Erik and Ellen met at Camp Tawonga summer camp in California. Ellen had worked there in previous summers and came to visit some friends. It was Erik’s first year at the camp, having just moved from Michigan. It was the summer after college and Ellen had a job in food service in San Diego–she had a challenging night and decided that she would quit and took a job for the last session of camp.
There was an opening for a lifeguard position and Erik who was a supervisor went to the Director, and suggested that she should hire Ellen for the lifeguard position not just because she was qualified but also because the Director likened herself a bit of matchmaker and he told her that he really liked Ellen. However, one of the employees wasn’t working out as a counsellor and they were going to move him to the lifeguard position instead. Erik agreed to supervise the counsellor if she would just hire Ellen. As they say, the rest is history.
Their first year together was a lot of back and forth between San Diego where Ellen lived and the Bay area where Erik lived. The second year they dated Ellen moved to Eugene, Oregon for grad school. After this second year of long distance, Erik moved to Eugene to be with Ellen.
Both Erik and Ellen knew very quickly. Erik remembers talking to his sister after the first two weeks having met Ellen and she said to him, I think you’re going to marry her. Erik told Ellen this after only knowing her a couple of weeks. Ellen was blown away and the fact that he could even say the “m” word–she had never had a relationship on that level before. She knew it was something special and deeper. Ellen says she knew on some level that he was the one right then but it was too soon to even admit it to herself but in hindsight she knew. They spent a lot of time together over the three week camp session and by the end they knew they would remain in contact and would visit each other regularly. We had already established we were in it for the long haul. Three and a half years later he popped the question while still in Oregon and they were there for 17 years. They were married five years after they met.
The first two years of their relationship were long distance and they learned to communicate with each other–how to talk and just as important how to listen to one another. They talked everyday on the phone only seeing each other every three or four weeks. Once they had children they made a conscious effort to make time for themselves. The very year their first son was born, they went on a holiday and had Erik’s sister look after their son.
Investing in themselves individually is also important as they each have unique needs and that’s part of a healthy relationship.
Things have come full circle now and their two boys now attend the camp where they met. Ellen and Erik are still very connected to the camp and having a long standing community that they have connected with over the years has been a source of strength in their relationship and family life.
Broadcast Love wishes Erik and Ellen many more years of love and laughter together.
Dusty and Laylee met in high school at the Maxwell International Baha’i School where they attended Grades Eleven and Twelve together. Dusty had taken a year off school to travel to Manawatu with his Aunt and Uncle who worked for CUSO (Canadian University Services Overseas), his uncle was the doctor at the local hospital. Many of the island population are of the Baha’i faith and when Dusty returned to Canada he decided he wanted to attend the Maxwell School. He was in Grade 11 and Laylee was in Grade 12 so they only spent one year together at the school speaking maybe five words to each other. However, they had a moment that they both remember. They passed each other as they crossed the campus through a breezeway, their eyes locked and there was a connection–a feeling that put their hearts in motion.
Following graduation they were both living in Victoria and had a similar group of friends, centred around their faith. It was clear they liked each other and spent more and more of their time together. One of the ordinances of their faith is to investigate each other’s character before marriage. A further rule is not to be intimate until marriage and they were committed to abiding by their faith. Laylee was 19 at the time, attending university and wasn’t interested in getting married. Her parents sat her down and asked, “Are you interested in dating Dusty for the purpose of getting married? You can’t just have a boyfriend for the sake of having a boyfriend.” Dusty had told her he was ready to get married and Laylee had to break the news to him that she was not ready. Dusty was heart broken but understood and at the same time understood. They remained friends for another 2-3 years.
Laylee graduated and went on to law school. Dusty was taking early childhood education and running children’s courses related to the Baha’i Faith. He decided to do a year of service before completing his degree. Dusty returned to Manawatu to do a year of service where he helped set up classes for the children of the village. He was there for 7 months and fully immersed in this task, and completely incognito from his friends in Victoria. Dusty returned in January to Vancouver where his parents lived. When he came to visit his friends on Vancouver Island in the Spring, he brought with him his new girl friend to introduce to his friends and family. Laylee suddenly realized that he wasn’t necessarily going to wait for her to be ready–she had always thought he would. Shortly after this visit, Laylee called Dusty and asked him for lunch. At the end of their lunch, the bill was delivered and she knew she had to tell him how she felt. Laylee went into the washroom, looked in the mirror and gave herself a pep talk and said you have to tell him how you feel. Laylee went back to the table and poured her heart out to Dusty telling him she loved him and she wanted to be with him. Dusty isn’t good at hiding his emotions and she could tell that the reaction was positive which encouraged her to keep going. He just kept saying, Are you sure? repeatedly. She was frustrated by this and said, I’m so sure, that if you asked me to marry me right now I would say yes. Over the years, they have had many discussions as to whether this was Laylee’s proposal to Dusty. He says it was and Laylee claims that this was “an invitation to treat”–a legal term meaning an indication that someone is prepared to receive offers with the view of forming a binding contract. I agree with Laylee. What do you think–proposal or “an invitation to treat”?
Two weeks later, Dusty was helping Laylee move into a basement suite and they had a discussion about marriage and decided they would like to get married. There was no down on one knee or formal proposal.
