Category Archives: books

I’m a Little Bit ADD, I’m a Little Bit Rock and Roll (With Apologies to the Osmonds)…

Fasten your seatbelts, readers…it’s going to be a bumpy ride…I’ll be going through topics faster than my kids can make ice cream disappear.  You’ll laugh; you’ll groan; you’ll salivate; you’ll wish you were having dinner at my house!

1.  Best. Candy. Ever.  Utah didn’t just give us the Osmond family…they also have the Sweet Candy Company which makes the best candy ever: Raspberry Sticks, which are described on the package as “raspberry jelly centers dipped in luscious milk chocolate” (this is NOT a lie!).  I discovered these bits of deliciousness at our local Co-Op when they were marked down after Christmas last week…I bought three boxes…unfortunately, they were gone when I went back for more last night!

Sweet's Raspberry Sticks...

2. Did You Miss a Post?  It seems that my blog host may have been having issues last week…just wondering if everyone who subscribes got notice of my Friday post on the Bay of Fundy…it was a “rerun” from the early days.  I wasn’t the only one having problems: my friend Renée at Life in the Boomer Lane moved her blog to a different host, and her subscribers aren’t getting their notifications (if you’re a fan of Renée’s, the link in my “She Said” blogroll still works!).  Poor Todd at Todd Pack’s Messy Desk put up a post on Thursday that got far fewer comments than usual…he thought the post was bad, but I tried to access it twice, and got the message “Post Not Found” both times!  He ended up taking it down.

3. Cooking Up a Storm.  Jim cooked twice last week, making a turkey dinner with dressing, mashed pototoes, and vegetables last Sunday (and Grammie Clark’s cheesecake for dessert!), and a lovely seafood chowder on Wednesday (with homemade biscuits!).  This past Sunday, I used frozen tomatoes from our garden to make some more pizza sauce (took several hours to cook them down), and made a deep dish pizza (which I forgot to photograph before people dove into it!).  For dessert, we had sour cream chocolate cake.

Homemade Pizza Sauce...I wish you had "Smellovision"...yum!

Leftover Pizza...I cooked the dough a little too long, but it tasted good!

 

Sour Cream Chocolate Cake...sinfully delicious!

4. Mr. James to the Rescue (Again).  When I came downstairs Sunday morning, Dad informed me that Jake was “having trouble” again.  He’d obviously gotten into something he shouldn’t have, and was pooping everywhere (Jake, not my dad!).  Consequently, the fuzzy white hair on his rear end wasn’t so white any more (still Jake).  After giving the dog a bath, I called our resident hairdresser and dog groomer, Jim (aka “Mr. James”) downstairs to do a quick trim on our schoodle’s bum.  I love that man!  We decided it would be best to sterilize the scissors with a little bleach before putting them in the dishwasher…

5. Valentine’s Day.  I’m finally taking down the Christmas books display at the bookstore and replacing it with a Valentine’s Day-themed selection.  Books with the word “love” in the title will be 10% off for the next little while…

Lover's Secrets...10% off...any takers?

6. Crossing Guards With Magical Powers.  As Jim and I were watching our usual Wednesday night comedies on ABC, a commercial that featured a crossing guard caught my cynical eye: she stops the kids in the middle of traffic to take a decongestant (?!!).  Jim helpfully pointed out that she had also stopped the traffic: “She’s an omnipotent crossing guard!” he declared.  I thought The Omnipotent Crossing Guard would make a great blog title.

7. Off the Map.  Speaking of ABC, I’m loving the new drama by the creators of Grey’s Anatomy, Off The Map.  It’s got interesting plotlines and characterization, cool guest stars (Michael McKean and Cheech Marin, so far), and a leading man from New Zealand named Martin Henderson, whose pecs are as sexy as his accent (don’t worry, guys…there are beautiful women on it too)!

Martin Henderson as Dr. Ben Keeton...hot in the jungle...

8. Just Call Me ‘Ms. Technical’.  Yesterday, Dad’s monitor started flickering for no apparent reason.  I got on the phone with Jim (the computer tech), who advised me to try my monitor to see if if would work.  After unhooking Dad’s heavy old-style monitor and hauling it down off the desk out of the way, I carried my slim-line monitor over from my office across the hall, only to find that it didn’t have the right connector to plug into Dad’s computer.  I carried my monitor back, and hooked it back up again.  I only swore a little bit.  Then I went into the back room and pulled out the old (massive) monitor to try it.  I connected it to Dad’s computer (right connection, but no picture…hurrah!).  Still flickering though, from what I could see.  Unhooking it again, I was getting ready to put it away when Dad insisted on carrying it for me (have you ever been offered help when you didn’t really want it?…sigh).  After reconnecting the regular monitor, the problem persisted, and I did a Google search, which suggested that if it wasn’t the monitor, it was likely the video card.   I called Jim again, who said he would look at it in the morning.  After we got home, I floated my “video card theory” for Jim, and was shot down.  Fast forward to this morning:  I turned on Dad’s computer and the monitor was fine.  I forgot the standard advice offered every week by the technicians on The IT Crowd: “Have you tried turning it on and off?” 

