Friday, 5 July 2019

ONCE YOU HIT A CERTAIN AGE.....

A dear friend of mine (thank you Laura)  recently posted this on Facebook:


After I stopped laughing at how much the posting hit home, I decided that although I would likely piss off many with MY list, what the hell, I’m blogging this anyways. None of the following “unimpressive s**t” is personally directed. I admit that it is perceived through my value system and thus suspect to many. However, these are the s**t that, as I age, no longer impress me.

Designer Labels. Don’t take this as evidence that I prefer cheap throw-away fashion. I do, however, look at designer labels and, valid or not, see a purchaser attempting to display status. Insecure? is what I really want to ask. Why else would you want to wear or carry someone’s logo, advertising them for free? Truth be known, most people are perfectly capable of recognizing quality clothing, belts, purses and shoes. Sorry, but designer labels leave me cold.



Wealthy Parents. Frankly Scarlett, I don’t give a damn what your parents’ social register name was, where they lived, what lofty position they held or how much money they banked. Too many highly successful men and women in our world have come from families who had virtually nothing but instilled in their children the values of hard work, perseverance, overcoming obstacles and generosity of spirit and where there was a dearth of parental guidance, these men and women found within themselves the determination to build a better life. Now THAT is admirable. So what impresses me? What kind of human being YOU are, not your parents.....YOU!

Negative Nellyism. You know who I mean: in the winter they whine that it is too cold to enjoy life, and in the summer, too hot. It’s raining too much, we haven’t had enough rain, it’s too cloudy, it’s too sunny......and on and on and on. We all experience our negative moments. That is life! But, like the flu, chronic negativity is contagious. For self survival, I need to keep my distance. Life is too short to be dragged down mentally by doom, gloom, frowns and whining. Instead of grumbling that roses have thorns, why not celebrate that thorns have roses? Chronic negativity does not impress me. As I get older, I avoid it at all costs; I haven’t got enough time left in my journey to waste it listening to negative s**t.

The Best. During a wine tasting at Chateauneuf-du-Pape, I learned what constitutes “the best”. Asked whether the best wines are French wines, the chief vintner smiled and then, to our complete surprise, answered that whatever wine sits well on your palette is “the best”. He added that although he would like to announce that French wines are the world’s finest, nothing is “the best” unless you personally like it. If a plonk wine is your favourite, then it is “the best”. Whenever I am informed that they (whomever that amorphous they is) say that something is “the best” - olive oil, wine, restaurant, hotel, car, where to live or whatever, I am not impressed. If it turns your crank, then it is “the best” for you. Tell my why you love it instead. Hmmm? Well that is, unless we are talking about our country, and then, although the Danes and Norwegians might argue, I will agree that Canada is “the best”. ❤️🇨🇦😉

Upon rereading this, I asked Jim if my words were too strong. His answer? Sweetheart, having lived over 70 years gives you the right to define what in your mind is bulls**t. So be it.

Aside from my blogs, what doesn’t impress you as you age?








Tuesday, 25 June 2019

MY HEART IS FULL OF LOVE AND WONDER

Jim and I have just returned from Morgan’s Grade 8 graduation where we watched as she was awarded with both an academic excellence award and school spirit award and then felt our hearts burst with love as she took the podium as Valedictorian. Voted in by students and staff, she confidently looked out at her audience and smiled her smile, the mega-watt smile that instantly fills a room with sunshine. And in that split second before she spoke my mind and heart were flooded with memories.




That moment when I first cradled our precious newborn granddaughter, her infant head even then covered in blonde fuzz. Overwhelmed with emotion, I never wanted to let go.

The memory of a tiny toddler holding the hand of her Daddy, all 6’2” of him, on their cottage dock. Such a contrast in heights. So much growing ahead.




The adolescent creating, always busy creating - crayoning, gluing, cuttting, beading, painting. Any medium excited her. It is Morgan’s design which graces the cover of her 2018/2019 school year book.

Her excited reviews of the many live theatre presentations and Blue Jays games attended with her Mom. Contagious enthusiasm always bubbles to the surface.

The burgeoning athlete - swimming, skiing, skating, basketball, curling, baseball and kayaking. A new sport? Bring it on! One of my fondest memories took place during our son’s Iron Man Challenge. Watching her father’s pained expression during the final run portion, Morgan joined in beside Matt, pacing him for quite a distance and raising his spirits. Such a typical Morgan response!




