8 Things

As you may or may not have noticed, I haven’t been writing at all.   I am a bit disappointed in myself because one of my goals for 2013 was to write more to ensure that I remember it all.  I started the year off pretty good, but as life began to change, writing became less of a priority, more of a chore, and frankly, I felt like the things I have to say on the inside are not what I want other people to read.  I hope that I was still focusing my energy on my output and creative pursuits rather than consumption of things.  But a small part of me thinks that I’ve spent far too much time in front of the television in the last few months–television is a soul-sucking-life-eating time waster, and if I stop to think about it, I shudder at how it seems to drain the motivation right out of me.  I’ll have to work on that this year.

I haven’t quite put together my intentions, goals or plans for 2014 just yet.  That is disappointing in itself, but I’ve been having a rough go of it since the holidays started.  I’ll spare you the details but I’m just not feeling myself.  It is a real let down because I love the New Year.  I love the chance to start fresh–to create a purpose for myself and my life and re-focus my energy on all the things I want to accomplish in the coming months.   The truth is that I’m in this funny place–my life is about to be consumed by another human, I’ve got 5 weeks left on the job and there are no real and desirable goals that are jumping out at me aside from all the things that need to get done RIGHT NOW!  I don’t even have a fucking motto or theme song for this year yet.

But I can’t let that get me down.  It will come.  It just didn’t come before January 1st.  And I’m trying on a few candidate songs for 2014, so that’s something…

Though I’m not quite ramped up for 2014, I can still take the time to reflect on the things that have happened in the last year.  It seems, based on my facebook feed, that people were happy to leave 2013 behind them.  When I first started thinking about it, I realized I had a lot of great things to remember.  So here they are, in no particular order, 8 things that happened in 2013 that make me happy.

Pee and a Plus Sign–We knew that we wanted to have more children, so what better time was there after we got married?  I was late 4 whole days before Martin would let me take a pregnancy test.  He didn’t think it was likely after only a few weeks, but I knew deep down there was a baby in my tummy.  Sure enough, we put Marigold to bed, I peed on a stick, and a plus sign appeared.  It’s been a bumpy ride, this pregnancy.  I’ve had some minor scares, I’ve found myself much more emotional and much more exhausted.  Only 7 weeks left to go until this child is scheduled to arrive.  We’ll see if I can last that long.

The newest McWaters at 19 weeks

The newest McWaters at 19 weeks

The Begonia EP–While I didn’t do anything personally to accomplish this, it gives me a great deal of pleasure that Gord finally released some of his own music.  It was a long time coming and I’m proud of the time and effort he put into it.  It really is a great album.

begonia

I’ve got a New Boss Now –I really liked my last boss.  He was awesome and hilarious and I literally cried for days when I found out he was leaving.  I was certain that there was no way that the new boss would be awesome or good or that really anything positive could come of the change.   Well, I was wrong, new boss is great.  Awesome and amazing even.  I’m actually quite sad to be going on maternity leave!

Hoops and Skeins and Fabric, oh my!–I’m not too sure where I got the idea for needlepoint from, but I had been thinking about it for a long while (I guess as an extension of my sewing dreams).  Finally one day, I went to the Workroom and dropped less than twenty bones on the supplies I needed to get started.  Turns out embroidery is a really simple and inexpensive hobby.  It’s similar to tracing, except you’re using thread and the results are really impressive!

The first actual thing I embroidered

The first actual thing I embroidered

Hoot!

Hoot!

Marigold admiring the scene I did for her

Marigold admiring the scene I did for her

Paying it All Off–I have had this deep dark secret for so very long that I have ignored and shoved aside as much as I possibly could, but it was still always bringing me down.  When I put my list together of things I wanted to for 2013, I included details on the things I wanted to accomplish.  I didn’t want to acknowledge my financial issues–so I just put a line in my list that said “get financially on track”.

I had terrible credit and huge amounts of debt for a really long time and thinking about it made me feel ill to the bone, so instead of dealing with it head on, I just pretended like it didn’t exist.  Turns out that doesn’t make it go away, and it doesn’t make you feel good, because no matter how hard you try, you can’t actually forget about it.

Anyways–through a variety of methods–tax returns, savings and what not, I was able to pay off my student loan, and the majority of my debt in 2013.  I am no where near as good as I want to be with handling my cash, but I’m definitely a lot better than I was in 2012.  I’m paying my bills and saving–I think that’s a good place to start!  And for the first time in a really long time–I’m not afraid to answer my phone when it says “unknown caller” because it’s definitely not someone that I owe money to.  The tremendous relief I feel is inexplicable.

