Oh, Those Supermarket Lineups

There is something to be said about being in a supermarket lineup. There isn’t any other lineup that puts those gossipy Hollywood magazines and tabloids in your path, ready to grab your attention. It use to be candy bars and chips that threw themselves into your cart as you sailed past, but because of health reasons, such temptations were replaced by healthy energy bars and fruity glucose drinks and of course, those scandalous magazines and tabloids.

The latest headlines are conflicting stories and accusations between Brad and Angelina. Hey, anything to do with Brangelina and their brood of six, is always eye-catching news unless there are cute photos of the Royal children, Georgie and Charlotte. Anyway, there we were, captive readers of the ongoing verbal battles and accusations between Brad and Angie. Just reading the headlines made me itch to reach out to read the story. It was obvious the lady in front of me felt the same. We looked at each other and laughed.

“I don’t buy these magazines or tabloids, but I must admit, I do sneak a quick read while I’m in the lineup,” she explained.

“Hey, this is the only time I get hooked into reading beyond the headlines,: I replied. “And, I don’t even feel guilty about not buying this because I  already fell for the pregnancy stories about Jennifer Aniston. If any of those stories were true, the extremely long pregnancy in the animal kingdom, would have produced two baby elephants by now!”

The lady behind me laughed and reached over to grab the tabloid so we could all read it and comment. There really wasn’t much meat in the stories themselves, just a racy headline that would grab your eye-balls and impel you to toss it into your cart. But she resisted and placed it neatly back on the rack.

I have a sneaky suspicion that these magazines and tabloids are placed there for women. Somehow, Marketing has figured out that women are most likely to read and buy. After all, have you ever seen a display of “Mechanics” or “Auto News” placed conveniently by the Cashier for men?  Nada.  And besides,  I bet at least 5% of smart women sneak a quick peek at the stories behind the headlines and after reading, gently put the tabloid back as we move through the cashier lineup. However, it did make standing in line bearable with entertainment at your fingertips.

Grab Your Pet Peeve and Let ‘er Rip

I like to think I’m an unflappable kind of gal. You know, in the face of any alien invasions  or earthquakes or such, I’m the calm, cool and collected person who, hopefully can take charge and delegate duties or, I’m most likely the calm, cool and collected person who can follow orders. But at the end of the day, after battling catastrophes and nincompoops, I want my own peaceful oasis without any further hassles. So, I have compiled a list–a list of my pet peeves that can really wreck any peaceful karma and thoroughly tests your patience.

1) You’ve waited through 4 changes of traffic lights. Just as you prepare to finally make that left turn, two idiots step off the curb without checking for cars and slowly meander across the street. These idiots also don’t know how to check the pedestrian light to see there is a humongous hand in the universal “Stop” position, leaving you, the motorist, stuck  in a half-turn against traffic, due to another light change.

2) The Cellphone and/or Texting Junkie who is welded to his/her tech toy. They don’t have time to check for cars ready to squash them like bugs–after all, Pedestrians have the right-of-way. Somewhere in their “Handbook for Pedestrians,” this is carved in stone and permanently embedded in the Junkie’s teeny-tiny brain. Common sense is left at home whenever they venture out.

3) There is a campaign in my home-town to “Share the Road”–meaning cars and cyclists can co-exist amiably. This certainly sounds good on paper, but in practice, it is a constant struggle to be ever vigilant for cyclists squeezing into a car lane because the bike lane abruptly stops and picks up again after a few kilometers and/or miles. Now, some cyclists are becoming more aggressively demanding–forcing drivers to move slightly over the centre line to allow the bicyclists through.

4) People darting across busy streets for their buses literally take their life in their hands. They have to dash across a busy main street because they have to be on that  bus right now! Listen, you dummy–if you hadn’t stopped for that coffee or whatever, you would have been at the bus stop with plenty of time to spare.

5) Coffee bars are usually fun places to read the newspapers, enjoy a decadent snack and meet friends. But, no one needs to hear a loud cellphone conversation detailing every single moment of a hot date; an ugly fight between partners or the latest juicy gossip of who-cares.

6) Some supermarkets provide mini-shopping carts for little munchkins who like to help their Mommies and/or Daddies. I love kids but I really, really hate with a passion, the few out-of-control kids who race madly down the aisles, careening off ankles that blocks their temporary race-track. Your worst nightmare is when there are more than one child, each with a mini-cart, racing and screaming with manic excitement. Parents are usually 5 aisles over and totally oblivious to the chaos their child is causing.

