What I Don’t Know Can Still Hurt Me!

So, family trees, genealogy, DNA tests – Whew!

After much deliberation, I have come to the conclusion that I do not want to explore the next step in my DNA discovery – namely, discovering my propensity or likelihood of developing certain diseases etc.

Here’s why.  The majority of what I find out will probably be a lot of “low risk” stuff that wouldn’t change how I currently live my life.  Example – slight increased risk for high blood pressure or heart health, or diabetes.  Live right, eat right, exercise  – that’s what I could do to protect myself.  The other stuff, like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s for example, the kinds of things I can’t unsee or even change – why would I want to know that and spend what time I have left worrying (which carries its own health risks) about when it will hit me; worrying about how much time I have left before I’m incapacitated.  I just don’t think I can do it.  Yes, the curiosity is strong – real strong, but right now, I just don’t think it’s a good idea.

So I will continue on with the genealogy aspect of my current and pending DNA tests and be content to leave it at that.  There is something to be said for the power of positive thinking.  If I’m confronted with doom and gloom I don’t know if I could stay positive.

So here’s to health and to being blissfully unaware of the devil at your door!  what would you do?



Sleuth? Not So Much

So, I have been attempting to do a little family research.  You know, the whole “who do you think you are” thing.  You soon come to realize that without the backing and finances of an incredibly popular and successful television show, it can be virtually impossible to find anything of relevance at all.

I am only second generation Canadian, and for me to research my roots, I would have to know a lot more than I do about my family and travel to eastern Europe and dig through old church records they probably wouldn’t let me dig through anyway!

It has yet to be completely substantiated that I either come from what are known as, Black Sea Germans, or what are known as, Volga Germans.  Both the areas in question were, at the time that my grandparents and great grandparents were born there, was Imperial Russia.  Now, of course, it is the Ukraine.

So why is this even important?  I don’t know.  All I know for sure is, the more I come up against a brick wall, the stronger the need to know and to find a trail from Germany to Russia and then to Canada.  I do know about the trek to Canada, I have that information, I just can’t fill in the blanks.

What really frosts my cookies, is that Imperial Russia did an all Empire census in 1897. Perfect!  Except the volumes of information were so heavy they could sink a battleship and efforts to translate them stopped.  I don’t think Mr. Putin will grant me entry into whatever vault these documents are kept in and offer me an interpreter to get to the bottom of things.

All I can can tell you is that it is maddening.  I hate the idea of giving up.  I don’t like to quit but I think that is becoming a stark reality.  I am going to wait, however, until I get the results from my Ancestry DNA kit.  Who knows, I might find a long-lost 5th cousin out there who can provide the missing link.  Anything is possible right?



Hello 2017

I, for one, am happy to be saying good-bye to 2016. Not just because of all the terrible and disappointing things that happened in the world, but because of the terrible and disappointing things that happened in my own little corner of the universe. It would be foolish to deny that anything good happened in 2016 because there was ‘good’, but somehow it’s the dark and ugly things that have a way of sucking the breath and the light from the good. Why? Because dark and ugly are powerful.

I know that sometimes us humans can’t help but dwell on the past – it’s inevitable.  Most of us, however, will come to realize (sooner or later) that doing so will drag us down to not only places we don’t want to be, but to places we don’t deserve; down to the dark and ugly places. And so… we get up. We get up and we try again. It doesn’t matter who or what has kicked you in the teeth, and for the most part, it doesn’t really matter why. If you keep the dark and ugly and hold on to it, it will never let you go.  You will never crawl out of the hole. So… climb. Now, it may grab your ankle and pull you back down a little, that’s okay. Keep climbing. Get out of the hole. Living things can’t flourish in the dark. Okay, I know what you’re thinking – mushrooms – but you know what they thrive on right? Sure you do. No thanks, not for me.  Drink the sun, breathe life, so you can exhale the $#it that you’ve been wallowing in for the past year. Life will happen anyway.  It will happen with you or without you. It doesn’t care.

More than anything, this post is for me.  It is a pep talk to myself from myself, or, from the disappointed 2016 me to the hopeful 2017 me. Enough of my 2016 philosophy, I leave you with a little philosophy from others.

“We don’t develop courage by being happy every day. We develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.”  Barbara De Angelis

“Memories have huge staying power, but like dreams, they thrive in the dark, surviving for decades in the deep waters of our minds like shipwrecks on the sea bed.”  J. G. Ballard

“Your fear is 100% dependent on you for its survival.”  Dr. Steve Maraboli

“False friendship, like the ivy, decays and ruins the walls it embraces; but true friendship gives new life and animation to the object it supports.”  Richard Burton




I remember being snickered at once (many years ago) by my son’s elementary school teacher when I asked her if the students were given spelling tests.  Yes, I said snickered at, and she kept the goofy smirk on her face as our parent/teacher interview progressed and she squeezed out of her crooked mouth something to the effect – and I paraphrase loosely – well, back in the ancient times when YOU went to school that’s maybe how they did it, but we don’t do things that way anymore.  To which I replied, “and it shows.”  Which was why we were having a discussion about my son (only one of many children in the same boat) having a below grade reading level.

