Talkin’ ’bout my generation

This is my weekly newspaper column. Things you should known:  Michael Bliss was born in my hometown, and is a celebrated author of national stature.   He was a History Professor at the University of  Toronto and is “one of Canada’s best known and most-honoured biographers”. Here is a little bit of his story entwined with a little bit of mine and our hometown:

“People try to put us d-down (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Just because we get around (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Things they do look awful c-c-cold (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
I hope I die before I get old (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)

Why don’t you all f-fade away (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
And don’t try to dig what we all s-s-say (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
I’m not trying to cause a big s-s-sensation (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
I’m just talkin’ ’bout my g-g-g-generation (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)”
~ “My Generation”, The Who

What is a generation? From my spotty research, a generation can be as little as twenty years or as long as thirty-three. When The Who sang “Talkin’ ‘bout my generation’, they were of the age group that trusted no one over thirty. That generation (of which I am at the tail end) is now over twice that age. And while many of us still hold to some of our “revolutionary” beliefs, the “trusting no one over thirty” philosophy has died a thousand deaths.

What brought the whole question of generation to my mind was the opening chapters of “Writing History” by local boy made good, Michael Bliss. In those first chapters he paints a picture of the town of Kingsville just a few years before my time—but a Kingsville I recognize if not wholly, at least in part. Born in 1941, Michael, depending on your definition of generation is a half to a third generation older than I, and seeing Kingsville through his eyes and memories is an interesting tutorial in (fairly) recent history.

One of my favourite passages in his book is one in which he describes himself as a small boy experiencing his town while wheeling around on his trusty tricycle. He lived on Main Street in the block between Division and Spruce in the beautiful brick home torn down to the chagrin of many a town folk to make way for new development. I remember walking by the house many a high school noon hour and seeing a sizable cat sitting on the front lawn. The cat was famous for sporting one green eye and one blue eye. At that time Dr. Bruner had taken over the medical offices where Dr. Bliss, Michael’s father had his practice at one end of the house.

Here is Michael’s tour of the block that was host to his home: “The centre of my world was our big brick house on a double lot on the north side of Main Street, half a block east of the Four Corners.” (I love how he capitalized the Four Corners, giving them their proper due.) “When I grew old enough to expand my territory by tricycle—like Matt Goderich in Hugh Hood’s The Swing in the Garden—I would turn right, pass by the Kingsville Fire Department, then Babcock’s Restaurant, then a tobacco warehouse in the old Methodist Church, then the Kingsville Hotel, and finally reach the post office at the Four Corners. When I turned left, I passed a half a dozen homes with chestnut streets in their front yards, then reached the end of the block at Spruce Street.” When he was a little older and “finally allowed to go all the way around the block on my tricycle, I would peddle very fast past the pool hall, a hole in the wall of one of the town’s oldest brick blocks, whose proprietor, grey and cadaverous, would sometimes be standing on its doorstep, seemingly afraid to come out into a world of breathable air.” (Just a personal note here—I had a green tricycle upon which I had many an adventure thus can so relate to Michael and his tricycle—it was a magical vehicle which took me where I wanted to go as fast as my little legs would peddle. Had I run across the cadaverous proprietor once though, I would have probably changed my route.)

I recognize a few of the places that Michael talks about but am fascinated by the Kingsville of yesteryear of which he devotes about a quarter of the book. His descriptions are rich with nostalgia; and in the words of author, David J. Bercuson, his memories about the small town where he grew up “have a canny sense of time and place…. (he) manages to put his readers inside his story”. He is a wonderful story teller—something I did not particularly expect from someone who has written such tomes as “The Discovery of Insulin” (which may be a page turner in its own right).

In his preface he says somewhat modestly: “Almost every life is interesting enough to sustain a book if you know how to write it and if there is one person curious enough to start reading.” I am not sure what took me so long to pick up this book. Finally and gratefully, I have started reading it at the urging of Mr. Simon Vreman who lent me his copy. Admittedly I am only on the beginning chapters, but seeing my Kingsville through Michael’s eyes is illuminating—it reveals some of the foundation upon which our thriving little town continues to build itself.