Books, books and more books, watching her read, oblivious to the world around her, totally absorbed in the tale at hand.

The young teen cooking up a storm and then, bent over her Christmas cookie creations, adding inspired decorations in our aroma-filled, sticky-surfaced kitchen.

Oh Michelle and Matt, what a precious gift you have given Morgan in providing so many opportunities, the seeds of her self assurance and desire to embrace life.

........and then Morgan began to speak and my memories morphed into a respectful wonder at the calm, joyful young woman, our granddaughter, speaking from the podium.

To Morgan on your Grade 8 Graduation as Valedictorian:

Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You’re off to great places.
You’re off and away.

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
Anywhere you chose.
     - Dr. Seuss, “Oh The Places You’ll Go”

The world is there for you to grasp, sweetheart. You go girl!

Friday, 7 June 2019

JUST RIP IT UP??????

I have a feeling, actually I know, that this blog will be extremely unpopular with beer drinkers. So be it!

Thirty-six years in real estate meant thirty years of practising contract law and six years of teaching it. I practised and taught respect for contracts, the backbone of our real estate industry, more importantly, the backbone of business in Ontario.


Ensure that your client understands that the contract they have signed is binding. To breach it will lead to penalties,  I taught and was taught. To simplify it, only a breach or misrepresentation by the other party or mutual agreement can lead to the cancellation of a contract without penalty.

The PC-led legislature has just passed legislation to dissolve the Beer Store contract which runs until 2025. Not yet law, the legislation merely awaits royal assent.

I totally agree that this contract is flawed in that it allows the private foreign-owned Beer Store chain, worth $2.5 billion a year, the right to retail most of Ontario's beer. Almost a monopoly, but not legally one! The contract, negotiated in good faith, runs until 2025; the Beer Store owners have neither misrepresented their service nor breached their contract. To rip it (the contract) up could potentially lead to a protracted legal battle and significant damages. And we all know who will ultimately foot that costly bill.

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce called Ford's legislation short-sighted  and warned of negative consequences. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce called on Ontario to honour the contract as proof that existing business contracts in Ontario will be honoured. To not do so would deter investment. What was that election promise about Ontario Is Open For Business?

Let the Beer Store contract run until 2025 and then be done with it. I'm happy with that. What I vehemently disagree with is ripping up an existing legal contract and immediately allowing more access to alcohol because of an impulsive election promise. To do so sets a precedent and makes a mockery of contract law.










Saturday, 1 June 2019

IT TAKES A VILLAGE.....To Keep Me Fit

Let's get one thing straight - I loathe gyms. Fancy-shmancy, basic, women's only, extreme fitness.....no matter the type, style, clientele, workout options.....I quite simply feel yuk, blah, grrr about any and all gyms. Please don't bother protesting; no matter how much YOU love it, I would hate your gym too.

My friend Ruth, a true fitness guru, extols the virtue of finding something you love. You'll stick to it, she says and she is right.

From childhood, I have been a water-baby, so it is no small wonder that after retiring and moving to Uxbridge, I gravitated to the pool. I love water - fresh, salt or chlorinated - let me in! Little did I know that Uxpool would prove to be a daily ritual and even more important, the source of so many friendships. What has helped maintain my daily pool habit? Hah! Miss a session and answer to questioning emails from Anna, Marion and Cathy. Trust me, on those frigid winter mornings when it is a struggle to even think of swimming, it is easier to hit the water than respond to those where-the-hell-were-you notes. Thank you Anna, Marion and Cathy for being my fitness conscience.

And then there is the group I have lovingly dubbed The Lunacy League. Invited by creator Barb and encouraged by Laura, I have joined nine other women in a weekly 5-day Fitbit challenge, The Workweek Hustle. Sounded like a snap to me. I could easily do 10,000 steps a day. Phffft! Yah, well 10,000 steps a day for five days a week would put me at the bottom of the heap. That is something else I loathe.....being at the bottom of a heap. To remain in the top two or three of these ladies, a daily average of 20,000+ steps is more the necessary reality. Susan-Jane, Mary and Louise are my fiercest competitors, constantly pushing the bar higher. Sigh, is it Saturday yet? I have now developed a 5km and 10km daily route. The 5km route is only used when I have appointments, restricted time or pole walking. The daily 10km route just gets me in the top 4. But oh, do I ever feel strong! I have always loved walking, fresh air and me time for my thoughts. Thank you to my beautiful Lunacy League Ladies, especially to Barb and Laura for getting me started and to Susan-Jane, Mary and Louise for pushing me ever harder.