Everything I’ve Longed For–I have loved Hayden and his music since the 90’s.  I would have to say that “Everything I Long For” is probably the most played album I have ever owned.  Actually–come to think of it, I don’t even think I own it–I borrowed it from my pal in  1997 and just never bothered to return it because I loved it so much.  

Hayden, live!

Hayden, live!

I have cried more tears over the lyrics and songs on that album than I could ever dream of counting.  They were a solace I could always count on for any break up.  My good friend, Ryan T., also loves Hayden as much as I do.  It is a special bond that we have shared for over a decade.  At the end of November, I finally got to see Hayden in concert–with Ryan T. sitting a few rows behind me.    It was pretty rad–the show was great, Hayden was hilarious and awesome–it was everything I ever could’ve wanted in seeing him live for the first time.

Nothing Better–Seeing Hayden live was a lot more likely than ever getting the chance to see the Postal Service.  They did one album 10 years ago, and I think they only ever did one tour.  I had often dreamed about getting the chance to see them live so when they announced a 10th anniversary tour, I would’ve paid just about anything to see them.

I went alone to the show at the ACC–it was a night just for me.  I ate dinner at my favourite Mexican restaurant, did some shots of tequila and went to the show.  As an added bonus, Mates of State were opening–they are always good live and also another one of my favourite bands.

Nothing better....

Nothing better….

Seeing the Postal Service was surreal.  The music was fantastic, the lights were amazing and they loved every minute of being on stage.   My heart was practically beating out of my chest and I felt like I had been tele-ported to 2004.  The show was outstanding.

From this Day On–I always wanted a husband, pretty much for as long as I can remember.  It was getting a bit dicey 5 or 6 years ago–I was beginning to think it was never going to happen.  I was happy with my life, and was ok with the idea that maybe I wouldn’t get to have a husband one day.  I always thought that I would make a pretty good wife.  Turns out I make a great wife–just ask Martin.  And really, being a wife and having a husband isn’t really what makes me happy–it’s the person that my husband is.  His personality, his beliefs and convictions, his compassion and interests, his strength and honour–all of those things make him an amazing person.  I’m thankful on a daily basis that he chose me to become his Mrs. McWaters.  I laugh to myself from time to time about how unsure I was in the beginning when we started dating.  And now, I couldn’t imagine my life without him.  I really do love him more and more each day and really look for forward to spending the rest of my life with him.

15a32-recession

2013 was great in a lot of ways.  Of course there were some bad times–but what good is it to focus on that?  It’s the bright spots that will keep you going…pining over the dark days will only bring you down! 2014 is going to be a busy one for us, and it’s a little scary to think about what we’re up against, but after writing this, I’m finally getting excited about setting some goals and planning for what I want to accomplish in 14.

WOOOOO!

Thirty-Five

My friend wrote and recorded this song once, “Isn’t it Nice to Be You”.  The last time I heard him play it,  it seemed like he looked right at me and smiled.  And he nodded, the way he almost always does.  He nods a lot.  As he sat in front of those 88 keys I felt like he was assuring me that it really was nice to be me.

Isn't it nice

I didn’t know it, but being able to think about that smile and the nod has really helped this last little while.

Sometimes things don’t go your way.  Good things, bad things, catastrophic things can happen to anyone at any point in life and it’s easy to get sidelined and forget the things around us which we can continually count on.

For the last three weeks, I have been worried about things that I cannot control, and a future that I can’t see, yet still deliberately reminding myself about the abundance of love and joy I have in my life and little family.  And how I should, quite easily, be content with just that.

Teacups

See–look how happy they are!

A few months ago, I was reading magazines, as I love to do.  And with every page I turned it seemed like the each article I read, blurb I scanned, picture I looked at was there to reinforce the difficulty of conceiving after the age of 35.  That magical number that all women have in their head as the childbearing age of doom–35!  It was just a few months before my 35th birthday, that seemingly dreaded day at which conception became impossible.  We wanted to have at least one more baby and 35 was just around the corner.  Yikes.

What I didn’t know at the time was that we had already conceived.  Less than a month after we were married.  Not exactly what I had expected to happen, especially after reading such doom and gloom about conception at 35.  And now here we are, expecting our second child, in February of 2014.  We’ve told our families, and we’ve told our friends, making it all seem so real and imminent that it could never go away.

