Friday, 29 September 2017


Heart racing, stomach flip-flopping, and palms sweating, he sat and waited, barely able to breathe. He had thought that the ten-day period between biopsy and doctor's appointment was the most unbearable wait of his lifetime, but these final twenty minutes sitting in his specialist's office would prove to be even more tortuous.

Jim's journey to this moment began with rising PSA levels. A prostate biopsy confirmed the presence of cancer, moderately aggressive, but thankfully not widespread. Because success and survival rates for men of Jim's age and excellent health are high if this cancer is detected and treated early, we were disappointed with the diagnosis, but not panicked.

When prostate cancer cells metastasize, they generally spread to the bones. An MRI was ordered by Jim's cautious urologist to ensure that his prostate cancer was indeed localized. To Jim's great relief the MRI showed that his bones were clear. BUT! Why is there always a 'but'? I hate 'but's' in a doctor's office. BUT the MRI revealed a lump on a lymph node in Jim's groin. "99% chance that it is cancer" were the words that sent Jim's initial elation into a tailspin. If it was cancer, it would have to be dealt with first. Shelve the prostate surgery. Now we panicked!

Feeling like a human pin cushion, it was back to the hospital again for a second biospsy, this time under CT scan and of a lymph node.  A stressful ten days later found Jim sitting, awaiting the results. "Mr. Lockett". The nurse's call broke his frantic musings. No BUT'S, though, this time. "Mr. Lockett, the 1% chance that the lymph node would not be cancerous is you!" Elation! Joy! Relief!

Late in October, Jim will undergo a radical prostatectomy. Not something he is looking forward to, especially after his hip revision surgery in March, but with the spectre of a cancerous lymph node negated and the high success rate of such surgery, Jim is now more philosophical than worried.

I have a very dear friend in Uxbridge, who in her life has experienced more than any human being ever should, but remains beautifully upbeat about life. She is my hero and my inspiration. Her mantra and what she frequently professes to me is, "Do what makes you happy." How wise.

Jim's health scare brought home to both of us what is most important in life. Why do we need close calls to remind us that our lives are not dress rehearsals? Live, live, live every day doing what you enjoy most. From hence forth we will make an even more concerted effort to do what makes us happy!!

Sunday, 9 July 2017


My daughter-in-law, Michelle, posted a series of photos of our grandson, Zachary, at their cottage. I love the collage; not only did it make me smile with its images of pure summer joy, but memories of childhood summertimes flooded my emotions. Rose coloured glasses on, I was carried back to those simple moments.

Holding our collective breathes, we waitied for that second when the final school bell of the year rang. Then enmass we raced from our classes into the carefree sunny, hot, humid days of vacation.

No computer games, iPhones or iPads held our attention inside. Summertimes meant creating our own entertainment OUTside. I don't ever remember feeling bored. We climbed any tree with substantial enough branches, ran joyously through the sprinkler, played endless games of hide and seek, challenged each other in bicycle tag or picked up a rag-tag game of baseball. Happy and sunburned we returned home for dinner when our mothers rang the bell or blew the whistle, each carrying its unique family call. Dinner eaten, we jumped up from the table eager to once again head outside 'until the streetlights came on'.

Thinking back, I can even hear the music of summer - the hum of industrious bees, the chirp and call of birds, the shrill buzzing of cicadas and best of all, the tinkling of the ice cream truck.

Life was good; it was summertime. As those summers ended so ultimately did our childhoods. "We didn't know we were making memories; we just knew we were having fun." Thank you, Michelle, for your beautiful collage. To our grandchildren, Morgan and Zachary, have fun and soak it up. You are making lifetime memories.

Friday, 30 June 2017


I am Canadian. Sounds obvious, doesn't it? However, for much of my early life I remember defining myself not so much as Canadian, but more as what I wasn't. My Father's family haled from England; York to be exact. My Mother's family were Barbadian. Here I was, born in Canada. I was not British. I was not Bajan. I was Canadian. But the true beauty of those three words had not yet sunk in. I was too young to appreciate them.

My early education consisted of no daily pledges of allegiance, no excessive flag waving and no nation-centric history. I learned as much about U.S. and European history as I did, Canadian.

American TV and news dominated my adolescent and teen years - the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Kennedy and King assassinations, the Vietnam War, the LA riots...... Although I was not an American, my attention was frequently riveted by happenings south of the border. I was Canadian, but my psyche read that often as "not American". I was, though, beginning to appreciate the "not American".

As with most concepts, what it truly meant to be Canadian began to take form as I aged, matured and travelled. It is said that, "The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page." How true! From Ucluelet on the west coast of Vancouver Island to Cape Spear in Newfoundland  Jim and I have been awestruck by the sheer vastness and breathtaking beauty of our Canada. Not infrequently have we been reduced to tears by the glorious landscape before us. An appreciation of our settlers, whether gold rush miners seeking their fortunes, prairie farmers battling the elements, voyageurs exploring our waterways or fishermen arriving on our shores in search of cod, these early adventurers' bravery, ingenuity, struggles and ability to survive the hardships of their new world form the basis of our nation today. And then there are the welcoming, interesting present day fellow Canadians of every religion, race and language group who we have met along the way. The seed of understanding what it means to be Canadian took root.

Travelling overseas put the blossom on the seedling of my citizenship gratitude. Of course there is much to be learned from other countries - Swiss seniors and their extraordinary level of fitness, Italians' passion for family and life, to name a few. With the exception of Ireland, which we found to be massively pro-USA and marginally disappointed to discover that Jim and I were not American, great admiration for Canada exists. To a greater degree than many Canadians, Europeans recognize what our nation has created. How often we have been eagerly hugged by an Italian, "Canadese, si" or met with a Frenchman's huge smile, "Canadien, ah oui". During our travels we have been gratified to discover that Canada is universally respected and admired.

Flying home from the European continent or from the U.S., there is nothing I now love more than entering Canadian airspace. No, I am not a nervous flyer. Being in Canadian airspace means that below me lies my great nation. My eyes lovingly take in the rivers, lakes, green fields, cities and towns passing below. I am blessed to be home once again.

Our little town of Uxbridge has sponsored five Syrian families from Aleppo. To see Canada through their eyes, to experience their sheer joy at their new life filled with safety, peace, and friendliness fills my heart with love for Canada and the haven we have offered to so many over the past 150 years.