I happened to mention to Sue, a friend at the pool, that I had noticed the existence of an Uxbridge Nordic Pole Walking Club. Before I could catch a breath, I'm in, Sue chimed. Now Thursday mornings are spent pole walking up and down the grassy treed hills of Elgin Park. Nordic pole walking provides a 46% stronger cardio workout than simple walking. After the first session my upper arms, shoulders and back could attest to the fact that it wasn't just my heart getting a workout. Aaaach! Thank you Sue!

As parents we always hope that our children will gravitate to positive friendship circles. We should wish that for our retirement, too. Friends.....physically active, mentally curious and generous in giving back to their community. It does take a village to inspire us as we age. Well me, at least.  No rest for the wicked, negative nellies would say. Personally, I believe that someone was watching out over me when we made the decision to move to Uxbridge.  Hillary Clinton said, It Takes A Village, and I thankfully have found one.

Saturday, 30 March 2019

A NEW CAR FOR ME?

Seated in my car, a small sedan, I am reminded of the time years ago when Jim and I flew in a tiny six-seater prop from Union Island in the Grenadines to Barbados. Landing at Grantley Adams Airport, our pilot pulled into a gate alongside a British Airways 747, a jet whose gargantuan wheels were larger than the total size of our teeny commuter plane. Expressed as a ratio? Flea:Dog best describes it.

For as long as I can remember, I have owned an SUV so why, I have to ask myself, did I say to Jim a year ago when purchasing my new car, Don't buy an SUV. I just need something to buzz around Uxbridge. You have 'large'. I don't need 'large' too. What drug was I on that day? What was I thinking?

Uxbridge is horse and farm country. So what? Well, most of our population drive either an SUV or a honking oversized truck. If I fail to make a mental note of where my car is, I am unable to locate it in parking lots without engaging my embarrassingly squawky location alarm. Look at me everybody...I can't find my automobile. Sandwiched between vehicular giants, I could swear that my tiny Corolla is actually hiding from me.

GM and now Chrysler/Fiat are closing sedan and van plants. A mere quarter of the North American car-buying population are opting for sedans. It is all about the SUV and the truck. I get it. Research indicates that SUV's are much safe than sedans. I admit to feeling more vulnerable when driving now. More drivers chance pulling directly out in front of me than ever happened with a more imposing automobile. From the standpoint of visibility, I miss being higher above the road. Hey, I'm nosey; I like to see what is going on. The view in my rear view mirror is frequently grill work and tires. Yikes! Anyone remember Steven Spielberg's creepy movie Duel?


To add to my frazzled nerves, Bloomington, Brock and Lakeridge Roads are heavily populated by massive gravel trucks. Viewing one of these monoliths sitting a paint layer away from my tail or barrelling around the Highway 47/48 roundabout in tandem with one of these giants is enough to cause my life to flash before my eyes.

So what to do? Truth be known, I love my little Corolla and don't want to give it up. In addition to extremely comfortable seating, it has all of the bells and whistles. Maneuvering and parking are a breeze. Fuel consumption is staggeringly efficient; I can go over six weeks without visiting the pumps. I just need something higher off the road and slightly more imposing. I think I have the solution to my problem. What do YOU think?



Friday, 22 March 2019

YOU ROCK MY WORLD

Jacinda Ardern, you rock my world. In the aftermath of the horrific Christchurch massacre, New Zealand has been led by you with dignity, compassion, resolve and immediate action. Mere thoughts and prayers simply do not cut it with you. I stand in awe of your leadership.

Deeming handshakes or the tossing of paper towels into a crowd as meaningless show, you instead donned a hajib, as a sign of respect for your Muslim community, and moved amongst families of the killed and wounded offering heartfelt condolences, emotional hugs, an empathetic ear to grief, and promises of resources and action.....promises which you immediately kept.


