A Nice Little Life

Life has been nice these past 2 weeks. When I think back to this time last year . . . well, let’s not do that right now. Instead, let me tell you just a little about how awesome it is to take a holiday for real.

First some friends got married. Oh my goodness, that was lovely. Funny, I can remember going to a wedding last year and feeling a strange moment of . . . something. But this time it was far more about laughing with friends, and hearing touching speeches, and seeing a very happy couple united. So that was the start of the good times. Right after the wedding, we took off for a cottage.

"Photo booth"

“Wedding Photo booth”

My parents rented a beautiful cottage not long ago up at Lac Blue Sea for about 6 days. They invited all of us to go up and stay with them at the cottage for some R&R. There’s zero internet at the place, and that’s really good since the only time I seem to stop working is when I literally cannot access my work. So, we went to the cottage and unplugged.

It was fantastic. From kayaking to beautiful food to swimming at dusk, to pretend cottage shopping, to multiple cups of tea, to laying on the sofa reading books, to playing board games, to laughing, to napping . . . it was heavenly. Last year we went to the very same place, and Zsolt and I spend some time at this place last autumn as well. It’s a good place – a very good place.

But it doesn’t stop there. As you may know, I pushed my scan back this year. It took some juggling, but we got there in the end. So, for Zsolt’s birthday – he turned 33! – we celebrated his birthday. He received many video games that I hope he one day plays. . .

(We are playing The Walking Dead together at the moment, a game produced by Telltale Games and based on the comics The Walking Dead. It is seriously intense and emotional stuff – but also fun since we’re really playing together. He kills the zombies while I hide in the other room, and I help him solve the not very difficult puzzles. Also I choose the responses in the dialogues, and Zsolt kills more zombies and shoots stuff in general. Good teamwork.)

Zsolt had some special birthday waffles, and then we just hung out the entire day. It was honestly a bit of a knackering day since we also left the cottage that afternoon, but it was a happy day nevertheless.

Then yesterday was Canada Day. It was so, so, so good. Last year had the weight of a hundred bricks on my chest. This year we were so busy going downtown and snapping silly photos, meeting friends, eating awesome food and watching fireworks, that I hardly had time for heavy emotions.

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And then on Saturday it will be my turn to have a birthday. Thirty two years old J I’m so freaking happy about it that I could just cry all over this keyboard.

The week following will be, very likely, a challenging week. I’ll have a CT scan, and then wait another week for results, and then . . .I don’t know. I could cry all over my keyboard thinking about that too – but would much rather not at the moment. For the time being, it is far better to enjoy the summer weather and summer mode of life.

It was a good decision to push back the scans. This has been a beautiful time.

Human vs Squirrel

This started late last week, but if I really think about it – it’s been going on for quite some time. I’d look out the back porch door window at the fire escape stairs and see them hopping up and down the steps. It was fun to watch. Squirrels going up and down during the winter. It’s a glimpse of urban wildlife, like spotting a raccoon or getting to know the neighbourhood cats.

Then about two weeks ago the gutter came crashing down in the middle of the night. The BANG woke us up for about two minutes before we fell back asleep. (Thank God it wasn’t a burgular, geez.) Apparently – according to my landlord – the gutter had simply rotted away, and it needs to be replaced by a professional.

squirrelAnyhow, that’s all back story.

Early last week I was outside on my back apartment-building-porch, enjoying this amazing weather. With weather this good, I take the mobile phone outside and do my social media’ing’ from there in my $10 Sobeys grocery store chair. It works really well.

Anyhoo, I’m on the back porch when a squirrel makes its way down the stairs above me. So I did what you do – I stood up and stomped my foot, thinking the squirrel would bolt. Except it didn’t. The little bugger came at me! Or not at me, but it came toward me, so I’m up and jumping around, and it’s up and jumping around, and I’m like “OH Sh8T this squirrel must have rabies to be this crazy!” and basically hug the wall, when it – thank God again – ran past me and somehow disappeared.

At this point I began calling out for Zsolt, since for some reason that’s my gut reaction in a situation of panic.

Eventually I settled back into my $10 chair, and then promptly left again when I heard more little noises I couldn’t place. I had crazy squirrel fear.

THEN just the other day, Zsolt informs me that we have a family of black squirrels living under my spice planter that has been sitting around since last summer. Apparently, according to Big Z, they just moved in and he has been watching them run in and out. The potter has a gap in the bottom so it could, in theory, sit on a railing.

Four teenage squirrels, who were obviously birthed in the apartment roof, had moved onto our porch. And for some reason, none of these squirrels have learned fear. They are freaking fearless. The cats don’t even chase them!

But you can’t keep squirrels on your porch, can you? One second they are all cute looking, and the next they are reminding me of black rats with long tails. Normally I’m cool with squirrels because they show respectful fear and avoidance. But not this little pack, oh no, they have no fear.

So, we decided to bust up their little nest. Putting on his tall green rain boots and carrying the broom, Zsolt carefully snuck around behind the planter on the porch, and tipped the thing over. They ran outta there.

