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Posts Tagged ‘humour’

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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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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It’s easy to “fall down the rabbit hole”. I tend to do it a lot more than I would like to admit. What else have we got to do right now? It’s Jan 3, 2021. We here in Ontario are in full lock-down again/still. Right now the rabbit hole is a welcome distraction from my usual excuses of not wanting to clean anymore. According to dictionary.com

“In the phrase falling down the rabbit hole, a rabbit hole is a metaphor for something that transports someone into a wonderfully (or troublingly) surreal state or situation. On the internet, a rabbit hole frequently refers to an extremely engrossing and time-consuming topic.”

In this case, it is the latter. This morning my son-in-law posted a clip titled “A Munchkin Welcome – The Wizard Of Oz” on his wife’s Facebook page. She responded, “The lollipop guild, really?!!! You just HAD to include that!” I laughed to myself and then posted this comment, “I use to drink with one of the higher ups in Munchkin land”. Apparently I had never shared this info with her before and she was surprised. I explained that we all use to hang out at a Mexican bar/restaurant in Niagara Falls, New York. So I googled the “the mayor of munchkinland”.

That rabbit hole opened wide and swallowed me whole! First let me say the gentleman we are talking about was not “the Mayor”, however, his role in the film had affectionately earned him the title in Buffalo, New York and the surrounding area. The first thing that popped up was an image that I recognized immediately. I recognized it because I had taken the photo many years ago. I assumed (yes, I know what they say) that I had written about him either here or on Facebook at some point. When I clicked on the photo it went to a story by someone I didn’t know in a group on Facebook called The Real “Old Falls Street” People. A fellow named Max Eddy had written a very nice piece on Tommy and Betty Cottonaro on June 17th, 2017. I was not a member of the group. On further inspection of the photo I realized it was not my original photo. It was a picture of my photo that lives in my hard-covered, scrap-booked photo album, with all the trimmings. Did you see that rabbit hole open up wide right there?

This is the photo that led me down the rabbit hole. Tommy & Betty Cottonaro at La Casa Cardenas in Niagara Falls, NY. With Sergio Cardenas in between them and Sergio’s Mom in the background.

I joined the group so I could comment on the photo and told Max Eddy that I was curious as to how he came by the photo. His response was,  “I forget exactly where I found it. Probably a Google or Yahoo search. Tommy & Betty Cottonaro were very good friends of my family.” Dare I say, “curiouser and curiouser”. Sergio and Tommy probably both had a copy of the photo but neither of them would have had access to the scrapbook this photo of a photo came from.

I googled every thing I could think of and the only version of this photo to come up was the one mentioned above. So began the search for where I could have posted it. I went back on facebook and twitter to when I first started using the apps but there was no post. I went through all of my blog posts and none included this photo. At this point I told He-Who. Now, He-Who is big on the whole conspiracy theory way of life so he jumped in that rabbit hole with me feet first. The next step was to go through all my digital files of photos. Every photo (thousands) I ever took with my phone prior to June 2017. Nothing. I went through thousands of digital files of photos from my camera prior to June 2017. Nothing. At this point He-Who hollered from the living room that he had found Sergio on Facebook. The rabbit hole took a detour for a bit.

Now this was making me crazy and there were no little pills to make me bigger or smaller to take the edge off. The only other thing I could think of was that I had scanned the page to get the photo. I have done that before when I needed a picture of something I had already glued to a page. Apparently, I have done this a lot because the folder labelled “Michelle’s scans” had hundreds of photos in it. Again, no joy. In the folder labelled simply “scans” there were but 79 photos. And there it was, scanned on March 4, 2014 was the page from the album.

OK. But how on earth did that end up getting on the internet? Then it occurred to me to do a google “image” search. Of course that Facebook page came up but one other entry also popped up. I still have no idea how Eddy found it but I do know how it got on the internet. Believe it or not it was part of a comment on someone else’s blog.

Mike Allegra has a blog called Hey, Look! A Writer Fellow that I have been following since 2011. He has written children’s books that my nieces and nephews love. Over the years we have chatted on-line frequently. He often runs contests on his blog to win his drawings or doodles. I always enter and am the proud owner of a few of them. In March of 2014 he had a contest to win one of his doodles. All you had to do was leave an “Interesting Tidbit” about yourself in the comments section. This is how it went…

SILKPURSEPRODUCTIONS

I have had drinks with “The Mayor of Munchkin Land” and his wife on several occasions.

