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Cherry Pits of Life

My parents did their best, instilling lessons on their off-springs–lessons that would allow us to survive when we left home to be “independent.” Along the way, Life’s darn annoyances or cherry pits kept popping up. It emphasized we didn’t know everything and the route we chose would hit minor bumps when we didn’t expect any. I’ve carefully kept a list to share with you ’cause I bet you’ve encountered these too.

  1. You think you’ve picked the shortest line-up at the supermarket because the lady only had 5 items on the counter. However, she thought two of the items were on sale and the cashier sent the bag-guy to check. Next, she had problems with her debit card because she punched the wrong key and had to start again; then, she hit the  wrong account so had to begin again. Finally, she couldn’t remember the correct sequence of her unbreakable 5-digit pin number because she glanced behind her and realized there was a long line of people waiting. After 15 minutes, I was still in line because my buggy load had all been put on the counter, ready to roll along eventually. . .

2.  The  pain in your_________ and  the ache in the____________ had been  an absolute pain-in-the-butt  forever. When the day of the doctor’s appointment finally arrived, this mysterious ache/pain magically disappeared.

3. This “Murphy” fellow must be a very unique individual to foil each and every “perfect plan” without even trying. Mr. Murphy seems to have the uncanny knack of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

4. I’d like to thank Michael Seidel (https://www.mwseidel.net/2018/04/08) for this bit of observation: “Don’t you love it when you’re parallel parked and the cars in front and behind you have each left your car 2-inches to maneuver?”. . . .I was hemmed in by two huge black SUVs and not a lot of wiggle-room. But patience, skill and probably a lot of luck got me out of there without a single scratch on any of the vehicles. My Dad would have been beaming. . .

5. That blood-and-guts book that you enjoyed is a book that your best friend hated and voted a big, fat thumbs down! He’s passed along his deep, philosophical, brain-wrenching novel for you to devour it as he did, but it’s a huge yawn for you after the first 5 pages.

6. The rule of the household is to replace the toilet paper roll when it’s nearing the end or at least, have a new roll within reach. Somehow, this rule never works when You reach for that roll of near empty T-paper.

7. The light turns green and you’re in the L-turn lane, ready for your chance to turn. You’re patiently waiting for on-coming traffic to pass and the pedestrians to finish crossing AND just as you see it’s clear to turn—before the amber light turns to red—one more pedestrian, with his cellphone pressed to his ear, steps off the curb and slow-walks across the intersection.

8. You’ve  circled the block umpteen times—optimistic that there will be a parking space. You see a car pull out just as you’re coming down the street, but quick as a bunny, one of those teeny-weeny cars jump two lanes and dives into the space that’s meant for a real grown-up car, not a half-pint one!

9. We all have that one go-to-can’t-fail dish that has never failed, no matter what you do or didn’t do. BUT, the first time you really, really  want to impress is the day your fave go-to-can’t-fail dish fails.

10. You’ve seen this particular item everywhere. It seems you’re constantly tripping over opportunities to purchase one, but you talk yourself out of it because you see it everywhere, so there’s no hurry to purchase one now. Naturally, you finally decide to buy one for a friend’s birthday and that’s when there’s not a single one anywhere. I think that’s a marketing conspiracy, don’t you?

I believe cherry pits are meant to test us on patience. Life is not supposed to run too smoothly—after all, that would be very boring. Enjoy your day, but watch out for those sneaky pits. I know there are many more out there. What’s yours?

 

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day

Thank you to Bess, Lillian, Madge, Ellen, Pat and Georgie–they wanted to read this Mother’s Day tale again. It was first posted in May 2015. Thank you, Gals!

I got in this “Mom” thing late in life.  By the time I met my Hubby, his son was almost 18 and at a sort of rebellious age. T knew his own mind, had definite ideas about his Dad’s love-life and buried himself in tinkering with his numerous cars—one at a time, of course—while hanging out with his friends and girlfriend.