Their faith has two requirements for marriage, the first being the consent of both parents. Once Dusty’s mom got over the shock–she was concerned it was so quick, consent was given. The second requirement is that you have 95 days to get married after your engagement.
They were married in August–two and a half months later with over 300 people attending. Laylee’s parents were the main organizers and there wasn’t just the wedding to organize–there were dinners for 100 people every night prior to the wedding for all the family from out of town. Laylee jokes that is was her Big Fat Persian Wedding. Dusty showed up 45 minutes late for the ceremony because he lost track of time while writing his speech. Dusty would like to apologize to anyone who attended their wedding and had to sit outside in the hottest day of the year. Overall it was a wonderful wedding and even included a dance routine to a Ricky Martin song.
Both Dusty and Laylee agree that humour is important in their relationship. You have to be able to make each other laugh and not take yourself too seriously. For Laylee, she feels the happiest when they are doing something together in the community that is meaningful and based on spiritual qualities. For example, they have devotional gatherings in their home with people from all walks of life where they discuss specific topics and people share music and poetry. There is always the reality of day to day tasks and tough times but it is better for them when they can focus on something larger than themselves. Laylee feels respectful communication is a key to their relationship. Not everyone has the same communication style and she has learned to step back when she is angry and to realize the affect of their words on one another. Laylee’s style is to deal with things right away, while Dusty needs time to process issues. Laylee has learned not to press Dusty but to wait a bit and give him time.
Dusty added that in their faith, when you come together in marriage it is likened to two bodies of water coming together–separate but together. He believes that your relationship with the Creator, as an individual, must be strong in order for you adapt to the changes as you grow as a couple.
Broadcast Love wishes Dusty and Laylee many more years of happiness and love together.
They met in 1963 on the campus on University of California, Berkeley. They were there during the free speech movement. Ian was getting his doctorate in engineering and Donna was getting a masters degree.
Donna was coming out of Tolman Hall (which has unfortunately been torn down) and they were fixing the sidewalks and things were a little wonky–you had to travel through a maze to get out. A young man was sitting with his friends and saw this attractive, bodacious (Ian’s words) woman walking and he overcame his shyness as something compelled him to start a conversation with her. He came up beside Donna and said, “This is quite an obstacle course isn’t it.?” Donna thought that was his most profound line because they have now been together for over 55 years. At times it’s been an obstacle course but it’s always been steered with love. Donna believes there was a master plan that put the two of them together and gave Ian the courage to come speak with her.
Both of them say they weren’t together long before they just knew–maybe six months. Donna had an undergrad in English and History and she had made up her mind that engineers weren’t really for her. However, the engineer who walked her through the obstacle course was able to recite poetry by heart and this made her think he was a little different than the average engineer. Ian carries that poem with him–Walt Whitman’s, There Was A Child Went Forth. Ian feels that the poem inspired him to go forth and speak to a total stranger. When they reached their destination, Ian stopped to get coffee but not without first securing Donna’s phone number. Ian called the very next night and they went to a movie and just hit it off.
Ian had a job interview for the University of Pittsburgh and he was mulling the decision over. They were in the car together and he said, “I don’t want to go to Pittsburgh without you.” Donna replied, “Are you asking me what I think you are?” and in a squeaky voice, he responded, “Yes.” There was no ring as they were too poor. They had nothing but their love and each other. They bought wedding bands for the marriage and in 2005 in Sausilito, Donna got an engagement ring. They moved to Pittsburgh which was also a smart move for Donna. A chance meeting in an elevator with Mr. Rogers, and an offer of his help to do something together, launched Donna’s career in children’s entertainment.
They get asked for advice a fair bit and their first recommendation is “Don’t Give Up!” Times get tough, you take a step back and maybe walk away from each other for awhile. Donna never went home to her mother and Ian never packed up–they stuck it out. Ian recommended, “Before you consider quitting, try therapy for yourself or couples therapy.
Ian says they have a lot of common interests. Donna’s involved in children’s entertainment–and Ian learned about child development and lately they’ve had great conversations about how bad the news is in terms of negativity. They turn it off, sit in their kitchen and talk because right now the world is going through a tough time. Through these conversations they have each learned a significant amount about each other and what’s important to one another.
Ian’s and Donna’s newest love is their grandson and for them it’s a whole new level of love.
Broadcast Love wishes them all the best as they continue on this obstacle course called love.
I went to school with Tracey from Kindergarten to Grade 12 and was curious to know how she met Greg Currie. We grew up in a small town called Pilot Mound with a population of 700 people in southern Manitoba, Canada, in the heart of the prairies. Greg and Tracey lived a mere five miles apart. However, because they went to different schools, they didn’t have much contact til they were in high school. Back in the day, the two schools were rivals and the boys from one school didn’t show up at the other school or town uninvited. One of Tracey’s best friends, Mary Ellen, was Greg’s cousin and so they knew of each other through this connection. Greg, at 16, having seen Tracey was quite interested and was disappointed to hear she had a boyfriend. One day, a friend called him and said, “It’s over and Tracey is single.” Greg didn’t waste any time, he called her up on a party line and asked if she would attend his sister’s wedding the very next day. For those of you who don’t know what a party line is it involves sharing a phone line with several people who live near you–common in rural areas right up until the 90’s. Of course, people listened to one another’s conversations. Greg quipped, “It was as quick as facebook for sharing information.” On August 5, 1987, they went to the wedding together. The date went well and they have been together ever since.
