Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Open Toe Shoes

It is official. Open toe shoe season is over. Those sexy hot Steve Maddens I bought for the Yellow Brick House gala but which ended up looking very sexy with the wide leg jeans I got at The Pink Closet will be relegated to being carried in a bag destined for indoor wear only. But I'm pretty smug - I was wearing them outside, sans panty hose, right up until the 6th of December!

At 5:30 this morning I awoke and, snug under 3 layers of blankets I could just sense that winter weather had arrived. When the wind is blowing I can hear my Canadian flag in the back yard flapping and a metal grommet making a ting sound on the metal pole. Venturing to the living room I saw that the car will definitely need a few minutes to warm up and several centimetres of snow must be brushed away.

I poured some juice and returned to the retreat of my cozy bed. Flipping on the TV I would be led to believe that the world is coming to an end. Storm warnings are the top news of the morning. But somehow I cannot reconcile the melodrama and hysteria with what I see out my window. Ontarians are such wimps. We don't know snow! I've lived with snow, and trust me, this ain't it!

Nonetheless, the deep, dark, hunkering down season has arrived. It is the time of year when one doesn't feel like going out anywhere after dinner . These days I'm snuggled in bed well before 10pm. The diminishing number of daylight hours is a difficult time of year for me, and once December arrives I find myself anxiously counting down the days to the arrival of the shortest day of the year. Once the 21st of December has passed, the days will get longer, even if only by a minute or two. And in my mind, spring will be be on the way.

Until then, I will amuse myself by listening to native Ontarians whining and carrying on about the horrific winter weather, as if they are shocked that this is what it is like to live in a Northern country like Canada.

For me, the worst part is that I can't venture out today in my open toe shoes.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


I remember with great clarity Decembember 6th, twenty years ago. It seems surreal at times that two decades have passed since my world, as a woman, was rocked and the journey, which continues to this day, began that day.

I grew up in a culture where young women found a man, settled down, and produced grandchildren for our parents. I'm not saying that this is necessarily wrong, or that I regret having taken that route. But somewhere in that process I lost my sense of the endless potential and possibility once I became we.

I also lived a world where my dad's was the final word, my husband was the one everyone acknowledged as the head of my house, and my church deemed women unworthy to serve in leaderships roles by virtue of owning an different set of reproductive organs.

December 6th changed all that. Not an overnight change by any means, but it began a process whereby this woman, with no feminist role models began what was not necessarily the most sophisticated intellectual journey.

My self awareness is definitely different than it once was, and because it is an evolution I'm comforted to know that I will continue to learn more about myself and my gender and it will be different next year.

Sadly, the massacre will earn only a passing mention in the news today. We have a national day of remembrance for the men and women who have fought and died for our freedom. We need a national day of remembrance so that 14 women in Montreal will not have died in vain.

But, as long as most of the governments on this planet are patriarchal by make up, and a blind eye is turned to the many cultures and religions in the world where abuse of women and girls is an accepted way of life and death, it will be left to us women to make sure the story of December 6th is passed down through the generations.

I look at the endless possibility just waiting for my 13 year old daughter Lauren to explore and embrace, and it makes me smile.

Please, let us never forget:

Geneviève Bergeron, aged 21;Hélène Colgan, 23;Nathalie Croteau, 23;Barbara Daigneault, 22;Anne-Marie Edward, 21;Maud Haviernick, 29;Barbara Maria Klucznik, 31;Maryse Leclair, 23;Annie St.-Arneault, 23;Michèle Richard, 21;Maryse Laganière, 25;Anne-Marie Lemay, 22;Sonia Pelletier, 28; andAnnie Turcotte, aged 21.

Maryse would have been 45 years old this year, just like me.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Vertical Change

It was inevitable. I knew the day was coming, I just didn't think it would be this soon. All my adult life it has been clear that this would be my fate.

As the trauma of turning 45 has gradually drifted away and dissolved into a peaceful acceptance, bam! It happened.

I am now officially the shortest member of my family. I was running errands with my daughter Lauren and, uncharacteristic for me (and never to happen again I might add) I was wearing flat shoes. Imagine the shock and horror to realize that my 13 year old was looking down at me as we spoke.