Yes, this understanding of what it truly means to be a citizen of our beautiful country has been a learning and growing process. But today, on Canada's 150th, I say a quiet thank you for the country of my birth, the 'true north strong and free'. My heart swells with understanding, love and gratitude as I say I AM CANADIAN.

Friday, 16 June 2017


As an child, I was plagued with body image problems. My issues were not the result of the skinny models in ads nor were they caused by growing up with the impossibly-figured Barby Doll. Even then, I had enough intelligence to realize that those did not represent the norm. My Mother, god bless her soul, was relentless in her determination to create a thin elder daughter. It never dawned on her that her gourmet cooking skills and dessert after every meal may have been at the base of my problem. My sister, who was slim and beautiful, ate what I ate. It never occurred to Mom that Jo possessed the metabolism of a race car and me, of a slug, Nor did my Mother ever understand that her ongoing negative comments about my weight would have a life-lasting impact, that, no matter what my weight, I would never learn to accept my physical image.

I believe in my heart that Mom felt she was encouraging me. Child psychology was not exactly front and centre at that time. Sadly, in those formative years, comments can bury themselves deep in one's psyche. Motivational speakers refer to, "garbage in, garbage out". What you believe is what you are. Take it from me, don't ever 'encourage' your child in that manner.

"You are big-boned like your Grandmother Brown; you take after her. Your sister takes after the Toppin side of the family." Not only was my Gramma Brown obese, but I found her to be a nasty, negative person whose company I never enjoyed. Granny Toppin, on the other hand, was slim, generous and gentle. Try mentally absorbing that comparison as a child. I wanted to cry with joy when my family doctor confirmed that I do indeed have a slow metabolism and that I am not 'big-boned'.

Mom's best comment? "No one will ever want to marry you." Dear God, who says that to a young teen? Guess she didn't count on Jim.

As I passed into my late teens and into my own life - university, wife and mother, real estate broker - I found strength in my accomplishments and body issues faded. I graduated "summa cum laude" from U of T, married a fun, loving, wonderful man, raised two fine young sons, became a grandmother (!), and worked my way up through the real estate industry to own my own brokerage and earn invitations to serve on both Toronto Real Estate Board and Real Estate Council of Ontario Committees. My confidence soared.

Only lately, as time passes, have I noticed the reemergence of my body image problems. I hate seeing my image in windows, photos....whatever! Even worse, I hate trying on clothes. It is stupid really. I exercise regularly, am very fit, have a resting heart rate in the 60's, "admirable" blood pressure and low cholesterol counts. My life is good and relatively healthy.

Perhaps my current issues stem from the loss in retirement of my career identity or the irreversible aging process and its impact on my body. What I do believe is that those negative comments, long buried in my psyche, are sneaking out.

Why write this now? This morning, I was enjoying a pre-swim coffee when I glanced out the window and watched a woman, dressed in a hot coral tank top and knee length tight black leggings, walking purposely into town. So what? Honestly, this lady has fifty pounds on me. I would be horribly self conscious dressed as such, but she looked absolutely, glowingly beautiful, exuded confidence and "owned her appearance". She is my new hero. I was truly envious. So it's time for some self talk. Time to exize my demons once and for all! Don't allow my psyche to bully my self image.That is my new retirement challenge. Now where can I buy a hot coral tank top and some black leggings.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017


I love and want a clean home; I hate and abhor housework! There, I admit it.

"Just get a cleaning lady", you suggest. Welllllll? I had a cleaning lady when I worked, but upon retirement decided to take on the odious tasks myself. "You'll have all sorts of spare time", I reasoned with myself. What was I thinking?

Housework is mundane, boring, tedious, tiresome, the same old same old. Tell us how you really feel, Daphne! What you clean today is messy again tomorrow. Thankless! I avoided that kind of mindless career only to now find myself during retirement in a repetitious routine. Ugh! Me-time has become increasingly precious and housework impinges on it. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

Don't get out your mini sympathetic violins yet. I'm only publicly feeling sorry for myself because this spring has been the absolute worst. Fighting winter's snow and ice, Uxbridge Township rarely uses salt on the roads; sanding is their preferred method. I support that policy except when springtime breezes whip up the dry sand spinning it up into the air currents. Our driveway, a long stretch of scruffy, cracking, pitted asphalt is being replaced, which replacement requires that after the old asphalt has been removed, the gravel base settle and be compacted for four weeks. Oh goody, more dust in the air. My mulch obsession, which when dry, produces even more........yup, dust! Oh, And don't forget to add yellow pollen to the mix.

Springtime is the time of year, before air conditioning is required, when we can open our windows and enjoy the glorious, fresh Uxbridge breezes, the very breezes carrying winter sand, driveway dirt, mulch dust and pollen into our home. True grit? No, it is not the fortitude and determination with which I attack housework. That's actually laughable! True grit is what daily covers our furniture, dark floors, window sills, and, and, and. What I dusted off two hours ago, requires dusting again. Ah come on!

"What did you do today."
"Dusted, dusted and dusted!" Inject growl here.

And so ladies and gentlemen, l am thinking of allowing the gritty dust to build up on our furniture, floors and sills and then of opening a doodling camp. It is said that doodling is good for relaxation!?! Registration is free. We could, if persuaded, serve wine while you allow your creative juices to flow. Anyone interested?

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

WHACK! #@&@*! WHACK!

The smell of the newly mown grass, the variation of vibrant greens, and the panorama of a blue, white cloud-studded sky made my heart swell today. In spite of the biting cold and Michelin-man clothing layers, it was great to be back on the golf course again......finally!

Make no mistake. In no way do I possess even a scrap of talent for the sport. Discovering the passtime late in my life, after retirement actually, and in spite of my horrible game, golf has stolen its way into my heart.

Being outside on a slightly breezy day and breathing in the fresh air of wide open green, green spaces is a long awaited, post-winter tonic. I feel alive again! The beauty of many courses is enough to take your breath away, my all-time favourite being Rancho MaƱana in Cave Creek, Arizona. Truth be known, with those views, if it weren't for Mr. Trump, I could take up residence there.

