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Does anyone remember these guys?Of course I’m too young to remember…well, maybe not.

To be honest, I don’t know if I remember them or if I just remember being told about them. Like some mythical creature, the milkman is now extinct. When I was little, there was a compartment in the outside wall of our house, beside the front door. It had a little door on either side. There were all manner of games played with my little sister that involved that tiny cupboard, most of which landed me in trouble. Especially the time I got my little sister stuck in it. But, you see, we were told there was a time you could open that wee door and milk would magically appear! What child wouldn’t try to put their little sister through it to see what would happen?

Milk Door

Not this one, but, can’t you picture me pushing my kid sister’s butt through that little door?

OK. Let’s move on. Do you recognize this guy?

Source: Our Times

Source: Our Times

This is a letter carrier. Pre-political-correctness we called them “Mail Men”. They delivered our mail. If you lived in town they brought the mail right up to your house. If you lived in the country they dropped it in a box at the end of your driveway. These days when you hear, “You’ve got mail”, it usually means it’s in the inbox of your computer. Shortly before Christmas, Canada Post announced that they would be ending door-to-door delivery. Now, I know most of my American friends are sitting there with their jaws on the floor trying to understand how their neighbours to the north could possibly be making such a rash decision. Believe me when I tell you, the Canadian public is wondering the same thing. Our children or grandchildren will never know the delight of receiving their first piece of mail right out of the mailbox. They will never experience running to the door every time they hear the postman  to see if their “secret decoder ring” or today’s equivalent, a DVD, that they saved up cereal box tops for months has arrived.  There is no one in Canada more affected by this than He-Who. It’s not that he sends away for stuff. It’s not even that we get a lot of mail. Even our bills are paperless these days. He-Who has an obsession about the mail. I don’t claim to understand it but I know it’s going to be a  problem.

This is our mailbox. It’s nothing special…it came with the house.

mailbox

Yes, our mailbox could use a little work.

He-Who checks that mailbox constantly. He checks it first thing in the morning and will check it every time he goes out for “some fresh air”. He checks it when he leaves the house and he checks it when he comes home. When the mail comes he brings it in. Most of it is usually flyers and junk mail. Even after he has already brought the mail in he will continue to check the box. He often chats with the mailman when he comes but he will continue checking that box long after he is gone. I don’t know if he thinks that new mail will magically appear or if he is certain he must have missed something. I do know he has done this as long as I have known him, everywhere we have lived. Now, as we get closer to the time when we will have to go around the corner and down the street to some community mail centre, I have concerns.

photo credit: Teddy Kwok via photopin cc

photo credit: Teddy Kwok via photopin cc

The mail person we once knew will become some mythical person that once existed. A magical being who left some special written material at our door. In the future, someone will tell stories about “the mailman” to our grandchildren’s children. What I am really worried about though, is what He-Who will do when he checks the mailbox and finds out it is now a planter.

 

flower box

There is no other time of year when it is easier to find a party than St. Patrick’s day. People will be wearin’ the green, adorned by four-leaf clovers and they’ll be drinking green beer. Let’s face it. St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th, is the one day when everyone can claim to be Irish. The thing is, like the majority of the “Irish for a day” folk, most of what we know surrounding St. Patrick’s Day is…well, BLARNEY!

Everyone Is Irish

The Irish are truly great story weavers. They really do have the gift of blarney. According to Wikipedia the word blarney has come to mean “clever, flattering, or coaxing talk”. If you have every dated an Irish lad you know this to be fact.
As children we are told of the hero of the piece driving the snakes from Ireland. In fact, in religious lore the snake represented evil (you know that whole snake offering the apple to Adam thing). St. Patrick, having devoted his life to converting the pagans to Christians was considered to have driven “evil” out of Ireland.

Probably the biggest misconception of all is that…dare I say it…that Patrick was Irish. In reality, he was not.
In the Monday, March 12, 1995, Toronto Star, Travel Editor Mitchell Smith explained:

“It is not widely known that “Saint Patrick” was Roman not Irish and his real name was Sucat. Somewhere around 405 AD Sucat, as a lad, was taken prisoner and then sold into slavery in Ulster. For 6 years the Christian slave Sucat worked as a sheep herder. When he escaped he returned to Britain. Later he went to France where he eventually became a priest. At this point Sucat became Patrick and in his Confessio claimed he had a dream of Irish voices begging him to return. When he set sail to return to Ireland he was headed for the area he had been kept a slave, however as they say, with the luck of the Irish he was blown off course and then captured by some local peasants. He wasted no time in converting his pagan Irish captors to Christianity, starting with their leader.”

