Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Poem for John

Dedicated to John

My brother
His brand new SE Harley Davidson
My 12 year old neice
An inagural ride
On a beautiful day
A dear jumps out
Hits him or he hits it
It doesn't matter

She's ok
He's not
Broken bones, a punctured lung
Brain injury
Even with a helmet
He's alive
The bike is dead
It doesn't matter

An airlift to Vancouver
In and out of ICU
Where am I?
Why does my stomach hurt?
You had your spleen removed
What's a spleen?
He asks every ten minutes
It doesn't matter

One day we're nine at the farm
One day he's now
Next day we're twelve
Then he is back
Each day is better
But slowly
Forward and back
It doesn't matter

My brother
We were Friends
Growing up together
Life took hold
His Life, my life
not always in sync
But he was there
Always there
And he's still there
And that is all that matters

Susan ©2011

Thursday, June 2, 2011

June 3-5 Batten Disease Awareness Weekend

Press Release:  June 1, 2011 (Reynoldsburg, OH) – Batten Disease Support and Research Association (BDSRA) is holding its 3rd annual Batten Disease Awareness Weekend, June 3-5, 2011 to bring recognition to a rare but devastating disease. Batten disease is a genetic neurological disease that brings an early death to each child it affects. The disease may not be well known, but its effects on a family can be seen in numerous cities and towns around the country.

“Approximately 30 children will be diagnosed with Batten disease this year, and about the same number will also pass away before the end of 2011”, said Adina Ryan, development director for the BDSRA. “That is simply too many children and families who will not get to celebrate their 3rd birthday, play little league, or simply fulfill all the plans and dreams that every mom and dad wished for.” she continued. "Our only hope is that scientists and researchers will find a cure that will save future generations of our children," she added.

While there is hope in research for a treatment or cure, the funds are hard to come by. Families around the world will be doing their part this weekend to raise both awareness and funds for children suffering with this fatal disease. You can help spread awareness about the cruelty of this disease. On June 3-5, 2011, please take a moment to tell someone about Batten disease and how it can steal a precious child’s hopes and dreams. You can also donate to the Batten Disease Support and Research Association by visiting our website at Every story and every dollar makes a difference. The cure depends on us...we depend on you.

A Deadly Disease with No Cure

Batten disease is a genetic neurological disorder that affects children and adolescents. Over time, affected children suffer mental impairment, worsening seizures, and progressive loss of sight and motor skills. Eventually, children with Batten disease become blind, bedridden, and unable to communicate. Presently, there is no effective treatment for the disease and the disease is always fatal.

About the Batten Disease Support and Research Association

The Batten Disease Support and Research Association (BDSRA) is the largest support and research organization in North America for families that have children with the disease. "Over 50% of our annual budget goes toward research, and more than 96% of our funding is provided through families of children with Batten disease and private contributions," said Lance W. Johnston, Executive Director. "In order to find, and fund the cure, we simply have to broaden our horizons and get more interest in helping these children, said Adina Ryan, Director of Development.

BDSRA has been supporting families with programs, services and research funds since 1987, and we encourage you to visit our website at or call 800-448-4570 to learn more about Batten disease and what you can do to help.

Brenna Colleen Greig
June 20, 1989 - September 21, 1997

"You will miss her."  It was said with brisk but genuine sympathy...."Like a fibre gone from my heart."

"Do not marvel at this, because the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out...."  John 5:28,29



Monday, May 23, 2011

Just One of My Favorite Things - Cineplex Odeon Classic Film Series

"The Hills are alive...with the sound of Music" least they were at theatre that we attended last Wednesday evening.  Cineplex Odeon has a fabulous Classic Film series wherein they showcase older movies at selected theatres and The Sound of Music was being featured on the big screen.  Some of the other movies this past year were Dr. Zhivago, Psycho, The Wizard of Oz and upcoming will be Mash and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. We saw Casablanca in the fall and I came to understand why Humphrey Bogart became such a big star and what a great actor he was-the camera angles really focused on his face and micro-expressions but all of that is lost on a smaller TV screen.  Seeing these movies on the big screen is like seeing them for the first time.

