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Have you ever had the honour of seeing the Golden Bear? Legend has it that the Golden Bear had no equal. The Golden Bear is believed to be a symbol of strength, wisdom and good fortune.

Here is my story of my encounter with the Golden Bear. Although he didn’t look like this one, in my humble opinion he has no equal and definitely is a symbol of strength, wisdom and good fortune.

Back in the ’70s…yes, I do remember parts of them but some dates are a little foggy so I will just say mid ’70s I went off to college for the first time. I had enrolled in the Professional Photography Program at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario. I moved to Oakville early in the spring so that I could get sorted and find work before the school year started in September. I found a place to live behind the Towers Plaza (it isn’t there anymore). For the next several months I worked three jobs. Mornings I was a chambermaid at the Holiday Inn (it isn’t there anymore), afternoons I was a cashier at Dominion (it isn’t there anymore). In the evenings I babysat (those kids are long gone). Eventually I settled into the mad race between jobs. As anyone will tell you being a chambermaid is not very glamorous and there are times when things get a little…oh, those are stories for another day. However, occasionally rarely you found a room that was actually a pleasure to clean. This room, or perhaps I should call it a “den” was occupied by a nice young fellow who was a “permanent” resident  for a lengthy period of time. One day he asked if I would mind if he stayed in his room while I made the bed and cleaned the facilities. I didn’t see it as a problem. You can tell a lot about someone from cleaning their room and his lack of mess and general politeness was good enough for me. After that, he would stay in his room while I worked and he would chat about what he was doing there, far from home and his family. He had the most amazing drawings and plans all laid out and he would show them to me and explain. He was a wonderful man and I looked forward to that part of my work day.

At one point I went home to Niagara to visit my family for a couple of days. Most of my family were golfers. I am not. Dad loved the game and always enjoyed playing with my brothers even though they were all better than him. One of my sisters was really good. She could beat them all and could have gone pro but in the end she preferred the 19th hole to the other 18. My strategy was to watch golf with him on TV. In reality I watched him watch golf. I didn’t have a clue. This visit was going to be different. I was going to talk “golf” with him.

Dad and I watching golf in the ’70s.

“Hey, Dad…”
“Uh, huh.”
“They’re building a new golf course in Oakville…”
“Uh, huh.”
“It’s supposed to be the permanent site of the Canadian Open…”
“Uh, huh.”
“and they’re making it crowd-friendly so you can actually go and watch them play…”
“Uh, huh.”
“It’s to be called Glen Abbey.”
“Uh, huh.”
“It looks really cool.”
“Uh, huh.”
“Yeah, I know the designer and he showed me the drawings and the plans…”
“What do you mean you know the designer?”
“Yeah, his name is Jack and he’s really a nice guy and he showed me the drawings…”
“Jack?”
“Yeah, Jack.”
“Any chance he looks like that guy?”
Dad pointed to the golf game on TV and looked at me. My gaze followed his finger and sure enough there was Jack on TV. My Dad was incredulous. He was more shocked at the fact that I didn’t know who Jack Nicklaus was than that I knew Jack. The rest of the weekend was pretty much him looking at me and laughing and shaking his head.
The next time I rapped on Jack’s door and said “housekeeping” he let me in and I gave him a swat on the shoulder. “You could have told me who you were!” I explained that my Dad had outed him, much to my embarrassment. He laughed and all he said was, “I thought it was kind of cool you didn’t know who I was.” I guess celebrity can run thin some times.
Jack Nicklaus at Glen Abbey before it was completed

Jack Nicklaus & Dick Grimm survey the land before Glen Abbey was completed

Many years later (about 30), I was invited by the Toronto Star to golf at Glen Abbey. At this point I was well aware of the caliber of course it was and had seen it on TV. I now lived in the “The Abbey” as they called it and had driven by it many times. I certainly knew that it was the first solo design of the legendary Golden Bear — golfer Jack Nicklaus. I offered my spot to one of my higher-ups (wow, was I good for brownie points on that one) but explained that I would really like to join them afterward for dinner in the Club House as I had never seen Glen Abbey from the inside. I told them my story and we all agreed to meet later. When I arrived someone from Glen Abbey greeted me and whisked me away in a golf cart for a private tour of the course. My colleagues had shared my story and arranged for me to see it. It was wonderful to remember all those years ago those lines on those big sheets of paper and see them here come to life.