When did that happen? The boys were no big deal. I expected them to be tall. I mean, I did marry a man who stands a foot taller then me so I had sort of hoped I would have boys of decent physical stature. But my baby girl? I can just feel the hair turning grey under my latest dye job!

I should be happy that she will be blessed with gorgeous looks and long legs. I am happy, albeit concerned for different reasons....

It's just that I barely survived high school being 'affectionately' called midget, munchkin, and teeny tiny tina and I loved having children who physically looked up to me. It is a whole lot easier to bark orders and have people do my bidding when I'm looking down at them. So what if they were children! Lord knows I didn't have that kind of clout anywhere else.

Fortunately for me I can buy a little more time. I have 5 inch heels. I remain a force with which to be reckoned.

Besides, TnT comes in small packages too!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

When is a Coalition NOT a Coalition

According to the word coalition is defined as follows:

An alliance, especially a temporary one, of people, factions, parties, or nations.

A combination into one body; a union.

Now, I've commented on political current events in the past and make no claim whatsoever to be particularly knowledgeable or astute in such matters. My comments are merely the observations of an average Canadian who happens to be a political junkie.

Based on porn star Jack's comments on national television with respect to how distasteful he finds the Prime Minister's modus operandi with respect to his dealings with the other parties and the Canadian public, methinks Mr. Layton doth protest far too much.

The NDP, lacking any real vision fresh ideas, or even the ability to make a decision about whether the name of their party remains relevant, let alone the experience or ability to ever become the ruling party in our lifetime, will continue in their role as political shit disturbers for the foreseeable future. This is not necessarily a bad thing. They serve to keep the other parties honest.... or so one would think.

Which brings us back to the questions: when is a coalition NOT a coalition?

When the Liberals, NDP and Bloc agreed to form a coalition with the intent of defeating the government, they called it what it was. Mr. Dion and Mr. Ignatieff both clearly used the language and acknowledged the intent. Whether Canadians liked it or not is a separate and more complex issue: but they knew exactly what was going on, and had the option to support it or not.

Now, Mr. Layton is suddenly in favour of changes to EI for which he has yet to see ink on paper. Out of one side of his mouth he's Harper bashing, and out of the other he's kissing fat conservative butt. But no, there's no coalition here. I doubt we'll catch Messrs. Harper and Layton sharing a steak dinner followed by cognac and cigars at Hy's any time soon. But if one were to hang around 24 Sussex long enough, one just may catch Mr. Layton sneaking out of the residence like a cheap hooker at 2 a.m. But at least we won't have another coalition, right?

My most humble opinion, for what it is worth.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Letting Go

Driving home from North Bay today, I did a lot of thinking.

Over the last couple of weeks there wasn't a whole lot of time for that. I was juggling work, and running around getting things ready for Andrew to leave for college. It was manic at times: setting up his on-line banking (so we can transfer money to him - lol), buying supplies (a couple grand worth) and generally helping my 18 year old suddenly adult son get ready to leave the nest.

It occurred to me today that I'm not ready for this. But apparently, I don't have a choice. We were sitting at lunch on the patio in North Bay Bay at Boston Pizza and I was eternally grateful for the the knock off Chanel 'move star sun glasses' that I bought at Pink Closet last week, because we were half way through lunch before saying our good bye's and I was already in tears.

I looked at the grown up young man sitting across the table from me but all I could see was the little boy I left at the door of kindergargen 13 years ago - giving me a nervous smile as he waved and said "bye mumy". Or the kid who stood on the front porch and waited for his friends to stop by to walk with him to the first day of grade 9.

Where did the time go? Have we taught him what he needs to know to survive in the real world? Will he remember not to put the whites in with those dark hockey jerseys when he does his laundry? Will he eat 3 square meals a day or will it be Doritos and Pepsi?

He's not a man yet, he's still my little boy........ isn't he?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Do Over's

This morning I had to change my voicemail. On Friday I had recorded a message indicating that I would be away for the weekend and would not be returning calls in a timely manner - an essential move in my business. So today, being back in the office, I had to make change my message back to the generic "Hi, you've reached Tina Sibbald of Royal LePage Your Community Realty. I'm sorry I've missed your call but do leave a message and I'll get back to you as quickly as I can".

