Category Archives: Uncategorized

Bugs, Beds and Bags – Oh My!

“They were everywhere! In our beds, our bedding, our clothing….even in the furniture. After months of fighting the little bastards, we finally gave up – abandoned everything and moved away”.

THIS is the conversation that I replay in my mind every, single time I open the door to a hotel room. It is the horror story told by a friend who traveled overseas and brought home a suitcase inhabited by bed bugs.

It doesn’t matter if I am staying in a 5 star hotel with dedicated Butler service – the same scenario plays itself out during my stay. Kind of takes the fun out of travel.

Bed Bugs! The thought of a female bed bug, belly filled with eggs, hitching a ride on my clothing or suitcase and setting up shop in my own home is terrifying.

I am Canadian and we are, for the most part, generally very welcoming to immigrants. I am not welcoming to pregnant, single mothers who climb into my suitcase with the intention of crossing the border and making their home in MY home.

I cross the threshold into my hotel room and look for the luggage rack for my suitcase. I usually set the rack in the bathroom and place my luggage, elevated, in that wee room for the duration of my stay. My rationale for using the bathroom as my temporary closet is that there is no carpet in that room, therefore it was less likely that an errant bug would find its way into my suitcase. If I found that the bathroom was carpeted? I would run out screaming.

Strangely, there were no luggage racks in my hotel room, so my suitcase is placed directly on the tile floor of the bathroom. It is a small powder room and the large suitcase now becomes a tripping hazard but hey…..sacrifices are sometimes necessary for the greater good.

I mused aloud, “Should I leave a note for the cleaning staff? They are going to wonder why my suitcase is in on the bathroom floor”.

Nah…..they have no doubt seen plenty of crazy and my eccentricity will barely register The suitcase will stay on the floor and no note will be necessary.

I immediately grab my magnifying glass and strong LED light and use them to inspect the mattress – checking for black specks. Whew! There are no black specks to be seen and I exhale with relief.

I still need to take precautions because those stealthy little bastards could be anywhere. I have brought plastic bags from home for my soiled laundry but am kicking myself for not investing in the ones with a seal. What good is a plastic bag if the tiny, blood-sucking fuckers can crawl out?

I remind myself that I haven’t seen any evidence of bed bugs so anything that I do from this point forward is unnecessarily prophylactic – basically overkill. The lack of sealed plastic bags is not a deal breaker…..carry on.

I spend the next three days ensuring that I do not mix clean and dirty – that I do not throw anything onto the bed or the couch, increasing my chances of contamination.

This exercise seemed to be so logical while I was at the hotel, but as I write about it I realize that I am a wee bit bat-shit crazy. Who does this? Who is so paranoid about bed bugs that they basically operate a Hazmat operation out of their hotel room?

I arrive home, satisfied that I have taken every precaution to avert bed bug disaster. As I enter my own home, my suitcase is left on the outside deck in the cold in the hopes that any cling-ons will die of hypothermia.

I remove my clothing on the spot and take both it AND my bagged, soiled clothing  from my suitcase and immediately toss into the washing machine on hot. I have a feeling that my sweater won’t survive the high heat, but there are sacrifices needed for the greater good and honestly it was from Old Navy so….not that expensive. I then hop into the shower, physically washing away all evidence of travel, psychologically ridding myself of the invisible bugs.

I walk into the living room in my robe, my wet hair tied up on a towel, and only now am I able to sit and chat with my husband about my trip.

“Hey sweetie…..the Erma conference was a blast!”

 

The Hands of Time….

Do you ever look at your hands and think, “Did I do hard time at a prison picking rocks?”

I caught a glimpse of my hands while taking a selfie in front of a mirror. I normally don’t pay much attention to my hands but when I saw them reflected back to me in the mirror……my pudgy, tiny, wrinkly hands dwarfed by the huge Samsung phone, I thought, “Damn girl!!!! Your hands are Ugggggly!”

The selfie I was taking was to document my journey to brighter, whiter teeth. I had purchased a teeth-whitening kit and was excited about my new smile in “one to two weeks of using the product as recommended”.