  1. HEYLOOKAWRITERFELLOW Now this is, I think, the DEFINITION of an Interesting Tidbit! Two names in the hat for you! But I need more detail! Please, oh, please elaborate.
    1. SILKPURSEPRODUCTIONS It’s funny, I hadn’t thought about it in years and your post had me thinking about things I could share that would be OK for the young one pulling the name out of the hat. I have a picture here somewhere. I will look for it to show you.
    2. HEYLOOKAWRITERFELLOW Cool! Looking forward to it!
    3. SILKPURSEPRODUCTIONS Here is the picture I found.

  1. It is the Mayor of MunchkinLand – he was from Buffalo, New York – and his wife. The owner of the bar was Sergio Cardenas. That is his head in the middle and his Mom is standing behind. The bar was called La Casa Cardenas in Niagara Falls New York. The things that happened there will have to remain classified.
    1. HEYLOOKAWRITERFELLOW This is great! I met one of the last remaining Munchkins a few years ago at a giant antique and collectibles show in Atlantic City. I have no idea why he was there. He was a living antique, perhaps?
    2. SILKPURSEPRODUCTIONS The photo was taken somewhere between 1993 & 1998. Tommy has since passed. The bar has closed down and I lost track of my friend Sergio. Social media was not yet a tool to keep in touch.
    3. SILKPURSEPRODUCTIONS In trying to remember more, I was doing some digging and guess what?
      This is dated Sat. Feb. 10, 2001. In this morning’s Niagara Gazette I got a shock when I read the obituary page. I read that Thomas J. Cottonaro, 86 years old, of Ashland Avenue,
      Niagara Falls, NY, died Wednesday, February 7, in Niagara Falls Memorial
      Medical Center after a year-long illness. Who was Tommy Cottonaro? He was our very special Munchkin and was known around here as the Mayor of MunchkinLand. Why? Well, because he had been a film actor and was one of the Munchkins in the original 1939 movie, The Wizard of Oz. Actually he was the “bearded man of the Munchkins. He was the last surviving Munchkin of the Wizard of Oz.” So all those years I drank with the man, no one ever set me straight that he was not actually the “Mayor”. He was the “bearded one”. All I remember is that both he and his wife were wonderful people. They were fun, funny and gracious.

As you can see, this whole conversation including the picture took place in the comment section of someone else’s blog. How on earth did Eddy find it there three years later? I think I will have to leave this rabbit hole for another day. Now all I have to do is pull He-Who out of it!

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Really? In what universe does it feel like Christmas? As the pandemic rages on it laughs in our faces every time we even think about getting the Christmas Spirit. And, for my Jewish family & friends Hanukkah isn’t fairing any better. I just read a headline that said, “Parts of Ontario are literally colder than Antarctica today”, and whispers of “Polar Vortex” are popping up on the Weather Network. So, yeah, baby it’s cold outside! It definitely makes it hard to warm the cockles of your heart. I think it’s safe to say that people are struggling to have “Happy Holidays”.

I confess I had joined the masses, wallowing in despair over being deprived of the company of people who wouldn’t bother with me any other time of year and really just happened to be at the same event. Then there’s the usual nervous breakdown from trying to navigate the crowded shopping malls for that perfect gift that won’t be perfect no matter what, while trying not to get knocked on my butt by some bruiser with his head in his phone. Oh yes. Fond memories. “Had” is the key word in this tale. But things turned around rather quickly a few days ago when my sister sent me a photo. This simple photo got me out of bed (at around four in the afternoon — I wasn’t kidding about the wallowing part) and put a smile on my face that will carry me through the Holidays.

Thirty-six years ago we were blessed to meet the first female child born in our family in quite some time. We were all excited about all the “girly” things this would mean. Hinda was born in June, which gave us about six months to negotiate our way through her first Hanukkah and Christmas. I felt it was really important for me to learn, understand and respect the Jewish traditions this new bundle of joy would be raised with. At the same time, she would be learning about our Christmas traditions. I was determined that her first Christmas gift from me would be something she would want to have forever and perhaps pass down to her daughter. (I know, He-Who often wonders how I come up with this stuff.) It took me almost the whole six months — and a lot of blood, sweat and tears, as I struggled on an antique sewing machine I had inherited — to complete the task. This was the final result.

