Tag Archives: friends

Sweet Sarah…

They’re having a memorial for Sarah in Port Hope, Ontario on February 22nd.  I wish I could go.  I can’t.  Instead, I will write my memories of Sarah…

I first met Sarah some time in the summer of 1983…I liked her the minute we were introduced.  She was a year younger than I was, and had the same birthday as my brother, September 13th.  I was dating my first husband, Kent, and Sarah was Kent’s brother, James’, live-in girlfriend.  James and Sarah had gotten together in high school, and had been inseparable ever since.  At 6′ tall, James towered over 4’11″ Sarah!  She was small but mighty!

One of five children born to artist parents, it makes sense that Sarah would get together with an artist whose father was also an artist.  While James went to the Ontario College of Art, Sarah was studying social work and psychology at university.

jamessarah1

James and Sarah…early ’80′s…

Kent and I moved to Newfoundland in late 1983, so didn’t see James and Sarah again until our wedding in 1984.  James was an usher.  We spent our honeymoon in Port Hope at the family cottage, and got to hang out with James and Sarah a little bit there.  After we were married, Kent and I moved from St. John’s, Newfoundland to Moncton, New Brunswick.

The next time we saw James and Sarah was at their wedding in 1985.  They were taking care of a huge old farmhouse in Port Hope for a family friend, and the wedding was held outside there.  It was a casual summer wedding…lots of people and lots of food!  Sarah made sure everyone was having a good time.

James’ dad and his wife lived in Kelowna, British Columbia…Sarah and James moved there soon after they were married.  We visited them with our baby, Kaylee, in the spring of 1987.  Sarah was about seven months pregnant with her first child, Dylan.   James and Sarah took us on a tour and drove us to a local petting zoo.  I’ll never forget the sight of little Sarah with her big belly, surrounded by pregnant pygmy goats…it’s like they knew she was pregnant too!

sarahpregnant1

Sarah, 7 1/2 months pregnant with Dylan…

sarahjamesdylan1

James, Sarah and Dylan…

Sarah and James returned to Port Hope after a couple of years in British Columbia.  They bought a house next door to Kent’s best friend’s.  This was the end of their nomadic existence…Sarah and James were putting down roots.  

The house was old and comfortable.  James’ and other family members’ art decorated the walls.  There were books and record albums everywhere.  The fridge door was covered with family photos and Dylan’s doodlings.  The television was hidden away in the office…when you went to visit Sarah and James, you talked!  I remember late nights with wine, music, and laughter…

It was soon after they came back that Sarah opened a day care at the house.  Sarah was a natural caregiver…she loved kids and they loved her!  Likewise with animals…I don’t ever remember Sarah and James not having a dog or two.   When she didn’t have a child or a dog in her arms, she was knitting.  I still have the sweaters Sarah made for the girls when they were little.

James and Sarah’s daughter, Rachel, was born in 1992.  I had given them a crocheted baby blanket as a gift.  A couple of years later, we were visiting one summer.  I remember Sarah telling me how they had to wait until Rachel was asleep, and then sneak the blanket away from her to wash it…I hardly recognized it!  It was well-loved…

Sarah and James were vegetarians, and belonged to a food buying co-op.  It was at their house that I first had “TVP” (texturized vegetable protein) instead of hamburger in spaghetti sauce!  I still make one of Sarah’s pasta salad recipes (macaroni shells, broccoli, carrots, whole almonds, mayo with a little lemon juice and dill, if you like).  They didn’t force their lifestyle on the kids, but allowed them to choose what they wanted to eat.

sarahspaghetti1

Rachel, Sarah, and Dylan, eating spaghetti…

Kent and I split up in 1997.  With very little money, I was unable to make the trip from New Brunswick to Ontario very often.  The last time I saw James and Sarah was in 2003.  I had gone to Ontario to my college reunion, and had arranged to spend a few days in Port Hope so my daughters could see their dad and his family.  We stayed at Sarah and James’ house…it was one of the best visits I’d ever had with them!  Sarah treated my youngest, Hope, like all the other kids, even though she wasn’t technically related.  Sarah told me about being “carded” at the liquor store (she was over 40 at the time).  “I told them I had a 15-year-old son at home!” she laughed.  The rest of the family came over one afternoon for a family reunion…I remember Sarah giggling as hard as our middle school daughters when 75-year-old Nana did an impromptu rendition of “Who Let the Dogs Out?” (complete with barking).

James’ dad passed away in 2009.  Sarah was there to comfort him.  James returned the favour when Sarah’s younger brother succumbed to cancer last year.

jamessarah0709a

James and Sarah at James’ dad’s memorial service…

 

Last fall around Hallowe’en, my daughters got a message from their aunt that Sarah was very ill…cancer.  Despite aggressive treatments with radiation, the cancer spread to Sarah’s brain in January.  She died February 5th with her beloved James at her bedside…he’d been there around the clock for three days…

Sarah was the first to laugh, and the first to cry.  She was the first to hug…all children felt safe in her embrace, and adults felt comfort…

I can see Sarah in heaven surrounded by children whose time also came too soon…maybe they’re fingerpainting…

RIP Sweet Sarah…

 

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Things I’ve Learned in the Past Three Weeks…

As my regular readers know, I’ve been set up in the Saint John City Market for the past three weeks selling books from our bookstore…this isn’t my first time selling at the Market, but it is the first attempt at being a full-time vendor.  Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

1. Nothing is predictable.  You can have an amazing sales day on Monday, but your sales on Tuesday might suck!  There is no rhyme or reason to it…it completely depends on who walks into the Market that day with money in their pocket and a desire to buy a book.  There was a raging snowstorm outside on one of my best sales days ever…I thought people would be holed up in their houses!  Hopefully, it all evens out at the end of the week (or month!).

