What Affects Your Life the Most?

I’ve noticed a strange phenomenon these past nine years living in Nova Scotia. The other day Dave and I were having our morning coffee and he was once again talking about the weather. Whether its going to be sunny, cold, rainy, stormy, windy, humid or overcast the discussion is always about the weather.

For example, I will say, “Let’s go for a walk.”

And he answers, “What’s the temperature?”

And so ensues a search through the Weather Channel to see whether or not we should go for a walk.

“Why not just look out the window?” I say.

Well, it’s more complicated than that. There are all these other nuances about sunglasses or not, long or short pants, hoodie or t shirt, whether its going to rain in the next forty minutes, and on it goes.

I remarked that when I lived in Quebec there were never such discussions.


Life on the outskirts of Montreal had us listening to the traffic report and planning our outings around ‘l’heure du point’, also known as the rush hour. Everything we did had to take the traffic, road construction and road conditions into consideration. We didn’t worry about the weather because the roads would always be ploughed and clean.

Not so in the Maritimes. Sometimes you can wait a long time before the road workers are out after a snowstorm.

So I came to an interesting conclusion:

People who live in the Maritimes talk about the weather all the time because that’s what affects their life the most.

However, people who live in cities talk mostly about the traffic because that’s what affects their lives the most.






The other day I was sitting at the computer planning Christmas things while listening to some easy music on the radio. The sun was shining for the first time in ten days here in Nova Scotia and I was thinking that right now life’s pretty good. My children are all coming home for Christmas, we’re heading South for a couple of months and we’re both healthy. What more could a person ask for?

The incessant ringing of the phone interrupted my reverie. Who would be calling on the house phone at this time of day? Most of our callers use the cell phone number.

I checked the call display to make sure it was a legitimate call and not a telemarketer.

Oh! It was the IWK hospital in Halifax. There is only one reason anyone from the IWK would be calling our house. And my mind flashed back to a couple of years ago…

It was January 2015 when I ended up in hospital with Bell’s palsy. The doctors weren’t satisfied that it was just Bell’s palsy because of a few other symptoms I was presenting. I languished four days in hospital while waiting to have an MRI of my brain, with dye.

Pure joy.

Finally my big day arrived and I was wheeled to the X-ray department. Darn MRI machines give me claustrophobia so they dosed me with Ativan and put a cloth over my eyes. I wrote a blog in my mind while in that tube, with all its attendant noises.

Finally it was over.

The result was that I ‘just’ had Bell’s palsy BUT “We noticed a lesion on your brain.”


I said, “Calling it a lesion is just a gentle way of saying tumor, right?”

And they affirmed that was correct. And now because we have seen this tumor/lesion, you will have to be followed by a neurosurgeon. So now, in addition to having a doctor, chiropractor, massage therapist, dentist, gynecologist and gastroenterologist, I will also have a neurosurgeon.

When I visited my neurosurgeon a couple of months later, he told me that there was indeed a lesion/tumor on my brain, but it was small and there was nothing to do about it, save to monitor it by MRI every year to make sure it was not growing. Then he showed me a picture of my brain! It looked something like this:


He told me I could live my whole life and never have known about the tumor, unless, that is, if I started having wicked headaches and other nasty symptoms. It was only because of the MRI for my Bell’s palsy that they found it, and now that they know about it they have to monitor it. He said that in medical circles I was what they called VOMIT


                               Victim Of Medical Imaging Technology


To date I have had two MRIs and each time I wait anxiously for the results. So when I saw IWK on the call display I knew what was coming.

Bravely picking up the phone I said, “Hello”

It was Dr Walling, my neurosurgeon. After exchanging the requisite pleasantries about impending Christmas and the weather while my heart pounded louder and louder, he said, “There has been no change!”


Done for another year with my V.O.M.I.T.



Everyone Has A Story…

Last Sunday there was a new person in church; a woman, alone, kind of stern looking. Well, I don’t know if she was new or not. It’s just that I had never seen her before. She was kind of plain looking with her hair pulled back in a tight ponytail and she wore a longer length skirt. She appeared to be middle aged.

She sat right in front of me and didn’t speak to anyone at all.

There is a point in the service when everyone passes on greetings to each other. It used to make me nervous when I didn’t know anyone in the church, but now it’s a time I look forward to: greeting everyone, shaking their hand or giving them a hug, a connection. So I went to shake the hand of the mysterious stranger in front of me. I wished her good morning. I smiled in welcome at her. She wished me good morning but she did not smile. At all.