9. I’m the Last One Picked for Wii Games Too.  The kids conned me into playing Wii with them the other night.  I totally suck at baseball and tennis…at least I started to get the hang of bowling halfway through!  Damn that hand-eye coordination…I wonder if they have word games for Wii?

10. Classic Albums Live: The Who

Where?  The Imperial Theatre. 

When?  Saturday night. 

What?  An amazing group of musicians recreating the “Who’s Next?” album. 

Why?  I bought Jim tickets for Christmas, and we desperately needed a Date Night!

How?  Very skillfully!  This was our second Classic Albums Live show (we saw the Supertramp: Crime of the Century show last year and it was equally great!).  The band did an excellent job recreating the album note-for-note, and this folkie girl was instantly transported back 35 years to her “headbanger period” (age 15-16).  All the musicians and singers were very talented, and the drummer was awesome! 

If you have a chance to see a Classic Albums Live show, I’d heartily recommend it!

This concludes your tour through my rather addled Tuesday brain…I hope that the transitions didn’t cause any whiplash!

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‘Salt’y Tears…The Jolie Bids Adieu…

This is the final installment in a 3-part series chronicling The Jolie‘s visit to Saint John, New Brunswick.  I would like to thank my friend, Omawarisan, for his crazy idea ingenius plan that seems to have brought so much joy to my readers…this series was also incredibly fun to write!  Thanks again to Jim for driving all over town and putting up with rude stares as he photographically recorded The Jolie’s tour (he did all the touristy shots and labelled them too – he’s a lover, not a speller!).

If you haven’t read the first two parts, please take a few minutes and catch up…read quickly…The Jolie is anxious to be on her way!

Part 1

Part 2

Here’s the disclaimer (again):  This piece is purely for entertainment purposes and has no basis in fact (all Saint John tourist information is correct).  Any resemblance to living people (except my family) is coincidental. 

We left off Part 2 with The Jolie terrorizing exploring the Saint John City Market.  The Jolie did have an unpleasant encounter with the proprietor of one of the local fishmongers…for fun, I told her that “swimming with the lobsters” was a tradition in New Brunswick, kind of like swimming with the dolphins (a total lie!).  Well, The Jolie was bound and determined she was going to do it!  When she saw the lobster tank at the Market, she demanded to speak to the Manager.  The guy came out from behind the counter, and extended his hand to The Jolie…she ignored it. “I want to swim with the lobsters!  I came a long way to do that!”  The manager calmly explained that she might have some germs on her that could make the live lobsters ill.  “Do you think I don’t shower?” The Jolie asked indignantly.  While assuring her that everyone has germs, even movie stars, he offered to pack up a couple of big lobsters for her to take home.  The Jolie grudgingly agreed, “Well, I suppose…they probably taste better than Cambodian cockroaches.  Can you send the lobsters to Nunavut?  That’s where I’m headed after this.”  The manager wrote down the address, and promised to ship the crustaceans to the Far North right away.

Our next stop was King’s Square, which is across the street from the Market’s Charlotte St. entrance.  Until the mid-19th century, the Square was pretty primitive…people came to draw water from public wells, to view criminals in the pillory, or to celebrate special occasions with an ox roast.  The militia used it for training, and the butchers in town slaughtered their cattle there.  In 1844, city officials decided to make the Square more like an English country garden…a plan was made that included paths coming out from a central octagon, shrubbery, trees, and flowers.  Some work was started, but destroyed in the Great Fire of 1877.  The majority of the development at the Square was completed after that (in fact, most of the oldest buildings in the Uptown date to 1878).  The current bandstand was built in 1908 (restored in 1987), a memorial to King Edward VII.  The Jolie posed in front of it:

The Jolie and the King's Square Bandstand...the trees lining the paths were planted in the late 1880's...

The Jolie got a lot of stares from passersby as we walked through the Square…Saint Johners weren’t being their usual friendly selves:

The Jolie didn't get the attention she expected...

I overheard the following conversation between two old biddies:

“Imagine…goin’ out in the middle of winter in a tank top!  How come she’s not wearing a coat?” the first asked her companion.

The answer: “Maybe her money keeps her warm…she sure doesn’t have any body fat!”

Body fat must have been on The Jolie’s mind too, because the minute we arrived at our bookstore, Dave Shoots, Bookseller, she jumped on the scale to see if she’d gained any weight from the Timbits she’d eaten!

The Jolie tips the scales...

The Jolie proudly declared herself “weightless” (kind of like her performance in “Beyond Borders”).  At least her upcoming trip to Nunavut won’t cost much…maybe I should buy her a “fanny pack.”

While she was in the bookstore, The Jolie was photographed with a “local boy” who left Saint John and got famous (sadly, that’s usually how it happens!):

The Jolie and Stompin' Tom Connors...Prince Edward Island claims him, but he was born in Saint John...

Other famous people with Saint John roots include: film mogul Louis B. Mayer (born in Russia, but grew up here), actor Donald Sutherland (Kiefer’s dad, for you young whippersnappers!), actor Walter Pidgeon, and inventor Dr. Abraham Gesner (kerosene).  The infamous Benedict Arnold spent six years in Saint John after the American Revolution, but Saint Johners don’t like to talk about it!

