Happy V Day!

Have to share this–it is from my wonderful rhyming friend Joan Harder and I could not keep it to myself:

I guess that those two groundhogs could not agree this year
So whether spring comes early is a toss -up so I hear.
But one thing that stays constant when THIS DAY comes around
Our hearts just seem to lighten and loving thoughts abound.
So if you’re feeling kind of sad that this old world’s a mess,
Just tell someone you love them, and you hurt a little less.

Thanks Joan–You made my day!

Published in: on February 14, 2016 at 3:01 pm  Comments (3)  

Love and Madness

My weekly newspaper column. Thanks to Ben Naga for madness quote and David Kanigan for the “winter morning”:

Madness comes in many forms. One of them is love. But only love of a certain variety. I guess for lack of a better term, romantic love suffers from, nay, benefits from madness. It burns bright at the beginning, and though it wafts and wanes, sometimes it is snuffed out never to be seen again while at other times it reincarnates into something of almost concrete substance.

Love is such an esoteric subject. Mysterious to some, quite clear cut to others. Louis de Bernieres, a contemporary British author has a lovely definition of love—and in this quote he covers the subject quite thoroughly—from madness to its eventual durability:

“Love is a temporary madness; it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of eternal passion. That is just being in love, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Those that truly love have roots that grow towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms have fallen from their branches, they find that they are one tree and not two.”

February, with Valentine’s Day almost smack-dab in its middle (“almost” because this year is a leap year) is the month known for love. I would argue that love in its many forms should be recognized. Even romantic love that goes astray, because what was once is still a reality, never to be truly forgotten. de Bernieres believes that “any fool can” be in love but “love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away.” I agree with him that love, in its best form is both “an art and a fortunate accident.”

Love has many facets, and though its romantic muse may be Cupid, the depth and width and plumb of it is immeasurable. True love though does not always have to withstand the test of time—I believe that you can truly be in love—for a while. What too many do not realize is that even though they may fall out of love, what they had once was something not to be dismissed. Idealistically true love lasts; realistically, not always.

I am of course, idealistic. And as luck would have it (knock on wood) I have been fortunate enough to have withstood “being in love” and moved on to what de Bernieres describes as being “one tree and not two.” But I would argue that there are many branches to that “one tree”; and some of the branches are independent of the others. A romantic I may be, a fool I am not. (I know this is up to interpretation, but hey, this is my column.)

So, enough of this touchy-feely stuff for now, we will move on to another favourite quote of mine, which deals with the love of the small things in life. It is an observation by Ted Kooser, titled “A Winter Morning” from his book Delights and Shadows”:

“A farmhouse window far back from the highway
speaks to the darkness in a small, sure voice.
Against this stillness, only a kettle’s whisper,
and against the starry cold, one small blue ring of flame.”

His poetic rendering embodies warmth and coziness on a winter’s day. And this being February, we need the “small blue ring of flame” to douse our mid-winter doldrums. A cup of something steaming served up from a whispering kettle is the perfect antidote to the cold and damp.

What is your preferred cup of something steaming?



Published in: on February 6, 2016 at 3:17 pm  Comments (4)  

Five Days, Five Quotes: Day Three

could not have conceived of this myself, but it is so true………..

Ben Naga

Recently I was invited to participate in an exercise which involved posting a fresh quotation on each of three days and also tagging three more folk each day. Here is a sequel, but with a difference. The quotation bit remains the same but I won’t be burdening anyone else.:) And this time there will be five days rather than three.

This is Day Three.

