My Father's Daughter


When Geese Attack!

I’ve always enjoyed working on a university campus. There are many advantages. And with summer coming comes a campus that is lighter on students, thus even more enjoyable.

However, here at the University of Waterloo, the coming of spring/summer also heralds another significant change on campus — the return of the Canada Geese, in all their poopy glory. Sure, sure, they are attractive enough birds, but what they do to campus sidewalks and lawns is decidedly unattractive.

And, as a friend and I discovered earlier this week, they are down right vicious at times. My co-worker and friend Sarah and I go for a morning coffee every day. We walk over to the Timmy’s at the Student Life Centre (which, incidentally, is the second highest grossing Tim Horton’s in Canada [the 1st being somewhere in Toronto]. I’m not sure how I feel about this. Proud? Disgusted that I contribute to the fat-cat ways of a major corporation?). On our journey back to our building, in a courtyard leading to our door, we encountered a goose. A goose that hissed at us. And waddled toward us. We diverted our path (Sarah more quickly than I) and continued on our way to the door (Sarah more quickly than I). I turned around to look again at the goose, while Sarah admonished, “Pick up the pace McGrath”; and we both watched as the goose took flight and headed straight for us. At this point we both picked up the pace and ran for the door. We arrived there and because we were both pressed to the door and therefore unable to open it, Sarah nudged me aside to get the door open and we were able to get safely inside (in the retelling of this story to our co-workers I have taken great joy in embellishing this detail to explain that Sarah PUSHED aside the pregnant lady in order to get herself to safety in a George Costanza-like maneuver).

After we started telling our very dramatic story of escape from near maiming at the beak of a goose, we found that a number of other people have had their own encounters — and not all have been as lucky as we were. The first co-worker we crossed paths with was struck in the head by a wing. My sister saw another man beat repeatedly in the head. One of the dearest women that Sarah and I work for was also attacked and took a wing AND a beak to the head. We were lucky to have gotten away with some minor pushing and shoving (I’m still looking for bruises, you know, anything to add to the story). Seems there is a nest in that courtyard and our ‘friend’ is just protecting his own.

Shortly after our experience plant ops put up barriers — two saw horses with signs that read “Caution: Nesting geese may attack”. And not signs made from poster board and magic marker. Professionally printed signs. Evidentially, this has been a problem before.


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My sister and I went swimming last night (trying to get some of that ‘exercise’ everyone is talking about these days — I hear it is all the rage; all the kids are doing it). I had forgotten just how uncomfortable it is to change in front of other people (even those of the same gender). There is all this maneuvering with the towel to keep the important bits (mainly one’s entire trunk) hidden from view while pulling on intimate bits of clothing; the desperate attempts not to make eye contact and to keep one’s gaze away from the nakedness of others. It is unnecessary torture. And I don’t know what was more painful – seeing a number of naked bums, or knowing that my bum was out there for others to see. Shudder.



A friend at work has a little plaque that states the following: Dreams can’t come true if you don’t have any. The past two weeks I’ve been thinking that dreams aren’t broken if you don’t have any.

While it isn’t everyone’s dream, it is a dream of Phil’s to drive for a living. Since it appears the major league baseball career is out of reach he longs to spend his days on the road, seeing new places, singing/humming/whistling along to music in his private one-man concert. And, bless his heart he has pursued that dream. And like any dream pursual it hasn’t been easy. It’s been remarkably hard. There have been a number of set-backs and with each one of them we’ve focused on being supportive of each other and leaning on God and trying to see what we could learn from it all.  Oh, and we cried a lot.

I think what I’ve learned about Phil is some of his biggest areas of vulnerability and his greatest areas of strength. From pushing me to pray, pray, pray, to his endless optimism and his courage to even begin the journey, he has shone through this experience. I think you really get to know your partner during your most trying times together. How can we not be grateful for that?

It appears now as though Phil’s dream is, if not firmly in his grasp, within reach. He is insured (the biggest hurdle to date). Next we will learn if dreams really do come true.

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Returning red-faced but with good news

Here I am slinking back to my blog. Grand announcement — I’m blogging again — then nothin’. Sigh. Are we surprised?