In The Sound of Music I saw for the first time the detail and beauty of the ballroom and the stately home the family lives in.  The background scenery was not just a foggy blur but you got a sense of the majesty of the Alps and when the camera zoomed in on Julie Andrews on the top of the mountain it made you feel like you were breathing fresh mountain air.  I fell in love all over again with Christopher Plummer too.  It's no wonder the audience broke out into spontaneous applause when the credits appeared.

The Sound of Music will be playing again this coming Sunday, May 29, so if you want the opportunity to sing along with Julie Andrews to My Favorite Things or get goosebumps when the Nazi's are looking for the Von Trapp family in the graveyard be sure to check out where it is playing.  Oh yes, and for those frugally minded, one of the bonuses is the cost is only $5.00 which means you can splurge on some extra goodies;  and considering the movie is three hours long, although there was a short intermission, you just might need the sustenance!

Check out Cineplex Odeon Classic Film Series Here

Salynne ©2011

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Five Reasons to Live in a Cabin Up North Alone

The thought of living in a cabin up north all alone is one of those fantasies that I reserve for one of THOSE days.  Not the kind where I just want the world to stop for a short while so I can catch my breathe or when I want run away to France to for a couple of weeks.  It's one of those "if another thing happens to add to my stress and busyness I'm going to quit the world and become a hermit" days. 

Thankfully days like that don't happen that often but when they do I have to say that I envy good ole Dick Proennke of Alone in the Wilderness fame. The documentary style chronicle of how at the age of 50 he decided to go into the wilderness of Alaska, build a log cabin and live all on his own is one of my favorite night time TV spots on PBS.  It's not hard to put myself back into the emotional foray of one of those days and the reasons why I want to run away: 
1.  Going north and being by myself would get me away from irritating people, cranky people and people demanding things of me, wanting things done yesterday. throw away my overloaded work schedule!

2.  I could get away from sick and dying children.  I do like and sometimes love my job but there are days when seeing little kids who should be healthy and happy and who aren't is just too much to take.  Instead I could look at the healing beauty of nature, green trees and blue sky.  And I could spend my time building a cabin, making door hinges or my very own wooden spoon--quiet but contemplative work.
3.  No traffic and no stupid rush hour....only peace, quiet and bird I love to hear birds. 

4.  Going North means SNOW.  Tons and tons of snow. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers magical scenery.   Blissful, white flakes falling softly into a blanket instead of wet, slushy, half rain/half snow that soaks through everything.  And let's talk about sunshine...sunshine instead of rain which is another thing I could very easily get used to.

5.   A cabin.  What is better than a log cabin to live in?  With a log burning fireplace built of river rock.  No namby pamby gas burning or electric fake.  Real logs and a real fire to drink a glass of wine in front of (of course I'd take wine up North with  me!) and I could spend time just writing...writing to my hearts content.  No interruptions, no phone calls, just me and my journal.  The Dick Proennke website says it all: 
"To live in a pristine land unchanged by man...
to roam a wilderness through which few other humans have passed...
to choose an idyllic site, cut trees and build a log cabin...
to be a self-sufficient craftsman, making what is needed from materials available...
to be not at odds with the world, but content with one's own thoughts and company..."

Yes, lots of reasons to move up North alone.  Only problem is there would be no family dinners, no laughing at my sons jokes until my stomach hurts and tears run down my face, no TV to cuddle in front of and watch Pride & Prejudice with Keeley, no Bruce to share a glass of wine with, no morning kitty kisses, and no computer to connect with friends or blog on. maybe moving up north all alone for good isn't realistic but just being able to think about it always makes me feel better and somehow the day turns out to be not that bad after all.


Friday, May 13, 2011

I AM Metis-An Emotional Journey

I've known for about ten years that I'm of aboriginal ancestry on my mothers side. I'm Métis and getting my & Keeley's "Métis status" is something I've wanted to do for years.  Today Keeley and I went to the Nova Métis Society in Surrey and met the lovely couple who volunteer there weekly and keep the place running.  In the past you could walk in to any Métis organization, self-identify as mixed ancestry and become a member.  That is no longer the case.
Traditional Metis Sash
In the summer of 2003 the supreme court of Canada's Powley decision provided guidance on who can claim Aboriginal rights.  Being "Métis" does not encompass just anyone who is of mixed Aboriginal and European ancestry. The term  "Métis" refers to distinctive peoples of mixed ancestry who developed their own customs, practices, traditions and recognizable group identities separate from their Indian, Inuit and European ancestors.  In practical terms this means you must have proof of Métis ancestry documents to at least 1901; in the case of the Nova Métis society and the Métis National Council they want to see five generations and evidence of an ancestor who received a land grant or a scrip grant under the Manitoba Act or the Dominion Lands Act, or who was recognized as a Métis in other government, church or community records.