Aside from the value of exercise. golf is good for my aging brain.......I think! If I was a cartoon when teeing off (driving), the 'thought bubble' above my head would read, "Concentrate. Straight left arm. Breathe. Slow take away. Shift weight. Head down. Keep your eye on the ball. Don't love your shot. And swing........" Try to run all of those thoughts through a seventy-year old brain within a thirty-second period. Aaaach! Phyllis Diller once said, "The reason a pro tells you to keep your head down is so you can't see him laughing." For me......true! Oh, I should mention that golf has been the cause of my increased vocabulary. Who knew that "fabo" means "f**king aweful, but on"? Hah! Obviously my knowledge of the English language is increasing in leaps and bounds.

What? You like fashion? Nowhere have I seen so many peacocks sporting bright colours. Shoes, hats, sunglasses, shirts, shorts, belts, shirts...........the fashion possibilities are never-ending. Where else do you see men in pastel pants and colourful socks?  Now, if only I could muster the courage to wear this:

The camaraderie of a golf foursome, whether family or friends, is nothing short of awesome. The serious shot analyses, group groans, congratulations, bubbling laughter and the 19th Hole continue to draw me to the game.

And finally there is hope. Whack! #@&%*! Ah well, the next shot will be better.

Oh my God, it was great to be back today ladies. Thank you!

Friday, 5 May 2017


While waiting for Jim at Sunnybrook's Holland Centre, I sat transfixed by the incoming parade of patients. New and returning, borderline destitute and well heeled, white and coloured, obese and gaunt, aged and young. Overwhelmed by the cross section of humanity, I said a silent 'thank you' for Canada's universal health care system. Each of these patients, with or without pre-existing conditions,  could afford the care that would potentially improve their life.

Relax! Don't yell! I didn't say that our system is the best the world has to offer. The Netherlands and Scandinavian countries I think lay claim to that prize. I also understand fully that our system is not perfect. Jim is a prime example - a botched surgery and midnight MRI appointment. Yes, I said midnight! Wait times are a plague - waiting for a doctor's appointment, waiting in the ER, waiting for elective surgery. Two of my friends have opted to pay the cost of almost immediate joint replacement surgery in the U.S. rather than painfully wait in Canada.

Yes, our system needs tweaking from its 1960's inception model. However, my Health Card, aside from out-of-pocket expenses for prescriptions, dental work and eyeglasses, means that I and my fellow Canadians will rarely bear crippling health care expenses.

Not so for our neighbours to the south. Under Trump's new health care bill, many people in their sixties will see their premiums rise by thousands of dollars; some could see their premiums double. An American medical friend of ours, before Obamacare, spoke of seniors crippled and wheel chair bound because joint replacement surgery was too expensive for their limited incomes. What civilized society finds this acceptable?

Last week, Jimmy Kimmel, in emotionally speaking of his son's heart scare, said, "If your baby is going to die and it doesn't have to, it shouldn't matter how much money you make......." and then with his voice breaking, he added, "No parent should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child's life".  Kimmel's heartfelt speech was met with a most disgusting response from Joe Walsh, a former Congressman from Illinois. He tweeted, "Sorry Jimmy Kimmel: your sad story doesn't obligate me or anybody else to pay for someone else's health care".  Remember these words when next you step into Sick Kids Hospital where cutting edge, life saving medical care is blessedly free for Canada's next generation.

It should be noted that the surgeon who saved Kimmel's son trained at Sick Kids in Toronto. Jim's surgeon, Dr. Gollish, developed the surgery which will allow Jim to walk properly again. The majority of our doctors, nurses and physiotherapists are second to none.

Christopher's friend, Stephanie, spoke of her doctor father's decision to leave South Africa to practise in Canada where the health care system is a "shining example". Remember to say a silent thank you next time you flash your Health Card and receive quality, free treatment. Thank you Tommy Douglas for your foresight. Thank you Canada for your compassion.

Sunday, 23 April 2017


In desperation, he twisted and turned, attempting to extract his trapped leg. Sapped of energy, over time his efforts weakened. In distress, his mother's high pitched, heart piercing piping sounds increased in intensity. With an evening forecast of high winds and heavy thunder storms, the situation had become dire.

The AEF (American Eagle Foundation) maintains a series of live nest cams across the U.S. Viewed by thousands of followers worldwide are Washington D.C.'S National Arboretum two cams set up in the nest of bald eagle parents, Mr. President and The First Lady and their two, yet to be named eaglets, DC4 and DC5. ( For many who follow their development from chicks to fledglings, these eaglets become like adopted children.

During the early evening of April 20, as he ventured to the edge of his nest, DC4's right leg became lodged in a hole in the stick rails. Watching the drama unfold were thousands of distressed viewers who began contacting the AEF in unprecedented numbers. So overwhelming was the outpouring of concern for the flailing eaglet that the AEF posted online, "Thank you for the phone calls and emails alerting us to the stuck eaglet in D.C. We are aware and monitoring the situation. We will update as we can".

Three organizations, the AEF, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Sevice, and the National Arboretum, in evaluating the situation, determined that the best course of action would be to rescue the eaglet and have him checked out for injuries. An eagle with a badly injured leg would never be able to survive in the wild. Racing the severe incoming weather, Matt Morrison, a professional arborist, climbed 80 feet to the now heavily swaying nest and freed little DC4. In radio contact with a veterinarian, Mr. Morrison reported that DC4's leg exhibited abrasions and swelling. It was decided to bring the eaglet down to the Maryland Zoo for blood work, X-rays and a total check. The ultimate hope was to return DC4 quickly to his parents and home.

What followed next could not have been written any better. DC4 passed his physical and on April 21st, just 24 hours later, our hero rescuer re-ascended to the 80-foot high nest, announced that "the eagle has landed" and released DC4 to his home.  Before descending, Matt Morrison bent forward, kissed DC4 on the head and....

.... as he began his descent, shook his finger at our little eaglet warning him to "stay away from the nest's edge".

To cap the happy ending, anyone watching the cam that night would have had to smile at DC4 and DC5 as they slept.

One cannot help but be warmed by the love, caring and compassion that took place over these two days. Oh, that we could spread this kindness and goodwill everywhere.

