the book of lynn priest – an accounting story – aleksandra oleskiwicz

Posted by bernicky - November 27th, 2012

I really enjoyed working with Lynn.

At the theatre there are accounting procedures and every month (as well as year end) we had to balance the box office reports with the General Ledger in the accounting system. There were frequent discrepancies which is normal. The way it worked would be that I would tell Lynn about the discrepancies and she would try to find out where, and who, made the mistake (accounting department or box office department). It wasn’t really important who made the mistake we just liked to know where it was. One month everything worked out perfectly except for a one cent discrepancy in one account. We had been at it for quite some time and it was late and one cent was nothing so it was okay from my point of view.

I was back at my desk working when about an hour later Lynn came to my desk with a big smile on her face and said happily “Miss Aleks, you know what?”

I asked “What, Lynn woman?” Sometime I called her Lynn Baby instead of Lynn Woman. I was always Miss Aleks these were our pet names for each other.

Lynn said, “I found it.”

“What did you find?”

“The one cent difference in the 400 account!” It didn’t really matter if it was 45.02 or 45.01 but that was Lynn. She was a very reliable person and she wanted everything to be okay.

I still miss Lynn, I really liked her as  friend and a colleague from work

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Pleasant surprises

Posted by bernicky - November 27th, 2012

We went to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts on Saturday to see the Impressionist exhibit from the Clark. It was amazingly well attended for an exhibit which has been on for almost a month already. The line ups at the ticket counter and coat check moved with alacrity though and the staff were pleasant and helpful with those of us unfamiliar with the museum. It seemed like it would be a crime to let a major impressionist exhibit pass without taking our children to see it. The MFA has impressionists in its permanent exhibit, on of my favourite Renoirs is there, but to see so many in one place is a rarity and not to be missed.

We got off to a late start which was okay because we are having some friend over on Wednesday which meant that I had to get an early start on laundry and getting the dining room and living room into some semblance of guest readiness. It will never be actually guest ready until we replace the couch and find a way to reorganized and reduce the amount of stuff in our lives but we are working on some of that. Still the idea is to have a house which is as ready as it can be for friends and a convivial meal. So the clean up started on Saturday morning. By the time our daughter rolled out of bed it was almost eleven which suited us just fine and after she had a quick breakfast we headed downtown to the MFA. In Montreal, as with so many major cities, you have two choices: risk a parking ticket with meters which cannot be topped up or use a parking lot. A parking ticket is forty-five dollars plus administrative charges and parking is ten dollars if you find the right lot. We opted for the parking lot.

It was a short but very cold walk from the parking lot to the MFA. The snow was a surprise but it was the first bit of snow this year where it was cold enough for a little accumulation and the wind was biting. From one year to the next we often forget what the combination of freezing temperatures, wind and snow feel like but the first experience at the beginning of winter is all the reminder we need. The line up at the MFA wasn’t too bad and it only took about twenty minutes to pay for tickets and check our coats. The entry to the exhibit is actually across the street from the exhibit but there is a tunnel underground from the most recently built pavilion to the original building.

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts - Impressionist Exhibit from the Clark.

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

The walk between the entrance and the main exhibition hall is quite nice except for the weirdest stairs in the world which are a little longer than the normal tread and the rise cannot be more than five centimeters. It is uncomfortable to take the stairs one at a time and equally uncomfortable to take them two at a time. We had been on the stairs before but had forgotten how truly annoying they are. The artwork on display between the entrance and our destination was very nice and we decided to make a point to stop and look on the way out.

The Impressionist exhibit took up four halls in total and was packed with art lovers and the curious many of whom were holding earpieces to their ears as they looked at the paintings. It was an impressive collection Pissarro, Monet, Sisley, Renoir, Desgas and curiously Gerome and Gaugin neither of whom I would have considered impressionists but that may show how little I know about art. OUr children had a strong affinity for Pissarro and Monet while my own love is Renoir. Where they preferred landscape I preferred people. After we finished seeing the seventy two pieces on display at the exhibit we made our way downstairs to a collection of modern sculpture and object d’art.

MFA Impressionist

Almost at the exhibit, just follow the signs

Poor photo but the blue velvet was amazing

Monet – one of the kids favourites

The modern sculpture gallery

From different angles

After we were done at the MFA we headed down to and along Ste. Catherine to find a place to have lunch. Our son suggested, and was seconded by his partner in crime our daughter, a Chinese place which his friends at school frequent. It was a nice little restaurant with a reasonable a la carte menu which made it clear why students like it. The food was good and the portions plentiful so we were in good humour and well stuffed for our walk back to the van by way of Million Comics.

Million Comics is a comic book store which is the favourite of our son. There are a surprising number of comic book stores in the Montreal area. This comic book store is on Pierce a tiny street between Ste. Catherine and de Maisonneuve. We had a poke around which was a good thing because everything on our son’s Xmas list is a comic book. Now I know where to go.

We got home in the early afternoon which left plenty of time to keep on with the weeks laundry and continue straightening up. I was in the midst of cleaning when the phone rang. It was a voice from the past.