My brain said, “Guuuurrrrl, your teeth ain’t the issue here….your ugly ass hands are!”

I shouldn’t be surprised at my revelation. I have been taking my hands for granted all my life. When I was barely out of the womb, I began chewing my fingernails. No…..I didn’t just nibble my nails, I gorged upon them as if they were a food group. As a child I would sit in front of the television, twirling my little baton in my right hand and have my entire left hand in my mouth, ravaging my fingernails. People would say, “Do you know how many germs are on your hands and fingernails?” and I would respond by biting the corner of my cuticle, pulling it off and chewing it – I sounded like one of the zombies in the walking dead as I feasted on my flesh.

Disgusting…..right?

My fingernails bled, my cuticles bled, and my nail beds began to shrink down in size.

That’s when I realized that I was bendy enough to pick at my toenails: ten extra digits in my buffet of nails. I couldn’t chew them, but I could pick at them until I had a corner free and peel it back. Sometimes it didn’t let go willingly, sometimes I would have to tug and twist until the crescent of toenail finally let go. I am certain that if it had a voice it would be saying, “Noooooooooooooooo!”.

There was no toenail that was exempt from this picking practice. In fact, my baby toe no longer even grows a nail which weird’s the heck out of the technicians at pedicure salons. They gently lift my foot out of the warm, soapy water and towel dry it in preparation for the pedicure and then begin to examine my toes. The last time I was at a salon getting a pedicure, the technician didn’t speak English so I had to imagine what she was saying to her counterpart as she examined my toes. There was the shocked look, followed by the worried look and then she would look at me as if to say, “WTF?”. I would shrug my shoulders, no longer embarrassed about my feet and continue to flip through the magazine I had in my lap. Then she would call over her boss and they would have a conversation about my toes in a language that I could not understand; the conversation punctuated by laughter and pointing. Finally she would say to me, “Nail polish today?” worried that she would have to paint the empty nail bed of my baby toe. Not unlike the scene from the famous Anjelah Johnson ‘Nail Salon’ comedy performance, only my technician didn’t ask me if I wanted “Crystal Gel”. Remember the dude from Silence of the Lambs who made a coat out of human skin? I wonder if he could recreate fingernails?

I would respond with, “No….no nail polish needed…..because obviously” and she would visibly relax saying “I will give you an extra massage because you don’t need polish”. Then she would begin carving and scraping my heels, followed by dousing them in some acid that would magically remove my calluses. The massage was followed by the warm wax and I would leave the salon ¼ inch shorter.

But I digress……we were talking about my gnarly, nasty hands that are reminiscent of a old prisoner who picked rocks every day.

My father would try desperately to entice me to quit chewing my fingernails. He would vacillate between, “I wish you would quit biting your fingernails” to, “Judy! It’s a dirty, filthy habit!”. He offered me large sums of money to quit chewing my nails and when that didn’t work, he conspired with my Uncle. They created a slurry out of grass and clay and told me it was “chicken shit” and dunked my hands into it hoping that it would keep me from chewing my nails. I remember clearly when I defiantly plunged my hand into the mixture and then went to the bathroom to scrub them clean. I would not be ‘scared straight’ by anything! (Also…I knew deep down that it wasn’t chicken shit).

I continued to chew and pick at my nails – finding solace in the mind numbing practice.

Which brings me to today and the fact that my hands are ugly and my fingernails are half the size of the nail bed. My ten digits are my best friends and always there for me when I need to stress chew. Could I give that up? It is a relationship based on supply and demand – one that has worked for 53 years.

If I stopped today, my expectations of the outcome would need to be lowered. I have one fingernail (my favourite one – my ‘treat’ nail) that is so badly damaged that it would probably grow into a bizarre looking like a coke snortingesque talon. The rest of them might come back, but even so, they would be attached to hands that look like they picked rocks for a living.

Regrets…..I have only a few, but my hands are one of them. Is it too late to turn back time? Is it too late in my life to begin caring for my hands (and feet?).