The 4 leaf clover is not, I repeat, not a shamrock.
Of course the most obvious difference is that the 4 leaf clover has, wait for it…4 leaves. The shamrock has 3.  Although clover is most often found in nature with three leaves, rare four-leaf clovers do exist. Finding one is thought to bring someone extreme luck. The folklore surrounding four-leaf clovers is that each leaf of a four-leaf clover represents something different: first is hope; the second is faith; the third is love; and the fourth is happiness.
Legend has it that St. Patrick used the shamrock with its three leaves  to visually illustrate the concept of the Trinity (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) when trying to convert pagans to Christianity.

4 leaf vs shamrock

If ever anything apart from the shamrock is associated with Ireland and the Irish it must be Guinness, the national drink. With its famous black body and soft creamy head, it is an icon of Ireland and its people — strong, smooth unhurried and extremely palatable. And no self-respecting Irish person would ever drink green beer.

Speaking of dying things green…I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when someone came up with the idea to dye the Chicago River green. I know there has to be a a tale of blarney behind that one. Don’t get me wrong. My favourite colour is green but I would have to draw the line on this one.

Chicago River Dyed Green

As for the wearing of the green, many simply believe it referred to wearing a shamrock, but an American tradition of pinching those not wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day was started in the 1700s in Boston, Massachusetts. It really has nothing to do with Ireland or St. Patrick. They thought if you wore green, it made you invisible to the Leprechauns, which was good because they would pinch anyone they could see. So the pinching is to warn and remind you about the Leprechauns.
OK, don’t get me started on these little guys…

Leprechauns

One of my favourite parts of St. Patrick’s Day (apart from all of the above) is getting to see the wee Irish dancers. When I was much younger I longed to join them with their wonderful bouncing curls. It was quite the blow when I found out that even their curls were just another part of the blarney.

Wee Irish Dancers

My apologies for the poor quality but I was well into the Guinness by then.

The absolute best stories are always based in some truth. The more you weave fact with fiction the better the chances your audience will not be able to tell the difference. The Irish are truly great story weavers. The masters of the tall tale. They really do have the gift of blarney. Much like most of us bloggers.

May your glass

be ever full.

May the roof over your

head be always strong.

And may you be

in heaven half an hour 

Before the Devil knows

you’re dead.

Slainte

Over The River

Canadians have been celebrating a lot this year. It’s not that we need an excuse to celebrate, but this year is special. “What are we celebrating? “ you might ask. Well, we are celebrating the very fact that we are Canadian! Some might say we are celebrating that we are not American. Yes, 200 years ago The War of 1812 sorted out who was who. Just this past weekend my home town had a huge re-enactment.

Every One Participates at The Battle of Queenston Heights Re-enactment Photo by Robin Biggar Argenta

Every One Participates at The Battle of Queenston Heights Re-enactment
Photo by Robin Biggar Argenta

A Colourful Day at The Battle of Queenston Heights Re-enactment Photo by Robin Biggar Argenta

A Colourful Day at The Battle of Queenston Heights Re-enactment
Photo by Robin Biggar Argenta

One of the other things the War of 1812 created was the Canada/United States border – the longest undefended border in the world. In many ways this border bonds us together far more than it separates us.

Canada Us Pipeline Border

Canada/United States Border – It looks a little different than this today.
Credit: National Film Board of Canada. Photothèque / Library and Archives Canada

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve crossed this border. I was born and raised in Niagara Falls, Ontario. There are four bridges that cross over the Niagara River linking our two countries – The Peace Bridge, The Rainbow Bridge, The Whirlpool (Lower) Bridge and the Queenston/Lewiston Bridge. I’m a “border kid”. This means I have spent my entire life crossing the border to the US, back and forth. Border kids have the distinction of being dragged half-naked “over the river” by their mothers since birth, then returning home wearing so many clothes we could play Ralphie’s little brother Randy in A Christmas Story. He was the kid who couldn’t put his arms down or get up when he fell, because his mom had him dressed like the Michelin Man. Yes, we were born and raised smugglers!