I was excited with anticipation but also nervous that we would not be approved.  My research, and that done by my mom and a couple of aunts, showed the names of my grandparents, great-grand parents going back more than five generations along with deep connections to the Métis homeland in the Red River Valley.   I even have a photo showing my great-grandmother at 16, her mother and her two grandmothers!  Still it all had to be confirmed by governmental archival and consensus type documents.
My Great-Grandmother Melanie at 16 on the right,
Her mother on the left and two Grandmothers in the Centre.
Her cousin front left and brother with hat off.

It took almost two hours to do research but right in hard print before our eyes we got to see confirmation that generations of my family were listed.  My mom's family names such as Parisien, Marjore & St. Denis are common and well-known names in Metis history and geneology.  As we sat at the table covered in books we talked about other things that I knew about my family-in particular my Grandmother.  She was the secretary for the Saskatchewan Métis association back in the late 1960's during the time when Métis people started a new round of political activism.  My mom left her family and did not want much to do with them after she got married so all I knew growing up was that she had been really poor and embarrased to be from the "wrong side of the tracks".  Yes, I knew I had cousins, aunts & uncles in Saskatchewan and an aunt who had married a native and lived on a reserve but as far as I was concerned my mom's family really consisted of just of my "Nanny" who came to visit a few months each year to escape the winter.   I remember knowing that she had been a social worker and had raised a couple of foster kids after her children had grown up but that really didn't mean a lot to me when all I knew was a Nan who came and baked buns, bread and pies and taught me how to play crib.

I knew that somehow I had aboriginal ancestry but had no idea what that involved.  Only two times in my life do I ever remember my Nan saying anything about our background.  The first was when I was very young and she told me a traditional Indian tale about how the Bear lost his tail.  Then when I was in my early twenties and we were in an antique store together, she told me furtively and in a very quiet voice that I should take note of some beadwork because it was the same as my great-grandmother did and that I should remember that one of my great-grandmothers had fought in the Louis Riel rebellion;  she said that they ran out of ammunition and that they put buttons into their guns and fired them at the soldiers.  She said it quickly, in a very low tone and then walked away from me--thinking back it's one of those moments when I wish I had had enough insight to realize the import of what she said; one thing is clear in my mind though--she may have said it quietly and quickly but there was a note of pride when she said that I should remember this fact about my family.  More than likely, knowing my mother did not want to have anything to do with her past, Nan was being discreet and did not want to get in trouble with her daughter.

Metis Beadwork by Artist Lisa Shepherd
It was not long after seeing my great-grandfathers name in one of the books at the office and after we had started talking about my Grandmother that I started having a shaky feeling inside.  After that we finished up the rest of the process and were told we can expect to get our Métis Nations cards some time in the next six to eight weeks.  I still have to get a couple of birth certificates as absolute proof but there is no doubt that Keeley and I are of Métis origin and we have been accepted and recognized as such.  We left the office with a book about Métis history, a Métis cookbook, Métis magazines on art and culture and the sense that we have a new-found family. 

It's been several hours since we've been home but the shaky feeling is still with me and I feel like weeping. It's a very clear sign that I have a lot of un-resolved issues about this and that I'm about to embark on a rather unexpected emotional journey.  Most of it, I feel certain, is related to my Grandmother and mother's relationship and the sorrow that I can feel just under the surface at not really knowing the dynamic woman I suspect my Grandmother was.

Salynne/Susan ©2011

UPDATE:  July 2012 - I am now also writing at a new blog:  The Métis Reconteur where I write using my real name; the focus is on sharing my Métis culture.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Favorite Films That Will Always Stick With You

The rules: Don’t take too long to think about it. Twenty films you’ve seen that will always stick with you. List the first twenty you can recall in no more than twenty minutes.  In some particular order:

1.A Year in Provence--The most watched movie in my library for when I cannot be in France.

