Prescription for Disaster

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

The Haunting...and why I won't sleep for the next year

I actually didn't find this one at all funny, which is weird, because I find everything funny.

It started out with a very normal (for us) family adventure in which we all got in the car and kind of aimed for somewhere 3 hours away, Galway, on the other side of Ireland. Why not? We hadn't been there before and our random family adventures are always pretty memorable.

We did as we usually do, picked up a map and circled the stuff that looked good, planning a circular route and heading out with the set plan of just finding cool, off the beaten path kind of stuff (as usual). 

We were aiming for the Cliffs of Moher:

and figured we would do it in the most roundabout way possible, stopping at old stone churches, farmsteads, cheese caves and bird shows (we love random!) - and our favourite pastime of seeing something cool off in the distance and heading in that general direction to find it.

We did, seeing a great monolith of a tower off on the sea in the distance, winding our way over to find that it was an old castle once owned by the Lachlyn family (so cool! We found Lochie's castle!)

This was very cool, and I got out to investigate and see what the other side looked like. I was nearly round the corner when I heard a growl and saw a blur rushing at me through the bushes - oh holy crap, omg, oh my-

Oh! It's a little jack russell terrier! Awww, how cu-

Ow! WTF?! That little bastard BIT ME! Ow! Fuck, stop it! Paul! PAAAAAAAUUUULLLLLL!!!!!!!!!

I put on my best Ceasar Milan Pack Leader image and projected fierce alpha forces toward the attacking dog, walking forward with purpose and authority.

Which at least turned his bites to nips - so it helped a little.

An old Irish man came to our rescue, shooing away miniature Cujo there and telling us a bit about the castle ruins. 

He was a friendly old guy, very lovely, very Irish, and he told us that if we wanted to see a castle of the same sort (given to the family by King Henry himself), there was a proper one just down the road a ways.

Of course we wanted to see it!

He then gave us typical Irish directions:

In a way that really, only the Irish can.

Alright. After having had the guy repeat his directions three (3) times we were back in the car and off in search of a cattle gate, a holy well (at which we turn left shortly thereafter) and a tea shop titled 'the tea intersection' that was situated at a Y intersection, at which point we were then due to turn slightly right.

We followed his directions, somewhat puzzled by the distinct lack of signage to a fully formed castle tower, as other heritage sites in Ireland are littered with signage, fanfare and associated cheese shops.

The road became a tad small.

A little weird, but we end up on sheep and goat trails pretty often with our brand of family fun, so it didn't seem too unusual.

It got a bit more secluded into the backwoods...

with still not a sign or a person or a house or even a cow to be seen (and that was starting to get a little weird, but hey - ah well. We must be close.

We wound our way around and down the lane slowly until we turned a corner and there it was.

It looked really cool -even from inside the car. We got out and carefully climbed over the side part of the fence - the lock on the rusted gate looked as though it hadn't been opened in ages. 

We chatted as we walked toward it over the rough, torn up chunks of sod, like when horses run through a wet field and tear it up in chunks - or cows, but there were no cows to be seen and although the tracks looked pretty fresh the grass certainly hadn't been eaten. 


We hiked up closer to it-

somehow noticing the silence more than usual. For a place like this it was strange to see no birds or rabbits, no cows in the neighboring fields and no locals walking their dogs. It was just... quiet. Like nobody had been there in a very long time.

To the left of us was a holy well, once used for baptisms of some sort.

and with ragged, wind-torn cloths tied to the dying branches on the tree above it. We came closer to the well to check it out, but it was a dark, silent pit.

There was no sound coming from it, no sound of running water, no dripping sounds, no echos of wind rustling through... nothing. Just dead quiet, unsettling enough to make us all back up a few steps. Paul and I looked at each other - usually ready to explore, neither of us had any inclination to go closer for a look inside.

We retreated, backwards with a weary eye on the well, back toward the tower.

"Did you hear that?" I asked Paul, pointing toward the tower - the source of a soft banging sound up high. Almost like a clang. 

He'd heard it, but from another direction, away from the tower.

There was just something... off... about this place. Something wrong. It didn't feel right, and we were all a bit on edge. Kaitlynn didn't like it at all, and gripped my hand, asking me if we could go back to the car. 

