Saturday, November 30, 2013

You are known by the cards you send and when you send them :)

I received my first Christmas card, yesterday, Nov 29. Every year we know that there are a few people, usually the same people, that get their cards out early. We have theories about the card senders at either end.

1. Those who get their cards out by the first week in December, are type A personalities, who are super organized, like to have all the chores done and loose ends tied up, you know, the no surprises people. I also happen to love them because, they are the flag bearers; they start the season.

2. Now, when one of these "firsties," can I say that? doesn't send a card early, we begin to wonder, if everything is OK. What has happened in their life to change their usual pattern. One friend is a "stay-at-home-mom." She has two children under 7 years of age and I believe that she sends the cards early, because she is either one of those super organized people or she is bored.

When I was home with children, everyone got a card for every occasion. It was an inexpensive outing and I still got to go into stores for a little (very little) retail therapy.

The second of the "firsties" is retired and lives in England. She has friends all over the world and writes regularly. Actually now she calls regularly too. Sue has managed this wide circle of friends by sending cards, letters and phone calls. I can understand why her cards are early. This is her life's work!

3. There are a few "lasties" too. People whose cards come just after Christmas. One is a very good friend in NZ. I know that she thinks of people a lot and would "hop on a plane" in no time to come and see you, if you were ill or struggling. Her cards are always lovely. I sometimes think that my friend lives in another world, though and surfaces occasionally to get a few things done, like sending cards.



4. Then there are people who don't send cards for years. These are often the people, who have decided that it's a waste of money, or they are never organized enough to do a full mailing, or something. I have fallen into that category from time to time myself.

5. Finally there are the "surprise" cards. It could be a card from someone who never sends cards, a card from just a casual acquaintance or a card from someone you can't even recall - oops!

The card that arrived yesterday was from my best girlfriend. I have known her for years. And for years she sent me Christmas cards, when I didn't send cards at all. Then there were a dozen years or so when she didn't send cards and I did. Last year she told me that she didn't send cards because she had moved and couldn't find her Christmas cards, because of the chaos of the move and she certainly wasn't going to buy more cards, when she knew that she still had some.

Now, to have her send this very early card means something. She either A. has finally gotten organized, B. is feeling better in spite of a chronic illness, C. is very bored and reaching out. I'll give her a call.

The picture? It's the Christmas card I sent last year. The picture is a Canadian stamp from Christmas 1881. I actually included in the card, pictures from years ago, that I had of the various recipients. My husband thought that it was the most boring card he had ever seen. Clearly he will never be a stamp collector.

You are known, not only by the cards that you send, but by when you send them. There are more ways than one to convey a message.

Have an awesome day!!

Friday, November 29, 2013

When was the last time you were "gruntled?"

I was reading an article on the Mental Floss site - 12 Lonely Negative Words. It's a fascinating discussion of why we can be "disgruntled," for example, but we can never be "gruntled." If you read the article, please read the comments. They are a wonderful discussion of the curiosities of the English language.

The un - obversive side - tricky

One of my favourite lessons, when I taught High School English, was to take a base word from Latin and add a number of latin prepositions to it. (Well I liked the lesson, maybe the kids didn't that much.) For example, I would take the word "versus" (verse) meaning, to turn and we would begin creating a list of words based on variations of that meaning, such as:

adverse, averse, converse, traverse, transverse, obverse (a favourite), reverse, inverse, universe, diverse, perverse etc.

Please add any I have missed. Also add a favourite Latin word of your own, with lots of English "spin-offs."

There are many excellent Latin verbs to choose from. I particularly liked the word "to turn." It has a lot to do with the inherent puns - "turn of phrase," "spin-off" and so on. I know that some people do math problems all day long. I could spend the day inventing new words or bringing some old ones back to life!!

The picture? The obverse side of a coin or medal is the one with the head on it.

Have a scrutable day!!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Power of Twitter....

I have been fascinated with Twitter since it first became popular. I am in awe of people who can say very little, but have a huge impact. It's the power of a few well chosen words, moving mountains, which makes me totally envious. I am just about to ramp up my presence on Twitter, since I have just bought an IPhone. We will not discuss, at present, why it has taken me all these years to get a phone that can do everything - another time :)

Since Twitter is in my sights, or hands, as it were, I have been reading posts on, or about, this social media platform. Mashable.com posted to my FB wall - 10 Moments on Twitter. It's a fascinating collection of tweets, which show the impact of the medium and the word. Here are a few:

1. The power of the one word tweet. I remember reading about James Buck's arrest in Egypt April 10, 2008. He was able to get out a one-word tweet "Arrested," before the authorities seized him. His friends back in the US were, as result of the tweet, able to contact government officials in the US, who in turn, contacted the American Embassy in Egypt and Buck was freed the next day. His tweet that day was, "Free."

I have always been fascinated by people who can say just the right word at just the right time. I will send a few one word tweets.

2. The power of breaking news. The man on the street, with an IPhone and a Twitter account, is the next roving journalist. The person who posted that a plane had gone down in the Hudson River in 2009 and the passenger, Janis Krums, on a nearby ferry, who took a picture of the rescue attempts, will go down in history.

Now, I don't plan on being in too many wild and crazy places, but exciting things have been known to happen in Toronto. If you don't count Rob Ford, which the rest of the world finds wild and crazy, then I may have to wait a bit, but what's a few more years in a life span. Then again I have to be careful what I wish for. You wouldn't have wanted to have been on that plane!

Light a candle; say a prayer and tweet!

3. The power of the celebrity. Mashable notes that when Oprah joined Twitter, internet traffic increased by 24%. Oprah has 21 million followers. OK, I have 48 followers with only 350 tweets over 5 years. I'll let you know how it goes!!

