Wednesday, 28 December 2011


I'm approaching the end of my first month of blogging and it has been an interesting experience.  I started blogging for a few reasons.  I wanted an excuse to write and to try to get the ol' noggin working again.  I hate to flog this horse, but I am quite seriously depressed and one of the symptoms of this insidious disease is that concentration goes in the toilet and general thinking skills tank.  I wouldn't say writing used to be easy for me, but because of my job as a policy analyst in the Canadian federal public service, writing was a huge part of my daily routine and it usually had to be done under tight deadlines.  To say nothing of the always deadly workload of graduate school.  Anyway, whatever facility I had for writing has gone out the window in the past year and a half, and I would like to get some of my mojo back.

Another reason I wanted to start a blog, and this blog in particular, was because I wanted to move beyond reading about things (like woodworking, carving, metalworking, home improvement among others) and actually start doing these activities; I wanted to "take on" various projects and chronicle my experience as I went along.  I was inspired by Mark Frauenfelder's book, Made by Hand, which followed his own foray into DIY-land.

I have a number of these projects in the hopper, but I quickly decided I wanted to write - rant really - about a lot of different things that had nothing to do with DIY.  Also, I have become hopelessly addicted to following how many page views I am getting.  I check my Blogger dashboard, oh, about 50 times a day (in case you're interested, 423 since I started writing this blog on December 7).  I did a brief stint of brutal and shameless self-promotion, posting my blog URL on my Facebook friends' walls, but I always felt a little cheap, so I stopped doing that.  I've registered my URL with Google in the hopes that'll boost my views through that most popular of search engines.

I'm not quite sure why this has become so important to me.  I can't claim to have a big ego.  Indeed, I usually like to live my life in the background and I've reached an age where I no longer need a lot of external validation to feel self worth.  In short, I just don't care what other people think of me (though I am receptive to what people have to say about the content of my posts and enjoy engaging in debate).

All that to say that I have enjoyed my blogging experience even though it has often been difficult.  I hope I can continue to find topics to write about and that people keep reading, even if they are all my friends.  So, til next time, I bid you all goodbye.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Learning Guitar

My daughter, the Bean, has been asking for a guitar for some time now and Kate and I thought this would be a good time to get her one with the condition that she take lessons and practice regularly.  So, she had a nice half-size acoustic under the Christmas tree and she is excited. 

Her uncle has bought her some books and I like the thinking he put into choosing them:  one to teach her the chords, another with songs and a final book that teaches her how to write music for her own songs.  She seems already to be taking her study seriously, sitting down last night with the book to learn her chords.  So I am encouraged.

I've decided that I will go out this week and buy myself a guitar and sign up for some lessons with her.  I'm hoping that we wil motivate each other to keep up with our practice.  I've got some good advice on what to buy from some people I trust - Mr. Conspiracy, Maestro Joe and my nephew Mr. Hockey, Kev (A Yamaha seems to be the emerging consensus).  Indeed, I have a number of nephews who wield an axe and look forward to seeing them again in a while and maybe jammin' a bit.  Ditto for my brother-in-law, who is not Mr. Hockey but is also a Kev.

It is this kind of project that I had in mind when I started this blog and I look forward to keeping you posted on the Bean's and my progress.

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Reflections on the Season

I love the holidays.  Everything about them:  the food, the tradition, the music.  I love getting just the right gifts for my family.  My goal is to make my daughter so happy that she hugs my wife and me until we think our eyes are going to pop out of our heads.  I like getting my wife, Kate, gifts that make her cry.  I've only managed this a handful of times.  My favourite, though, is last year's gift.  After my wife's Grandmother passed away in 2009, Kate helped the family clean out her apartment.  One of the items she salvaged was an old Italian cookbook from the 1930s.  The book was coverless, pages were torn, the stitching was coming out.  The book sat in a ziplock bag for almost two years.  On the sly, I brought the book to a bookbinder ( who did a wonderful job repairing the book and added a dedication page memorializing her grandmother.  When Kate opened the present on Christmas day and she realized what she had, well, she was quite emotional.

