Friday, April 29, 2016

DIY Yard Project Day 7

Well, the hardest work is finally done.  Yay!!  I know it still looks sort of dumpy but there is plenty left to do.  What's done though, is the tilling, seeding and topdressing.  Most of the sand is in place and most of the recycled bark along the fence.  I decided not to hang the lattice behind the lawn swing.  It looked nice there, but I decided a much better use for it was a "not in use" cover for the kid's sand box.  Perfect solution to keeping the dogs & cats out, but still letting the sun & wind get to the sand to keep it nice and dry. When it's in use, we'll just hang in the fence behind the sand box.

What's left to do:

Fill in the rest of the sand
Fill in the rest of the bark
Re-paint the picnic table
Paint that last chair
Hang the solar lanterns on each fence post

And... possibly replace the fire bowl.  I really love this one here at WalMart.  It's very similar to the first one we ever had that was destroyed by a falling tree in a horrible ice storm, just two months before we moved into this house.  When we went shopping for the one we bought to replace it, our budget was extremely tight, so we opted for the less pretty one with a lower price tag.  It has served us quite well for 3 summers now but it's looking pretty beat up these days.

I still haven't decided where the cute little bridge our son-in-law built for us will go.  It was custom built to fit across our pond at the old place but since we don't have a pond anymore (yet?), it's just been sort of sitting at the edge of the yard. I'm still tempted to put in a pond because I really miss having that running water sound & loads of birds in the yard :)

If I do decide to be over-zealous about yet another project, it'll be a small pond like this one here. Deep enough to build up birdy landings with slate & stone yet not so big it takes up more space in the yard. Pond forms are 100 times better than pond liner kits (we've done both before) and we already have a really great pump for it.  Just a matter of digging a hole and dropping it in! Voila, itty bitty back yard pond.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

DIY Yard Project Day 6

Well, after a couple of days of rainy weather and being super busy doing other things (one of which was resting my back since I accidentally over-did it), I was back at it today!

First, I finished laying all the weed cloth where either sand or recycled bark will be going.  Bark along the edges of the fence and sand from the picnic table all the way to the fence, under the lawn swing.

I topped the sand area with as much sand as I had but I still need more for the lawn swing area so that's on the list for tomorrow.

I put a decent layer of topsoil in the back corner of the yard where the grass just never wants to grow. I'm hoping with it being freshly tilled and nice new bed of topsoil, this will be remedied.

Then finally I moved all the chairs & stuff onto the sand, so the yard is all ready for me to seed & topdress tomorrow.

I still have a bit of work to do in the lawn swing area.  It's not level where it's sitting so I'll have to fix that.  That white pvc lattice sheet is going to hang on the fence directly behind the swing just because it looks pretty and beachy :) We still need to put the top shade on the swing, and I'd like to replace the cushions this year with matching colors to the Muskoka chairs but I'm not sure if I'll get to that.  I still need to paint that last chair that gorgeous turquoise blue and then re-paint the table top and seat tops of the picnic table. Still have a few more loads of recycled bark to lay, and then finally lay a load of pretty red bark over the top.

I still haven't decided where these lovely ladies are going, but they've been with us for so long (despite the fact some of them have broken wings, or arms lol) they deserve a lovely spot.

So tomorrow will be seeding and topdress, more sand & more bark. Hoping to get all that done in the morning as we have rain coming later in the day.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

DIY Yard Project Day 5

Well, I have a hunch my massage therapist is going to shoot me not only 1 stink eye, but both. You can't really tell from the picture but before I layed the sand, I raked, and raked, and re-raked the entire yard to get it as level as humanly possible. And to get out all the big rocks, twigs and anything else I didn't want there. I'll probably go over it all one more time before I seed & topdress.  Yep, I've decided to seed instead of sod. More on that when I get to it. :)

As for the sandy area, I underestimated and need about 4 more feet of length at the end of this, so I'll run another strip of weed cloth tomorrow and pick up another 3-4 bags of sand for this section & then that part is done. Once the picnic table is out of the way, the area between the fence and the fire bowl will also be getting a section of weed cloth and roughly 6 bags of sand.  I'll be moving the picnic table back there when it's finished and putting a new coat of paint on the table top and seat tops, just to freshen it up.  So, the entire sandy section of the yard will be from under the picnic table all the way to the fence, roughly a 20'x8' section.

