Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sunday, May 3, 2009


This blog will be continued, for the time being, at this site.

Thursday, April 30, 2009


The wedding day arrived bright and early, after a night of having every guest to the house for dessert and wine. We had all been at Smugglers cove the afternoon before the wedding and had gotten acquainted for a couple of hours on that sublime strip of sand and water.

I met the groom's parents for the first time. They are lovely people and we got along wonderfully. The dessert party later that evening just cemented everyone's camaraderie and a quick trip to the much read about Bomba Shack after the guests had departed the Villa

with most of the younger people had ensured that I slept like a log that night due to happy fatigue and a bit of jet lag.

The morning dawned and there were drops of water over the deck from rain through the night. Now the sky threatened more rain and we kept going outside and looking up to see if there was any blue bits headed our way. There was plenty of blue sky in the distance though it didn't look good over Tortola. But I was confident that we had a good chance of a lovely day as I knew the weather changes fast here in the Caribbean.

Amy got started bright and early doing her own hair and makeup before starting on Shonah, the maid-of-honor. I went about getting bagels with the trimmings out on platters, and juice and coffee made and put out on the table in a help-yourself sort of way. Christopher spent most of the morning laying on his bed with his computer

while the women of the house were in happy chaos of showers, blow dryers, ironing and makeup. There were peals of laughter all morning, especially once the two bridesmaids arrived from their beach-side apartment to join in and have their hair and makeup done. One of them is blessed with a perpetual laugh and zany sense of humor and she kept everyone's spirits up and the house full of laughter for the rest of the morning.

Amy, bless her dear heart, stood on her feet from 7:30 in the morning until 3:45 in the afternoon, not taking a single break, to get everyone looking absolutely stunning. I had decided, long before my daughter had even met her man, that when my girls decided to marry I would hire Amy to do the makeup. I had worked with a lot of makeup girls and Amy's work was outstanding, especially her way with eyes. And my girls have beautiful eyes and I knew no one would do them the justice they deserved as well as she would. She didn't disappoint. I never imagined, back when I first made that decision, that I would be paying her with a trip to an exotic island.

At around 1:00 I hopped in the Montero (which we had finally gotten on our way back from Smugglers Cove the day before) with Christopher and Izzy and headed down to Long Bay so he could get ready with the rest of the groomsmen and give a hand to the groom where needed. When we arrived at the beach cabin and knocked on the groom's door, his dad answered. The groom was off with the wedding planner to find a new spot for the ceremony as, apparently, the surf was too high to have it where they originally wanted it. My eyebrows shot up. Oh really!?

Let me explain:

In the two days that the Ashleigh and Rob had been on the island before we arrived they had been busy with plans and errands with the wedding planner. On our first night in the villa my daughter had filled me in, between my frantic calls to find out where my luggage was, on what had transpired with said wedding planner. Apparently the woman, who is the most well known and used planner on the island, was very obstinate about some things; one of those things being where they chose to have the ceremony. They wanted to have it on the west end of the beach where it was away from the resort and thus much more private with less chance of looky-loos and walk-bys. Planner said no. She felt the surf would drown out all the voices and no one would hear a thing. She suggested, insisted really if Ashleigh is to be believed and I believed, that they get married on the lawn behind a building where there was a gazebo. Aghast, the bride and groom informed planner that they didn't travel half way around the world to get married on a piece of grass, they could have done that quite nicely in Vancouver. They specifically chose Tortola for it's beaches and they were getting married on that beach. Up until now, Ashleigh had never pulled the 'Bridezilla' routine but apparently came close in this moment. Planner backed down and barefoot on the sand it would be.

So knowing this, my hackles were raised upon hearing she was now dragging poor Rob around to find a new spot. "Come on" I said to Izzy, "we are going to take a look at this surf and see just how high it is." I marched (yes I am afraid I marched) down the beach to the chosen spot. Looking out over the landscape I could see that the surf was indeed very high, but there was lots of sand beyond the reach of the water's edge. At least 30 feet. Looked like a ploy to me. I marched back and found Rob had just arrived. I asked him what was going on and if this was Planners ploy to get her way of a wedding on the lawn. He said that she was right, that the surf was far too high and would likely wash away the arch and isle before they even started and they had picked a new piece of beach. I said I had just walked down there and it looked like there was a lot of safe beach to me. He said no, it was a good call, and they were going with the new location. I asked where it was and he told me out in front of the restaurant. I groaned. I knew that this was the one piece of beach Ashliegh had not wanted to use as it was right in the thick of any activity going on at the beach part of the resort. I tried to protest but he cut me off and said the decision was made [I had never seen this side of him and, although frustrated, admired his decisiveness] and that he needed his guys to come down there and start clearing lounge chairs from the area. I left them to it and headed back to the villa with Izzy. On the way we tried to figure out how I would break this news to Ashleigh. I wasn't looking forward to it.

When we walked in she was getting her hair done and she asked how Rob was and did I give him her message (I love you and can't wait to see you, or something like that) and I said yes and he had one for her (I love you and can't wait to see you too, or something like that). I then said that there had been a small glitch to their plans. Right away her face changed to one of dread and said one word, "What?" "Wellllll, with this weather today the surf is really huge down there and it isn't safe to have the ceremony where you wanted it." I cringed slightly waiting for her reaction. It came. "What?? This better not be 'the Planner's' doing." "No," I sort of lied, "Rob agreed and he has picked out another spot that he said you will love." He had said that he would make sure it was perfect. I could see she wasn't convinced. "Where?" she asked. Ok, so this was the part I didn't want to tell her. "Uh... I didn't go and look because I just wanted to get back here but it is more towards the resort." "It better not be near the restaurant." she didn't look like a happy bride anymore at all. "Look sweetie, you need to trust your guy. He said he would make sure it was perfect for you and he knows just what you want. I am sure [I wasn't at all] that you will love it." She was still frowning and I made some excuse about having to go get some ironing done and made a hasty retreat before she could ask me anything else.

I found out later that Amy talked to her about what was really happening that day, that she was marrying the man of her dreams and she was in paradise. Why let something that was beyond her control ruin the fun of the morning. Just let it go. Miraculously, it worked and Ashleigh let it go and soon the peals of laughter were ringing out from the table once again. Whew. Add saving the day to Amy as well as beautifying everyone. Asking her to come along was probably the best decision I made in this whole affair.

All too soon, the time came to take some pictures of the girls before we headed to the ceremony. It was actually 4:00 and we should be down there by now but we weren't going to miss having photo's in the gorgeous setting of the villa.

We headed down to Long Bay and suffice it to say that we could never have imagined how beautiful, how perfect, this day would turn out to be. Pastor Ricketts was amazing. To say he had never met the married couple, before two hours ago and then only Rob, the ceremony was a complete reflection of who they were and what was important to them. He made us laugh and he brought tears to our eyes. Yes, the surf was pounding and I had trouble hearing the vows, but a more fitting setting for these two lovers who are almost as much in love with the water as they are with each other could not be imagined.

Monday, April 13, 2009


We pull into the parking area and I turn off the ignition and heave a sigh of relief. Then I realize that the compact car containing Christopher and Izzy isn't there. I wonder aloud if, when we weren't right behind them, they decided to drive down to the beach for a bit. We piled out of the SUV and I mentioned the HUGE spider web I had noticed in my peripheral as we came up the driveway and then the HUGE spider that lived in it. I had missed him at first because he was green with red dots and blended in with the flora.

Shonah and Amy ran down the driveway with cameras to get pictures of the horrid thing, and left me to heft the luggage out of the car. I walked through the little wooden gate set into a cream colored adobe wall and gasped with delight at the view. Even though I had, as previously mentioned, seen all of this on the internet already it was about a thousand times better in person. The glassy pool lay immediately ahead with the red-tile roofed house right behind it.

The terra-cotta tiled patio was surrounded by a white fence in the typical Caribbean style and the sea and islands lay far below and to the horizon in a haze of many blues.