But I got the results from my first trimester scan at 13 weeks and they were not entirely favourable.

The call came as I was riding the streetcar to work one morning.  As the tears rolled down my face, I quietly got up from the coveted single seat and weirdly exited the streetcar only 2 stops away from where I got on.  My doctor explained over the phone that the down syndrome risk was not increased, however, there was a 1 in 81 chance that our baby has Trisomy 13 or Trisomy 18.  This means that the baby could potentially have a third chromosome 13 or chromosome 18.  Strangely enough, I had done some research on these syndromes the week prior, so I knew that possible outcome was really quite terrible.  I completely fell apart when I first got the news, and could barely keep it together in the days following that awful call from my doctor.  Fortunately, I was scheduled for vacation the following week, with little to no plans, so I could essentially hide out and be as anti social as I felt.  Over time, I started to focus on the math of it all, which helped me control the tears whenever I had to broach the subject.  The good math, as in our potential risk, and the bad math—the stats for babies with this disease.

These stats, by no means, are 100% accurate, but here’s the way I see it based on everything that I’ve read.  About 40% of Trisomy 13/18 pregnancies carry to term, but the average life span of the baby is 2.5 days. Only 1 in 5000 are born alive and 5-10% of live births make it through the first year. Only 1% live to age 10.  For more accurate stats, feel free to do the research, it really is rather heartbreaking.

Now to put this into perspective, our risk for trisomy 13/18 is only 1/81, which is a 1.2% chance that there is something wrong.  Small risk, right?  As my very wise boss said, when you’ve got a 1% chance of winning the lottery, you’ll never win.  But when there’s a 1% chance that there’s something wrong with your baby, that 1% becomes a very real possibility.

We were called to Mount Sinai for genetic counselling, where a very friendly and knowledgeable, counselor explained the results of my first trimester blood tests–the two proteins were low, whatever that means, which is a sign that there could be this chromosomal abnormality.  The appointment was surprisingly comforting and we had prepared ourselves for a long two weeks leading up to meeting her.    She confirmed the research we’d done with affirmations that this abnormality was certainly lethal to our child, while offering other potential explanations for the test results.  She discussed the next steps–the additional testing options we could choose from and answered our questions as thoroughly as possible.  She even talked to me about what my choices were, should the baby be confirmed Trisomy 13/18 without casting judgement.

We had opted to have an amniocentesis, scheduled for the following day–where they stick a needle in your belly, through your uterus and into your amniotic sack to gather the amniotic fluid.  The fluid contains the baby’s cells, which once retrieved, the scientists break apart to examine the chromosomes to look for abnormalities.  The dangers of an amnio are quite small, especially at Mount Sinai, and the test will give you 99% accurate results.  In 2-3 short days, we could have all the answers we need.

The amnio itself was the most amount of stress I have ever experienced, concentrated in a few short minutes.  But it didn’t take long, and the care of the doctors was fantastic.  We’re fortunate to have such high quality of non-discriminatory medical care available to us, with relatively low amount of hassle to get the best.  Doctors and counselors at our disposal who are positive and caring with a genuine interest in our health, both mental and physical, at no extra cost to us.

The results of the amnio came in just 2 days later and we are overjoyed with the news that I received over the phone.   Our little baby has only 2 of each of the 13, 18 and 21 chromosomes.  There is no chance that this child has Trisomy 13/18 or even Down’s.

Don’t get me wrong, I have read wonderful stories about families with a living Trisomy 13/18 child that has blessed them tremendously–but those stories are incredibly few.  I admire the parents that have lived through this, or any other challenge to the health of their child, and have come across to the other side and are able to share their story.

It is not lost on me that the other calls that were made to patients awaiting their results were not so triumphant.  In fact, the counselor said calling me was the best part of her day.  I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to get the negative results.  And my heart goes out to other mums and dads that have been anticipating good news, and are met with very real devastation when the call does come.

The last few weeks have been incredibly difficult–we mostly kept this to ourselves, only talking about it when we chose, and only sharing with a select few.  And now, we can breathe a sigh of relief.  Of course you never actually stop worrying until your child is born healthy, and even then you worry, I guess, until the day you die.

Before hanging up, the counselor asked me if I wanted to know if it was a boy or a girl.  We’ve opted to wait the whole 9 months for the surprise.  And now all I have to do is wait….

My 35th Birthday, Pregnant.

