Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I've got a new blog! Say hello to Separation Advice

One of the reasons I wrote Weezie Polk's Man Lessons was to help people, particularly women, as they stumble through the hallowed hell of separation and divorce.

In the book, Weezie sets up a blog with advice for the lovelorn and I thought, well, if Weezie can do it, so can I!

Welcome to Separation Advice.

I've been through a lot on this current road to happiness. I've lost and I've gained and life has basically been rebooted. Overall, I like where I am now but, lordy, lordy, it sure was a tough old go getting to this point.

As a result, I have a lot of advice for folks going through the same thing. It's all basic stuff, but it's stuff nobody warned me about and it's stuff I want to share with you, so you can avoid unnecessary heartache in the very painful segue between unhappily married to happily ever after.

I don't want Separation Advice to be all about me, though. I want stories from all my unmarried friends. If there's advice you want to share, or something you want to warn people about, or if you just want to vent and cry, by all means, come here. Together we can get through this. We can, I promise. Because even though it seems like your life is over, it is honestly just beginning.

Drop by for a visit, give me a follow if you feel like it and, if you want to help spread the word, I'd adore you forever.

HA! Don't you just get the heebie-jeebies whenever somebody promises you "forever?"

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Boob problems

I have teeny tiny boobies and a big fat back. Imagine a plump prepubescent with twin zits and a moustache and you've got the idea.

This makes brassiere-buying somewhat impossible because the vast majority of bras are built for Amazonian princesses with breasts like cantaloupes and backs like pick-up sticks.

The good news is, the Fat Ladies Store finally ordered hooter holders for the freakishly boobless heifers of the world and it was with no small amount of glee that I bought a bra that should have, technically speaking, fit.

Let me just say I could fit a coffee maker and a bucket of Kentucky Duck in the vast empty caverns of those B cups. When I put it on this morning I didn't know whether to stuff 'em with toilet paper or take them in a notch. Or two. OK, so three notches.

I decided to sew them because we didn't have enough toilet paper. Actually, Wal-mart, Costco and the suspiciously-dusty-variety-store-with-the-bongs-in-it-down-the-street combined don't have enough toilet paper, such is the vastness of the twin grand canyons now strapped to my chest.

I also decided to sew the cups while the bra was on. ("On" being a less than accurate description of the hanging nipple-ended bits of flesh occupying empty corners of the cups.)

I don't recommend you do this.

I have been pierced in places that should not be pierced. And my sweatshirt and brassiere are now as firmly connected as a childproof lid on a bottle of pain pills.

Looks like you won't be getting to first base tonight, honey.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Always look on the bright side of life (woo hoo, woo hoo, woo hoo, woo hoo)

Editor's Note: I wrote this on Thursday when all seemed horrid. Things are not quite so horrid this morning. I mean, I still owe the government a TON of money but I have been looking at the Bright Side of Life and feel ever so much better! :)

What I really want to do is list all the crappy things that are bringing me down. They're all whapping me across the head like a kid with an empty cardboard roll of Christmas wrapping.

I feel like I should be walking around with my elbows over my head just to protect my noggin from the next whapping.
But far be it from me to whine about anything.


Instead I am going to concentrate on the positives!

I am putting a splenderifous grin on my big old whappitty face!

(Speaking of faces, did you see that guy who got paid $15,000 to have the Mitt Romney campaign logo on his face? What a genius, eh? I betcha he's seen the business end of a Christmas roll once or twice before.)

1. I had a really good cry this morning!

A solid, solitary cry in the privacy of my car, replete with fire engine red eye whites and puffy cheeks. When I was done I repaired the facial damage as best I could then went back into the office where a suspicious colleague asked if I was getting a cold.

"No," I said.

"You look like Rudolph," she said.

Not wanting to go into a big song and dance about bawling in the parking lot, I told her, "I have a drinking problem."

2. I don't have to pay the government $12,000 right away! In fact, I only have to start by paying them $560!

3. As far as I know I am not being charged with tax fraud! WOOT!

Oh, you're probably wondering what I'm talking about. Sigh. I didn't let the Canada Child Benefit (baby bonus) people know that my ex had custody of the children back in 2006. I didn't do it on purpose. I let Revenue Canada know. I filed my income tax correctly. And, to make sure the children's father got every penny he was entitled to, we went to the bank together to set up a bank account in his name, where the baby bonus would be deposited every month.