 

 

Published in: on May 6, 2014 at 11:23 am  Comments (17)  
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Tom, Jim and Freddy

I am a little late in posting my newspaper column for this week – you will find some of the column is a bit personal and local–while I usually edit that kind of thing out for my blog–I thought I would give you the full flavour this week:

“Tom Sawyered”

My favourite quote of the week and possibly of all time comes from Jonathan Goldstein’s latest column called “You Call This a Party?” Among other things, Goldstein writes for the National Post, and his words this week hit a real chord with me: “Calling something a party doesn’t make it one….One can throw a septic cleaning party, but one would have only fools for guests.”

His statement was made in answer to an invitation from a friend of his to “a painting party” where the guests would get the lucky chore of priming and painting his house. Now his friend gets some points for cleverness, but many more for being a con à la Tom Sawyer. In fact there is a term for being conned into doing something you really did not want to do but ended up doing it anyway—it is called being “Tom Sawyered.” Tom, of course brought the whole thing to another level, in that he not only got his friends to whitewash a fence for him, he got some snacks and toys in return for “letting” them have the pleasure of doing his work.

There are other less polite terms for being “Tom Sawyered”. I am sure many of us have been on the receiving end of such a con. Goldstein was too clever to get caught up by his friend’s promise of making the job into a party—he recognized it for what it truly was and declined–at first. Then he thought about—and in an effort to score friendship points and a 4:30 a.m. ride to the airport he finally acquiesced. But, not to be totally “Tom Sawyered”, he demanded that there be expensive imported beer at the ready. And, oh yeah, he did not ask for the ride until after he had made his “friendship points”.

I suppose we all do it—gather friendship points—some to be bartered with, but many times forgotten—because dealing in friendship points is not a game one can win. In fact, I have trouble keeping up with my friends and family and all the favours they do for me. If they all tried to collect at once I would be in big trouble. Candy coating a job and turning it into a party can make the task more palatable—just ask Tom—but most of us would rather be asked honestly for help.

Happy Birthday Jim

Hey, this is my column and if I want to display outrageous and extravagant nepotism I will. Having said that, I am throwing a little party in this column for my brother Jim for his 70th birthday. His family is throwing him a real party and to that I will bring some food and drink and a gift—but this party is for any of you who know him—to call him (you could email or Facebook him but he has neither) or tell him when you see him around town—a big Happy Birthday. Do this in an exuberant fashion—shouting across the street if you have to. But keep this in mind: in my family, we only admit to being 39, so really this is the 31st anniversary of Jim’s 39th birthday. (I think this works out—my math is a little weak)

Jim is my eldest brother and having reached this milestone my family from far and wide, near and narrow are coming together to taunt him a bit, but mostly to celebrate him. As the big brother of our family (father, grandfather, and uncle too) he deserves both our reverence and ribbing, which I am sure will be plentiful when we come together on Saturday to eat, drink and be merry.

Freddy Farmer

Friend (in keeping with my nepotism theme here) and local author, Brian Sweet, along with local artist, Harold Burton have produced a new children’s book called “Freddy Farmer”. The story is endearing and the paintings come to life on the page creating a book that kids will love to read, or have read to them.

The illustrations are vibrant and the story is one that shows if we all “pull” or “push” together we can get a lot done. My favourite character is the pig Sloppy though, who at the end of the book, after the labours of the day have been carried out, goes back to “play in the mud”.

 

 

 

Kick the Bucket Aside……..

This week’s newspaper column:

We are now entering into a sacred time—attention must be paid. It is now April and it is my birthday month. Just kidding—but seriously folks, we should pay more attention to ourselves—but not in a “selfie” gratuitous way, but in a way wherein we appreciate that we are still here with all the good, bad, and ugly life has to offer.