Because... I love sand!

And on a hot summer day I can sit out back with an icy cold beverage and do this, with my tootsies :)

Saturday, April 23, 2016

DIY Yard Project Day 4

Well, the weather cooperated for me today so I took my 4 bins and made a trip to Bark Mountain! :)

It looks a lot bigger in real life, but this is the gigantic pile of recycled bark at the local yard waste depot.  It's not the pretty red stuff that comes neatly bagged (or back up your trailer and buy in bulk) but it does exactly the same thing.

Unfortunately I don't have a trailer so I will have to make at least 2-3 more trips to get as much as I need, but I was able to get almost half of the work done today.

The recycled bark is fairly light-weight so I'm going to want to double the thickness of what's here.  It still looks rather yucky, but once the lawn is in, it'll look a lot better. I'm also considering purchasing a few bags just to add a layer on top and make it look nicer.

The other project I had to work on today was leveling out and raking through the area that will be covered in sand.

Currently the sandy area stops right about where those piles of sand are by the leg of the picnic table.  I had to pull it back to uncover the edge of the weed cloth since that's where the new weed cloth will start and run all the way out to the area just at the bottom of the picture. It's roughly a 10'x10' area where the new sand will be and the picnic table right in the center of it.  It'll be roughly the same square footage as the sand box so that will take approximately 10 bags of sand.

The more I work the yard the more I go back and forth between seed and sod for the lawn.  I've done both before, and they both have pros and cons.  The big disadvantage with the sod is the cost and the labor (if you do it yourself).  The big bonus is *instant lawn*.  While grass seed is much easier to apply and far less expensive, it takes a while before it looks awesome. So I'm still undecided on that part of the job.

In any case, it's coming along exactly how I wanted it to.

There's Always a Story Behind It

Quite frequently I'm asked where I get my ideas or my inspiration from, for the products I design for.  That's an easy question to answer because ideas and inspiration come from all over the place. From a pretty color combination I noticed somewhere, or a funny saying I've heard, or something as simple as a childhood memory of a birthday party.  I really never know where my next idea or inspiration will come from and that's exactly the case this past week.

I had one of those days.  We all have them from time to time.  One of those days where it seems like "if it can go wrong, it will".  All day long it seemed like everything went sideways.

It was raining, so working on our back yard project was out.  Then we had an appointment at the tax preparer's office which yielded some rather unpleasant news. The day just went downhill (or is that uphill? Either way, whichever is harder) from there. One thing after another right up until it was time to call it a night.  I kept looking for something good, something to redeem the day but it was just one of those days and it was tough finding anything because I was so distracted by all the things that went wrong.

And then I noticed a meme I'd shared on FB in one of those "see your memories" things that pops up in your feed. Just a simple little message from four years ago that said "what if you woke up today, with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?" Ironic the timing of such a thing popping up on my FB.  Except not ironic at all if you believe in the divine orchestration of the Lord to nudge you here and there and get your mind & heart back on track! I most definitely believe.

The next morning on twitter I noticed a couple of folks I follow there started their tweet-day the same way they often do: thanking the Lord for the day with an encouraging verse or uplifting message.  A very timely reminder indeed. One of those twitter users is Charlie Daniels (yep, that Charlie Daniels), and it's because of those kinds of tweets I followed him in the first place.

I closed my social media tabs and created what you see here. The first one I created is the one at the top in aqua blue and gray.  For no other reason than aqua blue is my favorite color and I was creating it just for myself. I just wanted something pretty to design that helped me focus on thanking the Lord for each and every day no matter how bad the day might be, and to remind me to seek His grace to handle those bad days without acting like a cave troll. Because let's face it, some days you want to act like a cave troll! It's not advisable, but it's sure tempting some times.