Having a young child just makes Christmas about 1,239,652 times more fun.  To see, and to be honest, feel the Bean's excitement is like crack-cocaine:  one hit and you're hooked and want the highs to keep on coming.  At our neighbourhood Christmas party last week, her face just lit up with pure joy when Santa made his entrance.  I wish I could bottle that look.  One thing we've managed to instill in our little girl is gratitude.  She knows how lucky she is to get what she gets, and thankfully, with us, at least, she shows her gratitude with hugs and kisses.  We'll cash in like crazy.  I've started a semi-tradition of carving Lena Welsh love spoons for Christmas, though I wasn't able to this year with everything else that's been going on.  She's proud of them even though they are a little crudely done.  She won't hear of me downplaying my ability with the knife and gouge:  "No, Daddy, you're a very skilled carver."  My heart melts.

The holidays are a little bittersweet for me though.  My mother passed away on New Year's Eve of 1998, so the season is an annual reminder of that loss.  My dad also passed away in February of 2010, on the eve of the Winter Olympics opening in Vancouver and so he was in his last few weeks over the holidays.  I'm a little sad for these reasons, but mostly wistful and nostalgic about all the good times we had as a family.

I'm often labelled as a negative person (a label I reject in favour of frustrated optimist), but during the holidays I feel a more intense gratitude for what I have - a wonderful family, great friends and generous and thoughtful neighbours (mostly).

So, to friends, family and all who read this blog, I wish you and yours a Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukuh and all the best for the New Year.

The Kazuke Family Stuffing

As much as my family loved my Mom's cabbage rolls (holubtsi) and my pyrohy (pierogi), our absolute favourite Christmas dish was, and is, her stuffing.  She called it Ukrainian stuffing, but I don't think turkey is a part of Ukrainian Christmas tradition.  It is a longstanding recipe that was made in her family and has been passed down.  When I moved out of my parents' house to live on my own, I brought this recipe with me and make it every Christmas and Thanksgiving.  Neither of my two brothers has asked me how to make pyrohy or holubtsi, but they have asked me how to make the stuffing.  This will be passed down through all branches of the family.

I have grown up with this stuffing, so to me the ingredients are nothing unusual, but I suppose objectively, the main ingredient may seem a bit odd to people.  Saltines provide the base.  I have no idea what the origins of the stuffing are, but my family certainly doesn't come from royalty.  My Grandparents were poor when they came to Canada in the lead-up to the World War I, and my mother was born in 1933, right in the midst of the Depression.  I imagine saltines were relatively inexpensive and some frugal family matriarch probably improvised the stuffing.  Here it is:

The Kazuke Family Stuffing

1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 sleeves of Premium Plus Salted Crackers
4 TBSP powdered thyme
3/4 lbs of medium ground pork
1 large egg, beaten
Splash of milk

Sautée the onion until transluscent and soft.  Set aside to cool.

Put crackers, one sleeve at a time, into a ziplock bag, squeeze out the air and crush with a rolling pin.  Show some restraint; you don't want cracker dust.  Aim for dime=sized pieces of cracker.  Put crackers in a large bowl.

Stir onions into the crushed crackers and season with thyme.  I say four TBSP, but do it to taste.  I should say, though, when the cracker mixture has what you think is just the right amount of thyme, add a good dusting more - the addition of the other ingredients dilutes the flavour of the thyme somewhat.

Break up the ground pork into the cracker and onion mixture and mix it up with your hands.

Add the beaten egg and mix up with your hands until the mixture is uniform.

Add a splash of milk until the mixture is just moist, but not wet.

Stuff into the cavity and neck of the turkey and ensure the centre of the stuffing is 160 degrees.

If you make extra dressing in a separate pan, form it into a not-too-tight loaf, pour extra chicken stock or milk liberally over the loaf and cover tightly with foil.

As with many family recipes, this is an approximation.  When I moved to Ottawa, I called my mother one Thanksgiving and asked for the recipe.  She told me what the ingredients were, but when I asked her how much of each to use, she said "I don't know, Geoff - use enough!"  So over the years, I experimented.  Like my Mom, I don't use exact measures - I just use enough of each.  So, these are more guidelines than a rigid prescription.  Follow your own nose and taste and hopefully you'll come up with something to your taste.  Just don't skimp on the thyme.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Making Disability Cool.