Except, I played it back and I sounded too whiny. So I recorded it again. Then I stumbled over my words and sounded like I had a speech impediment. So I recorded again. Having found fault with the next 4 takes, I finally settled on one which would suffice until the next time I have to record an extended absence greeting.

You gotta love do-overs. We had them as kids. I missed hitting the other kid's chestnut in the chestnut fight so I got to do it over. We were playing t-ball and I missed three times so I got to do it over.

Which brings me to the present. Can you imagine how rich I'd be if I could bottle a 'do-over' potion? Imagine if Bill Clinton could have a do over for the day he met Monica? Stephen Paige could have a do over for the day he decided to buy that cocaine? Michael Jackson could have a do over for the day he filmed that ill-fated Pepsi commercial where his hair caught on fire and sent him into a downward spiral of pain killer addiction?

I was thinking of all the do-overs I'd like to have. There seem to be a lot of them lately, none of which I care to elaborate on in this forum because, unlike the ones I mentioned above, I have not become notorious and famous (at least not yet).

Sometimes its as simple as the words floating out of one's mouth, instantly regretted as they are uttered, yet out there and impossible to take back no matter how frantically one grabs at them. Sometimes they are a helluva lot more complicated and involve actions which have a long lasting and sometimes irreversible effect on the another person.

If I could turn back time.....

Friday, June 5, 2009


My Dad has cancer.

That's about as abruptly as I found out so it seemed fitting to start this post the same way. I mean, how does one soften such a revelation anyway? "Oh, how are you dear, we had a lovely day visiting some antique shops and enjoying the warm sunny weather and Dad has cancer". Somehow that doesn't work either.

But, as is usually the case with the odd little way I absorb and process various issues, the cancer thing actually has me thinking about two other issues.

Family. As in immediate. My brothers. Jim and Matthew mean everything to me. In fact, when I get to see Matthew (westcoastwalker) perhaps once a year, I still cry when he leaves. Jim lives in Toronto - a mere 40 minutes south on Highway 400 and I'm lucky to see him 6 times a year. What's with that? Is this a sad statement about how self-absorbed I've become? And now that we know Dad has cancer we're firing e-mails back and forth like crazy, chatting on facebook and talking about setting up skype accounts so we can conference between Vancouver, T.O. and Bradford. The communication is great and I feel like I have a brand new relationship with my brothers, which makes me happy - and sad at the same time. Sad because it took bad news to strengthen and renew our bond.

Activism. My brothers and I have been chatting about how unacceptable it is that Dad has been told he has cancer, and has a CT scan booked for......NOVEMBER!? So, now we're going to become a trio of little activists - writing to our MPP's, MP's, heck, the Prime Minister if we have to. (Although he's a total pud and I can't imagine writing to ask him for any help when I'm beyond embarrassed to have him representing me on the world stage - See I can't resist any opportunity to get a jab in - he's pathologically partisan so why can't I be?) But I digress. Isn't it curious how people will suddenly become engaged and work for a cause when it has affected them personally? Would I become a crusader for the 'wait times' issue in our health care system if I was not on the edge of my seat waiting for more comprehensive tests to determine the state of Dad's cancer? I wonder.

I am certain, however, that there are many people far more selfless and far less self-absorbed than I who have taken up causes for the simple reason of justice and fairness. Now that would make some interesting reading and research. Many times I have become a crusader of sorts, but I seem to recall that it was because the issue affected me personally. What an interesting point of self examination.

So, Dad has cancer.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A broad brush...

Having followed, albeit distantly, the Ruby Dhalla situation wherein she stands accused of mis-treating nannies who have been brought here from another country, I find that it is really a peripheral issue that has the hair on the back of my neck standing at attention.

CTV's Canada AM ran a 'viewer poll' and were displaying comments about whether people tend to believe the nannies, or Ms. Dhalla. The comments on both sides astounded me. People who favoured the nannies made comments such as "all politicians are liars" or "why would you believe anything a politician says?" and people who favoured Ms. Dhalla made comments about the nannies which were almost racial in nature and are not worthy of repeating here.

At the risk of being guilty of exactly what has raised my ire, I have come to the conclusion that those who are quick to paint an entire group of people with one large unforgiving brush stroke are doing nothing more that shamelessly parading their own ignorance and personal bias.