Glen Abbey

More recently I found myself signing petitions to save Glen Abbey. One of Canada’s most famous golf courses and  home to Golf Canada and the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame. It has also hosted 30 Canadian Open Championships! It was slated for demolition by its current owners. In 2017 they proposed transforming the 80-hectare golf course into a subdivision with office buildings. Oakville council unanimously rejected this proposal and designated it a heritage site. Finally, after years of back and forth between the town and the company, on July 9, 2021, Steve Clark, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, announced that Glen Abbey will be preserved and continue to operate as a golf course, and the company withdrew its development application.

A few years back Jack’s face showed up on my screen. He was in tears. Oh no, what could have happened to this lovely man? Then I read what it was about. He had just witnessed what he called his “#1 Masters moment” when his grandson Gary aced the final hole of the 2018 Par 3 Contest and it brought him to tears. Yep. He is still one of the nicest guys I have ever met, and “The Golden Bear Legend” lives on.

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The promotion game can be a tricky one. No one really appreciates the intricacies until it goes horribly wrong. I have spent a good part of my life working in promotion of one kind or another. Television, Radio, Print, Billboards, Publishers, etc. You name it and I have promoted in it or for it. Some are big and well know places. Others, not so much, but they realized the need for good promotion.

In fact, those are the ones that I took my name from. One of the fellows who brought me some of these clients use to refer to me as “SPP”. One day I finally asked him why he called me that. He chuckled and explained, that it didn’t matter how little or how bad the material was he brought me to work with I was always able to make something good out of it. He went on to explain that SPP stood for Silk Purse Productions, like the old saying of “making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear”.
He got it.

Now, I am not going to brag…ok, maybe just a little. I’m pretty good at it. I’ve won International Awards for Promotion in New York City (twice). I have trained and mentored people in the field who have gone on to do big things. Unfortunately, now that the internet exists a lot of people think that all they need is on-line social media accounts for promotion. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, to name just a few, are all incredibly useful tools for promotion but you still have to have some skill to navigate the ins and outs of promotion. Even a little common sense can help.

Recently I came across a small company that totally blew me away in how poorly they handled their promotion and customer service. I won’t name them. I didn’t name any of the big companies I spoke of above. Consider this a mini case study.

The pandemic has been very hard on a lot of businesses, especially the small family owned businesses. Some have not survived, others have actually flourished. He-Who and I tend to eat out a lot. When we like a place we are loyal customers, we write good reviews and we promote the place to friends, family and readers.  No one was looking forward to being able to eat inside again more than we were. When it finally happened we made a point of visiting one of our favourite places 125 km from where we live. We had visited during lock-down and were able to go inside and order but had to eat in the car. We aren’t really great at eating in the car.  When we got there this time we found there was no access to get inside. They had put in windows to order from outside and there were picnic tables outside for eating. We were not best pleased and I confess a little confused. We ordered and ended up eating in the car. Unfortunately, this was the first time that I can say the food was not good. More of it made it to the garbage than to our tummies. We were really disappointed.

When we returned home I went to see if there was a reason they were not letting us in. There was a post.

There were a couple of red flags here…

1)There should have been a better way to let people know

2) “We are too busy with lineups (daily) to be able to follow safety guidelines for COVID.” Ummmmm, there are still plenty of “guidelines” to follow even for just take-out. There were lots of lineups when they were busy before COVID, this implies to me that their cleaning of tables etc. was not being done because they were too busy. (Anyone else feeling a little queasy?)

3) I’m not sure I want to know that their sanity is in question while preparing food I am going to eat.

As I felt my food coming back up on me I wrote a note just to let them know we were disappointed. The response was…let’s see what you think.

I came out of my office and read this to He-Who. He was…not pleased (I’m trying to keep this PG). I confess, I had to calm down before I responded.

That was the end of that conversation. He-Who and I both had the same thought. We had been frequenting a place in another town. Family owned and operated. A husband and wife team that were killing themselves to keep customers happy throughout the pandemic. No excuses, no bad food, no poor service. When they were allowed they put tables on the sidewalk. When they were allowed to serve indoors I am happy to say their excellent customer service had them at capacity all day, as loyal customers kept coming. We both decided that we would rather give them our business and that we would not return to the other place.

This morning I got a private message from the offending place.

This person should not be handling the customer service or the promotion. To tell a client that they “mentally can’t handle it” is beyond my comprehension. But wait, there’s more. The following is what put me over the edge …

Never in all my years…I know I sound old, but seriously…never have I ever heard anyone use menopause as an excuse for them not being able to respond to a customer in a proper manner. This person has sent feminism back at least 40 years. I am torn between laughing my butt off and disgust.

The lack of professionalism from the business was astounding. They need help. I almost felt sorry for them, briefly. Very briefly. Had they handled this differently from the beginning I might have even offered to help them. As it is, my cousin saw the public posting and asked me on there where this place was located. I gave him directions and then added, “however, I can not recommend them at this time”.  

