All posts by sammee44

About sammee44

I am a West Coast Reader and Writer who enjoys the big and little things in Life. My philosophy is--if you don't enjoy those precious moments and savour the joy, then how can you appreciate the little things that crosses your daily path?

WINDOW STOPPING

If it stops you in your tracks, then that’s the window worth a good look.”

Sometimes I like to do a slow window stopping walking route. The variety of shops and businesses along this route often have eye-catching windows. It makes it worth-while to pause and capture whatever caught my attention with my handy-dandy senior cellphone’s camera.

These distinctive little shoemakers, in the front window of the shoe repair shop, always makes me stop. They have me smiling to see these busy shoemakers working so industriously.

A few doors down is the buy-n-sell with its ever changing hodge-podge of “treasures” –or, just a fun stop to check out all the “what-nots” previous owners considered junk. Did you spot the old Singer sewing machine?

One of my favorite stops is Gardenworks as it has such great displays in their large display windows as well as inside their fascinating store. Their current eye-stopping window display shows off these beautiful orchids.

Perhaps it was a salute to the West Coast and being on an Island, but this Gardenwork’s nautical theme appealed to my senses and captured my camera’s attention.

Sharing the other half of the Avenue Butcher’s building is a talented chef/owner. He specializes in curing and preparing meats utilizing the “whole beast,” or animal in a variety of tasty methods. The name of his business is on an amazing mural on the side of his building.

Another window makes me pause as I ponder what type of service this store provides.,

Apparently, it is the Herbal Path, a store specializing in acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine.

Further along the street is an antique store with its front windows often capturing my attention. Sometimes the displays are large, ornately carved pieces of furniture; other times, the window display is quite simple.

Depending upon my mood, my walks are always an adventure. It could be a challenging walk with steep hills or a scenic walk along the water. Sometimes, it could be a walk through the residential side streets and laneways. But now and then, there is the leisurely fun stroll to simply window stop. . . . .

FOOTPRINTS IN THE SNOW

A brand new year always make me think of a fresh snowfall. It’s Day 5 of the new 2023, but I like to view my year as an unblemished canvas, free of footprints so far. It would be unthinkable to have anything marring the progress of a new beginning. However, this is real Life and Fate has a habit of intervening when least expected. And footprints tend to tread in unexpected places.

As the Holiday Season winds down, I started a search for frivolous, not-serious, fun facts that will put any thoughts of war, climate-change, Covid and other sobering thoughts aside for the moment.

The first gem was how to eat a croissant properly. I had never thought one way or the other how to tackle a flaky croissant. After all, flaky crumbs aside, devouring a freshly baked almond or chocolate croissant–even a plain one–warm from the oven, usually results in crumbs on your lap and on your plate. Well apparently, there is a protocol, written by Clarice Knelly, here is the link: https://www.msn.com/en-ca/travel/tripideas/how-to-eat-a-croissant-without-making-a-huge-mess/ar-AA15E2v7?ocid=msedgdhp&pc=U531&cvid=b50d7b75e7354b98d15af3da3f023b8b

Have you ever wondered what Astronauts nibble and nosh on up there in their space jammies? Me too. Guess what? According to the following link, heat resistant Hershey chocolates made a trip to the space station. Why “heat resistant?” Because silly–no one wants melted chocolates on their clean space suits. Here’s the link to “The Time Hershey’s Chocolate Went To The Moon.” https://www.msn.com/en-ca/foodanddrink/foodnews/the-time-hershey-s-chocolate-went-to-the-moon/ar-AA15C3LZ?ocid=msedgdhp&pc=U531&cvid=b50d7b75e7354b98d15af3da3f023b8b

I really love what people throw out on the Internet. Who hasn’t enjoyed unwrapping a Terry’s Orange Chocolate Ball? It is such a novelty to unwrap the orange foil, gently tap the round ball of chocolate and watch the ball fan out with chocolate slices. You’ll have to watch this brief video to see there is a purpose to a piece of the packaging—who would have thought? https://www.msn.com/en-ca/foodanddrink/foodnews/sorry-what-the-packaging-on-a-terry-s-chocolate-has-a-hidden-use/ar-AA15XMaa?ocid=msedgdhp&pc=U531&cvid=50eaebe7cb6349ce8bbb6a7f0fe18532

I saved this gem for last. Wouldn’t you love to impress family and friends by “sabering” the top off a bottle of bubbly. Click on this very helpful link. . .and apparently a sword/saber isn’t necessary. https://msn,com/en-ca/health/wellness/how-to-saber-a-bottle-of-champagne-using-a-sword-spoon-or-even-a-watch/ar-AA15GzKr?ocid=msedgdhp&pc=U531&cvid=50eaebe7cb6349ceBbbb6a7f0fe18532

Hopefully, I’ve plunged us into 2023 with smiles and a bucket of useful information. After all, not everyone knows how to eat a croissant properly or sabering off the top of a bottle of bubbly. . . . .