Tracey said she knew pretty much right from the beginning that Greg was the one. Tracey had it in her mind that she wanted to marry someone and live in the country. They’ve been together since they were 16 and in essence, grew up together doing all the crazy teenage antics together and sharing the milestones of high school graduation and university.
Greg says that’s not true–if Tracey knew right away, she never let on to him. It was a month before high school started up in the fall when they started dating and Greg said to his friend, “This is a girl I could probably marry.” Greg says Tracey made him do a lot of work to make sure she knew he was the one. A month or two after they’d been dating, Greg asked Tracey, “So are we going steady?” She thought it was a pretty stupid question. “Of course they were.” Greg was from a tiny town, as in a population of 200, between the two rival schools, and so he was able to attend parties in both of the larger towns without concern. This expanded their social circle and they had lots of parties to attend.
Tracey and Greg have grown and changed over the years but their core values haven’t. They both grew up in families where family came first and their extended family has continued to support them over the years. Their upbringing has influenced the way they’ve raised their children and decisions have been made from a base of love and family.
Greg jokes that you might also want to check with your girlfriend to see how many kids they would like. He loves his wife and his wife loves children and so they have six. If there were disagreements about issues with the children, they tried not to discuss them in front of them–they were a united front.
Greg believes that your spouse has to be your priority and you have to look after your relationship first. Your relationship is the trunk of the tree and if your kids or career become the centre of your world, it weakens the trunk. You need a strong trunk to hold up the branches. They have made a concerted effort over the years, to take time for themselves as a couple with date nights and travel.
Tracey concluded, “If you can stay close as a couple, when things come up you can handle it. It’s all challenging stuff but worth it in the end.”
Broadcast Love wishes you many more adventurous years together full of love and grandchildren.
Roxy knew of Alec in high school and thought he was cute but he was five years older and when you’re in high school that’s a big age difference. Their paths crossed again when Roxy went to hair school with his younger sister. They didn’t cross paths again until they had both been through tough divorces and she saw him at church.
They are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and if you are single you go to the Singles Ward–the congregation of young single members. Not a lot of their friends were in Singles Ward–most of the members were people just leaving high school and it’s very different if you’ve been married before. Roxy had been asked out on dates but didn’t feel ready. However, when she saw Alec it was like a light and she was drawn to him.
Roxy, reached out to him on instagram and was very nervous because she hadn’t contacted any other guys before. She just made small talk and he responded and said let’s hang out. They went to a birthday party of one of Roxy’s friends, left early and ended up talking til 4 in the morning. As Alec explained, “When you’re dating after you’ve been divorced, it’s different. You are concerned about the bigger picture–goals, desires, and what do you want to do with your life.” The next day they went on their official first date for dinner. Alec is more spontaneous and less of a planner than Roxy and he didn’t plan the date but on a whim after dinner they went on scooters and then to a movie and they just hit it off.
They had dated for a year and a half and she kept expecting she would feel this sign that he’s the one. Then at Christmas Roxy went through a tough time and was feeling very low. Alec handled it so well. He explained, “That’s what true love is. If you’re at your lowest, it just makes me want to get closer to you and take care of you and make you feel better.”
When Roxy started feeling better she realized that she would be an idiot if she didn’t marry him. Alec had been ready to get married earlier and had already ordered a ring. Alec felt a connection right off the bat but he wanted to make sure it was real. A lot of things about Roxy’s personality were things that he didn’t know he needed until he met her and Roxy checked all the things off his list. He told her he loved her first and she didn’t say it back and one day on the phone he said, “I know you love me but you’re just not ready to say it and she replied, I was going to but you stole my moment.” He knew that day that she was the one.
Alec doesn’t plan things but he knew Roxy would be expecting something commemorative so he had some ideas. Her family was coming in from California and they were going on a hike and he was going to have his family waiting at the top of the mountain and have them hold up a large banner saying Roxy will you marry me in Spanish and it would be this big family thing. His sister in law was a photographer and she was going to take pictures. The day before the hike, Roxy told him, she wasn’t ready and she needed a little more time. Alec was upset because she had been looking at rings and designed the one they wanted and then suddenly she panicked and said she needed more time. Alec’s plan was postponed.
Then in January, they planned a ski trip to Utah and they were staying at his parent’s home. Down the street was an ice skating rink and he planned on fake falling down and then staying down on one knee. Then her family would hold up the sign. Shortly before they all went ice skating, Roxy’s mom told him that Roxy really wanted to do it at the ice castles down the street so he didn’t do it at the skating rink. It ended up that Roxy was disappointed because it was so romantic skating under the stars. The next day at the ice castles, he finally got to propose. Two of Roxy’s little nephews held the sign and were wondering around the castles. Alec wasn’t sure what was going to happen other than he had the ring in his pocket and when they ran into the nephews he would go down on one knee. There was a crowd and everyone was cheering and by chance the music started at the exact moment that he asked her. It was a surprise because Alec had convinced Roxy that he hadn’t ordered the ring yet.
