Friday, September 26, 2014

500 Words day 17 – LaLaLaLaLa...So not my fault

Into every life a little bit of fault must fall. If you are a mother of any child over the age of 10 you are most likely at fault for more than your fair share of life. There seems to be this span of time between children gaining increased independence and them signing your nursing home admission papers where everything that can go wrong lands squarely on your shoulders—fairly or not. I’ve had a Friday full of it already and it’s not even 9am. I’ve been smiling politely since 7, hugging my coffee like a security blanket and trying desperately to keep my patience and a calm demeanour. 

In my mind there is little to be gained by an early morning throw-down with teenagers. 98% of their ranting and finger pointing has nothing to do with you anyway, you are just a tool; a simple familiar, comfortable, secure place to unleash a frustrating life. All the same it’s difficult to take the stance of patient listener with a filter for tuning in only what really needs your response when every fibre of your being wants desperately to launch into ‘defend and discipline’ mode.

I managed this morning, channelling by some divine miracle the patience of a lobotomized Chuck-e-Cheese party host. 

Having said this, everyone has left for the day and I have a few things to get off my chest:

  1. When you sleep through your alarm and my “hey are you up?” nudging, miss your window for showering and have to wear your hair in a ponytail, this is not my fault. Get used to getting up. I will not be driving to your house when you are thirty to make sure you are up for work. I also will not be texting, calling or sending your father.
  2. If you forget that I do not work on Fridays and will not be getting dressed until noon and that you will have to plan enough time into your morning for alternate transportation (aka the bus) this is not my fault. You can remember every word to every Ed Sheeran song ever recorded, you aren’t fooling me. Enjoy detention.
  3. When you arrive at the arena missing a neck guard and one sock you better find a way to MacGyver that extra jock and a roll of hockey-tape to fill the need because I am not driving back home to save your butt. Not when it sat on the couch for 90 minutes while I repeatedly asked that you double check your equipment. You, on the bench half-dressed—not my fault.
  4. If you are old enough to drive and you are out of clean underwear, this is not my fault. Like any good mother I’ve provided ample instruction on the use of the washer and dryer. Turn them inside out sweetheart.
  5. If your travel mug smells like arse because you left it on the counter and the dishwashing fairies didn’t get around to you last night, this is not my fault; all the heavy sighing in the world will not convince me otherwise. Maybe you can ask the bus driver to stop at Tim Hortons for you. You’re going to be late anyway.
  6. At eleven PM on Sunday night when you realize that you forgot to refill your birth control prescription, this is not my fault.
The dog peeing on your backpack, internet disruptions, lost bank cards, screwed up work schedules, buses that don’t run when you want them to, dumb boyfriends, math homework, book reports, foundations that don’t match your neck, lost power cords, flakey friends, cancelled plans, colds, rain, online shopping orders that don’t arrive, pimples—Not my fault, not my fault, not my fault! None of these things are my fault. I’m happy to bite my tongue and quietly endure you ranting though the process of solving your own problems but let’s be clear; none of these things are my fault. I love you and for that reason (with the exception of item #6) I am not going to rescue you from the things that clearly are your own fault.

Suck it up, sort it out and let me drink my coffee in peace!

That felt great! Happy Friday.



Wednesday, September 24, 2014

500 Words - Day # I lost Count – Throwing Out of the Cold onto the Fire

I had this cute little 500 word blip all ready to go today. A piece of lightness surrounding the kamikaze nut hunters flinging themselves relentlessly into the path of death and slowing my morning commute. Black, grey and red squirrelly little buggers out in droves trying desperately to stuff their pantries with food for winter. Every morning I’m forced to a near screeching halt at least once to avoid the - back and forth, back and forth… go left, go right, wait for it……wait for it…! No not now, not NOW….go back! Go BACK! GO BACK! Which way is back? - Game of chicken that lunges out of the right shoulder and tugs at my human instinct to preserve life. These random encounters rarely attack me from the left which is odd and leads me to believe they are far less ‘random’ then the rodent populous wants us to believe.

Where was I going?

