Winter Wonderland… Yet Downed Tree’s

We got our power and then lost it twice, but luckily it came back soon thereafter.

I can’t believe how beautiful it is outside… I have never seen the tree’s around here glisten like this before.

Although it is breathtaking, so many tree branches have fallen, it’s unbelievable.  I drove by my school and could not believe my eyes.  Downed trees everywhere, especially near the crosswalk.  I hope what’s left of our trees survive.  I think we are going to have to plant some new ones in the spring.  They gave us some much needed shade, it’s a shame to lose them.

Here are some pics. of my drive by.

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Ice Storm 2013

Sunday, December 22, 2013

We are in the midst of an ice storm.  I placed a bet with my husband that we wouldn’t have any power for a long time.  He said we’d be up and running within 24 hours.  He wanted to bet $50 bucks.  Stupid me said $20.  We have 1/2 hour to go. I have faith that Toronto Hydro will have everyone but Scarborough up and running. That’s what happened the last time we had a major power outage.  They don’t care about us.  When I heard we were going to have a storm, I made sure I went to the bank to take out some money, bought some groceries, and filled up the car with gas…just in case.  So the bet is on.

This morning when I looked outside I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was.  I got some great photos.

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My Backyard Ice Bird Hotel


A Game of Frozen Basketball Anyone?


I thought we were going to be okay because we have a gas stovetop.  Usually you just light it up with a match and you are all set.  Not today though.  Not with the new stove I bought. I could not get it to light.  Fortunately Michelle came over this afternoon and invited us over to warm up some soup on her gas stove which works.  Here are some pictures of my walk to her house.

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Meanwhile, Bobo and the kids walked over to TIM Hortons to try to get some food/hot drinks.  Our neighbour told us they were open but it was nuts…many customers.  They almost got into a brawl with some lady who took my daughters BLT after waiting in line for an hour.  I was amazed they were even open.  The drivethru stretched well into the street.

We went to check up on the grandparents.  Bobo’s family has power, but my parents don’t.  Let me correct that.  Apparently my father has successfully managed to siphon off someone’s electricity from the Main Street through his backyard and has his fridge running and he was planning on getting his furnace running too.  I must say, the man is resourceful in times of trouble…as long as he doesn’t blow the place up he should be fine.  My parents still have their old stove, so I knew they would be able to heat up their food and they have a fireplace.  They don’t have any phone lines though because the neighbours trees fell on top of them.

It’s 11:52.  Looks like I’m going to win the bet!  Bobo spoke to our MP who lives around the corner from us.  He told bobo he had already made a call to the city to send trucks to clear up the debris from the broken trees.

My tree in the front yard is in trouble.  Three of the branches have fallen.  It’s so sad to see it in distress.  As I walked around the neighbourhood I was astounded at all the broken branches, but was able to get some really cool photos.

The radio station said they were hoping to get the hydro on in 72 hours.  I hope they do because they also said we were suppose to hit a record low temperature of -14 degrees on Tuesday night.  I’m planning on booking a hotel that night because I don’t plan on freezing to death.


Tuesday, December 24

We got our power back on Monday (not in 24 hours) so I won the bet.  Should have bet him the $50 bucks, like he wanted.  Lots of people are still out of power.  Now my father has connected 2 more houses next door to him to siphon the electricity from that other poor guys house whose backyard backs onto my parents yard.  I hope they all plan to generously compensate him!

I got in touch with Maria O’Kane’s husband.  They were living at the Comfort Inn for one night, but got the boot the next day because their power went out.  So now they are staying with some friends.  There are many people that still don’t have power and are relying on their friends that do to let them sleep over.  The gas stations and coffee shops are outrageously busy.  You can drive down the street and one side of the road will have their businesses open and the other side will be totally in the dark.  Those that are open seem to have a steady flow of consumers, but some of the stores will only take cash because their debit/visa machines aren’t working.

Church may be very interesting tonight…by candlelight if the power is off.  Totally cool!  I hope I can see my music!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Maria O’Kane Speech

Growing Older

Sorry it took me so long to post my speech for Maria O’Kane’s Memorial, but this week has been crazy with appointments and Christmas Concert.  Here it is….

