Monday, December 25, 2017


I have two new cats named Sherlock and Watson. I revel in their sweetness and cuddiness.  I do love them, you know ... They’re not Hershey and Rascal, of course, but no other cat could ever compare to them .

This month, I’ve been immersed into the busy-ness of my business. I paint, copy thie image, make tons of different types of merchandise. This cycle of my business provides a good distraction for my mind, especially during the Christmas season.

I went to a make strip club with friends last week.  That was a good distraction too.  I hadn’t actually felt in the mood for our yearly “Dickmas” excursion, but I went anyway. I ended up snapping out of my funk and enjoying myself.  Sometimes you have to fake it to make it!

As another distraction, last night I had friends over for dinner and drinks and fun.  Today, Christmas Day, I’m having more friends over.

This month, whenever I was having a frappucino at Starbucks and a sappy Christmas song comes on (like Judy Garland's "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas") and I want to kill myself because of overwhelming sadness, I turn to the person with me and say, "So, how are you? What's new?"

Distractions and avoidance are the two ways by which I hold myself together during the month of December. You see, even though one part of me likes Christmas a bigger part dreads it because of all the overwhelming sadness it brings to me.

I miss so many people.  My mom, my dad and my best friend Aaron. Rob, of course, and Dandylion, and Hershey and Rascal. My Aunt Joyce recently died from lung cancer too.

This month has been particularly difficult for me. Thirty years ago, Rob and I started chatting through online bulletin board systems, which was pre-internet.  We started out as friends, flirted with each other a bit, flirted some more, and fell in love.

Thirty years ago. How can that be? It feels like I just saw Rob yesterday.  He should be here to celebrate this anniversary with me! Perhaps his spirit is here with me ... I don’t know. I know that I’d prefer him in tangible form to hold me and laugh with me.

I’m alone at the moment, listening to the ticking of the clock. It reminds me of the truth, that time marches onwards no matter what.

One wonderful and constant distraction from my sadness and the harsh realities of life is the fact that I have many cool, great, fantastic and brilliant people in my life. In fact, recently I’ve acquired several more friends, which makes me very happy.

So, Merry Christmas, everyone!

Or as my dear friend Aaron would say, “Fuck Christmas, have sex!”

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

To Rob

To my late husband Rob and the love of my life:

It's Never Really Goodbye

It's never really goodbye
Although sometimes I may sigh
Although sometimes I may cry
It's never really goodbye
It's never really goodbye

You're never truly off my mind
You’re never truly off my mind
Despite the passage of time continuing to unwind
You're never truly off my mind
You're never truly off my mind

You were always here to help me to face life's reality
You were always here to help me to face its harsh brutality
Now all I have are sweet memories to get me through
Now all I have are sweet memories of the life I once shared with you

Forever you will stay in my head
Forever you will stay in my head
Remembering the happy times we shared
In and out of bed
In and out of bed

I’ll never understand
No, I’ll never really understand
Why you had to leave
Why you had to leave
Oh what a sad tale the Fates did weave
What a terribly sad tale the Fates did weave


Friday, September 15, 2017

Analyzing My Dreams

For several weeks, I've been having very vivid dreams. What's new, you may ask?  Anne, you are always having weird dreams.  Yes, well, the most recent ones seem to be about specific themes: yearning for the past, and yet struggling to make the present better and less viotile.

In one dream, I was in a library in Scarborough looking at all of the different types of books.  Feelings of of nostalgia washed over me when I saw Pinocchio, Peter Pan, and Cinderella on the shelves.  They were my favourite stories as a child. And then, I saw a librarian I used to know and we chatted for awhile.  I felt happy. And yet, when I went outside I could see that the library was being boarded up, as if in preparation to be torn down.

Many of my recent dreams have involved my mother.  In one, I had this brilliant idea to buy a large condo and rent out rooms at a reasonable price to some of my employees. I wanted my mother to invest in this venture but she was doubtful. So, I went to Scarborough Town Centre (a mall that I used to hang out in when I was growing up) and stopped a fight between two spies in the food court. I screamed, "Why can't we all just get along?!" I then went outside and decided to go home - not to my current residence but to the house in which I grew up.