I wasn’t into being anyone’s “step-Mom” and figured I simply had a nice friendship with someone I liked; who had decidedly different ideas on leisure activities; who trusted me to navigate the alien streets of Vancouver to visit his parents and who was brave enough to continue ball-room dancing with a partner who had 2 left feet to begin with and still had 2 left feet when we finished our classes. When J finally popped the question, there was no hesitation in accepting as we had known each other for a few years. By then, the thought of having a 21-year old step-son was not as daunting as I had first thought.  T had evolved into a responsible and kind adult. While J and I enjoyed our engagement period, that became a lengthy one, T got married to his high school sweetheart and started a family.

The day I married T’s Dad, I officially became wife, step-Mom and Grandma to a 2-1/2 year old grandson and an 8-months old grand-daughter.

Today, my 2 oldest grandchildren are hard-working, responsible young adults who have definite goals in mind. My two younger grandchildren are active girls who love everything in their world, especially their big brother and big sister.

Moms have a tough job. They deal with not only the good and positive stuff of motherhood, but also the negative things such as colds, flu and things kids get into as well as the day-to-day running of an active household.  And for many others, juggling in a full-time job as well. When Mom-job and day-job collide, she manages to deal with both while keeping calm and relatively sane.

I feel very blessed to be a step-Mom and Grandma on Mother’s Day. I got there the easy route.  To all the other Moms out there, know you’re doing a great job. To all the Grandmas, you know you’ve done a great job when you gaze on the happy faces of your grandchildren.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you—give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back!

Amazing Memories

We can go through Life and encounter amazing experiences or memorable moments that we clearly remember years later. I’m not sure why that is, but clearly,  some things make a deep impression on us. And sometimes, it’s the unexpected–the good unexpected, that makes the memory special.

Today was my going-to-the-supermarket day. I had checked the supplies, looked over the fliers and made out my list. Hovering over the apples, the lady next to me, gave a huge yawn. Well, as we all know, yawns are contagious and before I knew it, my yawn matched hers. We gave each other an embarrass smile and I made my way over to the broccoli. This time, I yawned and she giggled.  Glancing over, I saw her by the tomatoes and she had just finished a huge yawn.  By this time, we were buddies, bonded by veggies and yawns. She grinned and commented, “Produce is very boring. Too bad they can’t jump up and dance to grab our attention!” A deep masculine voice, emanating from the mountain of yams, replied, “I’ll do my best for you Ladies.” And the store employee, setting out the yams gave a brilliant Michael Jackson “moonwalk”, finishing with a dazzling twirl and a tip of his imaginary hat.”  We just had to applaud this unexpected performance. A boring veggie day was definitely not on his agenda!

Little kids are known to do the unexpected. When they’re at the ages of 2-5, it’s an “untouched” time of their lives because they form their own conclusions on things they observe. Yes, they do learn from television shows, books, parents and other kids, but it’s always a revelation to hear them explain stuff as they see it. As I strolled to the Village, a little 3 year old was crouched over an event he was observing. While his Mom stood patiently to one side with a little one in a stroller, her son was giving her and his little brother, a running commentary.

“Look Mom—that itty-bitty ant is pulling that dead fat fly away by himself. Yuk–it’s dry and falling apart, but he’s not taking it away for food. . .looks like he’s clearing off the walk.  Ooh-look, now there’s two other ants and they’re pulling this piece of fruit somewhere. Know what, Mom? That first ant is no bigger than the other ants. Wonder how they know what to do? Do you think they have a work board like we do, Mom?. . .Look Rudy, can you see the ants? Wish you were bigger so you can come here to look too.  Mom, Mom? Did you see that worm?  Can we stay longer, Mom?. . . .I wanna see what. . . ”

Me too, Kid—I want to hear what else you’re seeing. . .Don’t ever lose that wonderful enthusiasm.

In my City, “Tim Horton’s”, aka “Timmy’s”, is the doughnut place to dash to when that craving for fried dough hits. Now, there are newer very good, but smaller bakeries,  producing great doughnuts who can give Timmy’s a run for its money. But, it was Timmy’s that I encountered a very precocious 3 year old, who had an amazing knowledge of doughnut “holes.”   The little girl sat at the table beside me.