My name is Maria Pisani-Brown and Maria O’Kane was my friend from Gilda’s Club, a support network for cancer patients.

Maria meant a lot of things to a lot of people.  To the people of Gilda’s club, she was an inspiration.  Everyone in the Wellness group knew we were going to have a good time when Irish Maria showed up.  She had a knack for making us laugh and brightening our mood.

Maria was quite candid and matter of fact about what her life was like as a cancer survivor and mother of two, one child being autistic.  You couldn’t help but feel in awe about her outlook in life and wonderful attitude despite her illness and her hardships.  Maria was a truly remarkable lady.

Maria had some very interesting character traits.  She wasn’t one to mince words, which was something about her I so admired.  She wasn’t afraid to tell you exactly what she thought, even if it did land her into trouble.  I remember one time she told me a hilarious story about how she was travelling on the subway and saw a bald elderly oriental woman.  Thinking the woman had cancer, Maria felt compelled to say something to her.  “Don’t worry.  I have cancer too.  Things will get better”, Maria told her.

The lady looked her straight in the eye and said “What?”.  Me no have cancer.  Me believe in Buddha.  Buddha squish cancer like a peanut.

Maria was mortified.  “That’ll teach me for opening my big mouth,” she told me as I laughed uncontrollably at her tale.  Maria was great at telling stories.  She knew just how to take centre stage and captivate an audience with her beautiful Irish accent and her witty humour.

Another character trail I admired about Maria was that she was strong willed and persevered.  Despite being told more than once she had 3 months to live, she kept ticking like an energizer bunny rabbit.  You couldn’t help feel that Maria was invincible.  The odds of surviving esophageal cancer to five years was less than 3 percent.  The doctors at PMH eventually told her that she was the longest surviving esophageal cancer they ever had and they weren’t sure what to do with her.

Maria had a lot to say about doctors when she heard cancer patients tell her they only had a short time to live.  “What do they know?”, she would say.  “Are they God?  Don’t listen to them.”

Although Maria didn’t often go to church, she was more catholic than many people who do.  Maria would do anything for a person in need.  She would give money or food to people in the street.  If there was a child who needed a coat in the winter, she would provide one for them.  And despite being so giving, she really had a hard time accepting help, because she was so fiercely independent.  She genuinely cared for others and put others needs before her own.  She always listened attentively to everyone and gave them good sound advice.  She was a real mother hen.

help one another    repay

If you happened to be one of her friends, Maria had a strange way of making you feel protected.  She was fiercely loyal too.  One day I had an appointment with a doctor who I call the Dragon Lady.  Maria knew how much I dreaded seeing this woman and offered to come with me.  That was the first time I actually felt comfortable talking to the Dragon Lady because I knew that if she started to roll her eyes at me when I asked questions, then Maria would have her head on a silver platter.  There Maria was, bald and beautiful, starring her down like a Doberman ready to pounce.  I usually left my appointments with the Dragon Lady in tears, but not this time.  I really felt good when Maria came with me.  It made the time go by faster and we had so much fun talking together.  I also really admired her for not caring about what people thought about her bald head.  She would show it off, tumour and all.  I don’t know many people who would have the guts to do that.

help someone

Another trait I so loved about Maria was that she encouraged people to follow their dreams.  I talked to her about going to Paris and painting in Monet’s garden and the next thing I knew, I had a plane ticket and was rearing to go.  Maria encouraged me to travel to France over the summer and I did just that.  She also kept pushing me to write stories and get a blog up and running because she believed in me as a writer.  I think I changed and became a much better person as a result of knowing Maria.  She inspired me to take chances and do the things I really wanted to do in life which I don’t think I would have without her.   Maria wasn’t afraid to live life to the fullest and neither should we.