My 35th Birthday, Pregnant.

drunk guy in a funny sombrero

Are you there Gord? It’s me, Peattsa. Treatsa Peattsa.

I’ve had a terrible case of what I can only assume is writer’s block for the last month.  I think it’s all the things that I want to say to, or about Gord that are preventing anything else from coming out.  Words, I mean.

For those who are not actually Gord, or those folks who don’t know him, he’s my pal.  And he’s moving away.  Really far away.  This is for him.

Gord.

drunk guy in a funny sombrero

Happy Gord

I’ve started these prose about a hundred times in my head.  And all I can think is that there is absolutely nothing that I can truly say that could ever impart to Gord or anyone else exactly how I feel, but I’m going to try.  Addie and Kris, his sisters, might get it.  His mom, Laurie, might have some idea.  Maybe even Golnaz might see where I’m coming from , but she gets to keep him.  Really anyone who has ever had the pleasure of meeting Gord probably has some idea of just how incredibly awesome he is as a human.  As Delay said to me the other night while hugging my tear stained face:  “We all love him.  But he’s your best friend.”   Everyone loves Gord–I love Gord, you love Gord, EVERYBODY LOVES GORD! And now, like many nights over the last 6 weeks, I am crying my eyes out because that awesome will be so, so….So far away from me.  That someone great will be gone.

Rockin' in the early days

Rockin’ in the early days

7 years ago, I moved in with an almost total stranger and had no idea what I was in for.  I knew he played music, that he had a great sense of humour and that he might be a little, well, quirky.  I pictured him hanging around the apartment in a burgundy velvet blazer all the time, keeping the apartment entirely too tidy and being incredibly uptight.  My expectations were way off mark.

Sure it was awkward at first.  We were strangers, sharing an apartment, and Gord had just come off the craziest roommate ride of his life.  Here he was, left to the clutches of another possibly crazy lass in her mid twenties.      I’m not sure how he managed to hold himself together, yet he somehow did.

I was young and afraid and sad to have left the “love” of my then-life behind.  I didn’t know much about Toronto or the people in it or really what to expect from the new life I had happened upon.  When my home-town friends visited, Gord welcomed their wandering and drunken asses, just as warmly as he welcomed mine.  I got to see that he wasn’t uptight nor was he too tidy.  He began to relax, I began to relax and we started to uncover ridiculous amounts of common ground.

Won't you join us and our big ugly dogs?

The invitation to our first roommate-a-versary party.

Our Parkdale Hub of Love

Our Parkdale Hub of Love

Gord was there in the break up times, the stressful times, the munchies times, the boozy times, the Jackson 5 times.  He taught me to eat popcorn with a spoon so my fingers didn’t get all buttery, and he tried to teach me about jazz chord progressions—which was a futile effort.  Our home became a love hub in Parkdale.  Where I made pies and dips, and we served copious amounts of snacks in the kitchen nook.  Where countless friends and visitors felt welcomed and loved.  Where they laughed and cried and ate and hugged.  Where we drank a lot.  Where we smoked a lot.  104 Spencer was teeming with good vibes and positive energy–I was heartbroken when we had to leave.  We were both devastated when our landlord informed us that he wanted to take over our little apartment of splendor.  But the universe, as we all know,  has its way of moving things along.

What Gord might not know is how tough it was for me to give up the life that I had with him to move in with Martin.  I don’t regret the decision at all obviously.  What I’ve gained is immeasurable by comparison, but the hurt I felt when Gord and I parted ways is a sorrow not much unlike what I feel today.  I cried for a month straight after moving out of Spencer.  Poor Martin, I’m sure, was confused by this as it should’ve been one of the happiest times in our lives.  But Martin persevered, my immediate sadness waned, and life carried on in the awesome way to which I had become accustomed.

It seemed only fitting for him to give me away.

It seemed only fitting for him to give me away.

I do realize that, much like our move back in 2009, this isn’t the end of Gord and Peattie, and that the internet exists and that there are cellular phones and email and text messages which will aid us in keeping in touch.  There won’t be the parties or the gigs, though.  And I’m pretty sad about that.

I’m gonna go out on a limb and say this–believe it if you want, ignore it if you don’t:  I am Gord Light’s biggest fan.  I love his music.  I don’t just love it because he was my roommate and he’s my friend.  I love it because it is awesome.  He is, hands down, the most musically talented person I have ever met and will ever meet in all of the days of my life.  Before moving in with Gord, I thought I was pretty good at music.  Next to him, I look like “Introduction to the Recorder” from Grade 4 music class:  Hot Cross Buns style.  He is a god damned musical genius.  The voice of a groovy and soulful giant comes out of his neck, and his nimble fingers are quick to learn any instrument they touch.