The weirdest dream I had was where I owned a large house in which both zombies and robots resided. Sure they were noisy, but I didn't seem to care because they paid their rent.  Suddenly, my Grandmother Abbott (who has been dead for 17 years!) knocked on the door and asked to see my brother Bruce.  One of the zombies told her that he wasn't there and she kind of grumbled and went away. I struggled out of my manual wheelchair (I don't know why I wasn't in my power wheelchair... or why my grandmother didn't ask for me... or why, indeed, she was nonplussed about a zombie answering the door) and crawled outside onto the freezing cold snow, trying to get to my grandmother and tell her that Bruce was coming soon - just wait! Suddenly, I saw my brother, not as he looks now but as he appeared as a teenager: long hair, platform shoes, and driving that beat up old blue van of his.  He got out, and I immediately yelled:  "Bruce David Abbott - where have you been?!"

Those have been a few of my most recent dreams, the more memorable ones at least ....

If I'm honest, though, it's not just trying to analyze my dreams that have been on my mind lately - it's the songs that accompany them in the morning.  A lot of times it's Stevie Wonder's "Don't You Worry About a Thing" that pops into my head.  It's a seemingly benign song, and yet sometimes it makes me feel like crying.  Both my mother and Rob would always try to soothe my worries away.  Rob,
especially would make me see how silly and useless worrying actually is. He comforted me, charmed me, and made me laugh.

"The Sound of Winter" by Bush is another one that likes to replay in my head, so many times I feel like I'm about to go nuts. I love that song, though, that's the funny part of it. I love the lyrics and the imagery within it.

Mind strong, Body strong
Try to find equilibrium
Head straight, screwed on
Been screwed up for too long
I don't want to lean on the waves
I watch the storm evaporate
I think of you in starry skies
I keep you so alive
Let's walk through the fire together
Disappear in the golden sands
It's all in your face
I see you break
It's like the sound of winter
The bleeding love, the silent escape
You've got to hang on to yourself
It's like the sound of winter
Medusa smiles, Judas lips
Open arms and finger tips
Love bites and recompense
I'll be with you until the end
Let's walk through the fire together
Disappear in the golden sands
It's all in your face
I see you break
It's like the sound of winter
The bleeding love, the silent escape
You've got to hang on to yourself
It's like the sound of winter
Hang on to yourself
Hang on to yourself

During these brutal and  uncertain times, remember to hold onto yourself and the ones you love. To simply yearn for the past and focus upon nothing else is a waste of time.  Enjoy the present, and try to respect and help one another.  Prepare yourself for the future - I think it's going to be a bumpy ride!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

My Trip to England in Words

Time goes by so fast. It's hard to believe that only a little over a week ago I arrived home from a week's stay in England.

It was both a chance to display my artwork in the PARALLAX Art Fair and to take in some of the sights of London.

Back in April, when the opportunity to be in the art fair dropped into my lap, I was at a low point of my life.  The loss of both Hershey and Rascal left me utterly heartbroken.  And yet, just like the other losses I've experienced within my lifetime, the world incredibly carried on as if nothing had happened. Like a river, life continued to flow onward, never-ending.

I decided that I wanted to be part of that magnificent flow, be it calm or turbulent - I wanted a new adventure!

Except for a few hiccups, like the airline damaging two wheels on my commode chair and getting into an argument with the manager of the flat on the first day, England was brilliant!

I went to the Tate and Portrait galleries, both of which were fantastic - and free! Even on a dull, overcast day, the view from the London Eye didn't disappoint.

As I was going along the Ripper Walk I couldn't help but think that perhaps I should have been a CSI detective. Tales of blood and gore don't faze me, neither did the gruesome photos that the guide passed around. My only thoughts were: Why/how could this person commit such deeply warped and horrendous acts?  Who was Jack the Ripper? Would anyone know for sure?

I wish that I could go back in time, follow the clues and solve the case.

The PARALLAX Art Fair was amazing!  There were so many other artists there, all with cool and different styles.  I made a few friends and connections here.  One person was from Spain and had a 17 year old son who had Cerebral Palsy. We chatted for a bit and said we'd keep in touch.

I didn't sell any paintings, unfortunately, but I sold a lot of cards and prints. So, that was good!  My customers had many complimentary things to say about my art.  That made me happy. No, more than happy .... Of course, I've received praise for my art before throughout the years.  However, somehow this was different.  The customers at the art fair saw the hard work that had obviously gone into my art.  Sure, a lot of people said the usual things when they saw my body of work:  Your work is so beautiful;  I love your cats; Congratulations on your talent!  Some people, however, went further, saying that they liked the fluidity and depth of  my paintings, and could see how my process had evolved.  There were even a few who told me that they thought my artwork was the best of all of the other art on display.  Perhaps that was going too far ... Still, I felt truly valued and respected as an artist

All in all, I had a fantastic time in London, England - and I yearn to go back!