2. Listen to other people’s suggestions, within reason.  My friend, Scott, (who is also a Market vendor) suggested I change my display to a U-shape with individual books highlighted in the center instead of two straight rows.  He was right…it looked much more inviting, and gave the illusion of having more books.  Another Market vendor suggested I stick a price tag on the books so people wouldn’t have to look for the price (inside the front cover in pencil)…no way…stickers are death on books!

3. Change is good.  I change my display daily, and bring a new box of stock from the store every morning.  The theme changes weekly.  I learned this from a very successful Market vendor (and good friend), Becky.  There are a bunch of people who go through the Market every day (it’s part of a pedway system)…I want them looking at my stuff when they pass through.

4. Word travels fast.  I mentioned to a couple of other vendors that we used tomato boxes to store our books, and pop flats to mail them in.  Now cardboard and boxes magically appear under my bench!

5. The public can be a little too friendly sometimes.  One day last week, I felt someone looking over my shoulder, turned away from my computer and was nose-to-nose with a little old lady who was staring intently at our bookstore logo on the screen, and giggling like a little girl.  It is cute, but she was certainly old enough to have a sense of other people’s personal space!

Our bookstore logo...guaranteed to make you say "Awww..."

6. Customers usually fit in one of three categories.  The first, buyer, is my favourite!  The second, be-backer, may or may not come back, despite what he or she says (although I have been surprised more than once!).  The third, bugger, will talk your ear off for fifteen minutes and leave without buying anything…if you’re going to tell me about your Great Aunt Martha’s hip surgery, at least reward me for the torture I’ve endured by buying a book!

7. Regulars are the best.  My best customer so far bought seven books the first week, two the second, and one this week (he gets 20% off since he’s bought five books from us).  He walked by my bench at a fast clip on Wednesday muttering, “Stop tempting me…stop tempting me…stop tempting me!”  I got a laugh out of it!

8. My bladder is stronger than I thought.  I’m at the Market from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.  I work alone, and the bench across from me is vacant most of the week.  I depend on the kindness of my friends (and fellow vendors) to make pit stops.  My record for “holding my water” so far is seven hours (I usually don’t drink anything during the day, and wait until I get home at night to have tea).  I’m hoping that I get a “neighbour” soon!

9. People are procrastinators.  If I had a nickel for every customer I’ve talked to who’s said, “I’ve seen your store, but I haven’t gone in yet,” I’d have a lot of nickels!  It’s been twelve years, people!  It’s time!

10. Boys will be boys, no matter how old they are.  Last week, a fight nearly broke out in front of my bench because one guy failed to move to one side so that a man coming toward him could get past.  Ridiculous!  Luckily, a woman travelling with one of the men was able to talk him out of his idiocy.

I’m having fun at the Market…I’ve met some interesting people.  I’m going to keep it up as long as I can make a bit of money…

I miss Blogland, but it’s really hard to read and write when one is being constantly interrupted…and I do have to eat.  I’ll try to visit my blogging buddies once in a while, and post when I have a few minutes…

 

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Has Anyone Seen My Dashboard?…or…She’s BAAACK!

The report of my death was an exaggeration.”  Mark Twain

I actually wasn’t dead, just working so much that Blogland was like Never Never Land…a place I never had time to visit.  That chapter in my life is now finished – the temporary, seven-week job turned into seven months with a somewhat disappointing ending – I didn’t get the permanent position!  However, certain facts came to light during the last month as I was training my replacement (yes – I’m that nice much of a patsy), and I’m rather glad someone else will have to deal with those “challenges” (which is corporate speak for things that are FUBARed).  I had a lovely going away party, and have made several wonderful friends.  I expect to be happily unemployed at least for the next few weeks…getting a new job in December is next to impossible!

So, WordPress has been changing things around while I’ve been gone…I really had to search to locate my Dashboard!  Once I get this post written, I hope to get around and visit all my blogging buddies and at least read their latest posts (sadly, I deleted more than 1500 unread e-mails this morning – they were stressing me out – best to start fresh!).  I’ve missed everyone so much…please forgive me if I’m ignorant of what’s been happening in your lives lately!

Okay…so in my last post, some (gulp!) four months ago, the deer had totalled my garden (it’s still completely useless, and the grass the landscapers planted in my devastated back yard isn’t growing!).  Jim and Devin have replaced the fence that was ruined, but we will definitely have to make it higher with wire, as the deer still sail over it like Olympic high jumpers (I refuse to award medals – it’s too hard to get the deer to stand still to put them around their necks!).  Ironically, to control the ballooning deer population, the powers that be in our province decided to allow hunting them with crossbows during the gun hunting season.  To protect our family and our dog, we bought multiple “No Hunting” signs at the Dollar Store and posted them around the perimeter of our (landlord’s) property.

Jim and the girls returned safely from their amusement park vacation (without me!), although there was a slight mishap which involved Hope losing $40 cash which she had placed in the cupholder of the van for “safekeeping”.  When the van door was opened near the top of Mt. Washington, the wind carried the money away (some $80 in total).  Jim scrambled down an embankment to save one $20 bill, while another two sailed over the cliff.  The last was later found by Anna on the floor of the van.  When I asked Hope why she didn’t have the money in her purse, she told me that she was afraid of being mugged: “Americans are sketchy, and they carry guns!” (please don’t take this personally…Hope’s 13, and she watches way too much Criminal Minds!).

Hope, Brianna and Anna drinking fruit smoothies at Cora's...

My granddaughter, Elise, celebrated her second birthday on September 9th.  Kaylee and Scott had a barnyard-themed party for her.