I don’t want to lose all of the memories that are triggered by the sight of my hands. Those same hands cared for babies, changed diapers, made cookies, gestured wildly while telling a story, held the hands of someone dying, wiped the tears from a face, and yes….actually did pick a few rocks.

The skin on my hands is reminiscent of my grandmother’s hands – soft and crepey in that patch of skin between the thumb and the next finger. Sure….the fingers are little nubbin’s but my kids have known nothing else in their lives. The fact that I have very little fingernail has kept me from being asked to remove slivers or peel tape off of a window. The lack of fingernail also makes it impossible to pick up a dime off of a tiled floor. Ying and Yang.

I guess taking the selfie in that mirror prompted an even deeper reflection……

Eileen Kucharuk Sept 25, 1927 – Feb 1, 2018

She stood at the bow of the Aquitania – one of the 43,000 war brides who arrived by ship to Pier 21 in Halifax after World War II. The crossing could not have been easy with the unpredictable Atlantic during the cold month of January 1947. I imagine her standing there, her petite frame struggling to stand against the wind, dressed in her long skirt and jacket, lively red hair tucked neatly under her cap. She would have been excited about the new adventure that waited, but wary of this new world of which she had only heard stories.

Can you imagine leaving your Father and sisters behind as you traveled alone at 19 years of age across the Atlantic? I liken her at that age to a colt that could not be tamed, struggling against the reins of status quo, willing to give everything she knew up for the man she loved.

The Halifax port loomed larger and larger and finally the big ship docked. As she disembarked from the steel giant, she lightly stepped onto the cold Canadian soil with very fashionable, yet impractical footwear – her open toed shoes.

The trip via train from Halifax to Spirit River would have been long and exhausting. I can imagine as she laid her head against the cold glass of the train window, watching the foreign landscape speed by, she would have reflected on her life.

Born in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales September 25th, 1927, Eileen was the youngest of 10 children. Her mother, Elizabeth, passed away when she was only three years old, leaving Eileen in the care of her widowed father and older siblings. This is where her strength began to develop out of necessity; coupled with her red hair and welsh/Irish heritage – Eileen grew strong and resourceful.

I spoke at Jack’s funeral about their first meeting in a restaurant. I wondered if he spied her across the crowded room and noticed her twinkling, laughing eyes and lovely red hair. A petite sprite, with an almost uncontainable zest for life.

There is a quote that I recently read that speaks to her nature and it is, “There’s only one place I want to go and it’s to all the places I’ve never been.” That was Eileen – always looking forward to the next thing, the next step.

When her train arrived in Spirit River, she stepped off the train with those open toed shoes into what would have seemed like a frozen wasteland.

Many of us would have wanted to get back on that train and head home to Britain and the familiarity of family. In fact, many did just that – they turned around and went home.

But no….Eileen was committed to this adventure and although part of her might have been wary, her free spirit would have been enthusiastically embracing it!

After living for a time with a family in Spirit River, Eileen and Jack made their home on the farm. There were no cobblestone streets like London, but there were also no air raid sirens or buildings in rubble. She left that behind for the wide Peace Country skies.

I can’t imagine how both exciting AND challenging this time would have been, coupled with wee Jacqueline being born in November of 1947. As we recall, Eileen lost her own mother 17 years previous, so she had no one to guide her through this emotional and exhausting time of her life.

Both Eileen and Jack worked very hard. The land that had been provided to Jack upon his return from WW2 by the Canadian government was completely tree covered and needed to be broken in order to grow both a crop and a garden. It was a stressful time in their lives as they made both a home for themselves and developed a livelihood.

Life went on and with that came their second child Linda in the warm, summer sun of June of 1953. Their family was growing.

In 1958, the Kucharuk’s moved to the big city of Dawson Creek and settled into the Blue Bird Motel as they searched for more permanent accommodation. This did not mean that they abandoned the farm – no, far from it. They continued to farm the land and every summer were spent there, tending to the crops and garden.