So after I created the design in my favorite colors, I changed the colors.
Then I changed them again and again.
I liked them all so I kept them all.

I decided to put them all on coffee mugs. But then I looked through all the product lines and thought "what items do we have that would be seen and used every single day that would encourage folks to be thankful for the day?"  I settled on a short list of really great products that fit that criteria and posted them at my Christian theme shop at zazzle

So that's how, sometimes, an inspiration goes from idea, to the mug you reach for every morning, or the clock you hang in your kitchen.  It's because I had a bad day and wanted to be a cave troll. I already have the key chain in my shopping cart but the compact mirrors are awesome (I have one) and I think I need one of those too. :)

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

DIY Yard Project Day 3

Today was all about Making It Ugly Before Making it Pretty :)  Well to be fair I suppose it's already ugly but this is the weed cloth that will eliminate the nasty weeds all along the fence. I didn't get all of it done today since my massage therapist wisely reminded me today to not over do it!  It's really easy to over do it while working in the yard so I'm taking her advice and doing small parts at a time then calling it a day. Tomorrow I'll be getting the recycled bark to top the weed cloth.  The rocks you can see there are just holding it all in place.  Once the bark goes on, those will be removed.

If you've never used weed cloth, I can't recommend it enough.  You can buy different kinds, some that are guaranteed to last 5 or 10 years, different thicknesses, etc.  This particular style is the 5 year and comes in a 100 foot roll. It's about 2.5 feet wide (I think, I didn't read the label) but I didn't want the beauty bark to come out that far into the yard so I rolled it out first and then cut it length-wise in half. I didn't do the nooks and crannies (like behind the lilac bush and the corner of the fence as you can see here) because those areas are easy enough to pull weeds.  I just did the majority of empty spaces.

We've used this in the fire bowl area where the sand is and it's excellent. Not a single weed or blade of grass gets through and that's exactly what you want.  Really looking forward to getting the bark tomorrow and getting this portion of the project list done.  

After this, it's on to extending the sand area of the yard. The way I see it, if you can't live ON the beach, bring the beach to you! :) Nothing like sitting outside on a warm summer day and feeling the sand between your bare toes. We're going to extend that area to all the way under the picnic table.

If it appears I'm repeating myself, it's because I am, lol.  I don't know who's reading these posts in order but here they are:

The Back Yard - the mudhole
Day 1 - tilling
Day 2 - the sandbox

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

My Name is Carla - But Please Don't Look At Me Like That

Karla Homolka.

Just the mention of that name trips a rage trigger in just about every adult Canadian I've ever met in the last nearly 20 years I've been living in southern Ontario.  And it's 100% understandable.  If you're among those who don't know who she is, a quick google search will tell you all you need to know about the facts of the case.  But what you will not find in any of the articles you'll read, is the level of anger, horror, disgust, pain, sorrow and devastation felt by so many in the wake of her (and her then-husband Paul Bernardo) unthinkable crimes.

Of course these feelings were experienced most profoundly by the victims and their families, The French family, The Mahaffy family, and Karla Homolka's own mother.  Three teenage girls, Leslie, Kristin and Tammy (her own little sister), brutally sexually assaulted and murdered by Homolka and her husband.  I won't give the gruesome details but they're easy enough to find on google. Three lives snuffed out, and thousands upon thousands upon thousands of people deeply affected by it.

I didn't live in Ontario at the time, but I knew of the case as it was being covered by US media. I distinctly recall watching an interview with Homolka and thinking to myself how it's almost never the people who actually look like the boogey man, that actually are the boogey man. (Charles Manson is the exception of course - but even during his reign of evil and madness, he didn't look like a the lunatic he does today) Sometimes it's a boogey woman, and sometimes she looks very charming, stylish, and well put together.  That just makes it all the more horrifying.