Ten days before their wedding date, the state imposed restrictions on the size of gatherings–at first it was 100, then 60 and then ten days before their wedding no gatherings larger than ten were allowed. During this time, Alec was wanting to keep the wedding the same and then all of a sudden it was down to gatherings no larger than 10 and they had to start canceling things. Roxy had put her heart and soul into planning the wedding and spent more than they had wanted to–she was not handling the fact that everything had to be cancelled well. They couldn’t get a refund–the money was spent. They sat down with their parents and decided let’s just do it this weekend and all the immediate family can make it. Roxy’s sister was leaving for Oklahoma in a couple of days and this way they had the wedding before she left. It was decided they would have the wedding in two days in Alec’s parents’ backyard.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot of food at the grocery store so they weren’t sure what to serve. Alec’s mom happened to have two frozen turkeys in her freezer. The decision was made–it would be Thanksgiving Dinner at the wedding. The florist donated flowers from other cancelled weddings because their flowers weren’t coming in for another week. Alec’s family had decorations from previous family weddings and they borrowed those. The sisters and sister-in-laws on both sides brought decorations. Roxy’s style is bohemian and luckily she had gone shopping for decorations and her sister’s home is decorated in a boho style and she was able to borrow some items from her. The day of their wedding, the two of them were out in the backyard decorating and they managed to pull it together. Alec had always wanted something small and intimate with just the immediate family and it ended up being just that. “We didn’t have to worry about being hosts–it was just family together celebrating our marriage.”
Alec wouldn’t have had it any other way. In his words, “Covid made us realize how little we needed on that day to make it special.” Roxy remarked “I don’t know why I spent so much time planning a big wedding when all we needed was our family and each other.” Will they host a party for friends later on? Maybe when they get married in the temple they will have a small party in someone’s backyard.
When asked what makes them work as a couple, they said, “For us it is hearing each other when we are disagreeing and being able to put ourselves in each other’s shoes.”
Alec and Roxy had some sage advice which was to go for counseling. People don’t need to be struggling to go for counseling. They have learned so much about one another. Counseling gave them the tools they needed to know in order to understand why they act certain ways because of their past and what they need from each other. As a result, their arguments are short and they can resolve them quickly–issues don’t become a big thing. When things come up, they know how to handle it.
Alec and Roxy, we wish you a long and happy
marriage full of fun and exciting adventures.
Meredith grew up in urban northern California. While her mom says she came to Alaska and never went home, Meredith says she came to Alaska and found home.
Meredith had visited a boyfriend in Alaska in February and they had a great time and she loved Alaska. They agreed she would move to Alaska for the summer and see if the relationship went anywhere. She got herself a summer job and headed north to Alaska. Two weeks before she was supposed to leave, he ghosted her. Meredith had already packed everything so she decided he wasn’t the only reason she was going to Alaska and she would go ahead with the adventure and at the end of the summer she would drive home if she didn’t like Alaska.
Meredith rented a dry cabin, as in no running water and an outhouse, in a ghost town 47 miles southeast of Downtown Anchorage. Portage was destroyed in the 1964 Alaska earthquake when the ground in the area sank about six feet, putting most of the town below high tide level. Her neighbour was Daniel. His ex-girlfriend was Meredith’s boss that summer so she avoided Daniel not wanting to create any dramas at work. Luckily the ex moved away. By the end of summer, Meredith had decided she was going to stay in Alaska and got a part time job in Anchorage. Meredith decided to stay in her cabin for the winter and Daniel and her became friends. Meredith was leery at first–she thought Daniel might be a hermit as he had lived in the cabin for 15 years and he was now single. He turned out to be very friendly and helpful–offering to share his new generator in January.
Meredith knew he was a good guy when he made homemade pasta for her mom while visiting and shoveled off the steps to the outhouse to make sure she didn’t slip. Her mom will say that’s when she knew he was the one. The turning point in the relationship happened when Meredith invited him to attend the official start of the Iditarod Dog Sled Race. This race is a famous long distance dog sled race run in early March from Anchorage to Nome. The Iditarod trail runs from Willow–80 miles north of Anchorage up the Rainy Pass of the Alaska Range into the sparsely populated interior, and then along the shore of the Bering Sea, finally reaching Nome in western Alaska. From this point forward their relationship changed. Daniel later confessed that he knew much earlier he wanted to date Meredith because he had to walk past her cabin to get to the outhouse and she had left her curtains open and he saw her walking around in her underwear.
Meredith and Daniel lived across from the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center where Meredith worked part time. There was record snowfall that winter and the snow drifts were so high up the side of the electric fence, it was no longer a barrier as animals could jump over it. In April, while the park was clearing the snow on the inside of the fence the power was turned off, and Shaguyik, a 2 year old, 300 pound Kodiak bear jumped over the fence. The Conservation Park was being paid to manage two orphaned Kodiak bears for the Orsa Bear Park in Sweden. They were scheduled to be moved in June.