Apparently spelling was too cool for school!

There is a Maclean’s article from back in 2010 that stated Waterloo College was one of only a handful of post-secondary institutions in Canada to require entry students to pass an English language skills exam.  Thirty percent of students were unable to pass that exam.

But you’re right, Miss Snark Teacher, we don’t need archaic spelling tests anymore.

I was driving around town the other day doing some errands when I saw a commercial vehicle drive by.  It was the logo on the van that got me on this topic.  The name used a K instead of a C for the word ‘custom’ – to be cute I suppose.  Take a good look around next time you are out and about.  Not just vehicles, but store names, and more.  What are we teaching our young, impressionable children who don’t get taught spelling in school anymore when we spell things like the following:

Toys (backwards R) Us

Koffee Kafe

Foto Korner

City Sentral

Ok, it’s cute and it’s kitsch, but is it a good idea?  I don’t know.

Then you have people like Penelope Trunk (look her up), going on CNN and professing her expertise as to why children should not bother with spelling, spouting trash like “who needs spelling when there is spellchecker?”  Go ahead, I dare you, read what this… what this… woman has to say.  If it doesn’t make you cringe – it should.

Taking a spelling test and learning how to spell in general, is not for the purpose of being a ‘perfectionist’ as Ms. Trunk would have you believe.

And I can’t shout this one loud enough – READING ALONE WILL NOT MAKE YOU A GOOD SPELLER!!!

Now, run along and read something by someone with a modicum of intelligence.  Here’s a snippet:

“Good use, even mastery, of our complex language does not have to be a thing of the past or reserved for a few. By using the knowledge from years of research and experience and our ever-developing technological tools, we can teach each student to spell well and enable them to read and write fluently. We owe it to our students to give them the skills that are the tools to learning and communication throughout their education and their lives.”

The Importance of Spelling
by Susan Jones, M. Ed.



What’s Happening to the World?

My morning routine usually involves reading or listening to the news while I have my morning cup of coffee.  Lately, I’m afraid to.  So much violence, so much hate.  I scour the news for that one story that is good; the one story that is upbeat and hopeful – there aren’t any, unless you count the people who are falling into ditches while playing Pokémon Go.  But really, that isn’t terribly funny either.

Possible solution?  Don’t look at the news for a few days?  I don’t know.  Might work for a while, but then someone will say; “hey did you hear?”

Maybe a nice deserted island, pen and paper, and a lot of wine!

Take care out there.

A Light In The Storm

It has been a while since my last post – I think I say that every time I post!  May was quite the month.  A number of unexpected and unwanted events took their toll, both mentally and physically, but through it all I was determined to stick to the one constant in my life (aside from my family).  My writing.

My new book, Nobody’s Child, is out at long last.  In the immediate days, only the paperback version is available through the link below with the digital versions coming shortly.

I would love for you to read it and let me know what you think.  After everything that has happened to me in the past few months – believe me, I can take it – good or bad!

Click on Book to Buy From my e-Store

Other Formats Available on the Book Page of This Site


The Subtle Art of Friendship

A friendship, to put it simply, should be pleasant and beneficial to both parties.  Balance.  Harmony.

The word “balance” is very important here. Good friendships don’t have to be 50/50 one hundred percent of the time and seldom are, but when the friendship is continually lop-sided, stress begins to build and toxins start to flow.  “Imbalance” would be where one friend continually gets their needs met while the other friend’s needs are disregarded.  This is frequently referred to as a “toxic friendship”.

At its simplest form, a toxic friendship can be overwhelming, unfulfilling, and emotionally and physically draining for one half of the relationship.

A quote I read recently from Dr. Florence Isaacs, author of “Toxic Friends/True Friends”, says it beautifully – “Toxic friends stress you out, use you, are unreliable, are overly demanding, and don’t give anything back.”  And by “not giving anything back”, please don’t think physical things or gifts.  Physical things and gifts do not make a friendship.  We can buy our own “things”.

Now, that quote may be a rather all-inclusive sort of statement and you may find that your toxic friendship only has some of those characteristics.  Even so, just one of those characteristics can have the same effect as all of them on the right person.

So, what do you do about a toxic friendship?  The way I see it you have a few options.  You can come clean – tell the friend how you feel when they do x, y, z.  Don’t tell the friend and continue to take it.  Or, live in that gray and muddy realm where the toxic friend knows that something is up, but no one is saying exactly what until everyone kind of forgets about it and it starts all over again.

Consequences?  Telling the toxic friend the truth could very likely end the relationship.  Then there is the whole “friends in common” factor.  Your toxic friend might not be toxic to your friends in common.  The friends in common may even have a hard time imagining such a scenario.  It is a very real possibility they may look at you as the bad guy after hearing a few “oh poor me’s” from your toxic friend.  If you’re looking for advice as to how to deal with this? – forget it, I don’t know what to tell you.  All I know is, stooping to finger-pointing and telling tales out of school by complaining about one friend to another friend – not my style.  Be prepared, however, your toxic friend will probably be talking about you so expect a lot of ear-ringing and some voodoo looks from those who don’t know both sides.

