Random Thoughts Wednesday


I took an online questionnaire to see how “hippie” I am. I am zero percent hippie. It said I may belong to some other group, but I am by no means a hippie.

This was not a surprising bit of information.

Although, if I were American I would write in a vote for Bernie Sanders.

Thankfully I am a Canadian and do not have to do this.

Also answered an ad by a psychic. He said I had a troubled childhood. I had a wonderful childhood. I am not paying him $49 solely based on the fact that if he got this wrong—he would get a lot of other stuff wrong.

Had a handwriting analysis once. It said some nice things, but also some not so nice things. I wrote it off. (see what I did there?)

I believe in God because I want to. Not because I know anything that others do not know. If I am going to take a leap of faith—I have decided this is the best direction. And I like to hedge my bets…..

Random thought Wednesday has just become my thing. Tune in next Wednesday for some more not so earth shattering random thoughts.

Oh, and remember, even a blind squirrel occasionally finds a nut…..

Published in: on August 3, 2016 at 3:36 pm  Comments (8)  

Come on people. It’s this simple.

simple–yes, but oh so hard……..adjusting………..adjusting………….

Live & Learn


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Published in: on August 2, 2016 at 12:57 pm  Comments (4)  

Don’t know what you’ve till it’s gone….


How much of life do we sleepwalk through? Or for that matter, take for granted? We are so often told how precious life is; how time has the ultimate deadline—yet we still remain oblivious. I have tried to not take life and all it has to offer for granted and valiantly attempted to live for the moment by being—what is that popular word for it–mindful. And though these things sound easy, they are not. We need constant reminders, perhaps even some nagging to take special note of all the positive things that happen. By no means do they cancel out the negative, but they should be recognized and given just as much attention. Sometimes we seem to marinate in our melancholy rather than bask in what Martha has trademarked as the “good things.”

This lack of awareness was brought to my attention by a quote I read from one of my favourite bloggers, David Kanigan, a Canadian in America (you know, as opposed to An American in Paris). I have spoken of him before, and he has a wonderful blog called liveandlearn.com. The passage is written by David Steindal-Rasst, author of “A Listening Heart from The Spirituality of Sacred Sensuousness” (say that five times fast.) Steindal-Rasst says (rather lyrically) that:


“Day and night, gifts keep pelting down on us.

If we were aware of this, gratefulness would overwhelm us. But we go through life in a daze.

A power failure makes us aware of what a gift electricity is; a sprained ankle lets us appreciate walking as a gift; a sleepless night, sleep.

How much we are missing in life by noticing gifts only when we are suddenly deprived of them.”


His words ring so true. If we did notice all the gifts that are constantly raining down on us, we would be overwhelmed. Maybe then we would not just concentrate on all those bad, evil, wicked, and corrupt things that we are inundated with on a regular basis. We need to know the less sunny side of life—but it needs to be balanced with good, decent and noble things. And we need to notice these things. Ever feel weighed down with the weight of the world and your place in it? I think we do a great job of sounding the alarm; we do not do a great job of finding the calm in the storm.

Steindal-Rasst makes the point that the only time we recognize the gifts we are given is “when we are suddenly deprived of them” and he gives three simple examples that we can all relate to. We so take electricity for granted, except when it goes out. Then it becomes a precious commodity. Sleep when it comes easily is something we do not even think about; but when it is hard to come by, we notice.

I can speak a little too personally about the example he gives of a sprained ankle making us appreciate walking. I do not have a sprained ankle right now, but I am still recovering from a knee arthroscopy I had a few months ago. I thought I would be running around the block with no problem after about two weeks (it does not matter that I did not run before the operation). But three and a half months after the procedure I am still walking like Walter Brennan (who apparently took on his famous gait (limp) as an affectation and was front and centre of his Grandpa Amos character on the Real McCoys sitcom he starred in from 1957 to 1963). I personally am not finding the limp as successful as he did—and cannot wait for the day when I will walk normally again.

Steindal-Rasst’s last statement/question is probably one we should think about: “How much are we missing in life by noticing gifts only when we are suddenly deprived of them?” I miss so many things that I took not enough notice of nor did I appreciate at the time they were happening. I would give anything to be able to sit at my mom’s dining room table and enjoy the Sunday feast she prepared for her grown and married with kids children every week. Like clockwork we gathered together to eat, drink and visit—then poof—it was gone. At least we have the memories, but this one thing has taught me not to take the people I love for granted.

Brings to mind Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi” where she iconically sang:

“Don’t it always seem to go/That you don’t know what you’ve got/Till it’s gone

They paved paradise/And put up a parking lot.”


