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Back in October 2008 I finally took a trip I had been trying to avoid since I met He-Who. I went to his birthplace. Yes, folks, I went to Winnipeg, aka: The Centre Of The Universe.
As it turned out I had a wonderful time. I met some lovely people who all treated me like royalty and made me feel right at home. Friendships were formed that will always be with me. The strongest bond was with one new friend in particular: Sammy.
Sammy was great fun. A little messy. A little noisy. But quite amusing. I had never met anyone quite like Sammy. It’s quite possible it was because I have always lived in the city and Sammy … well, Sammy was a pig. I don’t mean Sammy was a slob. Sammy was a real honest to goodness pig. Like in the book “The Three Little Pigs”. Except Sammy wasn’t little. She wasn’t one of those miniature potbelly pigs that celebrities make popular. She was a real, full size pig. A pig’s pig so to speak.

I fell in love with Sammy the first time I saw her. She was just that kind of pig. Her family was quite amused at my insisting that I be able to go out to the pen and feed her while I was there.

Truth be told … I hadn’t packed for slopping pigs. My clothes could be washed but my shoes were an issue. By the time I reached Sammy at each feeding my shoes would be caked in stuff I don’t want to think about and often became stuck firmly enough that I walked out of them. It became my mission to find the perfect pig shoes to sport while spending time with Sammy. It took me days to find them but I knew them the instant I saw them. I was so proud the first time I put them on to go feed Sammy and I couldn’t understand why everyone looked shocked. I could hear them laughing all the way to the pig’s digs. I didn’t care. That meant I could spend more time with my swine friend.

There was just something about Sammy that made you want to spend time with her. Personally, I think Sammy was a natural Shaman, a healer. When I met Sammy she was about 2 ½ years old. She had come to live with her human mom, Susie, in early spring of 2006. She was just a few weeks old and weighed only 10 lbs. Susie has a great love of animals, especially pigs. While recuperating from an injury, Susie was pretty much housebound and was becoming quite depressed. One day, her husband, Craig, just after arriving home, asked her to retrieve something he had forgotten in the truck. Susie wasn’t impressed but begrudgingly went out to the truck, opened the door and found a tiny piglet wrapped in a carpet. Susie’s story…

Instantly I was excited but full of wonder as to what I was going to do with her. I then grabbed her and ran into the house, happier than I could have imagined. I had Craig go out and build her a house and a fence. From that moment on you couldn’t keep me in the house. Craig, at this point, thought he would eventually be making bacon and chops! Boy was he wrong. He thought I’d get over the thrill of the pig. After about a week I had picked her name. You see, in high school, I had acquaintances that knew my name, but for some strange reason called me Sam. So Sammy it was. I would buy jarred baby food and cook oatmeal twice a day, mixing fruits and veggies for her. She would get so excited! It was fun to feed her good stuff. People around me commented on how ridiculous I was being for spoiling her, but I didn’t care. I found it funny when I’d get the odd inquiry about her favorite foods. Not long after, Craig began buying cheeseburgers from McDonalds for Sammy and soon it was ice cream. A neighbour would bring black forest cake right from the bakery for Sammy. I had started a spoiling trend. I had naps with her in my lap out in her pen, sat with her through storms and did whatever I could to give back to her what she was giving me. She gave me reason to start my day and look forward to the next one. Over the years Sammy became a special part of many peoples lives. People would pop in just to see her, whether to give her a treat or just to pet her. She was so playful she would run and push toys around. She would roll over for a belly rub anytime! She had this hilarious wiggle when she got super excited. I called it her “dance”. I’m smiling just picturing it! My dogs at the time, Harley and Rocky, would stay by her pen at night and were always pleased to clean her snout after her meals. They loved her. As Craig continued to expand the farm, Sam would check things out with the other animals! She had a few more buddies, too. She and one of the horses would kiss over the fence and walk along beside each other. It was adorable! She was ready to babysit waterfowl and shared her mud bath with them when they were too young to head out to the pond. And I would often see this cat sitting on Sammy’s back. She was just all around a genuine, healing angel!

When it was time to leave my newfound friend, my hosts suggested that I leave my “pig shoes” behind and promised they would be there the next time I visited. When I came home, He-Who heard all about my adventures with Sammy and all about my pig shoes. The following August (2009) we were able to return to Winnipeg together. I couldn’t wait for He-Who to meet Sammy and was pretty excited to see her again. As soon as I got in the door and introductions were made, I asked if I could go out and see Sammy. Surprisingly I was told my pig shoes were right where I had left them. He-Who followed me out to the garage and stopped dead in his tracks when he saw me retrieve my pig shoes and proudly model them for him.