So what has prompted my re-return? I have a new niece – Breanna Grace May was born Sunday, January 6th at 4:20am, weighing 7lbs. 13oz. (just shy of our Christmas turkey, incidentally), and measuring 20.5 inches. I haven’t met her, but I am assured she is adorable. I hope to meet her tonight.

It’s an amazing thing meeting a brand new person for the first time. Made all the more amazing in this case by the fact that this new person is family — we share genetic material and will, I hope and pray, share a number of wonderful moments over the course of her life. I’ve always said that becoming an aunt is the best thing I’ve ever done; though now I think I need to modify it to say the second best thing I’ve done to leave room for that whole getting married thing — best not to make hubby upset; and third best if we are including committing to God — sigh, it’s in the top five anyway, in any case, I highly recommend it.


Gender Differences

My husband is hot. And I don’t mean physically, well, I do mean physically, just not in the way you’re thinking (though that is true too). No, I mean, he radiates an unbelievable amount of heat (imagine a 75,000 BTU furnace, and then double it). I’ve heard this is common of men, and that women are always cold.

If this is in fact true (and right now my sample size of one of each gender with all other evidence being anecdotal only, I do not place much faith in the scientific value of my statements herein), I can see a sort of need for this back when men were hunting and gathering and women were staying home to tend to the home fires. What doesn’t make sense, then, is that (and again, this is in my experience without any scientific rigour) men can’t see what is right in front of their faces. And if he can’t see the watch that is less than a foot from him, and all shiny and glinty and stuff, how is he going to see a deer at 500 feet when it’s camouflaged in its environment?

So, while I may never discover the reason for it, I guess, as the temperature wars wage on at 63 Westmount Mews (I don’t know how to change the scheduled settings on the thermostat, but I do know how to jack up the heat and use that hold button), I will take advantage of my very own private heat source. I have discovered, for example, that I can use his back as a heating pad for my back, as long as my pj’s are flame-retardant; and that on those cold nights on a May canoe trip, sharing a sleeping bag with Hot Phil sure does keep the hypothermia at bay.

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I don’t know how to spell success and other scary truths

I don’t know how to spell success. There are 10 minutes left in my work day this Monday. I’ve been sleepy all day. So, surely it is justifiable that I actually had to pause and think for a few seconds about how to spell success. I did come up with the right spelling — it just took me longer than is reasonable for a woman with an English degree to her name.

I’m afraid of my own shadow. Anyone in my family and anyone I’ve lived with can tell you that I can be quite jumpy. Sometimes people even take advantage of that (ahem, Duane, Holly). So, it’s not REALLY surprising that a few weeks ago I jumped at my own shadow. I was returning to my office when out of the corner of my eye I caught sight of my shadow moving on my half-closed door. My immediate thought was that someone was inside the office and I started ever so slightly – I didn’t jump (or scream thankfully), but my heart just leapt a teeny bit. I was frightened by my own shadow.

Most things I know, I know like the back of my hand… I noticed two moles on the back of my right hand the other day (Phil calls them freckles, I call them moles — definitions of each for another blog), that I’m sure I have never noticed before. Have they always been there? Can I really not have noticed them in nearly 30 years of co-existence (feelings about upcoming milestone birthday for another blog)? Am I really that unaware of my hands?

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First House

There are a lot of firsts in life that mark a person’s growth and development and the passage of time — first steps, first day of school, first kiss, first time someone rips hair from your upper lip with piping hot wax lest you continue to look like your grandmother. A notable first in my life in the last month has been the purchase of a house. A house. Nothing makes you feel more grown up than a mortgage.

What a blessing a house is. A greater blessing still a sense of home. Home is a place to belong, a place to rest, a place of comfort and [hopefully] joy. Owning your own house makes the realization of that sense all the more tangent.

But as a friend and I were discussing this morning, C.S. Lewis points out in The Screwtape Letters (run, don’t walk, to rush out and read this book) it is laughable for humans to believe they own anything on this earth. To claim ownership of their time, money, even body and soul is ridiculous. We are given things to tend to, but ultimately they are not ours.

So, I will try to think of this new development in our lives as one of the “talents” the master has given us to tend to until his return. I will try to be thankful for this gift while refraining from believing it to be mine. I will appreciate the sense of belonging, the rest, and the comfort and joy we gain from having a home while keeping in mind that these gifts merely point to our true and ultimate home.