“I’m holding the table for Mommy.  She’s bringing me a treat,” the tiny Munchkin informed me. “Is your Mommy bringing you a treat?”

“My friend is bringing coffees and doughnuts,” I told her.

“Mommy’s bringing me my bag of holes and my juice.”

“What are  holes? And how do you eat a hole?” I asked.

“You know when the big bakerman makes those big round doughnuts with a hole in the middle? My brudder told me there’s a little bakerman who punches out the middles. That’s the holes. He makes them for himself  ‘cept when he needs lunch money and has to sell some to buy his lunch.”

“I never knew that,”  I told her. “That’s really amazing. How does your brother know this?”

“Cause he got to see where they make doughnuts. I’m not big enough to go to school yet, but I want to see this too!  Jimmy shared his bag of holes with me. They’re just like the big ones ‘cept they’re teeny-weeny.”

Phooey—days later, I can’t seem to get rid of this image of a little bakerman,  punching out doughnut centres and selling the holes for lunch money.

Another memory that is safely tucked forever in my mind. My parents gave me a jade ring when I graduated. It had a simple gold band with a plainly set green jade stone. I loved that ring. One winter,  I approached my car in the parking lot and began to brush off the snow that had accumulated  while I was at work. Later that night, I realized I no longer had the ring on my finger.  Sick at heart, I realized that my gloveless hand had been so cold, the ring must have slipped off while I was sweeping the snow off the windshield.   My Dad told me, “If that jade ring was meant for you,  it will come back.” After a sleepless night, I gave myself an early start and somehow ended with the same parking space I had the day before. Stepping out on the snowy lot, I carefully checked the grounds. There, partially buried in the snow, was a hint of green. Dad was right. It was my jade ring waiting for me to reclaim it.

We all have “Special Moments” stored in our brains and tucked in our hearts—moments that can be treasured and replayed at our leisure;  moments that were unforgettable because we lingered to capture those amazing minutes.

Friends

Friends come in many shapes and sizes. I’ve found that it’s not their shapes and sizes that makes a friend, but the size of their hearts.

As with anything in Life, there is a certain chemistry that steers a person to another. There is that same interest in a hobby or an activity that captures the attention—similar tastes in foods, a certain adventurous spirit, an attraction to the same kinds of music or art and so much more. But, there are also differences that attracts as well and this becomes a learning experience for both.

There are different kinds of friends.

There are Casual Friends—these are people who pop into our lives briefly, but are likeable and personable. I include among them  the produce person, the baker and my favourite cashier at the supermarket; the friendly barista at the frequented coffee-bar or the wait-person at the bistro who knows your preferences; the same people I briefly encounter on my walks. An exchange of “How are you? Great weather for walking!”  makes the start of a day an enjoyable one.

There are Fun Friends I like to do things with—-they are more than casual friends. They are my concert friends, my art friends, my writing friends, my line-dancing friends,  my burlesque-fit friends and my going-out-to-eat friends. I’ve learned a lot being with my fun friends.

Finally, there are the True Friends. If you have one or two true friends in your life, then you are a rich person. I am extremely fortunate to claim a few true friends. Nothing else matters because your true friend(s) is/are always within your reach. This is a friendship that may have been forged in your childhood or as recent as a few years. No matter what has happened in your life over the years, TFs are there for you. Even if you live in opposite ends of the country, there’s always that joke or  message in your email or even a long-distance phone call. And yes, nowadays, that on-screen face-to-face video call. Even if you haven’t seen each other in a number of years, TFs connect immediately, as if you had only seen each other the day before.

TFs are a combination of fun friends as well as true friends. It doesn’t matter if you spend only an hour or a full-day because the time spent is always enjoyable and amusing. They can talk you into doing something you’ve never considered and you realize afterwards, it was fun. They leave your rainy day filled with rainbows and sunshine.