7) And my all-time favourite peeve–I enjoy my concerts. I love classical music, jazz, blues and rock ‘n roll. I enjoy any music performed well that fully captivates the audience. We are totally immersed in the pure joy of listening when a dratted cellphone blasts forth with its own melody to ruin the moment. At the last concert I attended, I was delighted to hear the request to please turn off any cellphones–that’s progress!

Okay, now I feel better. Tossing out those pet peeves that can drive a person bonkers, (if you let it), is really great therapy. What’s your pet peeve(s)?


I have hats–lots and lots of hats. Hats for all seasons and all types of weather. My Mom use to knit all of us nice woolly hats for the winter–not that Victoria, BC ever experience long, cold winters, but Mom knits us warm, colourful hats anyway. I love my Mom’s knitted hats because I can squash them into my coat pockets, shake it out and plunk it on my head–easy-peasy with no fussing.

Summer has another kind of hat–light, UV protected with wide brims to shade the face. I have summer hats with big brims, wide brims, air holes for ventilation, different colours to match whatever colour I’m wearing for that day as well as hats with funky patterns to suit one’s mood.

The only downside of hats is “hat hair.” I loved those movies where the heroine whips off her huge, wide-brimmed, flower-bedecked hat and her long, beautiful blonde/bronze/raven/red/chestnut coloured curls, falls sexily down and around her shoulders, framing her heart-shaped face. When I whip my hat off, my short curly hair is pressed around my head with the hair in unsightly clumps—that is hat hair, my friend.

AND, where the movie heroine can finger comb her curls back into its sexy tousled look, my finger combing definitely makes it a rumpled look. The only thing missing would be a scruffy raincoat with a huge hood.

At this stage of my life, I think I am resigned to the necessity of hats and the resultant hat hair. Some of us have that flair for fashion and finger fluffing while wearing hats. The rest of us carry big purses or have big pockets for the brush and comb so that we can still look good when the hats come off. Maybe in my next life time, I’ll come back with the sexy hair that falls down and around my shoulders, framing my big brown eyes–only a quick finger fluff to ensure that perfect hair.

On the other hand, it would be my luck-of-the-draw to come back as a llama with sexy, silky hair that falls beautifully around big, brown eyes and a gentle face; a shake of the head to flip off that hat and the hair is still perfect. . .



For Spackle or Worse

For my 20th anniversary, Hubby presented me with my very own tub of Spackle. Bet you thought I made a typo and meant “sparkle” right?

Nope, I really meant “Spackle” which all do-it-yourselfers (DIY) knows is the queen of fillers for gouges, dents and small nails/screw holes left on the drywall after all the wallpaper is removed.

Spackle is great stuff because it goes on a distinctive pink and as it dries, it turns white. I got to wield a small spatula, gooping the pink stuff on the various parts of the wall, filling in the gouges and nail holes, smoothing it flat before it dried. This was great fun as there was none of the guesswork deciding whether the filler was dry enough to paint over. We only had to watch the bubblegum pink colour disappear to a mere white to know it was paint ready. Bet you’re asking yourself–hey, how did you become a do-it-yourselfer when you should be drinking champagne and celebrating?  To make a long story short, it was casting for a project—actually Hubby was casting for a project and I was merely making an observation.

We still had 1/2 can of paint and primer leftover from painting the bathroom. Our kitchen has a utility closet, closed off by a pocket door. Usually the door is open exposing the wall facing into the kitchen. Both kitchen and utility wall had the same wallpaper.  As I made my comment that I really detested that pattern on the utility room wall, Hubby was already checking it out. Hey, he says–this must be the leftover paper from the kitchen that they slapped on the wall because the other two walls are plain. Before you could say “spackle,” a strip of  wallpaper was lying on the floor.

Wow, I say. Should be easy to paint. . .right? Oops, wrong! As Hubby carefully checked things over, he discovered that if the rack holding the mops and brooms was removed AND the shelving above the washer and dryer dismantled, it should be easy to mostly roller-paint the walls with some brush work on the corners and ceiling lines. AND oh yes, if the washer and dryer could be moved forward a bit, we could paint as far down the back and side walls by the washer and dryer–that could be reached.