After their short stay at the Blue Bird Motel, they moved into a rental home not far from where they built the existing home in 1961. During that time, they welcomed Bob or “Bobby” as his parents and siblings affectionately referred to him.

Jacquie, Lindy and Bobby – the family was complete.

Eileen flourished in her new home, finally able to tend to a flower garden once again which no doubt reminded her of her beloved England.

While Jack worked away from home, Eileen immersed herself in the goings on of the community. In fact, from 1957 onward, Eileen worked for Elections Canada in various positions of authority. In her time with Elections Canada she was a part of every Prime Minister elected from John Diefenbaker to Justin Trudeau. From the 18th Prime Minister of Canada to the 29th Prime Minister – Eileen was a part of the process.

Her unwavering community service and her intense desire to continually improve herself was known by those who knew her well. Perhaps it was because she was a proud immigrant to Canada or perhaps it was because she needed constant change and personal fulfillment – whatever the case, the list of organizations that she contributed to is endless.

Two projects that I recall clearly were the fundraising campaign for the DC Hospital CT Scanner and the paving of the road in front of their home. While different in scope, both were projects where Eileen could leverage her negotiating skills.

Have you ever negotiated with Eileen? Well…..let’s just say that she came out on top most of the time. As publicity manager for the CT campaign, Eileen cajoled Jack into participating as well, which was no small feat! When she became determined that she was “no longer going to live with a dirt road in front of her home!”, she petitioned her neighbours and led the charge for fresh asphalt – that red haired English rose was in full bloom!

We say that it was because she was a Libran that Eileen was devoted to fairness and equality for her fellow human beings. She would stanchly defend the underdog and speak up for those who could not or would not speak up for themselves. As someone surrounded by Librans, I do believe that it is true. I am looking at you Bob, Michele, Amy, and Jessie.

Eileen was a career woman – she worked for many years at the Hudson’s Bay as well as she was a ticket agent for Pacific Western or PWA. Airline work seems to run in the family with Jacqueline, Linda, Brian and myself all working for airlines.

Working at the airport no doubt fed her desire to travel and both she and Jack did a lot of traveling over the years: They went overseas, stuck their toes in the sand of Hawaii and Mexico and traveled to Eastern Canada. I see that same desire in her children and her grandchildren as they travel frequently to all corners of the world.

We all agree that without the passion of Eileen and her incredible desire to better herself and her surroundings that Jack might have been content to stay home and tend his garden. She pushed him gently (and sometimes not so gently) out of his comfort zone and the reluctance he felt most often gave way to pure enjoyment once he arrived at his destination.

Food was a big part of Eileen’s life – not only was she a great cook, but she loved great food! She had an incredible palette and could pin point even the most minor of gastronomic errors. One time while camping, I was making her some hot chocolate before bed. I was tired and therefore I microwaved the water and mixed in the coco. Handing it to her she took a sip and made a wee face.

She then asked, “Did you boil the water?” and I was caught red handed! So I lied and said, “Of course I boiled the water…..just the way you like it”.

Jacqueline’s discovered a love of cooking from her mother and her ability to make satisfying, nutritious comfort food. Linda’s love of fruitcake and subsequent recipe tweaking was a result of being introduced to the heavy, fruity dessert by Eileen. Linda went on to make up her own recipe, complete with ‘raisins that make me feel funny mummy’ – as poor Brian was sneaking rum soaked raisins from the kitchen.

Bob shares Eileen’s red hair and her temperament and has the same fierce sense of fairness. He too fights for the underdog.

After Jack’s passing 6 years ago, Eileen could have given up…..but she didn’t. Her incredible strength allowed her to rebuild her life as her own person and she blossomed. Her companion and dear friend John was someone who helped her thrive and live her final years so fulfilled. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you John.

Last night as we visited with Pastor Cory, he said something that really struck home. He spoke about living a life with passion instead of perfection. That is exactly what Mom, Eileen, Grandma, Grandma K and Great Grandma did in her 90 years – she lived her life with a passion for life and a wicked sense of humour. A life of perfection would have been boring – can’t we all agree?