Thirty two years ago I graduated high school which was the last time I had seen the woman who was calling. At one time she had lived in our neighbourhood but I never did get around to dropping by and saying hi. The out of the blue phone call was truly a surprise and even more surprising was that she was an occasional reader of this blog. To that end her phone call was in part because she practices “random acts of kindness” and our family was the beneficiary of this particular random act which was very nice of her. Life is full of surprises isn’t it?

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Posted by bernicky - November 21st, 2012

Here we are, late November, and the thoughts of Lynn are varied and frequent. It is funny the things we recall. Sometimes it is the same moment over and over again regardless of the significance or insignificance of the moment it comes to mind with frequency. Then there are those times when what comes to mind is fresh a memory of a moment that previously had been lost to the vagaries of time and the detritus of our lives since its occurrence. Sometimes the memories are so strong that it seems impossible that Lynn is no longer with us.

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A difficult week

Posted by bernicky - November 18th, 2012

After last week’s 10K race which was run on pain relieving medication it was difficult to walk for most of the week and running has been impossible. The treadmill has been set up and I have been trying to use that and the bike to keep some aerobic health while trying to recover. The bulk of the week was spent not looking forward to Friday the sixteenth which was the anniversary of Lynn entering palliative care.

It is a strange anniversary. Lynn’s admission to the West Island Palliative Care came only one day after her neurosurgeon told us that she had a maximum of eight weeks to live. Lynn had already entered into a stage where she could no longer swallow which meant that she could not take her medication including her anti-seizure medication and pain medication. The level of worry is difficult to describe even in retrospect but the thing which most bothers me even a year after the fact, even knowing that Lynn had the best care she possibly could have had is the knowledge that she wanted to be at home. She never complained by word or action about being in palliative care but the thought is still there. She could have stayed at home had it been possible for me to give her, her medication by injection or with the subcutaneous needle and constant feed which the palliative care set up. Such a thing was not possible as I am not a nurse and it would have required a doctor coming to our home periodically to make certain everything was going okay. That being said the pressure of a situation like that would have been difficult to deal with though Lynn had been essentially bedridden for several weeks leading up to going into palliative care. No amount of logic can ever quite conquer the feeling that you could have done better.

Today is just another day as we move towards the first Xmas without Lynn. The plan for today, after finishing the dishes, laundry, groceries and driving our son out to RDP for some film shoot is to continue work on the family yearbook which is something we have been doing now for a few years. It dawned on my yesterday that I should probably start ordering two books for myself every year so the kids will each get a copy sometime in the future (provided they want them that is).

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44 days until Xmas and an unfortunate coincidence

Posted by bernicky - November 10th, 2012

Today, after a 10K XC race this morning, we all we traipsed off to the small mall about three K from our house to rent a movie for the night. Our son came along to pick up some stuff for a party he was heading to tonight. We decided on Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter as the movie for tonight (Lola Versus will be tomorrow) and then headed to the Metro to pick up supplies for the party. We had just come through the check out with two bags of Doritos, danish and mini turnovers when we ran into the haircut. We saw each other so it was not like he was avoidable so I greeted him and offered my hand which he slowly and clearly reluctantly shook and then said hello to our son and daughter both of whom had muted replies. We continued on our way but I was surprised by the kids. Both of them were angry about having run into him. To say they both dislike him would be something of an understatement and both expressed frustration with me for being a little softer and encouraging them to be a little more gentle. They really think I am too easy on him which is ironic considering how much I loath him. Of course our experience of him is different. I will brace him head on when he gets his colour up which is the approach our son now takes though he is more aggressive preferring never to engage him if at all possible but if not possible to make his opinions clear. Our daughter is not a forceful person so she tolerates him when she is unfortunate enough to run into him on the bus. It is a bed he made but it does strike me as sad. All things considered we could probably all go the rest of our lives without ever crossing his path again.

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the book of lynn priest: remembering lynn – janet madsen

Posted by bernicky - November 7th, 2012

I worked with the wonderful Lynn at Centaur Theatre back in the 80’s. I moved from the front of house usher gang to the box office and a whole new world of characters – Amy, Deirdre, Richard, Steve, and of course, Lynnie. She trained me (very well, very organized), and then she set me free to have fun- within reason.

We worked in a theatre, so we all had a flair for the dramatic, and delighted in each other’s “working it” when the opportunity arose. We provided good service to the patrons so they felt welcomed and pleased, but we all had to deal with situations in which said patrons made demands that went against their terms of subscription but were demanded all the same. Lynn had to deal with the worst of these situations and did so with decency and grace. People weren’t always happy, but they were treated fairly.

Once situations were resolved and the patrons settled securely in their seats, the debriefing began, and no one could delight in the replays like Lynn. It was stress relief, for on a busy Saturday night when you have twenty people brewing their fits as they stand in line and you know it won’t be possible to satisfactorily resolve them, you need a pressure valve. Humour was ours.

In the quieter hours we laughed a lot too. People magazine reporters would have a rough time running up against the lot of us, show biz keeners that we were. Lynnie talked about the ever graceful Katherine Hepburn and the rest of us debated who was in or out of the closet –several of us were coming out ourselves so we wanted to be in the know. We supported each other’s failing or thriving relationships and those who were longing for love, which we all were at one time or another.