My heart breaks a little bit every time I see my wife limping around with her Dolomite walker.  She is far too young to need one.  This morning as we did some shopping she passed in an aisle an older woman going the other way with her walker.  This got me to thinking about Harley Davidson riders who flash each other a couple of fingers as they pass on the road.  My mind started turning a little bit about how to cool-ify being disabled.  So here are a few modest proposals:

  • The Harley sign:  scooter riders to scooter riders, walker jockies to walker jockies, wheelchair pilots to wheelchair pilots;
  • Cool paint jobs and lotsa chrome, baby:  flame paint jobs, chrome fender and faux dual exhaust pipes;
  • Leather:  Nothing says cool like leather driving gloves, jackets, skirts - Hell on Wheels, man, oh yeah;
  • Sunglasses:  when you wake up in the morning and the light is hurt your head, the first thing you do when you get up out of bed is hit the streets a-runnin' and try to beat the masses and go get yourself some cheap sunglasses.  (ZZ Top);
  • Scooter sidecars:  Bring along your lame lover, park and let nature take its course;
  • Walker drag racing:  Walkers aren't just for show, they're built for speed.
You're disabled, but you ain't gone yet, so live it up ladies and gents.  Have a little fun and be the envy of your kids and wannabe hipsters everywhere.  Peace out!

Monday, 19 December 2011

Pyrohy (a.k.a. pierogi)

I am what the Anthropology texts refer to as a mutt - a person of mixed heritage.  On my father's side, I am a mix of Welsh and English and on my mother's side Ukrainian.  For Christmas dinner we had standard fare:  turkey with stuffing, potatoes and root vegetables.  What we loved most, though, was my Mom's stuffing and her cabbage rolls (holubtsi).  Mom was proud of her Ukrainian heritage and this is something I picked up on.  So, when I was in my early twenties, I took it upon myself to learn how to make another Ukrainian classic, pyrohy (or the more commonly known Polish pronunciation, pierogi).  I think my Mom was pleased with my interest and they became a must-have at Christmas with both my family and my wife and her family.  Strangely, this was a dish my mother didn't make, she found them too fussy.  I find them far easier to  make than the holubtsi, which I only make occasionally for Christmas.  Sadly, my Mom passed away in 1998, but I still make the pyrohy and stuffing every year.  My daughter, the Bean, loves making them with me.  We put some Christmas music on, make the pyrohy and boil them, dancing to the music in front of the stove while we wait for the timer to ring.  I share with you my recipe for the potato and cheese version, and I look forward to hearing from you about you family's Christmas food traditions.

Geoff's Pyrohy


4 cups of flour
1 large beaten egg
1-3/4 cups of warm water
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine wet ingredients and stir into 3 cups of flour.  Mix until everything coheres, turn out onto a floured surface and knead in the remaining flour.  Continue kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic.  This is often a mystic and ambiguous direction, but as you knead you'll notice that the dough starts to fight back and this is a sign you're getting close.  Test the dough by sticking your finger into the dough, if the divot rebounds quickly, you're done.  Set aside to rest at least 15 minutes.

Potato and Cheese Filling

5 large yellow-fleshed potatoes
280 grams of sharp cheddar cheese (the oldest you can afford)

Peel, slice and boil potatoes until tender. While potatoes are boiling, shred the cheese.  Drain potatoes and mash until smooth.  While the potatoes are still hot, stir in cheese.  Set aside to cool, at 20 mins.

Roll out dough to about the thickness of a pie crust.  The Bean and I use a couple of my wife's coffee mugs to cut the dough into discs, but obviously any cutter in the neighbourhood of 3-1/2 inches will do.  Cut out discs of the dough and place in the palm of your hand.  Take a heaping tablespoonful of filling and place in the centre of the dough disc.  Fold the dough around the filling to form a half-circle and pinch the edges together to make a perfect seal to keep the filling in.  As you make them, place them on a tea towel and cover then with another towel to keep them from drying out.  Bring salted water to a boil. Place 8-10 pyrohy into the boiling water and cook for 4-5 minutes while dancing to christmas music, or until they start to float in the water.  Drain in a colander and put under cold water from the tap. Serve right away or cool them on racks, toss them with some canola oil and freeze them in the container of your choice.

We never eat them boiled.  Usually, we make them a week or two before Christmas and freeze them.  Then, we thaw them and reheat them in a skillet of butter and canola oil over medium-low heat until they are golden brown and heated through.  Serve with a garnish of crispy bacon bits, sautéed onion and sour cream.