Sometimes I regret the fact that I am, in some circles, considered a “senior”. I do not feel quite up to the designation yet—nor do I feel wiser or older. I am not yet up to the task of being looked upon as someone who should be valued and honoured and respected because of my age. I do not deserve it yet, as I do not feel as if I have “arrived”.

What does that mean? I have not fulfilled what I believe is my mission: to rule the world. No, no—that was Brain’s mission (as in the cartoon Pinky and the Brain. If you have never viewed this iconic Warner Brothers offering—Brain and Pinky are mice, and Brain wants to take over the world. He has a huge head and is really quite intelligent. Pinky is a bit of a simpleton, but in the end he is the wise one—but I think I may be getting off topic here…)

I do not have a bucket list—or a list of all those things I want to accomplish before I die, as I do not relish the thought of kicking the bucket, so instead I have a life list—which if I want to put any dent in, I should get busy. Everyone should have a life list—a list of things which contains the obtainable but also the impossible; the practical as well as the whimsical; the necessary and those things of which dreams are made of.

So here is my life list—it does not take into account the things I have already obtained or experienced, but it is my wish list of things to continue to reach for. (I was feeling a bit low today and my husband reminded me of some of the things that I have already that no one can take away from me—this list is a complement to those things). Though I have numbered my list—the first is no more important than the last:

1. Have my words spread over all continents so that my wisdom will live on forever. Get published in a wider forum. Have my fractured attempts at writing haiku shared; my scattered thoughts put in book form; and Margaret Atwood finally invite me to tea (with ten of my friends) on Pelee Island.
2. Travel to the ends of the earth. The length and breadth of the world. Okay, I would be satisfied with seeing more of Canada and the States, visiting wine country in France and Italy (I have done my best in visiting the wine offerings locally), dropping in on the Queen (who shares my birthday), and…well, really why limit it—travelling to the ends of the earth (except the really cold parts).
3. Experience what I call “woo-woo” stuff—but not scary “woo woo” stuff. I like the idea of the ethereal but I seem to be stuck in the muck and mire of reality—then again, who says reality does not include these things?
4. Win the lottery. A big lottery. And then share it.
5. Clean up my bedroom. (In the scheme of things this seems inconsequential, but really if you saw my room—you would understand.)
6. Channel a little more of Martha Stewart and a little less of Erma Bombeck. (That is not true—I take that back—though I would love to be made up of the sterner stuff that is Martha, my beliefs are Erma all the way.)
7. Do whatever I can to help my kids have successful lives, but not do so much that it is not of their own volition and creativity.
8. Stay married for 50 years at least—that means I will have to live to at least 79. See you all at my golden anniversary—I will be having a big party—Led Zepplin (if they are still alive) will be making an appearance. It will be catered by Bobby Flay and Lynn Crawford. Dressy jeans will be the attire; and champagne with (local) ice wine the only elixir.
9. I will cook gourmet meals, have friends and family over to enjoy, and not have to clean up the kitchen. That will be putting to good use all those hours I have spent reading cookbooks and watching the Food Network.
10. Read to my heart’s content.

I implore you to make up your own “life list” while kicking the proverbial bucket aside—you may be surprised at what you come up with.

I Don’t Care…………..

