Good-bye James Gandolfini

James Gandolfini
James Gandolfini (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was/am a fan of the HBO series The Sopranosso it was with sadness that I heard of the passing of James Gandolfini, who played Tony Soprano, at the age of 51. He was on holidays in Rome and apparently died of a heart attack.

I enjoyed his acting and the series. He employed a deft hand in creating a truly screwed up character; a mass of psychopathic contradictions who could kill with his bare hands one minute and tenderly kiss his daughter on the cheek the next. Tony Soprano transcended the stereotype of the typical mob boss with his fainting spells and his trips to a shrink.

Gandolfini played many other parts, however.  He had been on Broadway and most recently had been in Zero Dark ThirtyHe was also preparing for a new HBO series.

We have lost a talented actor.

Good-bye, James.

In Remembrance of D-Day

Canadian military during World War II
Canadian military during World War II (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The 69th anniversary of D-Day was on June 6th, last Thursday. Like so many, many others, my dad was of those involved.  He wound up going all the way to Hamburg, Germany before “his war” was over and he was permanently sent back to England to my anxious mother, herself a member of the British army.

World War II and my parents’ participation in it shaped their lives.

How could it not?

It has shaped ours, too; it’s just that we don’t register it much or perhaps give it as much prominence as it should probably have.

We lap up the sacrifice of our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents without understanding where it came from or even being aware that that’s what we are doing.

As my dad became older he often reminisced about his and my mother’s lives during the war. He talked about the time that they raced into an Underground station in London seconds ahead of a bomb that tumbled down the steps behind them, following them.

They made it to relative safety before the bomb exploded; others did not.

My dad was also evacuated from Dunkirk. Please see Jenny Pellett’s wonderful piece called Wartime Memories. Since reading her post I have wondered whether my dad ever went to her grandparents’ hotel.

The Dunkirk evacuation and the Normandy landings were, however, not something that my dad discussed until he was in his seventies. For him, outrunning a bomb was a story he could tell, but Normandy and Dunkirk? And later on, Bergen-Belsen concentration camp? The scope was too big; its effects were too broad. Compared to that, his personal experiences of it were tiny.

How do you get your mind around it?

The World War II veterans did not talk much about what they had endured. They just wanted to get back to their lives and enjoy the peace. But I also think that they may have had difficulty trying to communicate how massive this all was. The numbers of people, the equipment, the exhaustion, the death, the destruction, the genocidal madness.  For the sake of one’s sanity, it moves from the personal.

No one person could tell it. Better to go home and try to forget.

They had earned the right to either talk about it or not, remember or not.

We children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren don’t have that choice, however. We have an obligation to remember.

We owe them a debt of gratitude that can only be re-paid by protecting and respecting what they won for us –  our very selves, our freedom, our many luxuries.

My dad is long gone now, as are most of the WW II veterans, but we can think about what they did for us.

I Am NOT a Morning Person

"Oh How I Hate to Get up in the Morning&q...
“Oh How I Hate to Get up in the Morning” (sheet music) page 1 of 3 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why is it that the morning people dominate the world??? Discriminatory, I say! My rights are being trampled on!!

Night owls of the world arise! You have nothing to lose but your sack time, and that’s already happening! We need respect! We need understanding! We need coffee!

I hate mornings.

I really hate mornings when you’re with someone who’s all perky and bright and chirpy.

They sing at you: La da ti da dahh di da doe mi so la fa dahhh …

That’s what it sounds like to me. Then, because you don’t respond because you can’t understand them, they sing at you again, more loudly this time. It’s like having a gong go off in your head.

And because you aren’t like them, they can get all huffy and defensive and even start viewing you as a lesser species.

A word of advice: it ain’t about you, morning lark.

If you think that there’s no such thing as life after death, you haven’t been to my house and seen me get up in the morning.

M. is the same way. Only worse.  He looks the way I feel. Slow. Lumbering. Somambulant.

If you really poke at me, I can start acting like a pissed off velociraptor.  A confused one.