Monday, 17 April 2017


As a child, no boogie-man threatened me from the corners of my room nor did a monster reside under my bed. I was not even conscious of nightmares disturbing my sleep until I was around twelve years of age, but by then those dreams haunted even my daytime thoughts. It was the era of a heated up Cold War, NATO versus the Soviet Union, and the Cuban Missile Crisis. It was the era in which we worried that a leader's hair trigger madness could launch nuclear armageddon. And it was the era of air raid siren testing and war preparedness rehearsals in school classrooms. Not surprisingly my fertile adolescent imagination became haunted by horrific dreams of war. A recurring night terror found me alone, unable to find to my family as air raid sirens screamed and bombers thundered overhead. With over 10,000 nuclear weapons worldwide and current international conflicts, I can only wonder how my youthful mind would have reacted today.

Assad of Russian-backed Syria dropped sarin-based chemical bombs from war planes on his own citizens. Forever seared onto my brain cells are the horrific images of children gasping for air, foaming at the mouth, choking and writhing. What monster perpetrates such a crime, especially in full knowledge that innocent children will die horrible deaths? Justifiably, our world was outraged. Without any long-range policy in place and against all of his election rhetoric on not allowing the U.S. to remain international policeman, Trump launched a missile strike against the offending Syrian airfield. Now heavily armed U.S. and Russian destroyers patrol the Mediterranean and not in a friendly alliance. What is that old international relations rule about the danger of two opposing super powers filling the same vacuum?

The bombing of the Syrian air base was followed soon after by the dropping of an MOAB in Afghanistan against ISIS. The MOAB, nicknamed by U.S. Forces " The Mother of All Bombs", is the most powerful non-nuclear ordinance used thus far in combat. Its mushroom cloud is visible for 20 miles. At 30 feet in length, weighing in at 21,000 pounds and with 11 tons of pure TNT, the MOAB allowed Trump to live up to his election promise to "bomb the shit out of ISIS". I am not opposed to ridding our world of ISIS, but here's the crunch. Not to be outdone, the Russians announced that they have created "The Father of All Bombs" with 44 tons of pure TNT. Wow! That must be some mushroom cloud! Oh goody, a non-nuclear arms race.

And we mustn't forget the seriously unbalanced leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, who with nuclear power, has announced that he will test long range missiles weekly. Trump has ordered a naval strike group to move into position near the Korean Penninsula. Into the get it! Russian and Chinese ships have now moved into place to shadow American ships. Dear God!

Does anyone else feel that our world is again like a chess board gone mad? I just want to scream at the offenders, STOP! CAN WE ALL JUST TAKE A CHILL PILL. Remember. This isn't a game. We are talking the survival of mankind.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017


Carved over the ages, crevices and deep folds criss-cross the battered and weathered landscape. Deep grooves have developed into gaping valleys. Oh, what Father Time has wrought. No, I am not gazing at the glorious Grand Canyon, although I wish I was. Instead, in the harsh light of our ensuite, I am examining my aging face. When did those facial fine lines morph into such heavy wrinkles? Oh my!

I figure I have three options. 1) totally freak out and search for a mega-talented plastic surgeon longing for the ultimate in professional challenges or 2) do as a sign I once read suggests, "Go bra-less; it pulls the wrinkles from your face", or 3) view my wrinkles as a reflection of the awesome lifetime experiences I have enjoyed. Although the bra-less suggestion holds great appeal, I am opting for #3.

Wrinkles, experts hypothesize, are caused by a life of excess - too much sunshine, to much exposure to pollution and too much drinking.

Yes, I have enjoyed a life of excess.......sorta'......but I have loved every moment of those awesome experiences. For sure I have exposed myself to excessive sunshine - beach walks and exploring Barbados, hiking and golfing in Arizona, sailing Lake Ontario and the Caribbean, travel to the Mediterranean..........If that sunshine has created the thick lines that carve their way through the skin between my eyebrows, I happily accept the consequences.

Excessive pollution? I don't think so. Excessive drinking? Not really. Weeellllll! I  do admit to loving a glass of wine and have, on the rare occasion over-indulged. Don't fret, my friends. I shan't name any accomplices. If wine has caused the wrinkles which carve their way down my cheeks, I merrily accept the consequences.

Those crevices, once mere crows feet, that grace my mouth? I love nothing more in life than to laugh. Zany laughter with my sons and husband, contagious chuckles with my grandchildren, rocking guffaws with my colleagues and friends. "Laughter is the sound of the soul dancing." If the imperfections around my mouth are due to excessive laughing, then I joyfully accept the consequences.

Mirror, mirror on the wall, this vision is not the face of the child my Mother patted to comfort or my husband caressed as a young newlywed. This face and its wrinkles do though tell the story of my blessed life. A life of sunshine, laughter and wine. It doesn't get much better and thus I accept the consequences. My face may be wrinkled, but I don't feel old. As aged wisdom knows, "There are no wrinkles on the heart."

Monday, 3 April 2017


Conversation in the dressing room at Uxpool after swimming last week:
Fellow swimmer: "Ooooo! I love those pale gray jeans. Whose label?"
Me: No immediate response, just my usual stunned expression accompanied by the scrunched eyebrows of total puzzlement.
Fellow swimmer: Filling in the silence, "When you get home, check the label. I would love to get a pair......if you don't mind".

Moments later, sitting in my car, preparing to drive home, I lay my head on the steering wheel and laughed, laughed until my sides ached and tears rolled down my cheeks. For a nano second, just a nano second mind you, I had felt as if I was in a procession of stars parading down the red carpet during awards season wearing a major designer's one-of creation. You know..........that moment when the celebrity interviewer asks, "and who are you wearing?"

After thirty-five years in the real estate industry, I am no stranger to high quality, smart 'labelled' attire. As a new sales representative, "You only get one chance to make a first impression" had been drilled into me by my first broker. I was deeply, in hindsight too deeply, influenced by the 1975 Malloy book, "Dress For Success". My closet today still contains some of those name brand blazers, pants and what Jim refers to as his favourite (not) "here come de' judge," suit. Yes, they still fit. Problem? I have very few places to wear them. To be honest, I thankfully have no one I need to impress but myself. Such is my glorious retirement. Don't get me wrong. Clean and neatly dressed, I appear neither like a drug addict nor homeless lady, so you can remove that image.