TFs are supportive, comforting and good listeners if there are problems. They may offer solutions or just lend a shoulder or merely listen. Help is there if you need it. I know that they know I’m there for them too.

I like most people I encounter from day-to-day and I delight in my fun friends. But, I feel most blessed with my few true friends who have been with me through all the ups and downs of my life.  They are the ones I adore, appreciate and enjoy very much. Eleanor Roosevelt said it best:

“Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.” —Eleanor Roosevelt

Mr. Murphy and Costco

 

I always enjoy my excursions to Costco.  It gives my Volvo a nice run along the highway and I get to check out the books, samples, snacks, food and yes, sometimes even clothes. I have a list of things I need to get when I go to the Super C. And then, there is my mental list that I check. Chocolate, of course, is on that second list.  There is a certain route one takes to get to that particular aisle and by golly, there was my sack of Dark Chocolate Almond Nuggets—healthy because there is dark chocolate, almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and chia seeds. Not sure about the chia seeds, but everything else sounds tasty as well as healthy. Normally, it takes me at least 90 minutes to check out everything on both my lists as well as enticing stuff along the way.

I checked my needed things and swooped down the aisle of dried fruits and nuts to get my dry tart cherries for trail-mixes and baking. Browsed through the books and picked up one by John Sanford that I hadn’t read yet. Zinged down to the paper towels and hauled 2 huge packs into my cart. Whipped around the corner and straight down a clear aisle to move into line at the cashier, but not before grabbing a pack of 3 reading glasses with a discount of $6. Since I recently had cataract surgery on both eyes, distance was awesome but the close-ups needed a nudge.  These reading glasses were perfect at $12 and a  great bargain to boot!

This trip was phenomenal as my entire time in the store was 35 minutes. I was ready to roll out the door, load up the car and head back down the highway, EXCEPT I COULDN’T FIND MY CAR.

Has this ever happen to you?  Everything is humming along, tickety-boo and then BAM—that happy flow goes kablooey. The morning had started out so well—blue skies and sunshine, but between the time I parked the car, entered the store and exited, the weather had turned colder with a very brisk wind. As I wandered the rows of cars and trucks in the humongous parking lot, the wind got brisker and colder.

“I know that feeling!” called a cheerful voice as I wandered the aisles and looked hopefully for my familiar silver Volvo station wagon. “I finally found mine because I pressed the alarm button on my remote,” the cheerful voice offered helpfully. She found her car with no problem and unloaded her cart.

I had already tried the alarm button on my remote but I couldn’t hear  my car. There were several other vehicles that had flashed their lights and sounded their alarms, but those were other people’s cars.

“Lost your car, too?” queried a short, plump man anxiously peering down the aisles.

“Yep,” I replied, “looking for my silver Volvo wagon.”

“Haven’t passed any yet, but I’m searching for my red Honda. And if it isn’t here, then it must be stolen. Hondas are on the ‘wish’ list for crooks”

“I passed a red Honda two aisles that way and just past the gas sign,” I offered helpfully. The frazzled Honda owner pushed his loaded cart towards that general direction, frantically pushing his remote’s alarm button. His grateful smile said it all as his car responded with a nasal honk.

“Yoo-hoo!” a silver-haired woman with her loaded cart of garden flowers, waved to grab my attention. “Hello, Hawaiian dancer,” she beamed at me. “Don’t worry, Honey—your car is here somewhere, just keep pressing that alarm button on that remote thingy. I’m sure you’ll find the car before you freeze to death in this wind! Good luck, Hon,” and my Hawaiian dancing classmate stopped at her car and proceeded to unload her “treasures.”

I met up with two of my former work colleagues, who waved “Hello” and gave me sympathetic smiles. Apparently the phenomena of “losing one’s car in Costco’s parking lot” happens quite frequently. Passing a large cart depot nudged my memory that I had parked near a huge cart deposit when I ventured into Costco a gazillion years ago. Carefully navigating down one aisle, I pressed my remote’s alarm and practically did a happy dance when I heard the familiar cry of my Volvo!