The Jolie explored the bookshelves looking for reading material:

The Jolie checks out our fiction...

“Where’s your Danielle Steele section?” The Jolie demanded.

“Down the street, at the bookstore we don’t own,” I replied.

“What kind of bookstore is this?” she whined.

I smiled.  “A discerning one.”

The Jolie then asked to borrow a dictionary…I think she needed to look something up…

The Jolie consults a dictionary...

After returning the dictionary to its place, the Jolie headed for the children’s section…she wanted to send some books home for the Nanny to read to the kids.  I found her absorbed a few minutes later:

"Now I know my ABC's...next time won't you sing with me!"

Soon, I declared it was time to get packed up for the next leg of The Jolie’s tour.  She allowed me to wrap her in bubble wrap, and only whimpered a little when I put the packing tape over her mouth…for the first time since she arrived, The Jolie was speechless!

“Good luck in Nunavut, Dear!  Don’t let the door hit you in the arse on the way out!”

*No action figures were harmed in the writing of this piece (I left airholes in the box).  The Jolie will next appear in Iqaluit, Nunavut in I’ll Have Nunavut.  I hope she’s not allergic to cats!

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Filed under blogging, books, satire, tourism

Monday Miscellany…

I spent most of yesterday catching up on laundry, since I didn’t get any done with our shopping trip on Saturday.  We had to go to town to pick up Hope from her friend’s house, and stopped at Co-Op for gas.  An older man cleaned our windshield while Jim was filling the tank, and then went over to speak to another customer that he knew.  I overheard him say, “He was autocratic, but fair.”  Not a word I expected a gas jockey to say…     

After we got back, I took the time to make some Spinach Manicotti.  I was quite pleased with how it came out, since it was my first time making it, and I was completely winging the filling!  I had seen the noodles on sale for $1 a package at Liquidation World…I bought 2 (because I always buy even numbers of anything that’s on sale…I have a thing for symmetry).  I had a couple of packages of spinach in the freezer, which I thawed.  I bought two large tubs of lasagna-type cottage cheese, and mixed it with the spinach.  After cooking the noodles for the amount of time indicated on the box, I thought I could use a pastry decorating tool to squeeze the filling into the noodles.  That was a fail…I ended up standing the noodle on end in my hand, and using my other hand to fill it!  I stuffed noodles until I ran out of filling, put them in a casserole, poured a jar of 4-cheese pasta sauce over the top of the stuffed noodles, and put them in the microwave.  I still had several unstuffed noodles left over, which are in my fridge.  Next time, I think I’ll throw a couple of eggs and some shredded mozzarella cheese into the filling…it will probably give it more body.  Along with some garden green beans from the freezer, the manicotti made a tasty supper last night, and a good lunch today!

I was having vivid dreams most of the night…I dreamed that I had gone downstairs.  At that very moment, Jim woke me up because he was “having a low”…I needed to go downstairs to get him some juice and cookies.  I told him I was technically “already up.”

When I arrived at the bookstore this morning, I sat down to read the blogs that I follow.  One of my friends had included a link for some music in her post…I looked in vain for my earphones to listen to it (I don’t have speakers on my store computer).  I texted Anna to see if she’d borrowed them.  “No…” was the reply.  Then I remembered the somewhat “sketchy” girl who had come in on Friday…I had purchased a copy of “Catcher in the Rye” from her and had left her alone near my desk while I went into the other room to get her money.  Crap!  I was excited to get a copy of the book (we get lots of requests for it, but that is only the second copy we’ve had in our ten-year history!)…apparently $5 wasn’t quite enough for her!

The rest of the day passed without incident…we had one customer in, who bought one book (and three Internet orders).  I spent a lot of time looking for an image on Google for a blog post I wanted to write…no luck!  Anna and I came home with Jim, since Dad had an extra rehearsal for the Men’s Chorus tonight…their Christmas Concert is tomorrow night.  While we were eating supper, Jim got one of his “smile” fries caught in his throat.  Hope said, “They’re not supposed to make you choke…they’re supposed to make you smile!”

"Smile" Fries...

 

Anna remarked, “I love irony.” 

Hope asked, “Who’s Irony?”

After supper, Anna poured herself a glass of eggnog.  “What spice is it that you put in it to make it taste good?  Paprika?”

“No,” I answered.  “You should probably use nutmeg!  Paprika would be a whole different taste…”

Hope is making Christmas cookies for her school’s bake sale tomorrow…the school is buying turkeys for people who can’t afford them for Christmas.  I’ve been recruited to help make icing…I think it’s going to be another late night…

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Mercury is Messin’ This Mother Up…

I found out on Friday that Mercury was in retrograde, according to my friend at Hippie Cahier.  Apparently, this is a bad thing.  I’ve decided to blame everything that’s happened to me this week on that messed-up planet…

1. “Goodbye, Red Meat…I loved you well.”  Kaylee, Scott and Elise came over for supper on Sunday night.  I served a beef and barley stew (with rutabaga and carrots from the garden).  Everybody loved it…I would have thrown in a few more vegetables and a bit more barley if I’d known how much they would love it!  Monday morning, the beef caught up with me…I gave up pork several years ago due to difficulty digesting it (I don’t have a problem with cured meat like ham and bacon, thank goodness!), and have lately started having trouble with beef.  I did not go to the bookstore on Monday.