Happy eating!  Please feel free to share some of your Christmas culinary tradtions.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Parenting a Girl

Being a father to a daughter has made me far more aware and interested in how women behave in public and how they are portrayed in the media.  On the whole, I have to say I'm a little frightened.  Not that boys fair much better, but, based on overheard conversations in and around town, a lot of girls sound, well, ditzy.  The overuse of the word "like" in sentences that do not contain similes, is a major contributor.  The one verbal habit that I see way, way more in girls and women, though (and one that I am trying to drum out of my daughter) is the infamous upward intonation - where everything they say sounds like a question?  I've tried explaining to the Bean that people who talk this way usually sound as if they have no confidence in what they're saying and that they sound like they are seeking approval of everything they say from their audience.  I'm trying to teach her to be more confident about her ideas.  She doesn't need approval from anybody.

Sadly, swearing and cursing was once the domain of boys and men.  Girls and women, made of sugar and spice and everything nice, wouldn't even think of swearing.  In my old age, I realise how coarse it sounds coming from anyone, but, call me sexist, swearing just seems to sound so much worse coming from a female.  Though I have had a potty mouth since a young age, I try explaining to the Bean that swearing not only sounds bad and is offensive to most, but it is a form of linguistic laziness.  I will continue to try to encourage her to find more thoughtful ways of expressing herself and will continue to try to do the same for myself.

Media do women a disservice as well.  Of course, women are generally portrayed as sex objects.  Beer commercials are the quintessential perpetrators of this objectification.  I cringe every time one comes on.  Before I had my daughter, I admit I was at best indifferent to this form of advertising.  Now, I hate it.  Some feminists say that women's sexuality is a source of empowerment.  Okay, but sexuality to the exclusion of any other trait is, well, wrong.

The media seem to take great glee in putting the worst of womanhood on a pedestal, as either idols or objects of derision.  I don't understand the appeal of the Kardashians, for example.  Empty headed bimbos who are famous just for being famous; pouty and self-absorbed one and all.  Paris Hilton has been both idolised and mocked by the media.  Amy Winehouse (may she rest in peace, finally), Lindsey Lohan, Britney Spears.  The media seems to take particular glee in women's misfortune, much more than men's.  Or am I being overly sensitive?

One of the shows my family and I watch is "Cash Cab", a general knowledge quiz show on the Discovery Channel.  I've noticed recently that whenever men and women get into the cab together, the women inevitably sit in the back seat.  The men are always the ones to answer the questions and the women always defer to the men.  Sadly, I have also noticed that when only women are in the cab, they win far less than when men are involved.  I scratch my head at why this seems to so often be the case.  This doesn't fit the character of any women that I know.  My wife and I have been lucky.  Both of us have had the opportunity to spend long periods of time at home with our daughter.  The Bean has been exposed to both of our interests and between the two of us, that covers a lot of ground.  The Bean strikes both of us as a really well rounded kid.  She loves arts and crafts, sports and science, math and fashion, music and computers.  To be honest, at eight years-old, she does quite well on the questions they ask in this particular show.

The Bean brought something to my attention last year that I had never really considered.  She started writing a letter to the editor about how the television networks don't show nearly enough womens' sporting events.  In the letter, she talked about how girls need positive role models in all walks of life including sports.  She felt, rightly, that women's sports were every bit as interesting as men's sports, especially to girls, who make up roughly half the population.  She is a particular fan of hockey.  We Canadians love the game.  Aside from the Olympics, I can't remember the last time a network showed an entire women's hockey tournament.  She never finished that letter, but I think I'll ask her to find and finish it.  She makes many good points.

I really hope my daughter doesn't grow up pigeonholed by the gender stereotypes society still seems to cling to.  I hope she grows up a strong, confident and smart woman who marches to her own cadence.  I love when women excel in fields normally the domain of men, and I try to point these women out to the Bean.  One day I was walking around the neighbourhood and I saw one woman up on a roof with a bunch of men hammering in shingles.  Later I saw a woman sitting on a stool with a bunch of tools taking apart a motorcycle engine.  Brava ladies and thanks for, maybe unwittingly, setting an example.

I think my little girl will be alright.  She already loves a lot of stuff normally associated with boys.  Last summer we built a birdhouse together and before we began the project, I bought her a hammer, and I may as well have given her a pot of gold she was so happy.  I am going out later today to buy her her own screwdrivers for Christmas.  She'll be proud.

In the end, we just want the Bean to be a strong and confident person and to be exposed to as many experiences as possible so she can choose a path that suits her best.