Happily reunited with my “Silver Bullet,” I made a couple of mental notes to myself.        1)  park somewhere closer or at least, near a distinctive parking lot landmark and           2)  bring a friend along on the next trip to remember where the car is parked!

As for Mr. Murphy, aka “Murphy’s Law”—just as you think it’s smooth sailing, it’s not. Murphy’s just around the corner and ready to crimp your perfect day.

Uncle Harry

My Grandma had a best friend who loved all the things my Grandma did as well as having a few quirky beliefs of her own . All the cousins  plus  my brother and I called her Aunt Belle. At that time, my brother and cousins managed to disappear whenever Aunt Belle came to visit, as the visits tended to be boring to a group of active kids. One day, my Grandma went to visit Aunt Belle.  Aunt Belle’s grand-daughter was also visiting, so I was drafted to meet Winnie. She was the same age  as I.  Both grandmothers hoped we would entertain each other while the adults enjoyed their coffee and gossip undisturbed.

I thought I knew a lot of stuff at 7 years. After all, I was the one with an older brother, a toddler sister and gazillion  cousins. Winnie was an “older” 7 year old and an only child. She knew things I had never heard of and delighted in educating me.

“I want you to meet Uncle Harry,” she said.

“Okay,” I agreed. I never knew there was an Uncle Harry at Aunt Belle’s, but maybe he was visiting too. Winnie walked over to the pig pen. Climbing onto the lower rungs of the fence, she leaned over and called out, “Hi Uncle Harry.”  And a huge pinkish-gray pig waddled over to the fence and grunted at her. Winnie proceeded to introduce her “uncle” to me. He swivelled his head to glare at me and belched a belly-rolling grunt that resulted in a cloud of toxic fumes. I looked at the pig in disbelief.

“That’s not your ‘Uncle Harry’—that’s a fat, ugly, smelly pig!”

“Nope—this is really my Uncle Harry. Grandma said just before Uncle Harry passed on, Desdemona gave birth to two piglets. One died at birth and at the exact moment, Uncle Harry died, the surviving piglet was born. My Grandma called it karma and declared this was Uncle Harry. As a final word on that subject, Winnie fiercely added, “Grandma doesn’t lie.”

That statement alone should have ended the conversation, but I was a 7 year old who didn’t believe that an uncle could somehow morph into a pig. How was this even remotely possible?

“It just is and I believe my Grandma,” Winnie insisted. Since Winnie and I were supposed to like each other like Aunt Belle and my Grandma, I reluctantly let this moment of truth slide past.

I spied the swings by the apple orchard. It was basically a wooden board, worn smooth by the countless bottoms and feet of past generations. The “seat” was held by ropes on either side and attached securely over a sturdy wood frame. We each took a swing by standing on the seat. Holding firmly to the ropes on either side, we propelled ourselves into space by furiously pumping our legs. Winnie was really good at gaining great heights. She was fearless. If there was a competition, she would have been the one who gained the highest heights and farthest swings than any one else.

The apple orchard had the best apples at the top, where it was impossible to reach, even if you climbed to the higher branches. Someone who could swing higher and farther could quickly stretch an arm out and snatch a few large, juicy apples to share with her new best friend. In our young minds, this was definitely do-able. What we didn’t count on was that apples had to have that certain ripeness that made it easily pluckable. These apples didn’t have that yet. Each pass that Winnie made only gave her a handful of leaves. By this time, failure was not an option. There was determination to grab an apple or two—even one apple would be enough to prove  the theory was possible. The final  attempt had Winnie high enough on her swing out but, before she hit the downswing, her hand quickly reached out to grab an apple from one of the branches. Success!  Giggling we slowed our swings to a stop and examined our prize. One side was  a lush, juicy red while the other side held a hole large enough to see a fat, contented worm, blissfully drunk on the warm juice. We both shrieked and Winnie threw the apple into the pig pen. Uncle Harry enjoyed his snack.