Maybe next year for my 60th birthday!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

My Trip to England in Photos

From July 17th to July 25th, I went on a journey to and from London, England with five of my friends. These are the photos we took on that trip.

In my next blog post I'll give a more detailed account with actual words.

Me at airport, going to London, England.

Snacking before flight.
Fake Flower in Flat

Tower of London Burger

Sitting in Soho Square, just like I did nine years ago ....

Sitting with Charles II in Soho Square, just like I did nine years ago ....
I love this bench and the song ... they bring back such bittersweet memories of nine years ago ...

Me at the Tate

I wonder if my friend Leon knows about this place. The food's yummy!
Pondering the past existence of Anne Boleyn.

Cool new shoes from Irregular Choice.

Cool new outfit!

Selling my art at the PARALLAX Art Fair. #1

Selling my art at the PARALLAX Art Fair. #2
One of my customers.
My dear friend Roger.

Inflatable wig!

Cool wigs from Tiger!

Beautiful rainbow!

Steak, Yorkshire Pudding, and Guiness

Outside of Paul McCartney's home/studio.

View from London Eye.

Morning preparing to go back to Toronto.

Back at Toronto airport.
I love my friends!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A Better Day

After a long flight and a rather frustrating day yesterday, which included a dispute with the manager of the flat, things look better this morning.

I'm in England! Bloody hell, it's going to be brilliant!


Saturday, July 1, 2017

I Feel Like I Need to Say Something

I feel like I need to say something because I'm very upset.

On June 22nd George Heckman shot and killed his disabled son Grant and then pulled the trigger on himself.  Friends of the family and the media are saying that the father committed this horrendous action "out of love".


It's the Robert Latimer case all over again.  Back in the 90's Mr Latimer killed his disabled daughter Tracy by putting her in his truck and letting the carbon monoxide slowly put her into an endless sleep.  I know this case backwards and forwards because I researched it for a speech I was asked to give at the Humanist Association of Toronto.

Latimer claimed that Tracy was in constant pain, but in every photo that was shown in the newspapers she was always smiling and seemed truly joyful.  Latimer said that the lack of support for his disabled daughter weighed heavily upon his family... except for the fact that Tracy had been recently placed in a government funded home for people with disabilities.

 Certainly there should be more government funding and community support for families who have children with disabilities.  That goes without saying!  However, families should be advocating for their children by seeing them as valuable and precious human beings - not as burdens to be disposed! Fight for more assistance, more funding, more medical care.  Speak up and ram down society's throat this radical idea that your child has value and is worthwhile despite having a disability!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

What the Hell

Yes, I admit it, I'm a geek. I watch shows like Torchwood, Gotham, Fringe,  Supernatural, Vampire Diaries etc. I also like watching old reruns of That Girl, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Star Trek, and Battlestar Galactica.

So sue me!

Last week I watched the pilot episode of series 10 of Doctor Who, and the last sentence the Doctor uttered made me think Yes, yes, that's exactly how I feel!  That's how I view life!

The Doctor had to make a decision:  wipe Bill's memory and stay put in a boring teaching job, or go off in the TARDIS and take Bill with him and have marvellous, exciting adventures. He chose the latter and told Bill, "Sometimes TARDIS stands for What the Hell."

In my mind, I elaborated on that sentence. I thought, Why the Hell Not? Why not take chances and live life to the full?

Recently,  I had the opportunity to try out in the PARALLAX Art Fair in London, England.  I go  in July.  How exciting, eh?! It wouldn't have happened if I hadn't thought Why The Hell Not?

And today someone is bringing over two kittens for me to consider adopting.  She is a friend of a friend of a friend who needs to give away the kittens because of asthma.  It may or not work out, but I thought What The Hell! I'm still grieving over Hershey and Rascal, but the kittens might take some of the pain away.

Today I'm also expecting an O.T. to come and assess me for a new wheelchair. I'm trying to get it before I go to England, but it may not be possible. Still, gotta try, right?

On Wednesday I tried the new unicorn frappucino at Starbucks instead of my regular peppermint mocha frappuccino. I thought, What The Hell. Sometimes you just have to live on the edge.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Ghosts of My Fur Babies

These are pictures of Rascal when he was wide-eyed, beautiful, and healthy.  Until six weeks ago, when his brother Hershey died of thyroid cancer, Rascal was the picture of health and chipper to boot!