Nothing looks right. It’s all so briiiight, and faaast, and loooud. And I hear and see it all in slow motion, no kidding. The lights are on but nobody’s home.

Coffee is my saviour. Without coffee, I wouldn’t wake up until four o’clock in the afternoon.  I wouldn’t be able to deal with plumbers, meter readers, letter carriers, work, or breathing.

Coffee bean
Coffee bean (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If life operated the way it should, I would go to bed at one o’clock and get up at nine. I would be functioning and contented, if still not fully awake. But our 24/7 world doesn’t allow for this. We have millions of years of evolution screaming at us to go back to bed, especially while that storm is raging outside, but we have to shoehorn ourselves into a work life that our biology hates.

I really sometimes wonder what we’re doing to ourselves. Do you?

Random Stuff

Emmental - Swiss cheese
Emmental – Swiss cheese (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, I’ve been really busy and haven’t had a chance to post for a while.  I realized just how busy when I took a look at my last post and saw that I was supposed to give eleven random facts about myself but didn’t. Why eleven? I have no idea, but that didn’t even register when I was doing the post…

All right. I’m digressing again. To finish the last post properly, here are eleven random facts about me:

1.  I am fourth-generation former military. My son makes five.

2.  I once met George Bush Jr. before he was president and had a chance to talk to him. His wife was nice. He was an idiot.

3. I am “double-jointed,” especially in my hands, elbows and shoulders. My legs used to be the same way but aren’t any more because I’m two seconds away from officially becoming ancient.

4. Every time I have the gall to think that I’ve figured something out, God or the prophets or Murphy (you know, the Murphy’s Law guy) smites me (smotes me?) to make sure that I don’t get above my raisin’.

5. Water follows me everywhere, especially into my basement where it keeps finding new places to drip.

6. I’ve eaten prairie oysters and enjoyed them. For those of you who don’t know, prairie oysters are bulls’ balls.

7.  I have a small extra rib on one side, colloquially known as “Adam’s rib.”

8. I like to eat Swiss cheese and pickled beets. Together. I know. It’s weird.

9. I’m half English and half French. This should make me the perfect little Canadian but what it really means is that I can shrug and have a stiff upper lip at the same time.

10. My favourite colour is red. I like lots of other colours, too, but red rules!

11. I am NOT a morning person. I could do a whole post on this one. I hate mornings.  They’re just so, so bright, and, and, bright. And I don’t like it when people around me leap out of bed and act all perky … see, there’s a rant coming.

Dadahhh! Done!

It’s Pass the Game on Time!

École élémentaire Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau
Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ramblings from a Mum has passed on a cute game to me and I’m passing it on to others. Hope you have a little fun with this! 🙂

Rules:

1. Post these rules.

2. Post a photo of yourself and eleven random facts about you.

3. Answer the questions given to you in the tagger’s post.

4. Create eleven new questions and tag new people to answer them.

5. Go to their blog/twitter and let them know they’ve been tagged.

Please note that I have to break rule # 2. Can’t post a picture of myself as I would be concerned that my ex-narcissist/husband might find it. Sorry. But I will explain the blue square. I’m sure you’re dying to know.

It’s supposed to be a picture of some clouds taken from above them. That picture actually shows up in bar at the top of the page, but nowhere else. For some reason only known to Zeus and Aphrodite, when I go visiting other blogs it simply shows up as a blue square. And actually in my sidebar, too. Go figure. Anyway, sky and clouds and weather are a big thing for me because I’m a pilot.

So, on to the game!

Here are Rambly’s questions to me:

1. What started you blogging?

I started because I wanted to throw my voice into the growing chorus of warning about the dangers of narcissists.

2. What are your worst and best traits?

Hummm. You just want one of each??? Especially the best traits? 😉

I have many worst traits. One of them is that I have had to really work on creating personal boundaries; in the past people have taken advantage of me.

My best trait is my sense of humour. Sometimes I can be funny. Really.

3. What is your favourite animal and why?

Dogs! Who is ever going to be as unconditional as a dog?