Karla Homolka is a free woman today, because she's a lying, manipulative, cunning and evil woman who made a deal and got a lesser sentence.  She's been free for several years now, married and with children of her own.   Had they survived Homolka's brutality, Kristen, Leslie and Tammy might also be grown women, married, with children of their own.  But Homolka saw to it, that was never going to happen.  And she walks free.  That fact alone stirs up a level of anger and sense of injustice among Canadians in a most remarkable way.

Just today, Homolka is back in the news as local parents discovered that not only is she living among them, but that her children attend the same school as their own, and that she herself drops them off and picks them up every day at school.  A convicted sexual deviant and murderer, not only walks among them but in all likelihood interacts with other people's children on a regular basis. Homolka herself has set the standard of what it's like when she's free to interact with other people's children.  No doubt the Mahaffy and French families can testify to what a nightmare that turned out to be.

Parents, understandably are very concerned:

When I first read this on social media today I was very reluctant to comment.  It may sound petty, or even ridiculous but for someone with the name of Carla, to this day, I get the looks.   Whenever I'm in the position to have to give someone my name, such as the doctor's office, chiropractor, customer service at any store, it's almost always the same thing:

Them: "your first name again?"
Me: "Carla, with a C"
Them: [looking up from what they're writing to look at my face] "okay, and spell your last name?"

I started stressing "with a C" after I moved to Ontario in 1998.  Simply because I share the same name with a vile rapist/killer and didn't want to be associated with her, even by name.  Since her release, that's when the looks started, because no one was really sure where she was, and Carla isn't the most common name in Ontario, let alone the most admired name. Especially after what she did.

The thing is, I don't blame anyone for the looks.  I'm pretty sure I'd do it too.  This name, my name, stirs up a justified revulsion in people. Especially people of southern Ontario.  More than a few times over the years I've wanted to say "my name is Carla but please don't look at me like that".  Of course I don't say it, but I won't lie, it's a look that sends chills down my spine.  I'm fairly certain people don't even realize they're doing it, but it's just one of those reactions people have when they hear the name.

The latest reaction by the public in learning that she's living among them, still represents a very raw, very anxious and concerned tone.  Some are so angry they're calling for her children to be withdrawn from the school (no links, just random public comments I've seen on social media links to the news articles), and this is even more disturbing to me.  Of course it's not her children that are the problem, it's HER.  But sadly, whether they wanted it or not, those children carry around her legacy.  It's awful and unfair, but it is the way it is.  Homolka willingly and and intentionally handed down her wicked and repulsive legacy to her children.

And it will never, ever go away. No matter where she lives in Canada, no matter where she goes or what she changes her name to, eventually she will be found out and she'll be back in the media again.

It is a cruel injustice to her children to carry her wicked legacy.  And I don't think there is any solution to it.  Yet.

Maybe these kids will grow up and do phenomenal things, and their successes and compassion and dedication to community will outshine the evil of their mother.  One can only hope.

DIY Yard Project Day 2

Well, day 2 didn't quite see as much work in the back yard as day 1, but that's mostly because I was still pretty sore from the tilling.  I did get the sand box done and I'm pretty happy about that. My measurements were a little off when I put in the edging for the sand but it's okay since the section where I came up short is covered by a board anyway.

Traditionally, sand boxes are supposed to be much deeper than this one is.  I think this is a rule set in stone somewhere by the Sand Box Commission of the Universe, or something.  I however, am a rebel, and don't follow the rules.  I've built a sand box before and it wasn't even as deep as this one is, and all the little kids loved it just fine.  This one is about 3 inches deep. Eight to twelve inches deep is more the "ideal", but that requires much more work. And more sand. And more money. This size and depth works really well for little kids who just want to play in sand & don't care if they can't bury their little brother in it.

The location I chose for this, under the tree and next to the fence is perfect.  1. Natural shade for sunny days when the kids want to play outside but you don't want them to get too much sun. (This location is where the lawn swing used to be, and it's a great spot for shade) and 2. Because it only comes out 4 feet it doesn't really stick out into the main yard.