After a couple of months theWildlife Centre gave up trying to find the bear. In June, by chance it was on the day the other bear was being moved to Sweden, a bear showed up on the property where Meredith’s and Daniel’s cabin was located. Their landlord’s daughter taught horseback riding to children in the area and that’s what she was doing the day the bear arrived. They ushered the children inside and news spread fast around the property to bring your dogs and children inside because of the bear. This bear’s behaviour was a little different–it wasn’t running off the property, it was hanging around. The Wildlife Centre had been called and told there was a bear and did they want to come look at it. However, they didn’t believe it was their bear as it had been months since she had left and also they were focused on the presentation marking the departure of the other bear Meredith received a call from the Wildlife Centre about the bear and then called Daniel and told him there was a bear on the property. He was standing by the horse pen where their landlord’s extremely valuable show horse was panicking as the bear had come out of the woods and was about 30 feet in front of them. In Alaska you’re allowed to shoot wildlife in defense of life and property and Daniel shot the bear to protect the horse. You are required to turn in the hide with paws and claws attached to Alaska Fish and Game. Daniel was in the process of doing this when the Wildlife Centre came to look at the bear. Initially they didn’t think it was their bear but just to be sure they got a scanner and sure enough the bear had a chip in its neck. They were very upset as they had become emotionally attached to the bear and had raised it and named it–not to mention they lost a significant amount of money when the bear escaped. Their landlord was very thankful Daniel had saved his horse while the Wildlife Centre staff were extremely hostile toward Daniel. Meredith was angry that they were treating him this way because they had a chance to come and see the bear and decided not to. Daniel didn’t get angry with them and instead empathized, “I’m so sad that they’re so sad.” The fact that his response was one of compassion, made Meredith realize how much she loved him and that he was the “one.” Fish and Game did an investigation to ensure that it was a justified kill and determined that as soon as the bear left the Centre it was a wild bear and it was endangering livestock. However, Meredith left her part time job and her friends from the Centre returning only last year–seven years after the shooting of the bear.
Meredith is a planner and she was trying to figure out when the best time was to get married and when they would have to get engaged in order to make that happen. Daniel was not having that. They had talked about getting married and every time they went out somewhere special Meredith thought this would be the proposal. After about a year, Meredith realized she didn’t care if he proposed or not because she couldn’t imagine her life without him. She had already committed her heart to him. Three weeks later on the Summer Solstice he invited Meredith to go camping with him on Porcupine Island on Kenai Lake. Meredith really didn’t want to go but went anyway. They got to the island early in the morning, set up camp and he started cooking on the fire. Daniel, while standing there started talking about the live action Cinderella movie he had seen with his friends recently and how the movie made him think about who was important in his own life. It made him think about how hard it would be if he were to loose her and she’s not sure what else he said because at that point he got down on one knee and pulled a ring out of his pocket. Daniel totally surprised Meredith and the ring he had was her maternal grandmother’s who had been married for 53 years. Meredith’s aunt messaged Daniel via facebook and offered Daniel the ring after they had only been dating 8 months. The next summer Meredith visited her mom and her mom told her that her aunt had offered him the ring and Daniel accepted it. Daniel was a little upset about this breach of secrecy.
Daniel called her dad and asked for his blessing just before they left to go camping. Daniel was adamant that Meredith’s mom not know because she can’t keep a secret having told Meredith a year earlier that her aunt had given Daniel the ring. Her husband did spill the beans to his wife but Meredith’s mom kept it a secret despite calling Meredith just before they left on the camping trip.
They got married the following year on June 21–summer solstice. They chose that date because they wanted their guests to experience the midnight sun as most of them were from out of town. During the time around solstice in Alaska, the sun will set and then rise up again after only a few minutes. They rented a Bed and Breakfast in Talkeetna overlooking the Denali Mountain–the tallest mountain peak in North America. They had 40 guests and it was a joyous quintessential Alaskan three-day long party.
As a couple we have the same sense of humour and we laugh a lot. Meredith has learned that responding in the moment can do more hurt than is needed. The initial response isn’t always what she really feels. For example, when Daniel lost his wedding ring, her immediate reaction was to get angry. Instead, Meredith didn’t respond because she didn’t want to dump her feelings on him just as he was leaving for work. When he got home they were able to talk about it and she told him how sad it made her feel that he had lost his ring. Meredith looked for it and found it so in the end the problem was solved without any drama.
Not quite a year into their marriage, in January, at midnight, the roof collapsed in the cabin they were renting. The next day they had to move everything out. In two years they moved four times until finally living in a camper trailer on the front lawn of a home they built together on a piece of property they had purchased earlier. No longer in a dry cabin, they were each allowed one splurge item–Daniel’s was the oven and Meredith’s was a bathtub. Building a home by yourself is both exciting and stressful and their ability to step back and not react and also just allow space for the other person to be who they are, were critical skills to keeping their relationship on track.
They joke that if they ever ran into the guy that brought Meredith to Alaska, Daniel would shake his hand and say “thank you.”
Martha and Phil have known each other since Grade 9 having grown up in the same city and each attending Catholic schools. Martha would go to the basketball games at the Boys’ school and watch Phil play and they would see each other at school events and mutual parties. Phil admits to having a crush on Martha basically all through high school even though they never dated. It never occurred to Martha that Phil was interested in her at the time, but when she looks back there were many times when they connected at parties and had wonderful conversations.
There was one incident in Grade 12 which has provided many laughs over the years–at Phil’s expense. At a grad party for the Boys’ and Girls’ schools, Phil asked Martha to dance the last dance–Stairway to Heaven–of course. He was chewing gum and Martha had shoulder length hair at the time. I think we all know where this is going. Somehow one of her hairs got into his mouth and in Phil’s words,
Martha apologizes, grabs her hair, pulls it out along with a big wad of gum and announces, “Look everybody! I’ve got gum in my hair!”. And there we have one of Phil’s most embarrassing life moments.
