The Sun is Setting on Summer

It always seems (to me anyway) that as the end of summer approaches, not enough has been accomplished.

If you live where there are four seasons, you will understand this. Summer is so fleeting, while the other three months seem to drag on, summer is truly over in a blink. We tend to pack in as much (or try to) as we can during those three months of hot and (relatively dry) weather. When it ends, I can’t help but wonder, did I do what I wanted? Did I accomplish what I planned on doing on my vacation time?

This year, my vacations were spent at home (staycations). The first was a week at the end of July, the second the first week of August, and my last week starts on Sept 2. Unfortunately, my husband was not able to take any time off apart from the Friday at the end of my second week of vacation. However, he is taking the Thursday and Friday next week, and we have planned a little get away and will be going Treetop Trekking. More on that when we get back.

Kayaking on Charleston Lake

Kayaking with a friend on the St. Lawrence

Boating on Charleston Lake

Anyway, it is only when I look at my pictures do I realize that, yes, I did accomplish quite a bit. Sure I may not have gone kayaking every week (I managed three times and I am hoping for at least one more paddle before the water gets too cold.) I did get out in the boat (albeit only twice but again, there are plenty of nice days ahead). I golfed with my son (only once). I toured the new cidery and bakery close to home. And spent a day with my husband and adult children in a picturesque town where we dined and window shopped. (I saw plenty of things that I need to go back for, good thing it’s not too far from home.)

April 2019

My biggest accomplishment by far was the garden I created/built where an old barn used to be. I started the project back in April. I had always wanted this garden and tried about 20 years ago (you know, when I was younger, had more energy, and my body didn’t ache as much as it does now). But back then, I didn’t have the vision. And after allowing the weeds and the rocks to deter me, I gave up. Now that I am in my early fifties, I decided to create what I had always dreamed. I am paying for it now with overused muscles, tendonitis, etc. There is still much work to do, but I think I got the hard work done.

May 2019

I spent a good amount of time visiting greenhouses, purchasing plants, dirt, & mulch. I also had a number of family and friends give me some plants, for which I am grateful.

June 2019

July 2019

August 2019

At one particular greenhouse, I showed an employee some of the pictures of the garden I was creating to which she said “You must be retired.” I chuckled and said, “Nope, I work full-time.”

There was also a lot achieved in the writing world as well. I attended a few book signings (more to come in the next several weeks). My newest book was released in June. Two of my books are now available on Audible and one of my books has book-inspired merchandise now. The only thing I have not completed are the edits on the final book of my trilogy, but I am close to finishing with only about nine or ten chapters to go. Thing is, as I sit here and type this, I have an ice-pack to rest my right wrist on as either tendonitis is flaring up (again) or perhaps a touch of carpal tunnel (not sure which but I am betting more on the tendonitis as it travels up into my shoulder at times.

So, while in my head I think I didn’t get all I wanted done, I only need to look at the many photos I took, recording my summer, to realize that I packed those short three months with as much as possible. And while there may only be three weeks left in the season, that still leaves many possibilities. Besides, I love autumn. Cozy times are ahead!

The Sweet Smell of … Cat Poop?

No. It is not sweet. There is nothing ‘sweet’ about it. But, when your 2-year-old cat has had major surgery… well that smell made me feel a whole lot better today.

Let me tell you the story of Ivy. A cute and fuzzy kitten we found in our garage back in May 2017. We have no idea how she came to be in our garage and she hadn’t been there long, maybe a day or so, but we were happy to have found her. We saved her life. With coyotes, wolves, foxes, fishers, and any other predators who think a kitten would make a nice snack, living around our house—yeah, we saved her.

It wasn’t long before Ivy captured all of our hearts. Our dog, Bailey’s maternal instincts turned out to be stronger than her prey drive and she “mothered” and played with the little kitten.

The only one in the family that took a little bit of time to warm up to the new addition was Sophie, our other grey cat.

But soon they all became great friends.

Being a stray, I hadn’t quite decided if Ivy would be an indoor cat or indoor/outdoor. I was worried about her being outside. But a year later that decision was made for me.

In early June 2018, Ivy began drooling—a lot. I called the vet on-call (it was after hours) and he told me she may just be nauseous. That night her drooling increased. She was not well. The next morning I made the decision to take her to our vet. So I packed her up and off we went.