So, if you are one of those people who have been taking it for a long time, don’t be surprised when the time comes where you just can’t take it anymore.  You will come to the conclusion that you are worth more – your emotional stability and your physical health are worth more.

Toxic friends can live on, and thrive in, chaos.  I don’t know about you, but I hate chaos.  Chaos and turmoil are not just emotionally draining, they can be physically damaging.  I think some people continually put themselves under stress because they need the sympathy and encouragement of everyone around them so desperately that they are willing to jeopardize relationships to get it (even if they don’t know they are jeopardizing relationships).  Instead of being happy and fulfilled with what is right in front of them, they somehow need the love and approval of others who really don’t give a damn.  If you aren’t happy with you, why should anyone else be happy with you?  Your family should love you.  Your friends would like to love you.  Is it really worth losing that to be Queen/King of the world?  When you perch yourself on top of a flagpole you may find you are the only one there because there just isn’t room for the rest of us, and that little mathematical equation equals – lonely.

Okay, philosophy lesson is over, but damn that felt good.



It has been two months since my last post and two month since my computer decided it had a grudge against me.  Don’t laugh.  That sounds better than the truth.

When I started blogging again, which wasn’t all that long ago, I would have been happy with one post a month – to start anyway.  Now, like I said, it has been two months, and yes, my computer had something to do with it.  I thought it was the computer’s fault.  I thought it was giving up – just like me.  I thought IT didn’t want to write either.  But no, and as my trusty computer fixer guy put it – I was “infected to the nines”.  So now we are all clean, all good to go.  Are you reading between the lines though?  I left Mr. Computer sitting on my desk for two months before taking it to be cleaned and fixed.  Hmmmm….

I suppose I just need to stop worrying about not having anything profound to say, and just sit down and write any old blog post when the urge to spew arises.  After all, that’s how it starts doesn’t it?  The urge to write?  A tiny little spark of… something?

Right now is the best time, actually.  Why?  Because I don’t have any followers.  I don’t have anyone who really gives a damn if I say anything or not, so I am here talking to myself and that means I can just be honest without worrying about offending anyone or worrying over whether anyone will care what I have to say.  I just have to keep doing this until “I” care what “I” have to say.  Does that sound right?  Ya…ya…, until I care what I have to say.

Ah, that felt good.

Freedom In Truth?

Yes, I meant it as a question.

If you look closely at where you landed to get here, you will read the truth that is suppose to set me free – I am a blogger who writes.

I used to be a writer who blogged but that felt like a lie.

I used to write more – a lot more.  And I liked it.  There wasn’t any pressure.  Then, I made a fatal error.  I grew too confident in what I thought I could accomplish and I set myself up with unrealistic goals.

Here’s the deal.

When I finished the book that was to be my first published work, I couldn’t leave the characters behind.  Nothing wrong with that.  It happens to a lot of writers.  I wanted to stay living in their world – I wasn’t done with it yet.  That wasn’t the fatal error.  The error was being too greedy, talking myself into thinking I could write a trilogy.  No problem.  I was certain of the fact, too, even after book two was published.  But then things happened – a lot of things I won’t bore you with.  So when the writing of book three wasn’t going well – and it didn’t go well a lot – I felt trapped.  So I tried to work on one of the numerous other writing projects I have stashed on thumb drives, hoping to garner some sense of accomplishment by leaving the lackluster behind and reaching for something shiny and new.  Except…

No matter what I worked on, I felt like a failure – a looser, even.  I would get so far on a different project and then the guilt would hit me.  How could I do that?  How dare I devote my time and imagination elsewhere when there was this giant, angry, steaming elephant breathing down the back of my neck every time I sat down in my chair and rested my shaking fingers on my rather dusty keyboard?

I felt, and feel that way all the time.  I’m like an old vinyl record with a big scratch and the needle is just sitting there unable to get over the craze and making that scritch-pop noise in a deafening and endless loop.

The only solace I found – on occasion – was the thought of my favorite author, Harper Lee.  She only wrote one book (sort of).  But then again that one book was a masterpiece, and I certainly wasn’t in that category.  Harper Lee didn’t have to write anything else. She had already achieved perfection.

Other times I would think of George R.R. Martin and how all of his loyal followers would ask when the hell is he going to get on with it?  But I’m not him either, and it would only soothe the guilt for a few precious moments to know there are others out there like me, who maybe just don’t want to write that story anymore.

So there’s this tiny little part of me that says, “why bother?”  No one knows you.  who has even read your books?  No one cares if you have an unfinished book you are loathing to finish.  No one is clamoring for your next brilliant insight.

So I don’t know.  There’s the truth.  Has it set me free?

I don’t know.  Woman shout