Friday, 31 October 2014

Happy Halloween Memories

One of my Halloween memories, from when I was a kid, was from the year I broke my arm. I was playing jumpsie at school, fell and broke both bones in my left forearm. The cast was heavy and very awkward, bent as it was with right angles at both the wrist and elbow. I went as Little Red Riding Hood, and wore a simple dress and a red hooded cape. I remember being pelted with apples by some of the boys from the neighbourhood, but that was the worst of it. I was in Grade 5, so maybe 10 years old. Times such as they were, we went out, knocking door to door, without any need of adult accompaniment. The good old days.

I wasn’t one, as an adult, to dress up for Halloween. It has never been one of my favourite holidays. But, there was this costume dance my husband and I went to, before the kids were born. I was working at the hospital so I borrowed a set of surgical scrubs for us both to wear, complete with lab coats. Wanting to be a bit more creative, we went as a famous pair of married doctors...Masters and Johnson.

Are you shaking your head in confusion? So were most of the people at the dance. But the old boy looked great, with his fake hunchback, the grey in his hair and beard. And just FYI, Masters and Johnson were famous pioneers of research from the late fifties, their topic was human sexuality. It was a bit tongue in cheek, but what the hell, it was fun.

I remember another Halloween when we were living in the country. My neighbour had these adult clown costumes and her husband and I dressed up and took the kids on a round of the village. They got candy, and at a few stops we beverages. First time I got a hangover from taking the kids door to door. We had our favourite spots to go, as country people are kind of traditional.

The general store gave out candy and cans of pop, and one friend gave homemade fudge that was so popular you had to get there early or miss out. We could trust the apples and homemade treats, because they were handed out by friends and neighbours.

I remember going door to door with my now thirteen year old granddaughter on her second Halloween, first time trick or treating. She wore a white unicorn costume, a white fuzzy coat, on the hood a sparkling horn. She was barely walking, but like most kids, she finally caught on that if she opened her bag, someone would give her candy.
There you go a scattering of memories taken from six decades of Halloween. May the goblins be good to you.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Auto Correct and Spell Check

I’ve never had a problem with the auto correct feature on my computer. In fact I use it when I’m not sure of the correct spelling, like are there two ‘r’s’ in referred or two ‘m’s’ in accommodate. I’ve never had an issue with the correction changing the meaning of what I’m writing, not like some of the mistakes I’ve seen, usually when texting. I guess that’s because I type, I don’t do the thumb thing in texting, don’t own a cell phone.

I found this joke about auto correct and had to laugh. I’m an old nurse, what can I say?

I count on the spell check feature when writing for those words that don’t get corrected automatically. I see that squggly...and there it is...squiggly red line and make the appropriate correction.

But what about the spell check on E-mail? I find it very annoying as it picks up on everything and offers alternatives for what it perceives as a wrong word. It doesn’t recognize newer terminology, like Facebook or texting. So, who, I want to know, updates spell check?

It’s like the dictionary. There are new words in the dictionary, added with each updated edition, that are now accepted as part of the English language.

One of those new words (not in my dictionary, but I can see it coming) is ‘twerk’ a stupid word in my opinion for a silly action, started by a foolish singer. I should try it out in an e-mail and see what spell check comes up with, twerp comes to mind, an absurd, stupid or contemptible person, close but not quite the same.

On my E-mail short forms are not recognized, or at least not all of them. When I write FYI, for your information, spell check tries to change it to FBI. It wants to change texting to tenting, and my name to debt. And most annoying, it doesn’t recognize contractions, so every ‘ll, ‘ve or ‘m comes up as a spelling mistake.

More signs of the times, I guess. As a writer I appreciate the new technology. I remember typing, really typing, typewriter not keyboard typing, and being so angry when I reached the end of a page and made a typo. Thank goodness for Whiteout, which became some kind of erase tape, which now is a simple backspace. How did writers do it in the ‘old days’?

But technology is moving too fast for some of us to keep up. Does Windows 8 sound familiar? I’m content with my older versions, my APP-less programs. I couldn’t make the adjustment, to Windows 8, probably because I don’t have the cell phone and have no experience.

One of these days I’ll have no choice, but until then, I’m an old dog, avoiding the new tricks.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

My Keurig Coffee Maker

I really do like my Keurig coffee maker; it makes a perfect cup of coffee every time, something I could never do with a drip coffee brewer.