Monday, 12 December 2011

...Living in Suburbia

I live in suburban Ottawa, Canada'a capital city.  I grew up in Chateauguay, Quebec, a suburb of Montreal.  I feel that I'm now well-acquainted with suburban living.  I am somewhat ambivalent about the 'burbs.  The particular neighbourhood I live in has all the amenities a family could hope for - parks, skating rinks, shopping and schools.  We have a lot of great neighbours who seem to look out for each other.  On the other hand...

To meet the housing demands of a growing population, along with developers' desire for maximum profit, houses are being built on ever-smaller lots, one shoe-horned in next to the other.  Row housing is now ubiquitous, and cookie cutter houses, which are cheaper to build, are the norm.  I despair when I'm out driving and in the distance I see a new-ish subdivision in its bleak homogeneity, completely denuded of vegetation and looking not unlike Soviet-era housing complexes.  Inevitably and ironically, these new neighbourhoods are often named things like "Oakridge" or "Pineview" after the types of trees that were cut down to make room for these awful eyesores.

In an effort to halt urban sprawl, the City of Ottawa has decided to pursue a policy of "intensification".  Some elements of this policy include limiting the amount of land available for development, "infilling" or allowing new construction only in vacant lots or lots severed from larger properties, and approving higher density construction (i.e. apartment complexes, duplexes and the like) including on infill sites and in residential areas that comprise primarily single family dwellings.

I understand wanting to limit sprawl.  As anyone who has seen Toronto from above can attest, sprawl is a blight on the landscape.  It is also infrastructure intensive requiring new roads, sewage and other utilities to service new subdivisions.   Also, more and more transportation is needed to reach the business hubs in the big cities, which leads to greater pollution.  Some have even posited that greater population density leads to lower crime rates because more people are on the streets at any given time and that acts as a deterrent for would-be criminals and also because it is easier and more efficient for police to patrol more people packed into a smaller space.

So, I can appreciate that living in cities and intensifying urban and suburban development has benefits, but I don't like living under these conditions.  Already in my neighbourhood, homeowners are severing their lots and selling the property for mind-blowing amounts of money and new houses are being built on them.   Even my house, which was built in the mid-1980s is on a postage stamp-sized lot.  I can stand in my bathroom and piss out the open window into my neighbour's toilet.  Jamming us all in together also reduces our privacy.  I can't have a private conversation on a summer day with the windows open because all my neighbour's can hear possibly getting the gossip mill churning:  "Hey did you hear about that pus-like discharge Geoff is having from his, well, you know...".  And nude sunbathing?  Forget it.

What bothers me most about living in suburbia (and urbia for that matter), though is the ceaseless noise.  The sources are many.  The thumping bass of "boom" cars that are loaded with preposterous noise-making capability and usually piloted by teenagers and 20-somethings, or as like to call them, the deaf generation (Douglas Coupland:  I expect royalties if you use this term in one of your books.)  While I'm on the subject of cars, my street is a chorus of slamming car doors at all times of day and night.  Even worse are the car horns that sound whenever someone arms their car alarm.  One summer night, between 10:00 and 11:00 p.m. I counted THIRTEEN honks!  The bastard that thought this feature was a good idea should be executed.  Plain and simple.

Then there are lawn mowers, leaf blowers, snow blowers, power tools of every description, yapping dogs, loud mouth neighbours that stay out all night yammering despite the fact they are right underneath our bedroom windows, drunken teenagers roaming the streets on weekends, blaring music from the neighbour's house and on and on.  One neighbour down the street is even raising chickens which make a racket when they are laying eggs  The potential for conflict is huge.  Some people like the noise.  One friend says it's the sound of life.  I appreciate the sentiment, I just don't share it.

I often wonder how I would feel if I could get up one morning and go outside with a cup of coffee to read the newspaper and not hear even one solitary man made sound.  I am also saddened that unless we make a special trip, my young daughter will never get to see the Milky Way because the light pollution from the cities obscures our view of it.  I myself didn't see it until I was in my twenties when I was visiting a friend's cottage near Morin Heights in the Laurentians.  I doubt that even there I'd be able to the Milky Way because development has run amok in the area. 