I thought all was right with the world until I got a letter from the government accusing me of taking money away from my own children, committing tax fraud and demanding all their money back.

I phoned the government and some tool told me it didn't matter that I didn't get the money – it was in my name and that was that. In tears I asked how I was going to pay it back. He said, deadpan, "With a cheque."


My ex phoned the government and told them he had proof that I never got the money, that it went to the rightful place – our children, via his bank account. They refused to talk to him because I was the one in doo-doo, not him. They did suggest that he could apply for the baby bonus in his own name, dating all the way back to 2006.

The thing is – and here's the thing: how much baby bonus you get depends on your income. My income, as a matter of fact (it should have been based on his). For the first while, I had a single income and the benefits going to my ex were substantial – sometimes up to $500 a month. When I moved in with Dave, we had a "combined income" and the baby bonus dropped substantially – about $30 a month.

In total, I will have to repay about $12,000.

My ex, on the other hand, has had a single income for all of those years. He will likely be eligible for far more than $12,000. I figure it could be as much as $30,000!!! You'd think the gov't would have left well enough alone and they'd be $18,000 ahead.

What we're going to do, hopefully, is wait until my ex's cheque arrives. Then I'll pay the government the money they want and my ex will have a big chunk of cashola to put towards the children. Good deal, right? I don't know. I hate being accused of tax fraud. I would never even DREAM of doing that. They can accuse me of being a well intentioned dumbass, of being terrible at paperwork, but, as Richard Nixon once said as he was being taken away in shackles, "I am not a crook."

The first time I called their office, that's how they treated me. I guess that's what happens to a person working in that office when all day long they deal with situations like this.

However, the person I talked to this morning, a lovely woman with an even lovelier French accent, was NICE. I told her as much, as I was bawling into the phone, apologizing for crying and telling her over and over how *sob* nice *sniffle* she *blow nose* is.

She didn't change anything. But at least she heard what I was saying and she was NICE.

There's more whapping but I think you've had enough for now. I know I have.

Until next time, "always look on the bright side of life!" 

Some things in life are bad they can really make you mad
Other things just make you swear and curse
When you're chewin' on life's gristle, don't grumble give a whistle
And this'll help things turn out for the best

And always look on the bright side of life 
Always look on the light side of life

If life seems jolly rotten there's something you've forgotten
And that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing
When you're feeling in the dumps don't be silly chumps
Just purse your lips and whistle, that's the thing

For life is quite absurd and death's the final word
You must always face the curtain with a bow
Forget about your sin, give the audience a grin
Enjoy it it's your last chance anyhow

So always look on the bright side of death
Just before you draw your terminal breath

Life's a piece of shit when you look at it
Life's a laugh and death's a joke it's true
You'll see it's all a show keep 'em laughing as you go
Just remember that the last laugh is on you. 

"Always Look On The Bright Side of Life"
Written by Eric Idle and Monty Python.

Monday, November 19, 2012

What goes up ....

I'm king of the castle! And you're all dirty rascals!
Yup, it's really cool being on top of the waterhouse.
I spent 20 minutes trying to figure out how to get on top of this thing
and now here I am. Life is good.

Here I am. Huh. Still up here. It's kinda boring up here.
View isn't as good as I thought. And how the heck am I gonna get down?
I need help. Hey! Quit laughing at me! Somebody hellllllp.

"Just trust me," Dave says. It's not his butt up here.
I hope there's no dog poo on the bottom of my shoes...

... if there is, now it's all over my jacket. 

Do I look stupid? Because I feel stupid.
Nope, this isn't humiliating at all. Not if you're six.
Unfortunately I'm 12. 

Stop taking pictures of my butt!

Whew! Safe at last. 

Now I gotta find the camera and destroy the evidence
before Mom posts this on the internet.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Welcome to Friday Flash, Dawn!

I'm so happy right now!