The doll was bigger than Hinda at the time. It had fingers, toes, dimples, a bum and even a belly button which I made sure every one knew about (by constantly undressing her). Her eyes were embroidered. She had bloomers, socks, booties, a dress and an apron. All hand made by me. I was so proud of it and couldn’t wait to give it to her. This is the only picture I have of the event.

She really didn’t seem all that impressed, did she? (Don’t even ask about that hat I’m wearing!) It had been years since I thought of that doll. Then, at the end of this past August, I received a picture from Hinda that brought me to tears (of joy).

Apparently, Hinda’s daughter Klara found the doll at Bubbie’s house. She put a seatbelt on her in the car and took her home to read her stories. Last I heard she was being called “Matilda”.

Although that picture made me so very happy, it was not the one that turned things around for me. I had made a living as a photographer for 20+ years then transitioned into television production. I should know by now that one photograph does not tell the whole story. The one that does tell the story captures the perfect moment better than the rest. This is what my sister sent me.

Joy! Pure joy! Hinda gave me the reaction I longed for that Christmas, and this was my reaction to Hinda! I don’t think I have ever seen me look happier. To me, as technically awkward as this photo might be, it’s the perfect photo because it captures the true Christmas spirit. I smile every time I look at it. Thank you to my sister Lu for sending me this. It feels like Christmas.

I hope all of you can find a way to capture that joy this Holiday Season, whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah (or a special time that I’m less familiar with). Happy Holidays!

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Usually people post reflective offerings closer to the end of the year. That week between Christmas and the New Year seems to be the appropriate time for a look in the proverbial mirror. Yeah, well, I can’t wait that long.

Looking in the mirror these days is more than a bit scary. On so many levels I don’t recognize that person looking back. This year has brought out the worst in a lot of people and I confess I’ve not been unscathed. Yesterday, my current reality was smacked in the face when this showed up in my news feed:

The first thought in my mind was not kind. I didn’t say it out loud but I was stunned by the harsh reaction in my head. My thoughts weren’t that nasty when the sperm donor who impregnated his mother fell ill. It really upset me that I went to such a dark place so quickly.

I have not been mute in my disgust for 45, but I have tried to keep it civilized. This has required a lot of filtering from my brain to my mouth/fingers. Recently, I was having a discussion on line with someone I have known for a very long time who’s support of that vile being has shocked me. I was accused of being a meme. I’m not sure which upset me more, their support of the dumpster fire or the insinuation that I was unable to be that prolific. I may or may not have seen this as a meme but I did not intentionally steal it. It probably just seemed like a quote that best said what I felt. This is my “meme” version of it.

It turns out I’m neither as needy as I thought nor am I that desperate for “friends” anymore. I realized that I would never change the minds of the friends, colleagues and family members guzzling 45’s Kool-Aid, not to mention the haters, conspiracy theorists and “Rona” doubters. All that took me about seven months. Sitting at the computer turning purple and biting my tongue was not working. I learned to use the “unfriend” & “unfollow” options of my social media. It wasn’t easy but I only like purple for my hair.

One of the biggest surprises actually happened right here in the 900 square feet of living space we tentatively call “home”. I vividly remember realizing that my birthday & St. Patrick’s Day plans had just been terminated by the government. He-Who had not gone back to work yet and my work had just been “temporarily” postponed. We were in lock down. With each other. Alone. All by ourselves. If you had told me that eight months later neither lawyers or coroners had been called to our location I wouldn’t have believed you. But here we are, still surviving.

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Have you played the new drinking game I invented? It’s very simple. You take a shot every time you hear someone use the word, “unprecedented”. My fear is that we would all be under the table before noon.

Here in Canada, on top of the all-day news coverage, we also have a daily briefing from our Prime Minister (Justin Trudeau) at 11 am – questions from the media included.Prime Minister Addresses Canada

Our Premiere of Ontario (Doug Ford) gives us his take at 1:30 pm, again with questions from the media included.