I like to think I’m a graceful, lithesome senior who can stretch effortlessly to 7 feet and yoga-fold my body into impossible shapes to paint those difficult places, corners and straight-ceiling lines. The truth of the matter is I’m short, a mere 5 feet and not as agile as my granddaughters, who can bend into a pretzel and do a somersault all at the same time. The real test was painting the primer or base coat. This was like a “test-run” and it was surprisingly easy. My ceiling lines were clean and straight except for the very slight wobble in the far corner which was a bit of a stretch for me, balanced precariously on the washer. The rollers were just the right size to roll as far down the back walls as I could reach and the paint brush did the side walls as far down as I could–the end result being that  the back and side walls looked completely painted where it was visible behind and beside the washer and dryer. The sight of a clean and bright white drywall was an incentive to paint the two coats of final colour as carefully as the primer.

So what should have been a 4-hour paint job stretched into a 2-day session. BUT, in the end, the utility room never looked brighter or cleaner. The only damage was the paint smear on the hip and butt of my shorts when I accidently backed into a wet wall, the paint splatters on my favourite old T-shirt, elbows and knees. I’m not sure how I got paint on my knees but I want you to know, the walls are beautiful!

AND before you asked what did Hubby do—well, he did all the needed prep work of dismantling shelving, moving the washer and dryer slightly, stripping off wallpaper and making things ready for me to goop, prime and paint. It was great team work. . .

On the actual  day of our 20th, Hubby took me out to a spectacular anniversary dinner at our favourite restaurant, complete with flowers, wine, chocolate dessert and a lot  of romance. . .Umm-mm, we still have 1/4 tin of paint and primer leftover, but we are definitely not looking for anymore painting projects just yet. . .


New Beginnings

Retirement is not a word in my dictionary–that is, if I ever had to create my own word dictionary–retirement would never find its way in there.

There is something very final in the word retirement. Perhaps, it’s the connotations in today’s world. After all, if a person has been happy enjoying their work/profession for decades, then suddenly thrust into leaving a job they love because of their age or because of circumstances that forces an early retirement or just an excuse to make room for a younger, less expensive workforce,  retirement must seem like the end of a useful life.

I like to think of retirement as a graduation–a graduation to a life of freedom to do what you have always wanted to do. There is no reason or excuse not to become that full-time artist or writer or craftsman because we did finish school, got a real job and made something of ourselves. We have left behind our footprints and hopefully helped create a responsible world–at least, a teeny-tiny portion of a world where we have helped people and made a difference in someone’s life.

Now it’s your turn. You can seek your rainbow with an adventurous spirit. You can satisfy your insatiable curiosity for knowledge in matters unrelated to your previous working life. This is your time to fully leap into your part-time hobbies or activities that you always thought would be your full-time job when you retire.

Sound familiar? We have all said this at some time or other while we toiled away at our jobs. Now it’s official. You can do all the things you had thought about and regretfully put aside because other things like family responsibilities and life’s crisis made it impossible back then.

And hey, you know that age thing that got you retired in the first place? Don’t listen to those nagging voices telling you that you are too old to climb that mountain or fly that plane. You are too young not to aim for the moon, the stars and the rainbows.

Go ahead. Graduation is for everyone–not just the young. The world is really your oyster now because you have earned the right to grab your dreams and make them come true. After all, you have the battle-scars to prove it. So let’s raise that glass of bubbly to a New Life and New Beginnings–it’s waiting for you.

(This is dedicated to two good friends who recently retired after working a total of 82 years between them.)


It’s Good For You

Some people thrive on exercise. You know, the hard physical sweat of toting those bales and lifting those sacks. Being the 21st century, this is equivalent to the various metal monster gym machines that tests your physical abilities to the max.  Me? I’m the gal that loves anything stimulating the mind. If I can find an exercise that’s fun, stimulates the mind and gives a good work-out, you’ll find me there.

I’ve signed up for Jazzercise, Line-dancing, Golden Zumba, Burlesque-fit, Hawaiian dancing, Taoist tai-chi and the latest dance trend, Nuline dancing. All of these choices were fun and not at all like a dreaded exercise class.  I really enjoyed my “work-outs” as it also tested your memory in remembering the sequence of moves. They were all challenging and entertaining.

Recently, I signed up for the Yang style of tai-chi—learning 22 moves in 6 sessions. The lady registering me typed the last digit wrong and I found myself in a Qui Gong class instead. The brochure described Qui Gong as “These gentle, flowing movements combine breathing, movement and concentration to increase strength, flexibility and endurance while relieving stress.” Participants were further informed that Qui Gong was similar to tai chi, but easier to master as the movements were simpler. Well, here I was and I decided to give it my best efforts.