This week’s column:
Kim and Kanye

I don’t care. I don’t care that Kim and Kanye are on the cover of Vogue. Do you? Yet the fact that their picture appears on the magazine is causing a firestorm of interest in the media. Seriously, I think it looks good on Vogue, the fashion magazine that appeals to those who are in danger of drowning in a rain storm. (If you do not get that joke then I will explain it—it appeals to those who seem to perpetually have their noses in the air—not us down to earth folk who peruse the pages out of curiosity, and not as a catalogue).
Sarah Michelle Gellar of soap opera and vampire slayer fame tweeted that she was cancelling her subscription to Vogue and asked “Is anyone else with me?” as if she is the monitor of all things good taste and highbrow. Get over it Sarah. It is not worth your 144 characters to tweet about.
I have to admit though that I do love the take-off of the cover showing Miss Piggy and Kermit on the cover of barely disguised “Vague” magazine—they make a handsome couple, and surely they deserve their 15 minutes of fame. I know I am making light of the situation, but with all the things to be concerned about in the world, Kim and Kanye are not even on my list. Neither is Vogue magazine, though their encyclopaedic September 2013 issue did catch my attention—but upon sifting through the pages, most of the mag was made up of advertisements. Not of course that there is anything wrong with that—we all gotta eat, even fashion gurus, designers, and the copious number of shoe and purse makers who appeared in that issue.
Do not get me wrong. I love magazines—and have been an avid reader of them since I was a little girl—picking up my mom’s magazines and reading them from cover to cover (tips on making chicken dishes though I may have skipped at eight, I find weirdly fascinating now), and when I ran out of her Journals and McCall’s and Woman’s Day, I would read my dad’s Mechanics Illustrated.
In a book written to help you simplify life, I read that one should eliminate magazines from their life as they were just full of ads and the same old, same old. I could not believe that someone could write such blasphemy! Magazines are rife with hints, and life stories, and interesting tidbits that I for one could not live without. Even the ads do not deter me—I can whiz right by them, or pause for a moment and dream of perfect skin and the perfect vacation.
But magazines want your attention. There are a million of them out there, and in order to stand out they have to do something radical or irregular. And Vogue chose to feature a couple they knew would cause a tizzy. Well, good for them. It does not bother me in the least that Kim and Kanye got some more mileage—and anyone it does bother needs to put the important things in life in perspective.
I am not crazy about Kanye—he embarrassed Taylor Swift (in a way that made him look bad) but I think that called more attention to her accomplishments than less. Admittedly, Kim sometimes has the fashion sense of a squirrel and the morals of a rabbit, and the couple will most certainly never win for mentors of the year, but if they want to be on the cover of a fashion magazine—so be it. It is not like they are on the cover of Genius Weekly or Literature for the Literary–then I could see mounting an objection.
Let us turn our attention away from the attention seekers and focus our moral compass on those that deserve it. Here is proof positive that Kanye’s words of wisdom will not stand the test of time:
1. “I am God’s vessel. But my greatest pain in life is that I will never be able to see myself perform live.” (pains me too Kanye, pains me too)
2. “I feel like I’m too busy writing history to read it.” (I am a total loss for comment here)
3. “I am not a fan of books. (blasphemy, utter blasphemy!)
4. “I would never want a book’s autograph. I am a proud non-reader of books.” (I have never known a book to give an autograph, but maybe I am being a little nit-picky here.)
5. “I am the greatest.” (shades of Mohammad Ali)

Published in: on March 24, 2014 at 9:08 pm  Comments (21)  
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Warmth and Inspiration

 Have not been too inspired of late, but here is my weekly offering in the form of my column:

            This never-ending winter has many of us hunkered down and if not hibernating at least wishing that was an option. I, however, have done my part. On March 1st I took down the wreath I had on my front door which featured a snowman and put up a new more seasonal wreath. Or at least it is a wreath that I hope becomes seasonal soon. It sports pink and lime green hydrangeas and looks quite lovely in contrast to all the white that envelops us.

            After I put the wreath on the front door on Saturday, my husband, John and I travelled to Kitchener to go to a wedding and when we got back yesterday I made the disappointed observation that my tactic did not work. Apparently springtide was not attracted to my symbolic gesture—so I will just have to accept that while it may not be around the immediate corner, the warm season is at the end of a long jaunt filled with ice craters, snow piles, and deep car-eating ruts in the road.

