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OMG The Horror!

It has taken me some time to write about this. Partly out of humiliation and partly because I gag every time I think about it.

There were a lot of changes in my household this spring. I realized I was coming up to a rather large number on the birthday scale next year and had better do something to get into better shape before I completely fell apart. I started walking every day in March and by the end of April had worked my way up to 5 miles a day. Along with actually moving physically I started back on my healthier eating plan. That means lots of veggies, fruit and chicken.

He-Who made some changes as well. Not exercise or eating healthy…don’t be ridiculous! That won’t happen until we find a diet that is developed around the consumption of Fresh Cut French Fries. For some reason…it may have had something to do with my Banjo Boy post, or the comments that resulted…he decided to find a new banjo teacher and start lessons again. He went faithfully for several weeks and practised every day. That is until the banjo injuries surfaced. He sounded like Ringo Starr at the end of Helter Skelter, “I’ve got blisters on my fingers!” Ok, maybe it was more like this…

Then came the bruising of his arm because he didn’t have an arm rest on the banjo. Professionals were consulted and arrangements were made to have an armrest installed by the only person qualified in the GTA.  That would be Grant MacNeil at the Twelfth Fret Guitar Shop in downtown Toronto. Unfortunately, Grant was only available on Saturday, when He-Who was not. That left me, always the encouraging spouse, to make the trek into Toronto with He-Who’s prized possession. I’m not a fan of tackling the “Big City” at the best of times, but to be responsible for a musical instrument that was worth more than I am, seemed to be a tranquillizer-worthy-task. Promises were made. He-Who was to put it in the case and Grant was to take it out and put it back in so that I never had to actually touch the banjo.  All I had to do was pick out the arm rest that matched. I did not want that added responsibility but eventually agreed.  On my way home I planned to run some errands and pick up a few groceries. There was a sale at the place where I purchase my frozen chicken breasts — M & Ms — and it was a good opportunity to stock up.

boneless-chicken-breasts

I was one hot mess by the time I got to the Twelfth Fret. There is no air in my car and as you know we have had some bitchin’ hot weather this year. My anxiety over having custody of the banjo just added to my level of sweat. Grant made the whole procedure relatively painless. It took very little time and it wasn’t long before the banjo was in its case and laying across my back seat, headed homeward. I stopped only to purchase three boxes of frozen chicken breasts on my way home.  I made sure I locked up my car like a vault while I ran inside the M & M store. I threw the chicken in the trunk and drove the final couple of kilometres without incident.  When I got home I carefully got the banjo inside, up the stairs, and laid it on one of the love seats in the living room. I collapsed on the couch watching the banjo like it was going to make a run for it. I swear at least one tear of relief slid down my cheek.

That was Saturday. On Thursday I went for my walk and came home to jump in the shower. I was feeling pretty good when I wrapped myself in a towel and walked out to the kitchen to prepare some chicken. I like to cook several pieces at a time to make it worth while turning on the oven and so I have a supply on hand already cooked. It helps me to not be tempted to have something less healthy. There I stood wrapped in a towel, with another on my head, searching in the freezer for my chicken. I couldn’t find it. It wasn’t there! What the hell!? I just bought some…the light bulb went on.