…The cute little piece about the cute little rodents da da da….so on and so forth. Like I was saying, it was going to be a cute little collection of words. Then I read D’Amato’s opinion piece in today’s Record about our local churches closing their doors to the Out of the Cold Program. One by one; facing the surmounting challenges of increased client participation, increasing mental health and substance addiction issues, decreasing legions in their armies of human kindness; many churches don’t have a choice. While I believe that the church in the very foundation of its’ doctrine has some moral obligation to perform the services of human kindness many homeless people in our city have come to rely upon, it is not difficult to see that physically, they simply can’t do it. Without people, without resources, without the proper training how can they?

I suspect that they have for a great number of years been pulling it off in a ‘silk purse from a sow’s ear’ fashion. Quietly, doing the best they can with the skills, resources and manpower they have had. I am sure too that the decision to close church shelters is as devastating for the volunteers as it is for the clients they service. The choice by Church officials could not have been taken lightly, made without contemplation or regret.  But I also believe that they’ve done the right thing, made the right decision. They have done what a Church should do and have acted in the best interest of the people they serve.

In this case, the homeless.

In many ways these shelter providing churches have been enabling the bureaucracy of homelessness. Taking care of the problem so it never really reveals its’ full magnitude to the public. They’ve been shouldering the burden for everyone. Mainly the local government who consciously or not has come to appreciate that caring for the homeless, or better yet preventing homelessness, is not a front burner issue for them, not while someone else is willingly stepping up to the plate. The results are proving themselves; mental illness and substance abuse that leads individuals to the street, poverty that leads individuals to the street, those issues haven’t been getting the attention from the bodies with the resources and the purse strings that they should; consequently the instances are growing exponentially. No problem—no worry—no programs—more problems.

By quitting, the Churches have just ripped off the Band-Aid and exposed the issue, the reality of it, the enormity of it and the inhumanity of it. It’s out there on public display. Closing the shelters has said “Here is the real magnitude of the problem, we need help. Help at the source, help to end homelessness not just care for it, help from the string pullers and decision makers.” They’ve said, “This is everyone’s problem—now what are we going to do about it?”

The timing is harsh, but I don’t think it could be timed with greater impact. The cold weather is approaching. And I agree with D’Amato on that point, we can’t let people freeze. Clearly we aren’t alone in our thinking that even one day a week is unacceptable to be out in the cold, let alone four. The government and agencies know it too. Otherwise everyone wouldn’t be scrambling for a solution, trying desperately like our squirrel population to get it together before the mercury falls. Right now there is the bureaucratic collection of data, focus groups, discussion, planning, and finger pointing. - back and forth, back and forth… go left, go right, wait for it……wait for it…! No not now, not NOW….go back! Go BACK! GO BACK! Which way is back? Everyone has a opinion and a solution, some people even have the means to effectively implement a plan but eventually the cold is going to come and when it does the problem will be people. People who need help and care and a warm place to spend the night. It won’t be an ‘issue’ anymore it will be a matter of humanity.

When bureaucracy yields to humanity eleventh hour solutions emerge; even if they are transitory and unsustainable long term—one will emerge this time as well. People will help people; it’s what we do.

And there is the concern. There are temporary solutions to every problem. You can stick a bucket under a leaky drain and that will work for a while to keep a puddle off the floor but eventually you have to fix the leak.

I feel the fear and the senselessness of the situation but I don’t think the Churches are out of line, I think they are far from abandoning the fundamentals of their religion or turning their backs on the needy. I think they have done the right thing. I applaud them for making a giant stand at solving a tremendous problem. I love that D’Amato asks (and I paraphrase) “what would Jesus do?”  If the ultimate solution to caring for homelessness is to find an end to homelessness, these Churches have done exactly what I believe Jesus would do; they’ve taken away the bucket and called a plumber.

1030 words plus....maybe I should avoid opinion columns.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

500 Words Day 6 - MyFitnessPal Understands Me

I’m not a fanatic about my waistline. I like to eat healthy, stay active and load up on good whole foods but I’m not a ‘dieter’—as a rule I don’t watch the scale or count calories. It’s a rule I break only a couple of times a year when I know I’ve been overindulgent and when I can feel my clothes hugging me with a little more affection than I appreciate. September is a guaranteed month of nutritional monitoring. Usually I have myself feeling like normal again by December, just in time for the holiday overload. Then I begin again in January.

Right now I’m monitoring, and I like a little help, some way to hold myself accountable. Fortunately I don’t have to have one of those little grocery story Calorie Counter Books or a journal or math degree to figure out how well I’m staying the course, there are so many great websites and apps to help these days.

