All posts by sammee44

About sammee44

I am a West Coast Reader and Writer who enjoys all the big and little things Life has to offer. My philosophy in Life is---If you don't enjoy the small things, how can you truly enjoy those memorable huge things? And in the end, it's the little things that continuously brings a smile to your day.

PENNING MORE THOUGHTS

Pens in Pot          I always believed that a writer must have the right inspirational tools to push and pull that elusive creativity along the pages. Sometimes, that inspirational spark just dances along the page, doing their own private dance while you’re doing your best to remember all the moves with your pen. Other times, the pen does its usual doodles and follows its far-off thoughts.

Yes, I did say pen. I have a whole pot of fanciful pens to inspire.  AND yes, their job is to inspire.  All writers have to have certain tools of the trade. Mine are simple:  pens, paper, working computer, coffee, chocolates and doughnuts. However, in this time of social distancing and self-isolation,  some things are given up—doughnuts are one.

As mentioned earlier, I have a variety of pens that are never used. Yep, you heard that right too.  The pens appealed as they displayed much better than a regular pen, but I discovered some things about pens and why I prefer one over the other.  You may or may not agree with me, but if  a pen came for a job interview, it would have to have those  listed below on their resumes.

I like a good pen that flows easily and smoothly across the pages of my pad. It has to have a nice point–one of mine makes a fine line and I find this especially great when I have only a teeny piece of paper to scribble on. It’s fast becoming my favourite because it has  purple ink, making it easy to find among the scraps of paper on my desk.

Purple Pen2  The pen has to have a good grip so the writing flows without cramping your hand. So far, my almost favourite pen fills that criteria extremely well. At the time (pre-pandemic) I bought one to try—a Pilot Hi-techpoint with a V7 Grip—now I wish I had 6 more, it’s that good.

The last important thing a good pen has to have is balance. None of the fun pens have this. Having the right weight makes a difference. Bobble-headed pens tend to bog your writing down. In fact, any pen with too much of a fun ornament on the top end tends to throw the balance off and pushing the top-heavy pen slows the thought processes. So, even tough all my fun pens can be squished, pulled, twirled, tap and gosh-knows-what-else–it cannot  write for a long time.  It can only boast of being a distracting bit of show-biz flash and dazzle.

I guess that’s why one of my most entertaining bobble-headed pens that flashed rainbow colours while it twirled around my fingers ran away from home.  It just didn’t like hard work. I think it’s still slumming with *Emsch the Mensch’s missing sock.

(Check out  *Notes From the Cupcake Rescue League blogsite. )

 

NAME CALLING

Don’t you just love it when you have all these self-isolation time to think? I mean,  really think.  You know—about all these inconsequential things as opposed to serious stuff like the coronavirus.

With all this “at home” time, it gave Hubby and I a chance to clear out our closets. When we moved into our current home, I distinctly remember giving away all our metal coat hangers. Somehow the two left in the back corner of the closet had managed to mingle and multiply from a pair to an even dozen. Who would have thought?

Hubby decided the next project would be a car-washing one. Our building was one of the few that had a car-washing area in the back corner of the parkade. I had moved the car to its designated spot so Hubby could wash and hose the soap off. My job was to move it back into our parking space for its annual wax job. This year I noted a ladder and buckets were set against the wall and as I backed the car up, carefully avoided these. But then, I missed the turn to my parking space and backed up a bit more so I could make the turn. I forgot to allow space for a wall and a fire-hose box. As I made a perfect turn into my parking space, there was the sound of a tail light smacking into a wall. All I heard was my Hubby’s sigh and comment, “Yessirree, Bob–you did it again!”  I did–five years ago, but that’s another story.

Actually it was Hubby’s comment that set my thoughts galloping. How many other names were used as a means of expressing whatever emotions at that particular moment?

I could think of a few.  “By George, you got it!” except the “By George” part reminded me of the best baked cookies from the Mall bakery with that name.