One afternoon a week, I volunteer at Chances Are, a second hand store that sells gently used or unused clothing, linens, small housewares and books at very reasonable prices. Thanks to the generosity of Uxbridgeans, a high percentage of the donated goods are of extremely high quality. Annually, our little store donates in excess of a quarter of a million dollars to the Uxbridge Cottage Hospital. Staggering! One afternoon a month I also volunteer in the Hospital Gift Shop, a surprise little gem of a store. It is difficult during these volunteer hours not to stumble on bargains.

Those gray jeans? Jones of New York. $4.00 at Chances Are. Leaving the pool, I began imagining my answer that day to the reporter's, "and who are you wearing?" and that is when my uncontrollable laughter ensued.

Soft gray Jeans. Chances Are ($4.00)
Matching long-sleeved top. Chances Are ($3.00)
Quilted knee-length winter coat with fur lined hood. Chances Are ($10.00)
Leather gloves, new. Chances Are ($8.00)
Scarf, new. Uxbridge Cottage Hospital Gift Shop. (A whopping $19.00)
Sketcher shoes with snow-tire like treads. Mark's......and that's a story for another day.

And that, ladies and gentleman, is what I was wearing. There is just no denying my fashion plate status!

Wednesday, 15 March 2017


"Surmounting difficulty is the crucible that forms character." Tony Robbins

In January, 2005, Jim underwent knee replacement surgery. Six months later, relatively pain free and in great shape, he was climbing 'munroes' with me in Glencoe, Scotland. Thus in June, 2014, when hip replacement surgery was recommended, Jim had no qualms. Same hospital, same surgeon, a surgery considered not as extreme as knee replacement.....what could possibly go wrong?

"That's not right,"commented our very observant physiotherapist friend Cathy when she and her husband David visited Jim the day after his surgery. What Cathy had noted was that Jim's right foot on his affected leg lay on his hospital bed at ninety degrees to his left foot. Using a pillow, she immediately propped the foot up to vertical. That would be Clue #1. Oh, Cathy, we should have listened then!

A year later, strolling the beach at their cottage, Cathy nodded towards Jim who was walking ahead with David. "Something is definitely wrong, Daf; his stride is totally off. He needs to go back to his surgeon." Jim now walked with his right foot at a forty-five degree angle to his left. That would be Clue #2.

Clue #3? Despite extensive therapy and ongoing corrective exercises, the tendency of Jim's right foot to remain now at ninety degrees to his left plus his discomfort and pain when tempting to pull it in parallel to his other foot, increased. Then the tripping began. After a bad fall in Newfoundland and two severe stumbles at home, Jim reverted to using a cane, but now his hip discomfort and pain became constant and grew in intensity. A solid night's sleep was a rare luxury for him.

Long story short, almost three years after the original surgery, after countless X-rays and MRI's, a second medical opinion at Sunnybrook's Holland Centre diagnosed the problem - two muscle groups were never re-attached during the initial hip replacement surgery. Whaaaaaat?

Historically, a ninja was a skilled fighter in feudal Japan. Modern vernacular designates anyone who survives a treacherous obstacle course in life as a ninja. To me, Jim has earned the title. Yes, he worried and yes, he complained about his discomfort. Did he beg his doctor for pain killers? Did he stop living? Did he sit in a easy chair at home, using his condition as an excuse. No! No! No! During the three years since his disastrous surgery, Jim has refused to stop living; he has refused to limit himself.

Walk down the road with your right foot at a ninety-degree angle to your left and imagine your hip burning with pain. Come on. I dare you. Now in that condition, walk the streets of Paris for eight days straight, never resorting to transportation. Better yet hike both coasts of Newfoundland like that. Have you seen those trails? Don't forget to climb the stairs and treacherous rocky trail to Brimstone Head on Fogo Island. Then let your spouse talk you into three weeks of walking and hiking in southern Italy. Oh, don't forget to suggest that, in that condition, you climb every tower/campanile in sight. 

At home, clear the driveway and paths of snow. Oh, while you are at it, help others on the cul-de-sac. Put out the garbage, work in the gardens, mow the lawn, rake and remove the leaves and, best of all, lay new hardwood floors. Yes, I said lay hardwood floors! If you want to head into town for a movie, evening out, parade, whatever, insist on walking!

On Monday, Jim will finally undergo corrective surgery at Sunnybrook in what will be a lengthy operation. Recovery, too, we have been warned, will present its challenges, but nothing that my Ninja cannot surmount with 'parallel feet' as his goal.

I salute you Ninja Jim. I love you. By example, you have taught me the truth to Nelson Mandel's words, "It only seems impossible until it's done".

Saturday, 11 March 2017


In August, 2012, leaving behind over thirty-five years of life in York Region's Thornhill, Jim and I immigrated to the Town of Uxbridge in Durham Region. Thankfully, there were no passport checks or Kellie Leitch-like screenings for Uxbridgean values before we were allowed to settle in our new home. In hindsight that is perhaps a shame because I do know the words to "Oh, Canada".

However, as "our need to belong is not rational, but is a constant that exists across all people in all cultures"*, Jim and I were not immune to immediately attempting to fit in. How to be more like a native Uxbridgean became our quest and minor obsession.

Jim first noted that just about everyone drove a shiny big GM or Ford truck, walked at least one dog and had children in hockey. We drove two Toyota SUV's, didn't have any pets and could not talk our forty plus year olds, Christopher and Matthew, into moving home and attending hockey camp. So much for that idea!

Wait! Isn't 852 the original telephone exchange for Uxbridge while we newbies are assigned 862? We'll just sweet talk old Ma Bell into changing our telephone number. We've known her for years; she should be amenable. Right? Whaaaat? She refused? So much for that idea.

One of Jim's golf buddies jokes that he has resided in the same property on a sideroad just off Lakeridge Road for twenty-five years. When answering the question of where he lives, he is always greeted with, "Oh, the old Bennett property!" If I speak of a favourite shop on Brock in the old part of town, native Uxbridgeans never fail to mention the numerous businesses that have preceded in that location. Hmmm? Could Jim and I emulate that knowledge?  Perhaps we should head to the Registry Office and study past owners and town businesses. Are you kidding me? Too much work! So much for that idea.

Responding to the words, "Have a great day", most Torontonians I know would respond with, "You, too!" Not so with native Uxbridgeans who invariably answer, "You as well", a phrase which reflects Uxbridge's Quaker history. Okay, we've got this one. "Have a great day. Happy holidays. Stay warm. Stay cool. Enjoy."  And we blurt out, "You, too". Huh? We can't help it; the words simply fall from our tongues. Why can't we automatically respond with, "You as well"? Could it be sixty-five years of GTA training? So much for that idea.