Materials for this project were pretty basic

6 sections of garden edging
2 strips of weed cloth
10 lawn staples (round tops and they hold the weed cloth neatly in place)
10 bags of play sand
A new bag of sand toys - to add to the giant bucket we already had :)

Tomorrow's project will be running more weed cloth all along all three fences then topping it with recycled bark.  Pretty, neat and tidy, keeps the weeds out and eliminates mowing right up to the fence.  I'll be getting my bark from the local yard waste recycling depot. They run all the tree limbs and branches through a chipper and shoot it out onto this gigantic mountain of bark :)  It's all free, and all you have to do is show up with your containers and shovel it in.  It might take a few trips to get as much as I need, but that's okay too. Have bins - will travel!

Monday, April 18, 2016

DIY Yard Project Day 1

So the Back Yard Project 2016 is now known as the Back Breaking Project 2016.  Unofficially, officially, and all levels in between.

Today I woke and discovered I'd jammed my thumb somehow and it hurt like crazy, so running the rototiller was sort of out of the question this morning.  So I decided to go ahead and level out the area where I want the sand box for the kids (in between the clothes line post and the tree next to the fence) all by hand. A lot of digging and raking and sifting through to get all the twigs and rocks out.

I pounded in the edging that will have the weed cloth stapled to it on the inside, and then soaked the dirt real good to see where the water would pool.  One more leveling out tomorrow and then the weed cloth and sand goes in. This is the garden edging I'm using from Canadian Tire.  I'll be buying two more sections of this style to go along the fence at the back of the sand box.  Ironically, the entire length of the back fence has a horizontal board at the very bottom, except of course, for the section of the fence where the sand box will be.  I'll need those sections back there to keep the sand contained.   I want to get this project done before getting to the others so that the grand kids have a place to play while the yard is still being worked on :)  They usually head straight for the sand around the fire bowl, so now they'll have their very own area.

I took a break for a few hours and the thumb felt better so I decided to run the rototiller.  I've never run a rototiller in my life. I'm really glad no one was watching me. If they were, they would have been rather entertained and heard "oh my goodness you idiot!" several times.  After a few awkward trial and error moments, I got it figured out.

I also figured out:
a.) it does NOT like any kind of a grade at all and our yard definitely has one and
b.) it isn't really self-propelled even though the blade design technically pulls it forward (except when you hit a really hard packed section, then it just tries to dig a hole to China) and
c.) I had it at the lowest depth the entire time and didn't realize it until I was almost done. It really didn't need to be, unless I was trying to make it as hard as possible to run one, for the first time.

The directions that came with the tiller say you're supposed to go in a vertical S pattern then go back over the area in the same S pattern but horizontal, to make sure you've properly tilled the entire area. Which is fine, and sounds like logical advice.  If you're not tilling concrete, that is.  I had no idea how hard packed the dirt was in our back yard until today.  Now I understand why the lawn looked yucky even before the fence guys turned it into a mud hole.  Funny thing is, where it was all muddy a few days ago, the tiller worked great.  Where the grass still shows, not so much.  Tomorrow, Lord willing, back willing, I'll get back at it. Most of the yard has had the once over, so I'll raise the blades up a bit and go over it again tomorrow.

I'm still debating on whether or not to buy the sod and do it all myself (I've done it twice before, so at least I know how to do that), or call the landscaping guys and have them do it.  Right now, my back is screaming "have them do it you idiot!".  Usually when your back is saying stuff like that, it's a good idea to listen.  But, we'll see.

If You Need Me - I'll Be In The Back Yard

The Great Back Yard Project of 2016 has begun, and I'm pretty excited about it!  Last week the fence guys finished replacing our chain link fences with this gorgeous wooden fence.

We couldn't be happier with it.  The only thing is, between all the workers and the equipment our yard was sort of transformed into a mud pit.