One of my friends would say “Jeez Marie!” a lot whenever she drove and there was a single pedestrian who would dart across on an amber light just as she was about to execute her long-awaited chance to turn right.

My Grade 4 teacher would smile when one of my classmates always put his hand up to question, “Why?” when she started the facts. Mrs. D would say to him, “That’s a good thing you’re a “Doubting Thomas” because curiosity is a good trait to have.”

While going to university, I remember briefly working weekends for an elderly couple. Whenever a customer would argue for a discount on a barely detected flaw in the garment, Mr. C would always start with, “If I could do this–Sam’s my uncle–I would. My father owns the store and he has to make a living too.”  It never occurred to the customers that Mr. C was all of 80+ so his father would have to be at least 100 if he was still alive.

The garbage collectors were a rough lot when I was a kid. In the summer they often had a student working to earn their university fees for the fall. Some of the beginners were really good and quick learners. Then, there were the few who were slower and not accustomed to lugging  the heavy garbage cans, then heaving the contents into the back of the truck. Being young kids, we would gather around to watch. We would see the can dropping to the ground and the garbage spilling out. I’m pretty sure the garbageman wanted to yell something saltier and suited to the moment. Instead, he yelled “Holy Je-osaphat, Kid–use the gloves and pick it up!” We would all run off repeating “Holy Je-osaphat!” all the way home. Now, I’m wondering, who the heck is “Je-osaphat”?

In fact, who are Bob, George, Marie, Je-osaphat and Thomas? Why do they rate as yell-words?

And. this is what we’re reduced to in these at-home-self-isolation moments—-idle thoughts that creates more idle thoughts—just like those darn coat hangers.

ALIENS

I think—no, I’m positive—there are aliens holding my keyboard for ransom. These space creatures are invisible, love mini-doughnuts and dark chocolates, but are a real pain-in-the-butt.

I’m absolutely convinced these aliens are closely related to COVID-19 because my keyboard was held for ransom just as the coronavirus was getting a foothold on civilization.

Being in self-isolation, I figured I would have plenty of time to finish all my writing projects.  After all, there is no excuse not to finish something since there is so much more  free time for inspiration to hit.

Trust me, I have bribed the Muses with Banana/Blueberry/Orange muffins, Peanut Butter cookies, my famous Banana/Cherry/Cranberry/Apricot loaf and my secret stash of dark chocolate bars tucked away for emergencies. Believe me, this is a real emergency especially when even the doughnut places have temporarily closed.

Maybe my stories need more meat and potatoes–metaphorically speaking. So the Muses were bribed with Hearty Beef Stew, Mom’s Famous Pot-Roast, Sammee’s Pasta with Tomato Meat Sauce and the list rolled along.

All I can conclude is that during this period of self-isolation and social distancing, I have gained a few pounds while Hubby is looking fit and trim. I think I can still wiggle into my skinny jeans, button the waist and breathe—kind of. . .

However, inspiration temporarily eludes me in the writing world. I can only say I can get inspired when I do my bread-making. I love the feel of warm dough that needs to be kneaded.  Did you know if you over-knead, you can take the dough, shape it into a big round flat circle and bake it as a giant pita bread. No one will ever know it had started out as a loaf of bread. . .and I certainly won’t tell.

During these unusual times affecting all of us, please keep safe, stay healthy and keep looking on the positive side. As with all calamities, this too shall eventually pass.

 

 

THAT BLASTED CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus or specifically  COVID-19, has invaded everyone’s lives all over the world.  I’ve named it the “World War III of the 21 Century. After all, nearly every country in the world is involved in doing its part to slow COVID-19 down and hopefully eliminating this common enemy. Closing off borders and self-isolating the inhabitants supposedly helps; social distancing is very evident in grocery stores, pharmacies and other needed facilities.

I’ve discovered that most humans are social animals, no matter how much some may dispute this. Fifty years ago, having “things” to occupy one’s mind or hands would have been simple. Women had crafts such as sewing, knitting, crocheting, artwork and there were always meals to plan, baking to be done and usually a garden to attend. Men had projects too–tinkering with the family car and maintaining the condition of their homes by painting and repairing. Then the weekend was over and people were back to work and/or school the following Monday.