Eileen passed away in her own home, with her children at her side in the wee hours of February 1st. She leaves behind her children Jacqueline and husband Lorne, Linda, Bob and his wife Judy. Grandchildren Deris, Michele and her husband Greg, Brian and his wife Krista, Jennifer and husband Bob, Amy and husband Ian, Matthew and wife Samantha. Greatgrandhildren Charlie, Carter & Bennet, Dylan and Isla.

Eileen is predeceased by her husband Jack and her 8 sisters and one brother.

The family would like to thank each and every one of you who touched Eileen’s life and for coming here to support us today. Thank you to Jaki Stanley for the lovely movie presentation and the cozy crocheted blanket that she dropped by the house for Eileen – we are in your debt.

In closing I would like to read a poem by Mary Elizabeth Frye.

Mother, you were just a girl,
So many years ago.
You had your loves and had your dreams,
You watched us come and go.

You watched us make the same mistakes,
That you had made before,
But that just made you hold us tight,
And love us all the more.

We haven’t always thought about
The things that you have seen.
To us you’ve just been ‘Mother’,
No thought of who you’ve been.

But we remember now in love,
Your life from start to end,
And we’re just glad we knew you,
As Mother, and as Friend.

We will miss you, Love Judy

Stupid Elf on the Stupid Shelf

Stupid Elf…….

Nothing gives me more pleasure than knowing that in 4 or 5 years, on this very day, Amy will be on the phone with me b$tching about the Elf on the Shelf!

Both of my kids: Amy and Matthew were very evolved children…one could say they were ‘ahead of their time’  Elf on the Shelf had not been invented yet when they were young and admittedly, neither child REALLY believed in Santa Claus. But……they did believe in a stupid elf and they would make a bed for it out of a matchbox and leave a letter for him/her.

Thankfully they dropped that Elf like a bad habit and I was never forced to prop it up on weird places overnight like parents do now.

I am thankful because I would probably forget to do the Elf thing at night and the kids would wake up and the Elf would be in the same spot and ask, “What happened to the Elf?” and I would be forced to make up a story about how the Elf had experienced a wee cough so a shot of Nyquil had been administered the night before and then the Elf had a bad reaction that rendered him/her unconscious and unable to move. After a few times of that occurring, the kids would lament about our family getting, “a sick Elf” and why do other kids have such fun elves. Then I would guilt them back and tell them that, “all Elves deserve to make a living and that our Elf was doing the best he/she could while suffering from poor health and we should be more generous of spirit, etc.”

Christmas miracle would have been achieved……

Ladybug, Ladybug

Yesterday my Mom told me that she had seen a ladybug in the kitchen and had picked it up and placed it in a plant.

This morning at 6:30 a.m. that same ladybug (I am assuming it’s the same one because…..winter and all) was crawling outside her bedroom door. I picked it up and carried it into the kitchen where I had my glasses so I could take a look at it because at that point I was thinking, “Is this a tick?”. That would be me….pick up something thinking it is a ladybug only to find that it was an engorged tick and then get bitten and infected with Lyme disease or ebola or whatever else ticks pass along. Anyhoo……

I go into the kitchen, put on my glasses and see that it was indeed a ladybug and then I promptly dropped it. It survived the fall and crawled away. (I watched it until it crawled away to live its very best life because the alternative would be crawling under the stove to die).

I knew that ladybugs were special, so I googled them this morning and this is what google said, “Ladybugs bring good luck, are a symbol of protection ‘A talisman for safety and protection against all harm’, are a symbol of love, a symbol of self reliance and they even have a religious significance!

THANK GOODNESS I didn’t kill it when I dropped it! And I feel a bit better knowing that the ladybug is crawling around my parents home keeping them safe and protecting them.