My personal fav – It’s so easy, accessible everywhere and realistic. For example today I had raw cookie dough for lunch; it was on there.  I clicked the button to add it to my food list for the day. No judgy judgy red flags popped up, no warnings flashed that I was sabotaging my efforts, nobody asked why I decided cookie dough was acceptable. Nope the app just added the calories, tallied the carbs, figured out how far I had exceeded my sugar quota and it was over. I don’t have an appointment with a dietary counsellor next week to discuss my food issues. I just got to eat the dough and move on.

Right now I feel pretty good, better than I did a couple of hours ago while I was at work. In another 30 minutes I’m going to feel like crap because chocolate chip cookie dough (the good stuff) is not gluten free but I’m okay with the belly ache I’m in for. I’m hoping it will give me something else to think about besides the reason I’m home baking cookies on a Thursday afternoon in the first place.

I quit my job today. Okay, technically everyone is expecting me back Monday morning, so it’s not permanent; just desperately required for my own mental health. One of the least glamorous aspects of working in finance and insurance is that people die. Eight of them on my client list in the last eight days. Not all of those people were old, not all of them were sick, not all of the family members I met or spoke with were expecting the end any time soon. Ordinarily I pride myself on being a supportive and calming presence to those in crisis; I try to go the extra mile to make the process as painless as is possible under devastating circumstances. I feel good when someone says I made them feel at ease and cared for. But today, today I hit the wall. Too many in too many days, too much sadness, too many lives that shouldn’t be gone. I just needed to be somewhere where everything is right with the world, where people aren’t hurting and heartbroken.

So I quit, just for today.

I needed to be somewhere other than my office; somewhere where cookies can make everything right in the world. Raw or cooked, it doesn’t matter; the calories are the same.

And I love MyFitnessPal for understanding my shame.

Do me a big favour this one another like you mean it. 


Monday, September 15, 2014

500 Words - Day 5 - Shut-Up Already

Ordinarily when I talk about the power of silence I am usually referring to the quiet of meditation and the silence of inner peace. I’m talking about quieting your mind and giving yourself permission to examine your problems and listen for the creative solutions that reside within. I’m usually talking about being quiet so that we can contemplate and appreciate the many blessings in our lives, allowing ourselves the reverent time to appreciate how they enrich us; to gaze inwardly and allow ourselves the opportunity to be in awe.

There is however another type of silence that is vitally important to our own wellbeing, our relationships, our success and our happiness; the silence of shutting up.

I’m sorry was that rude?

Shall I rephrase that?—the silence of ‘say nothing’.  I like to say the silence of shutting up because when I fail that’s what I hear “shut-up.” Not in a mean hurtful tone, not in a strong voice or volume, usually it’s a long drawn out “ssshuuuuuut uuuup” followed by a frozen stare (cue visual of Bert over the tipping point with Ernie). Usually it’s one of my kids staring, usually I get the point. Usually it’s a really good reminder that I’m hindering their process, getting in the way of their ability to be ‘inside’ examining their problems and listening to their own soul for creative solutions.

We do this as parents, or at least I do as a mom. We are the perfect tool for our children! We have wisdom of age, tried a tested solutions, we can see consequences a mile away and know exactly the right page to reference in the ‘Been There, Done That’ field guide to predict the best course of action in any given circumstance. And it frustrates us that our children don’t utilize us more. It is agonizing to watch them try and fail, to make wrong choices, to set themselves back or head down a difficult path; especially when our experience could save them so much trouble and heartache. So we talk, we offer advice, we tell them how it is. We try, out of the love, to be helpful and supportive and we drive them crazy.

I am sure that children in fact must feel an awful lot like my husband trying to decide what he wants at the drive thru window while everyone else in the car is trying to give him their order—Crazy.

I was reflecting just yesterday on how grateful I am to have learned the value of ‘shutting-up’, the importance of trusting that my kids have the ability to make their own way in life.  I was reflecting  on the notion that personal failure is okay, that children have answers and that they will feel more confident in their decisions, solutions and efforts if they come to them from their own silence and reflection.

From my quiet little spot on the curb behind a hockey arena yesterday I reflected upon the knowledge that the only words my kids ever really need from me are “I’m here” and that my ears are of far greater value than my words.