A Christmas Story

Do not fall down when dressed like this!

By the time I was in high school I was a pro. No, NOT a professional smuggler! But, by then it was second nature to cross over to the US on my own. I didn’t drive. I walked. In fact, it was a favourite activity for kids my age to skip school and take off over the river. They had really cool stores and the chances of getting caught by our parents were pretty much slim to none. We were always polite and never lied to the border guards, (Our parents were another story.) After all, the border guards had no sense of humour and carried guns. On one particular excursion we walked across the bridge, arm and arm and singing, “We’re off to see the wizard …” We were asked to stop singing but they let us continue into the US.

The Yellow Brick Road

Me (2nd from the left) and my buddies headed “Over the River”

On our way back to Canada, when they asked if we had anything to declare, I held my bag up and said, “just this pot”. We were immediately surrounded and I was relieved of my purchase. It was a little ceramic pot I had bought for 50¢ at a thrift store and still have to this day. I’m not sure who was more embarrassed, the Border Patrol or me.

My Wee Pot

My wee pot – 40 years later.

As a young adult, going over the river was a must. In the 70’s, the drinking age was 21 in Ontario and the bars closed at midnight or 1:00 am. Over the river, the drinking age was 18 and the bars were open until 2:00 am in one county and 4:00 am in another just minutes away. At some point the rules changed. Now, the drinking age in Ontario is 19 and the drinking age over the river is 21 – so the drinking crossovers have changed direction.

RAINBOW BRIDGE

Yes, it is that close

There was also a time when I had a business In Niagara Falls, New York and crossed back and forth over the border every day. In the summer the lineups on the bridge could be brutal and it was difficult to keep to a schedule. So, I hooked a crate to the back of my bicycle, loaded it with my briefcase, purse and heels, and rode to and from work every day. One day, one of the Customs Officials shared a story with me (one I am sure is an urban legend).

There was this fellow who crossed the bridge each day on a bicycle. He made the trip every day for many, many years. All the Customs Officials were sure he was smuggling something but never found anything on him. The man grew old and it came time for him to retire. He told the Customs Officials it was his last day, said good-bye and wished them well. One of the officials asked, “Please tell us before you go? “You’re free and clear now. “We’ve always suspected that you were smuggling something. “What was it?”

The man smiled and simply stated, “the bicycles.”

The Border

Almost there

We shared a piece of history that brought us together for a while. For 79 days during the 444 days of the Iran Hostage Crisis, former Canadian Ambassador, Ken Taylor and other Canadian Embassy staff, hid, protected and arranged for the escape of five Americans who had escaped from their Embassy when it was overrun. (President Reagan’s account of what happened.)
When it was finally made known to the public that the Americans were safely out of the country and that the Canadians were responsible, there appeared on the front page of our local paper a picture looking out across the Niagara Gorge to the escarpment on the other side. There was a giant banner hanging on the American side that was big enough you could read it while standing in Canada. It simply said, “THANK YOU CANADA”. I will never forget that sight. It could be because it appeared over night, or just knowing the manpower it would have taken to do such a thing. Or, could it be that it was the last time I remember an American saying “thank you”?

Thank You Canada

It was like this only really, really, really big

There was a Canadian movie made in 1981 about this called Escape from Iran: The Canadian Caper starring our very own Gordon Pinsent.
You won’t remember it. I’m sure it never even played in the US. You may, however, be aware of a little film called Argo that’s making the rounds right now. This version of the story, directed by Ben Affleck, stars Affleck and is a dramatization of the joint CIA-Canadian secret operation. Of course the emphasis is on the CIA’s part in it. I suppose we should be grateful that Canadians were even acknowledged.

Argo

The big attraction for people visiting Niagara Falls is, of course, the Falls. There are actually two sets of falls. The Canadian falls are called the Horseshoe Falls and are conveniently located in all their splendor to be enjoyed by anyone who comes to Niagara Falls, Ontario.

Canadian Horseshoe Falls

Canadian Horseshoe Falls

The American falls are called the American Falls (clever). Right beside it is a smaller waterfall called the Bridal Veil Falls. Both of these are also conveniently located in all their glory to be enjoyed by anyone who comes to Niagara Falls, Ontario. That’s right! You have to leave Niagara Falls, New York and cross over to Niagara Falls, Ontario to see the American Falls. I think this is where someone says “location, location, location”.