4. Who would you like to meet and why?

Good question. Not sure. Probably Pierre Trudeau. He was a PM of Canada who’s dead now. He was witty, smart, and completely irreverent and arrogant. He had something to be arrogant about, though. Lots of people really disliked him, but no matter what they say, he loved this country.

5. What is your favourite memory?

My most recent one is the day I met M. 🙂

6. If you had the power to change something in the world for the better, what would it be?

Wait a sec … just getting out my Harry Potter wand – oh yeah! I keep forgetting! It’s in laundry. Good chance I’ll never see it again. Well. To the answer. Everyone would have an equal opportunity at education.

7. What country would you like to visit that you haven’t been to?

Australia! No kidding! Have always wanted to visit! 🙂

8. If you could invent something, what would it be?

A yard work robot/machine/whatever. Something that will do yard work for me. I HATE yard work.

9. Who inspires me?

There have been many inspirations. M inspires me. A colleague inspires me. Seeing people give of themselves inspires me.

10. What is your favourite food?

Anything Italian. I love pasta! Yay Italy!

11. Have you read my memoir and if not, why?

Um, no. Have you read mine? 😉 (Actually, have been meaning to read it – just haven’t gotten to it yet.)

Okay. So now it’s my turn. Here are my questions (with my thanks to my predecessors from whom I have stolen one or two):

1. If you had a chance to go back five years from today, and knowing what you know, what would you tell yourself?

2. Who inspires you?

3. What makes you laugh?

4. Why do you blog?

5. What is your favourite animal?

6. What is your favourite travel destination?

7. Who would you like to meet (dead or alive)?

8. What is your favourite food?

9. What annoys you?

10. If you could change something in your life, what would it be?

11. What do you do to relax yourself?

I hope you play!

1. Jenny Pellett

2. Living in the Lange

3. I Am a Heathen

4. Lusiana Njo

5. One Old Sage

6. Teeny Bikini

7. Kimberly Harding

Thanks for the Awards!

Wind on a daisy
Wind on a daisy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been nominated for a couple of awards!

My thanks go out to Janice for the Liebster Award and Madeline Laughs for the Shine On Award.

Thank you! Your thoughtfulness and kind words are very much appreciated! 🙂

I don’t really accept awards but I do want to pass on the nominations. Please take a look – there might be someone you like!

From Janice:

1. After Narcissistic Abuse

2. Broken but Stronger

3. Dree Speaks Freely

4. Every Day Red Flags

5. Paula’s Pontifications

6. I Won’t Take It

7. Jana and the Stone

8. Kinky Little Girl

9. Lexicon Lover

10. Life Begins at 45

From Madeline Laughs:

1. Brunch for Every Meal

2. Sunday Night Blog

3. Inga Photography

4. View from in Here

5. One Hot Mess(age)

6. Lady Blue Rose

7. Pondering Spawned

8. My Emotional Vampire

9. Subhan Zein

10. Being a Beautiful Mess

11. George Flores

12. Paro Express

Here are my suggestions  – these are GREAT blogs! Some I’ve suggested before and some I haven’t:

1. Ramblings from a Mum – one of my favourite blog buddies!

2. One Old Sage – another of my favourite blog buddies!

3. Dust and Soul – a thought-provoking,  eclectic blog.

4. Teeny Bikini – outrageously funny and warm. I so look forward to her posts!

5. Jenny Pellett – a funny, witty, engaging blog.

6. Luiana Njo – a very talented photographer and cook.

7. Frances Antoinette – she says that she can’t write, but she’s completely wrong!

8. Lori – Lori has gone back to school! Take a look at her adventures.

9. Rarasaur – an amazing writer.

10. Zen Doe – fabulous photography and writing.

 

I hope you find a blog among these that you really enjoy! 🙂

Making the Best of It

Happy..Happy.. Mother's Day :-)..
Happy..Happy.. Mother’s Day :-).. (Photo credit: Thai Jasmine (Smile..smile…Smile..))