“Love is a temporary madness; it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of eternal passion. That is just being in love, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being…

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Published in: on January 30, 2016 at 10:10 pm  Comments (2)  

The Present


Live & Learn

Stick with this to the end…

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Published in: on January 30, 2016 at 3:41 pm  Leave a Comment  


For those of you not from Canada, Tim Horton’s is a coffee shop franchise. In some big cities there is one on almost every corner. And most towns that have a population over 100 have one (I am exaggerating a bit here). This is my weekly column dedicated to Tim’s:


I have been frequenting Tim Horton’s more lately. When once I may have darkened the coffee shop’s door perhaps once a month, I am probably there twice a week now. Here are a few things I have learned from going to the Canadian icon a little more often:

1. They serve a lot more than coffee. Although I love the smell of the coffee, the dark liquid has lost a lot of its magic for me since I stopped making it into coffee syrup by adding upwards of 3 teaspoons of sugar. I now mostly drink their steeped tea and on occasion when I am feeling like I need a little comfort I turn to their hot chocolate. I like the small cup of hot chocolate though. I mistakenly ordered a medium the other day and could not finish it. (Personally I think it was the guilt factor—it was warm and sweet and chocolaty, therefore it could not be good for you.) My new drink of choice is the chai latte. Yum. Please don’t tell me it is bad for me.

2. If you go to the local Tim’s you will see a lot of people you know. You will also see a lot of people you don’t know, which is puzzling since I have lived in this area most of my life. Spent a few years in Windsor when I was going to school there, but other than that I have haunted this area for more years than I will reveal here. I find it surprising since I think I am related to half of the municipality.

3. While the warm drinks (and cold in the summer) are good, it is the camaraderie I like in particular (and in general if truth be known). And there are people from all walks of life—from bundled up babies, toddlers sipping hot chocolate, kids spooning soup, teenagers eating their lunch, young parents out for a coffee break, travellers stopping by for something to take on the road, groups who meet for coffee after some other activity, to people like me, who are there for a few laughs with friends.

4. I like that some people come in alone and just sit and have a drink of something warm. Or they work a little. Or they come by to see if any of their cohorts are there. I have often thought that it would be a good place to sit and write. Years ago I tried this but found I am one of those people who need silence to write. I am too easily distracted. So it is probably a good place to write for some. But not for me.

5. On Facebook today, I saw two images. One was of people digging out of the east coast snow storm. They were making some headway, but not a lot. The other showed someone who was making their way through deep snow with strong determination. The caption under that picture: “a Newfoundlander on their way to Tim Horton’s”. I am just saying…….

6. Years ago I used to take my Dad to Tim Horton’s and sit at one of the tables in front of the windows. We would look out and comment on what we saw, and just enjoy each other’s company. He had just lost his wife, and I, my mom. But we found a bit of solace there, surrounded by the smell of coffee and life being lived. Today I sit in some of those same chairs with friends. And we talk and laugh and find solace in each other’s trials and tribulations and celebrate everyday happy things as well as those life occasions that must be marked.

7. The staff that I have had the occasion to come into contact with is fun, accommodating, and friendly. I like that the owner seems to decorate for every holiday occasion.

8. What don’t I like? Well, if I am honest—sometimes the smell of burnt cheese permeates the air and is a bit heavy—but that just adds to the ambiance. I could also say I don’t like the long line ups. But I kinda do. Cause you get to visit all those people in the line—and without fail they are friendly, and a lot of times you have made a new friend or two when you finally get to the front of the line.

9. I know there are Tim’s everywhere. Big cities, small towns. And sometimes out in the middle of nowhere. But they all feel small town. And I happen to think that is a good thing.

So the next time you are in Tim’s, just give me a shout. It is that kind of place–where you can shout out to your neighbours and friends without fear of reprisal.


Published in: on January 26, 2016 at 1:39 am  Comments (12)  

Only a kettle’s whisper

“speaks to the darkness in a small, sure voice…”

Live & Learn


A farmhouse window far back from the highway
speaks to the darkness in a small, sure voice.
Against this stillness, only a kettle’s whisper,
and against the starry cold, one small blue ring of flame.

~ Ted Kooser, “A Winter Morning” From Delights & Shadows


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Published in: on January 25, 2016 at 9:53 pm  Comments (1)  

Be Nice to the Dog

“Be nice to the dog and don’t do meth.” These words of advice came from a father who distilled all his hopes and dreams for his son into these two rules. I know this because I read a book written by Heather Lende called “Find the Good.” And as you have probably figured out from the title of her book—that is the wisdom she wishes to pass on. The other advice, from her friend John, is both cryptic and wise, but she says that hers, to “find the good” is “enough”. In fact she says it is “plenty” and is satisfied with leaving those words behind for her family.

