Sunday, 20 October 2013


September 22, 2012
Dear Starbucks,
Uxbridge, Ontario has a population of 19,075, a charming old main street - the perfect coffee shop locale - and one massively successful Tim Hortons. You are most definitely missing the boat here. May I respectfully suggest that consideration be given to a Starbuck's location in our town.
Yours truly,
Daphne Lockett
I am not and never have been a Tim Horton's coffee fan. Okay, you don't have to yell. Acutely aware of the shame of it, I feel positively anti-Canadian with that admission. I hang my head! 
Suffering from severe Starbuck's withdrawal after our move last year, I actually emailed the above to Starbucks Canada. Just call me delusional. Can I blame 'moving fatigue'? No response, by the way, from their corporate headquarters was ever received. Go figure!
In October, 2012, I finally began exploring our new town on foot. Stopping into the small shops along our main street, introducing myself to proprietors, I found some true treasures, the Passionate Chef, Blue Heron Books, to name a few.  More on those later. En route, I was stopped in my tracks by the wafting scent of freshly brewed coffee - 'good' freshly brewed coffee. And there it was, a sign for the Tin Cup Caffe. How had I missed this when driving by? 
My now overly stimulated caffeine addiction prodded me on and I descended a quaint wooden staircase whose creaking announced my arrival. A combination of happy noise and activity greeted me. Hungrily, I inhaled the atmosphere of grinding coffee beans, the hiss of escaping steam as milk was heated, and friendly chatter. The warm, inviting decor offered up old world charm, but most certainly with a funky, modern bent. Local artwork and amusing signs adorned the walls. An eclectic mixture of chairs, comfy sofas and tables invited clientele to linger over a cup, catching up on iPhone messages, answering emails on their laptops or chit chatting with friends. Had I just died and gone to heaven?
A year later and I am a regular. The warm cozy atmosphere is a great place to meet friends. After a few visits, the welcoming, efficient girls behind the counter know what you like. Hungry? Sandwiches, paninis, yummy homemade soups, and freshly baked desserts, provided by the Tin Mill restaurant, are also available. Whether it is for an iced caffe latte in the summer at an outdoor table, a coffee with a friend after swimming or a hot chocolate before the local Santa Claus Parade, I have found my coffee shop!
September, 2013
Dear Starbucks,
Don't bother!
Daphne Lockett

Wednesday, 16 October 2013


Last year's move to Uxbridge complete, I moved forward on two of my retirement goals. Firstly, adopt a desperately needed exercise routine. Ugh! Puff! Puff! Grunt! Secondly, community involvement - with my new free retirement time, to give back to my adopted town. 
An avid swimmer since early childhood, joining sessions at Uxpool was a natural. Goal number '1' -check! What were the chances that during my first swimming session I would, as an obvious newcomer, be greeted by Uxbridge native, the lovely Anna? Casual conversation that morning revealed Anna's volunteer work at the second hand shop run by our Uxbridge Cottage Hospital's Auxiliary. Opportunity knocked and I answered.
One police report approval plus two retail training sessions and I was volunteering my time once a month. Goal number '2' - check! I yearned, however, for a more frequent involvement. What then were chances that the volunteer with whom Anna worked on Thursday afternoons would no longer be available and that Anna should ask if I may be interested in working with her? Are you kidding me? Real estate relegated to my past, a new retail career was launched.
Now don't let those label-driven, new clothing juices flow prematurely. We are not speaking of a Rodeo Drive-style glitzy operation. In truth, we are not even speaking of a cookie cutter Canadian mall-like operation. Tucked away on a side street in old town Uxbridge, the drab, humble exterior of this store could potentially be off-putting to the serious, self-professed discerning buyer. But never, never judge a book by its cover. To do so in this case would be to belie the caring, vibrancy and adventure found behind the rather forlorn exterior.
Staffed completely by local volunteers, this miraculous little shop, selling a plethora of lightly used goods kindly contributed by the general public, has donated over the years, hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Uxbridge Cottage Hospital. Sorters give of their time organizing and displaying donations of gently used clothes, footwear, household goods, toys, knick knacks. Truthfully, the list is endless. A well respected local jeweller volunteers his time, carefully inspecting donated jewellery to ensure that no pieces of genuine value are inadvertently sold away at "steal prices". A jewellery sale of such valuables is held once a year with all proceeds also gifted to the hospital. An accountant, generously giving of her own valuable time, reviews daily cash register receipts and audits the annual books. An avid reader volunteer sorts through boxes of books and refills the rapidly depleted shelves. Highly successful seasonal Hallowe'en and Christmas sales are organized. Make no mistake, this is a slick, well-run operation.
For me, volunteering at this little shop on Bascom is a privilege and affords me a front row seat from which to witness the ingenuity, generosity and kindness that exist within our small, but mighty town. From my cash register viewpoint as I scan the racks of clothes and shelves of goods and books, I realize that as we move along the main street of our lives, intriguing little side streets appear, inviting us to deviate slightly from our pre-planned routes. Take one; just do it. Chances are your life will be enriched immeasurably.
Oh! And should you find a desirable item in our little shop, you would be best to purchase it today; if not, chances are it will be gone tomorrow."  The name of the shop?" you ask.  "Chances Are", of course. 