Sighing with disappointment that we didn’t even shared a bite of the fruit, Winnie suddenly asked, “Have you ever gathered eggs?” Shaking my head, Winnie grabbed my hand and pulled me towards the hen house. “It’s really fun. All you have to do is lift the hen off her nest and grab the egg.” She demonstrated by marching up to a plump white chicken, deftly plucking her off the nest and grabbing the warm egg. Then she gently set the chicken back on her nest.

“See? Easy-peasy.  We put the eggs in this basket after the chickens poop them out.”

“This is so fun,” I said enthusiastically. “Let me try.” Copying Winnie’s attitude, I marched over to another plump hen to lift her off her nest.  Somehow, Winnie had made it look easy. But she never told me the chicken would weigh a ton. Sensing my inexperience. the chicken began to flap her wings and shake her feathers while staying firmly in her nest. Looking disgusted, Winnie lifted the chicken, grabbed two eggs and set the bird down again. The next chicken made us both pause. That chicken had a mega-size black rooster with  a brilliant red comb and distinctive wattles, guarding her nest.

“That’s not another ‘uncle’ is it?” I asked nervously.

“Of course not,” scoffed Winnie. “This is Big Red. He rules the barnyard and keeps all he hens happy. At least, that’s what Benjy told me. I don’t really understand that but I think it’s the ‘birds and bees’ stuff that adults are always yammering about. We’ll skip the next two and try that one over there.”

Again, I tried lifting the hen. Shocked, she expelled an egg directly into Winnie’s palm just as I dropped her in her nest. By the time we finished in the hen house, we had collected 30 eggs.

And before Winnie could show me more stuff, Aunt Belle was yelling for us to return to the house. Why is it that just as things were getting interesting, adults tend to interrupt?

 

PRUNES AND STUFF

There are many things that shapes us and influences us as we travel along Life’s highways—prunes are one of them. I’ve always loved prunes. I didn’t know how important it was to my grandparents, but when my Mom packed raisins, dates and prunes into my school lunch, it was a good day. I would trade anything else in my lunch box, but unless the trade involved a chocolate bar, the dried fruits were mine.

My first eye-opener on the importance of this innocuous fruit was when my girlfriend and I did our first Mississippi paddle-wheeler cruise. As we pulled away from the New Orleans dock to begin our paddle-wheeling adventure, there was an “emergency” announcement that there would be “no prunes available for breakfast” the following     morning—in fact, there would be “no prunes” for the entire week on the river. That     was our first indication of the general age group on board. It was also our first indication that we were out-of-luck meeting “hot guys,” but really safe in meeting their grandparents.

I think “aging” is big bucks in a market geared to capitalizing on staying forever young.     This makes it especially delightful to note the older women competing for “Best Actress” and “Best Supporting Actress,”—actresses like Frances McDormand, Meryl Streep, Mary Blige, Laurie Metcalf and Lesley Manville. How wonderful that the  directors’ choice of talent and skill far outweighed the prejudice of age.

Lotions and potions have always been big bucks for women focused on remaining ageless. The more the companies claim they have the ultimate formulae for their “fountain of youth,” the higher the price-tag for the tiny bottle of “miracle.” I always thought mild soap and warm water, along with a good moisturizer did the same job.

Last week, Milly, a very lucid lady celebrating her 102nd birthday, daintily sipped her tea, while answering questions.

“How do you remain so young in your looks as well as your thinking?” And she replied,

“Don’t smoke, eat right,  get plenty of sleep, wash your face with a gentle soap and warm water, use a good moisturizer,  wear a hat with a large brim to keep the sun off, don’t fuss about the rough patches Life throws at you, but enjoy all the good bits while you can.”

“But,” persisted the reporter, “what about drinking?”

Milly winked impishly and smiled. “Well, my Dear—drink plenty of water flavoured with a big dollop of whiskey and serve it in a teacup. This is guaranteed to ward off colds and anything else that ails the body or mind. Works for me, every time!”

Happy Birthday, Milly. May you stay forever young. . .