She came up with these words after being assigned an essay with the premise of “describing one piece of wisdom to live by”. Her response, after some speculation and reflection was that if “indeed all the wisdom I had in my heart was to be summed up in final words and it was difficult to speak more than say, three, what would I rasp before my soul went up the chimney?” And the three words she came up with were “Find the good.”

Among other things, Lende writes obituaries. And I do not mean the ones that appear with a picture in the paper announcing a death. She writes in-depth stories about people’s lives after interviewing their loved one for her local weekly paper. She lives in Alaska, in a town about the size of Kingsville. And she knows personally many of the people who have passed on. On occasion she finds a stubborn subject, where the only positive thing that can be said about the person who passed on is that “She kept her stove clean.”

Now how do you “find the good” in that? Lende did. She said that the stove the woman had kept clean was not of modern day vintage, but one of those black monsters seen in kitchens years ago, or in kitchens today of those who nostalgia has blessed. Keeping one of those gigantic stoves clean was a process and a challenge, thus the woman who kept her stove clean was diligent. And as an aside, for those who believe that “cleanliness is next to Godliness” (of which I am not a proponent) then the woman’s virtue was not in question.

I have, of late, taken much interest in obituaries and have found many are of the variety that clearly depicts the personality of the person who has gone on to an alternate universe. In fact, I have written a few. But in the back of my mind, I always think that it is too bad the person is being lauded after their death and not before.

Lende differs with my opinion that obituaries are “too little, too late” and I cannot totally disagree with her. She says “Writing obituaries is my way of transcending bad news. It has taught me the value of intentionally trying to find the good in people and situations, and that practice—and I do believe that finding the good can be practiced—has made my life more meaningful.”

I would like to take her philosophy and apply it to the living. I think we should all practice finding the good in people. I think we should try to “find the good” in people while they are still on earth with us, walking about, drinking coffee at the local coffee shop, getting groceries, and just doing the things we do in living out our lives.

Admittedly, we all have a few people in our lives that we would have to dissect pretty extensively to find the good (and there are a few where this dissection may not work), but on the whole, most of the people in my life are “good”. I have a number of good and generous and loving friends and family members, who by their sheer numbers prove that “finding the good” is not hard.

Good can be defined any way you want it to be; but in order to be labelled good in my book you have to be kind. That is how I measure people. If you are kind, then you have all the other qualities needed to be a good person; you are decent, noble, pleasant, fair, caring, compassionate and considerate.

If my obituary merely reads that I was kind, I would be happy.

Published in: on January 20, 2016 at 6:22 pm  Comments (7)  

To Hug or Not to Hug…..


Are you a hugger? If you are I think you are in the majority. At one time, at least in my family we only hugged our grandparents. And other relatives if we absolutely had to. We always kissed our parents goodnight, and gave them a light hug, but that was about it. Now, it seems, everyone hugs. And it is not as if this is not a good thing. Hugs portray love, affection, joy, and sometimes just general jubilation.

I am a convert of sorts. I hug now, but generally I do not instigate a hug. But neither do I stand stiff as a board when one is administered. I am, as they say, “getting with the program.” I went to a site I often use to find quotes regarding a topic I am writing about, brainyquote.com, and I only found one quote that was a tiny bit sceptical of hugging—and even it was not full out critical. Actress and author Mindy Kaling (of The Mindy Project fame) said:

“You should never have to say hello or goodbye. Even at work sometimes, and I know this is very unpopular, is that if I’m going to work every single day, I don’t think you should have to hug people hello every single day when you come to work. I saw you Monday!”

I am getting over my awkwardness about hugging. But be forewarned that if you hug me and I am not expecting it, I will probably step on your foot, knock your glasses off, or do you some other slight damage. And for this, I am sorry. I am trying to be a better hugger.