In the beginning, I was infatuated with the machine and the varieties of coffee, tea and hot chocolate, but had to give up the sugar laden flavours for plain cups of coffee. And once I got back to the plain, I found I preferred it as I usually take my coffee with cream and no sugar.

The thing is, I ran out of my usual brand of K-cups, the medium roast from Costco, and as there isn’t a Costco handy I needed to find another source or solution.

My neighbour has a machine like mine and found the K-cups expensive, which they are compared to the cost of making a pot of drip coffee. She uses a reusable cup, and fills it with a fine grind coffee.

I decided to give it a try and bought a Solo type of reusable K-cup at the dollar store. It works well enough, once you get used to the fact there are always some coffee grounds left in your mug. The problem for me is cleaning the thing.

I am conscientious about recycling and emptied out the store bought K-cups, putting the grounds in the garden, or in the compost, or the garbage, and recycling the plastic ups. It was a pain in the ass, but I saved the cups and only went through the messy process about once a week.

The reusable K-cup I have has an irregular bottom, so it’s not easy to clean and as I have to clean it twice a day, I need a better system. I needed to do some research.

I found that you can buy disposable paper filters for the reusable K-cups, but the cost is about five cents each. Then I came upon a Y-Tube video of a man making his own filters from regular pleated paper filters, a lot of effort though much cheaper by far.
Then I saw another video of a man cutting a used K-cup and inserting it in the reusable cup. For a removable filter that’seasier to clean?

I tried that last one, as I still had a few K-cups. I made myself a mint, white chocolate drink and drank it while I cut the used cup so it fit in my Solo reusable holder. I tried it this morning and it didn’t work. Some of the grounds stayed in the liner, but most of them were underneath and in my mug. Back to square one.

I have a trip to Costco in my immediate future so I can make a coffee purchase at that time, in quantity, if I’m smart. But first I need to complete my research and try the No Name coffee cups available at No Frills. I hear it’s cheaper than Costco, but I need a taste test.

As much as I love the Keurig, someone needs to come up with a better system, for as it is today, it’s not as easy as it looks, not if you care about the environment. It’s a good thing I only drink two cups a day or I’d really be in a quandary.

I’ll do the research and get the box of $24.99 No Name K-cups; problem is they’ll most likely cost me much more than that. I find it hard walking through No Frills without buying way more than what’s on my list. I do love a bargain.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Comfort Clothes

I could feel the difference as I started to wake. Pulling the comforter close around my shoulders, my hands tucked inside, I sought the warmth but too quickly nature called and I had to get up.

The temperature must have dropped overnight; there’s a chill in the air. When I looked out the window I expected to see rain, as I shivered with the penetrating dampness. It’s not rain but frost, and that does not bode well for what is to come. I hate the thoughts of winter, the cold, the messy roads, scraping the windshield so I can drive the car, and the boots and heavy coats.

The skies are a dull grey, the night lights still shining despite the hour, the daylight not strong enough to trigger them off. It’s quiet for I can’t hear the birds, can see no one stirring in the neighbourhood. Even the squirrels seem to be sleeping in, waiting for the sun to come out and warm things up?

Checking the weather station I see we are expecting rain, this afternoon and every day for most of the next week. Oh joy. Maybe it will be like last week, scattered showers that seemed to come and go quickly, the daytime temperatures warm enough to fight off the bone aching chill. I fear we will not be so lucky this time.

The first thing I reach for is my old black hoodie. It’s my comfort clothing, the way a good bowl of homemade soup is comfort food on a cold day. I say it’s black but there are shades of black, and my old sweatshirt has faded with numerous washings to almost a charcoal grey rather than black.

I wore this in the days when I painted and crafted more, can see the splotches of paint and glue, which makes it ‘at-home’ wear, not for public viewing. The cuffs are frayed and worn and I fear I should keep my eye out for its replacement.

I love this old hoodie because it is long enough to reach my butt and keeps my back warm and covered, just as the hood does when folded at the neck. I like that I can clasp my hands in the front pouch, seeking warmth or pull the long sleeves down to cover hands and arms.

On cold and damp days, when it rains or when it snows, on days when my bones ache and I’m not feeling my best, and on days when I feel in a miserable mood, I reach for that old sweatshirt and find comfort.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Sudden and Unexpected

It’s amazing how often those three words are used together and most often when speaking of the passing of a friend or loved one. Sudden and unexpected, with no warning, with no chance to prepare or say goodbye.