With no schools or universities available for an indeterminate time and many work-places closed temporarily, our lives have changed in a huge way. Self-isolation was not an ordeal the first few days, but then the days stretched into a week and another week loomed, then passed into more weeks.

Human connections have never been more important for surviving during these difficult times. Today, there is Facetime, Skype and Zoom for seeing family or friends. We have our cellphones, Smartphones, laptops, desktops, notepads, ipods and probably a Dick Tracy wrist watch to listen to,  keep in touch and  be entertained. Fifty years ago, most people only had a single telephone to connect to others. At that time, party lines were still almost a way of life until a family could either afford a private line and/or private lines were already mandatory. We had television, the radio and a record player for at-home entertainment as well as board games, jigsaw puzzles and other hobbies.

During this pandemic, our hardships extends to closures of coffee bars, doughnut and pastry shops, chocolatiers and bookshops; public libraries and re creation centres. The realities of searching for needed necessities such as flour, sugar, fresh fruits and veggies plus a variety of fresh meats harkens back to my grandparents and parents’ days coping with wartime (WWII) and wartime rationing.

We have all grown to embrace our modern life-style and many have forgotten or perhaps never known truly difficult times—times when most things we take for granted today were not known or available back then.

Perhaps the hoarders and those who purchase more than they need have taught the rest of us a valuable lesson. Like my grandparents and parents learned, one has to make do with what we have. We are “spoiled” with the every day selections and easy access of the variety of  out-of-our-season fruits and veggies from countries that  grow them and export to us.

At the moment, we are all coping and enduring by whatever means we have access to. This pandemic will eventually flatten its upward curve and level off. In the meantime, as intelligent, compassionate humans with strong survival instincts, we will all be okay. We will all look out for our family, friends and neighbours and get through this. After all, we still have an amazing 21st Century to enjoy.

Keep well, stay healthy and be safe, my Friends.

 

A PILLOW FACE HAT HAIR DAY

You just know that it’s going to be a bad day when you wake up with a “pillow face”–that’s waking up with the edges of a lacey pillow imprinted on your cheek—or having bad “hat hair”–that’s when you whip off your hat and instead of perfectly curly hair like in the movies, your hair is flat and yukky.  You absolutely know that it’s going to be a totally horrific day when you get both “pillow face” and “hat hair” at the same time. I was right. The omens never lie.

Milly confronted me just before I made it out the front entrance of my condo building. Milly was another owner in the building who made everyone’s business hers. For someone who called herself “shy” and reclusive”, she managed to keep her entire hand on the pulse of the building.  I had privately labeled her a “condo bully.”  Today, she was the self-appointed “condo police.”

“Hi Milly. I’m just on my way to an important appointment and I don’t want to be late.”

“Not to worry–this won’t take long. I wanted you to know that someone is not flattening their cardboard cartons when dropping them into the paper dumpster. And someone is tossing his recyclables in the wrong containers.  And someone’s car is polluting the air with a heavy burning odor that I’m sure will kill us all.”

“We have a number of new owners in the building and there will be an orientation meeting for the new owners as well as a refresher for anyone who wants to attend,” I replied.

“I’ve left a number of letters in the Council mailbox about things happening in the building, but no one has responded yet.”

“I’m sure the correspondence will be attended to and you will be receiving a reply to your concerns. Now I really must be off or I’ll be even later for my appointment.”

Walking briskly, I decided to alter my walking route so that I was a good distance away from anyone from the condo. I opted to walk to “Delish” for my morning caffeine and their fresh baked almond pastry.

The morning became worse. “Delish” didn’t have any almond pastries left and there wasn’t a single vacant chair anywhere in the room.

I had a late morning meeting with a security consultant who worked for one of the major banks. I had hoped to pick his brain on preventative measures on embezzlements and modern day bank robberies for a story I was writing.  Because of horrendous winter weather, his plane was still in Montreal with no immediate plans to be air-bound to the West Coast.