American Falls

American Falls & Bridal Veil Falls
(Maybe I should have stopped my car to take this one)

I still head over the river on a regular basis, even though these days I live much further away. No, there is no smuggling involved. You can’t live that close to the border and not have someone in the family marry the opposition. Now my sister lives there, my niece lives there and my grandniece lives there. That little girl is worth a trip over the river .

My Grandniece, Ellee

My Grandniece, Ellee

-30-

Silk Purse Productions

This post was originally written for a social experiment called “Canadica” and posted on October 23, 2012.  Canadica was the brainchild of Rebecca Donahue and was created as a joint project between Canadian and American writers. We had a lot of fun poking fun at each other. As you know I love our American neighbours very much, especially my American friends and family. Yes, that even means my brother-in-law, Bruce, who is a great source of amusement for me and helped me remember the drinking bits.  I have written other pieces for various blogs and recently discovered that some of those were lost because the owner of the site closed it down. This particular post was the first time (and so far…only time) I was “Freshly Pressed” so I did not want to risk losing it.

My Funny Valentine

There was a time when it was possible that someone might refer to me as a…you won’t believe it…as a “Party Girl”.  I know, I know. I said you wouldn’t believe it.

Wait a minute! *insert screeching brake noises here* I just looked up the definition of Party Girl from several sources: The Urban Dictionary (absolutely not printable on my blog), Merriam Webster, Wikipedia, etc. not one gave me the definition I thought applied to the term. I just asked He-Who his definition. He agreed with me (I know…it is a rare thing). Our definition of a Party Girl is someone who enjoys going to parties and perhaps indulges in a few too many libations. Although in this case, at the party I was going to tell you about, I had very little to drink. Not that I didn’t do my share of drinking at parties but at this particular soiree, I was working. Which brings me back to the most common definition of the term, Party Girl…”an attractive young woman hired to attend parties and entertain men”.  I was working at the party but I was not hired to attend or entertain men. The truth is I was working for free. Why do I feel like I just dug this hole deeper?

The group of friends I spent most of my time with liked to have house parties. Not just any kind of house parties, but themed house parties. Now these themes usually involved costumes. When people go to great lengths to create costumes for a themed party they often like to have photos to remember the occasion by. I was still making my living as a Photographer so it was implied that I would bring a camera and preserve the moment for future generations. This happened to be a St. Valentine’s Day Party. Now before you let your minds wander back to the beginning of the post, this is not what I am talking about.

cupid costumes

I’m not even talking about my own personal favourite for Cupid, Pygar from Barbarella…

Pygar

No. Not that at all.  Think more like this…

AL CAPONE

That’s right. We decided we would dress for the infamous St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.  I had intended to tell you how it remains the most notorious gangster killing of the prohibition era. I would have explained that the massacre that occurred at 10:30 a.m. on February 14, 1929  made Al Capone a national celebrity even though they could never prove he had anything to do with it. I might have even explained how two of the killers were even dressed as police officers and after the slaughter in the garage behind the offices of S.M.C. Cartage Company at 2122 North Clark Street in Chicago, the fake police were able to lead the other gunmen to freedom by pretending to have them under arrest. I think we are past all that now.

We created a staging area in the home the party was at. One complete wall was done up as “The East Side Garage” and we had bullet holes sprayed across the wall. The costumes were of Gangsters and Gun Molls. I brought in my studio lights and my Hasselblad and was able to get some pretty good quality fun shots. I’m the sober one holding the camera.

Valentines Day EAST SIDE VALENTINE DAY FOUR Valentines Day Michelle VALENTINES RICK AND MICHELLE VALENTINES RICK DERECK

Those people knew how to party! However, I will never again call them Party Girls, Party Boys or Party People.

Food Fight

Food plays a very important part in our everyday lives. It is our fuel and gives us sustenance so we can live. I would venture to say that from the beginning of time (however you feel that started) all living creatures knew instinctively that eating was integral to their survival. Over time, the reasons we eat have grown exponentially: boredom, stress, socially, cravings, gluttony … really any excuse can be given for eating. In my lifetime I have met very few people who follow the school of thought, “Eat to live, not live to eat”and He-Who is certainly not one of them.