I slowly made my way into the house and it too was exactly as pictured on the internet; terra-cotta tiles on the floor, heavy rattan furniture with deep cushions, and a fabulous gas stove in the kitchen that I was looking forward to using.

The girls joined me with cries of delight over everything they saw, and insisted on showing me photos of that ghastly spider down the driveway. I asserted that, as long as he stayed there, he would continue to enjoy his life in the Caribbean. If he came up to the house for a look, his days were done. Not sure how I would accomplish the deed though, as stepping on him would be akin to stepping on a small dog.

We each went to see our rooms; Shonah would be upstairs in the master suite with her sister, the bride, for the first two nights, and I would share the kids room with Amy. Christopher, when I arrived, would have the lovely downstairs room with a queen bed and Izzy would take the small child's room. We started unpacking and I wondered aloud where said son and girlfriend could be. We were all settled in and checking out the fridge to see what the 'welcome snack items' might be when we heard their car pull into the parking spot. They arrived, dragging their suitcases and told us where they had been for the past hour.

Apparently, the guy leading them in the white van was leaving for Florida the next day. He had friends all over the island that he needed to stop by and see to say his farewells to and decided that this was as good a time as any. He led Christopher all over the island. And I do mean all over. The next week, anytime we drove somewhere new to explore a beach or a little area, the two of them would exclaim - 'yep, we were here already'. He took them so far that they even had to stop and fill the car up. That annoyed me and I declared that car would be the one that went back tomorrow full of gas then, and my tank could stay as it was.

Not long after, the housekeeper (who we would grow to love) arrived with the bride. She had offered to drive down to Long Bay, where Ashleigh had stayed for her first two nights on the island with the groom and his family, and bring her up to the house where she would stay until the wedding day. We had a joyful reunion and while the late-comers settled in, I called the airport to inquire on the status of my missing luggage. I got the same affable fellow and was told it had just arrived and would be put in a taxi to the house. I asked how he would know where the house was as there wasn't an address - the road didn't even have a name that I knew of. He said not to worry, it would be fine. I worried.

The housekeeper told me that if I wanted to be sure to have the luggage tonight, it would be better to drive back to the airport myself to get it; that they would tell me it was coming but it wouldn't come and might not even come tomorrow. That this was the way of the Caribbean. The wedding was the day after tomorrow and so I had to have it before then. And we had work to do tonight on some bits for the table and for every single thing we needed to do, a component of it was in that bag so we couldn't do anything. But it was dark now and I didn't want to drive all the way back on those roads when I didn't know where I was going yet. I called the airport every half hour to see if the bag was on it's way, and I am sure the poor guy was ready to fly to the states to buy me whatever I needed by the time I made the last call. He told me it was on it's way in a taxi and about half an hour later I heard a honk outside the gate. I ran out and, oh what a glorious sight, there was my bag.

I hauled it inside, and pulled out all the bits for the wedding. The girls spent the next happy hour putting it all together while I tried to figure out how the PILE of groceries I had pre-ordered, and had just arrived, were going to fit in the fridge and cupboards. The kids gave me such a hard time about how much food there was spread all over the kitchen, but I knew what I was doing. I had found a website for a grocery store called Bobby's and they had put up sample orders for a week on a bare-boat charter, so I had a good idea of how much food the six of us would need for this first week. I had carefully planned menus and worked out quantities and now, although it looked like I might have over-estimated just a tad, I was sure it was just what we needed.

It lasted two weeks.

To be continued.....

Sunday, April 5, 2009


I have found heaven. And it is called the British Virgin Islands.

After twenty-four and a half hours of traveling (we drove away from the house at noon on Monday and arrived on 4:30 Tuesday, but they are 4 hours ahead) I along with Shonah my daughter, and Amy the wonderful makeup girl that I often work with and call my on-set daughter (who had jumped at the chance of an all-expenses paid trip to the Caribbean in exchange for doing hair and makeup for the bridal party) arrived tired but very happy on Beef Island. Beef Island is connected to Tortola with a short bridge and houses the airport and a lovely stretch of beach called Trellis Bay where my daughter and I would later take the North Sound Express ferry to Virgin Gorda for the second week of our get-away.

The last flight of three connections was from Puerto Rico in an 8 seater Cessna. When we checked in we were told that the flight was overbooked but, not to worry, they would bring in as many pilots as needed and made sure everyone had a seat on one of their many aircraft standing by. We collected our checked-in luggage from the flight from Atlanta and handed it over to the agent for Cape Air. As she tagged those bags she asked for my carry on luggage, the piece of luggage containing all of my clothing for the trip except for one swim suit, including my outfit for the wedding. It also contained various elements of decorations and favours for the reception; ribbon, a wax seal kit, place card holders, some of the little white sand pails to hold the goodies at each place setting, and some of the goodies such as tiny bottles of maple syrup (representing Canada) and tins of tea (representing England)... that sort of thing. I had joked earlier that, should anyone try to force me to check it, they would have to pry it out of my cold, dead hands. Now this agent was looking at me and expecting me to just hand it over.

"Oh , I won't be checking this," I declared, "it contains very important items for a wedding and I cannot risk it getting lost."

"Well you are flying on a Cessna and there is nowhere for you to stow it in the cabin. It has to be checked and go in the back of the plane with the rest of the luggage. " She said with some sympathy.

"I'm sorry, there has to be a way I can keep it with me." I said as I gripped the handle tighter, not sure why - just in case she tried to snatch it off of me perhaps?

"It has to be checked."

I looked at my daughter for help and she shrugged. "If it has to be checked, mom, then it has to be checked."

I very reluctantly handed it over and watched her every move to make sure it was tagged properly. She then placed it alongside Shonah and Amy's bags and assured me that it would get on the plane just fine. With a longing look back at it, I tried really hard to believe her as I walked away.

Amy boarded the first of the three flights it would take to get everyone booked over to Tortola, and Shonah and I waited another 20 minutes for the pilot of the third overflow plane to arrive. When we climbed aboard, we were just three passengers.

After a breathtakingly beautiful flight across the azure Caribbean Sea dotted with lush green islands circled with white beaches, we landed at Beef Island Airport and made our way into the small terminal. Amy was waiting for us with our luggage piled at her feet. We were to meet my son Christopher and his girlfriend Izzy there as they had arrived on their flight connection from Dallas about two hours earlier and so, in a hurry to get going, I grabbed my big case and as my daughter grabbed hers scanned the pile for my smaller carry on. It wasn't there.

"Your carry on didn't come with my plane." Amy said.

"You have got to be kidding me." Was all I could say. I didn't want to think about the possibility of it having been left behind or put on the wrong flight. "Let's get through customs and then we can talk to the agent for Cape Air. Maybe it came on my plane."

We breezed through customs; and I will mention here that the Immigration Officer hit on my daughter saying something about the first pretty face he had seen all day - this after checking me through not 3 minutes before, the nerve of him!. It became a regular occurrence for her throughout the entire length of our stay, no matter how brief the encounter. She found it flattering at first, then amusing, then tiring and finally downright annoying. She doesn't get that sort of attention from guys at home, so it was funny for me to observe. (And yet Amy, who has to knock the guys off with a stick at home was virtually ignored the whole week. Maybe it's Shonah's blond hair, fair skin and the fact that the girl has some serious curves? I don't know.)

I headed to the Cape Air desk while the other two went off to find my son and Izzy, and it was there that I got my first taste of Caribbean laid-back, 'no problem' attitude. I did my best to calmly impress upon the happy fellow the importance of finding and retrieving the luggage ASAP - without allowing the huge well of frustration, panic and some anger that was forcing its way up my throat from a churning stomach to influence the words I used (such as 'There were THREE of us on the plane. How could you imbeciles lose luggage when you had just THREE passengers??') or resorting to threats (such as 'Look Buddy! I realize this is the laid-back Caribbean and all but if that luggage isn't here in time for the wedding you'll be laying DOWN for a long time), as that just gets you deliberate indifference. So I kept a smile on my face and even managed to crack a joke or two. He responded very well and assured me it would be on the next flight over from Puerto Rico which would be in half an hour and that he would put it in a taxi to our villa the second it landed. I told him I would call from the rental car office in half an hour to make sure it had arrived.