Bummer. The gods were really having a terrific time messing up my day. Since I was only a few more  blocks to the water, I sipped my take-out cup of coffee and kept walking. Victoria was having one of its sunshine days with clear blue skies–cold, but good walking weather if dressed for it.

I noticed the patches of purple and white crocuses popping up in various gardens. There were unexpected “carpets” of creamy white snowdrops in gardens and along the boulevards. The pale pink blossoms of the Japanese plum trees were slowly beginning to open and by the corner of another neighbourhood coffee-bar, a pussy willow tree showed the furry promise of small green buds. There were yellow daffodils and the creamy whites of narcissus bursting forth ahead of the bright reds, yellows and purple tulips. A Mama Deer moved cautiously across the road, followed by her two youngsters. Checking impatiently behind her, Mama Deer waited impatiently as two more youngsters gamboled across the street, not at all repentant about keeping their mom waiting. The Fairy House, at the base of a giant fir tree, had a fresh coat of red paint on its tiny front door. A labradoodle, wearing a sassy straw hat, happily ambled alongside his owner. They brought a smile to the faces of everyone they passed.

Well, it was just too nice a day to feel miffed. Pillow-faces aren’t permanent. Hat-hair is also resolvable–don’t take off the hat  Spring was definitely on the horizon as all her colours were bursting forth.  Despite the crisp cold and annoying beginning, it had become a peaceful, relaxing walk at the end. Who can stay miffed and exasperated when Mother Nature coaxes you to enjoy her daily show. . . . .

SO, THE QUOTE IS THIS. . . .

I like to believe I’m an optimist—probably because looking at the bright side of things is tons better and less depressing than being a pessimist.

When you actually reflect upon it, Life is a balancing act.  You know, the old yin versus yang thing.  I’ve always wondered if Buddha truly said all the stuff he is believed to have uttered and/or written. What if it was actually Buddha’s apprentice who wrote some of those words of wisdom.  After all, famous artists had students who mimicked their mentors, then why not wise philosophers?

I would like to share some quotations that grabbed my attention and made me smile and/or reflect.  Some are quotes from amazing people who observed Life with  a few meaningful words;  others who noted the humorous aspects of their work and those who embraced the things important to them.

I’ve always thought I would include this quotation of Buddha’s in one of my mystery stories as it seemed so appropriate:  Three things cannot be long  hidden–the sun, the moon and the truth.

John Q. Tullius had the right idea when he stated:  Nine out of ten people like chocolate. The tenth person always lies.   (Yikes, who can dislike chocolate unless he/she has an allergy?)

Buddha shares another thought that holds a lot of truth:  An idea that is developed and put into action is more important than an idea that exists only as an idea.  (uh-huh–gotta finish that book. . .finish that book… finish that book. . .)

With Valentine’s rapidly approaching, I agree with Taylor E. Bennet’s viewpoint:  The way to a woman’s heart is through trust and truth. Well, except mine. Mine is through chocolate.  (Me too, but toss in mini-doughnuts as well. Can’t make it too easy. . .)

While we’re on the topic of “chocolate”, I love these bits from “Unknown Authors” who know that chocolate is the answer to anything:   Chocolate is Nature’s way of making up for Mondays.  And, Stress wouldn’t be so hard to take if it were chocolate covered.  And lastly,  God gave angels wings;  He gave humans chocolate.

Marilyn Monroe was not the “blonde bimbo” she portrayed in a number of her movies and appeared to her Public. Fending for herself at an early age, she developed strong survival skills as well as keen street smarts.  One of her quotes states:  This Life is what you make it. No matter what, you’re going to mess up sometimes–it’s an Universal truth. And this one,  Everyone’s a star and deserves the right to twinkle.

Audrey Hepburn was a classy lady with a ton of goodness and strength in her character. Audrey has been quoted as saying:  People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed. Never throw out anyone.