Sure sweetie, let's head back together. 

Lochie and Paul stayed back a bit, together, but trying to see around the tower to the slowly lapping waves on the other side. 

Kaitlynn and I kept going, back toward the car. She held my hand tightly as we walked back over the patches of torn up grass. I heard talking up ahead of us in the trees, a young boy and his father crashing through the woods toward us at a slow, steady pace. Relieved, I scanned the woods, happy to encounter other people at this place - but nobody came through the trees. 

I remembered my time spent on a native Canadian reserve with Katimavik when I was younger - that when hunting in the quiet Natives would draw their bows, blur their eyesight and let their vision naturally jolt to the next movement within their field of sight - it was how they were able to see animals moving while hiding, and was their best way of seeing something that didn't belong.

Anxious to find the source of the voices, I did the same - relaxing my vision and gazing out at the woods - brought out of it by the sound of whispering at my side. Kaitlynn was gripping my hand as we stood there watching, waiting, and she was whispering. 

"Kaitie, honey, you need to be a bit louder. I can't hear you very well."

No response. She just kept whispering and staring, like me, at the woods. 

"Kaitlyn, speak up honey. What are you saying?"

Still whispering. I could make it out now, she was repeating over and over that she wanted to get back in the car, still at a constant, looping, whisper. 

The voices were getting closer - definitely a man speaking with a young boy - I turned around to see if Paul and Lochie were talking, but they weren't. They were both silent, holding hands and carefully walking toward the car from a few yards behind us as well. 

They caught up with us at the gate, the four of us going over the loose stones together - we got the kids straight into the car when my phone rang, a call I had to take, staying outside the car while Paul and the girls got themselves sorted.

Something just wasn't right, and Paul unrolled the passenger side window, calling me back into the car with a sense of urgency he had never before displayed. The hairs on my arms standing straight up I hung up the phone and got into the car - Paul pulling away and toward the lane before my door had even closed. 

None of us spoke until we had gotten back to the main road - we had nothing to say. None of us could articulate our feelings, what we had heard and what we had felt. I couldn't take it, and broke the silence.

"Kaitie, honey, how come you were whispering to me as we walked back to the car there? What were you saying?"

"No I wasn't."

"Yes you were, honey. You were whispering the whole time we were walking back to the car."

"I don't remember walking back to the car."

You couldn't pay us to go back there. Any of us.


Tuesday, 22 September 2015

The Kayaking Incident - some major corporate leaders owe me big time

Clearly I'm not a watersports kind of girl.


I'm now doing my Executive MBA with Trinity College Dublin - a prestigious university known for attracting leaders of industry and corporate high-flyers. I kind of snuck in there with all of my China connections and experience (whew!) but the course so far is going well.

We had our induction week in County Mayo at a Water College called something in Irish I absolutely cannot pronounce. Or spell. It was roughly about here:

In which there was not only no signal at all but signal and wifi BLOCKERS, so for three straight days our group of 40 Type A personality complete strangers all had to speak to each other while inconspicuously trying to suss each other out.

We had fun spending three days listening to lectures about corporate social responsibility and building go-karts, rounding off with a final afternoon of:

Sea Kayaking.

In the sea. 

The Atlantic Sea.

This is pretty much what was going through my head:

But, not about to be thought of as a pansy in front of these esteemed leaders of banks, doctors, lawyers, stock brokers and CEO's, I suited up and went down to the beach, convincing myself that we would be going no more than 5 ft from shore, surely.

We arrived down to about 30 kayaks for 40 people and I, having never kayaked before in my life, was assigned a three person 'Canadian' kayak (how ironic) with an electrical engineer in the back, a business analyst girl in the middle (who couldn't swim and was terrified of the water) and me squished in the front.

I was in an oddly sat-up position with my feet planted at the front of the kayak, my knees straight up and my bum in a teeny tiny groove - nowhere to rest my lower back. This couldn't be normal, but I wasn't about to make a fuss in front of all of these esteemed business professionals.

They don't yet know how weird I am and I wasn't about to broadcast it.

So, having not done a sit up in the last 4 years there I was, in a perma-sit up of grimacing pain I drifted out to sea on a long yellow plastic kayak with two other people, one of them already crying. 