Published in: on August 2, 2016 at 12:44 pm  Comments (3)  

The Visit

Is there anything better than a good “visit”? A visit where all you do is nosh a little, drink a little, and talk a lot? I love visiting—though I do find myself to be one of the least interesting people on the face of the earth when I compare myself to others and their adventures and adventurous natures; their interests and passions; and their ability to tell a good story. I am not being humble here or particularly critical of myself—but I find other people and their stories totally fascinating, and my own rather pedestrian.

“Visiting” is a very satisfying way of connecting to people. In the days of yore, visiting was something you did on the spur of the moment, just dropping in on friends and family, sometimes on a whim. And you were always received with open arms, a cup of something warm (or cold in the steaming days of summer) and fresh baked goods seemingly just waiting for you to drop by.

Today, visiting is a bit more formal—particularly with friends. One tends to wait for an invitation now—though I still love it when people drop by. I was taught by my mom that if you extended an invitation to friends or family then your house should be spick and span, you should bring out the good china (as opposed to the everyday), and set everything else aside and concentrate on your visitors. I still ascribe to giving my visitors my full attention, but my house has not been spick and span for years. Sometimes when people drop by I am a bit embarrassed about the state of my house (or the fact that I am still in my pyjamas and it is nigh on noon—I write better in my pyjamas) but then I remember the words one woman ascribed to her mother-in-law who is purported to have said that “people are coming to see me, not my house.” Wise words that I keep tucked away for those occasions when the dust bunnies have turned into kangaroos.

When I was a kid, Sunday afternoon was set aside to “visit”. I lived in a community where Sunday was kind of sacred—and at the time very few stores were open so we did not consider the day just another chance to get our chores done and errands run. Visiting or calling on someone, dropping in, or going to see friends was an accepted Sunday activity, and because it was accepted, it was expected. Whether you were the visitor or visitee (yes, I made this word up) you knew your role. My parents would visit their parents on Sundays, but more often than not, our house was a destination for visitors. I always loved having people drop by, as it was a chance to eat desserts midday—something we were not afforded when it was “just us”.

If you are of the ilk who likes to drop by for a visit, you have to be prepared for various receptions—you are taking a bit of a chance by dropping in unannounced, but sometimes that makes for the best impromptu visit. Personally I like it when people drop by, but am not someone who generally drops by someone else’s house unless it is just to drop something off quickly. Here are a few signs though that your whimsical visit may not be welcome:

  1. The recipient of your visit holds the door only slightly ajar to speak to you with no move to invite you in.
  2. A look of horror not quite imperceptibly crosses the face of the person you are bequeathing with your presence.
  3. The family dog jumps up on you, and no one tries to curtail its activities.
  4. The beneficiary of your visit picks up their purse and keys and makes it seem like they are just leaving.

Signs that you are welcome include a bear hug, big smile, an open door, and gushes of “I am so happy to see you”. A quick invite to come in and sit down while the visitee rushes to the kitchen to rustle up some refreshments is also a good sign.

I do not subscribe to a quote attributed to Francis Bacon who is reported to have said: “Friendship increases in visiting friends, but in visiting them seldom.” But knowing which friends and family agree with Bacon should be noted and struck off your “to drop by” list and added to your “by invitation only” list.


Do you just drop in on friends? Or are you a firm believer in invitations?

Published in: on August 1, 2016 at 12:36 pm  Comments (13)  

What is Going on in my World

This is my column from the newspaper this week. It is very local but gives you a bird’s eye view into what is happening in my world:

Circumspection Denied: Open Our Libraries

During a conversation with a friend over the weekend, she called me “circumspect”. Not really sure what it meant (though I had an inkling) I looked it up. I knew my friend would never insult me, but I wanted to make sure the word meant what I thought it meant. And it does. According to Volcabulary.com, “circumspect implies a careful consideration of all circumstances and a desire to avoid mistakes and bad consequences.”

I do try to “case the joint” before making a statement to make sure the audience is friendly, and I try to stay as politically correct as possible. In pubic. Of course I have my own strong opinions and biases, but these are generally not for public consumption. But I have to say, the fact that “our” librarians are now entering their fourth week on strike is starting to annoy me. A lot. It is fraying on my nerves and makes me question the fairness of it all. And I am afraid I am no longer circumspect about the situation. I know there are two sides to every issue, or as my husband says three–the third being the truth.

What is the truth in this matter? And what is fair? If life were fair, the librarians would be back in the libraries helping patrons, but instead they are walking the picket line—somewhat confused as to what is really expected of them. From my understanding they are asking for little other than the status quo. Perhaps my understanding is incorrect, but I am wondering why they are not being allowed to fulfill the myriad of duties they perform for you and me on a daily basis.