Meanwhile, Christopher and Izzy had been located and everyone was loading all of the luggage in a courtesy van which then took us the 30 minute drive to the car rental agency. When we arrived, there were only three cars parked in the lot and none were the one I had reserved. Turns out, it was still being used and wouldn't be ready until tomorrow so we were given a small SUV and a compact car. This meant I would have to drive, something I was hoping I could put off until I had a chance to experience the challenge of driving on the left side of the car on the left side of the road up and down steep hills with killer switch-backs from the comfort of the passenger seat. No such luck.

Once we had sorted out the cars I called the airport. The bag had not arrived. He assured me it would be on the next flight. Amazingly, I kept the frustration out of my voice as I told him I would call again in an hour.

The car rental agent asked if we knew where we were going and I told her I had directions to our villa but only one set so the two cars would have to stay together. She offered to have the fellow who drove us from the airport lead us in the white van. We gratefully accepted and piled into the vehicles. Just as we were setting off, I realized that she had said she wanted both cars returned with full gas tanks. I hopped back out of the car.

"We have two vehicles through no fault of our own," I explained, "so I won't be filling both back up. I will return this one full and the other will be whatever is left." I had read about the steep gas prices on this tiny island and so wasn't falling for that. She agreed and I jumped back in the SUV. The white van and the compact car with my son and Izzy were nowhere in sight. I put the car in drive and headed down the road, remembering to stay to the left, as fast as I dare go on the narrow street. To no avail. They were gone and so we were on our own. "Pull out the directions." I told Shonah, who was riding shotgun. The owner of the villa had sent us very detailed written directions from the airport to the villa and I had them in a folder with other information we needed on this trip.

The girls were fascinated with the Caribbean architecture and the bright colors of the houses. "I am judgmental when I see a house painted these colors in East Vancouver." Amy declared. Here, they were charming. They were busy snapping pictures as I tried to stay calm, stay left, and not think about the killer hills ahead of us.

I don't like the unknown. If I am to go into something or somewhere I haven't been before, I do a lot of research. I get a lot of grief about it from my kids. But it's just the way I am. So, in the months before this trip, I had spent hours on the internet and had Google Earthed the place until I knew every road. I had seen YouTube videos people had taken while driving the roads [that should tell you something about them right there], I had studied maps and read accounts. And what I had learned was that the terrain on all of the British Virgin Islands but one goes straight up from the beach. Even some of the beaches go uphill. And the roads were in poor repair for the most part with pot holes, speed bumps and, it bares repeating, killer hairpin turns. Residents drive at dangerous speeds going up and down the hills and sometimes even overtake other vehicles on blind corners. I had read of the many accidents that occur, some leading to death. I was informed. And freaked out.

We got to the one big roundabout in the main center of the island, Road Town, and counted the exits till we got to the third one and veered left onto the main thoroughfare. After a couple of blocks we came to a T intersection and turned right, the girls yelling 'KEEP LEFT' as I made the turn. The next direction on the sheet said 'turn right up Joe's Hill'. Only thing was, the hill was on the left. We came to a road that had a street sign but half of it was broken off and it just read '...Hill'. "That's it!" I cried and made a sharp turn left. "NO!" Shonah cried out, "You're supposed to turn right. The directions say right."

"They're wrong." I said. "There is no hill on the right, and the sign said '...Hill' so it has to be this. Besides, I recognize this turn from Google Earth and it leads up to the ridge that will take us across to the other side."

"I don't think so mom. You're gonna get lost."

That freaked me out. That and how steep the road was and the blind curve ahead that looked like it went straight into a jungle.

"Ok, I'll turn around." I said and took a narrow, steep road on the left that looked more like a driveway. I could see there was a house or two up ahead and figured I could turn around in their driveway. When I got up there, there wasn't much driveway and the road was even narrower. I pulled into the bit of space and could see right away that I didn't have enough room to back up and turn around. "I am going to have to back all the way down this road." I wasn't happy.

I started backing down the steep, narrow road and hadn't gone far when a car came down the hill right at us. Daughter stated the obvious, and I said that he would just have to wait. He came right up onto our bumper and stayed there as I slowly backed down about a hundred yards of narrow road bordered by a rocky face on one side and the tops of trees down a very steep drop off on the other. When I got to the end, I was afraid to back onto the '...Hill' road because I had to back across both lanes to get to the left and I couldn't tell if there was anything coming down the hill from around the curve. The girls yelled to go and that it was all clear, so I just trusted them and gunned it. The car on my bumper screeched around me as soon as there was room and took off down the hill.

It didn't take long for us to realize that the road WAS Joe's Hill and now I had to circle back around somehow and that meant driving through town again from a direction I had no map for. At some point I went to make a right turn at a T intersection. We were on the straight through road. There were three lanes for cars at the T with one car in the middle. Looked like he was on the left to me. Looked like normal Canadian sort of set up to me. So I turned right, into the right lane.... and a car came right at us. I screamed. I think the girls yelled that I needed to stay left. Thoroughly rattled, I backed up - on a busy street mind you, with a LOT of traffic - and drove to the left side and turned. The guy in the middle who had confused me was really angry but the guy who I almost hit just laughed. In the BVI residents cars have a yellow license plate and rental cars have light blue ones. He knew what the problem was. Stupid tourist.

We managed to make it back to "...Hill Road" and once we made the first terrifying hairpin turn, we had no trouble the rest of the way. When we found the road the house was on and I made the turn, a loud "You have GOT to be kidding me!" came from Shonah. And I could see why. The road, again looking more like a single lane driveway, rose up before us at such an steep angle, it was almost like looking at a wall. I floored the gas pedal and the SUV (all 8 cylinders) groaned it's way up and around the sharp bend. The parking area for our cars was immediately on the left after the curve and I pulled into it and shut the ignition of with a huge sigh of relief. Then I realized that the Christopher and Izzy's compact car wasn't there. They set off before us; one could assume they didn't get lost as we did as they had an islander leading them.... so where were they?

To be continued...

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Two weeks today is wedding day.

Ashleigh and her fiance, Rob, have been back home from London for three weeks and between going to the gym together almost every day, fake and baking twice a week to turn the pasty winter white skin slightly tan so we don't burn in the Caribbean, and running ALL OVER the map on wedding errands, this puppy is tired. I am going to need a vacation to get over the past few weeks. But, I am loving it. Aside from the fact that I am going through more gasoline than a long-distance trucker, it is such a treat to be able to spend this much time with my daughter in the last few days before she moves on to her new life (in what looks like will be North Vancouver - a 45 minute drive away). Although, I have to say, being mother-of-the-bride is a bit of a tightrope act, taking your steps very carefully because one slip in either direction and you are in trouble. I was warned about this by a good friend who's daughter married last summer. The bride is, naturally, stressed and tired and the person she will usually take her frustration out on is mom. Thus a well intentioned comment or piece of advice will not be received in the spirit it was given and, more often than not, a sullen or terse reply will result. I had mentally prepared myself for this and so just bite my tongue and try to put it down to wedding stress. But I will admit that it is hard not to feel hurt. Especially when, right after snapping at me, she turns to Rob and is all softness, smiles and kisses. If she snapped at him as well then putting it down to stress would make sense and be easier to accept but because that never happens I feel quite abused sometimes. Remember that line from Steel Magnolias where Sally Fields says "why is all abuse heaped on the mother of the bride?" - it is so true. My friend and I have come to the conclusion that it is because they know we will love them no matter what and so we are safe. I take some comfort in that.