So I asked her if she was new to the church. She told me that she used to come but hadn’t been there in awhile.


Well, I’ve been here almost four years and I had never seen her before.

So I said, “I’m Christine, nice to meet you”, and she said, “I’m Bonnie.” But she still didn’t smile. I wondered if she was angry, sad or uncomfortable.

And then later on during a scripture reading I noticed her with a Kleenex. Wait- she was wiping her eyes.

I remembered a time a few years back, being in church and avoiding everyone. I remembered having my Kleenex at the ready, and wiping my eyes discretely. That was when I was newly divorced and felt quite hopeless.

I wondered what had brought Bonnie to church that morning. Maybe she decided that since it was a nice day, she would go to church, or maybe, just maybe, like me some years ago, she was searching for some comfort.

I’ve heard it said, ‘Everyone has a story, and some have two.’

You never know what’s behind a stoic gaze. It might not even be stoic; it might be sad.

So I prayed for Bonnie that morning.


Wisdom in My Pocket

A funny thing happened on the way home from church, of all places. Well it’s not that funny, its more like pathetic, especially for a 59 year old woman who also happens to be a perfectionist.

I was driving home from church just humming along at 130 k/hr in a 100k/hr zone, feeling on top of the world from the wonderful service I had just attended. We had renewed our baptismal vows and afterwards each person dipped their hand into the fount to pull out a stone with a motivating word on it. This was to be a reminder of our baptism and what it represents.

Etched on my stone was the word WISDOM.

Fitting, I thought, since I am usually such a serious person who tries to always do the right thing.
I was thinking of that when I glanced in the rear view mirror to see flashing lights. I figured I’d better slow down to let the police pass quickly to get to whatever they were racing towards.
I slowed down.
The police slowed down.
I sped up.
The police sped up.

And that’s when I realized that it was moi they were after. I pulled off on an exit ramp and waited for what I thought was the longest minute of my life.

It wasn’t.

The young policeman cited me for going 120 k/hr in a 100 k/hr zone.
I said I was sorry, thinking that his radar gun must  have been broken because I was definitely going 130 k/hr.
He asked me why I didn’t stop sooner, and I told him I thought he was going to something very important and that there was plenty of room on the highway for him to get around me.
Wrong answer I guess.
He told me that you are supposed to pull over ANY time you see flashing lights.
I said I was sorry.
And then he went back to his cruiser and ‘wrote me up’.

Those were the longest twenty minutes of my life.

As I sat there on the exit ramp, all the other good people coming home from church could see me, plain as day, with the police cruiser right behind me. So whenever I saw a car coming, I turned my head, searching in the forest for nothing, just so as to not be recognized.

How utterly humiliating.

Finally he came back and handed me a ticket  for 224$.

Now where in the heck am I going to get 224$ to pay this?
Didn’t he know that I had spent all my spare money on the January sales?

I meekly drove the rest of the way home, fingering the stone in my pocket.

Wisdom, indeed.

What I Learned on the Way to Church

Most Sunday mornings find me driving to church between 9:30 and 10 AM. I usually listen to CBC Radio, and you could say that I’m getting an education on my way to church.


It used to be that on Sunday mornings all you would hear on the radio were either hymns sung by such as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, or the Catholic Mass, either in English or Latin.

Not any more!

Last Sunday on my little drive to church, I learned where the term ‘the bitter end’ came from. I always thought it had something to do with such exciting things as

the bitter end of a marriage or

the bitter end of a business or

the bitter end of a life unfulfilled.

Really, its nothing so exciting nor exotic as that.  The ‘bitter end’ is a nautical term denoting the cut end of a rope; as opposed to the working end, the looped end, the spliced end or the frayed end. So if you’re tying a knot with a length of rope, you’re working with one end of it, while the ‘bitter’ end is dangling.

bitter end

That’s what I learned on the way to church last Sunday.

The Gäst Shawl

The end of my craft show season has arrived! It’s been good, although I sold things I thought would never sell and conversely I didn’t sell much of what I thought would be in demand. Every year brings different sorts of customers, looking for something new.

For example, last winter I knit four lovely shawls from Homespun yarn. I loved them. I like to knit when we are on a long drive as it helps to pass the time. As we did a lot of driving last year I had time to knit four of these shawls.

One went to my mom for Christmas, and she found it very cozy and warm.

Another one I kept for myself, and it has become somewhat of my ‘security blanket’.  It’s warm, it’s soft, and it smacks of comfort in a  “slippers and rocking chair” sort of way.