After some blood work it was determined that Ivy had injested something poisoneous (to this day we have no idea what). She would have to stay overnight on an IV to flush it out of her system. She was much better the next day but had to take a liver support supplement for about two weeks after. I decided then that she would remain indoors. If she could get into that much trouble inside, she’d never survive outside.

Flash forward to end of May this year. Ivy wasn’t “hoovering” her food like she normally does and only eating about half of it. She also didn’t seem to be pooping as much (I know because our other cat, Sophie, is an indoor/outdoor cat and goes outside mostly.) Anyway, at around the same time I had found what was left of a leather cord (the type for jewelery). I was suspiscious as Ivy does have a penchant for eating things that are not food.

Then a few days later, she vomitted, and refused her food. I knew this couldn’t mean anything good. On June 3, Ivy went to the vet and after some x-rays it was found that she had a blockage in her stomach, and she required surgery.

The blockage turned out to be a massive hairball, all twisted and intertwined with food.

Ivy came home the following day with a 4″ incision, a cone, antibiotics, pain meds, and instructions that if she didn’t poop or pee within the next 24 hours I was to let the vet know. Well she peed within an hour of coming home, but the other… nope wasn’t happening. I began to worry.

On Wednesday I called the vet to let her know what was happening. She said that if she didn’t go by Friday, I could bring her in and they would take x-rays to see what was going on. Of course my over-active imagination led to many horrible things each with a terrible outcome.

This morning, I called the vet on my way to work and made her appointment for 2:00. Luckily, I was able to take the afternoon off as a holiday and at 11:30 left for the 50 minute drive home.

In the 11th hour, I walked into the room where Ivy was convalescing. She looked up at me with her big green eyes, and they seemed much happier than when I’d left her that morning. And then there was an odour. I immediatly went to the litter box. Hallelujah!!!!

She still has a ways to go before her recovery is complete as we are not even finished with the first week. But I really do think she is on the mend and for that I am grateful.

2018 Author Interview Recap

As 2018 nears its end, I would like to thank all the authors who participated in my blog, and to the readers who took the time to learn about favourite and new to them authors. I will continue my monthly interviews in 2019 and if you would like to contribute please send me a message. I wish you all a safe, happy, and prosperous 2019.

January
John Callas 

February
KG Petrone 

March
Sandi Bischoff   

April
Shan L. Scott 

May
Faith Bloom 

June
Lauren Boehm-Lynch 

July
June V. Bourgo

August
Sharon C. Williams

September
Heather B. Moon 

October
J. Craig Rice 

November
Sally Cronin 

December
Billie Kowalewski 

Today I was the Bug

At the beginning of the month I was invited to be September’s Author of the Month for the Brockville Public Library. This event, aptly named Bookmarks, is not put on by the library itself but by a group called The Friends of Brockville Public Library (FBPL). I had known about the event and was happy to become a part of it. I also knew that attendance at these events wasn’t always great. However, I was happy for the opportunity and any potential exposure.

A couple of weeks ago I brought in books to be displayed at the library should anyone wish to purchase one prior to my presentation. One of the books would also be a donated and added to the library’s inventory. I also picked up a poster that was created for the event for my own advertising while FBPL would distribute the rest to be posted in various locations in the city (FYI Brockville is not a very large city). poster-001

Today was my event. It would consist of me making a small presentation, followed by a Q & A period, and then a mini book signing.

I arrived an hour early with an assortment of things for my table – a sheet of reviews, my bio, business cards, bookmarks, a copy of my newsletter & a sign-up sheet, and of course my books.

Since I was so early, I left my box of goodies at the info desk and strolled around the library. I wanted to see if I could find the copy of my book which I had donated and take a picture of it on the shelf. I headed to the fiction section and searched through the Js. I found other Jacksons but not me. I went back to the info desk and told the librarian what I wanted to do. 20160924_131809She happily looked up my book on her computer and found that it had indeed been added to the stock. The reason it wasn’t on the shelf was because it was on hold, meaning that someone had requested to read it and it was downstairs at the entrance waiting to be picked up. I was happy to hear that. The librarian then told me I could take a picture of the computer screen showing my book – naturally I did.