I’m not sure anyone can make a silk purse out of this sow’s ear.

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In June of 2017 I wrote this…

“There’s a lot of hoopla going on in Canada right now. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy good hoopla especially about this country I know and love. I am a proud Canadian. Born and bred. I have always been grateful that I was fortunate enough to be born in Canada. Everyone loves Canadians. By reputation we are friendly, polite, clean and relatively quiet. The kind of neighbour everybody wants. We do, however, stand on our moral high ground and make judgements about other more despicable countries. Unfortunately, just like every other neighbour we have our share of dirty little secrets behind closed doors.”

The “hoopla” was about Canada celebrating its 150th birthday. At the time I had mixed feelings about it. I’ve been thinking about it a lot. In 1967 Canada celebrated its Centennial year. It was one of the best years of my life. I have nothing but fond memories of my great nation celebrating being 100. I was a child. My Mother was still alive. In fact, it was the last great year with my Mom. The next couple of years would be filled with hospitals, chemo and radiation, only to lose her in 1969. 

Centennial year was filled with celebrations and endless activities across the country (I went on to tell you all about them here).  We didn’t miss any of them when they were in our area. 

On a personal note, I was part of a choir that performed “100 Years in Song” and I was one of the children chosen to sing with The Pied Piper of Canada, when he came to town. 

Bobby Gimby appearing as The Pied Piper during Canada’s Centennial celebrations in 1967. (courtesy Harper Stevens, Wikimedia Commons)

I went on to write,

“Many years later, when I went back to college as a 30+ year old, I was assigned along with my much younger classmates to do some PR work for a local museum. As we went through the museum there was a display from Centennial Year. My first reaction was one of fond memories. Then I saw the photo of me with the “Pied Piper”. My next reaction was, “Oh, my gosh! I’m so old I’m in a museum!” Then my classmates began asking me what it was all about. They didn’t know anything about Centennial Year. I was stunned that something that had been so important to me had faded in history.”

My best friend in college was Gilbert. He lives in Florida now but I still consider him one of my best friends. Gilbert was a little closer to my age than the rest of the class. As I lamented to him about this time in my life being forgotten, he pointed out that it wasn’t necessarily a wonderful year for everyone in Canada. Gilbert is one of the First Nation people. His talking to me about it was probably the first time that I, personally, became aware of the difference of opinion. In the years since then, a lot of things that we as Canadians can’t possibly be proud of have become more publicly discussed. Our treatment of the First Nations, probably most horrifically concerning the Indian Residential School Systemis a black mark against this country I love. In 1967 Chief Dan George very eloquently spoke his mind. His “Lament for Confederation” is one of the most heart wrenching, eye opening pieces I have ever listened to.

The thing is that at the time, I was a kid caught up in the excitement. I didn’t know about our dirty secrets. Now I do. Now I know how these things have affected friends and family that I care about. Is it any wonder that I am confused about how I should feel about all the celebrating? 

Now here we are. It’s June 2021, just four years later. We as a planet have just experienced one of the worse 15 months period we could have imagined. We as a country appear to be emerging from the grip of COVID-19. We should be celebrating as a nation.

But we can’t.

How naïve of me to think that I had heard the worse. Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip, with his dying breaths, tried to make us see in his “Secret Path” journey (well worth the time to watch).

The Secret Path is a powerful visual representation of the life of Chanie Wenjack. “The film is divided into ten chapters, each a song from Downie’s musical retelling of Chanie’s story – from his escape from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School, to his subsequent and heartbreaking death from hunger and exposure to the harsh weather.” Downie left us with his Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund which “aims to build cultural understanding and create a path toward reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.” 

On May 27, 2021 the headlines on TV, Print, Radio and Internet were pretty much all the same…

Remains of 215 children found buried at former B.C. residential school

I don’t care what race, colour, creed, age or gender you are you can not turn away from the horror that unfolded from there. Support came from all walks of life. Some simply in the form of this sticker on their Facebook page.

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Some demonstrations included displays of children’s shoes.

Others have been poignant messages.

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Then the tally started…

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Today we are reeling from the latest headline.

751 Unmarked Graves Found at Another Residential School for Indigenous Children

The University of Alberta has offered a free course called Indigenous Canada from the Faculty of Native Studies that explores Indigenous histories and contemporary issues in Canada from an Indigenous perspective. I enrolled and have completed four of the 12 modules offered. My theory is it’s better to know the truth of our history than to find out the same way the rest of the world is finding out about us, in the headlines. So far I’m not impressed with our forefathers and their behavior. That moral high ground I spoke of does not exist and right now we seem to fit the despicable list. As our dirty secrets reveal themselves our reputation has definitely lost its luster.