Doug FordI’m sure somewhere in Las Vegas there are bookmakers giving odds on which press conference uses the word the most. If they aren’t, they certainly should be. There’s money to be made here.

As politicians, both of these men have a fairly good grasp on the English language (please note: this is not a statement I could make about 45. He has no grasp on any language. He-Who says it’s because his tiny hands don’t allow him to have a grasp on that or reality). Trudeau tends to come off a bit more refined while Ford is a little rough around the edges, but they both have a pretty good command of their dialect. Both men also probably have professional speech writers available and they listen! Not to be outdone, I mentioned the press above because almost every single question put to these men includes that word. These pundits are supposed to be professional journalists and reporters. They should be extremely well-trained on the use of words. Don’t any of these people know what a synonym is? Has no one ever given them a Thesaurus for Christmas? 

For the record, here is the definition of the word “unprecedented” from the Cambridge English Dictionary…

…never having happened or existed in the past.

Now here are some synonyms for that same word:

 …unparalleled, unequaled, unmatched, unrivaled, without parallel, without equal, extraordinary, uncommon, out of the ordinary, unusual, outstanding, striking, exceptional, prodigious, abnormal, singular, remarkable, unique, anomalous, atypical, untypical, freakish.

Due to the fact that all our briefings are tri-lingual, we English-speaking citizens are pretty familiar with the French translation, sans précédent, and the American Sign Language (ASL) translation. 

Unprecedented.  I have come to loath this word. It has lost any impact it ever had on me. In fact, it now seems to be the antonym of itself:  familiar, hackneyed, old, tired, warmed-over. All I ask is that you use your words. All of them!

Now, I am going to get ready for today’s briefings.

drinking game

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It is St. Patrick’s Day 2020!

Those of you who know me know that statement is usually followed by a lot of hoopla and celebration. I take the wearin’ of the green very seriously and like to start out with the perfect Irish outfit usually including hats, glasses, socks and my very own personalized Official Irish National Lacrosse Team jersey.

My day starts with Irish music and an Irish coffee or just a coffee with more than a wee bit of Bailey’s Irish Cream in it. I confess that part has already happened. Most of my nieces and nephews send me pics of their wee ones dressed appropriately. They know the rules.

This year I even dressed my houseguest that will not leave.

The rest of the day is seeking out Irish Dancers, Corned Beef & Cabbage and a proper Guinness. This year is slim pickings for any kind of celebration. All the St. Patrick’s Day Parades have been cancelled including the one in Ireland. In fact, for the first time in history there is a ban on kissing the Blarney Stone and pubs all over Ireland have voluntarily closed their doors.

Today I have been amusing myself with this.

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It gives me a little joy in this otherwise very bleak day.

Let’s just say I definitely prefer Guinness to Corona at this point.

That being said and with nothing new to share I am reposting from several years ago …

••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

“The Gift Of Blarney”

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

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Family Secrets

Every family has secrets. They may not admit it but they do.

My family just happens to have more than most. That happens when you have a large family. A family that is “blended” from different parents and adoption can have some stories. Add in-laws and the secrets can get way out of control.

My birth was one of the bigger ones. Yes, I was an illegitimate child. According to “legend” my grandmother tried to pass me off as a neighbour’s kid that my Mom was babysitting. Let me just say my Mother was a great baby sitter. Don’t ask me about my grandmother.

Perhaps the longest kept secret (at least for me) was who my biological father was. I found out when I was in my early 20s and actually met him just before my 27th birthday.

Of course we have had our share of drug users and abusers. I believe every family does.

Unfortunately, we’ve also had family members  behind bars.

Pat in jail

No this one is not real. In this case we were exploring an old jail in Cobourg, ON that has been turned into a restaurant.

Yes, all of these were some of the worse kept secrets in history. There is one secret, though, that has been kept secret until just recently. It’s absolutely, hands down the best kept secret in all of my family.

Ralph’s Plum Jam. As a matter of fact when I started this post in 2014 I turned to He-Who and said, “I need that recipe for your brother’s jam to finish this post.” He looked at me with a blank stare.

He-Who: “What recipe? I don’t have the recipe. He doesn’t give it to anyone.”

Me: “You told me last week he finally gave in and gave it to Keri-Lynn (He-Who’s daughter)”.

He-Who: “That did not happen.”