Sadly, Rascal developed lung cancer and declined quickly.  He stopped playing with his toys, he began to hide under my bed, and his appetite waned until he completely stopped eating at all.

Yesterday, because it had been four days since Rascal had eaten anything and because he'd gagged and vomited up stomach acid the night before, I regretfully decided to have him put to sleep.

That decision and experience was so hard on me.  I kept second guessing myself.  Was it really Rascal's time?   Did he understand that I was doing this to stop his suffering?  I hoped so ....

I dreaded going home, knowing that my apartment would seem so quiet and lonely when I arrived. 

My boys!  My boys!  What was I going to do without my two sweet boys?

As I've said many times before, I'm not 100% sure whether I believe in an afterlife/spirit world or not.  And yet .... And yet .... When I opened the door to my apartment I swear, just for a second, I saw Hershey and Rascal standing there in the hallway waiting for me, just as they had done many times before.

And now, I jerk awake at night thinking I feel them jumping onto the bed, readying themselves to come snuggle with me. I reach for them, but feel no furry bodies.  Out of the corner of my eye I see them in so many places: sleeping on my bed; curled up in their cardboard boxes; sitting in the kitchen, waiting patiently to be fed; walking around in the bathroom, asking to be petted.

I'm haunted by my fur babies.  I miss them so much!  Their ghosts both comfort and torture me.  They should be here with me; with all of their furriness, cuteness, and oddness!

I mean, whoever heard of a cat that sings to his toy string as he carries it around in his mouth?

Or, a cat who liked to walk around with a shower cap on his head?

Rascal, Hershey... wherever you are, know that I will love you forever.  And, I hope you know that I did my best to give you a happy life that was full of love.

Give my love to Rob and to Dandylion.

And, Hershey, please don't bite Rascal's balls anymore!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

One Day at a Time with My Sweet Rascal

I didn't go to the market today because my ceiling lift was broken, it was freezing outside, and I wanted to be with Rascal. He was hiding under the bed again this morning ....

You see, this week I just found out that Rascal has a mass on one of his lungs.  Crazy, right? I had just lost Hershey a little over a month ago through cancer, and now Rascal has it too!  What are the odds, right?  It's like a bad genetic lottery.

When the vet told me I yowled in pain, sorrow, and fury!  It wasn't fair! It wasn't fair! It wasn't fair! My boys are sweet, innocent, and lovable who don't deserve this!  There are so many heartless and brutal people in the world - why couldn't Fate target some of them?!  (Yes, yes, I know these type of people get diseases and die, too, but it certainly still seems lopsided somehow.)

I cried for a day and a half, and then I thought:  Rascal's still alive.  He's alive and he needs my love and support more than ever.  I can't mourn for him when he's still around!  So, I'm trying my best to rein in my sadness and make Rascal's last days filled with love, affection, and any kind of food he wants - except for chocolate, of course!

I'm not sure exactly how long Rascal has, and sometimes he has good days and bad (which evokes a whole range of emotions), but he and I are going to take it one day at a time together.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Days After Hershey (Part II)

Thursday, February 9th ...
                                             My friend Mairead invited me to go watch her and her dance troupe perform at the Harbourfront Centre Theatre.  I gladly accepted without any hesitation.   I was feeling stressed out from too much work and grief.
                                            I was in badly need of a diversion.
                                            The performance was excellent. I was so impressed by the dancers' timing, agility, and endurance.  Amazing!
                                             I'm not sure if people were supposed to analyze the performance or not, but I did.  In the first half of the dance, the three performers pushed; pulled; and tossed each other around.  At one moment they seemed to be assisting each other by pulling one another to a standing and position, or dragging them out of the way. At other times they were pushing each other away or turning their backs on one another.
                                             The second half of the performance was lighter, humorous. Each dancer carried an egg, sometimes multiple eggs.  They balanced them on their feet or other parts of their bodies. Eggs were placed upon their closed eyes and inside their mouths.  Eggs were strewn ałl over the stage and the performers tried their best not to smash these fragile little things, but an occasional accident occurred.
                                             The dance was all about life, I thought. The pushing and pulling of humanity, of nature,  constantly changing from the beauty of nurturing of others to the harshness of pushing each other away in anger.  It's all a continuous beautiful and ugly swirling mess in which we are all dancing. A tender cuddle here, nameless people get killed over there. Beautiful sunshine in one place, a terrifying tsunami in another.
                                              The eggs, of course, symbolized the fragility of life, of our environment. Most of us are respectful of the environment, or at least aware of its delicate balance, but there are those who act like they're taking cartons of eggs and intentionally smashing them to smithereens. Bastards!
                                              I realized many things as I was watching Mairead perform. Although I may feel like all of my anchors are gone (by this I mean those who love me unconditionally and are with me consistently), I am not really alone. I have many people who love and respect me. That's fantastic! I am also a member of this beautiful, ugly, swirling mess. I am part of humanity, the nature that envelops us all. Yes, I have this feeling of being alone, but nobody is truly alone. If only we reached out a bit more.
                                                I also realize that I had the same thoughts and feelings (did I really go through this, did this actually happen?) many times before. Hershey was just the newest surreal experience in my life. It wont be easy but I know the pain will subside. I've gone through so much in my life and I've always come through the other side.
                                                 As life changes, so does its tune and I need to find the next rhythm for this dance.
                                                I love you, Hershey!

