Monday, 31 January 2022

MY OUTSTANDING FACEBOOK FRIENDS

I have realized during this past week of the truckers’ convoy (I refuse to classify this rabble with the word “Freedom”) how blessed I am. My Facebook friends have shown humour, passion and intelligence, taking nothing at face value. 

My friend, Vel, redefined Freedom as FREEDUMB, noun, “belief that your personal freedom outweighs those of others”. Funny, but so true. The City of Ottawa has been held hostage; citizens wearing masks have been intimidated (whose freedom); 


Tuesday, 28 September 2021

CHANNELING WEATHER MOM

I laughed to myself as I hung up the phone. There I sat in my office, Broker Owner of a real estate firm, responsible for 70+ agents plus administrative staff. Such responsibility was evidence of at least some level of intelligence, wasn’t it? Well how does that person inform her staff that she is headed home because her Mommy warned her of an incoming blizzard and advised that she leave work immediately? I didn’t leave, but smile every time I am reminded of weather warning calls from my Weather Mom.

It was my practice to phone my Mother every night to check in on her. Three words into my greeting and Weather Mom never failed to interrupt with updates on the next day’s forecast. Immaterial to her was the knowledge that Jim and I always watched the news and weather.

Our favourite family Mother story took place in September, 2005. My brother, David, and his wife, Lorraine, were headed to Florida for a vacation. Caribbean blood coursing through her veins, Weather Mom was apoplectic. Didn’t David and Lorraine understand that it was hurricane season? Her warnings became increasingly frantic as their date for departure neared. Meanwhile Jim and I were headed to the Royal LePage National Sales Conference in Halifax…..where on September 17, Hurricane Ophelia hit Nova Scotia. David and Lorraine? They enjoyed a sunny beautiful vacation. Correct forecast, wrong country, Mom. 😂

When my Mother passed away, her closest Bajan family members, Sheila and Michael, asked if we could possibly delay Mom’s Celebration of Life by a few days, giving them time to fly up from Barbados. During the memorial, many hilarious stories were told, but none as amusing as the numerous references to Weather Mom. During one Weather Mom tale, I noticed Michael nodding and smiling. Only then did I appreciate how far my Mother’s reputation as a weather beacon had spread.

Like Mother, like daughter, they say. Oh how I hate to admit the truth in that old adage, but find myself texting our son, Matthew, of incoming inclement weather or emailing Christopher with St. John’s blizzard and hurricane warnings. Responses to such weather alarms are generally, Channelling Gramma again, eh Mom? 

Like an addict, I am incapable of stopping myself. I’d like to blame 26 years of sailing for my fascination with weather radar, but sadly believe it is in my DNA. When my Weather Radar App (doesn’t everyone have that app?) notifies me of an advancing inclement system, I become glued to my iPad watching weather fronts move across the map, wondering who I should text. Oh Mom, you would be so proud of  me.

After a year and a half of not seeing Christopher and Stephanie, Jim and I finally fly out to St. John’s on October 7 to celebrate Thanksgiving with them. We have held our breaths and crossed our fingers, praying that Newfoundland does not experience another surge in COVID cases, messing up our plans. So far, so good. Well, that was until Sam ( Hurricane Sam, that is ) showed up on the weather radar. 😲

Okay! Okay! I hear you Weather Mom.



 

Saturday, 11 September 2021

GOOD EAR, BAD EAR

One of the most important things you can do when travelling to a foreign country is learn a few helpful words and phrases in the language of that country. No, they will not expect you to be fluent in their language, but they will be pleasantly pleased that you made the effort, no matter how badly you mangle the phrase. I promise that your reception will be exponentially more courteous and helpful than should you expect them to speak fluent English. Believe it or not, many travellers do. Flash news! You are visitors in THEIR country.

This is why I smiled this afternoon when I found Jim beginning to brush up on his Italian for our 2022 trip.