4. Marketing. Mashable mentions a few marketing campaigns that didn't go as planned. McDonalds thought that they could connect with customers by having them post warm and fuzzy stories about their McD's experiences. As it turned out, the fuzz was more about the bad food and service than anything positive. However, kudos did go to the Mr. Christie's Oreo crew that tweeted during a black out of the Super Bowl game, "You can still dunk in the dark." The tweet came complete with a picture of an Oreo cookie. Now I ask you, how many people watch the game eating Oreos and drinking hot chocolate? You still have to give them credit, though, for quick thinking.

Given that I market knitting supplies, I guess I could wait for an opportunity to say something like, "You can still tink in the dark." I'd have to watch that spell checker doesn't change tink to think. I guess you could still think in the dark and tweet too, I presume. Again you would have to be in the right place, at the right time!! For a platform that uses just a few words, it still uses at lot of time to get things just right.

The picture - when the power is out we still have candles and now I have Twitter :)

Have a wonderful day!!

Vestiges Of The Vestibule

I was going to my car in the parking lot today, when I heard someone behind me ask another person how to pay for parking. The gentleman, who was not that "old," said that there was a vestibule at the side of the lot, with a machine that would accept cash or credit cards.

Now, I hadn't heard the word "vestibule" in years. My grandmother had a very small house, but it did have a vestibule - a small room at the entrance to the house. That is, you opened a door took two steps and opened another door to the outside. I'm not sure what the vestibule was actually used for. I remember that you often took off wet boots and left them there, along with a wet umbrella, to dry. There may have been a few pegs for coats, but most of the coats and hats were kept on a coat stand in the hall, which you entered from the vestibule - I know, a lot of directions for a small house.

Maybe vestibules were truncated foyers. You know, sometimes architects designed very small houses, but incorporated aspects of grander designs into these "pied-a-terres." For example, we also had, in addition to a vestibule, a very small bay window and gables. Anyway, I had to look up the word, vestibule. Here is a description from Wikipedia, with more information than you ever wanted to know about this antiquated anti-room.

Vestibules are not just limited to architecture. There are a few vestibules in our anatomy, too. In fact, given that the word comes from the Latin, Vestibulum, meaning courtyard, I am not surprised that it has taken on such an expanded meaning. Vestibule has morphed from courtyard, to meaning any entrance way. In anatomy there are vestibules of the heart, ear, nose, larynx, mouth and vagina - who would have thought!

In architecture, vestibules are found in lobbies, reception areas, on trains or as mud rooms. They are also listed as footstools, barstools and toilets. I sense that, as an entranceway, it has come to mean a whole lot more than just a courtyard. In fact, if it has anything to do with courting and the vagina, it may have given the idea of foreplay a whole new meaning. I'm not sure that my grandmother would have appreciated this new use of the vestibule, but it was a way of saying "goodnight" to a lover with a door closed to the main house and a door closed to the vapours of the night outside. It may very well have been a courtyard in more ways than one :)

Have an awesome day!!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Winter Wonderland...

In winter, very occasionally, we get some very pretty days here in the city. There are lots of pretty days in the country, where it seems to snow more and where the snow lies undisturbed for weeks. In the city, however, there are few vast expanses of snow. Roads must be cleared. People must get from here to there and so the snow is removed or packed down or salted to a grey slush. Alas, what might have been lovely is now just another dreary day!!

This morning, however, we have frosting on the trees. There is not a lot of snow, but what snow fell last night was mixed with an icy rain and the branches of the deciduous trees are like brittle white lace. When the sun shines on this, it is brilliant. I am waiting for the sun!!

Snow in the City
Here are some Apple trees in the back yard.

Cat Lawn Ornament Framed By Trees
The lawn ornaments are frozen into the ground. They'll have to wait until Spring now.



Etchings
The wind is picking up and soon all of the frosting will be gone. Cameras are amazing gadgets!!

Have a wonderful day!!


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

You're a good man.....

....Charles Schulz. Today, November 26 was Charles Schulz's birthday. I have always had a fascination with the comic strip, "Peanuts." Not only does its ironic humour reflect my view of life, the slight sophistication in many of the pieces, sets it apart from most of the other strips. However, although it has this cerebral side, it is also very empathetic. You have to sympathize with Charlie Brown. He's the everyman in all of us.

In researching information for the post, I happened to find a site that lists all of the characters who were ever "named" in Peanuts, in case you were wondering. Here's the site, Meet the Gang. It's part of the site, FiveCentsPlease.org.

On this site you will also find answers for FAQ questions about the comic strip, such as, "What was Charlie Brown's teacher's name?" and so on.

I also happened to find a site that listed 20 memorable quotations from Peanuts. Here are the 10 that I liked the best. You may want to check out the site. The cartoons add an amazing dimension!!

1. Decorate your home. It gives the illusion that your life is more interesting than it really is.

2. I have a new philosophy. I am only going to dread one day at a time.

3. I love mankind. It's people I can't stand.

4. I think I've discovered the secret of life - you hang around until you get used to it.

5. It doesn't matter what you believe, just so long as you're sincere.

Not exactly a 10 speed.


6. Life is like a ten speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we haven't used.

7. My life has no purpose, no direction, no aim, no meaning, and yet I'm happy. I can't figure it out. What am I doing right?

8. Sometimes I lie awake at night, and ask, "where have I gone wrong?" Then a voice says to me, "This is going to take more then one night."

9. The secret to life....replace one worry with another.

10. Yesterday I was a dog. Today I'm a dog. Tomorrow I'll probably still be a dog. Sigh! There's so little hope for advancement.

And "ain't it the truth." How many times have we just been cleared of one worry, only to find another on the doorstep. Or by just hanging around, we begin to be accepted or to accept the "things," we can't change.  It is also very true, that there are times when things seem never to change or improve. Often we feel that we will be forever stuck in those "dog days." My favourite, though, is #6. I have ridden a 10 speed bicycle for years and I literally have only used 5 of the 10 gears. This may be one of my problems :)

I also hate to say it, but my favourite character from the strip is Lucy. Who is your favourite character?