For the last three decades I and my family have been enthusiastic members of our local library. I took my kids to all the programs for kids when they were little; I have partaken along with my husband in many of the adult offerings; and have been known to haul home as many as twenty books at a time. Some I use for research (for this column); some I read; and some I just enjoy perusing.

I love the library. I find the librarians in Kingsville helpful, friendly, and knowledgeable. I am leading with my heart here—and my heart breaks to see this beloved institution closed during the summer months. So, if anyone out there is listening—please give us back the place so many of us love and use. I cannot be circumspect and careful with my words about this—I need to go out on a limb and state my position unequivocally: it is just wrong to make these purveyors of the written word (and so much more) fight the good fight for their jobs.

Poetry and Prose at the Lake

Went to a poetry/prose reading over the weekend. I always feel so intellectual when I attend one of these things. “Feel” is the operative word here, which means that I do not necessarily understand all the nuances of the sentiments being expressed but I like the challenge of trying to unpuzzle the written word. Poetry is a puzzle that unlike its cardboard cousin can be put together in many different ways and produce as many pictures as there are readers.

The outdoor “reading”  took place at the Woodbridge Farm Retreat overlooking a tranquil Lake Erie. Hosted by Grant Munroe (et al), we listened to old 78’s under a canopy of ancient trees. The poet, Jesse Eckerlin had spent a week writing at the farm, and read from his chapbook of poems called “Thrush”.  I particularly liked the poem called “Emporium” as it brought us face to face with another era ensconced in the modern day. The opening lines: “A disorderly labyrinth of decrepit junk, this florescent bunker hunkered in the north end of the city…” is reminiscent of meandering old stores that we have all experienced with stuff from a decade long gone still for sale. He describes the products as “…either raw materials or house goods from the 40’s or 50’s that have gracelessly fermented into novelty items.” I cannot do Jess justice here, but it is enough for you to know his work is fierce and fearless and fine.

The other reader was Robert Earl Stewart, a former Windsor Star reporter turned poet and prose writer. He read from a book he is now in the process of writing about running. Though the passage he read does not convince me to run, it was filled with a wry look at his personal life and how running saved him. He was in turn funny, honest, and an accomplished wordsmith, who made you hang onto his every word.

It was an ideal way to spend a summer Saturday afternoon. I believe there will be another reading on August 20th. Stay tuned.


Published in: on July 19, 2016 at 6:12 pm  Comments (4)  


sometimes our shadow selves are bigger than we are….

Live & Learn



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Published in: on July 13, 2016 at 9:40 am  Leave a Comment  

From the Heart

I am a huge advocate of letter writing. Does that mean that I write a lot of letters? No. At least not anymore. I used to. Write a lot of letters. Now it is email and messaging and texting. More decades ago than I care to count I was an avid letter writer during the summer months when I was home from university. I missed my roommates and friends and a far flung boyfriend or two, so I would spend a lot of my spare time penning letters that involved perhaps a bit of exaggeration about how wonderful my summer was. In reality I was working at a summer job or two that took up most of my time.

I wrote hundreds of letters and received the same back, because a letter sent was always met with a letter received. Many of the letters I composed were from a small room on the second floor of my family home just down the hall from a bedroom I shared with my sister, Peg. We dubbed this room the “spook room” because before we transformed it with pretty pink rose covered wallpaper it had grey walls and had been used for storage by the former owners. We renovated it and turned it into a tiny getaway, with mattresses on the floor and bright throw pillows. The room had a huge window for its size, and it was in front of that window where I wrote many a letter.

I am reminded of my letter writing days by a book I picked up yesterday at Chapters called “To the Letter” by Simon Garfield. It is subtitled “A celebration of the Lost Art of Letter Writing”. Not to put too fine a point on the fact that letter writing is a lost art, but the book was only $5, marked down from its original price of $29.

I am guilty of not using a pen and stationary much anymore. If I write a letter, I tap it out on my laptop and then change the font to look like writing instead of printing to make it resemble a more personal note. I know that I fool no one with this tactic, but it does make the presentation a little closer to actual letter writing.

Garfield makes a compelling argument for letter writing—one that has convinced me that I should do more of it—even if it is not handwritten. He says that “Letters have the power to grant us a larger life. They reveal motivation and deep understanding. They are evidential. They change lives, and they rewire history.”

Pretty heavy duty reasons for letter writing, though I do not think that anything I have ever written has changed a life or rewired history—but perhaps I have offered a different perspective or word of encouragement, or even lent a bit of humour to a situation. Garfield believes that at one time “It must have seemed impossible that their worth would ever be taken for granted or swept aside” because “a world without letters would surely be a world without oxygen.” Yet, today many of us rarely put a pen to paper unless we are signing a legal document or for a package that comes to our door. I agree with Garfield that the loss of letter writing has put a strain on literacy and good thinking. The handwriting process is a slow one, and that fact generally leads to more organized thinking—we have the time to think before we commit to paper.