A man I knew of, more than knew, died last night. He went out for coffee with his buddies and collapsed getting into his truck. Efforts were made but they were unable to revive him. He was 52 years old.

I know exactly what that feels like as I’ve been through it twice.

My father had a fatal heart attack when playing tennis. And my ex-husband died after a cardiac arrest when playing hockey. They were 65 and 52 years old respectively. Prime of life, as was this man last night, with a wife, kids and grandkids left to make some sense of it all.

I met this man off and on over the last nine years, though; because of his quiet nature I probably never had a real conversation with him. He and his wife were my daughter’s ex-in-laws. Very nice people who never forgot she was part of the family, and never forgot they were grandparents to her three kids.

This loss will be devastating to those kids. They have had too many losses already in their short lives. My heart goes out to my daughter who had the difficult task today of telling her kids their beloved Poppa is gone.

Her young son, six years old, had many questions. And isn’t it telling of the kind of kid he is that one of his concerns is that Nana will be alone now. Breaks your heart doesn’t it?

There will be many questions, and anger, as that is a stage of grief, before the formalities of a funeral are completed. I’ve always thought, especially in the case of my father, that sudden was better. My Dad was not a man who would have accepted or tolerated being sick or disabled. He had trouble adjusting to his decreased skill in tennis and golf, let alone an ongoing infirmity.

My ex-husband, though his death was sudden, had a known heart ailment having had a triple bypass ten years previous. He was fit and active and doing all the right things and yet....

I can’t help but think of that band aid thing, if it’s ripped it off all at once, the pain is a shock but over quickly, or do you ease it off, a bit at a time, an ongoing pain but to a lesser degree over a longer period of time. The end result is the same, once that band-aid is off you’re still left with a wound that will heal with time, but with a scar, the memory of what happened.

I’m glad the kids have a recent, happy memory of Thanksgiving with their Nana and Poppa, little did they know it would be their last.

My sincere sympathies to the family, he was a loving husband, father, grandfather and friend, and he will be sorely missed.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Boost Your Immunity

October has shown us more of a November style of weather, cold, rainy, dull days, perfect for getting a cold, cough, flu or some other seasonal bug.

I had a cold early in September that stayed beyond its welcome, but finally seemed to go away. This week, after having pain along the side of my neck and behind my ear, I saw the doctor at the walk-in clinic. I’m becoming quite a regular there this fall. Turns out I have an ear infection.

I had to laugh, not that an ear infection is funny, but that I have one. I don’t remember ever suffering this particular thing before, though I should be well experienced as both my kids had chronic ear infections, one to tubes and both to an adenoidectomy. Getting rid of the adenoids which were blocking the nasal passages did the trick for my kids and two of the grandchildren.

I’m back on antibiotics, same as before only bigger dose and for a longer time period.

So it was timely when I got a notice from Pinterest with a series of pins, all based on natural ways to build your immunity. It’s obvious I need something more than the Vitamin C, D and B Complex that I already take.

Maybe I’ll check out some of these other suggestions. From everything I’ve heard we’re in for a nasty winter, cold and lots of snow, much like last year. Good thing my friend and I hit the used book sale last weekend, I see months ahead of snuggling in, a warn drink at my side and a good book.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Surprise, Surprise

We’ve been blessed with a few days of gorgeous fall weather. The sun has been shining, the skies a bright blue, with temperatures that ran from cool to warm, much better than the cold and colder that is right around the corner.

This past weekend was our Thanksgiving holiday and it was a doozy. Instead of a big turkey dinner, my son and his in-laws were getting together at his place for a barbecue. As they frequently do, embracing the concept of ‘one big happy family’, my daughter, her family and I were invited to join them.

I should have figured something was up when, the Monday before, my son was fussing that his sister had not confirmed her attendance. He’s not usually that uptight about such things. I was blasĂ© and just said for him to text her again.

Turns out there was a bit of a mix-up, in that she thought the invite was for the weekend before and she’d missed it. Anyway, they got all that figured out and she assured him she’d be there.

So, there we were, four generations of family, sitting on the deck having a wonderful afternoon. Just before we were ready to eat, my son and his partner came out and handed everyone a photograph, actually a composite of photos...of their wedding. Surprise!

You can imagine the shock, the tears, the smiles, it was something else. We immediately made them put their rings on and pestered for the story of how this came about.

If you’ve read any recent blogs you know my side of the family had a small Thanksgiving celebration a couple of weeks ago. We chose that day because my daughter had been watching her niece and nephew for the weekend. Their parents, my son and his, ha ha, bride would be there on Sunday to pick up their kids. It seemed logical to make it a family event.