Menu for the Party

 

Elise wearing the sweater Gramma got for her...the tiara was not my purchase!

 

A few days after the party, Elise made an announcement on Facebook:

Elise has some news...

Everyone is very excited!  The new kid has some big shoes to fill…Elise is a tough act to follow!  She’s PERFECT, and I’m not just saying that because I’m her Gramma (well, maybe I am!).  I don’t know of many kids who know all of the alphabet (as well as punctuation marks), and the sound each letter makes, before their second birthday!

This is getting a little long, and I’m getting hungry for lunch…I will leave you with this amusing anecdote from a couple of weeks ago:  I was talking to a single woman friend of “a certain age” who was lamenting the difficulty of finding a suitable partner for casual “whoopee”.  “I don’t want to get married,” she said.  “I just want an occasional roll in the hay, but I don’t want to be one of those…what do you call them?…JAGUARS!”

 

 

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The ABCs of My Last Two Weeks…NEW POST!

Note: This is another LONG post…a lot builds up in two weeks!  You might want to get a cup of tea or coffee before you start…WM

 

Airport.  Wednesday night, we took Anna to the airport to fly to Ontario to go to her cousin’s wedding (see Wedding), and see her dad and her uncle (see Cancer).  It was her first time flying solo…she was a little nervous, but got there fine. 

Birthdays.  Summer is a busy time for birthdays in our family: mine was July 17th, Jim’s was July 21st, Hope’s was July 31st, and Anna’s was August 3rd.  Jim’s mom had a party for him at her house.  His sisters were there for the barbecue…his dad and sister, Tracy, were cooking in the rain!  Smoke was getting in Gordon’s eyes!  Hope had a party with her friends at the Carleton Community Centre (see Disc Jockey).  The whole family got together for a combo party at Jungle Jim’s  in Saint John for Hope and Anna on Tuesday night (see Tip).  We tried to get into the new one in Quispamsis, but they would not take my reservation (for fifteen people!)…needless to say, I will not be patronizing them in the future.

Cancer.  We learned a few weeks ago that Anna and Kaylee’s uncle, Scott E., had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  It was a terrible shock…Scott is a truly wonderful man, and a great husband, father and grandfather! Anna hadn’t seen him for four years, so I decided to fly her down to Port Hope for Scott’s son’s wedding this past weekend (see Wedding).  Anna also got to see her dad for the first time in four years. 

Disc Jockey.  Hope celebrated her birthday a couple of days early with eleven of her friends at the Community Centre in our old neighbourhood on the West Side.  Most of the attendees were West Siders, and I felt sorry for the three girls from Quispamsis who were looking rather left out.  Eventually, the kids started to talk to each other, and then they all went outside, leaving me alone in the dance hall with the DJ who I was paying $15/hour!  I went downstairs and told the girls that I was “paying big bucks” for this, and that they’d better come in and start dancing, or I would!  “Don’t embarrass me, Mom!” Hope begged.  Hope was quite happy with her presents: loads of cash and gift cards.  One girl gave her some cute earrings her sister had made.

Extension.  I got another extension at work, until September 30th.  The City has also decided to post the job I’m doing now.  Of course, I applied for it!  I’m enjoying it a lot, and most people seem to like me.  If I get it, I’m going to have to figure out how to manage squeezing in some blogging time!

Found.  We have at least 2-3 cruise ships come into port every week between June and the end of October in Saint John.  Many of the ship’s passengers end up at the Saint John City Market where I work.  Invariably, someone loses something important!  Last week, a lady from New Jersey lost both her driver’s license and her ship card, which I returned to the commissionaires at the port after one of our Maintenance guys found them.  When I got back from my walk in the rain, the woman who’d lost her ID was waiting at my office.  After I assured her that her documents were safe down at the ship, she gave me a huge hug!  This week, a Market customer found a Visa card on the floor, and brought it up to me.  I called Port Security to see if it might belong to one of the ship’s passengers.  When I told the guy the person’s name, he said, “The police just brought me her Amex card, and her ship card.”  She came to get her Visa card herself.  She was breathless, but grateful when she arrived.  “You people are so good!”  I told her that’s just how we are in Saint John!

Girlfriend.  Devin’s girlfriend, Kat, finally came over to our house for a visit.  We were worried about how our neurotic dog, Jake, would react, so we armed her with a handful of dog treats.  Soon, Jake was literally eating out of her hand!

Harvest.  Since the deer have been helping themselves to my garden on more than one occasion, I haven’t been able to harvest much lately…beans apparently don’t grow very well without leaves!  We’ve had two meals of them so far, and will probably not have enough to put any in the freezer (I had about forty bags last year).  I picked a few peas the other day.  The tomatoes are starting to form, however.  I have high hopes for them…the deer didn’t damage those as much!  I should be able to pick some zucchini soon too.  The raspberries are just finishing, and I started picking blueberries this week…should get a few bags of those frozen at least!

Ice Cream.  I love summer because ice cream goes on sale!  I’ve bought four 2-litre tubs in the last two weeks!  Farmer’s Peanut Butter Caramel Cookie Dough is amazing!

Jets.  Some people thought the stunt jets flying over the U2 concert (see U2) in Moncton last weekend were neat.  I did not…I have a recurring nightmare of a plane crashing on top of me!  Of course, they flew over while Jim was at the souvenir tent buying a T-shirt!  There I was, curled into a fetal position with my eyes closed and my fingers jammed in my ears!

Kale.  This year was the first time I’ve grown kale in the garden.  Since we seem to like it both cooked and raw, I think I’ll grow it again next year.  Perhaps I can keep the deer out of it, because they love it too!