So it’s Mother’s Day tomorrow and all you procrastinators and excuse-ridden forgetful people who are too lazy to get out of their own way better rush out and get a card, some flowers – even if you have to steal them from someone else’s yard – and then make your lunch reservations.

Lunch reservations?

Fuuuuck!

Probably too late for that now!

Now what are you to do? Standing there with a card that used to say “Happy Birthday” and to which you’ve applied a liberal amount of  Wite-Out while your stolen flowers droop for lack of water and and your face resembles that of a robber’s horse?

Hah! I guess you’re just going to have to make the best of it and do what we used to do years ago before the commercialization of everything under the sun, including Hang-Nail Day. Ohhh, wait a minute. I think they forgot that one.

Nevertheless.

Here’s what we used to do – and I would do now if I still had my mom:

1. Make a card. When we were kids we used to make these really goofy-looking cards that were supposed to be endearing during the Friday afternoon art class before Mother’s Day Sunday. After my mom passed away, I discovered that she had kept a whole stack of these from me and my siblings.  It’s not hard to go find a craft store, get a few simple supplies and make something that’s much better than you can buy.

2. Grow some flowers. Kidding. Actually, I did do this a couple of times when I was a child but I got the idea back in February. However. If your mom is into flowers or gardening, you could buy a plant that will bloom later in the season. In this hemisphere, our greenhouses are all just getting going and there’s lots of choice. There might even be plants available that have some blooms on them already. And don’t buy those tacky ones that they sell in the grocery store.

3. Make lunch. Or dinner. OH. MY. GOD. Make dinner? But I burn water, you scream silently to yourself.  Don’t stress. If necessary, you can always buy something ready-made and just heat it up. Remember, the whole idea is for your mom to have a day off. And be sure to do all the clean-up. She’ll probably appreciate that more than anything else.

4. Last but not least. If all else fails, go to your mom’s place and do her cleaning or her yard work or her laundry for her. I don’t think that there could be a better present.

Happy Mother’s Day, moms, stepmoms, and all you people who have endeavoured to raise us and give us a good life!

In Praise of Stepmothers

In Praise of the Stepmother
In Praise of the Stepmother (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There once was a horrible woman who treated her biological daughters better than her step-daughter. In fact, she treated her step-daughter like the most lowly of servants. Then a rich guy fell in love with the servant girl, married her and took her away from her bad situation. The end.

Sound familiar? Other than the fact that this silly story suggests that marriage is the answer to a woman’s dreams, it has historically been the bane of every stepmother in at least the last 200 years.

The wicked stepmother. By now it has become an archetype. I’m not sure what its origins are but it certainly has had staying power. It encapsulates the notion that if  children are not your own, that you can’t love them, and worse, that you actually hate them and will carry out that hatred in nefarious and crushing ways.

What an image for women to have to cope with! Not only do they have to deal with a ready-made family but they also have to overcome these ridiculous fairy stories.

Most stepmothers try to do their best. I know, because I used to be one. It’s difficult, demanding, and requires the sensitivity of a professional diplomat. And there are few rewards for getting it right, but lots of condemnation for getting it wrong.

Yes, lots of step-parents are crap. But lots of biological parents are crap, too.

Mother’s Day is coming. Its popularity did not come out of the idea of honouring one’s mother. That came out of war. Out of the heartbreaking losses of sons that women had to endure because a government decided to send them to die. And there were lots of stepmothers among them.

Hallmark and other companies have commercialized and capitalized on Mother’s Day and it has become a colossal money-maker for florists and restaurants and the makers of cards. Its founder, American Anna Jarvis, was disappointed by this. It has been turned into flowers and hearts but that’s not really what it was supposed to be about.

It’s supposed to be about work. Hard work. And love and tears and worry and sleeplessness. And lots of people, not just mothers, have done that for us.

So, this Sunday, we should perhaps honour the fight that our mothers, stepmothers and others have carried out for us. For many of us, it was the struggle that saved us, not the flowers.

Sometimes, life is like that.