I still love Canada and will always love Canada. I am still grateful this is where I was born. However, celebrating right now doesn’t seem appropriate and the only flag waving I can imagine is this one.

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There are plenty of things I regret in my life. However, I have a feeling this post will be very “high” on the list. I know I will be inundated with ads that will never end but hey, desperate times call for desperate measures. Spoiler alert…I do not have an Aunt Mary.

The Government of Canada legalized, regulated and restricted access to cannabis on October 17, 2018. First, let me say that I am not against that. It really should have happened a lot sooner. In my humble opinion the benefits far exceded the risks. However, full disclosure I do not partake. 

That does not mean I’ve never tried it. It was a regular part of my “youth”. I just didn’t enjoy it. Because of that I usually volunteered to be designated driver and had a good excuse to pass the joint away from me. Most of my friends and family indulged. It didn’t bother me. We were actually taught the “dangers” of marijuana in health class, where we were shown a film that was produced in 1936 called “Reefer Madness”. There is no way to tell you how hysterically funny this film was. By the time I saw it in the ’70s it was a cult classic and everyone would get high and watch it at the theatre while laughing our butts off. This is the trailer for it …

If you have time and need a good laugh, watch the whole film. It’s on YouTube.

It was definitely a different quality of product then. We would roll joints and carry them in a pack of cigarettes (I know! We all smoked cigarettes then, too!). As an adult, but before weed was legal, well-meaning friends and family convinced me to try it again while I was undergoing chemotherapy. Let me tell you, the only thing worse than chemo is being high on chemo. That was my personal experience. There were all kinds of fellow cancer patients who used it and it helped them a great deal. I know people who would never have gotten through without it.  Now that it’s legal you can smoke it, drink it, and eat it. Not too long ago I was having some health issues and I was convinced to try an edible “to help me sleep”. I had some chocolate. Apparently, I had way too much and wound up wide-awake in the wee hours of the morning…panicing. I woke up He-Who telling him I was dying and couldn’t breathe. I made him wake up our house guest to help. She explained to me that I wasn’t going to die and that I was just really, really high and that there was nothing to be done but wait it out. The two of them sat there with me for several hours. Every once in awhile they would look at each other and giggle, which in turn would have me screaming at them to stop laughing and that I was going to die. Another spoiler alert: I survived and have sworn off the stuff for life.

Ok. So now it’s legal. They have practically replaced our maple leaf on the flag with a cannabis leaf. 

It has also become quite pretentious. It is available in high end, designer boutique stores! They are very much like the Apple stores — expensive and swarming with a Cannabis Geek Squad to educate us.

Heaven forbid you should slip up and call it anything but cannabis. With one quick search I found a list of 41 names that apparently are no longer acceptable. Although I am not familiar with all 41, I admit to have used several of these in my lifetime. Marijuana, Weed, Pot, Grass, Dope, Mary Jane, Reefer, Ganja, Blunt, Aunt Mary and my personal favourite, Skunk. I say my personal favourite because to me, it’s the most appropriate name. There is no getting around it. It stinks!

He-Who and I have been confined to quarters because of the pandemic for 14+ months. In this case, “quarters” are 900 square feet on the 30th floor. We do not know any of our neighbours but in that 14+ months we have come to know an awful lot about them. Number one on the list is that it seems everyone in the building partakes of cannabis. When a neighbour sparks one up, I get the munchies. Two, they never partake at the same time. First our neighbours on the left will spark one up, then the people below us and then the ones to the right of us. They finish just in time for the cycle to start over. Needless to say, the munchies are a permanent part of my evenings. The uncontrollable weight gain is tolerable. Disgusting, but tolerable. The smell is not. Our apartment permanently smells like Pepé Le Pew and not in a cute way. The hallways smell like skunk. Every time we get on the elevator someone who has skunk odour clinging to them always ends up sharing our ride. How on earth can they not smell it? 

With all the money and research they are throwing at the cannabis industry you would think they would figure out how to make it smell better. For the love of Aunt Mary, someone please figure out how to make it smell better! 

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It seems like a lifetime ago that we started sharing Kate’s Glorious Northern Canada with you (Follow Heirloom Portraits Photographer Katelyn Krueger in Northern Canada through her pictures and thoughts.)