CHRISTMAS IS. . . . .

“Christmas isn’t a season, it’s a feeling.” Edna Ferber

“Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more.” Dr. Seuss

Christmas is a gathering of family and friends; the comfort and warmth of home and hearth; the sharing of the joy and pleasures of the Holiday Season. It is the sound of excited children and laughter; the special smells of pine trees, roasting turkeys, the spicy scent of mince tarts and gingerbread; colorful holly and chrysanthemums including boisterous renditions of familiar carols are all part of the Holiday scene.

It is a kaleidoscope of Christmases past and new Christmas memories of ones yet to come.

Thank you for following my blog. I have been fortunate meeting new friends who have discovered me as well as the encouragement of old friends whose humorous and observant comments are always welcome.

One of my Christmas cards said exactly what I feel: “May this Christmas warm your heart with Hope and light your World with Love.”

MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE. MAY 2023 BE A YEAR OF HAPPINESS, GOOD HEALTH AND YOUR YEAR TO SHINE AND PROSPER. . . .

ARE WE GETTING OLDER OR ARE WE GETTING WISER?

I’m not sure if it’s the dreary weather of fog, ice, rain and broody gray skies, but lately little things have caught my attention.

Tracy Ewens, in her blog, “From the Laundry Room,” (https://fromthelaundryroom.com/2022/11/20/air-dry-2/) mentioned how little things have captured her attention—things taken for granted or barely noticed before but now examined with a critical eye.

I, too, have noticed this phenomena. Hubby did point out that we are getting older, but I made it clear that one of us was and it wasn’t me.

My theory is that retiring from the work world gave us an opportunity to slow down our insane rushing here and there. Every day is a weekend so there was plenty of time to enjoy all the mundane, ordinary stuff we had missed when working. This was our time to enjoy our morning coffees and leisurely breakfasts. Our time to relax and plan a day filled with all the things we had put aside for this new chapter of our lives.

I had planned on reading through my stack of books set aside for when I had time; fun lunches with friends; side trips around the Island and over to the Mainland. I would spend more time on my needlecrafts and photography AND write the great Canadian novel!

Hah–that was 10 years ago. So much for great plans.

No one had ever mentioned how the days would slide quickly away. Suddenly, it was the end of another week and you’re asking yourself, “What did we do?”

The other day I was doing my weekly grocery shopping and darn if an energetic senior didn’t pop out from another aisle and almost slammed me to the ground. I moved but my cart didn’t. He looked 99 but had the moves of a 70 year old. My scream of alarm didn’t slow him down at all. His mission was getting to the cashier before any lineup formed. Visions of me possibly lying unconscious in the soup aisle with grocery cart wheels rolling down my body didn’t elicit any guilt or remorse.

It made me realize how our lives can end in a nano-second. One small incident could change a life forever. I was not going to end my life in the soup aisle.

Are we getting older or are we just getting wiser? I like to think we are getting wiser. My list remains the same except my stack of books-to-be-read continues changing. I don’t grocery shop as early as I use to—-that’s the dangerous hour for maniac seniors whose mission is to charge through the store to beat the non-existing rush. I have definitely slowed down to see all the things I missed before. I love photographing all the bits and pieces I see on my walks as people have a playfulness that shows in their gardens or nooks or fences or in tiny corners where walkers like me, wander by and really notice whatever it is.

I want to reassure my friend Tracy, “From the Laundry Room,” that we are both very fortunate in finally having the time to appreciate all the little things and small special moments in our day-to-day life. It’s wonderful to do what we want when we want most of the times. Let’s embrace our freedom from clocks and schedules with laughter and joy; a bag of Cheetos and a good movie; a new coffee bar and a chocolate dessert and the list keeps growing.

Now, if I could only find time to write my great Canadian novel. . . .

HALLOWEEN and AUTUMN

Halloween is not my favorite holiday,. I don’t think it ever was even as a kid. But on my recent rambling walks, it never fails to amaze and amuse me whenever I pause to admire a homeowner’s enthusiastic display of gloom and doom. I discovered that there is a definite creepy creepiness versus creepy entertainment that’s more vintage horror movie and atmosphere. My choices are entertaining. The Halloween decor can be as simple as hairy spiders and cobwebs. . . .or pumpkins and cobwebs. . . . . .