In 2010, before a 2011 six-week trip to bella Italia, Jim and I signed up for a night course in Italian. The first six sessions were wonderful. Hallelujah, I could actually remember the meaning of Italian words the following week. And then…..aaaach! 😩 The teacher launched into sentences and conversation. Whaaaaat? Unlike Jim, I have a horrible ear for languages. When sentences were spoken to me they sounded like, jshurnwbxyvifkenxgcugoemxbcy. How do you respond to that…..and in Italian? 


Jim, meanwhile, happily conversed with the teacher and fellow students….no problemo!

Jim’s ear for languages is quite simply awesome. During our first trip to Barbados I had to ask him not to imitate the locals as it may appear that he was having fun at their expense. Jim, filled with incomprehension, rewarded me with his hurt puzzled puppy dog look. He had no idea that he was speaking with a heavy Bajan accent; his ear just picked it up and his mouth ran with it.

Three years at bilingual Laurentian University resulted in a French speaking graduate. Lack of constant exposure and Jim has lost most of that French, but he sure got by in France with flying colours. If you have the ear, it is amazing what returns almost instantly.

Italian? Me? I can read signs and menus and make myself understood with flailing arms and gesticulating hands. Jim? With a few months of brushing up on what he has previously learned and practised during past trips to bella Italia, he will be speaking like un vecchio gentiluomo italiano in no time.

Study on, James! I’m liking this personal translator thing.








Monday, 6 September 2021

LIKE SAND THROUGH MY FINGERS

Jim and I are half a year from turning 75. Neither one of us feels 75……..well, most of the time. 😂 We eat well, are active and according to our doctors, are very healthy. It would be naive, though, to think that this good health is infallible. We have watched too many ‘healthy’ friends suddenly suffer from or succumb to illnesses. Thus far we have been blessed.

My feet now suffer from chronic itchiness. I so wish to travel, to reconnect with that world out there, to feel the powerful thrust of a jet as it takes off, to lose ourselves in another culture and history, to visit Christopher and Stephanie, to enjoy the ocean breezes in Barbados with Morgan and Zachary, to wander the cobblestoned streets of Europe and to gaze at centuries-old sculptures and paintings, to eat different foods, to, to, to….I need the tonic of travel and I need it soon!

Neither Jim nor I are fans of cruises ships or bus tours. In fact, we spend our trips studiously timing our visits to avoid the crush of cruise ship and bus tour hordes. Give us a car, a map, our GPS, mostly small towns, no gitchy, made-in China souvenir stands, real people, local markets and regional food. The emerging problem for us is that car rental companies don’t much like drivers over 75. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that how to get around “on our own” will soon become an issue. Private drivers and trains, here we come? 🤔

As Jim and I twiddle our fingers waiting for travel to become relatively safe once again, I feel as if time, like sand, is slipping through my fingers. We have so much planned and being realistic, dwindling time. Courtesy of our unvaccinated, this pandemic has been prolonged. For now I will bite my tongue (deeply bite my tongue) on that issue.

Maps, books and the internet have been scoured; airfare and accommodations have been booked. Move forward, I keep telling myself. With fingers crossed we dream of soon boarding those jets and curing our itchy feet.




Friday, 3 September 2021

Dear Anti-Vaxxer, Ask Yourself….

I admitted to a close friend the other day that what I have lost during this pandemic is my patience, my ability to remain calm, and my tolerance…..of anti-vaxxers. My emotions, of late, have morphed exponentially into downright disgust, hostility and fury. I find myself full of anger and I don’t like this new me. A recent Facebook posting asked anti-vaxxers to respect the writer’s decision to be vaccinated as the writer respected theirs not to. Are you kidding me? I feel a rant coming on.



One basic lesson taught in Political Science 101 is that too much democracy destroys democracy, that there are sacrifices one must make to live in civilized society. No where in the Canadian Charter of Rights does it allow any citizen to pose a danger to another. Flash alert! For the good of the general population, the federal government has the right to mandate vaccines. That from a leading constitutional lawyer! There are only two valid medical exemptions: 1) a previous reaction to an MRNA vaccine, and 2) if after the first vaccine, a patient has suffered either myocarditis or pericarditis. Oh, and a primary tenet in economic theory is that there cannot be a healthy economy without a healthy population.