They arrived back from their ‘weekend’ all smiles and laughter and we had a great evening. In retrospect I know I should have suspected something as they had that look, you know, of the bird who swallowed the canary.
I know many parents would be upset to be excluded from such an event, but I totally understand and know it was the right thing for these young people to do. After ten years together they wanted to be married, but they didn’t want a wedding, and all of the fuss that goes with it.

They’re homebodies, and family oriented. They like to spend their time outdoors; they camp, hunt and fish, and like to walk in the woods to the back of their property. What can I say, their favourite colour is camo. LOL.

I love them both dearly and I only needed look at the pictures, to see the expression on their faces to know that they were not in the least bit nervous, but relaxed and enjoying every minute of the quiet outdoor ceremony...and their weekend away. No fuss, no muss, no bother.

Imagine, my son lied to me about where he was going and what he was doing. Haven’t had that happen, to my knowledge, since he was a teenager. They said they were going north, and even gave me the name of a real resort, as they know I like to Google stuff.

As a mother there is nothing better than to see her child happy and settled. To know they have someone in their life who is a true partner, a best friend. I wish them nothing but the best.

And I’m going to have to put my mother’s ears on again. I can’t believe they slipped this by me.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Sit Back and Read

I was in Walmart yesterday and saw the latest J.D. Robb book was out, and I wanted it, but couldn’t justify spending the $32.99 for the hardcover edition. It requires patience or a lot of money to keep up with my favourite authors.

Novels come out in hardcover first, then after a time, which depends on sales I would imagine, the paperback edition comes out. The process could take a year or more, hence the patience.

There are close to forty books in the “In Death” series by J.D. Robb and I have almost all of them in some form or another. Hardcover books I’ve purchased new or used, paperbacks obtained the same way, and then there’s my Kindle.

The cost of $32.99 was too much, but the $15.99 for the Kindle version was OK. I bought the book, and considered it a gift from the Thanksgiving Turkey this holiday weekend.

My bookcases are overloaded, again, even though I had downsized last year when I moved. It’s amazing how quickly I’ve accumulated more. A few book sales, the consignment shops, pass-alongs from friends, it didn’t take long.

I get free or cheap books for my Kindle through Pixel of Ink. I signed up for the daily E-mail of their books, some free, some discounted. I’m always surprised at the cost of E-books. It’s a bit of that old fashioned thinking of paying for something I can’t hold or see. You can get a cost savings over the hardcover prices for a new book, but there the bargains end. Only occasionally do the well known authors have sales on their books, in this format. So, if I want copies of older books I seek out the used bookstores.

When I published my first E-book I priced it at $4.99. I was told this was a reasonable price that people might spend for a new author. I’ve since reduced the price to $2.99 hoping that might have made it more attractive for readers to purchase.

Everything I’ve read supports that you have to do the work to be a success. You have to get your name out there, have reviews published, and be active on social media. For those of us who just like to sit back in our solitude and write, that’s not easy to do.

I’ve had some sales, and I’ll admit it’s a bit of a thrill to know there’s someone in the U.K. who purchased three of my books. For me, it’s the sense of accomplishment. I had an idea for a story, and spent the time to write it. I was dedicated enough to see it through the editing phase, to let others read it and take the feedback given and edit again. And I was brave enough to put it out there for others to read and judge.

For me, that represents success, no matter what the number of sales.

Since my family has already had our turkey dinner, I’m going to sit back this weekend and enjoy my new book, my own personal and private celebration.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian friends and family, have a great fall weekend.


Friday, 10 October 2014

Cause and Effect

Yesterday I wrote about The Domino Theory. Not what I intended to write but something I remembered when I was going to write about cause and effect.

The cause I had planned to write about was my Mallet Finger, and the effect...the changes I’ve had to make to adapt to having a crooked finger.

Last month I twisted my pinkie finger on my left hand and ruptured my extensor tendon. So my finger is permanently bent at the distal joint. I can straighten it, but it slowly bends again. Oh my god, I just had a flashback to one of my favourite movies, French Kiss.

In the movie Kevin Kline’s character has had a bit of an extensor problem of his own, not a pinkie if you know what I mean. Meg Ryan’s character is teasing him, playing with some silly replica of the Eiffel Tower, one of those toys that you push from the bottom and the toy collapses, and when released it stands up straight.