Your promise of the commitment of resources was instantly followed by the covering of all funeral costs plus financial assistance for families who lost their breadwinner. You stated that you were with the victims. No hollow political words for you, your actions proved it.

We in New Zealand will give him nothing. Not even his name. Your impassioned parliamentary speech made my heart soar as you taught the free world how terrorists should be treated. For such anarchists, their message is as important as their actions. Just note this terrorist's lengthy manifesto released minutes before the slaughter began. Make the message and the terrorist irrelevant, you told us. Speak the names of the lives who were lost rather than the name of the man who took them. Main stream media, please take note!

And taking advantage of a groundswell of support, you have announced an overhaul of New Zealand gun legislation, banning all military semi-automatic weapons, assault rifles and high capacity magazines. Meanwhile in North America, Canada still wrestles with this controversial issue while the U.S. dillusionally pretends that there is no issue.

Brian Mulroney recently worried, Where have all the leaders gone? Well, Mr. M., we found one. For me, true leadership has always been having the courage to do the right thing. Churchill, despite his massive failings, was a leader for his times. You, Jacinda Ardern, despite whatever frailties plague you, have proven at this time, in this moment, to be a true leader.

What our insane world desperately needs is more leaders of your calibre......leaders exhibiting compassion, strength, resolve and integrity.



Wednesday, 6 March 2019

TIME TO GO HOME ❤️🇧🇧

Perhaps it has been lying dormant just ready to bubble to the surface.....this desire of mine to return to my other home.

In 2013 when Jim and I last spent time in Barbados, we arrived at the sad conclusion that there was nothing left for us to explore or see, no reason to visit again. At only 21 miles long and a smile (14 miles) wide and after 36 visits, we had explored it all. My Mother’s ashes were spread at St. John’s Parish Church overlooking her favourite view 



and in the Caribbean Sea at her favourite beach. Our two boys, Christopher and Matthew, grew up spending their Spring Breaks, and even a few university breaks, on our island in the sun. Barbados became our second home. I vividly remember Matthew emerging from the airport on his second last visit, turning his face to the sun and yelling, I love this island. Bajans and tourists alike laughed and nodded their assent. Jim and I had enjoyed introducing our island to friends and glimpsing it through new eyes, but OMG, when we could no longer manage to get lost in Barbados’ insane maze of country roads, it was time to declare it done.

My innocent island was changing, too. Poor government decisions had and have left critical infrastructure in serious need of upgrading. Barbados was always an island of efficiency units, apartments and hotel rooms, providing great growth opportunities for local restauranteurs. Some of the Caribbean’s best dining establishments, serving every purse level, could be found on Barbados. The big stress of the day was where to go for dinner. Oh, how we enjoyed that stress. Insidiously over past years and I am sure the result of many a greased palm, five major all-inclusive resorts have opened on the island, stealing business from small local entrepreneurs and socking massive profits away off-shore. Don’t even get me going on the damage they have wrought. The bright massive windows at the airport were converted to opaque glass in an effort to prevent drug smugglers from signalling one another. So much for waving at arriving family and friends as they disembarked their planes. Aaach! Maybe time to move on, we thought.

But still our island in the sun beckons travellers. 



She may not be perfect, but she remains safe, friendly and welcoming. Bajan children are taught from the grade 2 level the value of tourism to their economy. Education is free and excellent. Literacy is one of the highest in the world. Health care is free. A large stable middle class forms the bulk of the population. Rent a car and travel the interior with no risk. Head out to restaurants at nighttime without worry. No necessity to remain in all-inclusive compounds for safety or because of government rulings.

One outstanding desire, though, has been niggling at Jim and I .... to introduce our grandchildren to part of their heritage. To see through their eyes the green cane fields, turquoise Caribbean waters, soft white beaches, hawksbill and leatherback turtles, 



coral reefs, flying fish, swaying coconut palms, grand plantation houses, calypso music ++++++. I am sure you are getting the picture.

That wish will come to fruition next March. Our whole immediate family - Jim and I, Christopher and Stephanie, Matthew and Michelle, Morgan and Zachary - will head to Barbados for a homecoming of sorts. When Air Canada lands on the tarmac at Grantley Adams International Airport in March 2020 and when Morgan and Zachary first step on Barbadian soil, they will be the 14th generation of my family to do so.