Ants…….with wings

(Originally posted in my column ‘From the Desk of the Green Eyed Girl’ in the Alaska Highway News)

I would like a gold star, applause, and perhaps flowers sent to my home for a recent accomplishment. Why? Well….when I was young, I was afraid of many things, but I was especially horrified when it was ‘flying ant day’ (that one day where God said to the ants – you have a crappy life so I am going to give you one day to experience the freedom of flight, perhaps mate once or twice and then your wings will fall off. But……..although we are taking away the superhero power miracle of flight, we will allow you to retain superhero strength and you will be able to lift objects ten to fifty times your size).

We recently experienced ‘flying ant day’ in the Peace region and our Grandson Dylan came over during the height (is that a pun?) of the flying ant activity. Dylan is very much like his Grandma, in that he is terrified of the flying ants. I wrestled with how I could reassure him that the creepy crawlies would not hurt him so he could enjoy his time outside. So…. I did the unthinkable….the unimaginable….the ‘that grandma lifted a car up all by herself with no help to save her grandchild’ scenario: I picked up a flying ant in my HAND and placed it in a jar with a lid so that Dylan could get a good look at it and know that it wasn’t scary.

Excuse me while I stop a minute…….even writing the words make me a wee bit verklempt as it brings me back to the feeling *gag* of that ant *gag* CRAWLING on my hand.

I then tried to get Dylan to hold the jar in his hand and get a good look at the ant who was now angry and no doubt thinking, “Sure……I get only a few hours with wings and some stupid human decides to use me as a prop to teach her grandchild a life lesson”. Dylan demonstrated unequivocal resolve – he would not actually touch the jar to get a closer look. If I set the jar down on the sundeck, he would lower himself into a crouching position and watch the ant, but there was no way he was getting any closer.

I don’t blame him. Honestly……if we had something called ‘flying spider’ day…..a day in which the spiders received wings, I would not leave the house. You think I am kidding but I am not. So, while I was uber impressed that I had picked up the bug, I KNEW that if it had been a spider, Dylan was on his own.

When I picked up that ant and its wings fluttered in my hand, I was terrified – sweaty with terror, but I saw Dylan’s face and I knew that I couldn’t show my fear or else he would end up just like me. He watched me closely, looking for some sign that I was afraid, but I was unflinching (paralyzed with fear but at least I didn’t show it).

Now that the ants are no longer flying, Dylan has become something of an ant assassin. He spies them with his fantastic 2 year old vision and runs up to squish them into the sidewalk and says [clapping], “No more bug”. The pendulum has swung from terror to delight and Dylan is dispatching the ant population one by one with no thought for his karmic account balance.

Sigh……I wish there was something between the two extremes. I wish there was something in between the tears resulting from the paralyzing fear of the ants and the bravado exhibited after their untimely death. It is really one of life’s lessons….isn’t it? Instead of learning tolerance and acceptance, we find comfort in destroying what we fear the most.

Or maybe it was just about squishing ants……

The ‘Lowered Expectations’ Garden Tour will now begin……

 

Originally posted in the Alaska Highway News (August 3rd, 2017 in my column ‘From the Desk of the Green Eyed Girl’)

The airbrakes release on the tour bus with a ‘whoosh’: The door opens and large group of women, overflowing wine glasses clenched in hands, stumble down the steps, giggling and laughing.

Marie, the tour guide who is also clutching a full glass of white wine, leans against the side of the bus and waits for the group of ladies to quit laughing and talking long enough so that she can begin her description of the final garden of their tour.

Draining her glass, Marie clears her throat and begins (slurring slightly). “To our left is a triangular flower bed filled with long forgotten perennials and a generous abundance of peace country weeds. Oh……and the weird circle on the lawn is called Fairy Ring.”

Raucous laughter breaks out, with one woman yelling “Bravo! It’s beautiful”.

Marie is unfazed by the silliness – to be fair, this is the 5th or 6th glass of wine for many in the group and it’s been a long day. She speaks loudly to be heard amongst the chatter. “Let’s make our way into the back yard where our host promises an obstacle course of children’s toys and unfinished projects. Note the partially stained deck with the expensive paint-brush left out to be destroyed in the hot sun”.

The group gives a collective “ahhhhhhhhhhh” in response to the description, nodding in unison.