There staring at an empty parking lot, listening to highway traffic whizzing by just beyond a thicket of brush, there with my legs crossed and the building to my back I felt a deep sense of gratitude that my son has the courage to tell me to “ssshuuuuuut uuuup.”

Because sometimes I forget.  

I forget that being silent can stop an argument before it starts, it can express disappointment, it says “I’m listening”. Silence lets someone follow their own thoughts, reveal their own opinions; it allows space for problem solving and preparation. Silence is a place for compassion, remorse and delight to emerge naturally. Silence, well placed and shared can express more pride, more joy, and more sorrow than a thousand well phrased words.

It was nice to be reminded. 

Shut-up and let your kids surprise you. I guarantee they will. 

...and when I went back inside I was just in time to see what Ethan did with the silence I gave him. and he did  in fact surprise us all.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

500 Words - Day 4 - Desperately Seeking a Decent Friday Night

Desperation breeds attempt. It makes people do things they usually avoid, it unearths latent talent, gets us off the couch, makes us find jobs and research health improvements. Desperation turns us into learners and seekers. Desperation is responsible for the achievement of more than a few of the world’s impossible dreams. Desperation is fuel.

Desperation has turned me into a mad scientist. Think Back to the Future, Emmett Brown ‘crazy mad’ not Jekyll and Hyde ‘stark raving mad’ mad. Catch me on the right day I even have the hair and smell like burning circuts. I’m trying to make pizza.

I’ve got the toppings just right, the cheese, the cured sausage, vegetables, sauce, spices, the ‘just the right amount of garlic’ creamy dipping sauce for the crispy on the outside chewy in the middle crust. It’s all perfect—except that crust, the most important aspect of the pizza, the part that makes great pizza great and average pizza a disappointing expenditure of calories.

The crust I can’t get. Not anymore, not since I had to remove wheat from my diet almost two years ago. Everyone else gets the same perfected homemade crust they’ve always enjoyed, puffy and delicate, golden brown with a perfectly chewy crust, dusted with corn meal and smelling like Weston’s Bread factory on a Tuesday morning. It’s the only thing I truly, truly miss and crave and weep over.

I’ve successfully managed to simply eliminate wheat bearing foods; I eat bun-less burgers, salads instead of sandwiches and eggs sans toast. I’ve managed to find some great alternatives like rice pasta and the not horrible PC Gluten Free burger bun. I’ve learned that some products are not worth their expense, their sugar content or their dry sponge texture and flavour.

I can live with it; have been living with it and much happier for the wellness that has come along with the dietary restriction. I like being well, love it actually. Only one thing ever makes me want to slip and suffer—Pizza.

It has been easily determined that store bought GF crusts suck, that the GF offerings of most pizza joints are frozen version of the same. Cauliflower crust is a tasty alternative but doesn’t live up to the real deal; every bite a sad desperate reminder that it’s not really pizza.

I could just give-up, it would be less disappointing but I just can’t endure the thought of all of those Friday nights to come; pizza-less with nothing but the chicken wings and accompanying glass of red wine to fill the void. That’s a tall order even for the best bottle of merlot! I’m certifiably desperate.

So I broke down, got off my butt, started researching, started testing, started collecting alternative flours and recipes, started learning the ins and outs of baking Gluten Free. I’ve started practicing with pancakes and banana bread, and tortilla wraps and nann bread. My hair smokes and the dog hides under the bed but there have been some great experimental successes! – pancakes in particular. And there have been some definite failures—Pizza in particular. It’s good, but not perfect…not yet—but it will be. I’m getting closer with every attempt.

There will be pizza! and many many happy Friday nights for me in the future. Victory is not an option for the truly desperate. 


Thursday, September 11, 2014

500 Words -Day 3 – Be a Responsible Grown Up Day

It’s Be a Responsible Grown-up Day at our house. Not for everyone, just for the actual grown-ups who pretend somewhat convincingly to be responsible on a semi-regular basis. And by this I mean just the people who pay the bills, fill the tummies, walk the dog and put the toilet paper on the roll.