Stage Setup at the Cameron House

Stage Setup at the Cameron House

His songs are interesting, his lyrics are thoughtful and witty, his hooks are catchy and the chords are always complicated.  He would write melodies and harmonies on the bus to Mississauga in his fucking head for christ’s sake…without an instrument  in sight.  He can do all the things I ever dreamed of doing with music with nary a second thought.  His soul was called to music, there is no doubt about that.

I remember that first gig at the Cameron…that one he spoke about on stage the other night.  That first gig where he played virtually all his own tunes.  I was shocked at the time that it was somewhat of a first for him and his burgeoning band.   Fast forward 7 years later, and I found myself sitting in shock at his EP release last Wednesday.  There I sat, with tears streaming down my face listening to “Left Turn at Albuquerque” thinking about the drunken wreck I’ll be without him, and how he’ll be dancing out in Golden, not Toronto OR Bermuda for that matter.

I watched on Wednesday as he played “You’ll Never Know” on his uke, and remembered how, about a year ago, I was driving through Parkdale thinking that it was finally safe to stop worrying about things changing one day.  I thought then that if things had lasted this way so far, there was a good chance that we would all go on living within a 5 mile radius of each other for the rest of our lives.  That there was a good chance that I could always count on a HKM happening every Monday, somewhere.  I realized while listening to him sing about the moment being gone that I had been so very wrong–those moments are fading away now.  Things are changing.  But in the sadness of my heart of hearts I am still grateful.  I am still grateful because I know that we never took those moments for granted and we never will.  Those special times will forever live on in our souls and they are something we will share for the rest of this life and on into our next.

Gord & The Flaptones

Gord & The Flaptones

We almost always did what we could to make the best of our lives–Gord and I and our little crew.  We were always thankful for the things we had:  the good times, the friends, the hugs, the snacks, and oh god–the laughter!  We have thoroughly enjoyed everything the universe presented us with, and if ever one of us was down, the other was always there to find the silver lining.  I can only hope that we will carry on as such on opposite ends of the country.

The positive, look at the bright side, hugs-a-lot Peattie was not who I was before I met Gord–I was sad and depressed and barely enjoyed living. I can’t contribute the entirety of my positive mental shift to my old roommate and chum, I can, however, say this:

Knowing Gord Light has changed my life.

And I’m sure if you know him, he’s changed yours too.

So long, Gord.

So long, Gord.

Songs on Repeat: Modern Girl

I think I always knew about Sleater-Kinney, but I never really listened to them before I heard this song.  Like really heard it.

Sunny days and nights

Sunny days and nights

If I had to guess, I would say that the song is probably supposed to be sarcastic in undertones, judging solely on what I’ve learned about Carrie Brownstein’s sense of humour on Portlandia.  And since they’re sortof punk rock, it might just be a commentary on how people rely on material possessions to bring them happiness.  Here’s what comes to mind when I put it on repeat.

Listening to Modern Girl reminds me of the way I felt about Hole’s “Violet” back in the 90s.  It makes me want to wake up really early, drink coffee and smoke lots of cigarettes while I drive a really long distance shouting the lyrics at the top of my lungs.  This song picks me up, it perks me up and makes me feel like I can face the world.  The entire world.  It doesn’t matter to me what social commentary Sleater Kinney meant to disseminate with Modern Girl.  I blast this as my anthem–not because I’m a punk rock socialist. It is my anthem because my life, my whole life, IS a picture of the sunny day.

DSC01380
I have a beautiful baby who loves me.  I have an amazing husband who loves me.  I can get a really fucking awesome donut if I want, and buy a television if I really wanted to.  And even if I didn’t have any of those things, my life would still be full of sunshine.  Because that’s how I want to see it.

There are so many things that can stand in the way of happiness.  Things that seem so important to the value of our lives, but instead of propelling us forward, they push us down or hold us back.  Negative thoughts and actions have no purpose, but rather, they simply sap your drive to live and your will to see all that is good and lovely.