But here is the problem. They still have the family home in the roof. I don’t want to be responsible for a bunch of dead squirrels if the pest control is called in. But I also really want to be able to go outside and not freak out with every little noise or ambush of black bushy tail.

Therefore, we are keeping the broom on hand at all moments, and Zsolt has been repeatedly running outside with it chasing them down the porch stairs and out of the yard.

I’m not actually convinced this is working, but we will see.

And that is yet another adventure from the land of apartment rentals.

Anyone know of some non-killing squirrel deterrents? Maybe we need to adopt an owl?

Proud, Excited and Thankful List: 2013

It’s evening here in Hungary, and we’ve just come from a lovely day at the Vienna Christmas markets. There’s nothing like a whole load of Christmas lights in the dark to make you think of the holidays and year-end magic. So that’s what I did today, and now I’d like to think about what I did this year. This post is for a reflection of gratitude before moving forward to 2014.

IMG_20131219_000110

Hello from Vienna!

What I’m proud of:

1) The novel. There are so many aspects of this that challenged me, and I’m hugely proud to have faced that adventure at full-tilt, along with incredible support from you all. Seriously, I feel like I won an Olympic medal for ‘putting yourself out there, then creating something awesome from the experience’. Can I award myself a medal, or would the Olympic committe protest that? Maybe a gold-foil chocolate one instead.

2) My husband. Zsolt shines in many, many ways. I’m proud of his looking forward despite a year where he was laid off, felt displaced, and learnt his wife has stage four. This guy is pushing forward and acts as cheerleader supreme. I’m so incredibly proud of him.

3) Becoming involved with VanierNow and writing people’s stories. One story that really shines that I wrote is about Erica, the not-an-artist.

4) Getting up in the morning, getting dressed, and living my life. I’m very proud of this. I do it for myself, for my husband, for my family, for my health – I do it because life is better this way.

5) Recovering my grandmother’s furniture to give it new life. I sewed those slipcovers myself, baby! Lulu would not be impressed with the quality of my sewing, but I think she’d like the sentiment.

6) My work with Facing Cancer Together and Sister Leadership. As I said, it’s an honour to share people’s stories.

What I got excited for:

1) My husband, this blog, my friends,  and my family who always make me smile and have great times when we are together.  (We’ve drank about a swimming pool’s worth of tea during our chats, eh?)

5) Water. Last year we bought ourselves our dream canoe. This year we used it. We also found a nearby swimming hole that – despite one nibbling fish – makes me feel so happy inside.

4) This article in Apt613, and then this article in Apt613. It’s such an honour.

5) Travel. This year, we travelled through the Alps, wandered around Zurich, saw Christmas lights in Vienna, took a train across a mountain top in Italy, went up the leaning tower of Pisa, spent time in the beautiful city of Pecs, looked for bears in the Rockies, rode a 2-person bike in Stanley park, and spend much time downtown Ottawa doing our groceries.

What I’m thankful for:

1) My husband, because he sees me breakdown about every day, and he somehow finds it in himself to put me back together. So, I’m thankful for him and the magic we have together.

2) My Mom and Dad, who have been taking on the world on top of pushing me forward to push back against cancer.

3) The hug my best friend gave me on the day I was told about those spots in the lungs.

4) You and You and You! I love to see people do well and live well, and luckily enough I get to mix with people online who seem to feel just the same towards others.  The amount of talent you have, creativity, compassion, humour . . . it’s such an honour to mix with the mixers online. And thank you for your enthusiasm around my own big dreaming, too!

4.5) For the huge generosity that was shown during the Kickstarter campaign. It has been a great support in our life, and a good help with my health costs too.

blow my mind5) Camille of Sister Leadership has been coaching me through some very big emotions, so for that I cannot express enough how thankful I am.

6) I am thankful for writing. My writing gives me a sense of purpose like nothing else. When I wrote that story about Erica and featured her art – that is what it’s about. When I write little stories that makes my husband smile, that is what it’s about. When I imagine worlds that are seemingly impossible and yet happen in my imagination then fall onto the page – this is what it’s about!

IMG_0761 copy7) The beautiful photo shoot my friend Lou of Lou Truss Photography did for me and Zsolt just after I had been diagnosed again.

8) Each deep, beautiful breath of air. And for my lungs easing up on the pain, thank you so very much lungs and body.

And that is me for 2013.  I hope there’s much more to come for 2014. Like, say, Claire Never-Ending becoming a Canadian bestseller? How can I make that happen? What about the dream cottage in Balaton? Plus, more sharing of stories, more writing of fiction, more supporting of others, and loads of health heaped over that happiness.

**I’d love to hear some of your most proud/excited/thankful moments from 2013. Want to share a moment, or even a blog post? Feel free to link them in. :)**

~P.S. I have been trying to learn about making cool newsletters (as opposed to boring ones), so signed up with MailChimp & added a sign up app on my facebook. I’ve heard that newsletters are good for sending out little excerpts/nuggets people wouldn’t normally get elsewhere from your work. So if you’d like to sign up for my writing newsletter, I’ll do my best to throw in some ‘fresh for you’ fiction in the mailer! Maybe a Little Zsolti story, or some short spin-offs from Claire Never-Ending. Let me know what you’d like to see :)