As long as I keep most of my opinions to myself and try not to overload her with suggestions, we get along great. And it really is a lot of fun. The other day we went for her dress fitting and, such a relief, there wasn't much alteration needed. The zipper bulged at the bottom right over her, um, bottom and the seamstress and I got into a discussion as to why it was doing that. She thought the lining was too tight and needed letting out. I did not agree and thought it was either that the dress was a bit too loose there or that the outer layer was attached to the lining wrong. She would not let go of the notion that the lining was tight and I finally told her I had been sewing for more than 35 years so kind of knew what I was talking about. She told me she was a seamstress and she knew what she was talking about. Ashleigh did not want the dress letting out as she did not feel it was tight at all but we finally just threw up our hands and said, fine - let it out. At that moment another seamstress came along, took one look at the problem and proclaimed that it was not the lining but that the dress needed taking in at the zipper. She popped a few pins in and, voila!, the bulge disappeared. I scored big points with the daughter on that one.

Speaking of dress fittings.... mine fits!!!!!!! I tried it on two weeks ago and it fits perfectly. Well, I would like to lose another 5 lbs to reduce my shrinking tummy roll even further but I have to say, I am pretty pleased. All the trips to the gym have really paid off. And, after searching the shops high and low for the right earrings and necklace to go with the dress, I found just what I wanted. Not at a shop but at the studio of a local jewelry designer that Ashleigh worked for years ago. We visited her a week ago to order some pieces for the bridesmaids gifts and for Ashleigh to wear with her wedding dress. Entering her workshop is like walking into Aladdin's cave. There are strands of pearls, piles of Swarovski crystals, and loops of gold and silver chain shimmering on each and every available surface. It takes as much willpower as I can muster not to pick up all the finished pieces and try them on. In among the treasures I spied a spool of hammered gold chain circles which I fell in love with on sight. The designer held out a few pieces made with it and I wanted them all. Then she held up another one and I think I might have actually swooned. I knew right away that it was the perfect piece for the dress and when I tried it on my daughter confirmed it. We picked up the finished jewelry yesterday and it all looks so beautiful. Very exciting.

Saturday, January 31, 2009


I am not sure why everyone is so starry-eyed and treating Obama as if he is some sort of demi-god.  Not sure what all the adulation is about.  Up until a few months ago I had never even heard of him and when I did, my first thought was that no one with 'Hussein' as part of their name would ever get elected as US president.  Obviously I misjudged the American voters on that point.

That aside, the guy doesn't have much of a track record.  He voted 'present' over 130 times as Senator; you can't effect change if you aren't willing to stand up and vote yes or no.  He has no experience in the area of foreign policy.  He is a gifted orator [although we know that writing your own speeches in Washington just isn't done], he has charisma, intelligence, is energetic and optimistic but he has yet to prove if he can lead.

I fully realize this is not a popular or even welcomed opinion to have, but I have never been much of a follower or let others opinions of me change the fundamentals of who I am or what I believe.  I think outside the box and sheep mentality drives me crazy.  So I am sitting back with eyes wide open to watch and wait before I jump on this bandwagon.  

Show us what you can do, President Obama.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


Ok I have a confession. I never made it to the Fort to Fort trail. I can't recall why I didn't go on the day I said I would but I didn't go. I have, however, paid for a month's pas (thank you Visa) to the local rec center and have gone about 10 times in the past three weeks. I would have gone more but Christmas was in the middle and ... well you know how that goes.

I spend the first 30 minutes on the treadmill. My first few visits, I couldn't get past effort level 3.4, which is basically a step above meandering. Now that is my low setting and I get up to 4.6 which is a slow jog. Yep... jog. Me. Who'da thunk it. I only manage about 45 seconds to a minute at that speed and then drop down to the high 3's but I consider that progress. I then do a round of weight machines and free weights which takes about an hour - 3 sets of 15 reps (I sound like I know what I am talking about, don't I?) on about 6 machines... all but one for the arms and chest. Must get rid of that awful flapping flab that has the nasty trait of appearing on my upper arms whenever I raise them above my waist.

So here is the shocker - I am already seeing (more like feeling) the effects. I have biceps. I can feel the muscle, rock hard, where there used to just be soft flabby bits. And when I lift my arms, the flapping flab seems a little less flappy. I hope it isn't just wishful thinking.

I haven't tried the dress on yet. I am afraid of it not fitting still. I haven't seen much improvement on the scales. In fact, despite keeping my Ferrero Rocher consumption down to 2 over the entire holiday season (and this is no small feat, I love them so much that one Christmas my rather large stocking was crammed full of only those lovely golden orbs. My kids know me SO well) and eating almost no baking (well, except for my home made orange chocolate biscotti and lemon tarts) I gained three pounds. Not good.

I have 42 days to get into this dress. I HAVE to do it. It is my only New Years resolution - which I never make because I never keep them and then I am full of guilt and shame and who needs that? The shoes I ordered online to match (mocha) the dress arrived yesterday and they are GORGEOUS. They fit perfectly. I now have a complete outfit. I just need the body to go with it.


Sunday, December 7, 2008


I keep thinking about how I wish I'd started blogging a few years ago. When my life was interesting. When I first got divorced and decided to try to make a go of it in the film industry. I wonder if you can blog historically? Write about stuff like it's happening now but actually it happened a few years back.

Like the time I was in Toronto to film exterior shots of Blood Ties and I was staying in the swank Sutton Place Hotel. I was trying to get on with the 5 hours sleep I get per night when I am working but the people in the next room were watching a hockey game and kept cheering loudly every time I started to drop off. I squinted at the alarm; 1:40 a.m. I got really annoyed. Inconsiderate sots. After a particularly loud round of cheers I slammed back the covers, flicked on the lamp and grabbed up the complimentary house coat. I shrugged it on as I marched to the door. I opened it slowly and put my head out into the hallway, no one there... good. I stepped out into the hall and as I faltered, trying to get up the courage to bang on their door and ask them to quiet down, I stepped too far out and let go of the door. It shut with a loud click. It was the sort that locked automatically At that exact second I realized I didn't have the card key. Arrrgh! I looked down at my pyjama clad legs showing below the hem of the housecoat that ended at my knees to the fuzzy blue striped socks on my feet. I ran my hand through hair that I just knew was sticking up in about 50 different directions. I was going to have to ride the elevator down to the lobby and ask for a key. Looking like this. At night. DOUBLE Arrrgh!!! I decided to get on with it before someone came out of their room and found me standing there, and slunk down the hall. On the ride to the lobby I made up my mind that the only way to save face was to just march up to the desk and act as if serving someone looking like a raving lunatic from a B movie horror flick was something they did every night, and if not then get used to it. I think it worked because I didn't notice any looks of horror from the staff, but then, thinking back, I don't think I made eye contact. And it was a swank hotel so I imagine they are trained to keep their looks of horror for after the guest walks away. I got the key, complained about the noise, was assured it would be taken care of 'ma'am', then turned and tried not to run back to the elevator. I prayed no one would be in it, and was thankful for small mercies when I had it to myself. I got back in my room with very little of my dignity still intact, walked past the mirror without looking because I didn't want to know, sank back into bed and flicked off the lamp with a sigh of relief. A few moments later I heard a knock on a door out in the hall, a door opening, muffled voices, and the click of a door closing. The tv next door went quieter and there was only one loud cheer sometime after that, just after I drifted off. I yelled 'SHUT UP' and then I slept.

The next day I was recounting the story to some of the guys who sit in 'video village' with me. The DIT (Digital Image Technologist) laughed that embarrassed sort of laugh. "Ummm... that was me." "What do you mean that was you? You were making all that noise? You are in the room beside me?" "Uhhh... I guess so because we had a guy come to the door and ask us to keep it down because we were keeping the guest beside us awake." "Well I wish I had bloody well known that last night. I would have just banged on your door myself instead of having to go down to the lobby. YOU could have called someone to come up and bring me a key. And what were you thinking, making that kind of noise so late at night. And when do you sleep?" "You yelled shut up." Oh. Right. I forgot I did that.