I've been telling the women in my writer's group about for YEARS. What an awesome support group it is, how it has improved my writing and changed my life ... yada, yada.

Finally, one of those wonderfully talented writers has written a flash!!! WOOT!!!!!!!!

Not only has she written one, she has written a DAMNED FINE one!

Please drop by Dawn Huddlestone's blog, Being Deliberate, and read her story, A Spoonful of Sugar. You won't be sorry. I promise, you won't. It's a thing of true beauty.

Welcome to Friday Flash, Dawn!

Now, pass the cake and champagne!

(So many exclamation points, so little time....)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The mini-pad dilemma

Have you ever been carrying a mini-pad around in your pocket, at work, and you had your hands in your pockets, in the staff room, waiting around for the coffee to brew and looking around dopily because you're bored stupid and it takes forever to make so-called "instant" coffee, and you suddenly realize the mini-pad isn't in your pocket anymore, it's on the staff room floor which is called "staff room" because there is staff in it?

What do you do?

Pretend it's not there, knowing full well every person in the office will be saying, "Ew, Cathy dropped a mini-pad in the staff room and didn't pick it up" all day long and possibly for the rest of your career?"

Pick it up quickly and hope no one noticed, knowing full well they did? And the whole picking-up process is so embarrassing that it happens in slo-mo, and your face is a rictus of frozen cherry-popsicle coloured humiliation?

Make a big deal out of it? Like, "Oh lookit that, I dropped my mini-pad! Ho, ho, ho! Good thing it's not a used one, eh? Ho, ho, ho! Lookie me, I'm a big dumbass. Ho, ho, ho!"

Not that it has ever happened to me. (Yesterday.)

Monday, November 12, 2012

A world fuelled by peace

My cousin, Kelly, is a veteran who has barely survived her time with the Canadian Armed Forces. Through her job as a counsellor of soldiers who endured horrific moments in places like Afghanistan, Kelly heard every horrible story and tried her best to help heal every wounded man and woman. As a result, Kelly (who has always had the biggest heart of anyone I know) now fights her own terrible battle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

She is my hero, she is. A woman of incredible intelligence and empathy. No one loves more than her. No one hurts more than her.

Yesterday she posted this on Facebook, to mark Remembrance Day. It moved me so much I wanted to share it with you here:

On this day I remember my courageous and brilliant clients and colleagues, the scarred yet resilient people who came in and out my door and made me a little wiser, I hope, a little kinder, I hope, who each helped open my eyes to the reality of what passes for serving one's country to those who have never experienced it. It is called elsewhere the "lie of war", it is a terrible lie that keeps getting told and keeps getting believed by those who have so little to give but have such big hearts they will give all anyway because they believe they can make a difference. 

So long as the war machine keeps getting fed by those who have no real knowledge of what it means to put all of one's self on the line, then there will be no difference except maybe to the person next to the person in that trench or hole in the wall who feels a little less terrified, a little less desperate because they are not alone. 

On this day I remember there are all kinds of war being fought here at home and overseas. There is a war against women, there is a war against those who have nothing and there are countless wars not at home. There are horrific crimes committed against men and women and children everyday, why do we not each try and make our own part of the world a little less warlike, a little less hostile. 

Instead of bristling against diversity and striking first, consider being curious about those differences, consider that hidden in that diversity you might find something in common. Consider the unexpected and embrace it. When people celebrate the strengths in each other rather than rally against the differences, we make our world a world fuelled not by war but by peace.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Lest We Forget

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Composed at the battlefront on May 3, 1915
by Canadian Lt. Col. John McCrae 
during the second battle of Ypres, Belgium

Friday, November 9, 2012

Ill fitting underwear can ruin your whole day

They're new underwear, for crissakes. I should be wearing them.

But they fit funny.


They ride a little high in the places where they're not supposed to be high.


I should really go take them off, but I just put them on! They're on, I'm committed, on they stay. I don't have time for this foolishness.


Oh for crying out loud. If I wear these stupid underwear all day, just because "I'm committed," I'm going to be squirming, yanking, adjusting and feeling uncomfortable all day. But if I take them off I have to get all undressed, put on a new pair, get dressed again, and then I'll have dirty laundry for something I wore for all of 10 minutes.