“Oh My God! Oh My God! Oh My God!” was all I could get out for the first several seconds. He-Who sauntered up to see if he could be of assistance. I just screamed at him, “Oh My God! O My God! Go out to my car right now and see if the chicken is still in the trunk!” Poor He-Who. He ran like that few seconds was going to save everything. He ran right back in carrying the bag with three boxes of not frozen chicken through the house and into the kitchen. I had smelled it as soon as he opened the door. It dripped all through the house and ended up in the sink. Do I have to explain to any one of you how gross three boxes of rotten chicken is? There are 8-12 pieces in each box, which means 24-36 pieces of dead chicken flesh were stinking up my house and dripping in my sink. By the time I was finished disinfecting the floors and the kitchen and the sink I know my face looked much the same as those rotting pieces of chicken. I gagged through the whole thing and was in a panic about what to do with the evidence. There is no way it was staying at the same address I was at. I wrapped it in plastic bag after plastic bag until I ran out of plastic bags. He-Who drove, I was in the passenger seat and the smell was in the trunk. I was sure I was going to pass out. We had to get rid of it. Someplace that would have collection the next morning, someplace that would not scare patrons from going inside to eat, SOME PLACE WE NEVER GO.  We finally found a spot and like thieves in the night, He-Who stopped right in front of it. It wasn’t looking good for me getting out of the car so he gallantly got out and grabbed the offending package from the trunk. As he approached the garbage can a man in shorts, no shirt, riding a bicycle pulled up to him and started talking. There he stood, literally holding the bag, talking to this strange man for what seemed like a lengthy period of time. I was about to have a stroke and probably puke all over the car. The man finally moved on and my He-Who dropped the bag in the bin and got back in the car. I stared at him and asked what the hell was all the socializing all about. I kid you not, this is what he said, “He asked me where the Aren’t We Naughty store was. I didn’t know so we were taking about where it might be.” I looked him in the eye and pointed to where the local sex toy shop is. It might have been the ashen colour of my skin or the gagging but he didn’t asked me how I knew where it was.

Needless to say, I haven’t been able to even look at chicken since. When ever our paths cross all I see is this. Oh My God, The Horror!

chicken-trump

Google Image

Banjo Boy

A year has passed. Maybe a little more. I think I can talk about it now…in a calm and reasonable manner. Last year, just before my birthday, HeWho asked me what I wanted for my birthday. Being a woman of a certain age and us being a couple with limited funds, my response was that I really didn’t need anything and that I didn’t think it was necessary that we exchange gifts anymore. My response was accepted valiantly with no argument and he returned his focus to his computer. Our desks are in extremely close proximity to each other. I work from home so I am pretty much on my computer what seems like 24-7 (at least my clients think so). I knew that he was spending an inordinate amount of time on his computer — something, I have to say, I am not comfortable with. I find it disconcerting when he is right there all the time. In fairness, he was doing nothing to disturb me from working. He wears headphones or earbuds to keep the sound to a minimum but occasionally it bleeds out into my ear space. What I heard was banjo music! That should have been my first clue.

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It really didn’t concern me. He had just shipped his banjo out to Kelowna, BC for his grandson Tristan.

Tristan

Tristan

Silly me. You see, HeWho is a lover of music and musical instruments. We have quite a collection of exotic musical instruments on display ranging from a Tamböa to a Djembé. There is even a Didgeridoo. None of them get played, although occasionally they get played with. Stringed instruments, however, seem to be his first love. Several years ago I gave him a Liberty Resonator guitar for Christmas. It was a thing of beauty. He gave it to his grandson, Eric, in Niagara Falls last year.

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Eric

Shortly after shipping the banjo out west to  Tristan in, he started hanging out at the local music store. I didn’t pay much attention as it was my busy time of year, work-wise. As long as he was amusing himself, I didn’t have to. I’m not sure when he actually brought the new guitar into the house. It was snuck in and discovered by me later. Once it was out in the open and he could discuss it there came the little hints. “It really isn’t what I wanted.” “It’s not a very good one.” “I don’t really like it.” Within a week the guitar was returned and replaced with a more expensive model. Fine. (Yes, that is the “fine” that only we women can issue and know that really, it is not fine.)  Now, did I mention how much time was being spent on the computer/internet? It got extremely intense for a while. I was getting really annoyed. Supper would go cold before he would come to the table. It would take him forever to get to something I asked him to do. I confess my patience was wearing thin. Then one day he played a video he wanted me to see.

At the time, it was one of those “That’s nice, dear”, moments and I went back to work. Every day, mention was made of the banjo in the video and stories were told. Every day he would have to remind me, “You know, I showed you the video”. The penny finally dropped…about an hour before the UPS guy showed up at the door.

NEW GUITAR

Oh, yeah. He bought it. The rest of the day went kind of like this…

“Just because I said I didn’t want anything for my birthday didn’t mean that you were supposed to buy yourself something!”

“You just spent a small fortune shipping the banjo you already had out west!”

“Why didn’t you just keep the one you had?”