Landscaping.  Since our yard now has a very steep hill at the bottom of it, Jim had the idea of just planting a bunch of flowers down there instead of trying to mow it.  I’ve been collecting seed heads from the poppies in our front yard, and hope to dry them and plant the seeds next spring.  I’m having a bit of a problem with mold though…we’ll see how it goes!

Mud.  As alluded to earlier, Jim and I went to Moncton for the U2 concert at Magnetic Hill (see U2).  I had purchased the tickets back in March for Jim’s birthday, because he loves the band!  It rained all day…driving up was a bit hairy at times.  It stopped just as we got there.  As we made our way on to the field, I started to regret leaving Anna’s rubber boots I’d planned to borrow at home.  It seems that 75,000 people traipsing across wet grass multiple times has a negative effect:

These girls were trying to negotiate the mud in front of the concession tents...notice the depth...photo by Jim

 

My feet in my unfortunate choice of footwear after a trek to the Port-a-potties...photo by Jim

Nails.  Jim decided to trim Jake’s nails while I was at work on Saturday.  Unfortunately, he cut one too short, and poor Jake was bleeding!  After he jumped all over Jim’s clean laundry, we made the dog a makeshift bandage to prevent further stainage!

Old Friends.  We were very fortunate on our trip to Moncton to be able to stay with our friends, Brenda and Chuck.  I’ve known them for about twenty years, and they are always warm and wonderful hosts!  Brenda actually came downstairs in her nightgown when we stumbled into her house at 2:30 a.m. to ask how the concert was!

Brenda and Chuck...still holding hands after three decades together!

Park ‘n’ Ride.  For the U2 concert (see U2), the City of Moncton had organized a Park ‘n’ Ride program.  We eagerly decided to use it again, remembering how easy it had been when we went to The Eagles concert at Magnetic Hill three years ago.  Unfortunately, it worked a little differently than in 2008…it took us 2-and-a-half hours to get out of the concert site and back to downtown Moncton!  Please don’t “fix” what ain’t broke! 

Quiet.  Jim and the girls left yesterday for vacation (see Vacation), and Devin’s at his mom’s house this week.  It is quiet in the house (except when Jake barks at nothing outside).

Reba.  Hope was saying the other day about how she was jealous that I’d met so many famous people (from my days of being married to a country DJ).  She asked me to list some of the people I’d met, and I started: “Alabama (twice), Sawyer Brown, Ricky Skaggs, The Rankin Family, Reba…”

Hope interrupted: “REBA!  I told Gabrielle you’d met ABBA!”

Potato, pototo…

So You Think You Can Dance.  Anyone who reads my blog regularly knows I love this show.  I finally got to watch the PVR of last week’s show this morning.  Sasha dancing with my favourite boy from last year, Kent (an Ohio boy!), in a Tyce Diorio choreographed piece moved me to tears.  I also absolutely adore MelanieMarko, and Tadd!

Tip.  As I mentioned before, there were fifteen of us at Jungle Jim’s for dinner last week.  It’s the first time in my life I’ve ever left a $40 tip!

U2.  Despite the lineups and the mud, Jim and I had a good time at the U2 concert.  I was happy I had purchased camping mats to sit on, and Jim was glad he’d bought binoculars, even though we had to wait while the clerk at the Wal-Mart in Sussex fiddled (unsuccessfully) with the showcase key!  We were sitting in what we dubbed “the senior citizen’s section” up near the top of the hill, in a less muddy part of the field.  A couple of old hippies in yellow rain gear sat to our left and alternated between smoking joints and regular cigarettes.  We watched as inebriated people negotiated (and failed to negotiate) the mud on the way to the Beer Garden.  “What Not to Wear” would have had a field day if they’d had cameras set up at the concert!

Jim and I at the concert...the guy in the red shirt is mad because he got stuck sitting in the Old Fart section...photo by Jim

  

Vacation. Jim, Hope and Brianna left yesterday for vacation (Anna will take a train from Port Hope to Montreal, and meet up with them tonight).  Jim has a “Six Flags Extravaganza” planned, hitting three parks in one province and two states!  Sadly (NOT – I hate amusement parks!), I couldn’t go with them because I had to work.  I will miss them, but I will also enjoy the quiet and having less laundry and dishes to do!

Wedding.  Anna and Kaylee’s cousin, Corey, got married on Saturday.  I still remember him being the ringbearer when he was five at my wedding to my ex-husband (27 years ago!).  I wish Corey and Christine many happy years together!  Anna got to be the official photographer too!

eXceptional.  Okay…I know this is cheating, but X-ray is the only word I know that starts with “X”.  My granddaughter, Elise, will be two in September, but already knows all her numbers, letters, and symbols (question marks, etc.), as well as the sounds the letters make!  I predict she will be reading by the time she’s three, just like I was! 

Yellow Pages.  We got our new phone book the other day.  For some reason, they’ve started putting the Yellow Pages in the front.  I find that very confusing!

Zebra Stripes.  My girls are crazy for zebra stripes.  Anna has a zebra striped sports bra, spankies, bathing suit, cheerleading bag, and suitcase.  Hope had pink and purple zebra stripes on her birthday cake!

Congratulations on making it through my longest post ever!  Now go have a snack!

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School Picture Day: Junior Band…

That's me in the middle...

 

You know that Sesame Street song that goes: “One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just isn’t the same…”?  Well, that was me in my Junior High School Band photo (which was the only picture of me in our Grade 9 yearbook - I was absent the day they took the class photos).  I believe that we were told to wear a dark skirt.  I’m wearing what was probably the only skirt I owned…it was light blue, and I may have made it in Home Ec.  Since I almost never wore skirts, it didn’t occur to me to close my “chicken legs” (at least I wasn’t the only girl who didn’t think of it).  I had ordered a band sweater, but it didn’t come in time to wear it for the picture.  Notice the other girl in the front row without a sweater is also wearing buffalo sandals…it was not planned!