            The road trip to Kitchener was uneventful—but a bit dicey on the way home yesterday. One of the things that John and I do to make the trip more enjoyable is play music from our misspent youths. I am sure that John has now had his fill of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and in particular one of my favourite ballads of all times: “Our House”. I love the melodic tale it tells and will share some of the words with you now. I would share the whole thing, but I think there are copyright issues:

I’ll light the fire, You put the flowers in the vase, That you bought today–

Staring at the fire, For hours and hours, While I listen to you, Play your love songs,
All night long for me, Only for me–

Come to me now, And rest your head for just five minutes, Everything is good,
Such a cosy room, The windows are illuminated, By the sunshine through them
Fiery gems for you, Only for you…….”

And my favourite verse of all: “Our house is a very, very fine house
With two cats in the yard, Life used to be so hard
Now everything is easy’, Cause of you…..”

            This song embraces “home” to me—warmth, contentedness, love, and the fact that life can be hard, but the people you surround yourself with can make it so much easier. So in this vast coldness and Arctic vortex winter, we can be warmed by words until the sun shines a little warmer.

            The other song that John had to put up with on our road trip was from the movie “Frozen”. I picked up the soundtrack from Costco for less than $9 if anyone is interested and we listened to the song “Let It Go” in its various renditions. I particularly love track 10 which is the Demi Lovato version of the song—her voice soars and makes the words come alive. Just the words “Let It Go” have a power in themselves and each of us can translate them to mean what we want them to—I am sure all of us have to let something go in order to make room for other and better things. Here is a sample of some of the words I found particularly inspiring, and coming from the movie “Frozen” seem very apropos to the weather we have been having: “Let it go! Let it go! I am one with the wind and sky,

Let it go! Let it go! You’ll never see me cry,

Here I stand and here I’ll stay

Let the storm rage on….”

            Though winter is not done with us yet and “rages on”, I will take the lilting words of the “Frozen” song to heart and “Let It Go” all the while dreaming of “Our House” with a warm fire, fresh flowers in a vase, and cats in the backyard. In reality though it has to warm up for my cat to venture out—he sniffs the cold air and hightails it back in the house dreaming of adventures and warmer days. So while I dream of those days too, I will adjust my spring wreath and put on my big boots until nature finds it in her heart to warm up the environs.

Published in: on March 4, 2014 at 7:50 am  Comments (34)  
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WWHGD? or What Would…………….Do?

This is my Valentine offering for my weekly newspaper column. Thought I would share it with you:

  I claim there ain’t
Another Saint
As great as Valentine. ~Ogden Nash

                I am of two minds when it comes to Valentine’s Day. My romantic sensitive self wants roses and chocolates. My sensible self scoffs at being manipulated to want roses and chocolates. What to do, what to do? According to timeanddate.com, Valentine’s Day was promoted in the mid-nineteenth century by manufacturers of paper lace and cards as a “means of increasing their sales.” As Gomer Pile used to say: “Surprise, surprise.”

                I thought I would get a male perspective on Valentine’s Day, so I conducted a little interview with Mr. Everyman:

 1. Q: Do you like Valentine’s Day?

A. It serves its purpose. When I was “wooing” my wife, it served as a way to show her I loved her—actually let me tell the truth—if you are dating someone, and you do not get them anything for Valentine’s Day, it has been my experience that on February 15th you are a lonely man. Now to answer your question—no, I do not like Valentine’s Day—there are too many expectations and many men are just not up to the task.

2. Q: Do you like getting gifts on Valentine’s Day?

A: Yes. I have never figured out why it is such a female-centric holiday, though you can forget the roses—who wants something that dies in a few days? I love it when my “significant other” makes me a special meal.

3. Q: Have you ever made your wife a special meal?

A: Um………….

4. Q: Never?

A. Yeah, yeah I have—steak and baked potatoes and salad with little chunks of cheese. But the piece de resistance was my bacon wrapped smoked oysters. Won my wife over with those. She thought I could cook—boy I had her fooled.