Of course our Kate is home in Ontario and riding out the pandemic like the the rest of us. Our Photographers were sent home from various locations immediately and travel between the Provinces pretty much came to a halt. After more than a year of this, it occured to us that we could still share Kate’s route through Northern Canada with you as she has done it many times and alway brings back breathtaking images. That being said, let’s “join” her in Igloolik, Place of Igloos.

“Located north of the Arctic Circle, between the Canadian mainland and Baffin Island, Igloolik is situated on a small island in Foxe Basin just off the northeast corner of the Melville Peninsula.

Spelled ‘Iglulik’ in Inuktitut, this vibrantly artistic community is considered to be a cultural epicentre for the Inuit people.

Although it is part of the Qikiqtaaluk region of Nunavut, the community has a mix of cultural traditions from all three regions, including Kitikmeot and Kivalliq.

This gifted little island is an ideal place to visit for an authentic arctic adventure: to go dog sledding; to view whales; to visit an iceberg; to experience the Inuit way of life; and to enjoy the Northern Lights.”

Our Kate in Igloolik — Place Of Igloos ᐃᒡᓗᓕᒃ

If you know Kate, you know she will find the Inuksuit in any community. These ones are actually just outside of the community on their way to the airport. It’s a bit of hike, but Kate is up to the challenge.

Night falls on Inuksuit in Igloolik

When we visit a community we usually have to set up somewhere that everyone can access. In this case, Kate was set up at the Co-Op behind this church.

One of Kate’s favourite memories of the people here happened while she was on her way to the school to work one morning. I’ll let her tell you…

“I was on my way to the school one day and there were crowds of people all along the beach and tons of boats in the bay. There were beluga whales coming through and people were hunting.
They would bring the beluga back to the shore and anyone there that wanted some meat would cut the Bulaga right there and share it with the entire community. It was pretty awesome to see and I was disappointed I had to work that morning.”
Throughout the community you will find beautiful murals and colourful buildings.
Not to be outdone, Mother Nature contributes colours of her own even when the Northern Lights aren’t turned on.
One of the most interesting buildings in town is the Igloolik Research Center.

Igloolik Research Center

It definitely looks like a spaceship of some kind. If you want to have some fun check out their website. It’s interactive and full of information about terrestrial wildlife and habitats, climate records and ecosystem modelling to name a few.

Before you know it, it’s time to head to the airport and the next community. We’ll see you there!

Igloolik Airport

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Bloody Hell!

Let’s face it. If you live in Ontario, lock-down seems to be the new norm. We are now in the middle of our third lock down. The reality is that my particular area never came out of the second lock-down before the third one was announced. However, fewer and fewer people seem to be adhering to it. You could have hurled a bowling ball down the highway on my way to my weekly appointment at the hospital during the first lock down. It was like a ghost town out there. Now there is so much traffic it’s as bad as it was pre-pandemic. He-Who and I are still trying to follow all the rules and protocols, venturing out only for my appointment and for food.

The boredom is overwhelming sometimes. I continue to fight the #Wordpress fight without really seeing any progress. It’s so frustrating. I have finally given into the lure of Instagram but mostly I just read other peoples’ posts. I don’t contribute much. There is now a game on my phone that I am not only active in but I am Leader of my Team. And occassionally (rarely) I will answer a question on facebook.

A few weeks ago there was a facebook question that seemed simple and I thought it might be fun.

This facebook question seemed harmless enough.

Now before we go any further I should tell you that I finally clicked on Birch + Fog and it turned out to be for “CBD Calm Capsules” which may explain what happened next.

My answer was …

“A Bloody Caesar is an appropriate cocktail for any time of day. Especially breakfast. “

Caesar – Pinterest Image

Now, for those of you who are not familiar with a Caesar, it’s a cocktail made with vodka and Clamato juice. It was cleverly created by a Canadian in Calgary. It is usually seasoned with Worcestershire and Tabasco sauces to taste and the glass it’s served in is rimmed with celery salt. Celery or lime are the standard garnishes. Over the years there have been many incarnations but the original was created in 1969 by Walter Chell. The Caesar is absolutely delightful and everyone should experience it. Unfortunately for my American friends, Clamato juice is not sold in the US (and a lot of other places) making it a uniquely Canadian treat. I use to attend NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) in Las Vegas every year. Each night after the convention the Canadian magazine Broadcast Dialogue would host a “Canadian” cocktail party. All that was served was Caesars and Molson Canadian Beer. It was packed every night. I once asked Ingrid, the publisher and owner at the time, where she found the Clamato juice in Vegas. She didn’t. They shipped in cases of it ahead of time from Canada.