I'm sure rural living has its drawbacks, too.  Still, I will go to bed tonight with my silicone earplugs rammed into my ears and blinds pulled tight and dream of having a perfectly square four hundred acre plot of land with my house built in the exact centre and a 15-foot stone wall topped with razor wire surrounding the whole property and me sitting in my office with a green crayon writing my manifesto.

Good night moon...


For a decent review of the literature on population density and crime see the following link.

The following is a good link to a blog that deals with population density and noise:

I also have a bunch of URLs about noise pollution for those who are interested.

...Losing Weight

I'm fat, plain and simple.  Nine years ago when my wife got pregnant with our beautiful little girl, I weighed 170 lbs.  Two months ago when Kate was diagnosed with her breast cancer, I was 204 lbs.  This morning when I stepped on the scale I was 226.5 lbs.  I look about seven months pregnant.  I need to sit to put on my pants and my shoes.  When I walk, my spare tire seems to defy the laws of physics by jiggling in multiple directions at the same time.

When I get stressed, I stuff food down my gullet with wild abandon.  My wife's cancer is very stressful, for her, and if you'll excuse the self-idulgence, for me.  Our calendar is filled with medical appointments, so I have little time to fit in a workout.  On top of that, I am suffering from a rather serious and protracted bout of soul-crushing, energy-sucking depression and everything takes a Herculean effort to get done (including blogging, which gets done sentence by sentence over the course of hours and days).  One of the antidepressants I am on (Myrtazapine) is apparently notorious for increasing appetite and I'm afraid broccolli does not have the same appeal as, say, chocolate.  In between appointments I like to sleep eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen hours a day, leaving little time for even modest exercise.  Depression sucks, but that's another blog topic for another day.

Bottom line is that I need to lose weight.  Some vanity is at work here.  I don't like the way I look.  More important, I worry about the impact the extra weight could have on my health.  I gnash my teeth at the thought of getting diabetes, or heart disease, or whatever else carrying an extra 40 pounds could mean.  I'm hoping that by blogging about losing weight I will actually force myself to do something to change by being accountable to my admittedly modest - make that very modest - readership.  So off I go to have nap - upstairs in my bedroom.  At least I'll get the extra twenty steps in.

Stay tuned.  In the coming weeks I hope to write about some work projects:  Sewing a pair of lounging pants (and breaking down some gender stereotypes in the process, I hope), making a tool chest for underneath my workbench, making a wood cane and maybe some carving projects.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

...Kate's Breast Cancer

At first, I wanted this blog to be about me "taking on" various projects - home renovations, art and craft projects, writing a novel, university courses and the like, with perhaps the odd rant about pet issues like noise pollution and the coarsening of society, but then life intervened in an entirely unwelcome way.  In mid-October, my wife, Kate, was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer.  The day we received the diagnosis was the day Fear moved into our house.  I guess when Franklin Roosevelt uttered the words "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself," he hadn't had to deal with the uncertainties of a late-stage cancer diagnosis.

The worst part of those early days was nailing down the diagnosis, waiting to see an oncologist, establishing and starting a treatment plan, arriving at a prognosis.  Fear thrives in the cold absence of information, and in those early days Fear was barrelling around our house farting and belching and leaving a toxic miasma everywhere.  We had no idea what we were in for. 

Almost two months later, though, Fear has moved into a cold, damp corner of our basement.  He makes a trip or two every day up the stairs to let us know he's still hanging around, but on the whole, we've established a livable relationship with each other.  Now we're getting frequent visits from Hope and Gratitude.  Hope visits us because the oncologists have told us that while there are no guarantees, we have reason to be hopeful that this particular form of breast cancer can be brought under control and be treated in the longer term as a chronic disease and that the arsenal upon which they can draw to fight the disease is leaps and bounds ahead of what it was even ten years ago.  Hope also likes the fact that, despite the raw emotions of the early days of diagnosis, Kate is facing this challenge with dignity and good spirits and is responding very well to treatment.

Gratitude finds our home welcoming because friends, family and neighbours have been unbelievably supportive.  They have visited us, cooked for us, had our daughter over for sleep overs, helped us move furniture to accommodate Kate's needs and have just been thinking of us.  We cannot express in words our appreciation.  Gratitude is also always keen to hear our stories of the professionalism and genuine compassion of the people we've encountered at the Ottawa Cancer Centre and the Oncology Ward of the Ottawa General Hospital.  Finally, Gratitude is glad that come what may, Kate, our daughter and I have each other in the here and now and that means more than anything.