Showing off his sense of humor, John Glenn,  the astronaut who orbited Earth three times and later became an U.S. senator confessed:  As I hurtled through space, one thought kept crossing my mind–every part of this spaceship was supplied by the lowest bidder.

Katherine Hepburn was a wonderful actress and early feminist  who spoke her mind and voiced a number of great quotes as seen in  If you obey all the rules, you’ll miss all the fun.   Or how about  As one goes through Life, one learns that if you don’t paddle your own canoe, you don’t move.  And this one, It’s not what you start in Life, it’s what you finish.

And taking that as my cue to close, I end with Charles M. Schulz, creator of the beloved “Peanuts” comic strip, who had one of his characters voice this thought:  All you need is love. But chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.


 

 

 

 

 

 


 

FULL SERVICE OR SELF SERVICE

There are things I know that will boggle the human mind.  It doesn’t matter if it’s bits of trivia sucked up from life’s convoluted byways, then trotted out on those note-worthy moments.  But it does make  memorable conversation stoppers when these little “gems” are dropped casually into boring conversations.

Then there are things I can’t do that baffled my Grandma and had her muttering in Cantonese, “How can she not do this?”  This, being how to pleat and fold the small mountain of Chinese shrimp and pork dumplings before they were steamed. At that point, I had given up making my dumplings attractive. Instead, I had a platter of plump little “money bags” that actually were very symbolic for Chinese New Year. And no matter what the darn dumplings looked like, every one of them was delicious.

Of course this all leads to my  deep admiration for all those women who pump their own gas and fill their own tires.

I don’t pump my own gas because years ago, I was thoroughly traumatized at the gas pumps. I tell everyone that real women don’t pump gas–well, okay, maybe I just whispered this in my mind since we’re supposed to live in a liberated era now.

I’ve been lucky thus far for the few “full-service” gas stations around. It doesn’t matter if these stations are miles  away from me—I would drive there in a shot, just because there’s someone who can “pump and fill” the gas tank for me.

A few years ago, the service station 2 blocks from me became both a full-serve and a self-serve. It worked well for me since all I needed was someone to fill my tank.

It all went downhill when I discovered that “full-service” did not include filling the tires. My Hubby checks my tires at home on a regular basis—regular being once a month. When it needs a tiny bit of air, he uses a portable tire compressor that pumps in the bit that is needed.  Easy-peasy.

This worked if it was only a psi or two. One tire caused us a problem because for some reason, the compressor attachment did not connect to the tire thingy. AND of course, the longer one tries to connect the air source to the tire, more air is leaking out of the tire. Hubby was getting frustrated so I said confidently, “I can do it. You just have to connect that nozzle thingy with the tire thingy, right?”  Reluctantly, Hubby passed the job over.

And that’s why I had to head down to the service station to fill the tire up. After my attempt, the tire pressure gauge didn’t even register whatever air was left in the tire. AND that’s when I found out “full service” did not include filling the tires for you.

Approaching the two high school seniors, the conversation went like this:

“Could someone please fill my tires for me?”  (Lots of upraised eyebrows and rolling of eyes)

“We don’t do that. We just fill the gas tanks.” (High-fiving each other with big grins)

“Well, could someone show me how to do it?” (More rolling of eyes, then a very reluctant nod)

I put the money into the coin-operated compressor and the one service person connected the air hose to the tire in 2 seconds, allowed the air to flow ’til it reached the proper level and then stopped the flow of air. The entire process took 5 seconds.

“Okay, did you see what I did?”

“No–could you do it again, please?”  Heaving a huge sigh, the service guy demonstrated which part goes where, but he was smart enough not to actually tackle another tire. At least I had him fill my almost flat tire first as that was my biggest worry.

What happened next? Well, I managed to stop a burley guy taking his laundry to the laundromat. He was helpful and very patient. I put in more change for the air machine and he did the entire set of tires in under two minutes. Yes, he also re-checked the tire that was just filled and made sure all the tires had the same amount of air. When I offered to buy him a coffee and a snack, he laughed and said to pass the good deed along. I have and I will gladly do something helpful again—anything except putting air in tires and pumping gas.

