Category Archives: life

would i have benefited from being in 4H?


hey anderson,

happy st. paddy’s day! i’m a quarter irish and wearing green today, but with it being monday tomorrow i’m staying home and staying sober.  what fun i am! also, i am pretty exhausted from the day i had yesterday.

the company i work for is a supporter of 4H. are you familiar?  i kinda doubt it, as it is primarily a rural organization and, i believe primarily canadian.  not many people i meet in the city have ever heard of it.  in fact, i’d only read about it books before getting a job that sent me into rural communities.

the first time i went to 4H event, i was blown away.  it was an awards night and kids were getting awards for best raised cow and crazy farm stuff like that.  what really resonated with me was how poised all of the kids were when getting on stage.  then i learned that a strong element of the clubs is public speaking.  at that time i was a terrible public speaker who would throw up, cry and talk at a mile a minute.  when i saw those kids though, i figured i could probably be a bit better.  if only i’d had activities like that when i was a kid!

a little more about raising cows; a lot of the 4H clubs are beef clubs.  one crazy element of being in the clubs is each kid will raise a calf.  they spend a year tracking its growth and activities.  they put together fun reports on all they learned.  and then they send their cow to slaughter.  literally.  i went to one auction and i was traumatized.  the kids parade around their giant cows and the local community and businesses buy the cows. the kids take one last picture with their animal and then they get led onto a truck.  to their deaths.  before i went to the auction i was given strict not to get emotional and freak out because the kids would think i was crazy.  i silently assumed that was an exaggeration and that at least some of the younger girls would be upset.  the only tears were the ones i held back when posing with the cow we bought.  i’m so glad i don’t have a copy of that picture, how macabre.

but i have to ask myself, would i have been tougher, more prepared for death and loss had i bee in 4H?  i’d have to say yes, having known a few adults who were in 4H beef clubs.  years later they were still nonchalant about the whole thing.  where i am still clearly traumatized by the part i played.

so back to yesterday.  our company sent out an email saying judges were needed at a 4H district public speaking competition.  it was being held in a town that i’d visited frequently during my last job so i jumped at the chance to return.  of course, as the date approached i quickly regretted being such a gracious volunteer.  i started to worry mostly about the weather.  i’d been in that area in the snow before, but it had been awhile and i was quickly building mountains out of molehills.  huge, ice covered treacherous mountains.  but, yesterday i woke up at 6 am and got on the road.  mostly because i could not get up the courage to cancel.  not quite perseverance, but it will do in a pinch.

the roads were fine, not great in places, but overall the drive there was uneventful.  when i got to the school where the competition was being held i was getting progressively more anxious.  somehow in my worrying about the drive i had forgotten to worry about having to make small talk.  better late than never i guess.

everyone else there seemed totally prepared for the judging, where i had just skimmed the handbook.  it seemed pretty straightforward.  though when i sat down i realized i had no idea what to do.  luckily the nice man sitting beside me helped me out.  he touched my arm once, but i hope to forgive him any minute.

i was a judge for junior impromptu speeches.  can you imagine?  seriously, that is how several of my nightmares get started.  but these ten kids just marched up, got their topics and and stood in front of us.  now, these weren’t high school debate topics, they were more like my favourite movie or why kids shouldn’t have to go to school on their birthdays.  for the most part the kids were great, one girl froze but still she seemed pretty pulled together. i’m surprised my maniacal grin of support didn’t send her over the edge.  i’m pretty sure i was more freaked out than she was.

with the event done and my rankings submitted we were then told one of us would need to speak to everyone to tell them how the speeches went.  that is when my fight or flight response really kicked in.  before that it was really just on standby.  i told one of the other judges that i had a 2 hour drive home and needed to get going in case the weather got worse.  i pretty much ran out the door after that.  i felt like maybe i should tell someone i was leaving so they didn’t wonder if i was hiding in a locker or something.  so i told the lady who’d greeted me when i arrived.  she told me i could stay for snacks and whatnot but i brushed that craziness aside and left in a flurry of awkward panic.

when i finally got home i still was high on adrenaline but also still glad i went.  as much as i truly hate interacting with the outside world, i know it’s a fact of life so i may as well get used to it and do things i actually enjoy doing.

so yes, i am pretty sure i would have benefited from being in 4H.  every kid i saw yesterday was calm and collected.  they were engaging when they spoke in the hallways just as much as when they were giving their speeches.  and i really do envy that.  the 4H motto is ‘learn by doing’ and i have to admit that’s a pretty great one.