Friday, December 5, 2008


Lately, when I sit with dear friends and have a visit, I find myself looking at their necks.  It seems that anything a woman can do to hold back the ravages of time on her face do not translate well, or at all, to the neck.  I have noticed this for years.  Most actresses over 50 wear high necked outfits or drape a scarf not so casually around the throat to disguise this fact.  (Of course, not all do this.  Some are brave enough to wear a devil-may-care attitude rather than the filmy scarf but they are a rarity.  Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep come to mind).  So now that I am 50 and most of my friends are a few years older than I am, I find myself casting furtive glances down to their necks every now and then to see just how long I may have before my neck collapses into a mass of crepey wrinkles.  From the looks of things, about 6 years.  I better start a collection of pretty scarves in preparation.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


I am not one to stand on a political soapbox and rant about what I think about current affairs or who is doing what in the government.  Mostly because, half the time, I have no idea what is going on and the other half I couldn't care less.  And before you judge me, I decided long ago that feeling the need to read the daily paper from cover to cover (minus the sports and business sections) and watch the nightly news without fail was causing me no end of anxiety and severely hampering my pursuit of happiness.  I took the advice of a guy (I can't recall his name but he was quite famous for it at the time) advocating reducing stress by not watching the news anymore.  He had other steps, the only one of which I recall was to have a vase or two of fresh flowers in the house at all times.  Anyway, it worked.  I quit reading the paper and watching the news, started buying cut tulips, and my blood pressure dropped and stayed dropped. That is until this past week.

Due to my adopted regime of no news, I had no idea that Steven Harper's Conservative government had introduced some cost saving measures that lit a fire under the opposing parties until a friend tipped me off.  Namely that he was cutting funding for political campaigns.  Gee really?  Whatever was the man thinking?  I mean, we just finished an election that cost us THREE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS.  The world is in a financial crisis.  It is imperative that we all find ways to tighten our belts.  But heaven FORBID we should stop pouring tax dollars into the coffers of those who need it the least.  Give me a break.

So the soundly whipped Liberals and the posturing NDP's get together and go knocking on the door of the separatist traitors who don't want to be Canadian anymore and decide to form a coalition government and take over.  Claiming that only they know what is good for Canada and the economy and that Steven Harper is incompetent, they don't seem to realize that we all see this for exactly what it is.  A chance to snatch, via dirty tactics, what they so soundly lost in the election.  There is nothing wrong with Harper's ability to handle the finances of this country.  In fact, of all of the G8 nations, ours is the only one running a surplus.  That's right folks, A SURPLUS.  He foresaw this economic crisis and reduced taxes to lighten our load.  He actually knows how to balance a budget yet these three stooges and a handful of liberal supporters are trying to convince us that they can do better.  Ahhh, history says not.

I was so incensed over all of this that I did something I have never done before.  I wrote to all the party leaders as well as my own MP to let them know exactly what I think about this. Following is the letter in it's entirety.

Dear Sir, 
I am writing to you to express my deep concern over the proposed coalition government by the opposing parties.  As a Canadian, I made my choice on voting day.  I chose Steven Harper as my leader, as did enough Canadians to put him in power.  What is happening now is an opportunistic grab by the Liberals and the NDP to put the Conservatives out of leadership.  It is totally and completely unacceptable to me.

Also, as our world grapples with the world wide economic crises and how it is affecting us, LESS spending - not more as the coalition proposes - is vital and therefore I completely agree with the cuts to parties election budgets.  Stop throwing our hard earned dollars around to those who can afford to go without it and spend it on those of us who are suffering from the loss of work due to the economy.  I haven't worked for two months now and face bankruptcy. To see a government continue to spend while the rest of us suffer is unbearable.


Sandra Montgomery

Then, today, after reading online that Bob Rae, the man who wants to succeed that miserable failure Stephan Dion as leader of the Liberals, has stated that he will not vote in favour of any budget the Conservatives bring to parliament come January, I fired this letter off to him.

Dear Sir,

I am writing to you because I read of your statement that you will vote against the new budget presented in January regardless of what it contains.  Really?

I am disgusted with your party's desperate grab at leadership.  You lost the election.  Now you see a way to snatch back the power and you are taking it with no regard for what Canadians want.  WE MADE OUR CHOICE AT THE POLLING BOOTH.  If you go ahead with this plan and succeed, I will do everything in my power to raise an army of citizens to oppose you.  I have never been to a rally.  I have never protested anything with more than an email.  But if you do this, you have pushed me across the line from passive Canadian to damn well fed up and furious.  I am sick and tired of political antics and games.  I am DONE with feeling like I have no say other than a vote.  And now your party want to take even that away.  I DON'T THINK SO.

What you don't seem to realize is the younger generation, the people in their 20's, are so fed up with what they see as useless government spending of all our hard earned money on extravagances; are sick and tired of having interest rates rise and fall at the will of some unseen hand; are despairing of ever owning their own homes; are very aware that the rich get richer in times like these while they see the little they have managed to save dwindle away... they are ready to revolt.  So don't think that it can't happen.

You successfully pull this stunt and just see what happens in Canada.

Sandra Montgomery

So there you have it.  I am done with keeping the blood pressure down.  I am hopping mad... furious even, and I won't accept this in the usual polite, passive, Canadian manner.  I plan to attend the rally in Vancouver on Saturday.  I plan to keep on writing to every leader until my voice is heard.  I plan on talking about this to everyone I know.  I am heading into my MP's office tomorrow to talk about exactly what I can do that will make the biggest impact.  I suggest you do the same.  Because it is apparent that voting is NOT enough.  Not as long as there are greedy, opportunistic people in power who think that we are just the ignorant great unwashed and that they can ignore what we clearly said with our votes just a few short weeks ago.   


Wednesday, December 3, 2008


I think I might go mad. 

I haven't worked for over two months... again.  I am having a love/hate relationship with the film industry and it is complicating my life to no end.  I really love my work and just want to be able to do it.  I actually think I was born for the job (I just wish I had realized that a lot sooner) and now having done it for the past 5 years, it has spoiled me for other work.  I can't stand the thoughts of an office job (unless it's the one I recently applied for at Club Penguin, where my youngest works, because that would be a great job and fits my skill set exactly) but, back to the original thought, I need to work.  If I take a job not in film, then I may as well kiss my film career goodbye and I don't want to do that, I love it way too much.  But I can't stand the uncertainty of it.  Even when I am working on an episodic show that is going to last 5 months or more I am always, in the back of my mind, wondering if I will have another show to go to when this one is over.  So you can imagine that I never get any peace when all I am doing is movies of the week (MOW's) that take three weeks or less to film.  The stress is killing me.  And the lack of work is about to kill my credit rating.

I just moved out of my house.  The house I have rented for the past three years, making it one of the longest I have lived in one place in my whole life.  I loved that house.  It perfectly suited my needs.  I had two spare rooms that my daughters could stay in when they came for visits.  It had a view of the mountains out of the front window, and the kitchen and dining windows faced south so that the room was flooded with sunshine, when the sun shone.  It was a relatively quiet neighbourhood, if you don't count the teens across the way who liked to hang out on the street at 2 am after an almost weekly party and talk (read:yell) for about two hours.  Ugh.  I won't miss that.  My kids are very sad that they won't be coming back to that house ever again.  It felt like home to them and they loved it.  But having worked very little this year the bank account has dwindled down into the over draft and the credit cards are slowly maxing out one by one.  I hung on as long as I could, longer than I should have really, and now I am without home.  A kind friend offered to let me move in with her, into the room her traveling daughter usually sleeps in.  I gratefully accepted and now here I am.

I sat in my new room the other day looking at the few DVDs I brought with me, the one shelf of books, my iPod docking station and my laptop and a horrible thought struck me.  I had just done what I had always been dreading but thought I wouldn't have to face for another 25 or 30 years.  That is, taken the beloved contents of one large house and condensed it all down to what would fit in one room, choosing carefully the things that would keep me occupied and others that I loved.  In other words, the dreaded move into a full care home for the elderly.  I realize this isn't quite that, I will be leaving here in a few months and hopefully to my own condo or suite, but it was a shocking moment all the same.

