Thursday, 18 October 2018


Have you ever looked back on a year and wondered where it went? The chilling cold of winter, the exciting promise of spring, the blissful freedom of summer, and the vibrant colours of autumn whiz by, then suddenly Christmas decorations appear in stores, your first startling realization that another year has almost slipped by. 

I find that happening with my age. The time markers - childhood, university, marriage, children, career, retirement - have all been there, merely ignored. Now I am startled to find myself in my seventies. When did that happen? Of course, the clues have been in front of me all along and increasingly so of late. I cannot deny these clues - the subtle aging changes evolving over time in my personality and in my body.

Raised in a home where solemn considerations of, What would the neighbours say? were the 11th Comandment, I find myself caring less and less what others think. I promise you, Who gives a s**t is extremely freeing! Once talented at biting my tongue and keeping opinions to myself, I am now increasingly prone to speaking my mind, more recently forcefully so. God bless family and friends who just mindlessly nod with frozen smiles at my ranting pronouncements. Thank you. When it becomes incomprehensible babble, I will be old and you have my permission to put me away.

Forget designer outfits, nylons and high heels. Did I really wear those? What happened to Dress For Success? Meh! Now I crave comfortable clothes - jeans, socks, loafers, t-shirts, leggings and sweatshirts. I do care about how I look, but no longer give a damn about the label. Oh, and makeup? I should be able to locate a tube of lipstick...I think! Don’t worry; I do still remember how to dress  for special occasions. When I graduate to elastic-waisted pants, then you may consider me old and you have my permission to put me away.

My body? I still chew with my own teeth. 👍 But no matter how active I remain, grey hairs are beginning to pepper my head, wrinkles invade my face, and the most critical parts of my body sag. Gravity is not just a good idea, it is the law. Without reading glasses, I may be able to read a STOP sign. My most frequent recent practice is walking into a room and forgetting why I am there. When I forget my name, then I will be old and you have permission to put me away.

I admit to preferring opera and classical music. I admit to loving a comfortable chair, a cup of tea and great book. I admit to earlier bedtimes. I admit that I am no longer able to imbibe much alcohol. Instead of the huge dinner parties Jim and I used to throw, I admit to now preferring more personal dinners of four or six. I admit that organizing our family Christmas feast increasingly throws me into a tizzy. Thank heavens for my talented sous chefs, Chris and Matt. I admit to taking longer to perform tasks - gardening, cleaning.....whatever! Am I slowing down? A bit. When I completely stop, then and only then will I be old and you have my permission to put me away.

Here’s the thing! In my heart, I am not old. 

I do treasure life more. I understand how precious being alive is. No longer in a rush, I work at living in the moment. Moment? Forget your parties and clubs, just give me a glass of wine, the company of my husband and a sunset. That is not old. That is wisdom.

George Burns once said, You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old. Wise man.

Thursday, 11 October 2018


One extremely painful lesson for me this year has been that there are no guarantees in life. So just do it! Add to that, a dear friend’s motto which I have adopted, Do what makes you happy, and you can understand why I listened carefully when my husband mentioned casually in a conversation on Thanksgiving Day that he would love to return to Scotland. Love in my books is way stronger than like.

Anyone who knows me gets that one of my greatest pleasures in life is researching and planning trips. Forget real estate; I should have been a travel agent. Books, maps, blogs, newspaper and magazine articles, and the internet are scoured for months before I even begin to work on an itinerary. Then the extraneous travel details, like playing with the parts of a giant puzzle, fall into place - air travel, ferries, trains, car rental, hotel or rental accommodations, what to see and do...and on and on and on. I love and learn so much from the process.

This year Jim and I had talked about renting an apartment in Rome, my favourite city, for a few weeks. You could spend a year in Rome and not scratch the surface. On our return flight from Italy, conversation turned to spending time next year in Sicily. That was all this inveterate planner needed. With the Godfather’s Theme playing in my brain, books were rapidly purchased and a giant map of Sicily, spread out on the dining room table. Then came Jim’s casual comment! Conversation over coffee the next morning went like this:

Me: You mentioned Scotland last night. I’m not ‘married’ to Sicily yet. Would you rather visit  Scotland next year?

Jim: I’d love to return to Scotland. Let me think about it.

Jim, after two seconds had elapsed and with a giant grin: Let’s go back to Scotland!

At this juncture I should mention that over the years Jim and I have travelled extensively in Scotland from the Orkney Islands to the Highlands, from the west coast islands of Mull, Islay and Skye to Edinburgh (in my mind, one of the most beautiful cities in the world). So many scotch distilleries have been visited that we could run tours. We have enjoyed The Fringe, numerous Highland Games and an Edinburgh Tattoo - their Millennial Tattoo, no less!

Already knowing the answer, I asked: So where?

Jim: The Outer Hebrides!

So be it. Sicily and Rome in 2020. Hebridean hopscotch in 2019 and for our 50th Anniversary. I’m very fine with that! The dining room table is now covered in a map of Western Scotland, the Outer Hebridean Islands have been circled, ferry schedules have been printed, books have been ordered and research on the internet has commenced.

Note to self: Better locate your wellies and keep that rain gear handy. 😅 Slainte!

Friday, 5 October 2018


Maya Anjelou wrote, There’s a marked difference between acquaintances and friends. Most people don’t become friends. They can become deep and serious acquaintances, but in friendship you get to know the spirit of another person; and your values coincide.

David Switzer was that rare breed, a true friend, and today Jim and I are gutted by the loss of his brave battle with cancer last night.

What began as a Neil McNeil High School acquaintance for Jim and David was rekindled and then developed into a cherished friendship as we found ourselves members of the same yacht club and then in side by side boat slips. David served on the yacht club board when Jim was Commodore and you guessed it, Jim served on the board when David was Commodore.

We four have sailed both ends of Lake Ontario together, have spent joint time in Barbados and Arizona, have navigated the crazy canals of England on ungainly barges, have golfed together and have enjoyed countless meals, drinks and celebrations together on the yacht club deck and in each other’s homes; after recent house moves, we have made the drive between Cobourg and Uxbridge so many times that our cars could probably make the trip for us on autopilot. David and Jim helped sail a friend’s boat back from St. Martin. Their parmesan cheese tale from this journey is a classic. 😂  Accompanying each other to Neil McNeil reunions, they could often be heard discussing who should wear the boutonniere. 😳 Marion and I have joked for years that David and Jim could speak with each other 24/7 without a lapse if given the opportunity. So much laughter! So many memories!

Whenever renovations were being planned, David’s immediate response was always, Just let me know when. I am sure there were times when he wondered at the wisdom of his offer as he laid hardwood and tore out washrooms with Jim. As if that wasn’t enough, the two friends tirelessly worked together on the renovation of the yacht club kitchen, a massive undertaking.

David battled cancer for a year. No matter his fears, discomfort or fatigue levels, Jim and I were always greeted with a warm, welcoming smile. His private voiced concerns with Jim were always about Marion’s welfare, not about himself. His efforts for the past year were more about making the ultimate transition for Marion a trouble-free one than about himself. Quiet selflessness and dignified bravery defined David.

Someone once said that the hardest part of losing a friend isn’t having to say goodbye, but rather learning to live without them, always trying to fill the void and the emptiness that is left inside your heart when they go. David, the void is massive; a piece of our hearts is forever broken. I will find peace in imagining you hugging your mother and then you, Rollie, Brenton, Dick and Derek sailing the clouds of heaven.

 It is not goodbye forever, dear friend, it is till we meet again.