So now begins the clean up and spring/summer projects:

1. Till the entire yard (except the part that has the sand)
2. Enlarge the sand area to include under the picnic table
3. Run weed cloth all along the fence on both sides & top with beauty bark
4. Get some clematis planted at the back fence
5. Put in a sand box for the grand kids :)
6. Lay sod where the grass used to be
7. Paint the last Muskoka chair I never got to last summer
8. Put a new coat of paint on the table top & benches of the picnic table
9. Install solar lanterns at each fence post on both sides
10. Pick up some additional chairs for the fire bowl area (there's just never enough seating for everyone who shows up for a night at the fire bowl!)

During the construction and installation of the fence, most of my lilac bush and my butterfly bush had to go, so I definitely need to replace the butterfly bush as well.  I've already begun the project by pressure washing the picnic table to remove all the loose and peeling paint, and cut and burned all the trimmings from the bushes that had to come out for the fence to go in. Hubby and I picked up some supplies yesterday and the weather forecast is clear and sunny for the next 3 days, so I'm going to do my best to get as much done as possible in those three days.

It's a rather ambitious project and I'm going to be sore from head to toe when I'm done, but I'm looking forward to having a beautiful back yard again!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Being Kind Isn't That Hard

Sometimes people just blow my mind.  Sometimes it's just so incredible to read a story about someone, who for no other reason than "it was the right thing to do", does something absolutely selfless and wonderful for another human being. I love stories like that. This isn't one of them.

So I'm scrolling along my FB feed and come across a story posted to a community group I subscribe to.  I don't know the person who posted the story or even any of the people who commented and thanked her for her heroic act of justice and bravery, but I read the story all the same.  Here's the gist of the story:

A woman and her child were at the park on a beautiful spring day, along with several other mothers and their children. A man pulls into the park and gets out and lets his unleashed dog out.  The dog runs straight over to the area the children are playing and poops on the ground. The man doesn't make any motion giving the appearance he's going to clean up after his dog so one of the mothers asks him "are you going to clean that up?"  The man replies "I hadn't really thought about, no".  The man and his dog begin to walk away and the mother wishes him a nice day.  As soon as the man and his dog are far enough down the path, the mother retrieves a plastic shopping bag, scoops up after the dog and... walks over to the man's car and smears the dog poo all over his door handle.  In front of all the other mothers and their children.  She is cheered on as the hero of the playground.

Now, I know some people will read that and think "right on!"  I am not one of those people.

Now I read things like this, and think to myself "and this kids, is why our society and our culture is full of creeps".  Not only do I not think of this woman as the hero of the playground, I see her as a vindictive, nasty, bitter woman who thought nothing of setting a horrible example in front of her own child, but all the other children on the play ground watching what she was doing.

Of course the man should have cleaned up after his dog, but that's why most communities have fines for such a thing, and he should have definitely been fined if he couldn't bother to clean up after his dog. But for this woman to repay rudeness and inconsideration with a malicious smear of poop on the man's car?  No. Just no.

The right thing to do would have been to pick it up, and place it in a trash can. Therefore setting a good, responsible and respectable example for the other children (and their parents) watching this exchange between the mom and the man. And then, use the exchange as a wonderful teaching moment for her own child and explain that just because sometimes people are rude and thoughtless, doesn't mean we can't raise the bar and be kind and considerate. She could have even then left a note on the man's car "Hi, your dog pooped in the play ground but I cleaned it up and threw it away. Please, in the future, take care to clean up after your dog". 

Instead, the gem she taught her own kid and others was "when someone is a thoughtless, irresponsible person and ticks you off, be an even bigger creep back, and you win!" Sigh.

Yep, this is just one of the things so wrong in our society. It's so easy to take the mean, malicious route. But it takes a bit more thought, restraint and courtesy to take the high road. There's an old saying "you catch more flies with honey than you do vinegar" and it means, kindness goes much further than bitterness.

It's too bad kindness wasn't contagious.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Woodstock Remembers Tori

The significance of the date of April 8th will forever be connected to a little girl I never even knew.  But every year on this day in particular, I think about her and it brings tears to my eyes. While I never knew her, n time, she became know as Woodstock's Little Girl.

"It will be day of reflection for many in Woodstock, as the community marks the seventh anniversary of Tori Stafford’s disappearance." read the news report and it's most certainly true in my case. We all read about these kinds of stories but when it hits close to home it really does hit harder, and hurts deeper.