Very early in our relationship I discovered the importance of food to He-Who. Perhaps I should have clued in with the endless stories of all the food that he missed from his native Winnipeg. Yes, I became well versed in how “Winnipeg is the Center Of The Universe” when it comes to food (among other things). When friends or family mentioned they would be coming to Ontario for a visit they were quickly provided with a list including rye bread, cabbage rolls, perogies, corned beef, etc. and where to get them. It didn’t matter if the travellers were his friends or family. If he overheard someone talking in a restaurant he would introduce himself and produce the list, asking if you thought they might bring some of this back with them. Believe me, over the years, all manner of unsuspecting folks have become He-Who’s food-mules.

Once, when his Mother came for a visit the giant suitcase containing the food went missing. We had made it all the way back to Niagara Falls from the Toronto airport. He was on the phone in minutes tracking down the bag and making arrangements for its rescue. It was not a happy visit until he was reunited with the misplaced food.

When I first met Patrick, one of his best friends from Winnipeg, we picked him up at the airport, confirmed his food baggage was accounted for and headed to one of He-Who’s favourite pizzerias. All the way there Patrick was educated on the fact that this pizza was “almost” as good as the pizza he used to eat in Winnipeg. We ordered our food and chatted.  He-Who excused himself for a minute and before he returned our food arrived. As I chatted with Patrick I took a nibble from He-Who’s plate. I like to share so that I can try different things. Patrick’s eyes almost popped out of his head as he tried to stop me. “What are you doing? Don’t do that! If you want this relationship to go anywhere for the love of God do not touch that man’s food!” I was amused by what I thought was Patrick’s over-reaction. When He-Who returned to the table I told him what had happened. He was not amused and pretty much told me to eat my own. Of course, Patrick had to tell the story of the time he tried to take a piece of pizza from him and it almost ended in a war. It seems He-Who ordered the pizza he wanted and then offered to buy Patrick one for himself. Patrick said he would just have a piece of his. He-Who adamantly said, “No you won’t. I will buy you your own”.  Patrick in his naivety declined his own pizza and did attempt to procure a piece from He-Who. A few stitches, a tetanus shot and several years later, Patrick timidly shows me the scar from He-Who defending his pizza with a fork.

FORK

Over the years most members of my family have gotten use to He-Whos peculiarities about food. In fact, they cater to him. If we are invited for a meal I can guarantee you it will be something He-Who likes and they have probably accosted some old Ukrainian Babushka for it. When they visit they come bearing rye bread and bagels for him. One sister even brought corned beef! They spoil him. When it comes to food he always gets his way. Until recently.

Bread

My sister Pat recently retired and because of this we have had the good fortune to spend more time with her. She brought with her a partial loaf of bread she thought I would like. That’s right. I said it was for me. Somehow over the past 17 or so years she had missed the extreme nature of He-Who’s love of food. The bread was delicious. I enjoyed it. He-Who loved it. When we enquired as to where she got it she didn’t know. My sister Lu had given it to her. Lu came to visit and brought another loaf  “for He-Who”.  We found out it was Miche Rye from Panera Bread.

Panera Bread Oakville

The most convenient Panera Bread to us is in Oakville, about 100k away. We pass it on our way to Niagara Falls on a regular basis. Our next trip to Niagara included a stop at Panera Bread. Pat was with us and we were dropping her in Niagara for a visit. She planned to pick up a loaf of bread to take with her. I planned to pick up two loaves and freeze one. We were all happy campers as we approached Oakville.  Most of you have been in a Panera Bread. As you enter, the wonderful aromas make your mouth water. We stood in line staring at all the yummy stuff on the shelves. Pat and I noticed at the same moment that there was only one loaf of Miche Rye left. We raced each other to the cashiers. I reached mine first and asked, “Is that your last loaf or is there more in the back?” My cashier said, “I will check” and disappeared. Pat reached the cashier second and stated, “I will take that loaf, please.” By the time my cashier came back to give me the bad news that there were no more, my sister had already paid for the last loaf. I was stunned. I was speechless. I had to make myself look at He-Who. There was an expression I have never seen on his face. He very quietly left the building and went outside. I watched him. Words were exchanged between Pat and myself. In her defence she was clueless when it came to He-Who and his food.   I went into the restroom to avoid having to go outside. Pat, thinking she was doing the right thing asked the cashier to split the loaf. Poor Pat. She just didn’t get it. There were more words exchanged as we got into the car. He-Who was silent. Pat was now outraged that there was such a fuss over a loaf of bread and asked, “If you had gotten it would you have split the loaf?” Without missing a beat I responded, “No”. He-Who reached over and patted my hand. The car was silent the rest of the way to Niagara Falls. I would like to say that was the end of it but sadly there was still some bread throwing to come.