Sorry, but the scene just came to mind and I’m sitting here laughing. This is what happens when you watch a movie over and over again. But I digress.

I had hoped that after some time, when the inflammation from the injury was gone, I would be used to the shape of my finger and it would no longer hurt. Every time I catch it, or jam it, it aches.

My first concern was how I was going to manage crocheting. I have to hold my fingers differently and this has caused a strain in my ring finger so that it now aches. I hope as time passes this positioning of my fingers will become my new normal and I can work without pain.

More cause and effect, I can’t get a good grip on a jar when opening the lid. Who’d have thought your pinkie was so instrumental in getting a good grip. Part of that is pain, so I hope it eases.

Then last night was eye opener. I never knew I was such a creature of habit. I’m reading in bed, one of those oversized paper backs, and I feel a pain in my finger. Here’s where the habit part comes in. When I read I hold the book in my left hand, the bottom edge of the spine in my palm, the book resting on my three middle fingers. My thumb holds the left side open, and you got it, my pinkie holds the right. In doing that the pages of the book press on that ruptured tendon. Now I have to figure out a different system.

The injured finger swells up throughout the day so I’ve taken to sleeping with the splint on so I don’t twist it in my sleep.

It’s a little finger, who would have thought that it could become such an annoyance? It’s a good thing I’m not a ten finger typist. The last two fingers on my left hand are usually curled under and out of the way, as I type with no more than six fingers.

The damage to the finger is permanent so only time will tell if the pain will ease and I develop subtle new ways of doing things. It’s embarrassing to admit how I hurt my finger, so needless to say when the phone rang today and I was in the bathroom, I let it ring. That’s what call display is for, right?

Thursday, 9 October 2014

The Domino Theory

When I was working, I wrote a team building exercise called The Domino Theory. I figured, with so many departments working together in one facility, each staff member needed to be aware of the effect their work behaviour could have on their co-workers.

I had the title written across the head of a paper with a short and sweet explanation below. It went something like this:

The Domino Theory
How you do your job can have an effect on how others do theirs.
Are you a positive or negative influence?

I had one of those instamatic cameras (we are talking a number of years ago, remember) and would take a picture when I saw something that was causing a problem. I worked in a long term care facility with many departments, and staff working all hours.

Here’s one of the examples I remember.
Large food carts were sent up from the kitchen to the resident units, with extra small carts as needed. Everyone is on a schedule, nursing to deliver the meals, assist with feeding and return the trays to the cart. The dietary staff go back to the units to fetch the supposedly full carts back to the kitchen to clear the trays, and wash dishes, trays and carts for the next meal.

You could see the system start to fall apart when the dietary staff took the cart away before it was full, leaving the nursing staff to pile the food trays on the small carts, often in a precarious jumble.

Nursing staff would have to return the small carts to the kitchen and they often just shoved them in the dish washing area, making the job of the dietary staff more difficult if trays fell off or the carts blocked the aisle.

It was my thinking that all of the staff were busy, and they might not be aware that something they were doing was making work life difficult for someone else. How did that one nurse on the third floor know the dinner trays she’d stacked unevenly on the top of the cart would fall off and make a mess in the kitchen? Common sense you might say, but things get rushed and we all need a reminder of why we are to do things a certain way. But now we have an irritated dietary staff, late getting their job done because they had a spill to clean up.

I hoped that by posting a picture of the not quite full large carts, and the overloaded small carts, with no blame, no other comment but the Domino Theory, the workers from the different departments might have a better understanding of the concept of interdisciplinary team.

I hoped that after seeing the pictures and understanding the cause and effect of their actions, the dietary staff might wait for the cart to be loaded, or better yet, pick up and load a tray to help. And the nursing staff would make a better attempt to get the large carts loaded and be more careful how they loaded the small carts and where they placed them.

Every person needs to do their job to the best of their ability for the facility, company, whatever the workplace might be to run efficiently. It’s no different in an office environment. Workers need to submit reports and stats, so their manager can then make her reports to her supervisor. It’s all a team effort.

I guess, in a way, it comes down to that Golden Rule, treat others as you would like to be treated. And it doesn’t have to be a work place thing. Take my living situation. We all use a common laundry room. The expectation is that you leave the washers clean, and you empty the lint filter on the dryers. I’ve never had a problem, we’re a pretty considerate group here.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

General Hospital

I was doing my laundry the other day, in the communal laundry room at my complex. There’s a large room there that can be reserved for large group functions by any of the residents, or, if empty, used while waiting for the laundry to be done.