The picture? Some days I feel as though I'm just triking along :)

Have a wonderful day.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Fat Birds

The line from Mary Poppins was, "Feed the birds and what do you get? Fat Birds." Well maybe not. Maybe you get a lot of information that is important to the planet, which you can share with others. Plus you can watch every feeder that has installed a webcam.

I am describing briefly an article I read in the Sunday Star about a type of citizen science. The article outlines a joint program between, Bird Studies Canada and the Ithaca, NY based Cornell Lab of Ornithology called, ProjectFeederWatch. Basically thousands of people who enjoy bird watching help collect information about migration patterns, population numbers, irruptions and more. By joining the organization you agree to collect specific information at certain specified times. Ironically, although they would like more people to join, there is a fee of $35.00.



The fee, however, does give you access to their interactive site where you can share your bird stories and pictures with others and watch any feeder with a webcam set up. Last year 2,800 people joined from Canada and 17,000 from the US. The fee also entitles you to 4 issues of BirdWatch Canada, a poster, a calendar, instructional booklet, handbook with IDs and much more. The program runs from now until April 4, 2014. You don't have to be an expert to join; all are welcome. They even provide a toll free number for more information, 1-888-448-2473. However, you can easily sign up online at birdscanada.org/pfw.html. It may be worth the $35.00 when you are snow bound in January, you can go onto the site, which the author of the article suggests is one of the most beautiful on the web, and just enjoy the vibe or rush :)

This idea deserves a tweet!

The picture? I hope that you can see the small bell of bird seed attached to the roof of the shed. I'm going to try again to feed the birds. We've had feeders in the past and all they attracted were squirrels and raccoons. If this works, I may go for a proper bird feeder and join BWC. I'll let you know :)

Have a wonderful day!!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Morning isn't broken...

Some mornings are better than others. The best mornings are Saturday and Sunday, if you work Monday to Friday for someone else, or even yourself. Monday to Friday mornings require discipline, you have to get up and out by a certain time. You have an agenda. This must be done; that must be undone; you know, we have be "productive."

On weekend mornings, we know that we will have to be productive, too, but a little later. We have time, maybe an hour or so, to just "be." To maybe sit and do nothing, to dream, to muse, or not, as the case may be. Perhaps the brain just idles. Some people call this wasting time, others call it recharging!!



For me, it's my informal Yoga time. There is no strenuous stretching of the body, nor is there any strenuous stretching of the mind. It's a time when thoughts flow freely. Not the compulsive, must get organized thoughts, nor the grinding "how did this happen" thoughts. No the thoughts are more of observation, looking at the sky, the trees, the light and letting a memory or two slip by or a phrase, once said, be said again or a person, once known, visit again for a minute or two.

This morning it's -11ยบ C. The sky is clear - very bright and sunny. The smoke from the chimneys stretches out horizontally across the sky, like angels with billowing gowns and rushing wings. I am reminded of another day many years ago, when a very young child looked up at these clouds of soot and ash and said, "Look, Mom, angels."

God works in mysterious ways.

Have a heavenly day!!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Nouveau November....

November can be a really down month. There's no real celebration, in Canada anyway, to create a focus. The US has Thanksgiving, however, we had ours in October, which also has Hallowe'en. For a long time November's only focus was Remembrance Day - not exactly an up day!!

Then along came some clever marketers!!!  Hurray! what would we do without entrepreneurs to whip up a campaign or two. I can see people sitting around a board room table saying, "OK, lets pick a month that has nothing and let's make it something." So now in November we have:

1. Movember - a focus for Prostate and Testicular Cancer. Now we can have contests at work for who can grow the best, the longest and/or the most creative moustache or something like that. Plus someone else has added themed mitts, as a fund raiser and I am sure, as the years progress, there will be other products and other events all geared to raise awareness of these Cancers. This will be the only time that I am sorry I can't grow a moustache :)

2. Beaujolais Nouveau - This limited offering of an unaged wine has really taken off!! The concept, which originally started in France, as a reward for the vineyard workers, has now become so popular that, if you don't get out and buy your bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau the first day they are released, you might not get any. In fact the idea is so popular that other countries are creating their own versions and there are also down market spin-offs.

The Wine of November

3. Nanowrimo - National novel writing month picked the best month to hold its write a novel of 50,000 words in 30 days challenge. I took the bait last year and "won" in the sense that I completed the challenge with an hour or two to spare on November 30, 2012. November has few distractions. It's mostly grey and cold, so you don't mind sitting in and finding something cerebral to do!! I know, now I have to polish the text and try to get it published - another November maybe :) I do, however, get to enjoy the blog posts of others in the challenge this year - those that are not too busy writing and can spare a post or two, that is!!

4. November 25 - I had always hoped that St Catherine's Day might have become more of an event. Something like an Easter parade only in November. We could even call it Covember. St Catherine's Day is celebrated mainly in France where single women in the needle trade - sewers, milliners etc send cards to each other. Milliners have huge parades and many Catherinettes wear spectacular hats as part of the fun. It has been retained in Quebec as Taffy Day. I'm not sure how the hats and cards morphed into taffy, but they apparently have :) Also some places in Britain light a Catherine Wheel - a flaming fireworks display. Maybe the female equivalent of Guy Fawkes Day - November 5.

5. Thanksgiving - Yes, we could always celebrate American Thanksgiving. That would mean turkey last month, turkey this month and turkey next month. Maybe a bit too much turkey :) Perhaps we could celebrate another type of food - how about Tortiere - national meat pie month? I think that it needs a little beefing up. :)

Have a wonderful November day!!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

There is nothing wrong with boring.....

I thought that my husband must have brought in the wrong newspaper this morning, because it looked, well, normal. There were a few headlines about government spending and a side column about some new medical study, you know the usual stuff. What amazed me was there was nothing in the paper about the latest assault on our collective mores by that moron, Rob Ford, who was, until yesterday, considered our mayor.