It went on and on but even I can’t remember the full rant of my rage.  It was weeks before I even found out how much it cost. Of course, once he had it, we also had to get a special case for it. We drove to Aurora to Rickard Banjos to pick up a case. This was probably the first time I actually looked at the new banjo. Dang! It was beautiful. All of the luthiers made a fuss over it. They are really great guys and their work is amazing. But there was no way I was going to confess to HeWho how beautiful I thought his banjo was or how much I enjoyed the visit to Rickard Banjos. After all, I only went so he wouldn’t buy anything else.

The following week I thought HeWho was feeling sorry for me because I had broken my toe the night before. He wanted to take me into Toronto for a “concert”. The concert turned out to be two guys set up in a really tiny music store playing…you guessed it…banjos. I sat on a really uncomfortable, rickety stool for a couple of hours with my foot throbbing. After it was over I found out that one of the guys was the person who HeWho was signing up for lessons with. And therein lies the rub. You see, HeWho doesn’t actually play. He loves the banjo, the music and the backroom stories the players have to share. He just doesn’t play.

Copy of 2015-12-30 10.09.56

 

Our road trip this winter took us to a rest stop in Virginia. As I got out of the vehicle I heard the banjo music playing and saw the sign. I said, “It looks like we’ve stumbled upon your people.” He grinned from ear to ear.

A year has passed and I am still waiting to hear some banjo music from my Banjo Boy.

First, let me say right now…if you’re reading this because you think it’s about basketball, move along. Sorry to disappoint, but I’m not sure why I even know that “March Madness” has something to do with basketball.

Token Basket Ball Image

Token Basket Ball Image

March can get a little crazy. When it comes to weather, one might even say it is bi-polar. One day you’re getting emergency winter storm warnings, with “polar” temperatures and record snowfalls. The next day the sun is shining and you are tempted to walk about in your shorts. Let’s face it, we are Canadians — there was a lot of shorts-wearing going on.

Canadians in shorts

If your sanity relies on sending your kids off to school every morning, you may be walking a thin line right now.  There were “Snow Days” with the kids home from school, then “March Break” let them off for an entire week! If you made it through the break and are breathing a sigh of relief that you all survived…think again. It’s a short week. Good Friday gives them another day off: lots of time to sort out Easter outfits, Easter dinner and hiding eggs…right?

Easter Bunny Pancakes

If the weather didn’t confuse you, there is always the calamity that goes with changing our clocks to Daylight Saving Time. Some people will always be confused. Try to remember we “Spring” forward and “Fall” back. That’s right. We lost an hour of precious sleep on the 14th.

Spring Forward

HeWho went out west for a couple of weeks to visit his daughter and grandkids. That meant I could have a “girls weekend”. There is only one rule about girls weekend. We don’t talk about girls weekend…sort of like Vegas. It’s a whole special kind of crazy!

The one day of the year that you are officially allowed to be as whacky as you want is March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day. The “Wearin’ of the Green” can make for some strange outfits, some I may or may not have worn myself. It’s acceptable behaviour. No one will lock you up.

Wearing of the green

I may or may not be related to these people and they may or may not be wearing stuff that belongs to me.

You can pretty much find anything and everything coloured green…your food, your drinks, buildings and even bodies of water.

Niagara Falls goes green

Niagara Falls…Slowly it turned…green.

There is one day in March when I actually wake up a year older than when I went to bed. That sucks, but I celebrate on St. Patrick’s Day so I can go nuts and nobody notices. Well, they might actually notice that I am one that walks that thin line. You see I received a “Stress Reliever” for my birthday.

 

Stress Paul

“Stress Paul”

It’s a stress ball called “Stress Paul”. In case you can’t read it, here is what it says:
• Don’t get stressed…Take it out on Paul
• When you’re feeling stressed, punish Paul to keep your sanity.
• When the pressure is too much to handle, squeeze Paul

Best present ever! STRESS PAUL! How perfect is that.  For those of you who don’t know…this is the only time I will mention it…after that he goes back to being incognito…HeWho’s real name is Paul. I repeat, best present ever! STRESS PAUL! How perfect is that.

Did I mention we also officially welcomed the March Equinox whose dual identity is called “spring”, on Sunday, March 20th, 2016? Yes, spring has definitely sprung and I might have a screw loose.