After high school they continued to run into each other as they attended the same university. They even went on a couple of dates. Once they spent the night talking together at a fraternity party even though they were each on blind dates. They went on a few more dates. However, both were reluctant to get involved in a “high school” relationship. So they went their own ways and as fate would have it they met up a year later at university. Phil began skipping his vector algebra class (can’t blame him) so he could spend time with Martha during her spare between classes. Coffee turned into lunch, which turned into an invitation to a Halloween party. Phil, who doesn’t like dressing up, showed up as an undercover cop hiding in a garbage can covered in newspapers. Martha saw Phil as clever, funny, and athletic and thought “I’m in.”
It was the Christmas party that cinched the deal. Phil walked Martha to her car and said, “Well, maybe we should go for a drink over the holidays.” That was the beginning. They were to go for a drink and a movie and never saw a movie because they were too busy enjoying each other’s company. Marriage came five and a half years later.
Martha couldn’t even say the “M” word for at least two years even though she knew Phil was “the one.” Phil was not in a rush to get married and that created some tension. Although he wouldn’t commit to marrying anybody, he told Martha that if he was to get married, she’d be the prime candidate.
After four years of dating, Martha thought for sure he would propose at Christmas as she was getting ready to move out of her parents’ home. There was a big box under the tree at Christmas and Martha was convinced it was full of bricks and a small jewelry box despite warnings to the contrary from Phil. Phil, being the practical guy, had bought Martha a new set of pots and pans–needless to say there were some tears on Christmas morning.
The following Christmas they had some time on their own and were able to get away for a little holiday in Tofino. It wasn’t a grand gesture, just a question while sitting on a couch together in a cozy A-Frame cottage. Phil admitted he didn’t have money for a nice engagement ring which didn’t bother Martha at all. It’s one of the reasons when people get engaged, Martha never asks to see the ring because she still doesn’t have a ring, but it hasn’t changed anything. They got married with gold bands.
One of their strengths, according to Martha is that they’ve always given each other space to pursue different passions. Phil remarked, ” We have different interests and different ways of being. Martha is super organized and super conservative and he’s the opposite–more of a risk taker.”
Having said this, they both agreed that they have similar values. They both have a strong work ethic and they hope that they’ve set good examples for their kids in that regard. When it comes to raising the children it’s been a total team effort. Martha stated, “We were on the same wavelength as to how we wanted to be as parents and how we wanted our kids to turn out.”
Martha and Phil had three children in three and a half years and their middle child was quite sick with asthma as a baby. They were busy!! One of the things they have always done, was to make sure they made time for each other. They didn’t have family where they lived and so they hired babysitters allowing them to run errands together and get away on overnight trips. “We just realized that hiring the young girl down the street was worth it. We looked after our relationship and now we’re at the other end and it feels like old times before we had kids. It’s nice.”
Melissa and her husband Tony had both grown up with pets and knew they wanted a cat. Her husband brought home a cat that had the same birthday as Melissa. Pickles was a great cat–the best pet they’ve ever had. However, she was very active and they thought she might like a friend so for her birthday, Tony got another cat for Melissa and aptly named him Dill. Pickles, being a year older adopted Dill who was just two months old as her kitten. Dill is now a full grown big fluffy white Himalayan.
A year later, Kiddy entered the picture when a friend needed them to look after her for awhile. Tony was excited about having a dog, while Melissa was actually scared of dogs having never had one before and didn’t really want to be around Kiddy. They separated the cats and the dog because Melissa was afraid the dog might hurt the cats. After a couple of weeks, she came home and they had their paws touching between the baby gate wanting to play with each other. She realized they would be fine together and took down the gate and they have played together ever since. Kiddy wrestles with Dill like a small dog but at the same time Kiddy will hold Dill in her arms and cuddle–she almost treats Dill like he’s her puppy.
Pickles passed away from a rare form of lukemia just a year after Dill arrived. After her death, Dill got sick. He spent hours sleeping and would eat the dogs food knowing it would make him sick. He was depressed and the stress was causing his organs to twist and he was throwing up blood and they had to put him on medication. The vet thought he might do better if he had a companion cat again and told them to find a cat as close to Pickles as possible. So began the search for a match. Most shelters don’t really know their animals and when Melissa inquired about cats that might be a good match, they just suggested reading the cats’ bios. Then Melissa found Tales to Tell–a free roam Animal Shelter. She had just over 100 cats, and knew all of their names and everything about each of them. She listened to the story about Dill and matched them with Zoey who had been in the shelter since she was six months old and she was then three and a half. “She is the dominant female cat your boy is looking for.” They brought Zoey home and instantly Dill and Zoey became best friends. Within a month, all of Dill’s tests came back normal–he gained weight, was no longer sleeping all day and did not need anymore medication. It’s shocking to see how grief affected a cat this way. It gives you an indication of how stress might affect humans as well. They’ve now had Zoey for four years and the three of them are the best of friends.