Ever since council stripped him of his powers, we have had normal - plain old boring normal. It was wonderful. No more stomach churning angst. No more weeping and wailing. No more of the "in your face" hostilities, that make for a very unpleasant day - day after day.

Boring and predictable isn't all that bad!!
Really give me boring, as far as city governance is concerned any day. It controls the blood pressure, calms the heart rate, staves off depression and well ensures a good night's sleep. Yawn!!

Give me boring, also, in the areas of personal health. Just let the body tick away with no new lumps or bumps. No strange new symptoms here or there, that have to be attended to. Just give me no surprises and I will be happy. I have praised boredom lately, when people tell me that their life is so hum drum. "Nothing exciting every happens," they say. Although, there are ways to create a little excitement on a daily bases, we should also accept the fact that the status quo, isn't all that bad. There are worse things.

Have a very predictable day :)

There is an art to everything.

Someone posted to my FB wall another post from Buzzfeed.com. It's about 13 skills that are fading from our world. The post is entitled 13 skills your grandparents had that you don't. I know that you have tons of skills that your grandparents didn't have and you could easily replace these 13 with at least 13, if not more, of your own. However, with everything that is gained there is something lost, so consider this post, as a kind of requiem for :

1. Handwriting - clear, legible, beautifully, flowing script. Even with a ballpoint pen, this type of controlled cursive writing says breeding, discipline and refinement. My grandmother wrote her recipes with a straight pen dipped into an inkwell. They looked good enough to eat, even though they were all in German.

2. Memorizing more than two phone numbers. Actually, my grandmother didn't have to memorize phone numbers, she just called the operator and asked to be connected to "the Jones," for example. It was also easier to remember numbers back then. They usually started with a name, such as Hudson, which you knew condensed to HUD- and then there were just 4 numbers to remember. In this respect, life might have been easier back then, except that you only called people to chat, when all the laundry had been pegged out :)

3. How to use a phone book. I could easily pass on this one, however, it was fun to look at all the people in the phone book with the same surname as yours or to try and find the number of that cute new student in school. I had a friend with an unusual last name, "Fatum." When Jack travelled, he would look up all the Fatum's in the book, where he was and call them to have a chat. I guess that you could do this on FB just as easily and you wouldn't have to travel very far :)

4. Basic car maintenance. My grandmother couldn't drive. My mother could, but I know that she would never have changed a tire. My father used to tinker with the cars every once in a while, however, they never really ran well, after his tinkering :)  I don't belong to the Canadian equivalent of AAA. The few times that I have had car trouble on the road, I have had Good Samaritans, stop and come over to help. Now what might be disappearing is opportunities for Good Samaritans!

Better Car Maintenance

5. Basic home maintenance. OK I still change light bulbs. I can bleed my radiators, turn off the water in the house, change a fuse, if I can find the fuse box :) and clean the coils of the fridge. I do not have to fire up a coal furnace, ignite a pilot light that has gone out or plane a door that sticks in hot weather. In fact we have a running list for a handyman who comes in once or twice a year to do all these odd jobs that neither my husband nor I can. Yes, I may have to live with a dripping tap for a few months, even if I can change a washer or two.

6. The ability to read and use a handheld map. One of my claims to fame was that I could manipulate an accordion style paper map and get the family from A to B quickly and in one piece. I was the navigator, while my husband drove. I know that there were people out there who could read a paper map, but not fold it up neatly, when finished. Then there were others who couldn't tell north from south. They rarely left home :)

7. Knowing how to tie multiple types of knots. This is a great skill. I think that it's a little like writing those patches of code that keep things neat and tidy on a website. A lot of people took great pleasure in knowing that they could tie the perfect reef knot. I am still fascinated with the round turn and two half hitches. It really does tether things. This had to have been an ultra nerdy activity, back when nerds were called squares or something like that. You could be knotty without being naughty :)

8. You learned how to sew in school, if you were not taught at home. You knew how to write cheques, because people accepted them, back then. Most people lived in houses with gardens and had a relative that worked a farm, so you got to spend time picking berries, feeding chickens, and mucking out stalls. With more people living in condos and more farms becoming huge conglomerates, soon there will be very few of us left that know what a chicken looked like before it had "fingers."

9. Being creative. I lived for many years in what would be considered an impoverished area. There were few parks with swings nearby, however, behind the store, where I lived, was an alley way and beyond the alley was a huge lumber yard. On weekends the "alley kids" built forts in the lumber yard, fashioned swords out of whatever was around and used cardboard in the most inventive ways. We lived in a Narnia of our own making and it was wonderful!

10. Socializing - parties and dances were the highlight of the weekend. Few people could afford to go to concerts or live theatre, so we went to dances, for entertainment and to meet people. Sometimes you got to go to a wedding, with a band and a favourite uncle would teach you how to waltz or do the polka. This was so much more fun than just swaying to the music. I remember going with my grandmother to visit her friends for tea or she would have the minister around for dinner. These were the "good china" occasions and everyone was attentive and on their best behaviour. Cell phones might have made socializing a lost art!!

Have a grand old day!!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Eat Your Words :)

I found this link for 7 stay at home jobs on mashable.com

I sent the one about grant filer to my sister, who is looking for a way to supplement her pension, now that she has recently retired. My sister has three children, all half Inuit and eligible for government grants because they are still considered aboriginal. Filling out grant applications for her children and artist husband(s) has been almost a full time job for my sister, over the years. Also she worked as a supervisor at the multi-cultural centre in town, and often used her expertise, as a grant filer, to help new Canadians access funds, that were available to them. I see a new internet career for her, as grant filler-outer to the masses :)

I thought that the work from home article was very interesting. I know that a lot of people struggle to get their name out there, to snag gigs as web page designers, freelance writers etc. Still it is a starting point and some do very well in their particular niche.