5. Q: So, what are the origins of Valentine’s Day in your mind?

A: The card companies and flower companies and candy companies all got together and thought there should be a yearly holiday featuring their wares—after Christmas and before Easter there was this big gap and they had trouble putting food on the table. Then the jewellery stores got into the picture and there was no going back.

6. Q: Ever heard of St. Valentine?

A: Yeah, he is second cousin to Santa Claus, and the tooth fairy’s brother.

7. Q: What did you get your wife this year?

A. Well, times are a little hard…………..

8. Q. You mean you aren’t getting her anything?

A: Yes, yes of course—I just have to put a little thought into it…………..*Did you know that the middle of February is thought to be the time that birds choose their mates?  And that around 1380 Chaucer wrote a poem for the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II to Anne of Bohemia and that is thought to be the first association between celebrations of romantic love and St. Valentine’s day?

9.  Q: Are you changing the subject on purpose?

A: No, no—just a little trivia—I get tired of all the Saint Valentine stories at this time of year. And who came up with Chubs, I mean Cupid—what a weird little toddler. A cherub with a bow and arrow was someone’s idea of a good image for romance? Bad branding, if you ask me………..

10. Q: Do you have a romantic bone in your body?

A: I think they took it out when I had my appendix removed. My wife did get me a WWHGD (what would Hugh Grant Do?) bracelet though and I think it is starting to work. I have to dash now to florists’, and grab a box of chocolates at the drug store………

                There you have it—the only answer that resembles my husband is number four. I really did think he could cook. Don’t tell him I told you this but one of his favourite movies is Love Actually, and one Valentine’s Day (a long, long time ago) he put different coloured bouquets of roses in several rooms of the house and he placed the requisite (and much appreciated) box of chocolates in a beribboned red heart-shaped box beside one of the bouquets.  I am hoping for an encore performance at some point.

                Unlike Mr. Everyman, I like cut flowers, even if they are short-lived (but on my more cynical days, I may hold some of his views.) Happy Valentine’s Day to all and to all a box of chocolates!

*trivia from timeanddate.com

Published in: on February 10, 2014 at 7:02 pm  Comments (46)  
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Disconcertingly Delightful

 

WordPress Michelle asks today: When was the last time you were embarrassed? How do you react to embarrassment? 

Embarrassed: uncomfortable, self-conscious, nervous, ashamed, mortified, humiliated, discomfited, ill at east, disconcerted.

If each of these words is a cousin to embarrassed, then I am in a constant state of embarrassment. I am uncomfortable in many social situations; self-conscious about whether or not I have stuff stuck in my teeth (and a myriad of other things I am too embarrassed to admit);  naturally nervous; and practice avoid ance and denial when it comes to mortification and humiliation . I am discomfited when faced with a new situation; ill at ease often; and disconcerted always.

I guess I am just one big bundle of embarrassment waiting to happen. But is that always a bad thing? I find that always being on the alert for awkward situations keeps me on my toes. I fake it in social situations fairly decently (in that I do not avoid them); I check my teeth and other things about my outward appearance so I will not offend others’ aesthetics (ha ha); and I find that nervousness has its perks as I think I worry away weight (not to my ideal weight but that is another story.) I love the word mortified, though not the state of mortification; I can find no good in humiliation though—mine or others—it is bad news all around. Discomfited is such a delicate way to be embarrassed—squirm worthy but not debilitating; ill at ease is admittedly easier to handle than easily ill; and disconcerted—well I am constantly puzzled by life, disconcertedly so.

I know that I am not really answering the question of “when was the last time I was embarrassed”? I would rather celebrate the times I was not embarrassed—the times when I successfully spoke more than one sentence without stumbling; the times when attention is placed on me and I am up to the challenge; the times when I have something stuck in my teeth and I slough it off in a que sera, sera kind of way; or pretend that a mortifying situation did not really happen at all.