Glancing around the room, I noted there were 30 adults/seniors ranging anywhere from 55-80 years. I decided to stand near the oldest person in the room. This strategy would supposedly make me look more co-ordinated, especially if the elderly senior looked as if a puff of wind would knock him over. We chatted and his name was Ben. Ben was 82 and loved Qui Gong.

At first, the breathing exercises, movement of the arms and shifting of body weight did feel like tai-chi, even reminiscent of a hint of Hawaiian dancing. As the simple moves and holds progressed to more serious moves, Qui Gong felt like isometric core exercises with a dash of yoga thrown in.  If done correctly, it was like a “stretching” workout. Ben was doing it fluidly and effortlessly.

The instructor came over to assist me.

“I’ll support your arms above your head while you relax your body.”

Sighing, I stood straight. raised my arms above my head, bent my knees into a comfortable “sitting” position, relaxed my midriff by breathing through my belly button, tucked my chin onto my chest while fiercely concentrating on remaining loose and pliable. Then still gently supporting my arms straight above my head, the instructor whispered in my ear, “And don’t fall on me.”

Well  for goodness sakes, who can  hold that pose without laughing? I went home and glumly told my Hubby, “I will never make it as a monk.”

And he replied, “I hate to tell you this but women can’t be.”  Thank goodness. . .


The Little Things in Life

Over the years, I’ve found that it’s usually a series of little things that have a way of making you pause and savour; even pause and contemplate the oddities or action of that particular moment that captures your attention. If you’re receptive to noticing the little things, you may find that there are several occurrences during your busy day. My favourites are the little vignettes that springs up to make life interesting. And even if you find them annoying, hey, don’t sweat the small stuff—just let it go and remember to keep breathing without popping your blood pressure.

Whenever I can, I try to do a daily power walk. This is usually a 5 kilometer fast-walk that takes me through neighbouring streets, the Village and Bowker Creek Park. Sometimes I head in another direction that takes me along a scenic water view, million dollars estates with its lavish landscaping, the Marina with all its sail boats and yachts docked neatly side-by-side and a golf course that’s divided by a busy street. I find that when I walk, I can see things that are easily missed when I’m driving my car. Today I witnessed the mini-drama of a Dad teaching his 4 year old daughter to ride her bike. “Pump your legs, Carly. You have to keep moving your legs so your bike can keep moving too,” he encouraged. As his daughter got into the rhythm of biking, he casually let go of his hand steadying the bike. A moment of shocked silence and a happy shriek of, “Daddy, I’m biking all by myself!” For a parent, this would be a definite landmark, but for a casual passer-by, this is one of those little things that reflects one of Life’s  happy moments.

I love stopping at different coffee-bars because each place has its own unique quality of coffee beans. And of course, each place has its own unique assortment of home-made pastries that goes with a good cuppa. I decided to pause at the Marina, the half-way point of my scenic water route. With my coffee in hand plus a warm sausage wrapped in flaky pastry, I sat at a small outdoor patio table, enjoying the warm sun and watching the dockside activity. At the next table, a young child of about three years, sat between her grandparents. The couple were enjoying their coffees and sharing a plate of French fries with the toddler. Their obvious joy and delight of having their granddaughter for a brief period was evident on the couple’s faces. Grandpa picked up a French fry, dipped it into the small dish of ketchup, popped it into his mouth and chewed with gusto. The tot’s eyes grew wide with wonder. Grandma passed a small piece of French fry to her granddaughter who carefully imitated her Grandpa by dipping it into the small dish of ketchup and popping it into her mouth, chewing with enthusiasm and apparent delight. Grandma was about to pass another French fry to her granddaughter, but a seagull waiting greedily for his moment, grabbed the French fry with his beak and triumphantly flew away. Seeing both her grandparents laughing at the antic of the seagull, the little girl laughed too. This was such a delightful family scene for it was impossible not to smile at the toddler’s introduction to French fries and scavenging seagulls.

My homeward route took me past the Scented Gardens. This is one of my favourite places to pause for each  season brought scented flowers and fragrant shrubs for the enjoyment of people with low-vision and/or no vision. For those with vision, the colours, combined with the scents, creates a pleasant interlude. Whoever planned the garden made sure the scents were mere whispers, not cloying; it tantalized as its faint perfumes drifted by.  It remembers a time past when people actually sat and enjoyed a beautiful garden.

Life’s simple pleasures are often little things that are taken for granted, unnoticed,  yet there for anyone to enjoy.