We were off! We were gliding! We were cutting through the water and riding the waves we were-


This is when I truly got a taste of my own medicine (remind me to tell you guys sometime about the time with my mother in Jamaica with the shark. And the time in Hawaii also with the shark) and the girl in the middle started properly freaking out.

She was shaking so hard my teeth were chattering. She was crying to go back to the shore and staring down at the water below looking for sharks and demanding to know what everything was.

"It's okay" I said, trying to soothe her with a bit of empathy, "I'm scared too. That stuff is just patches of seaweed though - nothing to worry about."

"What about that?"

"More seaweed."

"What about those dark shapes?"


She started screaming and I started paddling like crazy for shore - the engineer in the back somehow completely oblivious to all of this in his tiny little boat. She was really freaking out now, and if she tipped the kayak I would just about die.

So we were the first to signal (and scream) for the rescue boat, which came up beside us and took off the girl in the middle (nearly tipping us over in the process despite me clinging to the side of the rescue boat like a traumatized koala. Taking off two would unbalance the kayak, I'd have to stay on. 

Okay, okay. I can do this. Especially in front of all of these esteemed business professionals. Am totally not going to freak out.


Okay, my non-existant abs were in desperate need of a break. I was actually crying. I found a little rope thing by my feet and hung on with my hands, giving my stomach a much needed breather.

Okay, this was fine. This was kind of nice. We were still a little bit far out but some people were farther than us and they seemed okay. The sharks would probably eat them first, and I am just going to sit here hanging onto this string, bobbing up and down in the water and-


Two people behind us had overturned their kayak and were in the freezing water - their boat and paddles going one way and them going another. They were screaming and we were the only people around. Obviously engineer and I swung into action:

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We paddled like maniacs toward them but they kept going faster out to sea. Oh god, this was harder than I thought. They kept screaming for us and our arms were like windmills paddling that stupid kayak out farther and farther into giant squid territory - AND WHERE THE HELL WAS THAT BLOODY RESCUE BOAT?!

We finally got to them, completely winded as they hung on to the back of our long-ass kayak and I bobbed up and down holding onto that string again for fear my stomach muscles would burst out out of my stomach, reach up and slap me like the thing from Total Recall.

Oh God, it burned. It burned so badly - and they were still in the water and so cold - we had to get them to shore. 

Seriously. Where the F&C% was that rescue boat!?!

Okay, okay. Just keep paddling. It's not about me, it's about the people in the water hanging on to my boat for dear life. Just breathe through the pain.

Okay, we were doing okay. We were all going to be just fine, we were feeling the drag from these two but we were still making it toward the shore, we were even getting close to some of the other kayakers. They could help, it would be totally fine. 

"eeeeeeEEEEEEAAAAAUUUUGHHHHHHH!" came a scream from behind-

"What?! What?!"
"Something touched my leg! Something touched my leg!"


We went into SERIOUS OVERDRIVE! The engineer and I were paddling like Satan was behind us, the two in the water were kicking with renewed energy and all four of us were screaming for the rescue boat like we were about to be swallowed by Jaws:

The rescue boat finally got to us (that f&c%£r) and hauled our hypothermic cargo-two on board as I guarded the water with my paddle. I was ready to take on that bastard if he tried to pop up on me

And of course, couldn't put me in the rescue boat as it would unbalance the stupid kayak. Alright. alright. With a wary eye still to the deep, dark water and holding on again to the string thing for dear life to rest my bleeding abs I took a deep breath, assured the engineer that I was okay and off we went, gliding again toward shore until


More screams for help, another kayak turned over and was drifting away without its' passengers - and we were again the only ones near enough to help.


Friday, 24 July 2015

Dirty Immigrants Need Not Fly (apparently)

I was assaulted by an old lady today - and it may have been a hate crime. 

Well then. 

I have to compliment British Airways for their incredibly accommodating (and patient) London City Airport - kudos and many thanks for sorting me out today. 

After another round of infusions in London I was due to fly back to Dublin later this evening, as usual. As luck would have it though, my infusions finished very early (no crazies on the ward today delaying things) and, feeling pretty rough, I went to the airport about 5 hours early for my flight in the hopes that I could get on an earlier plane (do people still do this?).