It may be a year away, but my heart is overflowing and my excitement keeps gurgling to the surface. Yes, it is time to go home.



Tuesday, 5 March 2019

MY GROWING LOVE OF WINTER




Would I like a winter break feeling warm sun on my back and white Bajan sand between my toes or sitting in awe of a mighty saguaro silhouetted against a vibrant Arizona sunset? You betcha. This is the woman who fled winter to Barbados for thirty-six years and to Arizona for another six.

Two years of winter surgeries for Jim and then Mr. Drumpf’s presidency have found Jim and I remaining in Canada for the snowy season. My husband refuses to travel to the U.S. during its current presidency (After how he has treated Canada, he is not getting a cent of my travel money); I both honour and appreciate Jim’s decision. It is our private protest. While working, our fly and flop vacations in Barbados were just what the doctor ordered, but post retirement, such breaks were not enough; we wanted to be more active and Arizona, in all her stunning beauty, offered us just that. I miss both Barbados and Arizona so much so that Barbados has actually just been booked by us for a family holiday next March. All of us - Jim and I, Christopher and Stephanie, Matt and Michelle, Morgan and Zachary - will journey home, partially for a break from winter but more to witness Morgan and Zachary first experience their heritage, our island in the sun.

One of my fellow swimmers explained to me during our first full winter in Canada that because her husband hates air travel, she made a conscious decision to appreciate winter. What great advice, Connie. And so I decided to follow suit. Funny thing, with a bit of effort at first, it actually works.

As unrelenting cold and endless snowfalls descended in February, I made an effort to find beauty in each day and then frequently posted photos on Facebook. To my utter astonishment, a large number of friends have thanked me for finding the positive in our weather. The consensus appears to be that when you take time to find its beauty, you can actually enjoy winter.

And I have become so, so weary of hearing daily complaints about our winter weather. I want to scream, Suck it up, Princess. You are Canadian. Perhaps it is because my perspective has changed since entering my seventies, but I appreciate each and every time I wake up. Cold, warm or hot, I intend to enjoy every moment of my life, not grouse about it.

My biggest eye-opening lesson came from my Italian-Canadian hairdresser, Tony, who first-hand knows the sunshine and warmth of Calabria. Who should hate winter more? During my appointment this past Saturday, we watched snow swirling outside the salon. It was impossible to see across the street. A huge grin broke out on Tony’s face and he asked, Would you rather be the citizen of any other country? NO, we chorused. This, he smiled, is what it means to be Canadian. Thank you, Tony. I’ll take it!

Sunday, 17 February 2019

DEAR MR. DRUMPF,

I will build a great, great wall on our southern border. So stated your blatantly bravado campaign promise to your voting base, a promise involving mammoth expenditures which, according to the experts, will have little impact on illegal immigration. You have been shown by your own border agents how determined enterprising teams south of your border simply build elaborate tunnel systems under existing walls. A Texas sheriff, who voted for you, recently declared, To hell with the wall right now. With only four deputies and few border agents, this sheriff must patrol an extensive border area 24/7. He argues that money would be far more sensibly spent on people and technology. Your own security experts contradict your statements about a border emergency of massive proportions.

But you, The Great Negotiator, unable to negotiate funds from Congress for your wall folly, have now declared a trumped up (sorry, couldn’t resist) border national emergency, all the while an emergency of far greater proportions plagues the U.S.. A true national emergency which you choose to ignore........mass shootings.



Just look at this! Not two full months into 2019, and here are some mass shooting stats,

Jan 23: 5 killed in mass shooting in Sebring, Florida
Jan 24: 4 killed in mass shooting at State College, Pennsylvania
Jan 24: 4 killed in mass shooting in Rockmart, Georgia
Jan 26: 5 killed in mass shooting in Gonzales, Louisiana 
Feb 3 : 4 killed in mass shooting in Palm Springs, California
Feb 11: 5 killed in mass shooting in Livingston, Texas
Feb 15: 6 killed in mass shooting in Aurora, Illinois
Feb 16: 4 killed in mass shooting in Clinton, Mississippi

The statistics I have listed do not include mass shootings, of which there were many, many more, in which victims lived but were injured or in which only one victim died.