Edible Greetings :)

I was especially intrigued by the mention of a freelance greeting card writer. Presumably you write the text part of the card and someone else provides the graphics. I always have trouble in card stores finding an appropriate greeting. They are either too soppy, not very funny or in some cases actually obscene. My sense of humour leans a little to "The Far Side" and I always enjoyed their cards, but they weren't for everyone or for every occasion. I also found myself giving the same card to the same person for the same reason at least twice. I think that it may be time to come up with some new greeting card ideas.

I do use blank cards and add my own inscription sometimes, but I also like it when I find a professional card that says it all. There was a collection of cards once which I liked a lot, because it used quotations from Shakespeare and other famous poets. However, I don't seem to see these around anymore. I guess there weren't enough poetry loving card senders out there.

Unfortunately we are moving into the card sending season. There is November 25, St Catherine's day. I have written about it before. It's a day when single women in the needle trade (sewing, millinery etc.) send cards to each other. There is also Christmas and maybe a few other carding events in between. I did send a card to my daughter on her birthday this month. I won't send her a card on St Catherine's Day, even if it is her patron saint. Anyway her father has just sent her an Advent calendar, which is more about a family tradition than anything religious. It's one of those calendars with a piece of chocolate for everyday from Dec 1 - 24.

Now I could do a card collection on candies, desserts and other confections - hmmmmm I think I could make a go of this.

The picture? Macarons at Thibor's - cards you can eat :)

Have a sweet day!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Rally - on!!

I attended my first political demonstration last Wednesday. I know, why did it take me so long. Over the years there have been lots of opportunities for me to get out and show my support for one side or another. There have been wars to protest, environmental activities to support and much more. I guess I had other things to do or wasn't that motivated or had decided to leave the fight up to someone else.

Well, on Wednesday I couldn't leave the fight up to others; I had to get involved. The rally I attended was sponsored by a group of citizens who were calling on Rob Ford to resign, as mayor of Toronto. My only prior notice of the event was at 9:00am Wednesday morning, when I received a post from my city councillor, not actually about the rally; however, someone else posted in the comments the time and location of the rally. I might never have known.



Anyone who believes that public figures should be morally responsible individuals, who set a good example for the community and generally work to improve situations rather than complicate them, has to want Rob Ford out of office. He is a bad example for public "people" every where.

I knew that the group needed bodies. They needed people to turn out and support the cause. I took my body, with all its limitations, onto the subway and headed down to Nathan Phillips Square for the 12:00 noon start. There was a fair turn out, however, I believe that more would have gathered, had the rally been better publicized.

The sad thing is that in spite of all his drug use, bullying and out right criminal activity, there are a lot of people, who would vote him in again. This fact alone says a lot about the morals, or lack there of, of too many people in Toronto.

I plan to be at every rally against him!!

Have a great day.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Type A vs Type B personalities

I am obviously a type B personality who has accidently subscribed to a few Type A blogs. Every once in a while I read a post that is so foreign to my world and my way of thinking that I have to share my comments on it – just to put things into perspective. Here is a list from highexistence.com. I joined the blog, because I wanted to walk more and it was one of their challenges. I do need to be forced out of my comfortable rut from time to time, but I also need to keep a balance. Some of these people can be a little over the top. J

Here are several suggestions for kicking yourself out of a little depression: The ideas are from the blog. My comments are in italics.

1. Stick your body out of a sunroof while the car is driving. 
I can tell you first-hand this one is a lot of fun. If you don’t have a sunroof, a window works just as well. Speeds of 40 mph+ make the experience much more invigorating.

OK, this I will never do. I have in my mind a vision of a low bridge or the sunroof snapping shut and Bingo, yes you are no longer depressed, because in fact, you are no longer J

2. Go experience nature. Being outside just feels right.

This I can do and it works!!

 3. Destroy something.
 Take out some frustrations on an inanimate object like the printer in ‘Office Space.’

I’m not sure that I could actually destroy anything. I did have a neighbor that used to chop up concrete with a sledge hammer, whenever he was mad. No, I just clean.

4. Dance! Remember that one time you got a bit tipsy and ACTUALLY danced and didn’t care about everyone watching? Go do that again (being tipsy is optional).

If I’m depressed, I’m usually too down to get up and dance. I may turn on some music as a starter, though.

5. Exercise.
 Hormones are the best legal drugs out there. Pump some iron or go for a run and get that adrenaline pumping.

Now I do go for walks and they help.

6. Watch the sun rise
. You can’t argue with this one. Wake up a bit early and remind yourself how refreshing this experience can be.

I’m sorry, if I’m down, I generally stay in bed. If I’m up figuratively, I am usually awake and up and about. It’s dark in the morning anyway and the day just sort of creeps up on you.

7. Scare yourself.
 Are you deathly afraid of spiders? Go touch one. Pick a fear and go check and see if it still freaks you out ;)

Sorry I am not going to keep a few snakes around just to scare me out of a depression. I would be freaking out all the time. No, looking in the mirror in the morning is all I really need to shock the B’Jesus out of me J

8. Run around in the rain.
 Haven’t you seen ‘Singing in the Rain’ or ‘The Sound of Music?’

Again, sorry, I hate getting wet. If I’m going to go out in the rain, it has to be a very warm rain, after a very hot day and well, this usually doesn’t happen in November in Toronto.


 9. Blast your favorite badass song.
 My favorites are Bliss  by Muse, You and Whose Army? by Radiohead and Without a Face by Rage Against the Machine.

Again, my favourite music happens to be folk music, which my husband calls, music to commit suicide by – not a good idea!



10. Do something outside of your comfort zone.
 Surely you can find something in this last but I wanted to keep your imagination going just in case.

Now we are back to cleaning again. I do it a lot, but most of the time it is out of my comfort zone. And I know that I am not going to do rock climbing, swim in a cold lake, or even take a cold shower for that matter and I am never going to own a reptile of any sort!!