The blond boy at the end of the middle row on the left was one of my first boyfriends…his name was Steve, and he played the tenor and baritone saxophones (I still love sax today!).  He was sweet and funny!  His parents must have hated me though…I used to call him all the time (can you say “stalker”?).  I was sorry to hear in 1984 that Steve had been killed in a motorcycle accident…I wasn’t surprised however.  He’d always loved to go fast…I remember him scaring me one time when we went out in the motorboat at his family’s cottage.  Waterskiing was another one of his favourite things…he used to do tricks on one ski!

Our Band Director was Mr. Williams, or “Willy” as we called him.  Willy was committed to making us into decent musicians (if we didn’t cause him to be committed first!).  It’s a good thing we practiced in a soundproof room in the basement!  I remember Willy leaving the room on several occasions when he got exasperated with us!  He was hilarious to watch when he conducted, especially from the back!  He used to bounce up and down on his toes, and wave his arms around wildly when it was a fast song!

I played the flute.  My parents bought it for me on one of our trips to the States.  It took me a week to even get a sound out of it, but I was stubborn and kept at it until I did!  I was always “second flute” though…I could never narrow my airstream enough to hit the high notes.

Our repertoire included several classical pieces, as well as modern songs like “The Hustle” (the flute part was fun to play), “The Way We Were”, the theme from “Shaft”, the theme from M*A*S*H, and later on, the theme from Star Wars, which had just come out in theatres.  We always played “Pomp and Circumstance” at graduation too.

One of the best parts about being in the band was the social aspect: at our school, the jocks were the coolest, but the band kids were the second coolest (and usually the smartest).  We were strictly a concert band (which was good for me – I would have had trouble walking and playing at the same time).  We often travelled to local elementary schools to perform.  I enjoyed showing the little kids my flute and demonstrating how to play it.

I was in Junior Band for two years, and Senior Band for one…sadly, I couldn’t fit Grade 12 music into my schedule.

I have fond memories of my years in the bands.  I sold my flute 28 years ago to help pay off a student loan, but I bet I could still play!

*****

Be sure to check out Ironic Mom, EduClaytion, Six Ring Circus, and Lessons from Teachers and Twits for their School Picture Day posts!

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Yes, We Have No Wine, and Other Random Things…

Welcome to another chapter in my oh-so-exciting existence! We’ve got lots to cover…the transitions will be abrupt, so please keep a firm hold on your tea, lest it spill as we careen around corners!

1. Monday morning was sunny…I hated to have to work, but came into the bookstore anyway…I had three boxes of books to photograph, and 90 pages of our database to print off!  Hope was off school that day, so she came into town with me and helped take the pictures (it’s much easier for a 12-year-old to get up and down off the floor than it is for me!).  Anna and Brianna went to the mall…Anna used the money I gave her for jeans to buy shorts (because apparently 47 pairs aren’t enough!).  Brianna got some nail polish which is the perfect colour for my toes…maybe she’ll let me borrow it!

Anna and Brianna goofing around with the webcam last fall...

2. My friend, Dale, surprised me by dropping into the bookstore…I first met him in 1980 when we worked in two neighbouring stores in the Quinte Mall in Belleville, Ontario (I worked in a camera store, and he worked in the record store next door). I used to go into the record store and buy all kinds of albums (that was before I had kids to spend my money for me!). The following year, my boss decided to move his store to another strip mall in town, and Dale and I lost touch. Fast forward to the early 2000′s: I was receiving correspondence about an upcoming reunion of some of my buddies from Loyalist College, and saw a familiar name on the e-mail list. I e-mailed the guy and asked “Are you the same Dale who used to work in the record store?” Sure enough…turns out Dale went to Loyalist about the same time I did, and used to hang out with the radio guys I knew! We were reunited at the reunion, and have been in touch ever since…coincidentally, Dale now lives in Moncton, New Brunswick, which is only a little over an hour’s drive from where I live now. We chatted for quite a while, and then Dale left to get to a business meeting, promising to return soon to add to his “classics” collection.  We’re planning to meet up with some more friends from school this fall at the Gregg Allman show at the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival in Fredericton in September.  I’m looking forward to seeing them all!

3. When we got home in the afternoon, Hope checked her e-mail, and excitedly called me over to the computer.  “Look at this, Mom!”  There was an e-mail from the Marketing Coordinator for Market Square…on the weekend, Hope and Gabrielle had sent her a clip of them singing “O Canada” and had asked if they could sing the national anthem at the Canada Day celebrations on July 1st.  The reply said that she would like to have the girls sing, and would be in touch soon to arrange the details!  Hope called Gabrielle right away to tell her the good news!  We were really proud of her for taking the chance to do something like that!

Gabrielle and Hope singing at a Talent Show last fall...photo by Jim

4. Monday night (after writing my Easter blog post), I remembered that Tuesday was our long-awaited book club meeting…we hadn’t gotten together since bidding our friend, Selina, “Adieu” in December when she moved to Winnipeg. We usually bring food of some sort for book club. Our book was “Secret Daughter” by Shilpi Somaya Gowder, which is set mainly in India.  What I know about East Indian food would fit neatly on the head of a pin (and I don’t eat much spicy food), so I Googled a local store where I might find something to bring to the meeting.  Upon reaching the website, I was confronted with the name of the product, a photo, and the price…no description whatsoever.  Back to Google…Nanak Gajar Halwa: “carrot fudge”? That sounds disgusting!  Nanak Rasmalai: “Soft Cheese Patty in thickened milk and sugar sauce”.  My lactose-intolerant stomach actually did a somersault after reading that!  I decided to go with something a little safer…I had a bag of Ganong Chocolate Marshmallow Eggs I’d bought on the weekend…everybody likes chocolate in our book club (and these are made in St. Stephen, New Brunswick)!