“But … they’re WHITE!” he said, shaking his head. “I thought they would be some kind of boot or something. NOT white sneakers.” I grinned and said, “They work for me” and dragged him out to meet Sammy. It was wonderful to see Sammy again and I know she knew who I was and was appropriately impressed that I came back to see her.

Sammy was about 600 lbs. when she passed away from pneumonia in March of this year. She is dearly missed by Susie and all those whose lives she touched. Suzie tells me the farmyard has not been the same without her. She was truly loved and led an amazing life in the little menagerie.

I still have my pig shoes and think of my friend Sammy every time I look at them.

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A TALE OF TWO SLIPPERS

This is for Jo. She tries very hard to always be Switzerland (even though her heart is in Ireland) and make things easier for everyone.  The other day I caught her in her office with the most colourful slippers on. She told me her Aunt Julie gave them to her and they keep her feet warm.

Everyone has a favourite pair of slippers. Some, have more than one favourite pair of slippers.

Slippers can be the most comfortable things in the world… some keep your feet warm and some keep your feet cool. Throughout history slippers have been portrayed as being like your best friend, actually they are even brought to you by your other best friend as you come through the door. Your puppy will come bounding up to you with tail wagging and your slippers gripped safely in his mouth. Yes, your slippers can be like your best friend but even your best friends have their limitations and should know their place.

Slippers come in all shapes and sizes. There are light ones and dark ones. Big fluffy ones and soft furry ones. Some are shaped like lions and tigers and bears…oh my. Some are shaped like dogs and cats and rats…oh…my!

They are made from cotton, or wool or plastic. There are famous ones like Dorthy’s ruby slippers or Cinderella’s glass slippers. Some are shaped like famous people like Elvis, Freud and Homer Simpson…doh.


One of my favourite pairs of slippers are relatively plain but they are soft and comfortable and they keep my feet warm. I wear them all the time. They are particularly soothing after a busy day on my feet. Unfortunately, they are very worn and have a lot of stains on them from me spilling in the kitchen while cooking or cleaning.

One busy day while preparing for a season launch at the TV station I ran into a rather embarrassing situation. It was that time of year when you hit the ground running upon waking up and you don’t stop for the next 14 hours until you drop your head on the pillow at the end of the day. I had several meetings that afternoon so I was dressed to impress. My first stop that day was on my way into the office, I stopped to check on the graphics being designed for the new vehicle wraps, from there I ran into Starbucks and grabbed lattes and chais for my editors who were working as hard as I was. After dropping the drinks off in two different edit suites I went into the studio to check on one of the new sets and then went into the control room to go over lighting with the director. Next I ran up to the third floor to the HR office to go over some resumes for an impending hire and then had to stop at the Marketing directors office before landing in the Comptroller’s office to haggle over what we would offer for salary for the new hire. I had managed to get most of my morning errands done and had about 20 minutes to catch up on some emails and return phone calls. I finally slowed down to a leisurely pace on my way to my office.

That’s when I heard it…

Thwack, thwack, twack …what the heck was that?

…thwak, thwak, thwak, … it sounded so familiar.

Thwack, thwack, thwack, OH MY GOSH I KNOW THAT SOUND!

I looked down and there on my feet were my old worn and stained slippers. I had been running around all morning like that and not one person had said a word. My whole afternoon was set up for meetings and I had no time to run home and get my heels. A quick phone call home had my “Knight in not so shining armor” also known as my husband, Paul, racing from Oakville to Burlington with several pairs of shoes while I hid in my office with my face scarlet. After that I always left several pairs of heels at the office “in case of emergency”.

Heels are funny things. They are seldom comfortable. In fact, I think it is a scientific fact that the better the shoe looks the more uncomfortable they are. Often, what I wear and the accompanying shoes are directly related to my scheduled activities for the day. If I know I will be sitting at my desk all day and the only walking I will be doing is to the restroom and back I can wear the killer heels I love! At the end of one such day Paul called and asked me to meet him for dinner on my way home from Toronto. I figured I could handle walking into the restaurant and back out. Unfortunately, while enjoying our dinner it was discovered that we had to stop at one of the malls on our way home to pick up a gift for a birthday we had forgotten. Now we were pushing it…by the time I walked into the mall and reached the store we were headed for I could barely move. I had to take off the heels and walk in my stocking feet to the slipper section in one of the department stores so I could buy a pair of slippers just to get back to my car. Of course all the ones I picked out for the comfort factor Paul refused to be seen with me in. We had to find a pair that I could wear and be comfortable but would not embarrass Paul as we walked through the mall. Apparently, my taste in slippers was more embarrassing than walking around in stocking feet. We finally settled on a pair and I am happy to say they are my new favourite slippers.

Of course I was a little smarter this time and got a darker colour so the stains don’t show if I should happen to accidently wear them to work. Not that that will ever happen again. My slippers may be as comfortable as my best friend but even my best friends have their limitations and know their place.

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