There is always the hope of  some work in January, but that seems less than likely unless the SAG actors can think with their conscience and not their bank accounts and do the right thing and not go on strike.  The industry has not recovered  from the writers strike yet,  I can't imagine what another one will do to it in this economy.  

Meanwhile am on a mission.  My daughter, as you know, is getting married in February. Yesterday I went out with a friend and my plastic money and looked for a dress to wear to the wedding.  After trying on several hideous concoctions, I found one I loved.  Only problem, the largest size they carried was about an inch short of zipping up the last four inches.  I bought it anyway.  And now I am determined to drop one dress size in the next 6 weeks.  It's not like I have anything else to do.  So I am off to walk on the Fort to Fort Trail at a rapid pace and get the heart rate up and the scale readout down.  Wish me luck.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Picture this. A young family of five shopping for groceries in a busy store. The dad has the newest member of the family, a three week old girl, strapped to his chest via the (once) popular ‘Snugli’. The new mom is pushing the grocery cart that holds a cute-as-a-button 22 month old daughter in the front and a pile of groceries in the back. The oldest child, a 4 ½ year old brown haired, huge eyed son is walking beside the cart asking a new question approximately every 37 seconds.

This is a picture of me and my family on a sunny day in late April, 1985. I had just recovered from an easy birth via cesarean, but an agonizing and dangerous battle with infection after. I came close to losing my life and had spent the past two weeks recovering at my in-law’s house. No one had lived at our house for three weeks and the fridge was empty. We were stocking back up on provisions.

About half way through the store the grocery cart was so full I couldn’t fit as much as a can of beans in it so hubby decided to go fetch another cart, take the full one through the checkout as I continued to shop and, after loading the groceries into the car, return to help me finish up. Sounded like a plan to me.

I continued up and down the isles, piling the necessities of life into the new empty cart - things like baby diapers, toddler diapers, diaper wipes, diaper cream, and – oh yes – food. I was eagerly anticipating being back in my own little house and sleeping in my own big bed. As I turned down the next isle I looked up to see my husband heading back towards me from the front of the store. As he got closer I noticed that the baby, who I was certain was wearing a cute little pink velour sleeper when he left with overflowing cart, was now stark naked. Stark. Naked. It was only then I noticed the look of consternation on daddy’s face.

“The baby. She’s naked.” I stated the obvious as he walked within hearing distance.

“Yeah. No kidding.” Was the curt reply.

“What happened?”

“This.” He lifted her body away from his chest and I had a hard time swallowing the bubble of laughter that welled up my throat as a large greenish yellow stain on the front of his white shirt, from mid chest to waist, was revealed. From the look on his face I knew that laughter would not go over well at this juncture. Gulp.

“Just as I was handing over the cash for the groceries, she let go a huge one and it went EVERYWHERE. I was SO embarrassed. I have spent the last 15 minutes trying to clean it up with McDonald napkins I found in the backseat of the car. Do you have any wipes in that cart yet?” Obviously he didn’t see the humour in the situation at all. Which, frankly, didn’t surprise me much as I seem to have all the sense of humour in this family via my British heritage. Plus for once I wasn't the one wearing baby insides on my outside so I had a whole different perspective.

I dug out the wipes from the bottom of the cart and handed them over. As he was tearing into them I opened the package of baby diapers and held one out.

“Give me your wallet and I will pay for the groceries while you go back to the car with the kids and wait for me there.” I offered.

“Yeah, well there is another problem.” He said as he mopped the front of his shirt. “The groceries are taking up so much space that there isn’t room for everyone so I am going to have to go home and drop them off and come back for you.”

“Fine. Just take the baby then.” I said. “And while your there put some clothes on her.”

“I will.” He snatched the diaper out of my hand.

“And feel free to take the time to change your shirt while you are at it.” I grinned.

“Thanks. You’re all heart.” He called over his shoulder as he headed off.

The cockles of said heart were warmed as I watched him head down the isle. I loved my little family. And I loved it that my husband was wearing baby insides on his outside, for once. And as soon as I knew he was out of earshot, I let the laughter come.


Well it looks like it is finally going to happen. One of my kids is going to tie the knot. And I have to say, I couldn't be happier for her. Well, ok I could.

The guy she is marrying is Mr. Perfectly Wonderful. Really. He is the type of man I didn't think existed anymore, other than on film. He is a gentleman;  thoughtful, caring, kind, generous, absolutely madly in love with my daughter and isn't afraid to show it. She is madly in love with him. She is blissfully happy and is certain she has found an amazing man who she can spend all her days with.

So why could I be happier?

Because they are getting married on Tortola. And no, that isn't the island from Pirates of the Caribbean. That was Tortuga. Tortola is the largest of the British Virgin Islands. It's an unspoiled vista of lush jungle and white sandy beaches sitting in a sea of... well... Caribbean blue. Perfection. Picturesque. Exotic. Expensive. Very.

Just getting there, no wedding stuff, just GETTING there and accommodations (for four flights and a house that sleeps seven) is going to run over $10,000. That doesn't include spending money or food. And no wedding stuff. Did I say that already? There will be more than four people there but that's the four I am paying for, at least initially.

She wants a beach wedding. And somewhere in-between his family in London and ours in Vancouver so that it doesn't look like they are favouring one side over the other. While I understand the sentiment the logic of it is killing me, to wit: so, instead of inconveniencing just half of the guests let's inconvenience everyone. Hmmm.

It's not like we don't have nice beaches right here in B.C.  I will admit most have what is more like gravel than sand for a beach but not all of them. Tofino is one of her favourite places and the sand is actually sandy, if not the sugar white stuff of the Caribbean. I am sure we could have a gorgeous wedding there. Or I hear tell there is a nice spot on the water in Tsawwassen. Even better. And I am sure his parents would love to see Vancouver if for no other reason than to see where their first-born plans to make his home. But that isn't what they want. Alrighty then. So how about not having it in high season? Wait 6 weeks and the villas will slash prices in half. But that doesn't fit the time line for when they leave London and need to start the sponsorship process for his Canadian citizenship. Ok then. High season on Tortola it is.

Bottom line is this: she is my sweetie; one of my babies. I love her to death and I want her to have the wedding of her dreams. Heck, I wouldn't mind spending a week in the Caribbean in the middle of February. But, and it's a big one, right now the funds just don't exist. Like an idiot I spent the family allowance all those years on books and orthodontics for the kiddies with the goal of raising readers with nice teeth, instead of stashing it away in a high interest account for such a time as this. So what to do? Pray. Pray hard. For another union show like jPod to come along SOON and last all through the winter like Blood Ties did. Because if this winter to come shapes up like last winter, I will have a hard time holding onto the house and car let alone winging myself and three others off to paradise for a week.

And the ex better be ready to cough up the cost of the reception. Because after I pay for the brides dress, my dress, invitations, favours, table decorations, a hair and makeup gal to come along with us, a wedding present (as someone reminded me which I replied 'the whole wedding is a present!!!!') and who knows what else... that meal might be the only one I get all week.

Monday, April 21, 2008


Ask anyone of my kids what my idea of heaven on earth is and they will answer (probably in unison); a white sandy beach, warm aqua blue water, a hammock under palm trees, a good book, and an unending supply of cold fruity drinks (preferably brought to me at regular intervals by a hot 30 something guy with a mop of unruly curly black hair, a Spanish accent, and a look in his eye that clearly says ‘I don’t care if you are 49 and overweight; I want you”). Ok, that last bit they won’t say because no one knows I have thoughts like that, until now that is, but you get the idea – I have dreamed (aloud apparently)about this for a long time. Dreamed, wished, moaned, whined, – whatever.