Obviously I do know a bit about Caesars. My mistake was that when I answered the question I wrote down the first thing that popped into my head and unfortunately I referred to it as a Bloody Caesar. I have been hounded by Canadians taking offense to the fact that I used the term “Bloody” ever since. I have been schooled on the history of the cocktail (I knew it already). It has been explained to me that “a Bloody Mary is American” and that “Bloody” is a British term. My fear is that I have been barred from Shoppers Drug Mart, Canadian Tire and Hudson’s Bay. I swear I expected a knock at my door from officials demanding I turn in my Canadian passport. I finally broke down and edited the original but the numbers still increased in my comments and “likes” . They still are. I have had to change this image three times since I started writing. Check it out…

If I could get 584 likes and or 74 replies to any post on this blog I would be celebrating with several Caesars. Apparently, my fellow Canadians are as bored as I am and extremely protective of their cocktail identity. Seriously people, at least read the previous comments giving me BLOODY HELL before you repeat them over, and over and over. There is only one thing I can do to prove to you that I really am Canadian and that is to say, “Sorry”.

 

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There it was, right in front of me. It was an experience of sudden and striking realization, an epiphany, if you will.

Full disclosure here, I am what could be called an extreme David Bowie fan. I could go on about it all day but I will try not to. It usually gets a bit over the top, then turns messy and becomes a little (understatement) embarrassing. Suffice it to say I follow several David Bowie groups/pages on facebook including his wife Iman. Blissfully, I am greeted with photos and anecdotes about him each and every morning. One of my groups posted this recently.

David Bowie – Facebook Image

It struck me like a lightening bolt (that epiphny thing). How amazing would it be for Cameron Monaghan to do a movie along the lines of Bohemian Rhapsody, about David Bowie? He would be perfect! For those of you not familiar with Cameron’s work (I really can’t believe that is possible) we litterally watched him grow up over 10 seasons as Ian Gallagher on Shameless.

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He is also know for playing twins Jerome and Jeremiah Valeska (eventually the Joker) in Gotham.

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Monaghan is more than your average chameleon, much like David Bowie.

“Why is this so important to you, Michelle?” You might ask. There is nothing worse than sitting through a bad movie/show about something or someone you care about cringing the whole time. Right now there are at least two really bad David Bowie pieces airing. They are crap. Sorry. That’s as kind as I can be.

My favourite book in the world is Trinity by Leon Uris. It was one of many Leon Uris best sellers including Exodus which was made into a movie by Otto Preminger with Paul Newman as the lead and QB VII which was made into a mini series with Anthony Hopkins and Ben Gazzara.

I first read Trinity the year it was published,1976, and I re-read this book once a year, every March, until recently. I even wanted to name my children after the hero of the piece.

“This book follows the events of an Irishman named Conor Larkin who, by nature, was larger than life.  It is a sweeping and powerful epic adventure that captures the “terrible beauty” of Ireland during its long and bloody struggle for freedom. It is the electrifying story of an idealistic young Catholic rebel and the valiant and beautiful Protestant girl who defied her heritage to join his cause. It is a tale of love and danger, of triumph at an unthinkable costa magnificent portrait of a people divided by class, faith, and prejudicean unforgettable saga of the fires that devastated a majestic land… and the unquenchable flames that burn in the human heart.”

Why this book was never made into a movie is beyond me. It would be along the same lines as Braveheart, an epic historical fiction film based on the life of William Wallace the Scottish warrior starring and directed by Mel Gibson.

At some point Liam Neeson wondered onto a screen I was glued to. I’m afraid I don’t even remember which of his brilliant performances it was (probably Rob Roy) . All I knew for sure was that this was our Conor Larkin, the hero of my favourite book. I obsessed about it but had no clue as to how to make it happen. In my naivete I just knew someone would see what I saw and know what I know and that Trinity would become an epic movie starring Liam Neeson. Needless to say, that never happened and I was heartbroken. Hollywood missed the opportunity of a lifetime.

Liam Neeson – Pinterest Image

Now all I have to do is figure out how to not have this happen again. Is it to late for me to become a casting agent for some big wig Hollywood Studio? Probably. A girl can dream though. Liam will always be my Conor and I imagine Cameron will always be my Bowie.

 

 

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Does anyone really know what time it is? I barely know what day of the week it is any more. Various levels of “lockdown” for over a year now, have made one day blur into the next. Getting lost in “Rabbit Holes” has made hours disappear. And, I may have mentioned, that #wordpress has got me going in circles with the changes it’s made to their writing platform. It is really awkward for me to navigate. I decided to bite the bullet and sign up for one of their “Quick Start Blogging” online seminars. That’s right after 12 years of using this platform I have to start over. This is what I saw:

Quick Start: Blogging
You’ve got something to say. We’ll show you how to say it with style on your own blog.