The author also makes an interesting point that one might not come to initially. He believes that writing a book about the magic of letter writing is also writing a book “about kindness.” He says that he is not against emails but calls them a “poke”, and letters more of a “caress” that “stick around to be newly discovered.” He believes that letters are “a form of expression, emotion, and tactile delight we may clasp to our heart.”

I wholeheartedly agree with him. I have kept letters for decades. They are little time capsules that show us what we and our friends and family were like at a certain point in our lives. I doubt that I will return to the handwritten days of yore, but Garfield has convinced me that the written word is one that should be cherished, and one we should share with those we love. Now admit it—it is wonderful to receive a bit of snail mail every once in a while that is not a bill or political propaganda.

Published in: on July 11, 2016 at 8:02 pm  Comments (6)  

Just One Shopping Cart Away



In my constant search for the meaning of life I am often stymied. My efforts are thwarted by life itself. I have finally given in and come to the conclusion that life is a mystery—and not one that is going to be solved by me. But I have found a few truths floating around the other mystery I have not cracked—the Internet. On my Facebook page I found some wise words of advice attributed to Dr. Richard Carlson, author of “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff”.

This paragraph showed up on my Facebook page on a bright Sunday morning, and rather than skip over it, or nod my head in silent agreement then go on with my day, I thought I would share it with you along with a few thoughts of my own. I shared it on Facebook with the comment: “easy for you to say….” Here is the paragraph which took some licence with the good doctor’s guide to a good life:

“Live beneath your means. Return everything you borrow. Stop blaming other people. Admit it when you make a mistake. Give clothes not worn to charity. Do something nice and try not to get caught. Listen more; talk less. Every day take a 30 minute walk. Strive for excellence, not perfection. Be on time. Don’t make excuses. Don’t argue. Get organized. Be kind to people. Be kind to unkind people. Let someone cut ahead of you in line. Take time to be alone. Cultivate good manners. Be humble. Realize and accept that life isn’t fair. Know when to keep your mouth shut. Go for an entire day without criticizing anyone. Learn from the past. Plan for the future. Live in the present. Don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s all small stuff.”

Now these might seem like clichéd bromides, but if you take them one by one—there is a lot of wisdom here. Personally I would have led with “realize and accept life is not fair”. If you come to this realization early, you are golden. Then when life seems to be fair (or your rendition thereof) you are a happy camper. And when it is not—well, you were prepared.

I try to follow many of these rules, but fail miserably with a few. I try not to argue, but sometimes I cannot keep the beast within that wants to get her point across. Occasionally I do this loudly and semi-aggressively. I prefer to debate but sometimes the debate turns into a dispute. On examination, there is really little satisfaction in an argument, because whoever happens to be holding a different opinion will rarely be swayed by your brilliant argument. Thus the advice to “not argue” is good, but sometimes the will is weak. I am sure that by the time I am 90 I will be able to act more successfully on this advice.

I try to be kind; I let people cut in front of me; I plan on taking a 30 minute walk everyday (as soon as this stupid knee will let me do more than a shuffle); I have pretty good manners; and I love being alone at times. I try to be humble, listen, and keep my mouth shut. The operative word here is try—as I am not always successful.

The one that really hits home for me is to “go for an entire day without criticizing anyone”. I think this one is key to living a happy life. But it is the most difficult one of all. We are a people who seem to need to criticize—our government, our neighbours, our family, our friends—even our acquaintances. I think that what is important is that in our criticism we are defining ourselves and our values. But maybe we should find a different way to go about it. Or at least understand why we are so critical.

Being critical is not always bad. Apparently it has two roots. The assessing, analyzing, evaluating and appraising root is how we compare ourselves to the world and its contents, ideas, and the people who form them. But if criticizing takes on its shadow meaning—the one that censures and condemns, slams and passes unfair judgment, then I agree with the Dr. Carlson–we should try to erase this from our habits.

I have not learned “not to sweat the small stuff”. It is a process, and one that is more difficult for some than others. I know that what I am worried about today will rectify itself in some manner. I just hope that the manner in which it rectifies itself is not one that finds me in jail, on the street sleeping with my piled high shopping cart beside me, or toothless.

Published in: on July 4, 2016 at 3:08 pm  Comments (13)  

Big Red

could not have said it better myself!

Live & Learn


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Published in: on July 1, 2016 at 2:08 pm  Comments (2)  

180 secs of your life. Pause to watch.


Live & Learn

and don’t quit until the finish…

Source and read more here: World Renowned Pianist Performs Concert Floating on the Arctic Ocean

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Published in: on June 24, 2016 at 7:04 pm  Comments (2)  

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