 

 

Finally, it was time to set up for my presentation. The FBPL who was helping me had arrived, and as she began arranging a few chairs, I set up a small table beside my own chair. Afterward, we sat down and chatted for a bit.  A few moments later, a woman arrived and introduced herself as another member of FBPL – and that was it.

Needless to say, I did not sell a single book. I did however, enjoy talking to the two ladies from FBPL and they did ask me several questions about Promised Soul and writing. I also read an excerpt from the book that I had planned. There were several people in the library around us; however they did not join the conversation.

Afterward, I was listening to a radio program on my way to meet my daughter at “Winners”. The radio show host was interviewing a comedian who had just released a book. She quoted the lyrics from a song from Dire Straits (also covered by Mary Chapin Carpenter) entitled The Bug. It is a song I hadn’t thought of (or heard) in years. She said, “Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug.”

 

While my presentation and book signing was a bust and I felt a little bit like the bug today, it was nice to know that my book was going out on loan. Also on the plus side, I bought a great purse, cute boots, and a nice wallet. Oh, and I got a manicure this morning, too!

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Next time I’m going to be the windshield.

Afternoon Tourist

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Mango Daiquiri

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River view from the upstairs patio at the restaurant

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Strawberry & Feta Salad

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Tall Ship

When you have a job that is full time in the summer (part time in the winter) you do what you can to celebrate the beautiful weather on your days off.

My husband and I had a lovely lunch. The mango daiquiri was very refreshing and the strawberry & feta salad was delicious. It made me feel like I was on vacation. Afterward we went for a little walk around the water front.

 

I Never Liked Hockey….

Dylan's first hockey game 002

until my son played and I became a hockey mom.

That’s him at centre ice in the yellow jersey, number 6, and this was his first hockey game –  ever. He was six years old and he played IP that year (Introductory Player, I think it’s called). It was mostly learning about skills. They didn’t play any games except for this one, which was during one of the breaks for the bigger boys – the Junior B team.

There was a lot of family there that night. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, and of course us – his parents. He told us before the game that he was going to score a goal for every one of his family members that had come to see him play – and he did. He shoved (literally) 6 goals into the net. From that moment on I knew that watching him play hockey was always going to be fun and exciting – I wasn’t wrong.

So, why didn’t I ever like hockey? Yes, I’m Canadian, but in my house hockey was not something that was ever watched or talked about. My father grew up in The Netherlands during WWII and my mother never liked the sport – but my grandfather did, he was a huge Habs (Montreal Canadiens) fan. He watched a lot of hockey. Anyway, in short, I never grew up with it. Then I met my husband and hockey came into my life. Although it was more like he watched hockey and I found something else to do. But then we had a boy and things changed. Though I wish now we had put our daughter into hockey – for some reason we never thought of it, and then again she never asked either.

So here it is 3:43 in the morning and I’m up typing this blog when I should be sleeping, but I can’t. Today at noon our son will play in his last game. It’s actually not really his last game, he has one more next week – the championship game. His team is in the running to win the division. However, they have one more game to put under their belts, to seel the deal, and very likely put them into first place heading into the championship game.

It has been an amazing 12 years and our son has always made us proud. He is one of those players who has always done his best. He has played both house league and Rep (representative – traveling team). He has been called up to play for higher divisions when they were short players. He was even called up to play for the Junior Bs last year (now Cs – you can check out what the difference is on Wikipedia). He has played forward and defense, though mostly forward and probably equally as either centre or winger. He has played as an assistant captain and captain (he’s a captain again this year). He has received player of the game awards on many occasions. He has scored numerous goals over the years and probably more assists, and he has sat in the penalty box. I can proudly say he has never been a “goon” and never fought – even when opposing players tried to start something. He has impressed his coaches and the coaches of opposing teams. One year one such coach commented on his great conduct and sportsmanship after he’d congratulated their goalie on a job well done.

So here I sit, now 4:08 AM, feeling a little emotional as yet another of my child’s stages/phases/milestones – is coming to an end. In another week there will be no more freezing in other arenas (our home arena is the warmest – no need for a blanket there). No more dining at some fast food place before or after a game as they always seemed to be right around meal time. No more smelly hockey equipment hanging up to dry on his hockey tree. No more cheering for his goals, his assists, or some other play he has made. I have albums and frames of pictures. There are  hooks for his medals and shelves for his trophies. And in my mind I will always remember and hear his little voice:

“Look ma, it’s the Tie Domi!” he said to me as we stood outside the glass before stepping on the ice for another practice skate before we enroll him in to hockey. He isn’t quite steady on those blades yet, but he is determined.