Last year, the trend was headstones, skulls and skeletal bones scattered above the ground. . . . . .

But this year, it seems two or three cackling witches stirring their cauldrons dominates many Halloween yards with an additional “guest” or two such as the creepy butler waking up his “beloved” or the ghoul and ghost meeting by the stone steps.

Enroute home, it was almost a relief to see normal scenes celebrating Autumn and not Halloween–apples ready for harvesting. . . .

Sunflowers reaching for the sky and a pumpkin, hopefully the first of a “bumper” crop of more to come. . . . .

October is rapidly coming to a close and November is standing in the wings, ready to wrap its late days of Autumn around Winter’s arrival. . . . .I give you this wonderful display of pumpkins, squashes and Fall flowers.

I wish each and everyone of you a safe Halloween and a bountiful Harvest.

MORE FENCES, GATES AND OTHER STUFF

When I take my morning walks, I have no specific routes in mind. My area has an amazing number of connectors and lanes that beckons; and I enjoy the adventure of discovering something new or unusual that captures my attention.

On one of the many lanes and connectors, there is a fence that is a delightful and whimsical display of the many “treasures” an imaginative homeowner had found at garage sales or collected over the years.

Gates are often a sight to enjoy. I came across the “Spirit Deer” gate which stopped me in my tracks.

The homeowner also had another “Spirit Deer” gate at the

front of his house. I was passing his back gate that faced a lane.

On another morning I discovered a pair of ornate gates that shielded a medical building’s parking lot. I had passed it many times and only discovered they showed a pair of hummingbirds. . . .

And what about nooks and crannies? Don’t you just love what creative homeowners do with small spaces? One homeowner made an artistic display of their short driveway fence. And, by a Rooster back gate, there is a rustic seat beneath a shady tree.

On my route homewards, a swinging cat and a vintage bike on a rusty gatepost ruled the scenery. . . .Where do people find these?

It’s amazing what a person can see. . . when a person really looks.

“NEW AND IMPROVED,” BANISHED HERE

I suspect when the words, “New and Improved” appears on any product, item or whatever, it usually means the product, item or whatever has been improved better than the original. I hate these words because for me, it’s usually the kiss of death when these words appear.

Why are products, items or whatever—that are perfectly fine and need no further improvements—are suddenly improved? Is it because the little elves and drone bees have nothing to do except make life miserable for the rest of us who enjoy the product, item or whatever, just the way it is?

Let me put this perplexing problem into perspective with a few examples.

My favorite Belgian dark chocolate almond bar was unavailable for two months due to production and transportation problems. Sound familiar? Well, my favorite chocolate bar finally arrived on store shelves but the fancy new wrapper had sparkly green letters announcing “New and Improved.” How can anyone improve on chocolate? I read the small print on the wrapper. My 72% Belgian dark chocolate with roasted whole almonds has more alien ingredients to preserve its shelf life. If my chocolate bars were being sent to the astronauts on the space station, then the need to add more preservatives are understood. BUT, come on, we’re talking chocolate here and at my house, there’s no worries about chocolate hanging around too long. . .

Some months back, Hubby and I discovered a commercially baked apple-rhubarb pie and a sour cherry pie that tasted as if I had baked them myself. These store-bought pies were delicious. They had all-natural ingredients and that flaky golden crust with the lumpy surface because it was stuffed with great filling. The filling wasn’t that thick, icky-sweet commercial filling, but tasted as if I had peeled, sliced and sweetened with just enough sugar and spices. These pies were the dessert answer when I didn’t have time to bake. Today I saw the pies—new box, new size, new label, new price and with those dreaded words, “New and Improved.” I checked the ingredients and sure enough, there were sufficient chemicals to make that thick, icky-sweet filling and a phony pie crust. It was also a smaller pie with a bigger price. I decided to go home and bake my own.

The absolute, totally worst scenario is when “New and Improved” hits technology. I’m not against any improvements if it makes life easier. BUT, I am against any improvements relating to my computer programs that are working perfectly fine.

Do those techie knuckleheads ever consider the number of people who do not need to link their computers to smart phones, electronic notepads and all the other techie gizmos other people need to stay connected to? I only have my laptop that so far, can be persnickety, but if it had to deal with learning a new system, it (the laptop), would go into such a traumatized state, that no amount of dark chocolates or mini-donuts, would cajole it into a working mode.