Rather than walk back home for the hour of dryer time, I come prepared with a book or my crocheting to while away the time. Sometimes I meet a neighbour and make it social time.

There’s a television in the common room but it only has basic cable service and I realize when I’m there that most of the stations I watch are not in the basic listing. So there I was, all by myself and not in the mood to read with an hour to kill. I ran through the available stations twice before settling on General Hospital, for old time’s sake.

I remember being a serious fan of this show when my daughter was in her teens and early twenties. We would watch the show together, talking about characters as if they were real people. After all, we invested and hour a day to follow their lives, they were like friends and neighbours.

Just in case you don’t know, General Hospital is an American based daytime drama, commonly called a soap opera that is based on the loves, lives and fortunes of the people of the fictional town of Port Charles, New York. It’s the longest running drama, in production, on television today, premiering in 1963.

For awhile, I’ll admit, I gave up on General Hospital and watched As the World Turns. Maybe it was the time slot, maybe the characters, who knows. This was also a long running show, having been 54 years in production before it was cancelled in 2010.

The reason I mention As the World Turns is that it was the cause of much confusion for me that day I was watching television in the common room.

I was lost in the current story lines, but recognized many of the characters.

Sonny, who is head of the mobster/crime Corrinthos family, and his right hand man, Jason. As I watched a bandaged and injured Jason was being transported by his old friend, Robin, to the hospital. It’s my understanding that everyone back in Port Charles has believed for 2 years that Jason is dead. Somehow it’s all Helena’s fault, as she’s been the resident evil queen for decades.

Robin talked about her husband Patrick, so why then was he with Sam, who was Jason’s ex. What the hell had happened in the years Jason was gone, I wondered. And what had happened in the more than fifteen years since I was a regular viewer.

Carly, Sonny’s ex-wife and on again/off again lover is currently on again with him, or so her current husband/live-in lover/fiancĂ©? believes. His name is Franco and he has been an on again/off again character for many years, the role originally played by James Franco who has moved on to other things.

This is where I got confused. It was a few minutes before they called the character by name, so I was thrown back to what I remembered about this character, and then they called him Franco, which didn’t fit at all. I realized I was remembering him for his previous role of Paul Ryan from As the World Turns, not his current role as Franco.

At any rate, Franco thinks Carly is sleeping with Sonny, and he’s angry, needing to know for sure.

Then the scene changed and there was a blonde woman, Ava, supposedly pregnant though she didn’t appear to be. A couple of Sonny’s thugs arrive to take her to Sonny when she doubles over in pain. Oh, the drama. Funny thing is this actress is also a transplant from As the World Turns. In that show her name was Carly Tenney Munson Dixon Snyder Lowe Snyder.

And that alone tells you what soap operas are all about. Tales of the trials and tribulations of a small town, stories of love found, love lost, love lost and found over and over again, with the added spice of some sex, some intrigue, some adventure and you have an hour of television to take your mind off your own set of woes. Unless your woes are about a cheating spouse, evil matriarchs, mobsters and the day to day happenings of the hospital and its patients and staff.

The buzzer sounded for the completion of my dryer’s cycle so I turned the TV off and left them to it. I’m more of a crime junkie, thank goodness there’s such a thing as syndication to save me from talk shows and daytime drama.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Velma's Spa Vacation

Velma is back, safe and sound, sort of, as safe and sound as an old broad can be. Velma is my car, and she’s showing her age more these last few years, just as I am.

I was never one to name a car, actually never looked at my car as anything more than just transportation. But last winter we formed a more personal relationship, as Velma decided she would take that time and opportunity to rebel.

Winter driving is bad enough but when you add in the possibility of being stranded, because your car won’t start, it takes on a whole other challenge. Turns out, after being stranded a couple of times, it wasn’t just the extremely cold weather that was causing the problem, it was the battery. So, new battery, good to go, except for the cold, and the ice, and the snow.

There was an ongoing issue with the windshield wipers, not something you want to have to deal with when it’s on again, or more often off, in snowy or rainy weather. My son had done his thing a couple of times to fix it and given that I’m not as apt to go out in bad weather, it was okay for awhile.

Last week I was out in the rain and the wipers died. But it was a slow death. When the wipers quit I turned them off (as I’d been told last winter so as to not blow the motor) but they kept moving, inch by inch, but never completing a clean sweep of the windshield. It was time to have the problem looked at.