I am going to stay comfortably disconcerted though, as along with its many meanings, it is also defined as confused. I think a state of confusion is like a state of wonder; a state of always being that little bit off balance; a state where magical things come to your rescue and logic plays no part.

Stupid is as stupid does: or Super Bowl Sunday–rah, rah

Today is Super Bowl Sunday. I do not understand football and I can probably be forgiven because, while my mind works in delightful ways, it does not compute sports strategy. In high school I liked to watch basketball but if I was passed the ball in gym class I became confused—there were so many options—dribble it somewhere, pass it to someone, try to get it in the basket, or, as I did quite often, stand there until someone shouted at me with instructions. Girls did not play football in gym. I tossed a football around a bit with my older brothers in our backyard (mostly I tried not to get hit in the head) but that was about it. I am familiar with the weirdly shaped ball, but not the true essence of the game that is named after it.

The sport baffles me—I understand when they throw the ball, and when they try to stop someone from advancing it to their goal post, but it seems like most of time it is a bunch of bodies piling on top of one another—I guess in an effort to stop the ball—but that usually seems beside the point. I watched the movie with Sandra Bullock and the adopted son who became a famous football player, and when the little brother explained strategy with mustard and other condiment bottles, I understood to a point, but when you replace the bottles with people, I am still somewhat ill at ease with the game—which seems a bit violent.  A game where head concussions are a regular achievement is not generally my cup of tea.

Today, in all my glorious ignorance, I am going to celebrate Super Bowl Sunday. I got some wings—spicy and mild (for me), a chocolate cake with a football on it, and I am rooting for a local guy who plays on the bird team.  For anyone local, the guy’s name is Luke Wilson, and he is from LaSalle, Ontario, only about 35 minutes from where I live.

I have never watched a Super Bowl game in my life. I have been to Super Bowl parties and partaken in the wonderfully bad food, but I have stayed away from the huge television set usually in a place of pride in someone’s family room, and watched a movie on the smaller TV upstairs with those like-minded souls who accompanied their spouses to the party (I am not being sexist here—many a lady I know understands and likes football). I used to go to football games at university but hydrated on purple jesus (sounds so disrespectful now—but it was kind of like grape juice spiced with alcohol) it did not really matter what was going on in the field as long as we did not cheer when the other team scored.

Today I am looking forward to the commercials and half-time and the food. I always get these wonderful ideas thinking my family will follow suit and we will have a wonderfully close-knit bonding experience. These plans usually go awry—but I never give up. I usually find the unplanned times together work best, but I still give it the old college try (without the copious amounts of alcohol).

So, go bird team go. Perhaps I should find out the real names of the teams –what do you think?

(I used the Comic sans font so you would know this is supposed to be funny—did it work?)

Winter of Discontent

  “Now is the winter of our discontent.” ~ William Shakespeare

            We have hit record snowfall totals for the month of January, and almost broken the low temperature records. Small comfort in this deep freeze we have been caught in, but maybe we need a change of attitude and should try to embrace this cold snap.

            Luckily I do not have a job that entails working out in this weather, and when I do have to venture out I bundle up in layer upon layer. But, I do love the cold weather when I am inside looking out, with a cup of hot chocolate in my hand, a good book to read, and a warm throw over my legs. Unfortunately real life gets in the way and we cannot assume this position of comfort for long. Since we have no choice in the matter if we do not have a warm weather vacation in the offing we have to adjust as best we can.

            I found a few winter quotes—some inspiring, some hopeful, some funny, and others—well I think they were observed in a winter such as we are having now.  I like Robert Frost’s attitude, which lives up to his last name. He says: “You can’t get too much winter in the winter.” Now if I had said that people would have thought “duh”, or “yes you can”, but because it came from the pen of a great poet, we take note and ponder his wisdom.

            William Blake perhaps does not reflect how many of us feel but he does have a sunny way of looking at winter: “In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.” Okay Bill, I will enjoy this winter keeping in mind these words from Percy Shelley: “If winter comes, can spring be far behind?” Hope obviously sprang eternal in Shelley’s human breast, adhering to Alexander Pope’s words that “Man never is, but always to be blessed.”