Minion Screwloose

There is one thing that has really put me over the edge and that is THIS March MADNESS…

REAL MARCH MADNESSEnough said!

What Vacation?

It has been over eight years since HeWho and I went somewhere warm and sunny for a vacation. We decided it was time, so in January we drove to Florida for a few weeks. We still haven’t been somewhere warm and sunny.

Our “adventure” was originally to begin on Dec. 17, 2015.  We were going to head to Nashville first, on to New Orleans and finally to Cape Coral to the home of friends. Unfortunately, a few days before that my car wouldn’t start. CAA was called and one service call, a brand new battery and a ding on my credit card later I was good to go. Eventually, I headed out to our favourite butter tart place to pick up some Christmas baking. Doo Doo’s is an award winning bakery and well worth the drive out to the boonies known as Bailieboro. Well, that is until you come out of there laden down with pastries…but your car won’t start. It was a good thing I didn’t ignore the CAA renewal notice a week earlier. My car was towed back to Pickering. 12366244_10156329983160424_3469038405173141059_nOur departure date was moved to Dec. 20th and we crossed New Orleans off our route while we waited to hear the verdict about my car. Did you know a new starter costs over $500? That was the good news. There was another $3,000 plus worth of repairs recommended. But we continued to make plans and finish up our Christmas preparations. I headed back to the boonies to complete my errands and HeWho headed to the local mall. He didn’t have much luck so he called me to meet him at the bigger mall that was between where I was and where he was. We were able to find everything he was looking for in record time and we headed home in our separate vehicles. Within minutes my phone rang. HeWho had pulled out of the mall and his front axle snapped.  Did I mention I had just renewed our CAA? The good news was that we weren’t half way to Florida when it happened as this was the car we had wanted to take. The decision was made to scrap the car and our trip was postponed until Dec. 26th. Nashville was now off the itinerary. We scrambled to sort out a new vehicle.  That just wasn’t going to happen over the Holidays. My sister in Lewiston, New York, graciously welcomed us as last minute guests for Christmas dinner. My brother-in-law gave my car the once over on Dec. 26th and didn’t think we’d have any problems taking it to Florida, so we drove back home (east of Toronto) to make a new plan. On Dec. 28th I was casually trying to get as much work done as possible before starting to pack. HeWho was on line researching cars and checking weather reports. Suddenly, he stood up. “There’s an ice storm coming. “Let’s get the hell out of here.” I’m pretty sure we broke all kinds of records getting packed (only by the very loosest definition of the word) and loading the car. We headed southwest and ended up smack dab in the middle of the ice storm.  Things were not going well inside or outside the vehicle. We stopped overnight before crossing the border. It was the only way to make sure we weren’t killed in the storm. Or killed by each other.

I would like to say that things went smoothly after that, but I’d be lying. My car is a stick. HeWho is really not comfortable driving it. Around the second time I heard him grind the gears I realized I really wasn’t comfortable with him driving it either. So all but about 200K of the 5,500K (round trip) were driven by me. We arrived in Cape Coral in time to have dinner with our hosts on New Year’s Eve. That was right about when the temperatures plummeted and we said good bye to the sunshine. We weren’t that worried about the weather. It was still warmer than it was at home and our friends had an enclosed, heated pool.  Of course the pump broke the day we got there and the pool started getting colder and turning a funny colour. Ever the optimist, or as HeWho likes to call me, “Polyanna”, I still bought a bathing suit and a sunhat because I was sure the sun would return or the pool would be fixed before we headed home. Neither happened, but HeWho was amused at my attempts to swim while turning purple and goose bumpy.

Our hosts were wonderful. They welcomed us into their beautiful home and were extremely gracious about our bickering. Even with the weather not co-operating they went out of their way to keep us amused. They made sure we got to see everything and go everywhere we wanted to go. We had pre-arranged a trip to Key West via a catamaran from Fort Myers. Let’s just say…it wasn’t like this…

It was really cold and the water was pretty rough. On the way back it was even colder and rougher. I lost my sweater upon arrival and was freezing. HeWho began throwing up about 30 seconds after he took Dramamine. We had it under control with barf bags until the bag broke and he ended up covered in puke. The crew was kind enough to let us know (after the fact) that we should have double bagged. For four hours he sat there covered in the stuff while continuing to fill up barf bags. “HeWho” became “HeaveHo”. Every time I tried to help, my sympathy gag reflex would kick in and I’d look away. There were, however, more people being sick than not. I ventured to the stern and people were lying on the floor, bags covering their mouths.  By the time we hit not so dry land we were all shaken by the experience and it was a pretty quiet ride back to the house.