2. Computer/Internet Issues.   Those started on Tuesday when I got back to the bookstore.  Every time I’d try to leave a comment on somebody’s blog, I’d have to do it two or three times because I would get booted off the Internet…it’s been like that all week!  I’ve had trouble with Hotmail too.

3. Modelling Clay Emergency.  We got home late on Tuesday night, due to Anna having cheerleading, Devin having an orthodontist appointment, and Hope’s cheerleading practice being changed from Wednesday to Tuesday.  Thankfully, Jim’s parents picked up Devin and Hope for us since it was impossible for us to get there in time!  After supper, Hope announced that she had to have modelling clay for a project at school…too exhausted to go out again, I suggested we make it.  She also told me she had a couple of other homework assignments…aargh!  Hope printed a modelling clay recipe from the Internet, and I got out the flour, salt and water.  She wanted four colours of clay…I spent the next hour trying to incorporate food colouring into the rather stiff dough (I really want to thank whichever child lost the lid for the blue food colouring…my hands were blue for three days!).  The colours came out very muddy-looking.  Meanwhile, Hope was busy in the dining room.  After a while, she came out and chucked the clay in the garbage: “I can’t get it to stick!” she said.  “I told you we should have bought it!”  I wrote a note to the teacher to explain why the homework didn’t get done…sigh…

4. Modelling Clay…Take #2.  We brought home massive amounts of dollar store modelling clay for Hope’s project on Wednesday night.  We also got Christmas cards, wrapping paper, and candy canes (for hot chocolate, of course – one of Anna’s “emergencies”).  Hope got right to work with the “good clay” and constructed her cheerleading stunt group.  She told me that the legs kept falling off, so she decided to leave them off.  There is also no “front” in the stunt group (the “back” is hidden behind the “flyer”):

Hope's Cheerleading Stunt Group

5.  Revenge of the Orca Beans.  Jim made supper, but I didn’t eat much because I wasn’t feeling very well.  I had made chili on the weekend with orca and romano beans from our garden, and had put some in my lunch on Wednesday.  Some of the family had eaten it Monday night, but I was still recovering from my “red meat episode” so had opted for cereal instead.  Jim had mentioned a bit of stomach distress after having it for his lunch on Tuesday, but I blamed that on the massive amount of chili powder he’d added to it.  By 6:30 Wednesday night, I was in agony…I spent the next 4 hours in close proximity to the commode and eating the Costco version of Imodium like M & M’s.  In the midst of my misery, I remembered that I had sent some of the killer chili home with Kaylee (Scott won’t eat beans, so she doesn’t make chili), and decided I’d better give her a heads-up.  I dialled her number.  “Hi…you know that chili I gave you?  Did you eat it yet?”  Kaylee told me that she’d planned on having it for lunch the next day.  “Throw it out!” I told her.  “I’m dying here…”

6.  “Expedited” apparently means “Whenever you feel like it.”  I felt like a dishrag on Thursday when I woke up…I opted to skip work again (lucky I can do that!).  Jim didn’t feel well either, so we stayed home together.  Dad phoned me from the store to let me know we had gotten an e-mail about a book I’d ordered for a friend on November 25th.  I had requested “expedited shipping”…according to the e-mail, it was sent on the 29th…it took them four days to get it out of the building!  They also stated that it would take up to 14 business days to arrive!  If time wasn’t of the essence, I wouldn’t have bothered paying the extra for shipping!

7.  Farewell to a dear friend.  Friday was a sad day…members of our book club gathered at a local restaurant for dinner to send a good friend, S., on her way out of the province.  She is moving 2000 miles away with her new man, who we met, and approve of…very nice fellow!  Dad and I gave S. a book about Emily Carr, an artist we knew she liked…S. was moved by the Celtic blessing I wrote in the front.  I had a glass of wine, and a beautiful spinach salad before bidding S. “Adieu”…I know we’ll see her again…she is a Maritimer, and they always come home!

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Frequently Asked Questions About Our Bookstore…

This post is in response to requests from commenters Chase and Lisa to hear more about the day-to-day operation of our bookstore (sparked by the poll for my 150th post).  For those who are unaware, for the past ten years, my dad and I have co-owned a bookstore which specializes in antiquarian and used hardcovers.  Here are some of the questions we hear quite often, with answers (some actually spoken, some just thought in our heads as we think “You moron!”).

1. Where do you get your books?  My dad goes out and mugs little old ladies!  Most of the books are brought into the store, every day, 3 or 4 times a day: people die and their family doesn’t want their books, or empty-nesters are downsizing to move to a smaller place.  We also have a fair number of “street people”, who pick up books in their travels and then sell them to us.  We go to local book sales, and the big Sussex Flea Market, and occasionally, church and yard sales.  Very few of our books are donated to us…we buy them!

2. What’s your oldest book?  I don’t know…let me check the database!  We are constantly adding to our stock, and that information could be totally different today than it was yesterday.  It’s probably something from the 18th century, although we have had a couple from the 17th century.