            Comedian and actor Billy Connolly wryly says: “There are two seasons in Scotland: June and Winter.” Being partially of Scottish origins, perhaps that is why I do not mind winter—I harken back to times in my ancestral home when I and Shirley MacLaine were living out one of our lives together there.  Hall of Famer, Bill Veeke also believes that there are only two seasons: baseball and winter.

            Dave Barry is clearly not a Canadian and his words bear this out: “The problem with winter sports is that – follow me closely here – they generally take place in the winter.” Dave, Dave, Dave – where would the Olympics be without the winter sports?

            Andrew Wyeth is rather poetic in his assessment of winter. He says: “I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape. Something waits beneath it; the whole story doesn’t show”.

            And what would a column on quotes about winter be without a little input from that young sage, Taylor Swift who harmoniously states: “I love the scents of winter! For me, it’s all about the feeling you get when you smell pumpkin spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, gingerbread and spruce.” I feel a song coming on……Another musician, Bob Seger is inspired in the winter—he says that he writes 80% of his stuff in the cold months. “Give me some of that old time rock ‘n roll….music that will soothe the soul…..”

            A few more quotes that need no embellishment but may just sway you into thinking winter is not so bad:

1. Tom Allen says: “While I relish our warm months, winter forms our character and brings out our best.”

2. “There are three reasons for becoming a writer: the first is that you need the money; the second that you have something to say that you think the world should know; the third is that you can’t think what to do with the long winter evenings.” ~Quentin Crisp

3. “Let us love winter, for it is the spring of genius.” ~ Pietro Aretino

4. “Winter is not a season, it is an occupation.” ~ Sinclair Lewis

            I will leave you with two final comments on winter. They sum up how we all feel at one time or another. Robert Byne believes that: “Winter is nature’s way of saying ‘Up yours’”, while Anton Chekhov makes this very valid point: “People don’t notice whether it’s winter or summer when they’re happy.”

            So enjoy, be happy, and don’t throw snowballs at me when you see me!

 

All quotes from brainyquotes.com/keyword/winter

“There’s No Need to be Stupid About It”

“Trust people to be who they are, and not who you want them to be.” ~ Richard Templar

  The “period during which we function” known more familiarly as life, is full of contradictions. Richard Templar, author of “The Rules to Break” illustrates this clearly in his book. His Rule number 83 says: “Trust everybody”, while Rule number 84 on the very next page states unequivocally: “Trust no one.”

 Confusing?  On the surface, yes, but once he explains his concepts it makes sense.  He theorizes that, “Trust is a wonderful feeling, with all the love and security it brings, so why deny yourself? That way lies madness.” And who in their right mind would choose madness (although I have often thought of it as an interesting alternative to sanity.) But on the next page of his book, he says, “…I can contradict myself if I like”, telling us that “Trust is a personal thing, and it has a lot to do with nuances and intuition about the person in question. Trust people to be who they are, and not who you want them to be.”

 Templar argues that “The fact is that you must be a trusting person in order to feel at ease with yourself and life” BUT, and this should be the underlying advice to anyone who takes on life as a hobby: “…there’s no need to be stupid about it.” He says that he has friends that he would trust with his life, but he would not “necessarily let them look after my cat.”

  What is a contradiction? On one hand contradictions can be ambiguities and paradoxes; on the darker side, they can be inconsistent and illogical. Ambiguities are hard to define in that they express uncertainty—or “something that can be understood in more than one way”. Paradoxes are enigmatic, puzzling, even mystical. They can readily be defined by one of my favourite sayings: “It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” Inconsistency and things that are not logical are harder to contend with and make trust all that more difficult.

 Templar is right on both counts—but I can simplify his wisdom down to a few words: Trust, but don’t be stupid about it.

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