I don’t live in some weird euphoric utopian paradise zombie state, though reading back on what I’ve written, it may sound that way.  I hurt and I cry and sometimes I think I simply can’t go on.    Dwelling on those horrific feelings, while it seems to temporarily offer comfort and relief, doesn’t really offer any value, to me or anyone else.  It simply draws energy away from the things I want to accomplish in this life.

Kensington Sunshine

Kensington Sunshine

I grew up in a pretty negative environment, surrounded by some pretty significant negative influences.  I was so negative I can remember an era in my life where I would actually say to people that I didn’t want to live past 30.  My first thought now is to laugh at such immature rationale, but when I really reflect on the implications of those things I was saying, I get scared.  If things hadn’t changed and I hadn’t made a conscious effort to shed the negativity, I might not have made it to 30.  And I never would’ve been able to enjoy this extraordinary life that I get to live today.

Happiness is a choice, and several years ago I made that choice to be happy.  Surely I have days now and again where again I find myself smack in the middle of misery and despair.  But I try to remind myself about the choice I made as quickly as I can.  Rather than slowly wasting away in the dismal and gray, I can choose to live on and thrive in the shining sun.

Peruvian Sunshine

Peruvian Sunshine

Thank you, Sleater-Kinney, for writing and recording Modern Girl.  It helps me remember to make that choice.  Over and over again.  And that’s what makes me a modern girl.

When the rain clears and out comes the sun, it's accompanied by a rainbow.

When the rain clears and out comes the sun, it’s accompanied by a rainbow.

Goodbyes Are Never Easy

Five years ago, I secretly started my Blogger blog.  And now, I’m moving.

In the beginning, no one knew about my little blogger space except me. I had written publicly in other spaces to share my travelling adventures as a software trainer and to keep my friends up to date on my new life in the big city.  One night, I came home with some very personal thoughts on a friend that was moving, and wanted to share them. I wasn’t sure who I wanted to share them with, so I wrote them for me. For the next year, I barely even remembered my little corner of the internet.

When Marigold was born, I had this overwhelming urge to write my story.  I picked up my blog again and this time I started sharing.  I’ve discovered so much about myself in writing, and I truly hope that one day, when I’m old and grey, I’ll be able to read what I have written and remember my life.  I hope that I will laugh and I will cry and I hope that I have made you do the same.

I’m obviously over emotional about a web address change.  I’m going to continue to write, and you’ll find all the same content, same style, same voice and similar layout at my new address, the only thing changing is my URL, so I’m not saying goodbye.  I’m just letting go of “blogger” to move on to something bigger and hopefully better.  Goodbye Help Peattie Remember, hello LadyBirdMagpie.com

My Two Dads

As I get older it becomes more difficult to remember things about my dad. I can remember his pager number along with our answering machine greeting.  If you ever had to leave a message at my house between 1987 and 1993 I’m sure you can hear his voice as clearly as I can saying:

“Hi.  This is Andy Peattie answering your call.  There’s no one in at the moment, so leave a message after the beep and someone will get back to you.  However, if you need me in a hurry, call my pager at 1-553-0207 and I will answer your call within an hour. Thank you.”