5. Tuesday morning was rainy, but at least I didn’t have a lot of work waiting for me at the store when I got there…I took the opportunity to catch up on the 40-50 blog posts I hadn’t had a chance to read over the long weekend!  It took me a long time, but there weren’t many customers wandering in to disturb me, so I was able to get it done!  I bought a Meditteranean Chicken Salad from Sagratti’s in the City Market for supper, and brought it back to the store to eat (I picked out the black olives…yuck!).   I hoped the family would save me some of Jim’s famous Turkey Soup…

Jim's soup and homemade biscuits...yummy!

6. I was the first to arrive at our Succulent Bookworms meeting (as usual – I don’t like to be late!).  I chatted with our hostess, and one of her three cats soon curled up on my lap, where it stayed for the rest of the night (if only I hadn’t been wearing black…oh well…that’s why they invented lint brushes!).  My friend called to me from the kitchen and offered me a drink, apologizing that she didn’t have any wine on hand, but that one of the other girls would probably bring some.  I declined…book club is the only time I get to indulge in red wine…I would wait until it arrived!  When she came back, she extended a ceramic plate towards me with little brown things on it.  “Oooooh…what’s this?” I squealed, thinking these must be some of those unidentifiable Indian delicacies I’d seen on that website.

“They’re the marshmallow eggs that you brought!” she prompted.  “Don’t you remember?”

I’m sure I turned about three shades of red before muttering, “Oh, yeah…” (damn peri-menopausal mushbrain!).  The chocolates looked a lot classier on that plate than they did in the compostable bag they came in!

The other girls trickled in over the next hour-and-a-half…nobody brought wine, but we did have a nice selection of food to choose from by the time everyone arrived!  There were two kinds of naan bread with mango chutney and guram masala for dipping, some pita chips with yogurt dip, some mini caramel muffins, and some decadent squares which were purely Western but awesome anyway!  We had some delicious mango juice to drink, which I’m planning to seek out next time I’m at Costco!  The hostess’ 3-year-old daughter demonstrated some of her ballet moves for us before her dad took her up to bed (he was mumbling something about getting her away from us before we corrupted her…another Bookworm man thinks we’re “witches”)…

We chatted about the book for a while (everybody liked it – excellent choice for a book club read), and then got off on our usual tangent…that was the first Worms meeting I’d ever attended where no one was drinking!  It was weird, but good…I can’t wait for the next meeting!

I was happy to get home to bed soon after 10:30…it had been a long day…

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Filed under blogging, books, food, friends, satire

It’s All About You…Twenty Questions…

Image from anonymous8.com

I’m curious to see how much I have in common with the folks who read my blog…here are my answers to twenty random questions:

City life or country life? Country life.  I returned to the country 2 1/2 years ago after living in the city for 24 years.  I love it!

Antique furniture or modern furniture? Antique furniture.  Quality construction and beautiful woodwork combined with amazing fabrics is my idea of heaven!

Abstract art or traditional art? Abstract art.  Picasso is one of my favourite artists.

Cook or order out? Cook.  I’d rather cook it myself than eat in a restaurant.

Traveller or homebody? Homebody.  I usually travel only to see family or friends, although I do want to go to Tuscany, Italy some day!

Hotel or cottage? Cottage.  I like the privacy, and cooking for ourselves.

Sentimental or pragmatic? Sentimental.  I have every letter and card I’ve ever received, and every ticket/programme for every show I’ve been to!

Impulsive or cautious? Cautious.  I always think things through first.

Hugger or “don’t touch me”? Hugger.  It’s the law in Saint John.

Fighter or pacifist? Pacifist.  I hate conflict, and run from it at every opportunity.

Leader or follower? Leader.  I’ve always been independent.

Rule breaker or rule keeper? Rule keeper.  I’m afraid of getting caught!

Extrovert or introvert? Introvert, most of the time.   I do enjoy talking to new people though.

Coordinated or clumsy? Clumsy.  As in, “Don’t give her anything breakable to carry!”

Fiction or non-fiction? Non-fiction.  I read fiction, but I like true stories better.

Rock music or country music? Rock music.  I like some country, as long as it’s not “twangy.”

Singer or listener? Singer.  I can sing, but no one is going to pay me big bucks to perform.

Movies or TV? TV.  There are very few movies that I want to pay $10 to see.  I’d rather watch TV.

Drama or comedy? Comedy.  I’d rather laugh than cry!

Actor or audience? Audience.  I love live drama, but am not an actor!

 

Now it’s your turn…here are the questions again…copy and paste into the comment section, and fill in your answers!  Don’t be shy!

City life or country life?

Antique furniture or modern furniture?

Abstract art or traditional art?

Cook or order out?

Traveller or homebody?

Hotel or cottage?

Sentimental or pragmatic?

Impulsive or cautious?

Hugger or “don’t touch me”?

Fighter or pacifist?

Leader or follower?

Rule breaker or rule keeper?

Extrovert or introvert?

Coordinated or clumsy?

Fiction or non-fiction?

Rock music or country music?

Singer or listener?

Movies or TV?

Drama or comedy?

Actor or audience?

 

60 Comments

Filed under blogging, books, cooking, friends, music, self-discovery, travel

I’m Versatile Again This Week!