Looking a bit like death warmed over, with my arm bandaged from the cannula stabbings earlier in the day and my hospital wristband still on I shuffled over to the check-in counter, explaining my plight and asking if I could possibly get onto an earlier flight. I was kindly directed to Customer Service (just behind me) and off I went, politely waiting for the two agents to finish dealing with the person in front of me.

I was called forward, opened my mouth to speak and then just saw a blur of yellow - an older British man in a bright yellow polo shirt had run to the BA counter, barged in front of me and started screaming - and he was travelling with a banshee. 

His wife, a short, angry British woman hauling two massive suitcases on a trolley, was LOSING HER BRAIN at her husband, at the customer service agents and at ME!

She was just screaming about the gross incompetence of the airport staff and security - she had forgotten to take one of her bags off of the luggage collection belt and hadn't realized until she had already left security, and then security wouldn't let her back in to get it.

She was absolutely LIVID and shouting at the customer service agents like it was somehow their fault - her husband was yelling at her to calm down and he's never travelling with her again, she's screaming about how they just got back from Malaga and her glasses are in there and some thief is going to nick her glasses if she can't get back in there-

The customer service agents told her that they would help her after they were finished with me (who was hanging onto the counter for support) when she saw my Canadian passport on the counter, rammed me with her overloaded luggage trolley until I was out of the way and on my knees and screamed (I kid you not):


The agents jumped to their feet to see if I was okay as I kind of gripped the customer service counter and hauled myself back up - the woman (with no concern over me) now in a heated match with the customer service agents and her husband about airport security being called, and not for them to help her find her bag. More so to take her away and test her for drugs. 

They then stood on either side of me as I gripped the counter while they changed my ticket, the two of them shouting and screaming at each other with me stuck in between. One would lean around my front and scream while the other around my back and so on - I couldn't even speak to the agents as whenever I opened my mouth the irate, tanned British woman opened hers to berate the customer service agents even more and go on about the plight of her glasses. 

I finally stood up tall, glared at this little bulldog of a woman and snapped at her to go join her husband on the other side and leave me the hell out of this. That unleashed a tirade of fury and security was called, causing the two of them to scamper off to call the police on the customer service agents for not helping them.

Oh holy hell.

My ticket now being kindly changed to an earlier flight with disability assistance, I was directed to the 'priority assistance waiting area' just around the corner to sit down, regroup and wait for the wheelchair porter to take me through security. 

But I got there the entire area of 6 priority waiting seats, surrounded by a priority boarding partition and covered by signs stating that this area was specifically for 'those awaiting scheduled assistance, persons who are disabled or unable to stand' - it was fully taken by an African couple repacking their 4 large suitcases all over the 6 priority waiting seats and yelling into their mobile phones. I shuffled over, interrupting her phone argument, politely pointed out the signs above, around and ON the chairs and told her that I was here to wait for a wheelchair, could she please move some of her things so I can sit down.

She said no, and for good measure dumped MORE of her belongings onto all of the chairs. 

So I sat on the floor and leaned against the rubbish bin until the porter got there a few minutes later, at which point the angry unpacking woman shouted to the porter that I wasn't even disabled, I just wanted to get through security faster 

I hate people sometimes.

Monday, 8 June 2015

The Funeral

Okay everybody-

If anybody else dies... I've got a guy.

I remember going to funerals as a kid (though not like, living in a Tornado belt kind of often), and never really grasping them. I'd dress in black and be sad, not really understand what was happening or have the remotest clue how this all magically comes together, we'd go to someone's house for juice and God help you if you cracked a smile over anything. 

It was just kind of a ritual that I accepted without question - dress in black. Be sad. Exude sadness. Drink juice. Repeat every once in a while.

And then suddenly at the age of 34 I had to plan one. In another country.

For my dad.

It was pretty unexpected and out of the blue- we'd just gotten home with friends from Norway/America and Brazil at our place in Ireland (it was like a mini UN convention in my living room) late on Saturday night when I got a message from a distant aunt, asking me to call my grandmother. 

That's never a good sign.