 11. Scream at the top of your lungs. 
Like in all of those cliche movies where they yell in the rain on top of some mountain… except do in right where you are, right now.

Then the neighbours or my family would come running and I would have to explain that I was just bored and needed a release and then they would be upset and I would have to comfort them and say everything is fine, but they would know it wasn’t. I think that depression is less complicated.

12.  Meditate. Google “meditation techniques” if you’re unsure of the best way to do this.

Most of the time I am meditating on all the negatives in the world and that’s why I’m down J

 13. Do something spontaneous. 
It doesn’t have to be crazy or dangerous, just fine. Stepping outside your normal schedule and throwing responsibility to the wind feels great.

No, I will not clean the house naked, spontaneous as this may be. My motto – clean house, clean mind, take your pick.

 14. Practice an act of random kindness. Giving feels really good. Sometimes we forget exactly how good.

This I could do.

 15. Get to know a stranger. Truly connect with another human being. Skip the small talk and ask about their goals and ambitions.

I get enough funny looks from friends, when I ask these questions. I am not going to ask a stranger J

 16. Do something illegal. 
Oh my gosh, did I just tell you to break the law? Hell yes I did. Laws are made to be broken and it feels great to do it.

Let me introduce you to our mayor. He does a lot of things that are illegal and maybe he feels great about it, but we don’t.

 17. Drive fast…really fast
 .Think ‘The Fast & The Furious: Tokyo Drift.’ If you have a Prius, maybe you should just skip to the next one…

This is illegal too and dangerous. Maybe I could just walk fast, really fast and hope that I don’t trip and fall, then I would be really depressed.

18. Get Mad!
 Anger is a gift. If something is getting you down, express your frustration about it! Just getting your feeling out can feel amazing.

I usually enjoy a rant now and then – delayed shipments, inappropriate charges, big business bullying the little guy. Yes I do this on a regular basis, depressed or not.

 19. Attend a funeral. It’s been said that nothing makes you feel more alive than death. — Ace

I attend funerals for the sake of other people, not myself. These are very sad occasions and the fewer the better.


Obviously, differences in age, sex, culture, I’m not sure what else, has a profound effect on how we see things and our reaction to these things. For me nature, walks and acts of kindness, are better depression routers than dangerous, illegal or disturbing acts – just saying 

The picture? Music and photography help me deal with life's ups and downs.

Have a very "up" day!!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Ancestry.com - do you really want to go there....?

My sister was between jobs this summer and spent a lot of time on Ancestry.ca opening closet doors. Yes, I know that the more familiar term is, "looking up the family tree." But in our family, you never knew who was going to fall out of the tree or leap out of the closet.

We all knew that our mother was adopted and we knew our biological grandmother. Right now, my sister is trying to track down information about our biological grandfather. These are limbs on the genetic family tree. We are also looking up information on my mother's adoptive parents, whom we consider our true grandparents. That's another limb of the tree. Of course, there is all the information about my father's side of the family, who originally came from Ireland.

My sister has done a lot of work from primary sources, such as, birth certificates and death certificates. I don't know, if they keep old army records, because my adoptive grandfather was in the Prussian army. She might have to learn a little German to read the documents. Piecing together the various parts of the puzzle takes some detective work and a good memory. I have, for example, forgotten my grandmother's maiden name. I think that I heard it once, when I was 9 years-old. I know it started with a "B" and she was born in Dortmund in Germany. Of course, I have to remember that she was married twice and that this might have been the previous married name. We do complicate our lives, don't we :)

Organ Grinder
Hyphenated last names may keep some information from disappearing, but you may run into the problem of stringing your whole family tree, for the past hundred years or more, into one last name, a bit like the Spanish do. I had a friend once, who was married several times. When she applied for jobs, she hyphenated, as her last name, the surnames of her second and third husband. She did this while living with a fourth husband. Hopefully her children will never be interested in Genealogy.

My sister is now working on a lead for more information about our biological grandfather. It's a story she was told once about a taxi driver in London that had a pet monkey who stole people's wallets. I can hardly wait! Now I had thought of training my cats to be a little more industrious, but I had never thought of wallets :)

The picture, an organ grinder in Toronto. They used to have monkeys. I didn't have a picture of a taxi with or without a monkey.

Have a great day!!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Holiday Spirits

I rarely do the wine buying in the house. My husband usually enjoys shopping, so he goes to the various stores - grocery, liquor, beer etc. Yes this is Ontario - the one Presbyterian stronghold left in Canada. We have separate licensed outlets for both liquor and beer and if the government thought that they could tax food they would - probably do, but keep it quiet :)

Well, last Saturday, we were having pasta with clams and decided that a good baguette would just add an extra touch to the dinner. Le Petit Thuet makes the best baguette in the city of Toronto, however, to get one we had to drive a little out of our way. I decided to make the trip easier on my husband by going along for the ride. The plan was that I would pop over to the bakery for the bread, while he did the wine shopping across the street. Sadly Thuet's was sold out, so I got to spend more time in the wine store.



I was both amazed and appalled. Now, I am no puritan. I like a glass or two of wine with dinner fairly regularly, however, I have to question the extent to which booze is marketed in these outlets. Here are some pictures of the massed displays and fancy packaging all aimed at getting you to buy and drink more. The only thing I can say is that I'm glad they weren't in the grocery store, where children would be exposed to them on a regular basis. Isolating alcohol in its own retail outlet hasn't stopped some parents, though, from bringing their kids along for some early training. There were several children under 10 years of age, who were pushing carts through the aisles, while their parents filled the buggies.

OK, I know that the government makes huge amounts of money from the taxes on booze of any sort. And, it was nice of them to provide leaflets, at every check out, with information on government supported rehab. facilities. There just seems to be something wrong in the lavish marketing, the drink but don't drink contradictions and the sparkling messages that are sent out to everyone.