On Saturday, January 9th, we went to the amazing Cape Coral Festival of the Arts. I even got to use my hat for an hour. The rest of the day was spent relaxing, reading, eating, and of course me attempting to have a swim in the pool. Shortly after supper I started not feeling right. Within minutes I was in agony. Every place I had ever felt pain hurt like hell. I took some pain killers but they didn’t touch it. I excused myself and went to lie down. I knew I was about to lose it and didn’t want to cry in front of our friends. I was lying on the bed in the dark, trying to figure out what was going on and what to do about it. Suddenly, the whole room lit up. Then I heard a commotion at the front door. HeWho had gone outside for a smoke. He lit up, the sky lit up, and the hair on his legs stood straight out. That was the shortest smoke break he’s ever taken. Oh yes…there was a storm a ‘brewin. We decided to watch Jeopardy at 7:30 but at 7:40 the program was interrupted with an emergency weather report about the tornado that had touched down in Cape Coral. Not just any tornado. This was “the strongest tornado in the past 60 years“!

We left the next morning.

It was 24°C (75°F) when we left. We were wearing shorts and no sleeves. By the time we got off the road that night it was -3°C (26°F) and we had stopped several times to change and add layers. We awoke the next morning to the news that David Bowie had passed away — news that I was unable to cope with then, or, quite frankly, now. A celebrity death has never impacted me in this way before.  It seemed imperative that I get home as quickly as possible. You know that wasn’t going to happen. We got as far as Erie, Pennsylvania, that night before the blinding snow storm forced us off the road.

Snow Storm

January 12, 2016 • I90 Erie PA

Anxious to be on our way the next morning we were disappointed to hear the highways were closed. I’m nothing if not determined and I needed this trip to end. We found our way, slowly and carefully, on a white knuckle route along Lake Erie. Then, magically, as we approached Buffalo, the sun broke through and the snow disappeared.

We crossed into Canada, picked up HeWho’s new ride and headed home.

A few weeks later, I was celebrating Chinese New Year with colleagues over lunch. I finished telling them about my “vacation” and opened my fortune cookie. When we saw what was inside, everyone caught their breath. Fortune 2016

I’d say that pretty much sums it up.

 

 

Puzzling

Life can be puzzling. I know mine certainly has been. Puzzles have always been a part of my life. So many kinds! He-Who loves to do the Crosswords and I have always enjoyed a good Jumbo Sudoku. These days, however, they frustrate me more than anything but I have to keep doing them for therapy.

SudokuThere were always Jigsaw Puzzles under the Christmas tree when I was a child. I can’t really tell you whose name appeared on the gift tag, but once opened, it became community property. In our home, we had a card table that would go up when the puzzle beckoned to be put together. Then, all the pieces would be dumped on the table. Someone would start turning them right side up, one at a time, and moving them to an edge of the table. Someone else would join in and start assembling the straight edges of the puzzle. Then, someone else, hovering and watching, would see a piece that fit, lean in, pick it up and place it into the picture. Before you knew it, we would all be sitting around and filling in the blanks. Many hours were spent this way with my sisters when I was a child — passing around the box cover to get a good look at what we were creating. At times there was no conversation, just concentration. Other times there would be giggling and laughing and stories shared. I’d forgotten about that. The puzzles stopped after my Mom passed and we were separated at various times and places.