Velma had her spa vacation and is now home, all checked out, with an oil change wipers and a wiper motor. When I picked her up yesterday the skies were grey and there was a spitting rain. I never turned the wipers on, not sure why, maybe because I didn’t want to test fate.

My friend drove me to pick Velma up and I noticed how neat and clean her nameless vehicle was. They are a pair of old broads too, having spent a number of years together. Their relationship is much like mine and Velma’s, but I have to admit she treats her car better.

It’s too bad the cold weather is imminent, but I might have time to give Velma her belated spring cleaning before winter. It pays to be on good terms, I don’t want to find myself stuck on the road somewhere freezing my butt off. I can’t trust that there isn’t some personal quid pro quo going on here, so better safe than sorry.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Favourite Lines...NCIS

I just watched an NCIS rerun from 2004. I’ve seen it many times and watched the entire show for the last few lines at the end. Have you ever done that? Watched a movie or television show over and over again just to hear that one phrase?

In this episode an 82 year old decorated veteran of World War II comes into the NCIS office, confused and obviously distraught. He claims to have killed his best buddy during the conflict on Iwo Jima, and as they investigate they find the man was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions during that battle.

Gibbs sets the scene to rekindle the old soldier’s memory for the events of that day. He darkens the room to simulate the night time conditions. He has a tape of the real life battle playing, and he repeatedly lights matches, and blows them out to create the sulphur smell.

The final trigger for the man’s memory was a real voice speaking Japanese, as during that night he and his fellow soldiers had been evading the Japanese army. All that sensory stimulation works and the soldier remembers the truth of what happened all those years ago.

Later, Gibbs takes his fellow Marine out to a Japanese restaurant. And who do they find behind the counter, but that same Japanese soldier he’d brought in to help with the simulation. The old soldier looks at Gibbs with understanding. “You conned me,” he said.

Then he looks to the other man, and here are the lines I wait for. “You were never on Iwo Jima,” the old Marine says.

The old Japanese soldier looks at him with a rueful smile. “No,” he says. “Gaudalcanal.”

This interchange means more if you’ve watched the whole show as the Marine had also fought in Gaudalcanal (1943) before being sent to Iwo Jima (1945), experiencing action in two of the major battles in the war in the Pacific.

At the very end the two veterans acknowledge each other, tapping their saki cups in a toast of respect. That end scene, so full of meaning and emotion; is well worth watching, I love it every time I see it. Well done.

You might remember Iwo Jima because of the historic photograph taken at the time by Joe Rosenthal...of the raising of the flag.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Turkey Tales

With the Thanksgiving holiday just over a week away, I’m sure there are many women, mothers, grandmothers, making their plans, making their list and checking it twice...?...wrong holiday, but similar meaning.

I was just telling a friend about the lovely dinner I had at my daughter’s on Sunday, a bit early I know. When I arrived my daughter was sleeping on the couch, two of the four kids busy watching TV or on their tablets. The other two were at a friend’s birthday party, the visiting niece and nephew with Dad to pick up the party-goers.

No muss, no fuss, no frenzy. There’s a reason she is lovingly called the General, within family circles of course.

The term, the rank, so to speak, comes from a woman I knew of, but never had the pleasure to meet, my husband’s Mother, who died shortly before we met. She was one of those organized, take charge women, and in her family she was called Sergeant Major.

I am not one of those women; I would be at the lowest rank in their army, or maybe dishonorably discharged.

I remember an argument I had with my husband, probably because I’d crafted all afternoon and had to rush to put something on the table for dinner. He brought up his mother, and her organized way of running the house.

I was not receptive at having all my faults compared to his mother’s accomplishments. It was wrong I know, but I had to put the comparison into proper perspective. First, she didn’t work outside of the home and I always had a full or part-time job in a demanding career. Two, her three children were five years apart in age, so she only had one child at a time at home. My children were fifteen months apart, not at all the same kind of relaxed parenting. And third, here’s where I was unkind, she was dead and would always be perfect in her son’s eyes.

Does that mean I’ll be perfect in my children’s memory when I am dead and gone? One can only hope.
I’m more my mother’s daughter. I remember a Thanksgiving, the first in my parents’ new condo, their empty nest. The turkey was in, the family in attendance and it was cocktail hour as we all watched sports on television.

Someone finally noticed that there was no smell of roasting turkey, and on checking the oven we found it cold and the turkey raw. Apparently the oven on this new stove, which had not be used before that day, had a two part switch, one to turn the oven on, another to set it to bake or broil. Mom had turned it to bake and never turned the on button...on.