I am not advocating a return to the old liquor outlets of the past, which were more like interrogation rooms. They had a few counters along the wall, where you filled out forms for your purchases, based on a catalogue anchored to the table. You then took this list to another counter where a grumpy employee asked to see your liquor license - yes, I forgot, you had to apply for a license every year or so. You then paid the person in cash, while another employee went into a back room and got your bottle, wrapped it in a brown paper bag before handing it over. I always felt somewhat criminal leaving the outlet.

No, I'm just advocating for a little balance and a little less hypocrisy. By all means allow people to drink, however, promoting a healthy life style and fostering responsible choices in the young, might mean a little less glitz in the aisles.

My rant for the day :)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Ashes to Ashes

Things can get a little macabre from time to time in my world. Here's an example. I happened to be at a gathering of knitting designers today and we started talking about, of all things, our remains. It happens that designers, like artists, have a body of work, which they have accumulated over time. The question is what do you do with it, when your time has come?

There are considerations, such as, who has your passwords or who can access your Paypal account, should you suddenly cease to be. Have you made provisions for your estate to acquire any ongoing benefits from the sale of your designs, which may continue long after you aren't? These considerations apply, not just to knitters, but to anyone who makes money, particularly on-line.

There was also a discussion of contacting next of kin, if you happen to be an on-line friend, or a friend of a single dimension i.e. just knitting. Relationships, wherever they are started, still carry an emotional bond. People worry about you when you don't post, or don't show for guild meetings etc. Whom do they contact to find out if you are OK?


Scattered throughout this discussion were humorous anecdotes about dispersement of ashes, or not, as the case maybe. I had to confide that I still had my mother's ashes in my top drawer. Another designer mentioned a story that she had written after breakfast one day. Apparently there was a box on the breakfast table and when she asked what it was, her mother answered, "It's aunt 'toots'." Yes there are more ways than one to have dinner, or breakfast with a relative :)

There were the usual (or unusual) discussions of giving your body to science. Anyone who had studied medicine had a cadaver tale. I mentioned the story of the poet, Dorothy Parker, who willed her ashes to her worst enemy. This enemy, in turn, decided not to retrieve her bequest, leaving Dorothy, or reasonable facsimile there of, to languish in a filing cabinet in her lawyer's office for years. Finally the NAACP claimed her remains, as she had left her entire estate to them. They created a memorial garden for her final resting place.

Just a thought. Maybe it's time to keep a file of those passwords and pass them on to someone you trust, who will look after your interests, when you no longer can. Maybe you should also create a final post with instructions for someone to post it in the various groups you are part of, just to let people know what has happened.  We are a caring lot!!

The picture? One of my designs for a lace scarf.

Have a thoughtful day!!

Monday, November 11, 2013

War of the Poppies

Remembrance Day always makes me a little sad. Maybe it's survivor's guilt - my father returned or maybe it's just the frustration that there has to be war at all. I am also saddened by the fact that Toronto's mayor, Rob Ford, will speak at the cenotaph for the ceremony at 11:00am today. This is a man who knows nothing of sacrifice, honour or compassion. In fact his very presence is a desecration to the memory of the heroes that gave the ultimate sacrifice.

Then there is the counter "white poppy" movement. These people believe that the red poppy celebrates war and that we should really be focusing on peace. Again, they have no idea of the true meaning of the red poppy. I wonder if any of them have ever been to Flanders. None of them are parents, I'm sure, who have lost children in the wars. Blood is red, not white.

It is a grey November Day. In fact I can't remember a November 11, that wasn't grey. I'm sure there were a few that were sunny, I just can't remember them. Time for some cheering up. These are the better stories from the war that I remember my parents telling.

My mother, I think, harboured a secret loathing for my father's family. My mother was an only child and my father was one of six. At the start of WWII, my father and his brothers approached their impending conscription as follows:

1. The eldest brother sought and achieved a dispensation because he was the eldest and sole support for his mother, aunt and grandmother. The irony was that he lived with relatives over an hour's drive away, however, I guess that he sent money home. My mother was sure he spent every penny on himself.

2. The second brother joined the Navy and had the good fortune of rising to the rank of Quartermaster of Supplies, spending the duration of the war on a warm island in the Caribbean. My mother has never forgiven him.

3. The third brother joined the Red Cross and was stationed overseas as an ambulance driver. He was always the peacemaker in the family and chose a fitting role in the war. He also regularly sent beautiful gifts back to his wife in Hamilton - another thorn in my mother's side.



4. My father tried to join the navy as a frogman, however, a medical condition disqualified him. He was upset by the rejection and moped around for a few years before realizing that, if he didn't enlist, he would be conscripted into the army. He joined the Air Force, as a radar technician and was stationed in London during the blitz. He may have written a letter or two home and even sent a card when I was born.

5. My aunt joined a women's division of the services and worked for the war effort at home. The youngest brother was too young to enlist. I think that my mother always thought that the youngest could have joined, if he really wanted to.

No one ever talked about the war at family gatherings, however, occasionally, my father would mention a few of the antics that they got up to. There was talk of hot wiring service vehicles to get to town on a Saturday night or flying missions over enemy territory to bring back case loads of wine for the officers' mess. There were the near misses and the fortuitous finds. One such find was just after an aircraft, my father was in, got hit by debris. The force knocked out their navigational system. The pilot was flying blind. Fortunately it was a clear night and my father was able to make out a rail line on the ground. They followed the tracks, which ultimately lead to the coast and home.

I'm feeling a little better now. The picture is the best I could do for train tracks!!

Have a fortuitous day!!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Cupboards and Bras...

I must stop this cleaning frenzy I'm in. I swear that as soon as the bucket and cleaning rags come out, the writing muse makes a bee-line for the back door and leaves until the dust settles or is mopped up or something. I did it again yesterday. I decided that the fuzz on the edges of the upper cupboards was "growing." You know, like chin fuzz grows into strands of hair that become beards, the spider webs and sticky residue on the cupboards closest to the ceiling were trapping anything in their path and turning my kitchen into a museum of medieval gargoyles.