 

Mature Wines, Aged Cheese and Me

I love hearing my friends with the vineyards, extolling the superior taste of a mature wine accompanied by a tiny crumb of aged brie. There is something magical when sampling a wine paired with something that brings out the essence of its flavour–a flavour that develops over time.

My birthday is fast approaching and I like to think of myself as ageless. After all, Orientals are known to have this gene that hides their true age. Grandma had it and so did my Mom. All my 95+ years aunts, including my 102 years aunt, truly don’t look ancient; neither do my cousins–hopefully that includes me as well.

The other day, I took a good look at my fitness class. We’re either all retirees and/or grandparents who are staying fit to keep up with the grandkids—not keeping fit to ward off problems like heart disease, diabetes or osteoporosis. The ladies plus 3 men were all older than me and definitely more agile.  There was nothing wrong with their memories as they remembered the names of each muscle in the exercises and why it was beneficial stretching them. Being the new kid in the class, I had the undivided attention of everyone as most of the attendees had already taken the same class three times. This was good  because it made everyone feel warm and fuzzy by demonstrating to the newbie the correct way to stretch and pull.

I felt I was keeping up quite comfortably even though a few ladies were confused as I had the habit of moving in the opposite direction. If the exercise started and ended with the left foot and left arm, I usually finished with the right foot and right arm. After the first two sessions, my classmates totally ignored me and knew not to follow me. My Aunt B assured me what I was doing was perfectly normal since she does the same thing in her yoga class.

I found out in my first class, the instructor was a “foodie.” It didn’t matter that we were all ready for lunch before our classes even got started. Ian cheerfully remarked as we all did our stretches, “Oh boy, I have to tell you that we had the best darn buffet last night at the “Flying Mongoose.”  If you ever travel near the airport, hang a left and keep going on that road. The buffet has everything including the best dessert table ever.”  As everyone’s tummy rumbled discreetly, mine gave an enormous roar. I made a mental note to myself to avoid lunchtime fitness classes. Another time, we were doing our sit-ups and right in the midst of aiming for 10 of those suckers, Ian reminded us that “Cobb’s Bakery” was now baking the traditional hot-cross buns as well as the chocolate hot-cross buns. I made another mental note to myself to not only avoid lunchtime fitness classes but “foodie” instructors.

If you’re really old, you can get away with a lot of outrageous things. I remember my elderly hard-of-hearing neighbour with the extremely loud voice who could say stuff that would have been considered rude and tactless in a younger person. Commenting on an outfit worn by the granddaughter of her best friend, Mrs. G would trumpet in her raspy voice, “Trisha shouldn’t be allowed out of the house wearing such a trashy outfit!” The young lady in question cheerfully waved and shouted back, “Thanks Mrs. G–that’s what I wanted, to be noticed!”

It’s nice in some ways gaining maturity–discounts to some restaurants and a few coffee bars; discounts to a few bookstores and drugstores; free specialty coffee or a free meal at some franchises on your birthday.

I think the whole point of getting older is to gain some wisdom. I’m not sure what nuggets of wisdom I’ve acquired over the years, but hopefully they are useful bits. I’m not a “list” person, so I’ll simply make a mental tab of stuff I can pass along to the grandkids.  As we get older, I want to keep on enjoying what we do and loving every minute of whatever it is that keeps our minds active and challenged. Like fine wines and “matured” cheeses, I’m convinced we can only get better as the years march past.

A VERY HAPPY, JOYOUS  BIRTHDAY TO ALL MY JANUARY FRIENDS–ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO CELEBRATE THEIR SPECIAL DAY IN THE FIRST WEEK OF THE NEW YEAR.

 

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays

italian almond biscotti  As Hubby and  I sip our Christmas morning cuppa and savour my home-made lemon almond biscottis, I would like to take this moment to wish all of my Readers and Followers the Merriest of Christmas. May all the Joys, Happiness and Good Health be yours in abundance in 2020.