And then it happened. Walking home from a Monday matinee at our little Roxy Theatre, waving to all of the shopkeepers along the way, we came to the realization that we are indeed Uxbridgeans. It came not from a flashy truck, an 852 exchange, an extensive knowledge of our towns past or an ability to instinctively respond with "you as well". Belonging came from a deep love for our adopted little town and the knowledge that we are home. Yes! Jim and Daphne are true Uxbridgeans.

* Simon Sinek

Monday, 6 March 2017


One player is chosen as Leader. No matter how bizarre the Leader's actions - dancing, skipping, crawling through hoops, twirling in circles, yodelling - the task for Followers is to immediately emulate the actions of their Leader. To fail to do so is to be expelled from the game.

I am most likely dating myself, but I clearly remember this childhood game. Do you? Ah, the innocence of our youth. Sadly, in adult life, Follow The Leader is no longer a sweet little game.

Albert Einstein once wrote that, "setting an example is not the main means of influencing others; it is the only means".

And President Trump is now Leader. His example - his actions, words and deeds influence others, his Followers.
* "When Mexico sends it's people......they're bringing crime. They're rapists."
* "...because laziness is a trait in blacks."
* " and complete shutdown of Muslims' entry..."
Xenophobia has now been officially sanctioned. Citizens are now more comfortable showing mistrust and fear. Hate is being normalized. Emboldened white supremacists feel justified in their actions. They have a Leader. Is that what Trump meant when he declared himself "President for all Americans"?

Hate crimes and racist incidents have significantly increased since Mr. Trump's election. American mosques have received letters calling Muslims "a vile and filthy people". A Puerto Rican family awoke one morning to discover their family car with the words "Go Home" emblazoned on it. Latino students have been bullied. "You wetbacks need to go back to Mexico." Dear God, these are just children. A Sikh man was shot in his driveway, the shooter yelling, "Go back to your country".

No one knows the pain of hate crimes more than the Jewish population and they have not been immune to recent attacks. The U.S. has experienced a spike in vandalism and bomb threats targeting Jewish institutions and property. One might argue that the President supports Israel, but like a cancer, once unchecked, hate insidiously grows and spreads. I promise that the thugs attacking Jewish institutions don't give a damn about Trump's Israeli policies. Anything or anybody different is now a legitimate target.

"Oh, get over it" you say. "We live in gentle Canada."

Trudeau, Sr. once spoke of Canadan-U.S. relations, comparing them to "sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly or even-tempered is the is affected by every twitch and grunt." Despite Canada's reputation for being kind, friendly, open-minded, 'oh-sorry-ish', we have an intolerant, bigeted, white supremacist underbelly eagerly awaiting the right Leader. Tragically, Toronto and Quebec City have already experienced the targeted actions of this sewer-dwelling segment of our population. Canada is not immune and I worry.

So? I for one refuse to play this American version of Follow The Leader; I am relieved to be expelled. I have promised myself to not remain silent, to speak out against xenophobia, racism, intolerance and lies, and to work diligently against any Canadian leadership hopeful exhibiting Trump-like qualities. Follow The Leader is no longer a childhood game.

Saturday, 4 March 2017


"I adore simple pleasures. They are the last refuge of the complex." Oscar Wilde

If I were a rich many times have you heard friends muse about winning a big lottery? Luxury homes, fancy cars, exclusive travel to exotic locales, and, and, and are all part of the accompanying dreams. Not me. My dream would be to have a housekeeper put fresh linen on our bed daily. Quite simply, I love crawling between fresh, crisp, clean sheets. Perhaps it is my imagination, but I actually sleep better. Clean sheets....a simple pleasure, but such blissful comfort!

It is said that grandchildren make the world a little softer, a little kinder and a little warmer. Oh, how true. Jim and I treasure our sleepovers with Morgan and Zachary. I love to awake to the early morning chatter of our grandchildren in the next room. I smile at the muffled talk, stifled giggles and quiet opening of our bedroom door. "Are they awake?" Their whispers hang in the air. A simple pleasure, but one that fills me with overwhelming love.

What about that first sip of coffee in the morning? Ahhhhhh! Someone once referred to it as a 'coffeegasm', such is the rush and sense of well being that accompanies that first cuppa'. Speaking of coffee, I love the cafe music of our little Tin Cup coffee shop. The happy chatter of patrons, the tinkle of clinking china and the whoosh of frothing milk and steam. Such a simple pleasure, but oh so soothing.

A rainy day, a blanket and loosing oneself in a good book. Fluffy dandelion seeds, backlit by the sun, floating on gentle air currents. The magic of flickering Christmas candles and colourful twinkling tree lights.  The heady aroma of rich soil in the early spring. Dancing autumn leaves, their rich oranges and reds flitting to the ground. My simple pleasures list is endless.

In the complexity of our world, it is easy to lose sight of life's simple pleasures. Violence, terrorism, racism and hate darken our lives and occupy our thoughts. When I am ready to depart this life, it is not the insanity of mankind I wish to remember, but rather the meaningful simple pleasures that were the nourishment for my soul.

Simple pleasures are life's treasures.

Friday, 24 February 2017


"Food is a central activity of mankind and one of the single most significant trademarks of a culture." Mark Kurlansky

The door opens, the bell tinkles, the wooden floors creak, and it is once again time to enjoy the delectable atmosphere of food and camaraderie that is any cooking class at The Passionate Cook's Essentials. Lisa Hutchinson, the owner, has created the unique opportunity to enhance one's cooking skills and expand one's recipe collection, all while enjoying the company of others genuinely interested in delicious, made-from-scratch food. Classes are limited to twelve students, a class size intimate enough to allow for questions, conversation and plenty of laughter.  Quite simply, I love these classes which have afforded me the privilege of meeting many like-minded residents and which have taken me to Italy, France, Morocco, Spain, Newfoundland, India, and even Mongolia without ever leaving Uxbridge.

Last night I enjoyed the privilege of being transported to pre-civil war Syria. Cecilia, fromager for The Passionate Cook Essentials, has worked closely with one of Uxbridge's refugee Syrian families to learn more about their delicious cuisine and to teach us more about the food, culture and customs of Syria. Food, she reminded us, is a universal language.