I state this with complete sincerity—“Leave my programs alone!” It took me 6 months to learn the ins-and-outs of the previous program and another 6 months to learn the program that’s now been discontinued. I am literally getting older by the minute each time there is a you-know-what announcement. I don’t want to link my computer to my wrist-watch. I like my peace and quiet when I’m away from my desk. There are no buzzes, beeps or cheery tunes to call me back.

I like my old programs because it continually works for me. It doesn’t need any further improvements, So, please leave us a choice of whether or not we want the improved version. My “senior” laptop and “senior” cellphone thanks you.

Wait a sec— I was just about to take a calming bite of my dark chocolate almond bar when I noticed something else in fine print on the spiffy new label. The chocolate company is now under a new “Mother Ship.” If there is anything worse than “new and improved,” it’s called “Under New Management.”

Sigh. Life just handed us another lemon. . . . . .

THE EARLY BIRD CATCHES THE. . . . .

I enjoy hitting the walking route early in the morning. This is the absolute best time to see the wildlife not normally seen later in the day. For me, this is also the coolest time of the day for a lengthy walk. The walk had barely started when I finally topped this hill and spotted Mama Deer and her Twins. She was “teaching” them the joys of nibbling someone’s garden and totally ignored me, so I hauled out my senior cellphone and snapped off a quick photo before noticing “Papa” was watching curiously behind me. Continuing on my way, a family of raccoons ambled across the road and up a long winding driveway. Mama Raccoon leading her 4 babies, while “Dad” followed at the rear–all focused on their morning buffet in another tasty garden. I totally missed that photo-op as I had never seen such a large party of raccoons before. By the time I thought of my cellphone camera, the family had disappeared from view.

It is astonishing how a densely populated urban area can produce wildlife that can somehow survive and thrive. I have seen brown and gray squirrels; numerous deer, bucks and their off-springs; raccoons, a rabbit and a peacock along my various routes.

Gates never stop the wildlife. Deer could go around or jump over them while raccoons could just mosey up the winding driveway like expected guests. Gates fascinated me because some gates screamed “Private, Go Away.”

While other gates beckoned and smiled “Welcome” with a bit of floral art wrapped around the iron work. . . .

Fences and driveways can be amazingly aloof and private but can still give positive vibes with plants, ornaments or a bit of creative thought.

I enjoy the sight of pink roses that add a splash of color poking through a worn fence . . . . or a graceful ornamental crane to brighten a corner of their garden.

I love this sight –it looked so right in the garden. . . .

Splashes of brightly coloured geraniums against this fence, interspersed with bits of tiny blue flowers, grabbed my attention each time I pass. . . .

My early morning walks are a daily adventure as I never know what will be captured by my camera. All I know for sure is that it will tease the senses and make me stop, if only for a moment. . . .

LESS IS MORE. . .OR MAYBE NOT

Since the Covid isolation tentatively ended, I’ve noticed friends and family have looked more well-rounded, if you get my drift. Perhaps social interactions–pre-Covid–were often linked to group exercise and snacks, so the enforced self-isolation still linked to snacks, but without the closeness of social activities.

I have a theory about myself. There were no mini-donuts because the weekly Farmers’ Markets, the Arts and Crafts shows, the Collectible Car shows and all the other stuff that brings on the mini-donut carts were all cancelled for 2 long years. I should have been cured of mini-donuts and should have emerged, at least svelte, even if I was still short.

It didn’t work that way–at least, my Fairy Godmother didn’t make it happen.

You know that old saying, “If one addiction flies out the window, another will fly in”?

Well, I discovered a cookie that was so disgustingly healthy, that I can’t believe Hubby and I are devouring them. These cookies are dairy-free, gluten-free and vegan. AND, it shouldn’t have been delicious, but it was.

On one of my long walks, I had stopped to buy some fresh fruit and a bag of Rebel’s Peanut Butter cookies. The Chocolate Chip, the Cashew Butter and the Triple Chocolate with Walnuts slots were empty. There was a bag of White Chocolate with Macadamia Nuts left as well as a couple of bags of Cranberry Oatmeal, but I snagged the last bag of Peanut Butter and eternally grateful that I did. The taste buds were happily saturated with that real peanut butter flavour. And, the cookies were healthy.

Hubby tried one and declared it “O-kay,” which is equivalent to my enthusiastic “a Keeper!”