Even though I didn't know Victoria Stafford, what I didn't realize at the time she went missing, was that I knew plenty of people that did know her, went to school with her, knew her family, etc.  Woodstock is a pretty small town and it's not too hard to make connections between friends and family. Two of our own teenagers are friends with Tori's older brother.

I thought about Tori this morning when I woke up, and my daughter said "mom, you're not wearing purple today!" (purple was Tori's favorite color).  I thought about her as I drove my grand daughter to school and listened to the lady on the radio mention that it was seven years ago today that this sweet little girl was kidnapped as she walked home from school on this day.  I thought about her as I ran errands and heard another mention on the news on the van radio that there will be a remembrance ceremony this evening downtown at 6:30 where those gathered will be releasing purple balloons in her memory. If you're local and would like to attend, you can read more about that here.

I thought about Tori as I parked the van and walked across the street to pick up my grand daughter after school, and saw the sea of parents waiting there for the exact same reason.  And realizing how that actually became a thing, after what happened to Tori.  Sure there have always been parents that meet the kids after school but after Tori, the crowds of parents grew by a considerable amount. I thought about how my own (almost 7 yr old) grand daughter is only a year younger than Tori was in April of 2009, and how precious and sweet little girls are at that age.

I thought about the day after she went missing and how literally every street I turned onto had police vehicles.  Police officers walking up and down sidewalks, gathered in parking lots, etc.  They were literally everywhere you looked.  The search helicopters hovering over our house searching, searching, searching for this sweet little girl. Flyers were already being posted and handed out and I took one, came home and blogged about it immediately.  Blogging was the social media platform most used in 2009 and that was the best way I knew to get the word out about this missing child. As the days went by I continued to update that first post with link after link and our family prayed, and Woodstock prayed, Ontario and all corners of Canada prayed.  What none of us knew, was that this sweet little girl was brutally taken from this world the very same night she was taken from her walk home from school.

But Tori, and what she went through, changed a lot of things for the better.  The school system here is far more diligent about student safety than it ever was before.  Parents are far more diligent as well, even though I'm sure we all thought we already were.  Kids of all ages know who Tori was and why it's so important to never deviate from the normal routine without permission from home. Yet for all the good that came from horrific tragedy, there will always be a painful loss in the families of Tori's mother and father, and brother, and those that were closest to her.  So we remember with them, and continue to pray for them.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Status Report: April 2016

I used to do these fun "this is where I am right now" posts that Phil Johnson used to tease people about.  I don't mind being teased about it.  I always enjoyed them as they're sort of like 6-8 blog posts condensed into one

SITTING: At my desk and thinking how much I'm looking forward to sitting on the patio in the warm sunshine. The older I get the more these old bones need warmth.

DRINKING: water. Filtered, reverse osmosis water from the water filter tap thingy we had installed in our kitchen sink. I got back into the habit of drinking lots of water a few months ago since I pretty much live off coffee.

LISTENING TO: the sound of my air purifier's fans humming along, sucking all the nasty little invisible air-gremlins out of my house.

GETTING: sort of frustrated with this "spring" weather we're having that is delaying the start of our new fences being put in. But...

FEELING: excited to have that finally be done.  Who gets excited about fences?  Well, I do. Right now all we have between both houses on either side is a chain link fence.  That's good for keeping the dogs where they belong, but not so great for privacy (for us or for the neighbors).  On any given summer day we might have upwards of 15 people in the back yard for a birthday barbeque, or just because, and those gatherings usually include a LOT of laughing and talking and often end up with many parked around the fire bowl, playing music, singing, dancing, more laughing and s'mores.  So yeah, we're kind of an annoying bunch, lol.  Privacy is a good thing.

WONDERING: Why any rational, logical, considerate person could ever, even for one moment, consider being on board with supporting Donald Trump for the Republican presidential nominee. There have been SO many things pointed out about his character, his morals, his waffling positions on this or that, that one would think "no sane person is going to support him".  And yet, plenty of sane people do.  And it makes me wonder if it's not time to revisit the definition of "sane".