It is easy to forget that even under Bashar al-Assad and before the disasterous civil war, Syrians had lives and homes like us. Part of the Lavant 'fertile crescent', Syria was once the bread basket of the Middle East; their food culture is ancient. "Bread and salt between us." We learned that the Syrian culture is one that emphasizes the importance of family, hospitality and generosity. To cook is to be home and to commune over a meal with family and friends.

Interspersed with cooking demonstrations for shamandar (beet dip), lamb kofta in tahini sauce, vermicelli rice, Syrian salad, and m'hallabiya and while savouring these tasty dishes, Cecelia offered us a far more intimate insight into what life was like in Syria and how our refugee families are handling what she referred to as "their soft landing in the warmth of Uxbridge".

Of the many cooking classes, I have enjoyed at The Passionate Cook Essentials, this class offered to me, so much more than food and on so many levels. Not only did I enjoy the chance to taste and learn to prepare the cuisine of another culture, but it brought home many truths.

Food is indeed a universal language. How eager this Syrian family has been to share and teach Cecelia about their food and culture. Her relationship with the family has quickly developed into one of friend.

The class illustrated for me how much has been lost in the Syrian war, how the bread basket of the Middle East has been wiped out and how, due to an uncertain future, an ancient food culture and way of life may disappear.

How alone some of our refugees must feel. How they must miss the aromas and activity of their markets, their language, their neighbourhoods and their friends and family either left behind or now dead.

Mostly, listening to Cecelia reminded me that treating our refugees with interest in their culture and respect for what they have lost will go a long way to promoting a peaceful transition, trust and understanding.

Saturday, 18 February 2017


"In time we hate that which we often fear." William Shakespeare

I know that I am frequently naive, that I enjoy rose-coloured glasses. I love nothing more than to pat my Canada on the back for not being governed by fear and hate as is our neighbour to the south. I congratulate my Canada for its compassion, for understanding that the current refugee crisis is the largest such crisis since World War II. To quote the Mayor of Belluno, Italy, "...a problem that is much bigger than us." I am overwhelmed with relief that my Canada has stepped up. In 1979 we welcomed 60,000 Vietnamese boat people to our shores. One of those boat people is now my dentist and one, my eye doctor. Both are extremely talented men, eager to give back to the community which  welcomed them to Canada and took them in. By February, 2016, we resettled more than 25,000 Syrian refugees, a process which compassionately continues.

That said and in spite of rose-coloured glasses, I am fully aware that the seething fears and hatreds now characterizing America are on simmer in Canada, merely awaiting their chance to boil over. All that is needed is permission to turn up that heat, either from the general public or a Trump-like leader. Kellie Leitch, a Conservative Party leadership hopeful, is sure eager to do so. Rick Mercer frequently warns that Canada is not immune to such fear and hatred. He reminds us that in 1939, fearing German spies on board, we turned back a ship carrying 907 Jewish refugees. Perhaps, I should have titled this blog, "Oh Canada, We Stand On Guard For Thee".

Closer to home, an anti-Islam group blocked entrances to a Toronto masjid during prayer services. And yesterday at little Uxpool, the full reality of this simmering fear, hate and ignorance brought me to my knees in frustration.

Swimmer: I hate that all of these people are being allowed in.
Me (trying to be the voice of reason): Have you met any of our Uxbridge Syrian families?
Swimmer: No! I'm from Port Perry and we have THEM there, too.
Me: And?
Swimmer: One is a lawyer. Okay, I guess. Just don't let the ones from the tents in. It's disgusting.
Me (now biting my tongue): I think if you spoke to your lawyer refugee, you would discover that he
lived in a tent. One of our young refugee families gave birth to their son in a tent. (Now with a slight edge to my voice). By the way, she is a medical doctor and he, an accountant.
Swimmer under her breath: They're disgusting.

Dear God! Remind me to contact the United Nations Refugee Agency and Canadian Government screeners; they should be told to just interview refugees residing in luxury hotels. Tongue bleeding, I actually cried in utter frustration while driving home.

I was taught to face my fears. Jump in that deep water. Knock on that door. Speak to that audience. How I wish that, rather that sitting on the sidelines simmering with fear and hate, these Canadians would take the opportunity to meet just one of our recent refugees. Hear their heartbreaking story. Feel their excitement about their second chance at a new life. I'm betting that views would change.

Our government has led the way. Let us show some compassion.

Saturday, 28 January 2017


For decades, I have suffered from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), so much so that I take prescription medication. I cannot express how distressed I felt this week to find myself, even medicated, exhibiting some SAD symptoms......agitation, anger, depression, hopelessness. Then my calmer, saner mind ran further down the symptoms list. No, I wasn't sluggish. No, I wasn't suffering from insomnia. Then what? Right in front of me, in my hands, was the answer.

Much of my time has been absorbed reading about the blowhard billionaire with the thin-skinned, powder keg personality who now calls himself President of the United States. Racism, war crimes, cruelty, anti-feminism, divisiveness, tweet diplomacy....... That hateful, ugly, cruel face haunts my dreams. If that were not enough, Mikhail Gorbachev is of the opinion that "the world is preparing for war." And looks whose finger has access to that red nuclear button! Dear God!

So now my conundrum. Do I keep on top of issues in the U.S. which so affect Canada and the world or, for the sake of my sanity, do I bury my head in the sand, remaining blissfully uninformed? No more mouthy POTUS, no more feelings of outrage, anger and disbelief. Ahhhh!

Sadly, a wise man once wrote that "the deeper you hide your head in the sand, the more defenceless is your ass." Oh, how I wish I could ignore my university political science background and the obligation to remain informed with which Keith Spicer charged his International Relations students. I haven't forgotten, sir! And therein lies the answer to my conundrum. Poor Jim will just have to get used to my angry outbursts when reading and my vocal arguments when watching the news. It's only four years.....we hope....Hon!

Friday, 13 January 2017



Over four years ago, to escape the traffic congestion and noise of a population-burgeoning GTA, and much to the initial bewilderment of many friends, Jim and I dug up our York Region Thornhill roots and transplanted them northeast in Durham Region's Uxbridge. I have said it before and earnestly state it again, "What began as a leap of faith morphed into a brilliant idea. We have never looked back. Surprisingly, the disconnect was immediate". During these four plus years, Jim and I have developed a love affair with our little town, population 20,623.