Mike and I are trekking downtown to the lawyer’s office to sign updates to our Wills and Powers of Attorney, that sort of thing. There are many more then 500 words involved and while I can read 98.7% of them I only admit to comprehending the necessity of 1/3. My secret belief is that long ago some fancy pants directed that every sentence in the legal world contain a four to one preposition ratio and at least one set of parenthesis to maintain the Water-buffalo-esk secrecy of the bar. Fast forward a few hundred years and a hand scratched “I leave everything to Bo-bo” on a Sony’s Drive-In napkin is almost useful enough for a judge to polish his gavel with—A job security planning win.  If you want your words to stick you have to head to the office tower and get the prepositions and parenthesis put in.

So off we go.

I mentioned in passing to Rebecca that we would be late arriving home today because we had a lawyer’s appointment. After the “I’m an adult now” round of questions: “Do I need a lawyer Mom? When can I get a lawyer Mom? What about insurance, can I get that?”  We got to the “Why do you need a Lawyer, Mom?” question.  I explained we were updating our Wills. The abrupt response was “You don’t need a Will.”

I immediately understood for the first time in 19 years that my children think I’m going to live forever, that their Dad is going to live forever, that there will always be someone changing the toilet paper.

I laughed, trying to alleviate some of her rudimentary horror… “I hope you’re right!” Then I carefully explained that having a Will drafted isn’t a superstitious letter of resignation. It doesn’t send a bat-signal into the Universe alerting the Fates that you’re ready to leave. You aren’t going to die because you have a Will but life could be pretty messy for everyone left behind when the time arrives. I let her in on a little secret “I’m going to die, you are going to die, every person alive faces the same fate. It is the one thing we all have in common.  It is the downside of being born.”  …and you don’t want some Bo-bo to get everything when it happens. 


My mother’s voice whispered in the back of my head, “You talk too much.”  This one time, I thought, she might be right.

Children (even the ‘I’m an adult now’ kind) understand two things; One—they are never going to die, even if you say so, and Two—as long as they are alive somebody has to fill the refrigerator. The fear then is not ‘my parents are going die.’ The fear is ‘what’s going to happen to me?’

So I carefully switched tactics “I don’t need a Will because I’m going to die.” I explained, “I need a Will so that when I do; somebody will pay the bills, fill the fridge, and stock the house with toilet paper.”


That’s it—Okay? The entire fear of my death alleviated with the promise of uninterrupted internet, cheese stings and a lifetime supply of Charmin?

I better write my own eulogy.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

500 Words Day 2 - The Religious Green Pepper Rant

In 500 words today I want to talk about the sweet little black lady I saw at the grocery store on Friday. In ordinary circumstances whether she was black or white of rainbow striped wouldn’t matter to me, It doesn’t really in this circumstance either except the she herself made her ‘colour’ integral to the story and exposed something more intently disturbing to me than racial bias.

We were sharing space around the ‘big deal’ bins just inside the front entrance of the grocery. The ones you bash your cart into because there isn’t enough space to steer directly into the produce department. I was choosily scouring for perfect peppers (three bumps for eating, four bumps for cooking). Across from me the sweet little black lady was talking to a young couple (of like complexion) about her fabulous church. They, (and I because I love listening to people talk about things they love) listened intently as she extoled the virtues of her congregation and their pastor. She talked excitedly about their celebrations of faith, church picnics, and ladies lunches. I listened while she encouraged them to join her on Sunday. I eavesdropped as she explained that they may have to ask someone to find her because she was most often in the back busy working at some project or another for after service fellowship, but that everyone knew who she was and where she could be found. The sweet little black lady explained that her church was warm and welcoming like that and that they would feel right at home.

Then the sweet little black lady lowered her tone just barely above a whisper, donned her very best Christian voice and proceed to explain to her young prospects that the congregation ‘unfortunately’ was mixed, with the substantially pale contingent or ‘whites’ accounting for about half of the worshipers. “It’s not ideal of course.” She explained “but everyone is nice.” I didn’t drop my peppers but I truly wanted to chuck one at her head, and then at the heads of her audience who didn’t say “that doesn’t matter to us” who didn’t say “It sounds like a very welcoming place.” Who didn’t sideways glance at one another and bulge out their eyes in a “Can you believe she just said that?” fashion. No, they just all stood their discreetly nodding in unison their Christian acceptance of misfortune.