In case you were wondering, this is no ordinary summer garden tour – THIS garden tour is titled, “Lowered Expectations” and is an imaginary garden tour of 80% of homes.

Wouldn’t it be fun? Wouldn’t it be fun to go on a garden tour of overgrown vegetable plots and aphid eaten flowerbeds? The homeowner telling you, “Don’t worry about where you walk – I can’t tell where the weeds end and the vegetables begin”.

The Lowered Expectations tour would not be designed to inspire anyone – it would be designed to give a collective middle finger to the expectation that our summer be spent hunched over a raised vegetable bed, pulling weeds in preparation for an afternoon where strangers trample through your yard in silent judgment (unless of course that is your thing).

Don’t get me wrong……this is written very tongue in cheek. Of course I admire those who devote all of their time and energy to their lovely yards and I have been one of those touring and trampling through in silent judgment.

I am not judging them…..the silent judgment is directed at myself and why I can’t have the same type of tidy yard and then I remember, “Oh right Judy….you are lazy”.

Speaking with friends the other day via Facebook, we agreed that we should have a garden tour for the average woman and perhaps a few under achievers to make ourselves feel better. Oh…..and wine….the tour bus needed wine.

Can someone make this happen? I promise you the tickets would sell out.

Let’s get back to the tour……Marie gathers everyone and asks for silence. “Ladies! Can I have your attention please! We saved this until the very last home. If I could get you all to look up a bit….yes….up towards the roof…yup…do you see it?”

The group begins to clap and cheer as they all see what Marie is pointing to on the home. Faded Christmas lights dangle from the eavestrough – the perfect ending to an imperfect garden tour.

Devil thy name is a carpet rake

What I am about to tell you can go no further. I mean it…..NO FURTHER. In fact, telling you about this is going to place my membership into this exclusive Facebook group in jeopardy. By disclosing this information I am probably breaking one of their Cardinal Rules and one of the ‘Admins’ will probably track me down and delete me from the page.

Seriously.

For real.

They are a tough bunch.

I became a member of this particular Facebook page a few years ago after my adult daughter mentioned that she had recently begun ‘Stripping’. Being the progressive parent that I am, I concealed the look of horror on my face and said, “Pardon me? Did you say stripping?”.

“Yes mom…..stripping…..as in stripping laundry” she responded.

“Stripping laundry? Like removing sheets from the bed?” I ask…..confused.

“No…stripping laundry in the bathtub to remove the buildup of minerals and soap from my clothing”.

She went on to explain how she has begun stripping quite regularly and when she wasn’t stripping she was deep cleaning. “The ingredients for stripping laundry are quite different from deep cleaning laundry. For stripping I use washing soda, borax, and…. ( I am not going to tell you the ingredients because then FOR SURE I will be expelled from the group) and for deep cleaning I use a combination of detergent, and…..(again….not going to say). Mom seriously you SHOULD SEE THE DIRTY WATER!!!!! ”.

This is the same girl that drinks wheatgrass in the morning and devours kale chips for lunch. This is the same girl who once told me that she couldn’t remember the last time she washed her hair. THIS girl is mixing together a witch’s brew of chemicals to remove any “impurities” from her sheets and towels.

She then got all animated as she explained how the Shark Navigator vacuum was way better than the Dyson and how she created the ultimate all purpose cleaner by combining two household staples (not gonna say) in a spray bottle.

I looked around to see if I was being Punk’d. Then I teared up because she knew what a vacuum was *sniff*.

What is this Facebook page you ask? The page is called Laundry Love and Cleaning Science and has over 150,000 members from all over the world. These folks take cleaning very, very seriously.

I asked to join and was quickly approved. Let me tell you…….an entirely new world opened for me.

There is an endless stream of posts and they cover a wide range of questions. Here is one from today, “I forgot to take out the trash before leaving town. It’s over 100 degrees outside so I don’t want to open the windows. Any ideas? I don’t have any Febreze or citrus. Should I just throw handfuls of baking soda in the air??”