Miche Rye Bread

After dropping Pat off we decided to continue to Niagara Falls, New York and visit the Panera Bread there. They had one loaf left. I bought it. You may be scratching your head right now when you realize that we actually entered into another country to get this darn bread, but as soon as it was in the car the atmosphere changed. All was right with the world. Well, He-Who’s world, anyway.

It occurs to me that I may have misled you in a previous post. I know this because a lot of you complimented me on my craftiness. The fact is, I’m really not very crafty. It’s all smoke and mirrors my friends. Just an illusion.

I try. I really do try but I’m not all that successful.

When I was a child my Mom knitted. She used to knit all kinds of wonderful things. The things that stick in my mind are sweater jackets. Do you remember them? They would have kittens, puppies, teddy bears or ice skaters on them. They had a big thick zipper to seal us inside their warmth.

sweater patterns

My little sister had a beautiful blue one with white fluffy kittens on it.

I can remember lots of knitting needles of various sizes, a plethora of patterns and wool. Lots and lots of wool. In those days it was bought in skeins and the first task was to find the end and have one of her daughters hold her hands apart so she could place the big loop of wool carefully over them as she wound the wool into a ball.  I suspect I pestered her to let me try, because I ended up with a wooden thread spool with four nails hammered in one end and she showed me how to do “Corking”. Every little scrap of wool left over was handed to me to make a multi- coloured masterpiece.

corkingTrue to form, I was determined to make a rug…not just a potholder. Twenty plus years later I had so much of this “corking” we had to roll it into a giant ball. It had become an entity unto itself and I finally left it in the custody of my brother-in-law who had room for it.

After my Mom passed away I decided I was going to learn how to knit, “just like her”. So I went for my Knitting Badge at Brownies. Do they still have Brownies?

Brownies

I learned to knit. I followed the pattern.Knit one, pearl two, etc. I got my Knitting Badge and that year everyone got “Pixie Slippers” for Christmas.  Many years later when I was ill I started knitting again. I invested in some wonderful, inexpensive but colourful wool. The plan was to keep it simple and just make scarves for everyone for Christmas. It was calming and kept me busy. My youngest sister stopped by one day to check on me. She was speechless. My lap was full of knitting and there was a pile on the floor. It seemed endless! She very tactfully asked me what I was working on. I told her. She suggested that perhaps this one was long enough. I started to cry and explained, “I know! But I don’t know how to stop. I never learned how to cast off. The only pattern I ever followed had you just thread through the loops and gather them into a toe.” Unfortunately, she didn’t knit. I was stuck.

My Grandmother passed away two years after my Mom. She didn’t like me much so I was surprised that she had left me her sewing machine. It was very old. I’m told it was one of the first electric models. No one in our family sewed but I was determined to figure it out. Through high school I made clothes for myself, always altering the pattern just enough to make it really weird. I did, however, make my high school boyfriend some wonderful corduroy shirts. Really, they were nice! It was the one pattern that worked for me so he ended up with several in many colours. In college, I decided to dress up my apartment with the cheapest fabric I could find. Burlap. You couldn’t sit on the couch without breaking out in a rash.

Sewing

When my sisters started having daughters, I decided I would make each girl child a special gift that could be kept forever. I found a pattern for dolls that were actually bigger than a one-year-old and that I could personalize. I worked really hard on them. A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into these dolls. I gave them little fingers and toes, a belly button and even a butt. Each one had a different colour hair and a complete outfit. They were beautiful and I was very proud of them. Oddly these dolls are not the dolls my nieces remember. They remember the mermaid dolls that I gave them the following year. They still have the mermaid dolls. I did not make the mermaid dolls. I had sworn off sewing after finishing the first set of dolls. I never wanted to see a sewing machine again. But…my then spouse gave me a brand new, fancy shmancy Singer sewing machine for Christmas. Needless to say, I got rid of him before the mermaids appeared.