Kiddy had such high anxiety with her previous owner that she was eating furniture and rugs and couldn’t be left alone. She had no anxiety at their home so the owner decided it was best for the dog if they could keep her. Kiddy has now been with them for six years. Being a rescue dog, they aren’t sure of the breed but she has some Husky and some German shepherd they believe. It took Melissa awhile to get comfortable with Kiddy. She watched her play with the little kittens and it changed her opinion because Kiddy was so gentle with them. When her husband broke his leg a couple of years ago, she had to walk Kiddy and over the course of the walks they became super close and now she follows Melissa all over the house. Kiddy has managed to distill any myths Melissa ever had about dogs as she’s the sweetest she’s ever known. The one thing Melissa has learned about dogs is,
My favourite thing about Kiddy is that she is 12 but still acts like a puppy–doing tricks, running and jumping at the park and people are shocked when they find out she’s not a puppy because she still has so much energy. She knows lots of tricks but her favourite is jumping over her dad’s back.
I love Zoey’s quirkiness–she likes to find things to entertain herself with–like jumping in and out of clothing boxes. Dill is constantly tired and sleeps most of the day getting up for about an hour to run all over the house and then crash again.
Kiddy, Dill and Zoey have all warmed their way into Melissa’s heart and become a huge part of the family.
Eighteen years ago, my two daughters finally convinced me that it was time for our family to get a dog. We spent several evenings searching the internet for a breed that would work for us. One day a friend of mine said, “Why don’t you come over and see my brother’s dog while I am dog sitting. I think you’ll really like him–he’s a Portuguese Water Dog. They used to work on the Portuguese boats and have webbed feet that make them very good swimmers. The dogs were used to herd fish into the nets and send messages between the boats.” The girls and I were totally smitten with Murphy. I knew that if we mentioned that these dogs were used on a fishing boat, my husband would be hooked as well because he’s an avid fisherman. A few days later we were back over visiting Murphy with my husband. We had a chance to meet the owners. They were telling us that Murphy had come from California and they would go down with their motor home and stay near Napa while the dog was entered in various shows. We then got a new little Portuguese Water Dog puppy from a breeder in Edmonton, Alberta Canada. “Annie” grew up with our children. We were all devastated when she got cancer and died shortly before her fourteenth birthday.
A year and half later, my daughter was walking down the street in Carmel, California with my husband and I, and sees a Portuguese Water Dog. She runs up to the dog and asks many questions including where did you get your dog. I did not want a dog as I was both still grieving from “Annie” and also enjoying the freedom that comes from not having a dog to look after. However, two days later we were driving up to the breeders who happened to live a couple of hours from our house. They were going to be breeding one of their dogs, Deja, whose Mom was the most awarded Portuguese Water Dog in history. The father would be Manly, who, at the time was the number one Portie in the US. The next thing I knew, my husband put down a deposit for a wavy female puppy in a litter that would be born in about three months. In the course of our interaction, we realized these were the breeders of Murphy–the first Portuguese Water Dog we had ever met and the reason we got Annie. If I have learned nothing, I have learned that there’s something to six degrees of separation.
I thought we won’t get one of these puppies because we are number six on the waiting list and there’s a good chance that the mom won’t have that many puppies. She had seven puppies–two girls. We visited the puppies once and then a few weeks later, my cousin and I picked up Miss Lisbon. I fell for her right away as I knew I would. My husband, as part of the agreement to get another dog, said he would take the dog to work with him. Lisbon has been to his office once for a short visit. So once again, it was me and a puppy.
In 1976, there were only 25 water dogs left in the world and an American breeder decided to save the breed. Lisbon has some of the DNA from those original 25 in her as they froze the sperm through her grandfather. Lisbon is quite different than our previous dog. She absolutely LOVES the water and can stick her head in and pick things up. Lisbon is super cuddly–likes nothing better than to sit with you or on you and nibble your ears. Every morning she has to lie on top of me and give me kisses–which was fine when she was a puppy, but at 42 pounds she’s getting a little heavy. Lisbon has a very loud bark which they needed on the Portuguese fishing boats for when they were sending messages between boats–they had to be heard over the ocean. Both Annie and Lisbon were smart but Lisbon has taken this to a new level. She can open all doors and if she would like a drink from the toilet–something that we discourage–she can open the door, stick her nose under the lid, push it up and drink away.
We had just moved into our home and were in the middle of a horrendous renovation. There was a massive mess everywhere and the contractor who was recommended by our realtor, took everything apart and then rarely showed up. My husband and I were sleeping in a downstairs bedroom surrounded by boxes and a crate for Miss Lisbon. That is how Lisbon and I started our adventure together. Right from the get go, Lisbon was a bit of a handful. She was a biter–not of things like shoes or furniture–just her mom and she demanded all my attention.
Friends suggested we get a play pen for her and when she was misbehaving she could have a little time out. That didn’t work so well. We tried other playpens made of metal and she climbed over them. Lisbon had a babysitter twice a week so I could have a break and then she closed down her business while she went for training. When she returned, she no longer wanted to take Lisbon because she was worried she could climb over her garage fence.
