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Posts Tagged ‘humour’

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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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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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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