I tried to remember which store along which route that I got these scrumptious cookies from. None of the stores I returned to had any and no one recognized the brand-name.

I resorted to logical thinking. Selling a cookie that was dairy-free, gluten-free and vegan to boot would need a specific market, so I tackled the organic markets next. The first one I checked carried the Rebel brand but they were waiting for their next shipment that had been delayed by transportation problems. Having the bakery on the Mainland and living on an Island had its drawbacks. But being a resourceful person, motivated by the craving of having my cookie now, I remembered there was a second outlet enroute home. At that store, the new shipment had already been delivered so I got my bags of Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip and Triple Chocolate with Walnuts.

Hey, you didn’t think I was going to miss out on the chocolate ones, did you? I had checked the list of ingredients and all the chocolate was dark and the chocolate chips were real dark chocolate and not carob. Hubby and I unanimously voted that these were all “keepers.” The best part is I know where to get more when the cookie jar is empty. . . without turning my oven on.

HOTDOGS AND MINI-DONUTS

I think it’s because an American, Joey Chestnut, won his 15th Nathan Hot Dog eating contest that I even contemplated the thought of having a hot dog for lunch. After all, anyone who can successfully defend his dubious title “Hot Dog King” by gulping down 63 of them of them in 10 minutes—that’s buns and weiners—deserves to have little ol’ me eating at least one. However, Mr. Chestnut must be slipping a tad as last year, he woofed down 76 of them dogs.

But another short article caught my eye , as it too mentioned Joey Chestnut. This time Canadians in Regina, Saskatchewan would be the lucky ones to see Joey in action. He was going to compete in the “Celebrity Mini-Donut” contest in August. Competitors would have to be very good to beat Joey’s world record of chomping down 220 mini-donuts in 8 minutes.

My brain tried to figure out how anyone could possibly force that many mini donuts down their gullet without spewing them back out. My other question was why anyone would want to do that—speed eating specific foods in x number of minutes.

I think everyone is a bit competitive. Back in his youthful days, my neighbour Big Al would recall the good times he and his bowling buddies had every Tuesday night. The “Alley Cats” would compete to see who would end up with the most strikes that night and then celebrated by attempting to outdrink Sweeney Muldoon with pitchers of beer. Sweeney was built like a beer barrel and had the ability to hold his beers. It was a weekly challenge when Sweeney happily guzzled all the free beer he could while each of his competitors fell like 10 pins

We probably all grew up being competitive in various degrees. My hairdresser’s twins, Charlie and Arlie were born competitive. I remember when a very pregnant Liz would suddenly wince when she was clipping my hair.

“Oh no, you didn’t clip a finger did you?

“No, one of the twins just kicked me and the other one kicked back even harder!” See, it starts in the womb.

But back to Joey Chestnut. Who is he and why does he do what he does? Good ol’ Google blabbed everything—at least the juicy bits. . . .

Joey Chestnut is 38 years old, 6 feet tall and when competing, his weight hovers between 225 to 240 pounds. He started competing in 2005 when he gulped down 12 pounds of deep-fried asparagus spears in 10 minutes, beating out his competitors. Major League Eating, an organization that arranges eating competitions ranked Joey as the world’s best eater.

Joey’s diet is not a healthy one but it certainly is a diverse one. A few of his world championships includes devouring 7.61 pounds of buffalo chicken wings in 12 minutes; swallowing 141 hard-boiled eggs in 8 minutes; bolting down 55 glazed donuts in 8 minutes; gulping 390 shrimp wontons in 8 minutes; consuming 121 Twinkies in 6 minutes; shoving down 47 grilled cheese sandwiches in 10 minutes and chomping 32 Big Mac sandwiches in 38 minutes.

I didn’t want to know how he trained for each event and I definitely didn’t want to view any YouTube videos of what he looked like galloping through the competitions. I just know it wasn’t a pretty sight.

“The Sun” reported that , as a professional speed eater, Joey supposedly makes $500,000 annually—a very small portion from the eating contests with most from endorsing various products and brands. One of his past endorsements was for Pepto Bismol. Joey also has his own brand of condiments.

I salute this 38 year old for staying off the bread-lines and finding his own niche in this amazing world we live in. But looking over Joey’s list of unhealthy successes, I hope he switches to another vocation in the near future. It would be nice to think of Joey enjoying his success while he is still young and relatively healthy.

As for me, sharing my bag of hot mini-donuts dipped in cinnamon sugar was a lot more fun to savour and took much longer than 8 minutes to eat a baker’s dozen.