Although Maria is not here with us in body, I believe she is here with us in spirit…and we just have to look for the signs.  I received my sign from her shortly after I posted a comment and photo of her on her Facebook page.  It photo was taken in the spring from when we went to St. Anne’s Spa for a massage and some really great food.  Maria had often talked about going back there one day.  Whenever I saw Maria, the first thing she would always ask me was “How are you doing?”   Lately, the answer has been, “My feet are burning from the chemo treatment I’m on”.  She would just shake her head.  Maria loved to have her feet massaged and didn’t like the side effects I was having.

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Shortly after I posted that picture of Maria at St. Anne’s Spa, I went to open up my mail.  That’s when I found a letter from St Anne’s Spa congratulating me for winning a free Caribbean Rejuvenation Foot Massage.  I laughed and thanked Maria for thinking about me and my feet.  I felt like I had just received confirmation that she was alright, and she was still looking out for me.

And I bet if you look hard enough, you too will also find signs that she is looking out for you.

I miss you my friend, but am sure we will meet again.  I will forever remember her telling me and I quote… “Those damn Catholics.  If they truly believed in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, then why the hell are they so afraid of dying?


Upcoming Service for Maria

Guess who is going to speak about Maria O’Kane on Monday?

That’s right.  Yours truly.   At 12:30.  The service starts at 11:00.

I’d post some of the stuff I am going to say, but I don’t want to give anyone else any ideas so they steal the show before me.  I’m second last.  I hope people don’t leave before my debut, ‘cuz I really like my speech (I will post it on my blog after the memorial).

And nobody and I mean nobody had better make me cry before my speech so I’m a wreak before I even start! Sam and Nigel are going to speak too, after me.  Then I can cry… if I want to.

Maria O’Kane’s Memorial Service

Monday, December 5th, 2013

Variety Village Address: 3701 Danforth Ave, Scarborough, ON M1N 2G2
Phone:(416) 699-7167
Mother Theresa

Round 3

December 1, 2013

Round 3

I was determined to complete all 14 days of Xeloda because, quite frankly I’m not ready to be as bald as an eagle this winter…nor do I want a porticath.  So I got it in my head to do whatever was necessary and endure whatever comes my way.   Maybe, just maybe, my body will get used to it.

I was doing okay until about days 5 – 7.  I could feel my feet caving in, but I persevered.

It didn’t help that I felt I was getting too fat and off I went to the YMCA to try to work out.  I did 10 minutes of the bike and about 20 minutes of Arriba dancing.  My feet felt hot.

Well, low and behold, was I not sporting some lovely blisters on my feet the next day.  And then my feet started peeling.  My husband said I was shedding my skin like a snake.   But I refused to give in and go off the chemo.  Decided Chemo IV was not for me and these pills I’m taking had to work.

I started feeling really horrible one night during the second week.  I fell asleep for a while, until but my children decided to wake me up and jump on my bed.  So I screamed at them.  Bad idea.  My heart rate skyrocketed and I felt significantly worse.  Decided I was not well enough to endure a friendly visit to the emergency department, so I took an oxycocet and went back to bed.

The next morning my heart was killing me.  It felt like someone had their hands around my heart in a death grip.   I told my kids to fend for themselves because I wasn’t getting out of bed; thus they were late for school.  My heart monitor indicated my blood pressure was too high so I took a beta-blocker.  That really helped.  Brought everything down to a more reasonable level.  Phoned my oncologist, radiation and heart doctors.

So now the new plan is to keep me on this chemo. one week on and one week off, to give my feet a break.  I hope this works.  I’m still waiting for an MRI date to see what’s going on with my bones.

Yesterday, Cathy Mouzos and I took our 5 kids and Maria O’Kane’s daughter to a Christmas Rotary Party at the Royal York Hotel.  They served chicken fingers/fries, chocolate milk, and ice cream.  The kids got their faces painted and worked hard on Christmas activities.  We all had our picture taken with Santa and got a bag full of gifts.  It was a good day out.

Maria’s daughter, Samantha is a real gem.  I can’t imagine how hard this has been for her to lose her mother at such a young age (10), but she is a real trooper, just like her mom was.  Sam is going to be speaking about her mother at the memorial next Monday.  She is so brave.  Maria told me Sam was going to be okay and I believe her….after all she has a protective angel watching over her.