3. Is all your stock listed online?  No.  We have some 15,000 books including 3 or 4 thousand waiting to be listed in storage…we only list the rarer, higher-priced books online (currently about 4000) because of the time involved.  To give you an idea of how long it takes, we upload about 50-75 new listings a week. 

4. I’ve got this really old book, but it’s been chewed by squirrels, run over by a bulldozer, and immersed in a mud puddle…do you want to buy it?  Only if they were three-toed Siberian squirrels. NO!  Throw it out! 

5. Do you have any [pause] novels?  I take the “customer” to the large double-sided shelves which house some 3000 works of fiction.  The customer still has a puzzled look on his/her face.  No, I mean NOVELS!  At this point, it occurs to me that the customer is looking for paperbacks, at which point I direct them to the store down the street.

6. Do you get a lot of customers from the cruise ships?  No…they don’t make it up the street without being roped into the shore excursions…we call the handful who do come in “the escapees.”  There are also very few readers on cruise ships…cruisers are usually “mall people” far more interested in souvenir T-shirts than good books (this is a generalization, I admit, but it’s based on ten years of observation!).  We average 2-3 visitors for every 3000-passenger cruise ship.

7. I remember this book from when I was a kid…it was blue, about a cat, and about so big [gesturing with hands].  Do you have it?  Not sure…was the cat long or short-haired?  I’m going to need a title or an author’s name (at the very least) to find that elusive book from your childhood.

8. I’ve got a copy of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and it’s really old…I think it’s a first edition and it’s even signed!  How much to you want to give me for it?  Nothing.  Dickens’ work was pirated by the Americans to the point that he refused to do readings in North America…there are literally thousands of copies of each of his books out there…the odds of the average Joe having a first edition is extremely low!  Many of them have what is known as a “facsimile signature” on them…this is a copy of the author’s signature printed in the book by the publisher…he didn’t actually write it!  I have three boxes of Dickens books in my back room!  Ditto for Kipling, Scott, and Stevenson books… 

9. You’ve got a lot of books…have you read them allYes, every last one, except for the golf ones…I hate golf!  No.  I have other things to do with my time: evaluating, listing, photographing and shelving those books.

10. I paid $40 for this book at [insert name of new book store here] last month.  Why don’t you want to give me $25 for it?  Because new books are a lot like new cars…worthless once you drive them off the lot.  I can probably buy 300 copies of your $40 book online for a buck apiece!

11. Is this a libary?  No.  All of our books are for sale.  The “libary” is down the street.

12. How much are your books?  They’re priced according to size: thin ones are $10, but really thick ones cost $150!  Our book prices range from $6 to $2000, depending on rarity and condition.  Prices are marked in pencil inside the front covers. 

13. What do you do with books you don’t want?  We donate them to the local library or book sales held by local charities.

14. [phone inquiry] I’m moving next week, and I’ve got a whole bunch of books.  How much do you pay for them?  I don’t know…I haven’t seen what you have!  Bring them in, and if we want them, we’ll make you an offer!     

15. Do you like working here?  Yes.  I’ve met lots of interesting people from around the world, including a few famous ones.  I learn something new every day, and I am surrounded by beautiful old books in a gorgeous old building.  It’d be even better if I made money!

Independent used bookstores are disappearing every day…we need readers to survive!  Please go into your local store and buy a book (or two) today!  Thank you!

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Simple Things I Am Thankful For…

Today is Thanksgiving in the United States, where I was born and spent the first eight years of my life.  We are not celebrating Thanksgiving in Canada today (we had it last month), but with all the disturbing things going on in the world right now, it makes me think of the things in my life I am thankful for.  Here they are, in the order I’ve thought of them:

1. A Healthy Love Relationship.  I am thankful to have found a man who loves me, works hard, is an amazing father, and would rather cut off his right arm than hurt me or our children.

2. A Loving Family.  We definitely argue, but I don’t know what we would do without each other. 

3. Clean Water.  We can turn on a tap and have an almost unlimited amount of clean water!

4. Clean Air.  The air that we breathe is very clean, and smells good most of the time.   

5. Plentiful, Fresh Food.  We can go to a store and buy nearly anything we need, or grow it ourselves in uncontaminated soil.  We have a refrigerator and a freezer to help keep the food preserved.  We have a stove and a microwave to cook the food. 

6. A Roof Over Our Heads.  I can’t imagine not having a warm, clean place to come home to.

7. Freedom of Movement.  I can go where I want, when I want to, without being afraid. 

8. Freedom of Speech.  I have the right to say, write, read, or listen to almost anything without fear of repercussion (within libel/slander laws).

9. The Right to Vote.  Thanks to some outspoken women who came before me, women in Canada have had the right to vote in federal elections since 1919. 

10. The Ability to Read and Write.  I could not live without books, and writing keeps me sane.  The ability to read allows me to learn new things every day.

11. Government-Sponsored Health Care.  If my child is ill, I can take her to the doctor without worrying about how to afford the treatment.