There were two left, and they just sat in a bag in my office until October of this year. As I was preparing for my first show around mid month, my husband asked me if I was going to bring those two shawls along. I told him I would not because I didn’t think anyone would want to buy them. Also, I would have to charge 40$ for them, and no one goes to craft shows and spends that much on one item. At least not in the area where we live.

He said that I needed a little gimmick, something to attract people to the shawls. For example, the shawl would be just another knitted thing in a sea of other knitted things at the show…unless…unless it was a Guest Room Shawl. Something to put aside for when people come to visit and they find it a little cool.

Yes, he might have something there!

So he wrote up a little ‘Swedish Legend’, and looked up the Swedish word for Guest.  It went something like this:

Gäst Shawl

Legend says that in some Northern

Scandinavian villages, it was

customary to have a shawl available

for guests when they visited, as the

homes were often cold.

The shawl hung near a fireplace

or in a guest room and was

   always returned there when the guest left.


I agreed to pin the little legend to each shawl and put them on display.

A star was born!

Those two shawls sold at my first show, and then I went on to make and sell six more throughout the crafting season. People loved them! Actually no one else was selling knitted shawls. The one I made was a type of prayer shawl, very simple and very pretty.

There were different types of people who bought them as well. I had thought that only seniors would be interested. I was wrong.

One woman bought hers because she was going to be 40 soon and the shawl was 40$.

Another person bought one for her mother, whose shawl was old and tattered.

Yet another bought hers because it fit in with her color scheme.

A few women bought them as a gift to present to a friend, relative, or just for themselves.

And one lady bought hers to bring to work because of the air conditioning, and she didn’t want to always wear a sweater.

No one bought a shawl for the guest room, but the little sign with the legend made them stop and look.

I think I’ll knit up a few more of them this year; they were so well received, I may use some for gifts myself.



I Feel an Empty Nest Coming On

I can now join the ranks of empty nesters. However, I can’t say I come from a long line of empty nesters, as I am the first of my brother and sisters to experience this phenomenon.

I’ve been an empty nester now for about 30 hours.

See, yesterday Dave and I drove my youngest son to his new home, our alma mater, to join the ranks of other Faour and Jones family members who have been or are, students of St Francis Xavier University. I went to St FX, so did two of my sisters, my brother, three of his children, my husband and also his daughter and brother. We have all studied at X.

I don’t think Aaron had any idea what he was in for! On the way to Antigonish NS, we stopped at a Timmies for some breakfast. There was an incredibly long line up, which surprised me, given the hour. Aaron was surprised to discover that everyone in the line up, bar none, was St FX bound. Some had on X t-shirts, parents included, and excitement reigned, even at that ungodly hour. Us old folk flashed X rings.

When we arrived in Antigonish there were signs directing us to X. Not that you could have missed it- the Frosh Welcoming Committee were there waving signs, singing and dancing everywhere. They were dressed in neon brights: hot pink, fluo orange, neon green, gaudy yellow.

Hello? Times have certainly changed; I don’t remember any of this exuberant welcome when I arrived at St FX back in 1971.

Aaron started to brighten up. A big grin spread across his face. We got him into his room, met his roommate, a nice guy from New Brunswick. The guy next door to him is from Dubai. Interesting. Then the long line up for photo ID, business department and other necessary details. Aaron showed me a text from one of his friends who was still on the way there with her parents. Apparently her mom was crying because her baby was leaving home. Actually there were many moms crying. Not me. Aaron told me he was glad I wasn’t carrying on like that. Well.

My son was growing in stature and confidence right before my very eyes. Speaking of eyes, his were sparkling, and the excitement was palpable. I was just so darned happy for him. How could I be thinking of the ‘empty nest’ I was going home to?

All too soon the tasks of getting him 100% in were done. There was nothing left to do but to say goodbye, don’t forget to brush your teeth, make your bed, be good, call home, study hard, I love you. Hugs all around and then Dave and I were leaving.

Empty nest? Nah.

We got home several hours later and the house seemed so empty. Hell, it was empty. Not that Aaron ever took up much space in the house, just that now there would be just Dave and I.

It seemed really empty.

I went to bed and cried myself to sleep. Then this morning I told Dave I couldn’t go downstairs for awhile because I was going to lose it. The downstairs was Aaron’s, and now he and everything connected with him was residing at MacNeil House at St FX.

I miss my son, not because he’s gone to university, but because he will never live at home again. He has left the nest, and so that makes for major changes in his life and also in mine.

This is the first time in twenty-seven years that I don’t have children living at home, and that feels just plain strange…