Dear Anti-Vaxxer, Ask yourself what the consequences for your country, province and fellow citizens are costing:

How many family members, friends, neighbours and innocents who were unaware of your vaccine status have you infected? How many deaths are a result of your decision?

How many citizens with serious medical issues are unable to receive life-saving hospitalization and surgery because “there is no room at the inn”? How many critical hospital beds are occupied by unvaccinated COVID patients?

Given the astronomical costs involved in ICU and ventilator treatment of COVID patients and given that the vaccine has been proven to reduce risk and seriousness of cases, what unnecessary taxes is the average Canadian paying to cover your treatment should you contract coronavirus? Are you interested in paying for expensive treatment that with vaccination was avoidable? Thought not!

Do you ever consider the personal trauma experienced by our exhausted, over-worked front line workers who have been at this for over a year and a half? Actually, do you consider anyone other than yourself?

As the Delta variant has been proven to provide a higher risk to our younger population, do you ever consider the danger you pose to our children?

Are you aware that the breeding Petri dish for variants is YOU?

You have exhibited your selfishness, but are you also lazy, stupid and uneducated too? Are you aware that legitimate scientists publish in scientific medical journals, not on Facebook and the internet? On what facts are your decisions based?

I was going to request that you hold a mirror up to your face and answer honestly, but why bother. We wouldn’t be here is this prolonged pandemic if decency, honesty, and consideration of others are what you believe in. I forgot….it’s all about you!

Phew! That’s off my chest. I feel better. Rant over!

Friday, 18 June 2021

A CONVERSATION WITH MYSELF

Our son, Christopher, wrote in his most recent blog that it is of no importance should no one read his writings as his blogs are “conversations with myself”. I love that thought. Putting my thoughts to paper does give them more personal meaning. And so, I am indulging myself, putting thoughts to paper, making them real to me. Warning! This blog is for me. I will not be insulted if you so not proceed.

In 2020, the pandemic threw a monkey wrench into our planned family reunion in Barbados. Thankfully we were able to spend precious time with Christopher and Stephanie who flew in from St. John’s. For all of us, though, the phone call from Matt and Michelle three days before they were to arrive was devastating. Matt’s company had restricted all non-essential travel and they were not coming. Heartbroken is a understatement! Lost was my opportunity to introduce our grandchildren, Morgan and Zachary, to part of their heritage, their “island in the sun”, and for Jim and I, after travelling elsewhere for many years, to return to be with Christopher and Matthew once again on Bajan soil where they enjoyed so much of their youth. What we ultimately suffered was dwarfed by families who lost dear ones. Selfishly, though, the ache remained.

A friend recently told me that her desire to visit Barbados was fueled in part by my passion for it. Until March, 2020 I thought that I had lost that passion. Jim and I had not returned since 2013. Was I ever wrong!

6:00 a.m. has always been a magical time for me in Barbados. There I sat, coffee in hand on our first morning enjoying the caress of trade wind breezes, glorying in a spectacular sunrise, listening to nighttime tree frogs hand over chirping duties to daytime birds, and hearing lilting Bajan accents as my island came alive for another day. Perhaps absence truly does make the heart grow fonder, because I felt “it” come over me; an overwhelmingly potent mix of happiness and peace and a realization of how deeply Jim and I have come to love our “island in the sun”. It is an intrinsic part of us and our sons, a second home. “Oh Barbados, how I have missed you.”




Last December I contracted a viral infection, not COVID, but a viscous close cousin. In my lifetime, I do not ever remember being as ill. When you are barely able to breathe, when a walk from bed to the washroom saps every ounce of your strength, when your hemoglobin tanks, your liver enzymes sky rocket and your kidney function slows, I can personally attest to the fact, no matter how remote the chance, if you have a vivid imagination.......you are dying! Say it. I know. I wear the crown of a hypochondriacal drama Queen.