As a young adult living on my own without a lot of disposable income, puzzles came back into my life. One caught my eye and it wasn’t long before I had the card table set up and was sorting out the pieces. After that, seldom would you enter my apartment without a puzzle at some stage of creation, welcoming you. Often, people who came by would end up sitting with me, coffee in hand (OK, more likely Scotch… depending on the time of day) catching up with each other while working on the puzzle.

house puzzleThere were a couple of issues with my jigsaw…shall we say, “habit”. I couldn’t stand to take them apart after they were done. I would find a board and glue the pieces down so that they’d stay put. Sometimes I’d have them framed and give them to someone to “proudly” (my word, not theirs) display in their home. Eventually I discovered plaquing. A nice coat of decoupage and then off to the plaquing place I would go. It would be mounted, sealed with a plastic coating and it was ready to be hung. I’m not sure if habit is the right word, perhaps addiction or obsession is more like it. One particular cold, snowy day, I came home early in the afternoon because of a blizzard. I remember walking into my apartment, glad for the warmth. From where I stood an illusive puzzle piece caught my eye. My thick gloves flew off as I walked over to the table. I triumphantly placed the piece where it belonged. Several hours later, I heard the phone ringing from somewhere far away. It was insistent and getting louder. It was my phone. As I walked to answer it in the kitchen (no cells back then), I noticed the storm must have gotten worse, it was so dark out. My friend said, “I just wanted to check that you made it home safely before I went to bed.” I was surprised she was going to bed so early in the day. Except she wasn’t. It was well into the night. I had been standing for hours, working on that puzzle. I hadn’t taken off my winter coat, boots, hat or scarf. I hadn’t sat down, drank, ate or even had a pee for crying out loud!

Most of the time I tend to think and work as if I am piecing together a puzzle. In the edit suite at the TV station it was always about piecing together a story. When I am writing I often have a beginning and an ending but need to make the stuff in the middle fit together. Once, I set up a puzzle in the lunch room at the TV station. It was a welcome distraction for everyone. We were having trouble making something work on the studio floor and with tension mounting and personalities flaring, a lunch break was called. After a bit of teamwork on the puzzle we returned and things just fell into place.

Put together by Staff and Crew at CTS TV.

Put together by Staff and Crew at CTS TV.

Over the years I tried to find more challenging puzzles. I tried a black and white one of a vampire and his prey. My nephew ended up with that one. Next I tried a round one. No corners. No problem. Then I got into mosaics. The first one I did was fun. It was a huge Mickey Mouse. The image was actually made up of thousands of little tiny cells from the original Disney animations and it hung on our wall for years.

Mickey Blog

The second…and last mosaic I did was the hardest. Not because of its level of  difficulty, but because of the emotional impact it had on me. It was of the New York City Skyline prior to 9/11. This photomosaic was designed by Robert Silvers and created from thousands of miniature photographs of people lost in 9/11. I cried for every one of the 1,026 pieces of that puzzle and saw those faces in my sleep for some time. It was plaqued and hangs in my brother-in-law’s home in Lewiston, New York.

Twin Towers pieces blog

Somewhere along the line, my older sister came to visit. When she saw I was working on a puzzle she went to it and started working. I was shocked. I said, “I didn’t know you liked to do puzzles.” She was quite surprised. “Of course I do. We all do. There was always one on the go when we were kids.” How could I have forgotten that? It was the closest I’d felt to family in a long time.

Michelle Puzzle

The puzzle pieces of my life haven’t always fit together perfectly. Quite frankly, there will always be pieces missing. But every once in a while, I find a piece and fill in another section. When I was 27, I met my birth father and three sisters I hadn’t known. More pieces that I wasn’t sure how to make fit.  A couple of years ago I moved back to Niagara Falls for a few months. I was able to spend time with old friends and family that still lived in the area. It was also an opportunity to spend some time with one of my “newer” sisters. The only thing she has ever asked me to do turned out to be one of my most cherished gifts. She wanted me to get to know her daughter Jane, who was only 10 at the time. I had no clue what to do. I’ve spent tons of time with nieces and nephews that I have known from the time they were born. I’ve baby sat, we’ve had adventures and special times. I love them all. All of a sudden I am looking at my sister thinking, “How can I do this without a history?” As usual I was skint and couldn’t take Jane places or buy her things. But I wanted to know this beautiful child as much as her mom wanted me to.

I showed up on their doorstep with…wait for it…a jig-saw puzzle in hand and nervous as hell. In all honesty, I think her father wasn’t too impressed and thought I might be missing a few “pieces” myself. Over the next few months we put puzzles together and really got to know each other. Jane’s piece fits perfectly in my heart and I will always be grateful that I was given the opportunity to know her. We even found a portable case for puzzles. Now we can keep one on the go for whenever I visit and it can easily be put away until the next time.