To those who made comments about the lack of integrity of ALL politicians, I would love to be able to ask: did you vote? Have you ever voted? Don't you care enough to become involved? Do you realize that you actually have the power to make a difference and hold our elected representatives accountable?

To those who made comments about the nannies I would love to find out if they are secret members of the KKK.

As for what I personally believe about this situation: I have faith that the system we have in place whereby Ms. Dhalla has the opportunity to face her accusers will work. There is more to this than meets the eye, and daylight will prohibit the liars from hiding forever. The truth will eventually prevail. It always does.

Karma is magical.....

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day

I'm not sure I 'get' this special day.

Sure, my kids may (or may not) make me a card or buy some flowers today, and I'm not suggesting for a moment that I will be ungrateful for their efforts. But what is more important is the relationship they have with me every day of the year.

Every day of the year Lauren gives me a hug and tells me I'm beautiful and how much she loves me.

Every day of the year Matthew jumps up from whatever he is doing around the house as soon as I come in the basement door and runs to me to give me a big hug and says "Hi mom, how's your day going - do you need me to help you carry anything in from your car?"

Every day of the year Andrew thanks me for something or other: "Thanks mom, you're the best".

How fortunate I am - every day of the year.

So, everyone else is welcome to enjoy this hallmark holiday. Quite fortunately, its just another day for this luckiest mom on the planet.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Karine Blais

The ramp ceremony in Afghanistan took place for Trooper Karine Blais earlier today. She is the 117th member of the Canadian Military to die since Canada's mission began in 2002.

Ironically, on Canada AM this morning the piece directly preceding this story dealt with assisted suicide and I couldn't help but draw a parallel. Our soldiers are meant to be peacekeepers, yet they are forced to assume a combat role. Our own government contradicts itself by saying out of one side of its mouth that we will not leave until the Taliban is defeated and from the other side it whispers "the Taliban can never be defeated". So, as crass as it may seem, I can't help but compare the Government of Canada with the the physicians who assist in suicide. We are sending young men and women to their deaths.

Funny, I don't get emotional about a lot of things, but as I sat in my bedroom watching the ramp ceremony on TV while my peripheral vision caugh a glimpse of the Canadian flag in my back yard flying at half staff, I cried. I don't know anything about young Karine Blais except that at 21 years of age she has not even had a chance to live half the life I've lived. No great love, no children, no future.

I can't think of anywhere else on the planet I would rather live, and I am eternally grateful that I am a citizen by birth of what I believe is one of the greatest countries on the planet. But as more and more of our troops are killed fighting instead of peacekeeping, in a war with no parameters, unattainable goals, and no end in sight, my pride in being Canadian is feeling just a little bruised today.

Our government needs to do more than issue eloquently worded statements of condolence. Leadership? No, I wouldn't call it that.

Rest in peace Trooper Blais.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Evolotion of a career

I wonder what I really want to be when I grow up.

My real estate career is quite successful. My partner Tracey makes it worthwhile to go to work every day. But increasingly this is becoming a way to pay the bills and I find myself searching elsewhere for gratification, for lack of a better word at 4:22 in the morning.

I find that I have the urge to write. With no formal training, I realize that this is not yet a way to pay the bills (and according to many people with whom I've spoken it may never be). And so it goes.... another chapter in my career unfolds in the same manner as everything else I've accomplished: by the seat of my pants! Mix 2 parts B.S. with a little confidence in myself and I'm working hard to build a portfolio - albeit a limited one for starters.

After 3 issues of BBT Voice I had to move on because I couldn't stand the fact that the Board did not view me as a true editor, and tried to take control by censoring my ideas in favour of some not clearly identified or properly articulated sense of "political correctness". I may be new but I still have integrity when it comes to my writing. So as much as I will miss working on this project, it is amazing how when one is sending out the right signals, other opportunities present themselves. Last night I had a conversation with my new friend Chuck MacLeod of Snap South Simcoe and while his inaugural issue was a great success, he just needs a little help with some editorial content. Its a big job to handle sales and covering all the events. How opportune. I'm already starting work on my first assignment.

So I wonder... will I ever be able to make a career of this? And if I do, would I be willing to give up real estate? Hmmmmm....