The 2016 average selling price growth in the GTA was led by Durham Region. Atop the many towns in Durham Region sits mighty little Uxbridge with an astounding increase in prices over 2015 of 31%. You don't experience such price increases without latent demand.  A two-edged sword? Whenever Jim and I have headed west to Vancouver, we have been greeted by sunny skies. In response to our query, "Where's the rain?", our friend Malcom never fails to answer with, "We don't really have that much rain. We just don't want you easterners to find out and move here". Thus my "shhhhh". Please don't grow too quickly Uxbridge. We'd prefer you to remain a little town, to retain your charm, friendliness and big heart.

That said, driving through town today, with the memory of meeting yesterday another Syrian refugee family welcomed to town still fresh in my mind, with giant snowflakes falling on attractive shop exteriors and with the view of people standing on the sidewalks chatting with friends, I experienced an overwhelming feeling of being blessed to live here. It's time to put my love of Uxbridge into words. To paint my picture of life here will require more than one blog. What's life like in my small town Ontario? Stay tuned.

Saturday, 7 January 2017


As most Americans and Canadians experienced yesterday, my heart sank; I felt sheer horror at reports of the tragic shootings in the Fort Lauderdale Airport. All I could initially think was, "Christmas vacation, families, children. Dear God!"

Over coffee this morning with more reports in, my mind now reels with unanswered questions.

What was the Security Official in Alaska thinking when he cleared the gunman to board that Delta flight? Santiago had only one checked bag, a handgun case with a pistol. Granted, the gun was declared, but who travels from Alaska to Florida with no warm weather clothes...only a gun? Wasn't the TSA official even slightly suspicious?

When will the American News stations, FOX and CNN, stop speculating and just report the facts? At one point FOX News reported that the gunman was a passenger on a Canadian flight. Two carriers use Terminal 2 at the Fort Lauderdale Airport - Air Canada and Delta. Of course, it had to be Air Canada. Right? Knowing FOX's love (ha!ha!) of Canada, how they must have taken glee in reporting that the gunman originated in Canada. I can only imagine the increased worry and fear that unsubstantiated report created in those whose families were journeying on Air Canada yesterday. I will never forget CNN's reporting of the 2005 Air France crash at Toronto's Pearson. With the Global TV feed showing the flaming jet carcus, Air France emblazoned on the side, CNN, Wolf Blitzer in fact, reported the crash of Lufthansa. What? They went on to interview an expert who "speculated" that no passengers could survive such a crash. Imagine the unnecessary horror of families with passengers aboard Air France following that broadcast. All aboard survived. Give me the boring CBC!

What about security in the baggage claims areas of American airports? Direct access from outside is allowed into the claims areas. Tampa and Phoenix Sky Harbor Airports are prime examples. With such access, where is security?

Is the U.S. ever going to come to terms with their constitution's "right to bear arms"? Will they ever accept even moderate gun controls? Florida law permits guns inside airport terminals on the condition that they are still in their case. That said, there is a bill before the Florida state legislature to allow guns in public places like airports. Are you kidding me? How many more mass shootings will the U.S. suffer before they get it? Social media yesterday was initially dominated with "Trump will stop this" statements. How will he stop it? I need to understand how when this President-elect viamently campaigned against gun control.

Yesterday, as initial reports came in, I asked Jim how some one could have a gun in the Baggage Claims area of an airport. His answer? "It's the States." 'Nuff said.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017


For the first winter in almost forty years, Jim and I will be feeling no southern sunshine on our backs, viewing no turquoise Caribbean waters nor hiking any saquaro-dotted Sonoran Desert trails in glorious Arizona. Why? In March, Jim will go under the surgical knife at Sunnybrook Hospital to correct hip replacement surgery mangled three years ago. We have been warned that both his surgery and recovery will be lengthy. Is Jim is worried. No! Relief is finally in sight.

And so you ask, "How will you stand those glum short days, the depressing darkness, frigid temperatures, blustery snow and treacherous ice?"

Throughout my Real Estate career, I professed that success was "between your ears". How strongly you believe in yourself will ultimately define your career. Retired, I now lecture myself on enjoying and savouring each and every moment I am in. So why not savour winter? Just think about it; I don't even have to commute. I swim with a woman whose husband so dislikes flying that she has resigned herself to not journeying south for the winter. Connie told me that once she decided to like winter, she found herself actually looking forward to it.

I can do this; loving winter is a mindset!

I am going to appreciate snowy days when my world is silently blanketed in white, when I can catch big fat snowflakes on my tongue and when I can marvel at how Mother Nature creates sparkling individual snowflakes from water droplets. I am going to relish those sunny cold days when the sky is impossibly blue and, in the absence of mosquitos and flies, I am going to enjoy brisk invigorating walks, squeaky snow beneath my feet. I am going to lovingly laugh at the antics of my grandchildren as they make snow angels, skate or hit the slopes. Morgan and Zachary love winter; Grammie will follow their lead.

During the tranquility of early morning, I am going to stand in awe of the pink line of sunrise visible from our kitchen and cheer on dawn as it pushes back the black lines of winter's nighttime. Mother Nature's palette is always to be treasured.

A list of "to read" books glares at me from my nighttable. How can a simple list make one feel so guilty? With our fireplace radiating warmth and colourful light and as snow swirls outside, I am going to curl up, feet warming in wooly winter socks and revel in my escape into the world of good fiction. Look out list! Speaking about wooly socks, winter clothing is actually my favourite. Sweaters, sweatshirts, turtlenecks, hats, gloves, scarves......I love them all. I take great delight in layering. If it is cold outside, dress for it. And hey, my body issues disappear with each additional layer.

Winter food is comfort food, especially soups and stews. This is the time of year I most enjoy my kitchen. Inviting aromas permeate our home. When's dinner? And I am going to savour warm beverages enjoyed with good friends in the cozy atmosphere of the Tin Cup. A good cup of coffee, laughter with friends, the hiss of steamed milk being prepared and happy chatter. Let the cold winds blow; it doesn't get much better.

As I have grown older, I have increasingly come to understand that ALL of life is a gift. So much of winter in Canada is beautiful and I am going to embrace it. Yup! I can do this!