OK a little exaggerated perhaps, but you get the idea :) Alas, somehow I know that I will never be a famous "anything" unless it's a cleaning lady and even then maybe not. It seems that people who have become famous - writers, artists etc. can live in any sort of chaos and people excuse them, or even applaud their grunge, calling it the creative medium in which they work. If you're not famous, however, the grime in which you live, while trying to become famous, is considered filth!!


Fountain of Youth?

Still I did enjoy some fringy "things" in my cleaning burst yesterday. I got to stand on the counters and practise keeping my balance while clinging to the cupboard wall. There is something very exhilarating about knowing that you are still agile enough do to this and not becoming so giddy, at your ability, that you pass out and end it all.

Add to this "high" the fact that my youngest was reading aloud from his computer a list of inventions created by women. He particularly enjoyed the invention of the brassiere. Apparently one of the reasons it was created was to conserve metal during WW I. Corsets, I guess, were heavy metal users :) I had to laugh, though, at his pronunciation of the word. It sounded more like brazier.

Finally he switched to one of his favourite singers, Frank Sinatra. There I was standing on the kitchen counter scrubbing the cupboards to the tune of I've Got the World on a String, while enjoying the company of my 20-year-old - very surreal!!

Just two more posts and I'm caught up!!

The picture - my youngest last summer.

Have a great day!!

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Windows and what we see....

I live in a two story house. Since neither my husband nor I like heights and since I didn't want to endanger the lives and limbs of my kids, we use a cleaning service, once or twice a year, to clean the windows. Yesterday their office called with a reasonable quote to clean the windows, cut back the ivy from the house and check to see that our new eaves troughs had screens to keep out the leaves. Well you would think that this was pretty much a straight forward job. Think again.

1. They arrived at 8:30 this morning. I was in shock. I expected them to come during the day, in a week or two. Now I needed to think and I rarely do that in my dressing gown :)

What's for lunch?

2. I realized that they couldn't clean one set of upper windows because we had screens on them and to remove the screens would require major surgery, so I will just have to live with the smudges on those windows for a while.

3. They cleaned the sliding door from the kitchen to the back deck, however, we noticed that the stubborn spots which would not come out were actually on the inside of one of the sheets of glass, sealed within the double glazed door. More spots to live with.

4. They actually attempted to clean the living room window, however, I hadn't mentioned this in the original quote because I knew there was a problem. You see, we have an old storm window on this particular piece of glass. Usually storms are not a concern. However our house is partially covered with ivy which had decided to grow between the storm window and the regular window. Given time it could easily have penetrated the house and well, what do you feed ivy for dinner - and breakfast or lunch for that matter :)

Marauding Ivy

5. Now I did get an earlier quote to have the vine clipped back from the upper windows and the eaves. Ivy and ravens tapping at my windows may be poetic, but it is also very eerie.

Fortunately the crew could delay another appointment and for a few extra dollars, I was able to get them to remove the storms, cut back the ivy and clean the inner window. I can now see the neighbours!!

What was that quote about "good windows make good neighbours" or was it, "clean windows make clean neighbours?" Just as well I work out of the home during the day, it keeps me away from the windows.

Have a wonderful day!!

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Feast or Famine

I think that I suffer from "muse swings" as opposed to "mood swings." I may have mood swings as well, but I too often swing between having no ideas for a post and having too many ideas for just one post. Today I have too many, so here is a list, which you are welcome to mine, at any time. I keep the list in a post, so that I can refer to it when I am experiencing one of those "starved for an idea" days!!

1. Gadgets. I am a sucker for gadgets. The radio alarm sounded this morning with the announcer saying something like. "What is your favourite gadget?" I was instantly awake and waiting for the next line, when my husband hit the snooze button. Rats, now I will have to hunt it down. I did murmur, "bottle opener" under my breath, as a mild protest, but this was ignored.

So now I had to find out the answer. I goggled "favourite gadget" and found more sites than you would have time to read before breakfast. There were the top 10 gadgets for each year, everyone else's list of their favourite gadget and the cream de la cream of lists from the gadget junkies' bible - Popular Mechanics. I actually used to read my father's copies of Popular Mechanics. While my girlfriends read fashion magazines, I read about gadgets. Maybe this is why I can open a bottle with a defunct nut cracker, but can never get my lipstick on straight, even though the tube itself is a very neat gadget :) But I digress. Here is a list of 101 Gadgets that changed the world.



2. Travels With Charley. We walked to the book store last night as an outing. My husband bought a new John Gresham and a new Ian Rankin and I took pictures. I noticed that there was a re-release of John Steinbeck's "Travels With Charley" which I had read years ago. I was a little stunned to see that this new release was to celebrate its 50th anniversary. It's a great read!!

3. Circles. Yesterday's post was about "Looking for Circles Day." I realized that I had more to say on the topic of circles. I hadn't even touched on the symbolism of the circle or quoted a poem or two on the subject or included several songs on the theme of circles.

4. Geeks. One of the book displays at Indigo (book store) had the heading, "The Geek Shall Inherit The Earth." Does that include people who write about gadgets?



5. Carrie. There was also a display of the latest Stephen King book. Since I had just taken a picture of a poster for the new Carrie movie, which was on at the cinema next door, I felt that I was zoning in on a post. Also since some of the scenes for this new Carrie were shot a year ago last summer at the high school just down the street, I felt that I had some insider information. I could also use my son as a reference, since he has seen both movies and actually spent 5 years at that very high school - grades 9-13.

So I'll just freeze these ideas for the moment and thaw them out when I need an idea or two for a post. I do have to catch up. I think that I am behind two in my blog a day for 2013.

Have a great day!!