Striking Balkan features are accentuated by a purple and gold star-printed bandana secured tightly about her forehead and scalp. Grey streaked dark hair frizzes wildly below the scarf framing giant beaded hoops that drag on her aging flaccid ear lobes. Richly detailed ribbons and robes cloak her body in mystery. Creating an eerie atmosphere of other worldly powers, gnarled crone-like, garishly painted talons caress her crystal ball in hypnotic circular motions as she peers intently into her magical orb.
"Why am I here?" I chastise myself. Uncomfortable with fortune tellers, I worry, "How frequently do their words morph into self-fulfilling prophecies? Chances are you will regret this," I warn myself.
"I see retirement. Not in a city. In a small town."
In full drama queen mode with eyes rolling back, I silently scoff at the absurdity of her prophecy. Happily active in my real estate brokerage and firmly entrenched in Thornhill, I smugly write off her initial pronouncement. "Rubbish."
"I see water. Ah, pool water and much swimming. A new friend. E? No, an A. Alexis? Avery? Anne? Anna!"
"Whoa," I uncomfortably chuckle to myself. "Slow down here. I'm just adjusting to the idea of retirement in a small town and now she has me swimming with new friends. At least it is not with sharks! Talk about off base, but how did she know I swim?" My fingers, suddenly restless, begin to fidget.
"I see money being counted."
"Hmmm! I'm liking this part."
"No! It's a cash register I see. There are racks of clothes. Men's? Women's? It is unclear, but chances are you will be working in a store."
"Oh goody," I indignantly mutter. "Just what my parents envisioned for their university-educated daughter." I dismissively stand. "Enough!" I raise my hand in a halting motion. "This session......"
"Ma'am! Ma'am!" Insistent, impatient words sharply wake me from my reverie. "I would like to purchase these items, please." Anna, also on duty this afternoon, glances quizzically sideways at me, concern radiating on her face. But now fully alert, I promptly process the transaction, smile, and from my cash register viewpoint, scan the store I have so grown to love. be continued.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013


Rich in its display, a vivid multicoloured blanket spreads out before me. The tapestry, a confused maze of vibrant colours, appears to have been woven into its rough texture by a frenzied, half mad craftsman. A confusion of rich gold and bronze tones is punctuated by vibrant reds and more subtle shades of maize and pumpkin. Obviously created with complete abandon, no discernible pattern is evident.  Revealing its advancing age, the blanket's edges and corners have begun to curl like fingers on an crippled arthritic hand. Tendrils, exert their independence, escape and move independent of any design. An earthy pungent odour of decay assaults my senses. "Too long in one place?", I sadly muse.
Rake in hand, I linger, savouring the cool crisp air, welcome sunshine and colourful work of art. I am reluctant to begin removing Mother Nature's glorious autumn blanket.

Saturday, 5 October 2013


"I'm so glad to live in a world where there are Octobers."  Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
From my first memories as a young child through to my adulthood, October has, hands down, been my favourite month in the year. You can argue all you want for June, July and August, but I won't budge. Nope! October, it is!  October, it remains! Jim and I even chose to be married in October. Imagine!
Mother Nature's magic paintbrush dramatically sweeps a change in her palette from a mixture of sun burned, heat-faded greens to a riotous canopy of oranges, reds and vibrant yellows. Albert Camus wrote of October as "the second spring when every leaf is a flower". Leaves drift like feathers on the crisp autumn breezes as they journey to the ground where they form autumn's crunchy sidewalk and street blankets. How I love that sensation and sound beneath my shoes. I wonder how neighbours would view a woman in her sixties jumping into a their freshly raked piles of leaves. Mental case, probably!  Ah! the fun-filled memories of childhood.
The musky scent of burning wood invites images of curling up, great book in hand, before a roaring fireplace. For Jim, it is football season at long last! 
Heady aromas of cinnamon, baking apples, pumpkin and mulled cider commingle to create the perfume of our kitchen. Comfort foods- stews, soups and pastas - make their welcome return to our table. And my favourite colourful harvest root vegetables abound. Not to be forgotten is the bounty of Thanksgiving's turkey or, even better, it's scrumptious leftovers.
Gone is summer's often stifling humidity, replaced by cool, fresh, breathable breezes. Sleep at night descends easily, window open, snuggled under a downy comforter. Cooler daytime temperatures allow me to don once again my favoured jeans and sweaters. How I treasure this timeframe, albeit short- lived,  between sandals and boots.
As the month draws to a close and Jack Frost threatens with his first tendrils of chilly, frosty northern air, all manner of pumpkin faces are carved and ghostly, ghoulish apparitions, treat bags in hand, haunt our streets cheerily demanding "trick or treat" from 'spooked' householders.
October is "the time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature has been saving up all year for the grand finale" . (Lauren DeStephano). Yup! October is upon us. And I, for one, intend to savour it!