However, my grandmother's (bless her!) delivery was a little off:

'Hi Grandma! You were looking for me?'

"Oh Candace! Yes! Don't worry. Everything is fine. I'm fine, Grandpa's fine... but your dad not so much.'

My dad lived a very stressful, very difficult life- and the result of this was that he died of a heart attack at the age of 52, prompting my first trip back to Canada in over 4 years.

I vaguely remember telling the family something along the lines of 

'Don't worry, I'll handle it'

And then my life went completely buck-wild for about 3 days that involved flying across the world with the twins and my life becoming a flurry of arrangements and timbits, Paul and I carting the sleeping twins from house to car to house to car to house as there was just.. no time. 

We were in Canada for a single week, and in that time had to plan a funeral, make all of the arrangements for my father's affairs, make sure that his family would be okay, possibly take a new driving test (?!) and then fly back in time for my inevitable medical meltdown.

Okay. It's okay. I've got this. Paul pat my back and sent me into the ring.

In I went, it didn't matter if I was okay - I was a mom, a sister, a granddaughter, a niece, a cousin, a daughter- and if this was to be my dad's last hurrah I was going to be the best damn representative of him to the rest of the world that somehow kept turning without him.

I relied on my incredible friends, women in Australia, the US, the Netherlands and England were sending me links and lists on what to do for a death in Canada for me to read on the plane. Crisis talks were being prepared while we flew to formulate a plan for his wife and daughter to carry on securely with family and friends that came together as experts in their fields. 

When we landed I was given the name of my family's preferred funeral home and I was off like a shot - cool, confident, collected... until I had to start signing death certificates

Cremation orders

and then choosing both a coffin and a cremation vase.

I couldn't do it. Rene (my uncle... who's 46) was with me and he was kind of leaving it up to me - I kept wanting to call Grandma for approval or maybe just to absolve myself of some sort of responsibility from some part of this- I couldn't choose the final resting place for my dad, this was insane! It wasn't possible! It's just not happening! It's just...

Oh wait. 

Nope that's it. That one. It's PERFECT.

And suddenly the funeral had a theme.

This was better. This funeral was now about my dad for who he was, not who he was forced to become over the last 5 years. It was about how funny he was, how generous and how utterly fantastic he was. 

I was going to own that euology. 

My funeral guy, Gary, after having met with me, had to go through a mental list of priests to conduct the ceremony, crossing out those that weren't 'flexible enough' to presumably deal with me. Kudos to him, and he found me one that wasn't too horrified over my questions like:

  • Will there be holy water?
    You may need it. There might be a couple of guests that burst into flame when they walk into the church.
  • Can we do the euolgy at the end?
  • No. Euologies go at the beginning.
  • But this one has to go at the end.
  • Why?
  • Because there's a finale. And a small stage production. And props.
  • At a funeral?
  • Yes. So it needs to be at the end. 
  • I'll let you split it into two parts.
  • Deal.
  • And I need you to leave the back door unlocked.
  • What? Why?
  • In case the finale flops. I need a quick exit.

Well, other than being accosted by an estranged family member in a toilet stall while peeing right before the funeral got underway, narrowly avoiding having to fill my dad's cremation vase with cat litter as there was a delay at the coroner's office (no one would know! It would be fine!), the funeral home letting me steal their outdoor garden plants to satisfy a last minute request from my father's wife and the home's graphic designer helping me photoshop a picture of my dad with the Jasper Store Bear to look as though he'd taken a bear to Sears for a family photo-

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we managed to celebrate my father's life in his style, and in a way that I hope we all remember him fondly.

The thing with my dad is that above anything else, he never had enough time. He loved to fish, dirtbike, camp, play golf - he just never, ever had enough time. This was a running theme throughout the speakers at his service, it was echoed by his colleagues when I cleared out his desk at work. It was echoed by his mother. His friends. His family. He just never, ever had enough time. 

It was the end of the eulogy - the big finale. I again brought up my dad's lack of time as I walked to the middle of the dais, lifted the picture cloaking his cremation vase from view and proudly declared:


I had my dad put into a clock to remind us of how precious our time is, and to stop wasting it on stupid stuff and people that don't appreciate or deserve it.