My Dad, 1949,  Age 21
He had a car phone, and a pretty sweet bar in our basement.  He rigged up speakers so music could be playing the back yard while he fiddled with the pH level in the pool, or re-strung the lawn chairs.  He loved big band music, and country even more, and I’ve never heard a tape played more than the Floyd Cramer greatest hits he kept in his talking Chrysler Lebaron.  He used vaseline in his hair before there was pomade and he once owned the Harding Hotel.  But what did I get from him?  I don’t look the slightest bit like him, I don’t care what anyone says.    My mother, on the other hand, I hear her voice come out of my mouth every other day.  I see her face looking back at me in the mirror and in photos and my figure has her curves written all over it.  Her genes were the dominant ones it seems.  At 14 I don’t think I really knew him well enough to figure out  the exact characteristics of his I carry with me, so I’m gonna start guessing.  Here goes my best shot:
1)  His love of music, modified,  intensified, and much more emotionally charged.  I just heard the first four bars of “Canadian Sunset” as played by Floyd Cramer, and I got goosebumps.  I went to a concert on Tuesday night, and as I often do, I found myself tearstuck as I stood in awe of the music. I doubt my dad could appreciate the Postal Service, but I’m sure seeing Patsy Cline live would have brought tears to his eyes.  Thinking of the musically talented people that surround me, my mind wanders to Rolly Honsberger, and the black and white photo of him hanging in my apartment, signed for my dad, thanking him for giving Rolly his first big break.  The eight tracks, the records, the Floyd Cramer on repeat.  These things certainly live on in me.
2)  Snacks.  The man really loved snacks.  His night table drawer was usually filled with peanut brittle, cheddar corn, and cheesies.  Nights spent without my mom were filled with trips to the Avondale to get two for $1 chocolate bars.  His intentions were that the bars were for him and my mum, though both bars had almost always vanished before mum got home from the bingo later than night.  I certainly love snacks, as most people do, but I’m willing to wager that I love snacks a lot more than other people.  SNACKS!  Thanks dad, for the undying love of tasty treats that I feel burning deep inside.
Me, my dad and some snacks
3) Broadly:  Being social.   More specifically, I’m speaking of booze and parties and bars.  And all the things that come along with that.  He had his hangouts and his chums.  He owned a hotel and later sold liquor systems.  Sounds like a pretty rad time to me…. The late nights my dad spent at the Esquire, and later Gerry’s Express have been mirrored in my life by the close the curtains and turn down the lights nights at the Cloak and the Cock and Tail.  His Friday night dart parties in the basement wrought with kielbasa, cheese and beer gently permeated the atmosphere of every “HKM” I ever hosted.  What Glen, Norm and Dave were to my dad are probably not that different from what Gord, Parker and Meher are to me.
My dad, my uncle Cliff, and some other guy who might be my uncle.
My dad at his finest.  Laying in my bed, eating Krinkles and playing Tetris on the Nintendo
I’m sure there’s likely more characteristics I could add to the list, but that’s a pretty good start.  What I hope to have, and what might still reveal itself as I grow older is that entrepreneurial spark–that one day I would be willing to go out of my comfort zone to start and run a business.  Do I know what that business would be?  Not entirely sure about that yet.    Was he successful with his businesses?  I have no idea, but his success doesn’t dictate mine anyways.  We’ll have to wait and see.
My dad died, about a month before I turned 15.  Today, I’m not in regular touch with anyone that really knew him,  so most of this is speculation at best.  But it’s my sense that these things are the “Peattie” that lives in me.
A couple of years after my dad died, my mum introduced me to Luigi.  He had one of the biggest beards I had ever seen, hideous hideous furniture, a cute little beagle, a garage full of birds and a backyard full of fruit trees.  And while I can’t say there are specific things about my character or who am I that directly point to Luigi, there is more of a general influence on things in my life, with hospitality as a big part of that.
I knew Luigi in a way I didn’t know my dad.   He loved me and Matt as his children, he did.  We would spend Sundays and holidays with him and my mum through the remainder of my teenage years and throughout my 20’s.  Often when I remember him, I remember him more fondly than I do my actual dad. Probably only because I can more easily remember him and who he was. I can remember his heart, and the heart of his home, the kitchen.
Matt, Luigi and me, in the kitchen
Luigi was outrageously generous–with his time, his money, his refrigerator and with his lectures on the many English words that were stolen from Italian.  I truly hope that there’s a fraction of his generosity that shines through me in my daily life, and I’d like this to be a reminder to be deliberately generous when the circumstances arise.
And though it may seem trivial to some, my cooking style and my palette are both heavily influenced by him and that causes me great pride.  Going to Luigi’s house always meant some sort of meal, interesting cheese and home brewed wine.  From the salad dressing to the roasted potatoes, right on down to penne a la vodka–the food prepared by his hand or with his recipe was always delicious.  I never wrote down the recipes, they weren’t meant for pen and paper, they were meant to be interpreted.  Which is how I cook today.
Luigi died in July of 2008, the summer of rainbows.  He faded away, which allowed us to say goodbye over a longer span of time.  Having already lost my dad suddenly in 1993, I had learned to cherish the thoughts and feelings and store the memories away deep in my heart for future recollection.  My memories of Luigi are much more deliberate than the memories I have of my dad.
Luigi, me & my mum, 2006
I often stop to think of Luigi when I don my apron, as I do of my dad when I get a taste of cheddar corn or take a sip of my beer.  I don’t believe they’re in heaven looking down on me.  I believe their souls went on to live somewhere else, but I’ll take the pieces I can remember along with me and share it with anyone that will listen for the rest of my life.   Of course, I make it all sound ideal–and please trust me when I say it wasn’t–I will always strive to remember the fondest throughout my life.   And hopefully, the fondest of my two dads really does live on in me.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to take my glass of champagne, and dance around my living room to this: