Trivia and Gems of Wisdom

Besides writing stuff, I’m a reader—actually a voracious reader. I enjoy most genres in books since good writers can make the driest subjects appealing and fascinating. The reason I’m talking about my passion for the written pages–which means a real book with a cover and pages you actually turn–is because I am not fond of devices that gives you digital pages. With digital pages, not everything is converted from the original source.

I enjoy the bits of trivia and wisdom unexpectedly sprinkled in the pages of books, magazines and daily newspapers. In magazines and newspapers, I suspect these are “fillers” that are sometimes gems to be unearthed, treasures to be noticed. I have collected a few of these gems that I particularly admire and often leave the readers with a smile.

As a chocolate lover, this is one of my favourites: “Chocolate comes from cacao which comes from a tree. That makes chocolate a plant. Therefore, chocolate counts as a salad.” Great logic when it comes to chocolate! And who said it had to be accurate ?

I’ve always wanted to use this old Russian proverb in one of my stories: “Better to be slapped with the Truth than kissed with a Lie.”  So true.

I have this quotation from Louis L’Amour–a legendary writer of tales from the Old West—prominently displayed in my den. “Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”  Yep–keep writing, no matter what; eventually something will pop out and stick–those are the “keeper” bits.

Apparently the late Andy Rooney of “60 Minutes” fame was quoted as saying, “I’ve learned that opportunities are never lost. Someone will take the ones you miss.”  But, I often wondered, what if no one took the ones you missed? Does that mean it will come back to you?

Winston Churchill’s encouraging words often demonstrated his philosophy and positive hopes for the future, a future that seemed to cast a dim light of hope.  “Success is not final; failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.”  Another bit of Churchill wisdom:  “A Pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity. An Optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

Mark Twain has been credited with saying, “A Lie can travel halfway around the world while the Truth is putting on its shoes”  So true, especially if one lives in a small community or neighbourhood, where everyone is your neighbour!

And Lily Tomlin, comedian, has been quoted saying, “The road to success is always under construction.” Hmm-mm–all writers can testify to that!

Winnie-the-Pooh’s creator, A. A. Milne said: “You’re braver than you believe; stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.” I bet Winne-the-Pooh Bear told this to Eeyore, the Donkey. . . . .

A very wise, but unknown author stated: “Knowledge is free, but you have to bring your own container.”

I’ve always enjoyed the late Ann Landers, the advice columnist. This is one of her quotes: “The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.”

And the one I truly treasure, credited to a wise lady named Susan Gale. “The only things you can take with you when you leave this world are the things you’ve packed inside your heart.”

Hope this makes everyone run out to find that magazine and to check the daily newspapers for these nifty bits of wisdom and quotes wherever fillable space is needed. Plus, don’t forget to check your books because there are writers who will slip in a quote or bit of trivia to tickle your brain cells and to make sure you are paying attention to their printed words. . . . . .

 

Is This Love?

“I love. . .” are rather meaningless words when applied to a favourite book, piece of music, a place, designer clothes and/or desired object.

I confess that I do use the “love” word a lot. When it’s applied to a person, that person means a great deal to me. If I applied love to a triple layer, dark chocolate cake with dark chocolate mousse filling, it means I really, really enjoyed every bite of this decadent dessert, down to its final dark chocolate crumb.

I think “love” is a greatly over-used word that we tend to apply because it conjures up a warm, fuzzy feeling of being treasured, valued, adored. But, dark chocolate is an enjoyment, Las Vegas is fun and Gucci is a pleasure, even though we tend to use love in describing them.

It seems a good deal of time, the “love” word can easily be exchanged for “enjoy” and “like,” unless it refers to someone close to you or feels important to you.

Love loses its value when used to describe the red Ferrari, the beautiful sunrise/sunset, the spectacular fireworks or the memorable barbecue.

We all know the things we treasure and enjoy, but let’s save the “love word” for the person or persons who deserve to hear it.

A Canadian Day

Today, July 1st, is Canada’s 150th birthday. When you think about it, it’s not a very long history–not like our neighbors to the south, the United States of America or Britain, Italy, France and other European countries. Every country has had a turbulent history and each leader has taken the path he thinks may be a better one. Canada has a young leader, who faces the many challenges of the 21st century, both external as well as  internal. He is making his place in the history books, hopefully a good place of his own, in his own footsteps.

A country is made up of multitudes of people; people of all races, cultures, beliefs. They are the strength of a country. The First Nations people had settled here first and would be the earliest Canadians. Most of us have come from elsewhere, if not directly, our parents and/or grandparents did. It took courage and fortitude to come with nothing and to make a new life facing massive discrimination and hardships; to start new generations, each better than the one before. As a 3rd generation Chinese-Canadian with a 4th generation stepson and 5th generation grandchildren, the road has been much easier than for my grandparents and parents. Our children and grandchildren will forge ahead, facing their own challenges and smoothing the path for succeeding generations.

As a Canadian, we are proud of what we are, what we stand for, what we believe and fight for. We are real people–professionals and non-professionals–just regular folks found everywhere that makes up this enormous country. We have a social conscience, moral obligations and we are the foundation that  forms this young nation of ours. We enjoy our freedom of speech and value our right to vote how we choose. We are becoming more tolerant, patient and forgiving, but we are still learning and growing.

No family is perfect and nations are the same. Despite the flaws, I am proud to be a Canadian because the good things  far outweighs anything  bad. Hopefully we are learning from our past and changing in a positive way for the future. It is a slow process. Today is a day to celebrate our progress.

Happy 150th Birthday, Canada!

 

‘Shrooms, Dandelions and. . . .

When Hubby and I lived in our little house, there were two things I vowed to eradicate each year—mushrooms and dandelions. Seemed easy at the time; just pull out the darn mushrooms and yank out the darn dandelions.  But, have you noticed? Life is never easy and simple solutions are a definite challenge. After every heavy rainfall, the mushrooms had bigger colonies. It was now an invasion as the mushrooms had proliferated. They covered one-quarter of what was once an immaculate, healthy,  lush, green lawn. It looked like an alien invasion of sprawling domed “rooftops”–some were little creamy buttons, some were an orangey hue with a  black rim and two or three were frilly and enormous.  All were doomed. After all, I was the person with the big trowel.  When I was done, the lawn looked cleared but now had multiple craters, dotting its immaculate green. Ever the optimist, I had faith the lawn would be pristine once again, but. . . . .

Dandelions are amazing. I’m convinced they were part of prehistoric times when the cave women fed brontosaurus steaks and “greens” to her family. Even as centuries passed, dandelions survived.  AND, using every gadget known and unknown to Man for dandelion removal, the pesky weed kept coming back. After a month or two of vigorously digging up the roots of the yellow invader, more popped up elsewhere on the lawn. Our little house sat at the beginning of our street and was in the best location to attract all the seeds released by the dandelions’ fluffy heads. In the end, my only comment is that dandelions are indestructible. Like the mushrooms, they are a tenacious invader. I think this is my punishment now, because as a child, I loved blowing the puffy, feathery heads that distributed the dandelions’ seeds everywhere. Our house was a magnet that attracted the seeds, from all directions, to find its home on our lawn.

Aside from mushrooms and dandelions that plague our West Coast lawns, it’s astonishing the expense that homeowners pay to grow an immaculate, show-stopper, green and lush lawn. Once it’s achieved, it has to be cut and/or trimmed, fed a nutritious diet, watered regularly and then cut and/or trimmed again.

If we ever move to another little house, I’m going to make sure we have those decorative  paving stones in lieu of a lawn and the “garden” will be enormous planters that will contain picturesque blooms. No more worries over ‘shrooms and dandelions!

Sigh. . .Multi-tasking

Multitasking is not a new thing for most of us, but women have fine-tuned this act to its highest level.  I have read Writing-World’s Moira Allen’s article on the subject, (http://www.writing-world.com/coffee/coffee78.shtml), and found myself nodding in agreement. Yes, yes and yes. Did that, done that. How else does one get through the research, writing, filing, printing, emails, etc. while doing the other mundane chores of laundry, cooking, grocery shopping and oh yes, most important of all, keeping Hubby happy? However, I didn’t think there was such a fine line between real multitasking and simply doing a multitude of tasks. I think Life is a big multitasking activity. The end result is supposed to give us extra time to do our anticipated leisurely,  fun-times—right? After all, how else can we squeeze out a few more precious hours to do what we want to do.

As an example, today I’m doing laundry, baking cookies and writing out my grocery list. These tasks are accomplished while the wash is doing its various cycles, the cookie dough is being mixed and plonked onto cookie sheets. As the first batch is slipped into the oven, the wash is tossed into the dryer. And while the cookies are baking and the laundry is in the dryer, I can scribble out my grocery list. By that time,  the first batch of cookies are out of the oven and the second batch is popped  in. I still have 20 minutes in the dryer and 18 minutes for that last batch of cookies, time enough to check my email. By the time the laundry is folded and the cookies cooling, it’s time for a trip to the supermarket for meal fixings for the next two days while thinking of something for lunch for Hubby and I.  After lunch, we’re off for a walk to clear our minds and see what’s happening along our walking route. We meet a beautiful Norwegian Elkhound, two mini-poos, a gorgeous Irish setter and an aloof English sheepdog–all walking their owners.

Home once more, I check the time–2 whole hours before its time to cook dinner. Glorious! I dive into my den, settle into my comfy chair, open my latest work-in-progress and. . .yep, you guessed it,. . .blank! My brain was taking a nap.  Yes, I did multitask and managed to save two whole hours to craft my fiction,  but my creative brain went on a holiday. Nonetheless, I did canoodle around with the computer and added two pages of inventive nonsense. The point being that I did put something down on paper. Perhaps, the beginnings of another story. I like to think my file folder of “Great Beginnings” is bursting with great starts that will eventually evolve into great stories.

Tonight I will make sure my pen and pad are close by when I go to sleep.  I’m  positive I will be zapped awake in the middle of the night with some inspiring bits and pieces that I will want to remember in the light of day.

Multitasking is helpful but creativity is an elusive muse. I’m convinced it takes more than an hour or two of saved time to capture its essence.

(Originally posted on Red Room, edited and reposted on Chocofigbee. . .)

Marcie

When I was 9, my friend Marcie convinced me that just because you’re a girl, doesn’t mean you have to be girly all the time. To prove her point, Marcie let loose the best Tarzan yell ever at the Mall. This was also the time I was supposed to be more lady-like to set a good example for my little sister. With her big blue eyes, curly mop of red-hair and freckles galore on her face, Marcie let loose another Tarzan yell that would have brought a tribe of apes and a herd of elephants to her side. Though we were both tiny in stature, Marcie was so totally opposite from me in behaviour and personality, that I always marvelled how we remained such good friends.

My home was a 10-minute walk to school. My route took me past Marcie’s house and we would meet up to walk the last 2 blocks together. Clifford was the school bully who terrorized all the kids, especially the younger ones who were smaller. After school, Marcie and I were his “targets.” Clifford would follow us both because he had a crush on Marcie and he made sure Marcie got home safely. After that, it was my problem as Marcie wasn’t around to help me. But best friends know a lot and Marcie wasn’t blind to Clifford’s bullying ways.

I carried a skipping rope and was coordinated enough to walk, skip, dance and jump while working my rope. Marcie taught me the rhythm of double-rope skipping. My brother taught me the art of self-defense.  The school bully taught me self-confidence.

As Clifford followed me down the street, calling out insulting names he learned at home and yelling spiteful threats, Marcie had slipped out her back door. She was following along through her neighbour’s back yards, hidden behind their cedar hedges. She could hear all of Clifford’s hurtful words.

My hands tightened around the knotted ends of my skipping rope as I turned to confront Clifford. Marcie popped out of Mrs. Mack’s front gate to stand beside me. Silence reigned as the school bully faced the “love-of-his-life” and his “target.”

Kids have their own codes for survival in their journey towards adulthood. Bullies have their codes as well. Marcie had three brothers who had taught her a lot and she had seen what they did to the bullies in their lives. My brother taught me a lot too. Silently, we faced Clifford. Marcie didn’t have to say anything—her look of disgust and disapproval said it all. Without a word,  Clifford retreated.

I like to think all bullies have a weakness. Clifford’s was being confronted and he wasn’t prepared for that, especially not by someone he had a crush on.  At the age of nine, Marcie instinctively knew this. If she had told her brothers about Clifford’s crush on her, they would have laughed him away, making him Marcie’s enemy.  But Marcie also knew that if she ever told her brothers what a bully Clifford was, they would have taught him a lesson, never to be forgotten.

The other day, I was thinking of Marcie and our long friendship.  I had just received a letter with a photo of Marcie’s daughter with her  14-months old toddler—both had big blue eyes, a curly mop of red hair and freckles galore all over their faces. I wondered if Marcie ever taught them the Tarzan yell. . . .?

Truths

Have you ever considered stuff you have learned on your own—without your Mom or best friend telling you? Let me tell you a few things I have picked up and/or suspected, as I stumble through Life.

I have long suspected there truly are fat mirrors and skinny mirrors.

What, you didn’t know this? Yes, there are such things as mirrors that can make you look fat or skinny.  Ladies, haven’t you noticed that trying on things in the change room convinces you that your body looks fabulous in whatever it is you’re trying on?  That’s because the store has installed skinny mirrors in these rooms. Once you get your treasures home and try it on in front of your bedroom mirror, reality hits because at home, we all have fat mirrors. How else can we explain why the fit is just not as fabulous as we initially thought when we were at the store.

Don’t you just love it when you had the most perfect meal in a classy restaurant? The service was impeccable. The meal was absolutely delicious and perfect. The dessert was totally awesome. Plus your dining partner was entertaining and enjoyed every moment too. So you go back with your best friend and the lunch service, etc. was just as great as the previous dinner. Then all of a sudden, you have unexpected company from out-of-town. They are “special people” and that calls for a great dinner.  Of course your reservation got lost, but there is a table in the back corner, between the swinging kitchen door and the hallway to the washrooms.  That night, the fabulous chef is off duty so there are a few menu choices that are not available, including the restaurant’s “signature” dish.  The service is lacking a certain “spark” as the wait-person is not a chatty person. The lesson learned?  I have learned not to gush over a fabulous restaurant because as sure as God made little green apples, it disappoints when you want it to be perfect. At least the company enjoyed themselves and found the evening most entertaining.

Bakers and bakeries must have their “off” days too.  How else to explain that the fabulous, light-as-air chiffon cake with the dark chocolate mousse filling—the cake that’s the crowning glory for the bakery—should suddenly have a vengeful,  yet creative Grinch in the kitchen.  His heavier-than-lead cake is now a brandy-soaked cake drenched in fresh raspberries with a chocolate mousse topping and raspberry coulis drizzled on the side.  This was actually quite decadent with its generous quantity of brandy, but we really wanted our light-as-air chiffon cake with the dark chocolate mousse filling.

AND, how about parking spaces?  Have you ever driven around the block a dozen times, hoping that someone will move their car just as you come along and can dive right into that suddenly vacant space?  I have.  Just as I drove past for the fourteenth time, someone was just entering their car to move out.  I hurried around the corner to slowly come up to that newly vacant spot, when one of those diabolical half-cars, whipped past me and zinged into the space big enough for two of them.

Makes you want to go back and have another piece of that brandy dessert. . .