I will not burden you with the rest of that conversation. Let’s just say it wasn’t pretty.  Four years later I still do not have the recipe, Ralph has moved away from his plum trees and we are always on the search for plum jam.

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We all have one of “those” relatives that are hard to explain. For me, it’s this guy. Captain America.

Even though Bruce is referred to as “My Brother-In-Law From Hell”, full disclosure, I love this man. Frequently, however, our opinions are galaxies apart. Infinite galaxies. But over the years we have found ways to work around our differences without involving any death stars. Sparring, tucking, rolling…you get the idea. That all changed over the past year. You see, my Brother-In-Law…bare with me…this is so hard…*weeping*…supports #45. In a BIG way!

OK. There. I said it. Just yesterday I was talking to Barrie Doyle , a former professor (now friend), at one of his book signings. We were talking about how this particular difference of opinion has divided long-time friends and even family members. It has brought out the worst in everyone. I was determined not to to let this happen between Bruce and I. Soooo…this is how our conversations go whenever politics rears its ugly head:

Him: He’s great!

Me: I love you Bruce.

Him: Did you see whatever very, very amazing thing he did that day?

Me: I love you Bruce.

Him: He’s making everything better!

Me: I love you Bruce.

This will go on until he either gives up and leaves the room, or I leave the room, or my sister comes into the room, gives us both “the eye” and asks what’s going on, at which point we both leave the room. My latest visit  south of the border put me in a very awkward spot. Bruce was doing something to my vehicle (no, he wasn’t cutting the brake lines) as he keeps the thing going for me. Then he took it for a spin, but within the length of two houses, turned around and put it back in the driveway. He immediately told me “there is no way you can drive that car.” It was unsafe. The back wheel was about to fall off. This resulted in me driving with Bruce in his truck to get parts for my car. I was trapped in the front seat for the duration.

Later, when I started to tell He-Who about my being a captive audience, He-Who started to laugh uncontrollably. He didn’t stop all night. Every time he looked at me he started to laugh again. He knew exactly what had happened — Bruce started singing #45’s praises as soon as my seatbelt clicked. I was like a deer caught in headlights. Now, this man was taking me to get parts for my car. Then he would take those parts and fix my car (no matter how long it took) so I could drive back home, safely. There was no way I was going to berate his hero. So I bit my tongue. I bit the inside of my mouth. I recited to myself, “I love you Bruce. I love you Bruce”…the whole way. When we got back he had a big grin on his face and I looked like Munch’s The Scream. My sister took one look at me and did a double facepalm. 

Here’s the thing. This man who makes me crazy with his politics is also kind, big hearted, generous, brave, hard working and… my family. That’s not to say that he’s a saint. He’s made his share of blunders. He’s also the first person to offer a helping hand. He would give you the shirt off his back and offer to have it cleaned first. As I said, over the years, he’s kept more than one of my vehicles on the road. He works hard at whatever he takes on. Some of his construction jobs have had him working in sweltering heat or frigid ice. He’s worked at heights that he admits terrify him. Not too long ago he had to conquer both his fear of heights and “big ass” spiders while working on the Grand Island Bridge.

Off the job he’s the first to volunteer when someone needs a nail hammered, a screw turned, or a shower plumbed. He’s a good husband to my baby sister

and a good father to her children. Raising them as his own and putting up with a lot that only a father could understand. He has kept his family safe and sound. When someone needs him, he’s there, usually before he is asked. And one of the things he does better than anyone, is making this little one feel like a real life Princess.

Not the one on the left. The little one on the right is his Princess.

He is her Prince Charming, her hero, her Papa. He calls her his Best Buddy.

All of his grandchildren know that he will never let them down. He will listen to them and embrace them with a hug that you know is genuine. I can vouch for that hug. He greets me with one of those hugs and says good bye with one of those hugs. Every time!  It makes you feel loved and cared for. One of his favourite things is to be the first person to wish me a Happy Birthday. On that day every year, long before the sun is up, the phone will ring and I am treated to his rendition of “Happy Birthday”. He is a man of many talents and quite the mystery, I might add. Perhaps a little more like James Bond than Captain America.

Although I refuse to agree with his politics, I can’t bring myself to hold them against him. Unless, of course, I get trapped in a car alone with him again.

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