  • Wednesday, April 14 at 4:00pm UTC
  • Thursday, April 15 at 6:00am UTC

Please tell me I am not the only one who responded with, “What the hell is UTC?”. Perhaps I am showing my age or some flaw in my education but I have never heard of UTC. 

Born and raised in Canada, I am keenly aware of the fact that their are six Time Zones. I have friends, family and/or business contacts in most of them. Eastern Time is where I live. Then there is Newfoundland, Atlantic, Central, Mountain, and Pacific.

Add in that some of the Provinces follow Daylight Savings Time (which changes the time by an hour +/- twice a year) and some have opted to stick with Standard Time all year round, things can get a little confusing. The one constant is that what ever time it is, they are all based on GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) which we all learned in school at some point, is clock time at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London. For the record it does not follow the  Daylight Saving Time clock changes.

So here I go again…rabbit meet hole. 

 First of all, apparently UTC is “a standard, not a time zone” and is the basis for civil time today. UTC stands for Coordinated Universal Time. It’s a 24-hour time standard kept using highly precise atomic clocks combined with the Earth’s rotation. You know when people synchronize their watches in the movies, well the world’s timing centers have agreed to do just that.

“Local time is based on time zone and Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). UTC is commonly referred to as International Time, Universal Time (UT)Zulu Time (U.S. military), or Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). The earth is divided into 24 time zones, -11 to +12. Each time zone is 1 hour long, or 15° wide in longitude. Greenwich England is, by definition, in the middle of Time Zone 0, the prime meridian. UTC time is the local time at Greenwich England. Time in other locations will be the UTC time hour plus or minus the local Time Zone.” 

So, I’m trying to explain all this to He-Who — for the record, this was his first introduction to UTC as well. We both thought this was some new fangled thing the millennials cooked up to mess with us old folks. We were not best pleased. I continued down this particular rabbit hole trying to find when it started and who thought it up. Here is the kicker…wait for it…

Universal Time (UT) was created at the International Meridian Conference in 1884.

Come on! How is it possible I was not taught this in school? Why have I never seen this used on any other schedule accept for #wordpress? Heck, I have never even heard of it as a Jeopardy answer! I don’t have that many followers but I would really appreciate knowing how many of you had this knowledge in your “I’m smarter than you are” arsenal.

In the mean time (not Greenwich), this has exhausted me and I need a nap. I would set an alarm but…well, you know.

 

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Reading and writing have literally saved my life on an occasion or two. I was fortunate that my Mom encouraged both…except when she would catch me with a flashlight in my little space under the covers in the middle of the night.

I have always been an avid reader and often escaped into a story or two, or three, or…you get the idea…when things got ugly in my real world. Always, in search of a safe space.

Writing became more important to me in those first years after my Mom passed. I slept little for fear of the nightmares that became my reality whenever I laid my head down. Luckily, a remarkable teacher became very attuned to my struggling and suggested I write about these things. I feared my horrors would become public knowledge, but he offered to accept my writing as his assignments. He would make corrections, add comments and grade them. He gave me space and promised to never make me read them aloud in class. Everyone should have at least one teacher like him. Writing about those dark things released me from the power they held over me. In later years (much later) I would find that same release (good and bad) by writing in my own space on my blog. Unfortunately, #wordpress in their infinite wisdom and like every other social media program changed their writing platform beyond my recognition again! It feels heavy and cumbersome and very awkward to navigate. So, during this past year, when pretty much everyone  on the planet is struggling to stay sane, (thank you COVID) every time I try to write something, it becomes a huge ordeal — so there hasn’t been a lot of writing. Kudos to my comrades who have turned this time into a cornucopia of literary creativity! I know a lot of you left this platform in favour of another space. Don’t worry, people will follow.

Not writing, however, leaves me time to read.  A lot of time.

Books…like magic, can transport you through time both backward and forward. You can visit any space in the world. And out of this world. Fantasies become reality. And you can learn anything from a book. Books are like family and best friends. They’re always there for you. I love this list of reading benefits of reading that showed up on Facebook recently.

The worst thing about reading a book is finishing a book. I have always dreamed of having a home library that’s the biggest space in the house, packed to the brim so that you had to slide back and forth on a ladder to retrieve the next offering. That never happened. (Probably for the best as I can’t even climb a ladder now.)