This past year I FINALLY got to experience it (well - not the Spanish hottie part) and it was as close to heaven as I have ever been. Speaking of which, do you think there will be white sandy beaches in heaven? I sure hope so or eternity is going to seem endless if I can’t go to the beach.

It came about like this: I was sitting in a local cafĂ© with another script supervisor, we were working on our respective shows scripts, both of us near exhaustion as a result of a long season on episodic TV. Sixteen hour days and then working all weekend on the upcoming episode had taken it’s toll. I happened to mention to her, as we were slaving over our laptops, that my show was going on hiatus for a week. She said hers was as well. Turned out it was the same week. We looked at each other and at the same time said ‘Want to go somewhere?’ Scripts forgotten, we began searching the internet for a good deal on a vacation - somewhere hot with a fabulous beach. And palm trees.

We ended up buying tickets to an all-inclusive resort in Playa del Carmen, the dream vacation that I always wanted. I was beyond excited. I started counting the days.

It was August. When we got off of the plane I thought the wave of heat I felt slam into my body was from the plane’s engines. Nope. That was the temperature outside. I had NO idea how hot Mexico was in August and, in the one and a half minutes it took to get from the airport exit to the waiting coach, I thought I might pass out from the heat . We did say we wanted somewhere hot. Climbing onto that bus, never had air conditioning felt so great. So delicious. So necessary.

On the drive to the resort I couldn’t stop looking out of the window. All the trees were short and thick, a jungle started where the roadside ended. The highway was surprisingly wide and modern, not sure what I was expecting – a dirt road? The cars and trucks whizzed by in various states of disrepair. I saw a truck loaded down with bricks and five men sitting on top of all of the bricks as it sped by. I shook my head. So crazy.

When we pulled off of the highway at the large stonework gate that marked our resort and started down the long, winding drive I could hardly contain my excitement. Taking in the luscious green gardens resplendent with flowers, palm trees, deep green lawns and – as we drew closer – a huge building that had no front wall, just open to the warm air, my excitement began to build. I could see that it was the main building and was two stories high with a red tile roof and honey colored marble floors. When we left the cool of the bus and walked inside I could hardly watch where I was going as I dragged my suitcase. There were Mayan-type carvings high up on the walls, deep cushioned rattan couches and chairs arranged in groups all around a large glass sculpture, and a long mahogany bar with cute bartenders busy keeping patrons lubricated in the far corner just before the entrance into a large dining room. Lush. Exotic. Luxurious. Fabulous.

We checked in and then headed through the main building and down the pathway to our room. We passed more beautiful gardens with a man made waterfall spilling over golden rocks. The grass on the lawns was thick and coarse and when I stood on it to test it out, my feet sank far down into the prickly leaves; definitely not for walking on. Identical square cottages were spread throughout the grounds, all painted a bright yellow-orange with red tiled roofs. We found our cottage close to the main building and climbed the tiled stairs to the second floor. Our room was large and cool and so …Mexican. There was even a tiny gecko on the wall near the air conditioner. We named him Hector and he made an appearance almost every day.

We changed into our swimwear, stuffed our valuables into the tiny safe in the closet and headed down the winding pathway to the pools and beach. The heat and humidity in the air was heavily perfumed with the blossoms on the bushes everywhere. I know my flowers but I had no idea what these were, they were so vibrant and exotic looking. The sensation of breathing in the dense scented air was like nothing I had ever experienced.

The pools were spread out at the end of the pathway, one for children on the left and the other for the grown ups to the right. There were white chaise loungers surrounding each pool and the grown up pool had a swim up bar with a thatched palm roof. Just beyond the pools was the whitest powder sand beach that anyone could ever dream up, the kind I had only seen while drooling over travel magazines. The water beyond was all shades of the most gorgeous blues and greens. I think this is what Enya called Carribean Blue. And this was the Carribean Sea.

Putting my toes into the soft white sand for the first time rates as one of the best experiences of my life. I think it falls somewhere between becoming a mother and eating turkey dinner at Christmas (which are not as far apart on my scale as one might expect). As I stood there in the blazing sun under a tall palm tree that was blowing gently in the warm breeze coming off of the ocean and wiggled my toes in that softest of sand, I wanted to cry. I actually had to fight back the tears. I never thought I would live to see the day. I thought this would always be just a dream. I know it probably sounds superficial but this moment had been one of my most treasured dreams, something I had imagined and lived over and over in my mind when I needed something wonderful to think of. And now here I was, actually living the dream.

It happened again the first time I walked into that azure blue sea and felt water as warm as a bath surround my body. I looked down and saw a school of pure white angelfish swimming in a circle around me and had to fight back tears. Was I really here after all these years of dreaming? Yes I absolutely was.

A dream fulfilled is a miracle.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


They say that you age gradually.  It’s a lie.  From my experience, you go to bed one night looking like you have looked for the past 20 years, then you wake up the next morning and there's a brown spot on your face you know wasn’t there yesterday.  A week later you wake up and there's a deep crease in your forehead between your eyebrows that, until now, you’d only seen on your Aunty Mary.  And, by-the-way, I'm pretty sure I know where that came from.  I can be sitting thinking about nothing much, or even something pleasant, and someone will walk in the room and ask 'What's the matter?'  and when I say that I don't know what they mean I am told I looked angry or upset, that I was frowning.  Well, I guess that's just my face in repose.

I always believed that age spots and wrinkles would appear first as sort of a ghostly image of what was to come.  That I would look in the mirror (the magnification side mind you) and if I looked hard enough I would see the faint hair-width of a crease that had started to form somewhere and I would know that I had about five years to go before it would become a full blown wrinkle.  That the age spots would first make themselves known as a slight discoloration of a few cells and I would think, ‘oh-oh, that will be an age spot in a couple of years’.  That way I could get used to the idea of it or maybe even nip it in the bud before it blossomed into it’s full blown glory.  But no.  I go to bed looking one way and when I stumble into the bathroom the next morning and peer in the mirror the shock of what is peering back knocks the last vestiges of sleep fuzz from my brain and a cold reality takes it’s place. I am aging.  And fast.

I am going to turn 50 this month.  Fifty.  Half a century.  I can’t wrap my head around it even though I have felt the weight of this birthday coming for the past 5 years.  And I have been dreading it.  The roots of this dread go back to something I discovered many years ago.

I used to buy Glamour Magazine every month back when I was 18 till I was about 27, at which time, with one child on my hip, another permanently wrapped around my right leg, and yet a third playing Lego on the kitchen table, I gave up on the notion of ever becoming Glamorous and quit buying it. Every issue had a page towards the back that featured an aging celebrity in 5 or 6 headshots, one for every decade of their lives from becoming famous to the present day.  What always struck me, and this was the case for all although the time they featured Cary Grant is the one that is burned into my memory, is that in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s they looked pretty much the same.  The hairstyles of the women changed but the faces hadn’t changed much at all.  Even in their 50’s they were still looking pretty good.  But O MY GOSH, the difference between the one in their 50’s and the one in their 60’s was nothing short of a complete shock.  It was like all the aging they should have been doing gradually over the decades hit all at once in that 10 year span.  The hair had greyed (or gone completely white in the case of Cary Grant), the face was a mass of liver spots and wrinkles, there were bags under the eyes and bags over the eyes….. it shocked me celebrity after celebrity, month after month.  And it burned an awareness into my very soul that beauty ends somewhere in your 50’s.

So now I face turning 50 with the absolute knowledge that I am about to live the last few years where I have of any chance of looking good.  That the gradual aging I thought I would do in the past two decades will hit all at once in this decade to come.  And what’s worse, I seem to have a bit of a head start.  I am overweight.  I have skin tags sprouting up everywhere like mushrooms in the wild.  I have been waging a battle with age spots on my face for a year now (thanks to endless sun tanning sessions in my foolish youth) with trips to the dermatologist where she blasts them with nitrogen.  Some wrinkles have shown up, especially on my neck and chest in the most puzzling of formations until I realized they are from sleeping on my side.  Now that is what I call the epitome of injustice.  I can understand getting wrinkles from doing something you can control, like frowning too much.  But from how I sleep?  That’s just cruel.