12. Music.  Good music makes me feel a huge range of emotions…there are so many talented musicians in our world.

Please take a moment to think about all the simple things you are thankful for…

I hope that all my family and friends have a wonderful holiday!  Thank you for taking time from your busy day to visit me in Hammond River!

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Fun Facts for November 18th…

It’s another slow day, so I’ve dipped into the Today in History site for your amusement:

1. “Just Hold Still, Son!”  It was on this day in 1307 that renowned crossbow marksman, William Tell, is said to have shot an apple off his son Walter’s head in what is now Switzerland.  Bill didn’t just get up one morning with a bizarre idea…he was forced to perform the stunt because he refused to acknowledge the superiority of the new “big cheese” who’d rolled into town, Austrian Albrecht Gessler.  If Tell failed, both he and his son would be executed.  Luckily for Walter, his dad didn’t choke under pressure.  Gessler noticed that William had removed two arrows from his pouch before shooting, and inquired as to the reason.  Tell informed Gessler that if his son had perished, the second arrow was for Gessler himself.  The dictator took that rather badly, and tied Tell up, ordering his men to put Tell on the ship bound for Gessler’s castle at Kussnacht.  Long story short: Tell escaped, and shot Gessler on his return home.  Karma’s a bitch!

Statue depicting William and Walter Tell...

2. Caxton Makes History.  In 1477, Dictes and Sayengis of the Phylosophers became the first dated book to be printed in England.  Produced by English publisher, William Caxton, the incunabulum (an early book that every bookseller wants a copy of) was the “Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations” of the 15th century, and was translated from the French Dits Moraulx des Philosophes’.  There was no Spellcheck on Caxton’s equipment at the time…

Colophon of William Caxton, 1477...this would have been at the beginning of the book...pretty, isn't it?

3. “Agitate-Educate-Legislate”.  These were the early watchwords of the National Woman’s Christian Temperance Union when it was formed on this day in Cleveland in 1874.  Annie Turner Wittenmyer was the group’s first president, serving from 1874-1879.  Originally, the WCTU’s purpose was to stamp out use of the “demon rum”, but it soon began advocating for women’s suffrage and other non-temperance issues like prison reform, vocational schools, and free kindergarten.  Still in existence today, the WCTU claims to be “the oldest, voluntary, non-sectarian woman’s organization in continuous existence in the world.”  Without them, we would still be working 12-hour days, and women might still be wearing skirts with petticoats!

WCTU Logo...

4. “What time is it?”  It was due to a proposal by Scottish-born Canadian engineer, Sandford Fleming, that Canada adopted Standard Time on this date in 1883.  After missing a train in Ireland in 1876 due to a misprint in the schedule which listed “p.m.” instead of “a.m.”, Fleming suggested a 24-hour clock for the entire world, linked to the anti-meridian of Greenwich…standard time zones could be used locally, but his “Cosmic Time” would be supreme.  By 1929, most of the major countries in the world had accepted time zones.  In his spare time, Fleming designed Canada’s first postage stamp, the Threepenny Beaver; engineered much of the Intercolonial Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway; founded the Royal Canadian Institute, a science organization in Toronto; advocated for the construction of a submarine telegraph cable connecting the entire British Empire; and was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1897.

Globe used by Fleming to illustrate the principle of Standard Time...letters indicate the meridians...

5. Not your average bear.  In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt was being raked over the coals by the media for his inability to bag a bear on a hunting trip.  On the last day of the hunt, one of his companions caught a bear cub, and tied it to a tree so that the President could shoot it and redeem his reputation as a great hunter.  Roosevelt refused to kill the bear, saying that he took no pleasure in harming a creature which clearly had no sporting chance of defending itself.  Cartoonist Clifford Berryman published a cartoon showing Roosevelt turning his back on the tied bear, and walking away.  A couple named Rose and Morris Michtom, who ran a small store selling notions, candy, and stuffed toys in Brooklyn, New York, saw the cartoon in the paper.  Impressed with the President’s restraint, Morris suggested that Rose sew a bear like the one in the cartoon.  The finished bear was made of velvet, and had shoe buttons for eyes.  Morris displayed it in the shop window with a label: “Teddy’s bear.”  More than a dozen people wanted to buy it, so the Michtoms mailed the original bear to the White House for Roosevelt’s children, and asked for permission to use the President’s name.  He agreed, and soon the Michtoms couldn’t keep up with the demand for Teddy Bears!  Roosevelt and the Republican Party adopted it as their symbol in the election of 1904, and Michtom bears were on display at every public White House function.  The Michtoms went on to found Ideal Toys, and the humble Jewish-Russian immigrants realized the American Dream!

The original "Teddy Bear" which is now on display at the Smithsonian...

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Filed under books, memories, satire

Gifts…

On Monday, I was working at the bookstore, when Dad brought me a small, brown paper-wrapped package with my name on it…I didn’t recognize the name of the sender, but she had included her website in the return address: it was from Jeanne at FlyingGma’s Blog.  I didn’t really “know” Jeanne the way I know a lot of my other blogging buddies…she’d left a comment or two on my blog, and I’d seen a couple of her comments on my friend Tom’s site.  Before opening the package, I was a little freaked out that she would send me a gift!  Was “Flying Gma” a pseudonym for “Crazy Stalker Lady”?