HOPING: that whoever our next president is (and yes, I say "our" because even though I live in Canada I'm still an American citizen), it's someone that genuinely and humbly respects the office and the American people.  We've had neither for the last 7 years.  Americans are weary and want genuine change, for the better. But also keeping in mind, God is still in control.

MAKING: a couple of a big changes in business. One to make life easier, and the other to offer more options for potential customers.  The first change is, I'm closing down my cafepress shop.  You can read more about that here. The second change is, still a project in the works but essentially I'll be offering digital files for my event invitations for those who prefer that format over the printed version.

That's about it for now. :)

Friday, April 1, 2016

Are there now Rules for April Fools?

I started seeing these sorts of posts on social media yesterday about what not to joke about for April Fool's day today:

 It might be tempting to pull this kind of prank, but it's definitely not okay. You never know who could be going through a rough time struggling with ____________ . It's not a joke and it can really trigger the emotions of someone you might not know who is going through this certain type of situation.

I purposely blanked out the specific situation mentioned in this news story because when I first read it, it occurred to me that this very same thing could be said about so many different situations that someone might be struggling with. Unemployment, weight loss, financial issues, divorce, whatever.  Then I thought about all the kind of goofy things people might post (things I've actually seen over the years) on April Fool's day to play a prank on their friends and all of those things come up in various different ways such as "I told him it's over. I was tired of his ways, and it just isn't working anymore... " then at the very end it's revealed she's talking about the old mop after she got a new one.  Then this one "It took me a while but I finally lost that 160 pounds!" and then it's revealed she's talking about that terrible relationship and the boyfriend is no longer in the picture. And the ever popular "I can't believe it but we won the lottery last night!" and it turns out to be simply an April Fool's or the winnings were a $2.00 scratch-off ticket.

In every one of those situations, there might be someone reading that you might not know is struggling with a painful divorce, weight loss issues or incredible financial difficulty. To them, "joking" about these things just isn't funny and could indeed "trigger emotions".

In this particular case, the taboo April Fool's joke I'm seeing warnings about is pranking your friends to believe you're expecting a baby.  The reason we're warned that it's "not okay" is that because someone might be struggling with being able to conceive OR has recently lost a baby in pregnancy.  I think most would agree such a struggle or a loss is certainly not something to joke about.

BUT... and I'm sure you knew there was a but coming, I have to sit back and wonder where this sort of thing is going.  While I certainly understand the reasoning and the courtesy behind being responsible for your words and not wanting to hurt someone's feelings or cause them undue emotional pain, I do have to question the logic of someone else's unknown struggles (unknown to you or me) with this or that particular issue is somehow now my or your psychic responsibility. (I've re-worded this paragraph several times because I don't want it to sound harsh or uncaring because that's not the way I feel.)

I'm not even a big April Fool's day fan anyway, but it seems to me if we all applied this "don't joke about this, it might hurt someone's feelings" there really isn't any subject off limits because somewhere, someone is going through something directly related to that and to them, it's just not funny.  I really do question if this doesn't come straight out of the "everyone is hyper-offended these days".  When I first became a widow (literally, within the first weeks and months) when someone in my presence would say something like "I died laughing" or "that just killed me" or any other figure of speech that includes the words death, or dying or references to it, I'd wince a little bit and it really did bother me.  References to death and dying were my "trigger words" even though no one I knew called them that back then. But as time passed I came to realize that a.) no one was saying such things to purposely cause emotional pain for me and b.) expecting everyone around me to change the way they say things was simply unrealistic.

So, all that to say I'm really on the fence with this one (and have actually been on both sides of the fence, as I'm sure we all have in some way).  Obviously decent people don't want to be an irresponsible, insensitive jerk about such things but at the same time if we're consistent with this thinking what is there left to say that isn't going to upset someone, somewhere?

I'd love to hear your thoughts if you'd care to share in the comments.