Lisbon, at first was excellent at coming when you called her name and then she started behaving like an unruly teenager. She didn’t care if you had treats–she thought it was a great game to be chased around the park. I foolishly let her off the leash one day in the park. After 45 minutes of chasing, I decided that I would leave the park and she could follow me home. This strategy worked quite well until she discovered a bag of corn tortilla chips with some cheese on them on the side of the road. That’s when the trouble started. I would try and get her and she would run into the road with the chip bag. Then she’d run across the road. Did I mention that it was pretty busy road with stop lights and a fair bit of traffic which had stopped–waiting for me to catch Lisbon. Then the police car drove by and asked if I would like some help. I said, “Sure.” I would never have asked for help had I known the officer knew nothing about dogs. Dogs do not come running to people yelling at them–especially when they are yelling, “Come here you stupid little shit.” A lady from one of the cars, as there were now about ten waiting for Lisbon to be caught, offered us a half eaten bag of French fries to try and lure Lisbon. Of course, Lisbon was faster, grabbed the frie from the officer and ran. More yelling! Finally, I said to the officer, “Why don’t you open your car door and I think she’ll jump in. He’s like, “Oh I don’t think that will work.” “Let’s just try it,” I said. It worked. We closed the door, the cars moved down the street and I had to get in the back of the car with Lisbon. I have never been in the back of a police car–thank you Lisbon. I asked if he could drop us off around the corner as we had only been in the neighborhood a few months and I didn’t want to show up in a police car. The whole time we are in the car he is cursing Lisbon–calling her a stupid, stupid, little shit over and over again. Lisbon was just recently allowed off her leash again.
For this and other reasons, we hired a private trainer. Then we decided to show Lisbon and the professional trainer took her for three weeks to get ready. Lisbon is a Champion and working with her trainer made a massive difference. Lisbon still likes to jump up on certain people and she is overly friendly as in licking/nibbling your ears if she really likes you. Overall, she is much better behaved and training is an ongoing process. I’m learning to be a better dog owner as well.
I have, as I knew I would, fallen deeply in love with Lisbon and she is VERY attached to her mom. As such, she gets away with some things she shouldn’t but in the end, life is better with a dog.
We are hoping to breed Lisbon this coming spring and can’t wait to see what baby Lisbon’s look like. I’ll keep you posted (pun intended).
Okay I know, but I love alliterations almost as much as love stories. Amanda sat down at her first class in Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Canada and introduced herself to the three people sitting beside her, whose names surprisingly were Mat, Pat, and Cat. When Kevin walked in, Amanda immediately took notice of him. Kevin walked up and asked if he could have the seat next to Amanda, she replied, “As long as your name doesn’t rhyme with Mat, Pat, and Cat.” Amanda was the first person Kevin met in their Education program. And so it began……
When they met, Kevin was in the mindset that he was going to be single forever. He had planned to finish school and then travel and he didn’t want a relationship getting in the way of that. As often happens, Kevin stated, “It really felt like it wasn’t a choice.” It was their time apart over the Christmas holidays that really made Kevin realize how much he missed Amanda and how important she was to him. Amanda fell hard and fast although it took awhile to decide he was the one. After two years together, Amanda wrote a letter to Kevin expressing her feelings and how she knew he was the one. It would be 7 years later before she gave the letter to Kevin on the eve of their wedding. What a wonderful gift to Kevin who was touched to know that this was how Amanda felt all those years ago.
Their second year together was largely spent apart. Kevin had graduated and spent a year fire fighting in northern Ontario, while Amanda taught music and then travelled to France. When they reunited, they both realized they had to find a way to spend more time together.
Kevin and Amanda had a strong foundation before getting married having been together for ten years. They spent a year in Taiwan where they had to adopt to a new culture and country which brought them closer together.
“Everything we have done has lead up to us committing to spending the rest of our lives together.”
As one of their strengths is being open with one another about how they’re feeling, they had had conversations about when they would get married. Upon their return from Taiwan, they knew where they wanted to live and decided it was time.
Trying to slip a surprise proposal in between busy schedules proved to be a challenge. Kevin didn’t want his proposal to be planned down to the minute but Amanda had a tight schedule and every time Kevin wanted to propose it felt rushed. Then they went on vacation to Honolulu and their calendars were wiped clean. On the night before they flew home, they had a lovely dinner together, followed by a romantic walk on a secluded beach guided by a full moon. She turned around and he was down on one knee. They both agreed it was the perfect moment. Originally he had planned to do it a couple of days earlier at the top of a mountain after a highly intense hike together. He had the ring in his pocket as they swung from ropes and clinged to the mountain. By the time they got to the top, he realized it wouldn’t be safe to ask her there because there was hardly even room for both of them.
We got engaged March 2019 and wanted a summer wedding so planned for July 2020. We had a guest list of about 100 and then covid hit. They decided to go ahead with the wedding. Some of their friends had postponed their wedding but Kevin and Amanda chose to go ahead and just modify their plans. They rebooked a number of venues for the ceremony and as covid continued, those venues shut down. In the end they were able to have the ceremony at the same location as the reception on the beach in front of the restaurant. The guest list was reduced to 40 people which allowed them to have an intimate, personal wedding. With the exception of one immediate family member who was unable to come, the wedding was a dream–a personal, intimate occasion shared with their family and closest of friends.
For Amanda there are a lot of things that make them work–we are similar in a lot of ways but in other ways we are completely different–her weaknesses are Kevin’s strengths and vice versa so they balance each other out. In Kevin’s words, they have pillars of common interest that bring them together–music, outdoor activities, language, and travel. They respect each other’s independence while at the same time they love spending time with one another. When they are together they are fully present. Both feel completely at ease to be silly, goofy and fun when they’re together. “Amanda has such an incredible energy and presence about her and I appreciate that,” raves Kevin.
Open communication is really important for them. “We talk about things before they get a chance to become big issues,” says Amanda. They have date nights at least once a week–often they include twenty minute to three hour walks.