Puzzling Jane

I’m thinking that it’s time to start a new puzzle — at home. There are a few people around I’d like to get to know a little better. Yes, life can be quite the puzzle.

 

Summer?

It seems like it was just my last post I was complaining about February never ending and all of a sudden it’s September. Oh, wait…that was my last post. Shame on me. I won’t insult you with a long list of excuses. I’m pretty sure we have all been there done that. It just seems that I have become quite consistent in abandoning my writing. Truth be told I don’t abandon it entirely. I do continue to write. It’s just that I write for other people.  Most of my day is spent in front of the computer writing blog posts, web content, brochures and social media posts for clients. Much like the cobbler’s children not having any shoes, my personal blog tends to be the last thing that gets written.

Some of you may recall a couple of my posts about the area I live. Picking Pickering and Living Next Door To William H. Macey tell you about a couple of my favourite places in the Durham Region. There is, however, so much more. Most of my clients are all over Canada and the US, but I have one, The Stacee-Free Team from Mincom New Choice Realty Ltd., who is local. There is no one in the Durham Region who knows more about their community than these people and they make it their business to be the go-to people about it. Their blog is called “Discovering Durham” and that’s exactly what I get to do for them. Since my last post I have gone to a Maple Syrup Festival, witnessed people Floating Their Fanny Down The Ganny, participated in a Run To Remember, celebrated at a Pow Wow, laughed my butt off at people using a Marshmallow for a Golf Ball and wrote about a family that has made Tree Top Zip Lining a family affair. Granted, I usually end up burnt to a crisp, dehydrated and sore but I have a blast gathering what I need to write about this stuff.

On a personal note, I broke a couple of toes and lost a dear cousin and a lovely sister. None of which I felt like writing about. I also had quite a few visitors this summer. My always whining about no one coming to visit kind of backfired on me this year and I almost installed a revolving door. Truth be told, I loved every minute of it. As you may have gathered, there is no lack of places to go and things to do when company is here. There are beaches and trails to explore, butter tarts to sample and race horses to bet on, but the number one place everyone wants to go is “Primitive Designs“. It’s not easy describing this place. From the second you drive in every one of your senses goes into overdrive. They tell us,

“Our 8000 square foot gallery (as well as numerous outdoor tents), can occupy your time for hours! Our marketplace atmosphere, complete with music from around the globe, takes you on a journey from Bali, Thailand, & Nepal, to Morocco, India, & Vietnam! Everything in the gallery is hand-made, and the company owners handpick every item. In fact it’s rated #1 on Trip Advisor amongst Canada’s Top Roadside Attractions.”

It can be overwhelming, especially when this is one of the first things you see.

1

2

This guy is over 20 feet high, 40 feet long and made entirely out of recycled motor vehicle parts. If a T-Rex doesn’t do it for you…how do you feel about giant robots?

3

Keep in mind we haven’t yet ventured inside. This place is a feast of colour, textures and things made out of other things you would never have imagined.

outside horse

outside tiki hut

outside welcome

Ok, I’ll put you out of your misery. Let’s go inside.

inside 1

inside 2

Let’s face it. There is no way I can show you everything. I’ve been there several times and still haven’t seen everything. You can’t just look at what’s in front of you. You have to look up and down and all around. Here’s a sampling.

A recent news story has proclaimed Primitive Designs definitely a selfie-worthy stop.

Believe it or not I saw Theresa Caputo (The Long Island Medium) here locally, attended “The Queen’s Plate” (picture Kentucky Derby but Canadian) and drove to Connecticut for a few days, where I fell in love with Mystick ( of Julie Roberts’ Mystic Pizza fame). I guess you could say I have managed to keep myself occupied.

So, how was your summer?

The End Is Near

It’s almost over. The end is near.
I am not predicting armageddon or the rapture. I’m talking about February. That’s right, the shortest month of the year is finally coming to an end. How is it, then, that February can feel like the longest month I have ever had to endure?