Cleaning porn is posted on their Facebook page all the time. Cleaning porn is described as a before and after that is so different that you wonder if it is the same home. Cleaning porn is when someone posts short video clips of power washers slowly removing sundeck or concrete stains. Cleaning porn is when someone posts a picture of a carpet with perfect vacuum ‘lines’. Cleaning porn is when they create a super-duper grout-cleaning machine out of a cordless drill and a scrubbing pad.

I admit that I was intrigued at the lengths that these members go to get things, ‘hospital’ clean.

I wondered how long it would take for my home to get into the state of some of these before pictures. If I quit doing dishes, my kitchen would be wreck by mid week. If I quit doing laundry, it would pile up to a seemingly insurmountable mountain in two weeks. I get it….it could happen to many of us. I actually have a couple of rooms that could qualify as pre-hoarding but that is a completely different Facebook group.

Which brings me to why many of the individuals feel comfortable sharing their messy and/or dirty homes. A few of them (admittedly) suffer from depression or are overwhelmed with their responsibilities of working and parenting. Only a small portion of them are OCD, whereas the others are posting pictures to keep themselves accountable. In fact, you cannot use the term ‘OCD’ on the Facebook page or your comment will be deleted. The group is there to support one another not disparage.

So….while the page does have its weird updates, I have grown to appreciate the role that it plays in many of their lives and I continue to stalk the page from the sidelines. Have I ever tried any of the strange things that they suggest? Sure, but I also take it with a grain of water softener salt. In my 20’s and 30’s I would have been all over their ideas and trying to hold myself to an unbelievable standard. This Judy doesn’t care if there is a little mess here and but I do get it…..I do understand how having the opportunity to be in control of one part of ones life can help keep the rest of the life from spinning out of control. If that opportunity comes in the way of perfect vacuum lines on the carpeting then who am I to judge.

Cheers!

Judy

If I were to be honest…..

sometimes-the-black-fog-sneaks-up-on-you-and-before-you-know-it-you-are-surrounded

If I were to be honest and walk the talk, I would admit that this January has been pretty hard for me. My brain is not in the right place and I am having difficulty controlling my emotional wellbeing. You know….hypersensitive, angry, generally bitchy and wanting to spend some alone time.  Nothing to worry about really because I am aware and conscious of how I feel, but just wanted to let you know that if you feel the same way – it’s okay and we will get through it and the days will get longer and spring is around the corner and the sun will come up tomorrow.

When we admit that we are feeling kind of shitty and a wee bit blue we are not asking for hugs or pats on our hands or pity or judgement, we are just letting you know that we are struggling to find our footing. We will find our footing, I know we will, but in the meantime if you see us taking a few moments to ourselves, maybe even look like we have shed a tear, or seem a little different than normal, it is okay. Still ask us “how are doing?” because we might just need to tell you.

Judy

 

Cara Speaks….

I met Cara at our first TEDx Grande Prairie practice session. She sat in the first table directly in front of our makeshift practice stage and I could not help but notice how invested she was in each of our presentations. During my practice, she assumed the role of silent cheerleader, her smile encouraging, her nodding of understanding……I locked my eyes on her and clung as if it were a life preserver and she was keeping me safe.

We, the TEDx Grande Prairie 2016 speaking team, had just met for the first time and we were hearing our presentations for the first time. It was “solidarity in terror”, all of us feeling the pressure of our looming TEDx talks.

I knew that Cara was special. I felt her empathy for others – she wore it like an invisible cloak of feathers that fell softly as she moved. I felt safe around Cara.

You know when you meet someone and you feel like you have been wrapped in a hug of happiness? That is how I felt after spending time with Cara – especially after the evening where we all stood on that stage and shared our personal stories to the TEDx audience.

Here is Cara’s TEDx Talk – Familiar Strangers. It will fill you with hope.

 

Are you interested in hearing more from Cara? Well…..you can! She has a podcast where you can further experience the light that is Cara…..

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/cara-jones-speaks/id1131004280

Follow Cara on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carajonesspeakstv/?pnref=lhc