Yesterday, I opened my new friend Melissa‘s post over at Play 101…she had been given the Versatile Blogger Award, and had graciously passed it on to me and 14 other bloggers.  I encourage you to check out Melissa’s blog…she is a TV news reporter who writes both eloquently and sensibly about many different topics, including parenting her two young children.  She’s funny too!

Versatile Blogger Award

This is my third VB award, and one of several blogging awards that I’ve been given in the last couple of months.  The rules state that I must link to the person who gave me the award (done), list seven previously unknown facts about myself, and pass it on to 15 newfound blogging buddies.  I’m running out of people to pick on give the award to, so I’m going to tweak the last part a bit…I hope Melissa doesn’t mind!

Seven Things About Me I Don’t Think I’ve Told You (And You Might Not Want to Know)

1.  My feet are really big…I was wearing a size 7 by the time I was 11.  I am now a size 10.  I hope my feet stop growing soon!

2. I was my elementary school’s president in Grade 6 (I really wasn’t that popular…it was a three-room school with fewer than 100 students!).  My campaign slogan was: “Don’t Go Bananas Over Boys!”  Maybe I’ll let Hilary borrow that if she ever decides to take a run at the presidency!

3. I love feeling the bristles of somebody’s brush cut…I used to surprise the little boy sitting in front of me in Grade 2 by running my hand up the back of his head at random times.  I think he liked it…

4. My little brother and I were once interviewed by a newspaper reporter while our dog was delivering puppies in the same room (we used to do a community newsletter in our hamlet of 150 people – I was 13, and he was 10)!

5. Lilies are my favourite flowers.

6. I often have strange, inexplicable dreams: Last night, I dreamed that a former co-worker was playing the banjo (she doesn’t – I checked).  The night before, I dreamed that a guy I knew in high school was throwing me into the trunk of his car and kidnapping me (he’s a hairdresser who dabbles in photography, art and fashion design – very scary!).

7. I refuse to eat olives…they look like eyes, and don’t taste good to me at all!

Passing On the Award

Instead of just picking 15 people who have already been awarded multiple times, I’ve chosen some of my favourite posts to share with you…feel free to respond with some of your favourites too!  It’s all about sharing the love! 

1. 36 x 37: All Pipes Lead to the Ocean.  Maura has a devastating accident, and has to break the bad news to her sons.

2. Big Happy Nothing: May I Have Some Assertiveness Training, Please? Amiable Amiable and I have a lot in common…we’re part of the newly-formed Doormat Club!

3. BlurtI Am Not a Pharmacist, But I’m Willing to Try.  Omawarisan recounts how he deals with having a similar phone number to a drugstore. 

4. H is for Happiness: Phoenix.  Harsha remembers the Mumbai bombing in 2008. 

5. Lanny the Leopard: Guest Post (originally on Hippie Cahier).  A young man goes off to Boot Camp, as told by his faithful friend.

6. Ironic MomExplaining the 80s to Children.  Leanne tells her 6-year-old twins about a period of ancient history.

7. Jacquelin Cangro: Eighteen Minutes: The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire.  Jacquelin relates the tragic story of a workplace disaster that led to safer working conditions for all of us.

8. Life is a Spectrum: The Long Distance Runner. Four-year-old Billy runs a race, and teaches us all a very important lesson.

9. Mostly Bright Ideas: Ideas to Live Without.  Contrary to the title of his blog, Charles illuminates some really bad ideas.

10. Murrmurrs: What We Have Here is a Failure to Procreate.  Murr explains the decision she and her husband made not to have children.

11. Plane Janer’s Journey: Male Readers Beware…The Ladies are Going Bra Shopping.  Jane’s piece supports her theory that “it is harder to find a well-fitting, reasonably priced, attractive bra than it is to find a good man to marry.”

12. Simply Diane: In Celebration…Red Mary Janes With No Buckles.  Diane recounts the story of adopting her daughter.

13. Sunshine in London: Not Just Another Winter’s Tale.  Sunshine remembers her late father-in-law in this love-filled post.

14. The $#!& I Think About: The Secret Lives of Cats.  Have you ever wondered what cats really do when their owners aren’t around?  Be sure to read both parts of this hilarious series!

15. Todd Pack’s Messy Desk: Cool Hand, Luke. Todd has a frank discussion with his 5-year-old son.

This is but a tip of the iceberg in terms of the talented people who are part of my blogging community (I only have great writers on my blogroll – check out He Said, She Said and They Said)…I wish I had to time and space to highlight all of them! 

What posts have you read recently that made you laugh, made you cry, or made you think?

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Filed under blogging, friends, memories

What a Difference a Year Makes!

One year ago today, I sat down at my computer and began an odyssey into a strange and wondrous place that I knew virtually nothing about: the blogosphere.  Armed with a desire to get back to writing regularly after a three-year hiatus, I sent my thoughts hurtling into cyberspace.  What a positive and enlightening journey it’s been!

The Readers

If people didn’t read my blog, it wouldn’t have a reason to exist…I am so thankful that each of you takes the time from your busy day to come for tea in Hammond River!  I would like to make special mention of my first blogging buddy, Jane at PlaneJaner’s Journey.  Jane’s been with me since the very first day, encouraging me and telling others about me!  I will always be grateful that we found each other, Jane, and am proud to call you my friend!  When I first started, hits on my blog averaged about 35 or 40 hits a day…now I’m getting 125 to 150 a day!  I’m closing in on 25,600 hits, and 4100 comments for the year!  If you’re a “lurker”, don’t be shy…please leave me a comment…I promise to answer it!