And I thought—This is what is fundamentally wrong with Christianity, they allow people to work in the back who in their heart fail to practice the very principles, doctrines and commandments that are being preached from the pulpit. And yes, I know that this is not a flaw specific to Christian ‘faithful’; perhaps I should have reworded my former statement to read ‘This is what is fundamentally wrong with religion.’ Because without a doubt and every single day we run into people who lower their outside voice to reveal their true nature, to contradict themselves, expose their 6 day a week selves to others who they confidently believe clearly hold the same core beliefs. What you can say about ‘Sunday Christians’ (as my cousin cleverly calls people who live differently Monday through Saturday then they practice in the pew) can just as easily be said about Saturday Jews, Ramadan Muslims, Watchtower Jehovah’s and virtually every other organized society of subscribed belief.

It makes me a little bit insane that we hold one another up, judge and condemn based on teachings and fail so miserably to live to the same standards. It is the reason I refuse to subscribe, to attach myself, label myself and belong to any one specific religious practice. I can’t find one where flockers are the same on the outside as they are in the middle. I can’t find one where what you believe is what you get and where it’s okay to be the same person in the grocery store that you are in the choir.

I can’t do it.

I want to worship in a place where people love people because that’s what they say they will do, where honesty is important all the time not just when it fits with the deal on the table. I want to worship in a place where it matters more how you behave everyday than how well you can recite the rules or beg for the forgiveness. I want to celebrate my blessings with people who I know are the same in their Sabbath suits as they are in their bathing suits. I want to worship in a place where we preach what we practice.

So until my kids choose their own religion and beliefs, they worship with us at the dining room table; over bowls of mashed potatoes and plates of green pepper, where we celebrate the many ways we are blessed, sing the praises of one another’s good acts, encourage one another to live happily and pray for the courage to always be the same on the outside as we are in the middle.

I screw-up sufficiently in our practice but it feels like the rightist approach for me. With a little luck if I’ve got it wrong Hell has Merlot.   


I think I broke the pump handle and over-shot the 500 target by about 360 words. Must have needed them to put out a fire. 

No peppers were actually hurled during the writing of this post.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Priming the Pump

We went on vacation this year. It was heaven! Ten days of resting in the bosom of Mother Nature; sipping spritzy drinks on the water, beside the water, and on more than one occasion in the water.  We played games, enjoyed one another’s company, ate great food and soaked up every single ray of sunshine from the single week that was summer 2014. I came back to work toasted golden! I feel a little like the potato chip in the bag that stayed in the fryer too long. Not many people picked the right week for holidays it seems. I’ve been spending a lot of time in my office, door closed, avoiding green-eyed pale people.

It’s sad that summer is over, that vacation is over. I love those days far removed from snow squalls and filled with social gatherings and late-night sunsets. I wish they could go on forever without, of course, the ramifications of kids never returning to school and my waistline never recovering from picnics and bbq’s and the latest fruity concoction of the LCBO.

On the flip-side I secretly love how the first week of September quietly reveals our desperate need for routine. The kids go back to school, dinners get eaten before 9pm, I realize that my hair and skin tone are competing with one another for a beach chair in Miami. Rather than contemplate what kind of dog I should get for my beach bag, September inspires me to opt for a corrective colour.  September is a blessing! Some routines transition back seamlessly. Those first cool weather crockpot stews, the invasion of hoodies and jackets upon the backdoor coat hooks, Thursday evening gatherings in the living room for season premieres—these things happen so naturally.  Other things require a gentle shove to get them going again; making lunches at night instead of franticly between showers and dressing in the morning, keeping bus tickets stocked and remembering how much time a teenager needs in front of the mirror—these things take a little more effort. For the record I am surprised by the amount of time the male child needs.

Something else that requires a little priming is my pen. It happens each year, my creative process needs a vacation, a time to rest, recharge and reset and I find myself traipsing barefoot, wordlessly though the warm summer days. It’s not unwelcome, this time to refill the creative well with face-time and memory making, the touching, smelling, giggling, crying, take your breath encounters with family and friends and strangers destined to join the ranks. I submerge myself completely. I don’t write a word! Not here, not in my private journals, not in my poetry files or short stories—nothing. Wordless and barefoot and by September feeling just a little out of step, as though I’ve stayed a few days too long on vacation.

Time to prime the pump! So, I’ve promised myself 500 words a day for the next 30 days. That should do it.

Some of those words are bound to land here and I certainly expect them to be a little mucky, the first few buckets drawn from the well always are.  

Happy Back to 'Normal' :) one 535+ words! did any of them make sense?