Why put them in the laundry? If they don't fit, just throw them out.

But I just bought them! That's a waste of good money.

Yeah, but you're not wearing them anyway.

Yes I am. I bought them, I put them on and I'm wearing the jeezly things.


Feck, feck, feckity feck.

*going to bedroom and changing, throwing ill-fitting underwear into wash*


They're new underwear, for crissakes. I should be wearing them.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Well worth the snip!

First of all, I have a rant posted over at, in which I whinge about the robot-thingeys that unknowingly plague many Blogger bloggers. You may have these annoying "prove you're not a robot" thingeys on your blog and not even know it! Click here and find out.

My turn in front of the room -
awesome and embarrassing all at the same wonderful time!

I’m feeling real sorry for all you men out there right now because, no matter what you do, you will never be nominated for a YWCA Women of Distinction Award. Well, OK, so there are operations that can get the job done, a nip here and a tuck there but you have to ask yourself this, as the surgeon hovers overhead with scissors the size of garden shears, if it’s worth it.

Hell yes!

It’s the best! The best, best, best thing you can possibly do! I know because I was nominated this year and I highly recommend the experience to everyone. Do you have a mother or an aunt or a sister or a colleague who goes beyond the call of duty? Maybe she volunteers, or she mentors other women, or she’s successful in business. If you know a woman who works tirelessly to make this world a better place, in one way or another, you really should nominate them for next year’s awards.

Why? Because they treat you like a queen. I have never been so feted or felt so special in my entire life. This was an incredible event, something I will never forget – until my menopausal fugue gets worse then I’ll forget everything ... sorry, what was I talking about?

Oh yes, the YWCA awards.

What a ride. What a trip. What a fabulous night.

My nominator and work friend, Gail Knaus, me, and Pamela Steel,
a board member with the YWCA and a very good friend as well.

When I found out two of my work friends, Gail Knaus and Leah Burton, had nominated me for an award I thought they were as loonie and merrily menopausal as me. My first thought was that the YWCA was desperate for nominations and I was merely filling a quota. “Sure, I’ll do it,” I told them, thinking I would help out the poor YWCA in their bid to collect nominees.

Someone else at work asked me what I had done to deserve the award and, frankly, I didn’t have an answer. But when I asked Leah why she had nominated me, she said, “You make people laugh.” I smiled and I felt good about her answer. Maybe I’m not the most dedicated volunteer; maybe I haven’t done anything to bring about world peace; but making someone laugh or smile, well, that’s pretty good, too. 

Alison Brownlee, left, the lovely Huntsville Forester reporter,
with Pamela, at our table. Check out the beautiful room.
Doesn't it look beautifully festive?

When I arrived at the Mark O’Meara Ballroom in Huntsville for the big event I met the 24 other women nominated for awards. These were some of the most spectacular women in Muskoka, incredibly hard working and devoted to their various causes and, you know what? I didn’t hear one of them say they “deserved” to be there. Every single woman I talked to downplayed their achievements, honestly believing they didn’t really deserve the recognition. I thought, either women are the most modest people on earth, or we have no idea of our worth.

Thankfully the organizers of this event recognized this about our silly selves and went about making us feel as special as possible.

First of all, the Mark O’Meara Ballroom – wow. I’d never been there before and all I can say is – wow. What a beautiful place. And the food? Amazing. No kidding. It was gourmet with a capital ‘G’. I had this date wrapped up in bacon (the fruit date, not the Saturday night kind of date) and it was a lil ole bite of heaven. (Any food wrapped in bacon makes me feel like Paula Deen.) And the cheesecake? Seriously, the best cheesecake ever. 


As soon as we arrived we were pinned with a pretty corsage posy, introduced to other nominees, had our photos taken by the paparazzi like we were all Paris Hilton, minus the wee dogs, hot gossip and hotel chain. We were congratulated and warmly welcomed by everyone from the YWCA, who shook our hands and wished us well and treated us like we were important. It was an unbelievable feeling! Believe it or not I’m a bit of a wallflower and having so many people being so nice to me (and all the other nominees) just bowled me over. Their niceness was so very, very ... um, nice.