2.French Kiss-the second most watched movie in my library.

3.Pride & Prejudice-all six hours; best with a cup of tea and a day off school with Keeley but my other favorite time watching was the six hour marathon with good friends!

4.Much Ado About Nothing--I'd always hated Shakespeare--that was probably related to the fact that when I was in Grade 8 we were doing Romeo and Juliette and the nurse came to the door and told me my Grandmother had died....but that is another story.  Much Ado About Nothing is how I fell in love with Shakespeare--"there's a double meaning in that".

5.The Man from Snowy River-I always wanted a cowboy to sweep me off my feet.

6.The Princess Bride-one of the few movies I remember quotes from! "My name is Enigo Montoya. You Killed my Father. Prepare to Die".

7.Dr. Doolittle--this was Brenna's favorite movie; we watched it pretty much every day from the time she was 18 months old until she died at 8; so maybe it is my most watched movie!  Sometimes I put it on in the middle of the night when I cannot sleep and it just makes me feel all happy inside.  I've been wanting a ride on that big Pink Sea Snail or the Lunar Moth since I was a little girl...

8.The Sound of Music-just one of my "favorite things" but only once a year or so.

9.Chitty Chitty Bang Bang-a memorable movie that's for sure.  I was so scared of this when I was a kid because of the child catcher that I wouldn’t let Keeley see it until she was 11 because I was worried she be traumatized.

10.Chocolat-what can I say...Johnny.....Chocolate......Johnny....

11.Tortilla Soup--one of my favorite food movies; food & family sitting around the dinner table, what more could you want in life.

12.The Philadephia Experiment-this was one of first sci-fi shows I ever saw...time travel...I was hooked.

13.Amelie-absolutely charming; I was so happy when Keeley was old enough to watch it with me.

14.Earthquake-another one of those that scared me to death--I think it's where my fear of bridges come from.

15.Seven Brides for Seven Brothers-this was another one that we played a lot when Brenna was alive only this was one of Keeley's favorites.  She'd put on her yellow dress and dance her heart out.  You also cannot deny this has the most majical winter scenes ever--fake but magical.

16.Beauty & the Beast-we went to the movie theatre and Brenna wore her big pink "beast" slippers.  Everyone gave her attention, she was sooo cute.  It's one of my favorite memories.

17.Bed of Roses-hmmm...pause...what can I say...a very thoughtful movie, mirrored my own life in many way.... and the garden, oh my goodness-sometimes I've watched just the garden scene to get me in the mood to get out in to my own garden.

18.Pirates of the Caribbean--Johnny....even with bad teeth; this is the ONLY movie I've dressed up for!  Keeley and I put on our pirate headbands & earrings and we went to the midnight showing.

19.Bread & Tulips--this is one of my favorite foreign films that I usually watch when I'm alone; its for those times I wish I could step off the world and slow things down.

20.Breakfast at Tiffany’s--the ultimate classic; the ultimate actress. 

Others that I just cannot leave off the list-besides I'm always an over-achiever and I'm affected a lot by movies:

1.Persuasion--I cannot leave this out; it's my all-time favorite Jane Austen book come to life; I've seen three versions and I love them all.

2.You've Got Mail-a good one for a rainy day--I want that bookshop!

3.Funny Face--I always wanted to be the girl in the black top, leggings & flats on the top of that ladder..again I think it has something to do with the books.

4.Innerspace--totally a hilariously funny movie; I nearly broke the seat in the theatre from laughing so hard the first time I saw it.

5.Peter Pan--my all time favorite story & the Disney version got even better when we went on the Peter Pan ride at DisneyLand because I was flying!

6.Mary Poppins-another Brenna favorite which I'm sure I've seen hundreds of times.  It's magical, just magical-who doesn't want to jump into a chalk picture & dance with penguins?

7.101 Dalmations-one more Brenna favorite that is burned into my brain. When I was a kid I love the  thought of two doggies getting married....and "all those little ones"-ok so maybe I can quote from three movies.

