking about my friends and I - the intertwining of the journeys of our lives, the uniqueness of our souls, our different personalities, this moment in time and our love for each other - the stones crunch underneath my feet and beckon to tell a healing tale.

“The sound you hear as you walk upon us is our call to you. Wake up! This is a puzzle you can not solve. Let the questions and the seeds of emotion they contain gently reside within your heart then look to us and listen.”

A dark black stone with a red tip stands out from the thousands of others; mysterious, one of a kind, revealer of secrets. As I pluck it from the water’s edge it tells of how a chance occurrence of friction can unleash emotions. Emotions, longstanding and dormant become exposed when the surface veneer gets peeled away like a bandage torn from a wound that has never healed but festers deep within.

The second; one could easily overlook it. The power of a peaceful heart and a calm spirit is readily underestimated. The beach is heavily populated with many variations of its casual ordinariness without flash. Multiple-layered, with clearly delineated bands of shades of grey and beige they speak of the need to calmly reside, as a witness, in many levels of awareness in order to explore the many facets of wounding; from these vantage points the full spectrum of healing occurs in the heart, from the heart and to the heart.

And the last - radiant and inviting; I marvel at its softness, the warmth of it in my hand and I clutch it to my heart as it wants to be embraced. This stone’s heart centre is a perfect splash of sage green nestled amidst speckled coral pinkness. It is the healed self – heart open, radiating with compassion and love for self and others.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Knowing many different "types" of people and observing similar fleeting gestures and expressions, I noticed that though the clothes and style may be different deep down people really are the same.

That was all I intended to write about this, but I just remembered that I don't have the original drawing. During a cartoon convention a local veteran cartoonist (this was when I lived in Victoria, B.C.) came to my booth, read my cartoons and laughed... a lot... (I kept my ear cocked the whole time he was reading them).

When he was finished he took the time to tell me he enjoyed my cartoons. I thought he was just being kind and thanked him.

The next day he returned. Might he buy the original cartoon from me, he asked; he loved it so much. Well, I felt so honoured that I gave it to him right then and there. As he turned to leave he hesitated - might I autograph it for him? HE, with genuine admiration, was asking ME for MY autograph! Maybe, people really are the same.

As I signed my name it felt like I'd "made it". Though that wasn't the case, I never really did "make it" as a cartoonist, he made my day that day and that was something really big.

Cartoon copyright Nance Thacker 1984.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

3 days at flo's

Just 2 weekends ago I was on my way up to Port Albert with Jan and Pam (members of the council) for a fun-filled 3 days at Flo’s place.

Our first day was a beach day for sunning, swimming, and summertime novel reading.

We rode our bikes to the “zoo” to visit Janet’s peeps, the sheep, who last year confirmed her as one of their own when, to our amazement, they called out “Jaaa-aaa-aaa-neeh-eeh-eet” (swear to God it is true!). The animal refuge is filled with llamas, alpacas, goats, elks and sheep and as we sped away to beat an oncoming storm 2 young alpacas gamboled alongside us.

Later that day we visited Jan’s sister’s cottage to meet up with her sister Bub, daughter Rebecca, nephew Bill, his wife Andrea and their 18 month old son Duncan. It blew my mind when I realized that Duncan is the fourth generation to make sand castles on this very beach in front of this same cottage.

As we toured the cottage Bub showed the many quilts adorning the beds (Glyn, I thought of you then; you would have loved them!). As she traced her hands over each quilt she fondly recounted the story contained in each piece as naturally as if she’d put a stylus gently upon a record and I realized that the appeal and magic of the quilt is that they contain the visual and tactile history of events in the lives of the quilters.

Each morning the others joined in my daily ritual of drawing from the Journey to Kanaka Makua cards to see what the tone of the day would bring. Then we’d retire on to the deck to take in the sun. There I’d do yoga while the others were guided by Florence in her famous face exercises.

I was banned from her class a number of years prior due to uncharacteristic, horrible, uncontrollable, heckling behaviour on my part. I admit I did sneak in a facial gesture or 2 as I did my yoga poses and, after owning up to my behaviour and humbly confessing that Florence has shown unexpected dedication and sincerity in her practice of the face exercises and that the results are indeed remarkable, was welcomed to participate. Once our faces were sufficiently stimulated we sat with our coffee, smoothies (left-over pizza in Pam’s case) and planed our day.

In Kincardine and Goderich we perused used book stores, shoe stores and a quilt shop. My stamina for shopping is no match for that of the others and I enjoyed looking in the shop windows or just hanging out on the street while they lingered. Soon I was corralled into a shoe store to see the shoes that Jan and Pam agreed “were meant for you. We thought of you as soon as we saw them. You have to get them.” They fit me as surely as the glass slipper was made for Cinderella… and they were in the bargain rack for $10.

Best thing, I didn’t have to sort through stacks of stuff to find them. I love it! These women are not only my best friends; they’re also my personal shoppers!

I spent the rest of the afternoon mincing all over the cobble stoned streets of Kincardine in my high heeled gemmed beauties, jeans, hoodie and sunglasses – the epitome of celebrity shabby shiekness.

After returning to Flo’s, so that Pam could pick out just the right “flying outfit” to set the mood, we headed out to the local airstrip for her first flying lesson. Those who know and love Pam can well imagine the permanent smile plastered on her face and enthusiasm that oozed out of her every pore in anticipation.

This last night of our stay found the gods blessing us with a glorious clear sky which had just a few hours prior been filled with grey menacing thunder clouds. This was the perfect setting for Pam’s maiden voyage in the Diamond Canata 2 seater plane at 8p.m. The pilot described it as a race car with wings so we all know that Pam was thrilled and in her element.

I was enlisted as the official photographer for said historic event and hopefully Pam will allow me to post some in a future entry. Since Pam can’t take a bad pic there will be plenty to choose from.

I didn’t get to bed til 2 a.m. that night but rose in time to bike down to the lake for one last swim. At 8:30 a.m. I was the only soul on the beach for miles! In this area of Lake Huron the cottages are mostly older and modest, set well back of the beach. The water level is up very high and the blue-green, grasses native to the area are coming back, encroaching on the beach. Much of the shoreline is pebbled.

As I walked along the beach the crystal clear aquamarine water lapped on to the shore, propelled by a gentle wind, following the contours of the shoreline. I became mesmerized by the sound of my breath, the rhythm of my foot falls and the ebb and flow of the wavelets which traveled along the length of the angle of the beach providing the perfect curls as they advanced. Perfect for surfing, if you were an inch tall.

The water called me in. For me nothing can match the sheer awe of being in nature all alone. Gratitude filled me as I swam and floated in the calm, clear waters taking in the rays of the sun until my limbs became chilled. Then I lay on my towel, while the warm wind dried the droplets from my skin.

When muffled sounds of conversation and shoes digging into the pebbled beach became louder and clearer with the approach of 2 walkers, I caught myself becoming irritated, “it’s getting too crowded; “time to move on!” I had to laugh I had just spent 2 hours in solitude on this lovely beach. How spoiled we are in this amazing country. I jumped on my bike and returned refreshed and ready to join the others packing up to spend some time in Goderich before leaving for home.

That afternoon, before we headed out to go our separate ways, we got gelato from the gelato shop in town operated by the most enthusiastic gelatineer you could ever imagine! We sat outside her store enjoying our treats, chatting, laughing and kidding one and other, reading suggestive passages from Jan’s “bodice ripper” and called our loved ones on our cels to say we’d be home soon but stretched out the leave-taking, reluctant to let go of the cottage frame of mind and our friends. It was only the raindrops heralding an oncoming storm that forced us into our vehicles and down the road.