I laughed a little as we watched the ice surface being cleaned. “No honey, it’s a Zamboni.”

I laced up his skates and the two of us headed out on to the ice for the parent and tot skate. He held my hand and together we went around the rink. Every once in awhile I stopped to pick him back up. After one turn around he was ready to try it on his own.

“If you can make it around all on your own, daddy and I will sign you up for hockey.”

“Okay!” He smiled, his blue eyes shone, he let go of my hand, and off he went on his own and he never looked back.

The Lemon Tree

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For the last couple of mornings I have been squeezing the juice from half a lemon into a glass of water and drinking it before I eat. I’d read that there are several advantages to doing this such as aiding digestion and the added benefit of vitamin C. As for the rest, I can’t remember.

This morning I squeezed the juice over a spoon to catch seeds as yesterday I ended up with three in the bottom of my glass. The seeds popped out and I placed them one by one on the counter. When I was done there were several seeds sitting there. I began gathering them up, preparing to throw them out when I was suddenly hit by another of my favourite childhood memory.

When I was little, probably around eight, I found some lemon seeds. I imagine I scooped them off the counter or out of a lemon my mother had just finished using. I remember taking the seeds and laying them somewhere to dry. My mother always grew a fairly substantial vegetable garden and so I knew about drying seeds out before planting them. As to whether or not anyone knew I had these seeds, I don’t recall.

Several days later, I pushed my dried seeds into the dirt inside a flowerpot. My mother had a number of houseplants and there were always pots and small bags of potting soil. I watered the seeds and left the pot in the basement.

My oldest brother (by 12 years) had a bedroom in the basement and I believe he found me watering the dirt one day (there may have been a sprout). He asked me what I was doing and I told him that I had planted lemon seeds. I think he told me he would keep it in his room so that it would get some sunlight through his window. He said that he would help me take care of it. He did and the lemon tree grew.

When my brother moved out probably a year or so after that and he took the lemon tree with him. Whenever I visited, he would show me the tree. He nurtured and cared for it and whenever he moved to another apartment, it went with him. As the years passed, and my brother married and moved into his first house, he brought the tree with him. When I visited, he would show me the tree with its glossy green leaves and once I think it even had tiny lemons. I was always surprised and pleased that he still had the tree.

The tree is now long gone but right at this moment, sitting on a piece of paper towel are several lemon seeds. I think I will dry them out, plant them, and see what happens. After all, when life gives you lemons…. plant the seeds and grow a tree.

S. S. Sassafras

It’s funny how memories from the past resurface every once in a while. Sometimes they bring with them feelings of anger, sadness, or great joy. I had one such memory pop up earlier today as I was washing dishes and I can happily say it was one that brought back joy. I have had this memory before and it always brings a smile to my face. In fact, I can easily say it is one of my favourite memories from my childhood.

I was probably somewhere between the ages of 10 – 12 years old. I had gone down to the basement and was on the side that housed the water heater, fuse box, washer and dryer, and a workbench.  The workbench was complete with a vise, securely mounted to its surface. There was a peg board attached to the wall behind the bench. Various tools hung from the nails on the pegboard and if the tool wasn’t found you knew what was missing by its outline drawn on the board. It wasn’t a very elaborate work area by any means and was mainly used by my father or brothers, but sometimes I wandered over to the bench.

On that particular day I had the urge to make something and as I sorted through the scraps of leftover wood an idea came to mind. I was going to build a small boat. I began by clamping a piece of wood into the vise that was going to be the hull. The plan was to saw each end of the block on a 45 degree angle to make it “boat-shaped. Then I was going to attach a smaller block of wood on the top for the cabin. My plan was set; I picked up the saw and began construction.

I had barely made the first few cuts when my older brother, the second oldest of four children, appeared. He asked me what I was doing and I told him that I was going to build a boat. I showed him how I was going to cut the edges and how I was going to attach the block. My brother smiled at me. I don’t remember what happened next, but I think he convinced me not to do it. He may have told me that he’d saw the pieces for me or something. Whatever it was, I ended up going back upstairs; supper was going to be ready soon anyway.