8.Pretty Woman--I still want that polka dot dress--ok...the 2011 version without the shoulder pads.

9.The Lion King--great movie but we ended up having to get rid of it because Keeley would go around biting people after she watched it--good thing she was only 3 at the time.  We still don't have it in our Library although its on our acquisition list...I'm a little worried.

10.Secondhand Lions--cannot help but think of my Grandfather and the farm in Saskatchewan.

11.A Beautiful Mind--this was riveting Russel Crowe-I was speechless and I think I held my breathe for most of the show.  It was one of those movies that I couldn't stop thinking about for days afer.
12.Walk the Line--I've always been fascinated with Johnny & Roseanne; true love and country music...the best!

13.Seducing Dr. Lewis--it sounds bad but its not what you think & its one of the sweetest "foreign" movies I've seen despite it not really being foreign but home grown French Canadian.

14.August Rush--a modern day fairytale; I love the feel of this movie and the music.  Not a great classic but I liked it enough to buy it and watch it once in a while.

15.Mostly Martha--my all time favorite German movie...mmm food--the American remake "No Reservations" was horrible.

16.Brigadoon--an all time family favorite and one we love to share with friends, especially when a certain friend happened to be dating someone Scottish-we arranged a special viewing.

17.The have you noticed a category missing from my list.  Suspense.  Suspense and I don't get along but this was so incredible.....I had to watch it and turn the channel every time I started to freak out but I was in love with the movie by the end.  I've watched it all the way through a couple of timesbut it's still freaky...ahhhhhh! what was that?
18.Footloose--totally an 80's icon movie.  I saw it at a drive-in movie in Cache Creek with Bruce after we were first married--our car was rockin cause we were hoppin in our seats to the music!

19.Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom Dancing and Charm School--one of the more recent movies I've seen that left me pondering for days. Not only was the list of cast members stellar but I was touched by way they handled the topic of grief, bereavement and moving on.

20.Casablanca--I just saw it on the big screen a couple of months ago and was awestruck--I now know why women loved Humphrey Bogart!

There's a lot more that come to mind but it's been fun taking a virtual walk through my DVD cupboard and discovering the reasons why some movies will always stick with me.


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Bad Timing - Hot Chocolate, Memories and a Diet

Bad Timing.  It happens now and again. 

I started my HCG diet again. Beforehand I prepared myself mentally and have been looking forward to enjoying the bounty of spring vegetables.  For the past week things have been going well and I have been watching my weight on the scale go down each day.  I've enjoyed swiss chard, asparagus, grape tomatoes and even the celery is crisp and better tasting this time of year.  Peppermint or Apple Spice herbal teas have been my comfort treats.

And then this morning darling daughter said she'd found a new recipe and she begged me to make it.  I love cooking and don't even mind doing so for other people when I'm on HCG and its restricted diet but today's request was the ultimate test of will-power.  Now what sort of concoction should put me on the verge of throwing out weight loss, healthy eating and all self-restraint? 

Nutella Hot Chocolate
3 Tbs Nutella
1 1/3 Cup Milk

Put the Nutella and 1/3 cup milk into a small saucepan over low-medium heat.  Stir until Nutella is melted.  Add remaining milk and increase heat to medium and whisk until hot and frothy.

Keeley Greig Photography
Ever since our first trip to France, Nutella has been a staple in our home and diet.  I love chocolate and I love hazelnuts, it's a match made in culinary heaven as far as I'm concerned.  By the time the Nutella Hot Chocolate was done my mouth was salivating and I just had to have a taste.  It was oh, so creamy, and rich.  Memories of being a kid coming home after skating to find my Dad had made hot chocolate & Cheez Whiz on toast flashed before my eyes.  Then I was off to France and sitting in the cafe in Monet's garden sipping dark delicious cocoa.  And finally I saw myself sitting around the campfire with whipped cream and marshmallow topped hot chocolate in a blue & white speckled tin cup.

It's a bit of a rainy day and all I could think about was the comfort a good cup of hot chocolate brings.  I took one extra sip and handed it over.  Keeley tasted it and smiled dreamily.  Bad timing for me but I did find contentment in knowing that "the first time we had Nutella Hot Chocolate" made a very good memory for her.

Salynne ©2011