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Days After Hershey

Warning! This post may be difficult for some people to read, especially if you're experiencing grief yourself.  And yet, if you're able to get beyond the sadness there's always hope.

That day ...
                  Did that really happen?  Did I just spend a whole incredibly awful and nerve-wracking day only for it to end even worse, like some fucking rancid cherry on top?
                  Emotions and memories got all tangled and jumbled up. As I held his furry frame close to me, cooed softly to him, and stroked his paw and head, memories of my mother and of Rob came to me.  Sitting with my mother in the hospital, waiting, waiting for the inevitable end. Rob, almost thankfully, had already passed when I had arrived.

Later ...
              Food?  My stomach felt both full and empty at the same time.  Must I eat? I must. I know that I must eat in order to survive.  I must survive not only for myself but for people who love me and depend upon me.
             Emailing, scheduling my employees, doing the payroll, and training a new person - it all seemed too much to handle! And yet, I did it all because of the reasons mentioned above. I also finished the three paintings that I had been commissioned to do for a show next weekend.  Plus, I went to the St. Lawrence Market two days after Hershey's death.
             Life continues to go on no matter what.

Counselling day  ...
                                 A torrent of tears fell from my eyes as I tried to unravel and understand the emotional mess I was feeling.  Like my mother and Rob, Hershey had emotionally branded me as his. I felt torn up inside: sad, angry ... lost.
                                 All of my anchors were gone.
                                 Afterwards, I had a lemon loaf and a frappuccino with Alana at Starbucks and that cheered me up a little.
                                 Brittainy and I had dinner at Sambuca's, and that made me even more happy, especially since an old friend of mine, whom I hadn't seen in ages, came up to our table and started reminiscing about the first time we had met twenty years ago.
                                 Memories of that particular evening, from ages past, flooded my mind, and I found myself smiling and chuckling.  I remember I had been selling my note cards to people all up and down Church St. That's when I met Paddy.  She had bought a package of cards, and she and her friends liked me so much they took me out drinking.  I don't think they had ever assisted a person to get drunk before because they called Rob as soon as I started coughing a bit.  Rob, in his usual matter-of-fact tone, said, "Yeah, she does that.  It's nothing to worry about."

(Part II will come later.  I'm tired ....)

Friday, February 3, 2017

My Sweet Hershey Bar

It is with tremendous sadness that I need to tell everyone, that yesterday at 6pm, because of a massive tumor on Hershey's thyroid, I had to put him to sleep. I was with him right until the very end, and I'm very glad I could give him love and support in his last few hours. Like his name suggests, he was such a sweet cat and I'll never forget him and never stop loving him.

 Rob had named our other cat Rascal Houdi after a song by Max Webster.  I struggled to find an appropriate middle name for Hershey.  Hershey Kiss?  No ....  Hershey Penn (after Penn & Teller)?  Naw.

I don't know why but in recent years, in my mind, I would call Hershey my sweet Hershey Bar.  If I patted him and he'd close his eyes and purr, letting me know that he like what I was doing, I'd think to myself: I love you, my sweet Hershey Bar.  I love you!

(Yes, I know, this is sounding corny and maudlin, but I promise you that there's some cute pictures ahead.  Plus, give me a break.  I just lost my cat and I'm drinking Scotch and feeling sorry for myself.)

I love you, Hershey! And, I honestly think that you felt the same about me. You were funny and clever and sweet. I'll never forget how you carried your rainbow string and sang to it or how you could open doors. You were an amazing cat and friend. Most amazing of all is that you actually forgave me for running you over as a kitten. But we had almost 11 fantastic years together afterwards.

If there is an afterlife and you run into Rob please say hi and give him a nuzzle for me.