Suppressing my fears, I tore open the paper…I love presents!  Inside was a card box.  In the box, there was a small, old Webster’s Dictionary wrapped in white tissue paper.  There was also a homemade card with a lovely note written on it:

Wendy,

When I read on your blog this morning that you were a bookseller I immediately thought of this book, and that you might like it, especially after your link on Thomas’ post for savethewords.org

I found the book in a home we moved into when I was 13 (1973).  Walter S. was the owner of the home before we moved in.  He was in his 70’s at the time and a retired pharmacist.  

I’m downsizing my possessions and trying to find people who would truly enjoy them.  If you know of someone who would enjoy it more than you feel free to pass it on or keep it yourself.  Enjoy!

Jeanne aka Flying Gma

Jeanne's note and book...

I sent Jeanne a thank you e-mail, expressing how much her gift had touched me…I am about as sentimental as you can be!  I also asked if I could include the story in a blog post, and she graciously allowed me to share it with you.  I am so grateful for all the amazing people I have gotten to know through blogging!

On Tuesday evening, Kaylee and I went to the Rankin Family show at the Imperial Theatre.  They were celebrating their 20th Anniversary with the These Are the Moments Tour.

The Rankin Family: Cookie, Heather, Jimmy and Raylene...

 

I have been a fan of this talented Maritime group ever since the early 90’s when my ex-husband got tickets to one of their shows from the radio station where he worked at the time.  We took the kids along: Kaylee was 10 and Anna was two…she managed to fall asleep during the show (don’t ask me how!).  After the concert, we went backstage, where the Rankin girls made a big fuss over our little girls!  They were so tiny and so sweet!

Since then, we’ve seen the Rankin Family perform four times, and I’ve seen Jimmy Rankin’s solo show once.

Even after twenty years, the group brings energy and enthusiasm to every show they do…they are warm, funny, and full of joy!  On Tuesday night, they performed all the old favourites: North Country, Borders and Time, The Mull River Shuffle, We Rise Again (which makes me cry every time I hear it), You Feel the Same Way, and Fare Thee Well Love.  However, the song that made the biggest impression on me was this one:       

Thank you to the Rankin Family for giving us the gift of your beautiful voices for the last twenty years!

On Wednesday morning, Jim had his sinus surgery…it was performed by his mother’s cousin, Dr. Robert Rae.  This was the first time I’d met Robert, a busy ear, nose and throat specialist who also finds time to chair various medical organizations, as well as sit on several committees.  He came in to speak to us before the operation, and shook my hand warmly.  I felt immediately at ease with him.

I kissed Jim goodbye, and went to the waiting room where Jim’s parents sat.  About an hour later, Robert came out, gave Shirley a hug, and sat down to fill us in on how the surgery went.  There had been a lot of bleeding because Jim’s sinuses were full of polyps caused by allergies and chronic infection.  However, the operation had gone well.  We had been told that Jim would have to be in the recovery room for about an hour, so we settled down to wait. 

After three hours, we were all starving.  I decided to ask what was taking so long.  A friendly nurse came out and told me that Jim had been experiencing some “oozing” which was perfectly normal.  However, he was convinced that after doing pre-surgery surfing on the Internet, his brain fluids were leaking out!   Robert was summoned back to the hospital to reassure poor Jim that all his juices were still where they were supposed to be…the doctor did decide to give him some extra packing though.

Finally, about four in the afternoon, we were told that we could bring the car to the front door, and they would bring Jim down in the wheelchair.  We got him into the car, and Shirley and Gordon drove us home.  After dropping us off, they headed to the drugstore to pick up Jim’s meds.  They brought those back about an hour later…Tylenol 3’s, and an antibiotic to combat infection.

Thanks to Jim’s parents for all their support…I can’t imagine spending all day in a hospital waiting room with anybody else!  Thanks also to  Robert for fixing up my man! 

Today is Remembrance Day, which is the day when we pay tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice…those who fought and died for us so that we could live in freedom.  Thank you to those brave men and women, and to our veterans, and to those who continue to  serve our country!  Your gift to us is treasured by all!

Every Day is Remembrance Day...image from glanmore.org...

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Filed under blogging, books, family, friends, music

Of Pumpkins, Presidents, Pooches, and Puddin’ Pop…

Here’s a wrapup of the last few days in Hammond River:

1. Regular readers of this blog know that I had a really big garden this year…we had frost last week (the rest of the tomatoes are ripening in the basement under newspaper), so it’s time to start bringing stuff in before the snow starts to fly.  I spent Sunday harvesting the remaining pumpkins and squash, and stored them in the basement…the kids each want to carve a pumpkin for Halloween (Hope’s already decided on Mickey Mouse for hers).  I also brought in about eight rutabagas, and cooked them in the oven.  Loads of rutabagas, carrots, and beets still in the ground…they’ll be okay for a while.

Here's a less-scary photo of Puddin' Pop than the last one I posted...

2. Anna slept most of the day on Sunday…her cheerleading team had a “Wakeathon” fundraiser on Saturday night.  Luckily, my dad went to town to pick her up at 7:30 in the morning…Jim is not a morning person!  She was one tired teenager when she got home…they had fun though!