how i fell in love with the olympics


hey anderson,

wow, it has been months since my last letter.  i feel terrible.  i had a busy christmas and then got really sick, and i didn’t think you need to hear me whine!  and since then it’s just been business as usual in my world, and how interesting is that to hear about?  i mean, i like hearing about your world, but it’s ok if you’re not as fascinated in return!

so we’re currently remembering the calgary 1988 winter olympics.  the city is all excited trying to relive that experience.  as a 7 year old it really was the coolest thing to happen.  i remember so much about that time and it started a love affair with the olympics that i still have today.

here are a couple of my calgary 88 best memories

-we had several school assemblies where we got pins that i still have and treasure.  pin collecting is a huge underworld that i got to experience first hand.  i did a couple trades and i still remember how exciting that was!  i don’t collect many pins now, but i did get quite a few when i went to the olympics in vancouver a few years ago.

-we went to one the medal ceremonies one cold night.  that was exciting but what i remember most was after a man talked to my mom he walked away and she said he was a jiggalo.  for some reason i got some sort of explanation as to what that meant.  obviously learning traumatizing information like that in a magical setting leaves some indelible memories!oly2

-heidi and howdy were hands down the best olympic mascots ever.  seriously, other cities shouldn’t even bother trying and should just ask if they can use them.  i loved them so much and still do.  in fact, a couple  of ago after dinner at my boyfriend’s parent’s house he was getting our coats out of their hall closet and there was a pile of old toys.  on top were a perfect set of heidi and howdy dolls.  i almost wept when his mom told me i could have them.  see how cute they are!

– i was just getting into figure skating when the olympics happened so i was totally into everything that was going on.  it was a good year for canadian skaters, so that made things even more exciting.  i remember going to a couple events, one of which was the super boring technical skating component that i think they got rid alltogether.  but the even that was the most amazing was the gala event.  i went to that 25 years ago today.  wow, i am super old.  but i guess if being alive in 1988 meant i got to go to that, then i suppose i’m ok with it.  figure skating galas are the best.  it’s when the top 5 or so from each discipline get to have fun.  that means fun costumes, music with words and backflips.  seriously this was one of the most amazing things i have ever been to.  i’ve been to other galas and the ice capades, but there as nothing quite like the 1988 gala.  elizabeth manley was the belle of the ball with her silver medal and i adore her and well up thinking about her to this day.  look! i saved my ticket!!







when i moved to europe a few years later it was really cool that people knew where i was from because we hosted the olympics.  and when they happened in 1992 and 1994 it was especially fun to cheer for my country while living abroad.  my parents were really supportive of my olympic love, we went to innsbruck and albertville as other former host cities.  and once, we went to greece and made a special trip to Olympia where it all began.  of course, i was a petulant teenager by that point and i actually refused to get out of the car.  i still can’t believe i did that and am quite furious, but it’s also kinda hilarious.  and to be fair, i’ve never really been all that interested in the summer olympics so maybe that’s why i was so disinterested.  let’s give me the benefit of the doubt 🙂

well anderson, sorry my first letter in ages is a rambling collection of memories, but it was nice to share them with you all the same.




Remembering again


Good morning anderson,

It’s Remembrance Day again. I can’t believe a year has gone by so quickly. Maybe it’s because the topic of remembrance is so close to my heart and i don’t just remember once a year. But before you pat me on the back for my patriotism, gratitude and sincerity you should know that i didn’t go to a ceremony this morning. And i have no excuse. But, i’m hopeful that by not going i can still remember and be thankful.

It may seem trivial to put it this way, but it’s how i’m going to justify myself, so please go with it. Wars have been fought for my freedom. It’s quite likely that my grandfathers didn’t go to war in the hopes that one day their granddaughter could sleep in on a sunday. But, i’m sure they thought about making a world where i was safe. And that they did. So, i’m safe and free and warm in bed still and i wish i could express how much this means to me.

There are no words, but here are a few pictures of the brave men whose legacy i don’t take for granted even if i am a little lazy.

My grandpa Stan on board the HMCS Sackville


My grandparents on board the Sackville


My grandpa Archie who was shot down over germany. This is a locket my grandpa gave me.


Have a great day anderson, i know you’ll be thanking your veterans as well.