When I wasn’t sleeping which was rare, I was mentally composing letters to my children and grandchildren about my deep love and hopes for them. When I got to thinking about what travels I would miss, I stopped. Suddenly in my overly dramatic “I’m dying” state, I didn’t care about any destinations....anywhere; I only wished to return to Barbados and with my grandchildren, if possible.

A regular dose of travel dreaming is good for the soul; I have dreamed of returning since March, 2020. About a month ago, Air Canada began taking bookings for Barbados. Jim and I booked immediately. “Half way there”, we thought. Today, Matt called. OMG, he and Michelle, Morgan and Zachary are booked for Barbados next March. A second chance!



The words of my favourite song, “Beautiful Barbados”, never fail to touch my heart:

Beautiful, beautiful Barbados
Gem of the Caribbean Sea
Come back to my island, Barbados
Come back to my island and me. 
Please come back where the night winds are blowing 
Please come back to the surf and the sea
You’ll find rest, you’ll find peace in Barbados
Come back to my island and me.

OMG! Dreams do come true. We are going home!





Sunday, 20 September 2020

AH, COME ON......

If you remember the scene in Love Actually when Colin Firth stomps in frustration as someone steals into the taxi he was about to take, you will know what I look like most of the time lately. My feet are aching! Better than grinding my teeth or swearing, I guess. Does anyone tell the truth anymore? Does common decency not exist anymore? Oh, oh, I feel the need of a rant coming on.



The Drumpf announced this week that Canadians wish to open the border, but, god bless him, 🥴 he has insisted that it remain closed. Yah, right?? Apparently, given our massive cases of COVID 19 up here in the great white north, we pose an imminent danger to the U.S. Ah, come on! Where is the truth? That over 80% of Canadians have pressed their government to keep the Canadian-U.S. border closed is a well published fact.

Ruth Bader Ginsberg was a revered American icon who wisely and diligently served her country on the Supreme Court. Within a mere 12 hours of her death, McConnell and the Drumpf had politicized her passing, discussing the pushing through of a nominee to fill the vacant seat. Ah come on! This one gets to me the most. Where is the decency? Can Americans please be given a chance to mourn! How repugnant and disgusting can this White House get?  Oops! That would require another rant!

Did you know that global warming does not exist? According to the Drumpf, the California forest fires are a result of the Democratic Governor not having the forest floors raked. Ah come on! The truth, please. Mr. Drumpf, how exactly should California rake 3,451,428 acres of FEDERAL land. Just asking. A 4.5 quake rattled Southern California yesterday. I am now waiting for the Drumpf to criticize the Democratic Governor with not lubricating their fault lines.

Meanwhile in Canada:

When Erin O’Toole was forced to get tested for COVID in Quebec because of long waits in Ontario, he lashed out at Mr. Trudeau for not providing speedier tests nationally. Ah come on, Mr. O’Toole can we talk about truth? I had higher hopes for you than this. The fact that you were able to be tested almost immediately in Quebec belies the fact that federally we have an issue. Be honest; you couldn’t attack your provincial Conservative counterpart; you need his support. Better to take a dig, no matter how falsely based, at the PM. More importantly, though, if you are truly unaware that health care is a provincial responsibility, god help the federal Conservatives.

Throughout the pandemic, I have been pleasantly surprised, Mr. Ford, by your strong wartime leadership. However, you lost me when you blamed this year’s school turmoil on the teachers’ unions. Ah come on! Please don’t become a clone of Mr. Drumpf when it comes to accepting responsibility. The teachers’ unions were never consulted by you or Mr. Lecce during the process. Planning for this year’s school year was left until the last moment and then dumped on the school boards with little direction. And please don’t tell teachers to step up to the plate like our wonderful medical workers. Teachers have not received years of training nor experience in wearing gowns and masks nor in dealing with infectious diseases in the classroom. As the professionals that most of them are, they are stepping up and they will learn, but with little help from your government.

Okay, I feel better. Rant over and I didn’t have to stomp. My feet are relieved.