Pointsettia, Homer and Ollie

HAPPY HOLIDAYS AND MAY ALL THE JOYS OF THE SEASON FOLLOW YOU THROUGH 2020!

 

So, You’re a Writer, eh?

Well-meaning people have asked me, “Why do you want to be a writer?”–as if a writer was this poor, unemployed, underfed person, suffering for her art and living in a bare attic room. I must admit I appeared too well-fed and content to look the part of a suffering writer. My other all-time favourite comment, “You’re a writer?” exclaimed in such a tone that I’m never sure if it’s a total revelation that I can write or that it’s inconceivable that I actually do write. Of course this comment has to be justified with a list of what has been written. “What did you write?” is a fair question but if it’s not on any Best Seller list, the New York Times or Globe and Mail Top 10 lists, then I’m not a Real Writer. I’ll bet you all have a tale or two to tell too.

The other day, I was sipping a cup of Timmy’s medium roast and savouring every bite of a  ginormous blueberry scone–as I people watched and did my “character” research. The scone had already been reduced to a few tasty bites as my thoughts jumped from the smart marketing ploy of pairing coffee with baked goods to an elderly man, trying to navigate around several baby carriages to reach a vacant table with his coffee and donut. The young Moms were too busy conversing with each other to notice his difficulty in using his cane, balancing his tray and aiming for the nearby table. Quickly, a young man, wearing paint-stained clothes and dramatically visible snake tattoos curling up both muscular arms, leaped from his seat, steadied the frail man and set the tray on his table. Amazingly, the Moms were too focused on each other to notice a potential accident had been averted.

At another table, a father and his young son were enjoying their snacks when suddenly the 3-year old tossed his empty cookie bag on the floor and proceeded to have a full-blown tantrum. Aha, I though–either Dad has to get more cookies or he’s going to reason with his son. You know, when parents would say, “That is not acceptable behaviour. Big boys don’t litter. Blah, blah, blah. Instead Dad picked his son up, smacked him lightly on the bottom and pointed to the floor. The tantrum stopped in mid-cry; he looked at his Dad and slowly bent to pick up his litter–as well as someone’s  under a neighboring table. Nodding his approval, Dad hugged his son, whispered a few words in his ear and both calmly walked out of the Food Court. I liked that. This was a well-placed smack that got the child’s attention. The little guy knew he was being naughty. I admired the Dad for dealing directly with the tantrum.

A few tables away, there were 8 men—retirees who appeared to be long-time friends, all wearing flamboyant Hawaiian shirts. Their table was a lively one of laughter, a rumble of voices and more laughter. They were sharing a large box of “Tim Horton” doughnuts along with their coffees. Finally, one of the men, wearing a shirt peppered with enormous pink hibiscus blooms, stood up to make a toast. Immediately, their corner became silent as their heads turned towards an empty chair at the head of the table. In a moment of rare Food Court silence, the man’s words were clearly heard. “This is for you, Benny. We can talk about you and remember all the funny things you did since you’re not here to defend yourself. The guys and I miss you like hell and wherever you are, we hope you’re having a Timmy’s and coffee too.  Here’s to you, Benny!” The clink of coffee mugs and a chorus of voices echoing the toast was a very touching moment.

Now, I know you’re going to say–wait a sec–what happened to being a writer?

Well, Life is what happens. There is so much drama, comedy and things left to your imagination that happens each and every day. Being at the computer can leave you numb ’cause you sat too long or hungry ’cause nothing is happening—so taking a long walk or heading out for coffee or meeting with friends—are all potentials for building a story. After all, most stories start with the ordinary that somehow changes to something extraordinary. It’s hard work to keep up the pace and make it believable. It’s definitely a challenge to have your believable characters do unbelievable things. What better place to pick-up characters than at the mall or coffee bar or grocery store or hardware store or library or. . . . And the imagination supplies the rest of the story.