You may think that I am being a bit of a Drama Queen here but I am not alone on this one. In fact, here in Canada a few years back it was decided that there should be a long weekend somewhere in the middle of February. I say “somewhere”, because just like February gets confused about how many days it should have (28 or 29), Canadians can’t figure out which Monday should be a Holiday. Most provinces, including my own (Ontario), take the third Monday off. Others take the second Monday. Now, for my American friends, this meant that my February Holiday fell on your Presidents Day. Happy Birthday Mr. Washington. Our Holiday is called Family Day. I kid you not. Someone who was probably suffering from cabin fever and the winter blues combined, thought it would be a good idea to guilt people into spending time together as a family and give them a day to do it. I have always resented this Holiday. I don’t have kids and have always considered it as yet another slap in the face for being barren. I’m not alone in this one either folks. There are a lot of people out there that are childless and single. Speaking of single, guess what else happened on this long weekend? Think about it…you’re almost there…yep, you’ve got it. Valentine’s Day was on the Saturday.

bitch slap cupid

Talk about adding insult to injury. Seriously, I know people who just wanted to stay in bed all weekend with a pillow over their head. Fortunately, I have He-Who and we had a lovely evening out listening to Frank Sinatra Jr. (he said it was the longest two hours of his life but that’s another story). Quite frankly, I don’t know why a family, any family for that matter, has to be given a Holiday to spend time with each other and why any couple needs the pressure of a specific day to be “romantic”.  I think the writing was on the wall for this long weekend when it started on Friday the 13th. Unless you are this guy, that’s not the luckiest day.

Freddy Krueger

Photo: 7Themes.com

It didn’t stop there. Saturday, February 14th was International Book Giving Day and it also happened to be Hockey Day In Canada. As a people we Canadians tend to take our hockey pretty seriously (except in this house) but can you imagine some of the conversations between couples about how to spend Valentine’s Day when there were hockey games playing back to back to back all day long?

halifax.ca/hockeyday

Photo: halifax.ca/hockeyday

Sunday, February 15th was the 50th Anniversary of our Canadian Flag. That’s right 50 years ago we said good bye to the Union Jack and welcomed home the Maple Leaf Forever. 

Union Jack Maple Leaf

Tuesday, February 17th…Pancake Tuesday. OK, so it’s really called Shrove Tuesday and if you are Christian it is the last day before the long fast for lent. It doesn’t matter if you are Christian or not, if pancakes are being served Canadian’s will be there and they’ll bring the maple syrup. It’s a tradition!  This is also the day that kicks off most Winter Carnivals, our version of Mardi Gras.

Maple Syrup

Wednesday, February 18th is Ash Wednesday. Not being a Catholic, I can remember as a little kid telling all my little Catholic friends that they had dirt on their foreheads.

Ash Wednesday

Thursday, February 19th. Happy Ewe Year!!! It’s the year of the sheep. Everyone celebrates Chinese New Year, usually by overeating at a buffet and figuring out what animal they are in the Chinese horoscopes.

Chinese New Year

I ate so much I couldn’t focus!

On Friday, February 20th you can celebrate Yukon Heritage Day. You get a day off work and you can join in on the annual winter celebration known as the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous.

Are you exhausted yet? I haven’t even mentioned that we started out on February 1st with Superbowl Sunday (congratulations to the New England Patriots)  followed by February 2nd, Groundhog Day. If I were a groundhog I would never come out. If you happen to be Jewish you may also have celebrated Tu B’Shevat which is known as the “New Year for Trees”, on February 4th. Have I mentioned that the entire month of February is Black History Month?

Black History Month

Photo: thelegacyposter.com

Now let’s talk about the iceberg in the room. Quite literally. Almost daily, for the entire month of February we have woken up and gone to sleep under extreme cold weather alerts and record breaking below normal temperatures.  Blinding snow, gale force winds and bitter cold have been never ending. I know we are Canadian and supposed to be used to this weather, but enough is enough!

Hoar Frost

I like the name of this. We have all been Winter’s whore this year.

I can’t tell you how grateful I am that this is not a leap year. I don’t think I would make it through another day of February. Now excuse me, I have to go find something pink to wear because today is National Pink Shirt Day.

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