When it came time for the awards ceremony, all nominees were asked to come to the front of the room. One by one we walked to the stage where the mistress of ceremonies said the most wonderful things about us. It was stunning, having someone point out your accomplishments. We’re all so used to being put down all the time. I have to tell you, it’s magic when someone points out the good. I promise to try to do more of this every day.

After the night was over, that unbelievably fantastic night, people wanted to know if I had won. “No,” I told them, “of course not!” And seriously, I had no hope that I would. The women who did win the awards were amazing; I mean, at a Mother Teresa-Indira Ghandi-Joan of Arc-Paula Deen level of amazing. (Sorry, still thinking about those bacon date thingeys.) But you know what? It didn’t matter who won and who didn’t. We were all treated like winners.

If you know anyone, and I mean anyone, who you think is worthy of a nomination, I highly recommend that you nominate them for next year’s awards. They will be treated like royalty and you will feel like a million bucks for helping them to feel that way.

Kudos to the YWCA for such an outstanding event. Truly, you are all women of distinction.

Here are the other wonderful nominees: Jasmine Arney, Heather Berg, Glad Bryce, Karen Bullock, Laurie Campbell, Nancy Cox-Godfrey, Brenda Cunningham-Moran, Wendy Dingman, Chris Gefucia, Holly Goldthorp, Fran Gower, Kim Jackson, Tara Kinden, D'Arcy Kirkwood, Laurie Lamont, Kelly McBride, Katy McGregor, Shelly Raymond, Marnee Reid, Jennifer Schnier, Martina Schroer, Marguerite Urban, Brenda Wainman Goulet and Jo Walton. Congratulations ladies!

The nominees pose for a group photo... after this picture was taken we had to reshoot because two were stuck in line in the washroom and missed out! Can you imagine a ballroom mostly full with women? There was a lonnnnnnnng line-up in the ladies room! We were thinking about taking over the mens room but were too polite!

Monday, November 5, 2012

My ex's girlfriend

Well here's the thing: I was trying to get a hold of my ex on Saturday night and the phone was busy for hours.

My youngest son said, "He's probably talking to his girlfriend."

As far as I know, my ex doesn't have a GF. I mean, no big deal if he does. We've been separated for seven or eight years. I'm remarried – happily, thank you very much. So if he's got a GF, well, good for him.

Still, I'm nosey. "Who's his girlfriend?" I asked Sam.

"That Moonbeam, the girl whose parents make rings and stuff," he said.

Angus interrupted with, "That's not his girlfriend. They're just friends."

Sam sneered at him. "One day she called looking for Dad and he wasn't there so I asked who was calling and she said 'his girlfriend.'"

"Oh," said I.

So here's the deal with Mizz Moonbeam. I thought for sure (I still think for sure) that she was sleeping with my husband back when we were still married; back even before the affair with another woman that ended our marriage. He denied it, of course, but I was absolutely positive that this girl, who was barely out of her teens at the time, was screwing around with my middle-aged husband.

She worked with him at the hardware store. She taught my son figure skating. I had her over for dinner. Blargh. That's the thanks you get, I guess. Here's supper, here's my kid, here's my husband....

This one time, I had to work late so I told my ex that I would go pick the kids up from daycare, take them home and wait for him to get home from work so I could go back to work – that make sense? Sorry, it's complicated, I know. Anyway, he promised he would hurry home from work so I could go back and meet my deadline.

I waited for him. And waited. And waited. Hours were passing and no sign of him. No answer at the hardware store. Frantic to get back to work, I called my mother and asked her to babysit the kids until he got there. (Thank goodness for my mother.)

I drove into town and on the way to my office I passed the hardware store. There, on the street walking towards his car, was my husband; walking away from him was Mizz Moonbeam.

Furious, I asked him where he was and he said poor wee Moonbeam was having a hard time so he took her out for drinks. Just drinks, he said. A couple days later I found a receipt from that night – he hadn't just taken her for drinks, he had taken her for dinner, to one of the nicest spots in town.

But no, he said, he wasn't having an affair.

Now, apparently, she's his girlfriend.

If you were me, how would you feel about that? I'm curious ...