Needless to say dinner was delayed. The oven was turned up high and we continued to amuse ourselves with drinks, appetizers and football. By the time the turkey was cooked, we were feeling no pain, if you know what I mean.

Mom opened the oven and slid out the rack holding the roasting pan. There was no support for the oven rack and with the weight of the roasting pan and the turkey it tipped, and dumped into the back of the oven, bird, potential gravy and all. I give that as an excuse, sounds better than that my Mom was beyond tipsy at that point. Dinner was delayed, yet again.

We never were one of those all hands in the kitchen kind of families. Not like my in-laws. I had a mother-in-law, wife number two, and on such a night she had plenty of help. I remember her mother was always there with a helping hand, it was the men’s job to mash potatoes and carve the bird. It was a shared responsibility.

So, I’ve had my Thanksgiving turkey for this year with the gift of leftovers for a sandwich the next day, and I never had to do a lick of work. Thanks General Jenn, it was a great meal.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Mood Indicators

What came first, the chicken or the egg? That’s an age old question that has never to my knowledge been answered.

So, here’s another question, can you predict, curse or cause something to happen because you unconsciously make it happen?

Like if you put on a T-shirt that says Grumpy on the front can you expect to be in a good mood and that nothing bad or irritating will happen. I pose this question to my brother who showed up at dinner on Sunday with a grumpy mood and the word Grumpy printed across his shirt.

His grumpy mood was the result of his battle with bad city traffic, something that would irritate most anyone. But was the bad traffic his fate, put there to challenge his mood because he’d openly declared his mood to be grumpy when he left the house?

His bad temper didn’t last long because once he was in the door the other six dwarfs surrounded him and changed his mood immediately. Who wouldn’t be cheered up by the smiling faces, the spontaneous hugs and kisses offered by my six grandchildren?

At any rate, there was a good time had by all, the Grumpy slogan’s effect was time limited, if you believe in that kind of Karma thing. It does make me careful as to what kind of words I might choose to wear.

I found this T-shirt, and thought it would have been a perfect pairing with my brother's shirt, but it didn't come with the female version...."other times I let HIM sleep".. Just joking of course.

Happy anniversary guys. Love you both.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Sibling Relationships

Years ago my sister and I were estranged for a time, for reasons that don’t matter anymore. It wasn’t an obvious separation as we lived thousands of miles apart, but the situation upset my mother, as she had been an only child and always wished she’d had a sister she could be close to.

I remember she wrote us a letter at the time, hoping we’d resolve our differences. The reason I mention this is that I feel myself thinking along the same lines as my mother. My children are not estranged, but they’ve had their moments when they’ve not been as involved in each other’s life. It was a delight to see them laughing and joking the other night, enjoying the familiarity of family, of siblings.

The episode that caused so much laughter started on Friday when my son dropped two of his kids off at his sister’s for the weekend. If you’ve read my blogs at all you’d know my daughter is a minimalist and a bit of a clean freak. She has an ongoing issue with her daughter about cleaning up her room.

My son, brave soul that he is, stepped into the fray by telling his niece that her room was her space and she should be allowed to keep it the way she wanted. Then he went away for a weekend alone with his wife, blissfully unaware of the trouble he’d caused.

At some point on the weekend the issue of the messy room, the borrowed clothes came to the forefront and my granddaughter threw her uncle’s quote in her mother’s face. Oops.

So there we were Sunday night, feeling full and at ease after a beautiful turkey dinner, when my daughter brought up the subject of the advice HER brother had given to HER daughter. She nicely told him he had no right to interfere in her parenting and undermine what she was trying to get her daughter to do.

To everyone’s shock, he immediately called said daughter to the room and told her he was wrong and apologized to his sister. It was so unlike him to be so eloquent, so sincere. Not that he usually comes across as rude or insincere, but it was just not like him. He’s not usually so quick to admit he’d been wrong and he tends to be the less talkative of the two siblings.

Everyone felt the same and he then had to suffer all the jokes about what happened to him on the weekend. Suffice it to say, this was the first weekend he and his wife had had away in...well, ever. Alone I mean. Camping trips with the kids don’t count.

It was such fun watching him and his sister joke and tease each other, and it made me think of my Mom and her letter. I get what she meant, and I like knowing my children are close and will be there for each other once I am gone.

Since I don’t intend on going anywhere soon, they better keep it up. LOL