If memory serves me correctly, my mother called my brother up for dinner and finally after a couple of attempts, he came up the stairs. In his hands he held a wooden boat. He’d cut the ends as I’d told him and added not only one cabin, but two. A larger cabin was fixed near the centre and a smaller one at the back, but there was more. Tiny finishing nails were spaced out evenly around the edge of the wooden boat and he’d attached a string all the way around so that it looked like a railing. On the side of the small ship he’d written in black marker “S. S. Sassafras”, my childhood nickname.

I loved that boat and I kept it for a long time. Eventually the string broke, the nails loosened, the name faded, and it ultimately wound up in the garbage. However, the memory of the S. S. Sassafras lives on and occasionally appears like a ghost-ship at sea, always leaving behind a smile.

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Celebrate Yourself

dance-436707_1280I was feeling a little defeated on my way home from work today. I had spent the last hour trying to figure out a mistake I’d made but couldn’t quite get it. I still had other things to check; however, it was time to go home. I spent my drive home thinking about it and hoping that I would figure it out in the morning when I look at it with fresh eyes. I told myself to stop worrying about it as there was nothing I could do, I was already on my way home. However,  no matter what I told myself, it still weighed heavily on my mind.

When I arrived home I checked my e-mail. The second I opened it up an e-mail from Go Big Coach – Kristen Howe caught my eye. The subject line read “You are fantastic Sandra!” I read the short e-mail which ended with “I believe in you!” Just reading those two phrases made me feel good and boosted my positive thoughts.

I scrolled down through my e-mail and once again another e-mail from Go Big Coach caught my eye. I opened it up and began reading. It was all about taking the time to celebrate yourself. Seeing the word “celebrate” instantly reminded me of the song “Celebrate” by Kool and the Gang. The lyrics and tune popped into my head and I began singing and dancing and celebrating me (of course this was done in the privacy of my bedroom and office. I didn’t want the kids to think I’d lost my marbles :D).

We all need to take the time to celebrate ourselves, to believe we are good, smart, talented, beautiful or whatever. We seem to have no problem doing the opposite and beating ourselves up. It’s time we make a change. So get up, start singing and dancing, and celebrate all the wonderful things that you are.

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Love is Eternal

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When you lose a child, no matter how old they are when they pass, the pain never truly goes away. Once they have made an imprint on your heart, it is there for eternity.

20 years ago today my husband and I were blessed with our second daughter and we named her Laura Helen. Hours after her birth our world was torn apart by devastating news. Laura was born with a congenital heart defect called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. We were given three options. 1.) Do nothing and let her go, 2.) heart transplant, 3.) a series of operations over the course of two to three years that would essentially reroute her circulatory system.  We chose option 3, we had to giver her a chance.

The following morning, Laura was airlifted to Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. While there we learned of two other babies, a boy and a girl, born with the same condition. They were all slated for open heart surgery within a few days of birth.

At 4 days old, Laura and the other two babies had the first of three procedures. The first baby, the little boy, went first as he was the sickest. Unfortunately, he did not make it through his surgery. We were all devastated and prayed that the outcome would be different for our little girls. Our prayers were answered and both Laura and the other little girl survived. Two weeks later we went home with our little bundle.

Just before Christmas, Laura returned to the hospital. Due to the surgery she had a build up of scar tissue around her aorta. She made it through the angioplasty but because her tiny heart had worked so hard to supply blood to her body, it couldn’t recover from the stress and Laura died two days later. Our hearts were shattered, but my husband and I helped each other through the loss and the pain.

We think of her often, missing what could have been. We know she is really never far away and I know she is surrounded by love.

Over the years I have found myself wondering from time to time about the other little girl and how she was doing – if she survived. We’d lost contact with her parents after Laura passed but it was probably a good thing. They needed to concentrate on their daughter and have hope that she would survive.

Several months ago I happened to see a tweet on Twitter that caught my attention. It led me to investigate and yes, I admit, I “creeped” Facebook. I’d found her. She’d survived, graduated high school, was driving, and living life. Tears filled my eyes. I was happy and relieved to see she was thriving and humanly – just a little sad.

Happy 20th birthday, Laura. I am truly grateful that you were a part of our lives, even if it was just a moment in time. You are never far from our thoughts and always in our hearts.

Happy 20th birthday, CS. I wish you a wonderful life filled with love, happiness and success.

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