Of course, I find hugging comes quite naturally when it comes to my family and now, friends. In fact several of my friends preface their prehug with “I know you don’t like to be hugged but I am going to do it anyway” then they hug me. And I am quite pleased, because I know the hug comes from a generous, warm place. I now like to be hugged—most of the time. But I still feel it should be reserved for those closest to you.

I am not sure why I am not a natural born hugger. Is it more ethnic driven? I don’t know. Perhaps at one time. But now it seems everyone hugs. Once in a while I run into people who are not natural born huggers and I can so empathize with them. We are the ones who stand back a bit and wait our turn for the inevitable hug—but by hanging back we are sometimes perceived as not being friendly. Just so you know, that is not the case at all.

I finally found a site with an article written by a non-hugger—or more appropriately a selective hugger. Grace Jennings-Edquist on the site Mamamia.com gives some hugging etiquette advice after first admitting that she does not really like hugging except in the following situations:

1. when you know and like a person
2. when you are at a party of friends
3. when someone is celebrating a new job, birth of a child, an engagement…
4. when someone is in mourning
5. when you have not seen someone who is close to you for a long time

She has a couple of other rules but I did not really identify with them so I am using my journalistic prerogative not to share them. But this is what you huggers need to know—those of us who do not initiate hugs still enjoy them if handed out judiciously.

I have been on the receiving end of criticism for not being an all-out hugger. I have been accused of being a little too “Anglo”; a bit uptight; and not forthcoming. Not often, but often enough to doubt my own sense of warmth. But in my defence, I am someone who is not afraid to share a smile with strangers; to joke with someone who is in line at the bank or grocery store; and to the best of my ability I will help out anyone in need. I am a pretty kind person if I do say so myself and the fact that I am an awkward hugger should not quantify me as lacking in warmth.

I do not mean to sound defensive, but for all those of you out there who are learning to be a hugger, despair not. You will find in me someone who understands your plight. And if you are a hugger—know that you are appreciated, even if we step on your foot, or knock your glasses askew.

To hug or not to hug is not the real question for me. To do no harm when I do hug is the goal.

Are you a natural born hugger. Or, like me, are you still learning?

Published in: on January 11, 2016 at 2:44 pm  Comments (30)  

I’m Back……………

It has been a long time since I have written anything other than a haiku, or posted my weekly column and I am not quite sure when I fell out of the habit of daily posting.

Some of my favourite bloggers have called it quits for a while (Kathy and Cindy and Sarah) and others have come back (Mimi and Brigitte); and still others—too many to recount have stayed steadfast for the moment. And then there is David who sometimes posts several times a day—they say that busy people are the best at getting things done—and he seems to be the poster boy for this saying.

Blogging is a wonderful thing. I have made such great friends, and been so inspired by so many of you. I hate naming names as there are so many of you who have made my life so rich. I think that one of the ways I will get back into blogging is to share some of those bloggers who have made such a difference in my life.

I have had very few “bad” experiences in this my blogging world. Those I did have I found ways to “erase” immediately, so that the world I have created and many of you are part of, is a wonderful world of whimsy, information, sharing, and part of my ongoing education. I am a student of life and will remain so to my dying day.

What inspired this post? The fact that it is my 5th Anniversary in this alternate universe.

It may take me some time to get back to daily blogging (I have some pressing things I must take care of to stay out of jail—just kidding—but I do have some things that need taking care of) but I will be giving it the “old college try”.

Are you keeping your blog up or do you need a shot in the arm (or kick in the posterior) to invigorate your inspiration?

(And by the way, Julie, if you are reading this—I love how you are fearless in your sharing—I have learned so much from you.)

(And Peggy—even though you do not blog—I love that you are a faithful reader and commenter, and my loving sister to boot. And you too, Mary. And Chay and Krista…………).

Who was it that did not want to name names?

Published in: on January 8, 2016 at 4:31 pm  Comments (17)  

Five Years!

  1. 5 Year Anniversary Achievement
    Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com!
    You registered on WordPress.com 5 years ago!
    Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging!
Published in: on January 8, 2016 at 1:50 pm  Comments (7)  

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