The Community

I really had no idea that there were so many crazy talented writers out there when I started this project…smart, thoughtful, funny people who have taught me so much about good writing!  I have blogging buddies on five continents!  I’m sending all you guys a virtual brownie (I hope nobody’s allergic to cyber-sweetness!)…thanks for “getting me”!  In honour of my “blogiversary”, I have added several new people to my blogroll today (see “He Said”, “She Said”, and “They Said”).  Please take the time to check out their blogs: there’s nothing that makes me happier than hooking people up with great writers!  Many of these folks have been Freshly Pressed, and most are the recipients of multiple awards…Mama don’t allow no junk on her blogroll!

Take two...they're small...I made them just for you!

The Posts

If someone were being really nice, they would probably classify my blog as a “cornucopia” of topics.  Truthfully, I write what I feel like writing…several of my readers have commented that they never know what I’m going to write about next!  I like not being “predictable”…that equals “boring” for me!  Some days, I’m a “mommy blogger”, others I’m a “foodie”.  I write about gardening sometimes, and tell stories about the wild animals that share our land.  Other times, I’m an amateur historian, or relate stories of my own childhood.  I rant…a lot!  I talk about music, and books, and our bookstore.  I’ve dabbled in fiction.  I even took an action figure on a tour of our city!  Changing things up is how I like to roll!

Recognition

Herding Cats in Hammond River has been Freshly Pressed twice by the powers that be at WordPress.  Thanks to the folks there for maintaining a quality blog site…there were a few technical issues last night, but they seem to have been resolved!  My fellow bloggers have been very generous about awards: They think my blog is “Bloody Brilliant”, “Versatile”, “Stylish” and “Memetastic”!  Thanks for the love, you guys!

The Family

I couldn’t do my blog without the love and support of my family…thanks for waiting patiently for dinner while I finish a post (or photograph what I cooked), and letting me make fun of you in public!  With you guys around, I’m sure I’ll never run out of things to write about!

Here’s to another year of Herding Cats in Hammond River!  Thank you, everybody!

Hugs,

Wendy

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Filed under blogging, friends, self-discovery

I Was Stylish Three Times in Three Weeks!

Or at least other people thought my blog was…I have received this award three times recently:

I was given the first one by Nancy at Embracing Myself on February 17th.  Then Todd at Todd Pack’s Messy Desk gave me the nod on February 28th.  Finally, Ian from The $#!& I Think About awarded me again on March 8th.  All of these folks are talented writers, and I am pleased to also call them my friends!  Please check out their blogs!

One of the requirements of the awards is to tell some stuff about yourself that people don’t know…that’s a tall order for me, because I probably share way too much in my blog as it is!  So, that’s been one of the things holding me up in officially “accepting” my awards!  The other barrier has been that I’ve gotten a lot of awards (not bragging…just stating a fact…well, maybe bragging a little!), and I’ve run out of people to pass them on to!

I visited a new blogging buddy’s site today after she commented on mine…Melissa at Play 101  had also been a triple winner of the Stylish Blogger Award.  Some thoughtful soul had provided her with questions to answer about herself, so I’m stealing borrowing the questions…I hope Melissa doesn’t mind:

1. How long have you been in your current relationship, and how many children do you have?  Jim and I are coming up on three years together…between the two of us, we have five kids (4 girls and one boy) and one granddaughter.

2. What is one thing most people don’t know about you?  That I’m not as big a “Goody Two Shoes” as I appear.  I’ve never broken any laws (that I know of), but I swear a lot (not in public usually). 

3. What are your greatest fears?  Running out of things: time, money, food, love.

4. What is your favorite food?  Sour cream and bacon Ruffles potato chips.  And bagels.  And pie (any kind except cream pies).

5. What is your most rewarding memory?  I’d like to say the births of my three daughters, but that hurt a lot (I did it naturally).  I think that some of my happiest memories are of doing things together as a family: eating, playing board games, making music, or outdoor activities.

6. At which store could you spend an entire day by yourself?  I really don’t enjoy shopping, but if I had to be in a store all day without kids, I’d definitely pick an old bookstore.

7. What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done?  Tough one…so many choices!  There was the time I walked around the mall in Newfoundland with my fly down for an hour-and-a-half before discovering it (no one told me!).  Once, I accidentally got on the Super Express bus to Toronto from Ottawa, and found out just before getting to Belleville that the bus didn’t stop there…luckily, the driver took pity on me and let me off at the exit ramp…I picked up my suitcase and walked into town!  One of my favourite activities is dancing when my teenagers have friends over…it’s worth it just to see the looks on their faces!   

8. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?  I once took a temp job doing data entry for a non-profit organization’s fundraising event.  The hours were 4 p.m. to 11 p.m., so I spent all but half an hour of my shift by myself, and the work was boring!  I also found it difficult to get up with my daughter in the morning and take her to school…I always needed a nap after dropping her off!

9. What’s the worst thing you’ve ever worn?  I made myself an absolutely hideous maternity dress when I was pregnant with my first child…the style and fabric were both ugly…I don’t know what I was thinking!  Thankfully, no photos exist of that one!     

10. What’s your favorite guilty pleasure? I read Cosmopolitan at the hairdresser’s.  Please refer back to #2!

Instead of passing the award on in the traditional fashion, I’m going to steal borrow another idea from my friend Kathy at Reinventing the Event Horizon: she suggested that readers respond in the comments with a post of their own that they’re really happy with, and a post of someone else’s that they recommend reading.  So here’s an early one of mine that not many people saw: http://writerwoman61.wordpress.com/2010/04/07/pickin-and-grinnin/.  My friend, Amanda, at Life is a Spectrum, wrote this heartwarming story about her son: http://www.lifeisaspectrum.com/The-long-distance-runner

Please read, enjoy, and tell us about your favourite posts in your comments!  That’s one of the best parts about blogging for me: hooking up my friends with great blogs to read!

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Filed under blogging, family, food, friends