The girls at the Wakeathon...Anna is the tall one in the back with the "Aeropostale" shirt on...

3. Hope was in a baking mood when she got up on Sunday…she wanted to make muffins, so she found a recipe for Cinnamon Muffins and we made them.  They were yummy…tasted like those little cinnamon donuts we used to have when we were kids!  We used wooden skewers to spear the muffins and roll them in the cinnamon/sugar mix…way less messy that way.

4. We’ve had an issue with rodents in the house again this fall…Dad has set traps all over the basement, and a few baits as well.  He’s caught four star-nosed voles in the traps, which he then puts into the compost bin outside…he reported this morning that that latest one he’d caught had been partially eaten!  Can’t wait to see that one in the bin – NOT!  Dad really wants to catch the critter that’s running through the walls of his bedroom and keeping him awake at night…he thinks it’s one of our squirrels or chipmunks.

5. Dad has a couple of good friends who usually stop by on Saturday mornings at the bookstore for a chat…he mentioned that they hadn’t been around for a while, because they were away on a trip to Washington, D.C.  Dad said that he’d encouraged them to stop in at the White House to see if the President had received the Abraham Lincoln bookends he’d sent him.  What??? 

“When did you do that, Dad?” 

“Three or four months ago,” he answered. 

“I’m surprised they haven’t sent you a Thank You note by now,” I said. 

“Oh, there was a box to tick if you wanted an acknowledgement, but I didn’t check it off.”  That’s my Dad…he’d read somewhere that Abe Lincoln had been a hero of Obama’s (as he is for my dad), and decided to send him his bookends, which he’d had for many years.

My Grandad T. had the same birthday as Abe Lincoln...

6. I smelled a skunk just before I was about to let Jake out into the back yard the other night (I decided to take him out on the leash out front instead!)…we saw one dead in the road near our driveway yesterday…reminds me of a song!

7. We took the Toyota to Canadian Tire yesterday to have new snow tires put on…while we were waiting, we visited Jim’s parents.  The guy at the service counter told us it would be an hour-and-a-half, and they were true to their word.  Jim is quite excited about the new tires…we were “testing” them on the highway on the way home…he took his hands off the steering wheel momentarily: “Look…no more wobbling!” he said.  I was disappointed when we got home to find that Jake hadn’t folded the two big piles of laundry in the family room…we may have to look into trading him for a more industrious canine!  He can undo zippers on lunchbags…why couldn’t he fold laundry?

8. Last night, we had Puddin’ Pop (Elise) and her mom and dad over for supper…it was Scott’s 27th birthday.  Scott had grown a beard in honour of his birthday.  I had roasted a couple of small chickens, made mashed potatoes, corn, and a Whipped Rutabaga Puff with the rutabaga from the garden.  It was amazing and easy: just threw some eggs and bread crumbs in with the cooked rutabaga, and used the mixer to whip it.  We had two cakes: Black Forest, and a Cinnamon Coffee Cake for the non-chocolate lovers (Devin and Hope).  Jim and the girls got the cakes ready in the kitchen, lit the candles and carried them in.  I brought up the rear, and started counting 1-2-3, and burst into the Happy Birthday song…all by myself!  They’d gone ahead without me, and had already sung it.  Everybody (except me) got a good laugh out of it!

Scott sharing his popsicle with Elise...

After supper, I played with Elise a bit…she had a great time grabbing my glasses off my face and trying to get hold of my dangly earrings.  I’ve missed her since I last saw her two weeks ago.  We’re looking after her on Saturday while Kaylee and Scott go to a wedding.  I told Kaylee she’d better have instructions for me:  have never put on a cloth diaper in my life!  I’ll have to remember not to throw them away!  Hope will help me with that, though…

9. Thanks to the Internet, I finally have an idea for Halloween costumes for Jim and I for his sister’s party Friday night…big secret…will post photos later.

10. My friends have been having some good fortune this week:  my buddy, Guy, was elected to his municipal council in Lavigne, Ontario; my buddy, Jamie, was in a BMW Mini TV commercial (click on his name to see it – he’s the bald guy trying to break the egg); and my blogging friend, Lin, got to meet David Sedaris who talked to her while autographing two books (click on her name to read all about it)!

The new municipal councillor - Guy...

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Filed under books, cooking, family, food, gardening

Looking for Love…

A couple of days ago, my friend over at Hippie Cahier gave us a writing assignment: http://hippiecahier.wordpress.com/2010/10/05/tell-me-a-story-or-poem-or-whatever/

Here’s my take on it:

PERSONALS

“A little Consideration, a little Thought for Others, makes all the difference” Single grey male, nothing much to look at, seeks like female to share his humble abode. Must have brains and be able to participate in two-way conversations. Would like someone who knows how to properly prepare thistles. Construction ability preferred as house is continually collapsing. Detail-oriented personality desirable – must be able to keep track of birthdays and lost tails. Medical training an asset to treat accidental injuries. Thanks for noticing me! I don’t expect this to work. Please call Eeyore at 555-POOH.

Eeyore

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Filed under books, satire