What civilized country allows such carnage to continue? What leader fails to address the issue? Ah, Mr. Drumpf, how can I be so naive as to even dream that mass shootings might be addressed by you........a President who on the anniversary of the Parkland massacre skirted the issue of mass shootings by referring to school violence (whaaaaat?), a President who is more concerned with his fragile ego and voting base than the good of his country, or by a President who is funded by the NRA.

Mr. Drumpf, for the good of your country....and the world....may 2020 see the end of your incompetence, divisiveness, racism, dishonesty and ego-centric leadership. 











Tuesday, 12 February 2019

TO WASH OR NOT TO WASH

(My Winter Conundrum)



Against my husband’s sage advice, I’ll take it in black, I bravely ordered when purchasing my new car last year. Jim warned that a black car is the most difficult to keep clean. Hrmph! I thought. What does he know? Aaaach, apparently more than I do. Every minuscule molecule of dirt from pollen to bird droppings glaringly taunt me...



...and  those are nothing compared to the gross designs created by winter slush and mud.

I know! I know! My car should be washed even more frequently in the winter to prevent potential damage from grit, grime and slush. But when, I ask.

On rare sunny cold glorious winter days, car wash lineups rival those I can imagine when trying to purchase tickets for a Maple Leafs Stanley Cup final home game. (Hey, I said imagine.) The older I get, the less patience I have for wasting time in long lines. Scratch sunny days!

And then there are those days of extreme cold, -20C or less. Perfect for a car wash because of dry or frozen roads, right? No slush, no mud, no spray. Well, chalk it up to the rampant paranoia of a minor claustrophobe, but I cannot erase visions of being trapped in my car by frozen door locks. Scratch extremely cold days!



Now I ask you, who wastes car wash money on mild winter days when immediately upon exiting the car wash, one is faced with muddy, slushy roads and filthy spray from passing trucks? Upon returning home on these days, my car is as grungy as it was when I left for the car wash. So much for lasting cleanliness.. Scratch mild winter days!

Oh, and scratch blizzard days, too!



So what should one do? To wash or not to wash? How many days until spring? Perhaps, I’ll take my chances and just wait.

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

THERE’S NO TASTE LIKE HOME

Do people eat at home anymore? I wondered. Don’t get me wrong; I do enjoy cooking, but also absolutely love to eat out. Make that preferably dine out. Home cooked meals captured my front of mind awareness today as I drove through town noting yet another new fast food enterprise nearing its completion. Do we really need that?

Oh! Oh! I feel a rant coming on!

After analyses based primarily upon safety and the prevention/management of diabetes and heart disease, the AMA listed 2019’s top diets. Mediterranean, DASH, flextarian, Weight Watchers and MIND. Each of these eating lifestyles focuses on the use of minimally processed foods and the reduction of sugar and salt consumed.

Uxbridge is a town of 21,176. At my personal count (there are probably more) we have 5 food serving coffee shops, 7 pizza outlets and 12 fast food chains.....so far! All appear to be thriving. With a population of just over 21,000, how is that possible?

I understand that fast food is quick and easy, effortless, generally cheaper and offers instant hunger satisfaction. As an occasional taste treat, I have no issues, but as a lifestyle, fast food consumption can lead to diabetes, obesity, premature cardiac issues, anxiety and depression. Now I’m not just talking Uxbridge. According to health officials in both Canada and the U.S., the fast food diet has become a North American epidemic.

Perhaps because Jim and I grew up in homes where eating dinner together around the table was borderline sacrosanct, we have carried that practice forward. So much family communication took place during those intimate evening meals. No matter how crazy busy, the thought of replacing a home cooked meal with a quick run through a drive-through never occurred to me, probably because it never occurred to my mother. I love discovering new cooking methods and styles, shopping for fresh fruit and vegetables, learning from our local butchers and visiting seasonal farmers’ markets. Best of all, I am able to choose healthier ingredients and control portions.




I worry about any generation raised on a diet of fast food. What have they learned about nutrition? Will they ever be able to cook for themselves or their families? What will the impact on their future health be? What about the burden on our health care system? So many questions, certainly food for thought. All of which reminds me that it is time to prep our dinner. Rant over!