Dolls

I still try to be “crafty”. I’m still not very good at it. Often there are just a lot of laughs at my expense. Occasionally though, there is a happy accident and something I make turns out.

Turkey

I just made this at Thanksgiving…not when I was five.

Got A Light?

Last week I was coming home from a Christmas party. My neighbour was at the wheel as we had car pooled and well, I don’t have a car anymore. I was a bit out of sorts. The place where the party was held had gotten way too hot and I started having a thundering headache fairly early on. Let’s just say I was not my usual jovial self. In fact, apparently, I was quite annoying as my chauffeur threatened to abandon me several times throughout the evening. On our way home this wonderful beacon of neighbourly joy decided to stop at the grocery store to pick up a few things so she could hunker in the next morning. Anyone who knows me understands that the one thing I can not tolerate is grocery shopping. I am truly blessed that He-Who loves to grocery shop and usually takes care of it. Upon occasion he has tricked me into going with him. You know … accidentally on purpose. His life is hell for the next day or so until I forgive him for his sin. Needless to say I could not let this go by with my neighbour.  I started protesting immediately. She had pretty much had enough and said, “Fine. Wait in the car.”  You all know I live in Canada, in the frozen north. It is December and after 10:00 pm so the sun has been down for hours. The temperature is sitting around -23C with the windchill. There is no way I am sitting in the car while she lolly gags around the grocery store. So, in I go. I call He-Who, tell him where I am and ask him if we need anything. I am smart enough to know to put the phone away from my ear as he hysterically laughs at me being in a grocery store. Believe me the cloud of darkness over my head is reaching its peak.

grocery store copy

After a much longer then anticipated exploration of every aisle in the store we paid for our goods and went back outside into the now cold car.  The remainder of the ride home was looking bleak and very quiet.  Quite frankly I was too busy sulking like a two year old to carry on a conversation. I know it is hard to believe but there I was headed for the naughty list in the fast lane.

Naughty or nice

The neighbourly one broke the silence.

“So what do you think of the lights behind us?”

“What lights?”

“What do you mean, what lights?”

“What lights? I don’t know what you are talking about?”

“What are you, freaking blind? When was the last time you look out your back window?”

“I look out it every day.”

The car got silent again. We were nearing home. Left turn onto Liverpool Road. One more right hand turn and I am home and this night is over! As I said this in my head I realized she was driving past our street. I swear I whined like a baby, “I live there.  You missed my street!” She took the very next right and my eyes popped out of my head! I was out of the car and snapping pictures all the while losing feeling in my fingers.

This, My Friends, is what is behind me…

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I was one happy camper and thanked my neighbour profusely for taking the time to show me and for making my night. See what I did there? Back on the good girl list.

Christmas Lights

When I started this post it was with full intention of going back and getting some better pictures and video so you could get the full effect. I was going to post it on the weekend. I mentioned previously I live in Canada. I live in Pickering, Ontario, which is part of the GTA (Greater Toronto Area). We had a pretty serious ice storm over the weekend and much of Toronto and the surrounding areas were left without power, heat, hot water – you know, all those comforts we have come to know and love – for days! By day two our cell phones were dead and I was longing for a hot tea. Remember that neighbour? She gathered up the phones and chargers, my electric kettle and all the thermoses and insulated cups we could find and drove to her office in the next town which had power back. When she returned we had charged phones and hot tea. We were fortunate that we have a gas fireplace to keep us warm and I slept on an airbed in front of it. As I type this it is Christmas Eve and my power returned this morning but there are still people without power and heat. The hydro guys have been working around the clock since Saturday to get every one back up and running in some of the bitterest winter weather I have ever experienced. They all deserve a medal and our undying gratitude.

Here is a sampling of images to give you an idea of how beautiful and deadly the ice storm was.

As I play catchup with my cleaning, baking and work I just wanted to take a few minutes to say how grateful I am we came through this unscathed, to ask you to say a little prayer for those who are still in the deep freeze and to wish you a very “Merry Christmas”. Stay warm!

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