Overall, the funeral went fairly well, as well as funerals tend to go, with the requisite off the wall dramatics about who gets to do what with his ashes at the very end which went so immediately squirrely that I gave up and stormed out, followed into the parking lot by my funeral guy and his team. 

He assured me that even with the fairly ridiculous ending, he and his team felt the funeral went quite smoothly and on the grand scale of things they would rate this particular funeral drama at about a 4.0 of 10. I did well, I did the right thing and now my work was done. And don't worry, he'll make sure that I get that clock, because that was awesome.

Like I said, if anyone else needs a funeral-

I've got a guy.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

I need a nursing degree to put my twins to bed. And a HAZMAT suit.

I worry that we are getting close to a 'serious talking to' from the school nurse.

I don't know what happened to my kids this week, but the twins (despite being only 4, and girls) are covered in bruises, cuts, gashes and excessive bandaging. 

Like they've been in some sort of cock fight.

It started innocently enough - one coming home from school with a band-aid on her arm (field hockey) and the other having to outdo her sister the next day by coming home with a bandage / knee brace (football). The next few days came with bruises (tree), scratches (as of yet unexplained) and a mild concussion (coloring). 

And then it got worse. 

On Thursday morning we were late for school as I'd spent 20 minutes at the pharmacy first stocking an epic first aid kit, then patching Twin A back together in parking lot before bringing her into her class like a victim of war.

She had learned what happens when you are holding a very large cat and then turn on the hair dryer.

I'm sure the blood stains on the sheets will bleach out.

Over the weekend, Twin B's scraped up knee seemed to have gotten infected (with playdoh), and it was re-opened when she ran body-first into the bathroom door. This drew more blood and elicited sheer hysterics, claiming that she could genuinely see her skeleton through the hole in her knee.

Okay, fine. Time for bed guys, up you go.

Twin B is sobbing and needs to be hoisted up to her bed, her bleeding knee completely immobilized by dramatics. Okay, fine. Got her up there and started cleaning her up. Twin A came in clutching her hip - sent her to the loo and saw that she had some sort of hive-like rash all over her hips and pelvis.

What? Okay, come here, let me cream you up with some steroid stuff from your doctor. Layer 1 applied and an antihistamine given. With hives like that it's best to sleep commando tonight honey. No you can't wear tights to bed instead. What do you mean you haven't pooped in 3 days???

Okay. Here's a bit of mummy's fast-acting Senna. Just a small dose. You'll be fine. Back across the room to spray Twin B's knee with iodine

Let the screams settle while I applied layer 2 of steroid cream to pelvis and hips of Twin A. Back to Twin B to apply the almighty 'cream' (Sudocrem. It's our Greek Windex)

and wrap up her knee in a neat, well-practiced surgical dressing. She now can't (refuses) use the knee. Awesome. Back to check on Twin A, who is still complaining of tummy pains. Well, the senna should take care of that sweetie, don't worry. Here's a towel to sleep on-  oh look! Mummy's new pink towel, just in case. Checked that Twin B is now fine, cleaned, bandaged, tucked in and ready for bed, just as I remembered that Twin A's Maine Coon cat gashes on her arm need to have the bandages removed, cleaned and aired out for the night. 

Cue more hysterics and screaming, flopping child.

By this time I had broken a serious sweat, sudocremed her arm from wrist to shoulder and turned to find an inconsolable, sobbing Twin B.

She doesn't get to sleep on a towel, it isn't fair.

Sigh. Deep conversation with Twin B about the possibility of Twin A having had so much senna that she may very well shoot out of her bed and across the room like a flaming rocket, which necessitates the towel. Back to Twin A to tuck her in,3rd layer of steroid cream and-


Oh holy hell. I finally escaped the med-zone that was my children's bedroom to relax downstairs while Paul went out to buy laundry detergent (we were out). All was good. All was quiet. All was calm.

And then Paul got home, checked on the kids and found Twin A standing up in bed, pointing down at the 'accident'she'd had the size of a small housecat in the middle of the towel on her bed.

Thank God Paul had brought home washing powder. My only other option was to just light the laundry room on fire.

Sigh. I don't think you necessarily NEED a nursing degree to be a parent - but it certainly would help.