When I moved to Kingston and became Box Office Manager of the Grand Theatre, Lynn was supportive, curious to shop when we saw each other, and gloriously welcoming when I came back into town for visits. To sum her up in a few words (a little late for that, I know, but hey), I’d say- generous. Bubbly. Loving. Kind. Being in Vancouver for a long time, I hadn’t seen her for years, but I followed news of her health and radiant spirit and was very saddened when she died. What a loss for everyone who knew her. May we all carry her joy and delight forward.

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49 days to Xmas

Posted by bernicky - November 5th, 2012

With the blessings of St. Visa the 21.15% credit card Xmas shopping was accomplished today in the form of online shopping for our daughter. Her list was not long and not a terrific expense but with a meager forty-nine days to go until Xmas it was nice to get some shopping done. Our son has provided no inkling of what he would like for Xmas. I would like for him to get a job or at least an internship with a new online sports radio station that is up and running. Even if he isn’t working for money if he is at least working in his field. The new station is Their offices are located in Dorval and he has been trying unsuccessfully to get in touch with them which is something of an irony since I have heard that they are looking for interns with experience. Our son has been at one radio station for three years now and done a couple of other morning intern jaunts with the largest English language radio station in Montreal a few times now. He has the experience but if email and phone calls are not returned it is difficult to get an interview. The next step is to drop by the station, which is not actually open to the public yet, and drop off a CV. There is no room for shyness if you are going to work in media.

This Saturday is the last race of the season for me and I would guess a lot of other runners who do this particular race. November 10 is pretty late in the year for a race but a very good time of year for an XC race. I have been running this race for at least six years and it has grown considerably. The first year I ran it there were barely 100 runners this year the race sold out with 300 runners. For the past five years I have been putting together teams from the school I used to work at before I was reassigned to the board. This year I put together a team from my old school and two teams from another school at which I have been working. In addition one of the former VPs at my old school has put together a team of administrators so we will have a total of four school board teams at the XC race. In my opinion that is very cool.

We are rapidly approaching the anniversary of Lynn having to be moved to palliative care. I find myself frequently upset at the memory but have found some solace in going back to last year’s blog entries and rereading, reminding myself, just how tough things were this time last year. It may sound funny but I still have pangs of guilt over moving Lynn to palliative care though I know that we could not have cared for her at home and she would have been far more uncomfortable at home than she was at the residence. Still what is logical is not always what we feel. There are many more anniversaries to come for myself and our children. Perhaps those in the future will be easier but I’m not holding my breath.

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the book of lynn priest – she could have done better

Posted by bernicky - November 1st, 2012

Lynn and I were quick to move in with each other after we started dating. It was a good fit right away and we both knew it. The same cannot be said of those around us or more particularly around Lynn. While my friends – okay friend – loved Lynn from the start and thought it was a good match those around Lynn were convinced that she was making a serious mistake.


This all came to light a few years ago before Lynn was paralyzed. We were chatting one day about when we started dating and living together and she mentioned that her friends and parents had been less than supportive of our relationship. It was a little surprising because everyone had been very nice but apparently behind the scenes there was pressure for her to do better.


Giving a friend advice on a relationship is always awkward. It is particularly risky to a friendship to counsel breaking up a relationship. It is no small matter that Lynn’s friends felt strong enough about our being together to risk their friendship to advise her to move on to someone, anyone, else. For her own part Lynn said it wasn’t a difficult decision to ignore her friends on the matter. She said that she watched how I behaved and what I did and didn’t worry about the rest. Lynn trusted in her own mind, her own decision and ultimately in me. For all I know her friends and family may have been right but for my part I’m glad she was as indomitable in this as she was in the rest of her life.

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Money is always an issue

Posted by bernicky - November 1st, 2012

The world of finance impinges regularly and threatens to do so with more frequency in the coming months. In a way October was punishment month as money ran out completely four days before the end of the month, five days before payday which was today. There is no opportune time to run out of money. While the food bank was available and we did run out of a few things it seemed to be best to forego that backstop and tough it out. It was kind of like putting myself in the corner with a dunce cap for mishandling the month.

With payday today the bills for the month had to be paid and the gas tank filled the only bill outstanding is the electric which will go through the bank automatically next week. There is a comfort to having all the bills paid though there is now two weeks to go until next pay and in that time there will be groceries etcetera to account for. What befuddles me is the seeming impossibility of getting a handle on it all. I cancelled the newspaper which will save some money every month. The television, phone and Internet have been combined into one bill which should show some savings starting this month. My son grossly over spent last month which hit us hard and our daughter needed some new clothes which also hit a little hard. With those expenses off the desk for this month perhaps the balance at the end of this month will be greater than zero.

Also on the financial front the application for a clearance from the federal government for Lynn’s estate has finally been made. The delay was due to the need to submit a copy of the will and I didn’t have any left (you’d be surprised how many people want one – financial planner – bank – life insurance company) so I had to make an appointment with the notary to get more. With any luck all the paperwork will finally be done.

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