This Never Happened

However, the first time He-Who and I downsized from a house to a condo the reality of our book collection was overwhelming. Yes, He-Who is a reader/writer too. We were forced to cull the books. He-Who’s entire Stephen King collection went to one of his grandchildren. Others were shared, donated and passed on. Each one was a heartache to say goodbye to. Three moves and three downsizings later has left us with very few actual physical books in our household. Judging from the number of boxes of books I just packed (no I am not getting rid of them. I am just negotiating for space) our definitions of “few” may not align. We have been confined to quarters for over a year now and any illusion of having more space is welcome.

I have always been one of those people who thinks books need to be held, smelled, felt and you absolutely had to be able to turn the pages. That has not changed. A few years back we decided to try a Kindle. It was handy when a book was too bulky to bring along. It also beat the heck out of reading magazines that were six years out of date and covered in germs in a waiting room. We both still prefer a “real” book, but with space and shopping restrictions our Kindles have become our best friends. Reading has definitely prevented any phone calls to lawyers or coroners…so far. Really, all we need is a little more space.

 

 

 

 

 

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Looking back, I don’t know how it happened. How is it possible I almost missed the Pandemic? I keep looking at my calendar and there in big bold letters on Friday, March 13th, 2020, I wrote “Quarantine begins”.

It seemed appropriate that this should be the day the world shuts down. Someone from the U.S. asked me the date Canada shut down. I looked it up and told him that I had it recorded as Friday, March 13th. Over the past week there’s been a lot of coverage about the one year anniversary of the Pandemic. The first mention I saw was on a friend’s timeline. That Wednesday, March 11 was the day. I questioned her on it but got no response. Then, every day, people were mentioning the 11th as being the day.

Now, you should know that for as long as I can remember, I’ve kept a 16 month “Engagement Calendar”. I’m a bit “obsessive” about it. Tests, Dr. Appointments, Birthdays, Anniversaries, etc. are all in there. Every year, I would buy a new one at the end of August and painstakingly copy info from one to the other. I have kept them all.

March tends to be a bit of a challenge for me. There are a dozen family birthdays in March. It is also the anniversary of my Mom’s death, my Grandmother’s death, my Dad’s death, as well as various Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, and my Nephew. If something was going to happen, it would usually happen in March. Oh. Did I mention that mid March we also lose an hour of sleep? Can we just get rid of this Daylight Saving time thingy? It seems we pretty much all agree at this point, it’s well past its sell date.

The one thing that keeps me together in March is St. Patrick’s Day and plans are made for wardrobe and locations well in advance.

I don’t remember anything of note on Wednesday, March 11th, 2020. Thursday March 12, I put in a very long day at work so that I could take Friday off to prepare for St. Patrick’s Day. On Friday, March 13, He-Who and I went out for a nice breakfast. We took our time reading the paper and enjoying our food. Then, we headed to Costco to pick up prescriptions. We got within a block of the place but couldn’t get any closer. We thought there had been an accident and tried to re-route and come in a different way. There was nothing but long lines trying to get to the Costco parking lot for as far as the eye could see. I told He-Who I could wait until the next day and we headed home trying to figure out what was going on. Well, it didn’t take long once we got home and turned on the TV. By Sunday I was phoning the head office at Costco telling them they had better figure out a way for people to get their prescriptions without waiting hours outside and in. I said, “I am an overweight, asthmatic, senior with cancer.” I figured I had every one of the high risk boxes ticked. They took my number and He-Who and I went out to forage for supplies anywhere we could. They actually called me back and told me they figured something out and that we could go in the out door and someone would take us right back to the pharmacy. That was a relief!

Then I realized I had no Bailey’s, Guinness or Jamieson in the house and everything was closed. (As time went on, the liquor and beer stores became essential services, but not at the beginning.) St. Patrick’s Day was officially cancelled! Heck, they even made it illegal to “Kiss the Blarney Stone”. March turned into April, April into May, and so it went. Every holiday & celebration was cancelled. Borders were closed. Rules and regulations changed daily and it was hard to keep up.

Its a year later and I am still trying to figure out what the hell happened! I looked on line and the only big announcement I found regarding March 11th was from the World Health Organization.

“WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction. We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic.”

They went on to say they hoped each country would act accordingly. Some did. Some didn’t. It was definitely a learn-as-you-go-scenario. I’m not really sure if we’re being graded on a curve just how we would do.

But…I know these things for sure. St. Patrick’s Day will always be March 17th. He-Who has promised to bring home corned beef and cabbage. (He-Who isn’t a sure thing because he won’t buy it too far in advance due to meat and veggies are perishable. And who knows? The vendors might be out of stock by the time he gets there. I’ll let you know.) Most importantly this time I’ve got Bailey’s and Guinness on hand.

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