I know I am going to look back in a decade when I face turning 60 and kick myself for not taking steps to give myself a good head start, like losing weight and using expensive face cream night and day.  Today I did something I used to watch my mother do.  I placed my forefingers on my cheekbones and my thumbs on my jaw and gently pushed the skin towards my hairline. It took 20 years off.  So I guess there has been some drag and sag up to now but, trust me, it's nothing compared to that which is to come.

There just might be a facelift in my future.  For sure there is Botox ahead; to erase that crease between my eyebrows and freeze my forehead into a bland look of disinterest.  No more shall they ask 'what's the matter', but rather - 'are you listening to a word I am saying?'  To which I will reply, 'Sure I am.  I am just not getting any wrinkles over it!' 

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


I am so frustrated with impersonal decision makers.

Last year I worked on two TV series; Blood Ties and jPod. From an insider's perspective, they were really fun shows to work on. The cast and crew were really great people, the producers were accessible and friendly, and the scripts were intelligently written. Both series generated individual loyal fan bases. And those fans were up in arms when their shows were cancelled after just one season.

Blood Ties was a show about Vicky, a private detective; Henry Fitzroy, a 400 year old vampire; and Mike, a cop. They worked together to solve crimes that involved a supernatural element. Lifetime refused to renew Blood Ties for a second season despite the outcry from fans who, before Blood Ties, had all but given up on the network to produce shows they deemed watch-able. They mobilized to lobby the network to rethink their decision using the internet and fan sites to spread the word. They flooded the Lifetime website with postings, they sent emails to any executive they could find an address for, they signed on-line petitions, and any online poll that included Blood Ties was voted on by the fans to ensure it had a great result. All to no avail. The big guns at the network were impervious to the fans pleadings and so the show died a premature death.

But the obstinate suits at Lifetime and their callous non-response to their fans pleadings pales in comparison to the outright idiocy of CBC.

For those of you who haven't heard, jPod is based on the book of the same name by Douglas Coupland who is one of Canada's foremost authors. It takes place in a computer gaming company called Neotronic Arts and centers around five of it's misfit programmers. The show had a great cast including Alan Thicke, Sherry Miller, Colin Campbell, as well as the five main and relatively unknown actors. It was on CBC on Tuesday night, 9:00. After the third episode aired, CBC decided to change the time slot to Friday night, 9:00. HUH? The target demographic for this audience is 18 - 35 year olds. Now I am no network executive yet I can figure out that pretty much NOBODY in that age bracket is going to be home on a Friday night watching TV. In fact, pretty much nobody but your 80 year old aunty is at home watching the telly on a Friday night. That is why that time slot is usually referred to as the 'death slot'. So why did they do it? My theory is that someone at CBC had a personal vendetta. Maybe Doug snubbed them at a party. Maybe Larry lost it on an exec. Who knows? What goes on in the mind of the sequestered elite and the resulting decisions are an enigma tied up in a riddle wrapped up in a conundrum (or however that saying goes).

All I know is this: CBC hasn't a clue what people want to watch. I have three kids in the demographic jPod was geared towards. Until jPod, the only time they tuned in to CBC was to watch the Canucks. My 27 year old son loves jPod and proclaimed it the best show CBC has ever aired, so good that he couldn't believe it was a CBC production. Since the time slot change he downloads it via bit-torrent. My 23 year old daughter works at an online, interactive gaming company. She doesn't have cable so she can't watch it when it airs, but she has many co-workers who watch (albeit now they program their PVR's) and she watches the show on tapes one of her friends makes for her. She loves it. My 25 year old daughter in England has them on her computer from a bit-torrent site. She and her boyfriend love it.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of people on line who have started petitions and facebook groups in support of jPod. And yet CBC is not moved. Like Lifetime, it seems they don't care what their viewers think or want. They will go ahead and do whatever they want and viewers be damned. CBC is funded by the Canadian government, so they can afford to be stubborn moron's, I guess. They will continue to survive via the benevolence of a government who is happy to throw our money around. But Lifetime stands to lose a lot by ignoring their viewers. Biting the hand that feeds you only works if you are Henry Fitzroy.

Sunday, March 30, 2008


tol·er·ance [tol-er-uhns]
1. a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one's own; freedom from bigotry
2. a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one's own.
3. interest in and concern for ideas, opinions, practices, etc., foreign to one's own; a liberal, undogmatic viewpoint.
4. the act or capacity of enduring; endurance: My tolerance of noise is limited.

I have been thinking a bit today about the notion of tolerance.

Why is it that those who are the loudest proponents of the concept of tolerance are often the most selective as to whom they practice the concept on? Conversely, those who are often accused of intolerance can be, by comparison, some of the most tolerant in our society.

Let me explain.

Where is it written that tolerance is only to be practiced with the tolerant? Isn't the idea to have an objective and permissive attitude towards those who's beliefs differ from your own? I don't read anywhere that tolerance must be reciprocal in order for it to be dispensed. In fact, isn't the idea of tolerance based on the very foundation that there is a disagreement in the first place? That the other party may or may not choose to be nice about what they believe, think, or how they act but, as long as they are not breaking the law they are free to be as they wish and I will not let it bother me and I will not bother them? In other words, tolerance is the buzzword for the old adage of 'live and let live'.

I have a friend who is gay. He expects that, in this day and age, there will be tolerance from society regarding his lifestyle. He expects that his sexual orientation should have no bearing on how he is received as a human being; that it is a non-issue. He would be angry, offended and (rightfully) affronted if he were to encounter bias against his person because he is gay. Yet this same man has no problem expressing his thoughts and feelings towards Christians with sarcastic, scathing vitriol. His expressions are not fair, objective or permissive in the slightest. He has disdain for Christians, he ridicules their beliefs and practices, and he has not the slightest compunction in expressing it. How is that fair? How is that just? How is that upholding a value, namely tolerance, that you believe is such a key part of a functioning society? How can you expect to receive that which you will not give?

I am a Christian. I go to church. I have hundreds of friends and acquaintances who are Born Again Christians. Not one of the Christians that I have relationship with hates or otherwise maligns homosexuals. They don't agree with the lifestyle (and - again - what would there be to tolerate if there was not a disagreement) but they would never speak of the person, the human being, with the blatant disdain - dare I say the hatred - which I have heard and read directed at them by virtue of their Christianity. In fact, they are true followers of Jesus and endeavour to live their lives with love and integrity. They believe in the wisdom of Jesus and follow his commandments. He had two. Love the Lord your God with all your might and love your neighbour as yourself.

Who is my neighbour? It's not just the person who I live beside. My neighbour is the person I work with, the grocery store clerk, the guy in the car next to me. Anyone. Regardless of what they believe, practice, or say. I am to love that person as much as I love myself. Jesus said to 'do to others as you would have them do to you'. The ultimate form of tolerance. Jesus preached tolerance. As a follower of his I am to be tolerant. I and my Christian friends purpose to live this out in our lives. And I do love people. I love the people I work with. I dearly love my friend who is gay. He knows I am a Christian and I think he loves me too, but he believes that I am a big exception to the norm. I'm not.

I know that there are people out there who proclaim to be Christians and use the name of God to further their political, personal, or social agenda. But here's the thing. The Bible says that you will know a true Christian by the fruit of their lives. If they don't love their neighbour as themselves; if they don't treat others the way they wish to be treated; if the fruit of the Spirit is not in evidence in their life (love, joy peace, patience, kindness, meekness, self control) then they have no right to claim that they are a follower of Jesus. Plain and simple.

But for those of us who love Jesus, who love our neighbours, who try to practice tolerance as Jesus commanded... please tolerate our beliefs. Or you are not allowing us to live our lives with freedom from bigotry.