Category Archives: music


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:


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

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


Filed under blogging, books, family, friends, music

Dreaming About Sandbox Superstars…

My kids range in age from 12 to 24, so I’ve watched a lot of kids’ TV in my time.  Nothing embarrasses my children more than if I say that I think a guy on their show is “cute”.  Apparently, it is inappropriate for mothers to have lust for anyone other than Mr. Clean or the man from Glad.

My oldest daughter, Kaylee, used to watch PBS when she was little…Reading Rainbow was a show I wished she would watch more often, just so I could see more of LeVar Burton.  He had the most beautiful eyes, and a smile that would light up a room.  LeVar was a hero in my opinion, because he encouraged children to read…the only thing sexier than a man with a baby is a man with a book!

LeVar Burton...

Another show Kaylee liked was Fred Penner’s Place on CBC.  Fred was relaxed, gentle, and an awesome folk singer…he always looked good even dressed casually in jeans and a vest with his guitar slung over his shoulder.  I never felt like Fred was being condescending to the kids who watched his program.  Fred was comfortable, like a favourite sweater.  Every time I hear the song “You Brush Your Teeth,” I think of Fred.

Fred Penner...

Kaylee loved Sharon, Lois and Bram’s Elephant ShowEric Nagler was a frequent guest on that program.  In addition to being a talented musician and singer, Eric was also funny!  He had no inhibitions about acting silly, and wrote some fun children’s songs.  Eric liked to invent instruments and play them too.  He went on to star in his own show, Eric’s World, which we also watched.  Eric had a beard and liked to wear vests too…

Eric Nagler...

When Kaylee got older, she discovered the YTV network.  In between shows, YTV had personalities called “PJs” who came on and did bits…my favourite was PJ “Fresh” Phil.  He was a young Filipino man, with black hair pulled back in a ponytail.  Phil wore big rings, chunky bracelets, and had pierced ears and tattoos…not at all the kind of guy I’m usually attracted to!  I think the reason I liked him was because he was such a nice guy, smart and funny.  He was probably the only PJ I ever saw who didn’t talk at the speed of light (hard for us old folks to understand that!).

PJ "Fresh" Phil Guerrero...

Anna’s favourite show when she was small was the Big Comfy Couch.  I loved Big Comfy Couch for two reasons: The 10-Second Tidy, and Major Bedhead.  That guy successfully pulled off wearing pink and orange together, could ride a unicycle, and was delightfully goofy.  Major Bedhead didn’t care if his bright red hair wasn’t perfect!  I think he secretly liked Loonette, but she never thought of him as more than a friend…poor guy!

Major Bedhead...

Anna was also obsessed with Blue’s Clues, which was fine because I was a bit taken with its original host, Steve!  He was a good 12 years younger than I was, but that didn’t matter…Steve was cute as pie in his green-striped sweater and boyish haircut (move over, Mrs. Robinson…he’s all mine!).  I was heartbroken when Steve left the show, and they replaced him with Joe!


Hope’s absolute favourite kids’ show was The Wiggles.  Last night, she realized her six-year dream of seeing The Wiggles live – they’re from Australia, and don’t make it to Atlantic Canada very often!  Sixteen-year-old Anna and I went along too.

We arrived at Harbour Station just after 5:30 when the doors were scheduled to open, and joined the throngs of parents and their mini-mes in various moods ranging from distraught to super-hyper…I felt grandmotherly (glad I wasn’t taking any rugrats home with me).  We found our seats at the top of the Lower Bowl (medium-priced tickets…I wasn’t about to spring for $80 each to sit on the floor in a folding chair!).

The show started a little late, but the kids didn’t seem to mind.  I got a chuckle hearing the woman seated next to us explaining to her three-year-old that The Wiggles had come on a bus…it must have been a long drive across the Pacific Ocean!  Finally, the stars appeared onstage in their big red car, surrounded by the Wiggly Dancers, Ringo and Captain Feathersword.

The Wiggles make their entrance...

Then The Wiggles got out of the car, and made a running lap of the rink, smiling and waving at their screaming fans.  A lump rose in my throat, as it dawned on me just how much seeing this show meant to Hope…we were really there!  She knew all the words to all their songs, and sang along unselfconsciously, although she was one of the few 12-year-olds in the audience (I may have sung along to “Fruit Salad” – I really like that song!).  Dorothy the Dinosaur and Wags the Dog made brief cameo appearances.  Everybody there had a great time!  After the show, the kids asked me who my favourite Wiggle was…I said it was the Blue one: Anthony.

Anthony the Blue Wiggle...

There’s something about prematurely grey hair that makes my heart beat a little faster…”Oh, Mom!” they said.


Filed under family, music, satire, self-discovery

The ABC’s of Teenage Girls…Amazing, Beautiful and Challenging…

I am the parent/stepparent of four girls, aged 12, 14, 16 and 24, so I feel completely qualified to present this A-Z guide to living with teenage girls (I wish I could say it was tongue-in-cheek, but sadly, it’s not):

“Awesome”.  What they say after you’ve just emptied your bank account buying them two pairs of jeans they like at the mall.  Alternately, they might also say: “That’s awesome, Mom!  As if I’d be seen in public in those!” if you make the mistake of not bringing them with you, and come home with the wrong kind of jeans! 

Bedroom.  Where teenage girls live.  There’s usually a big “Keep Out” sign somewhere on the door rendered in purple bubble letters with curlicues.  It’s probably a good idea to heed the sign…you could get your foot entangled in the balled-up clothing on the floor, and fall and break a hip!  Remember when you used to send them to their rooms to punish them?  That’s not going to work any more.  Being forced to hang out with the family is guaranteed to make them reconsider their transgressions! 

Cellphone/Computer.  The two electronic items essential to teenage girls in the 21st century.  They don’t actually talk on the phone, unless it’s to summon their parents to pick them up somewhere.  When they’ve misplaced the phone, they panic: “Oh, no!  Ashley will text me, and she’ll think I’m ignoring her!”  Our girls spend hours on the computer, updating their status on Facebook, commenting on other people’s profiles, and becoming “fans” of pages like “My parents just filed for bankruptcy, but who cares…I just got cute new boots!” 

Dishes.  If you’re looking for these, don’t expect to find them in the dishwasher or the cupboard.  Ditto for silverware, especially spoons.  You will find bowls crusty with milk and (if you’re lucky) soggy Cheerios, on the coffee table, or more likely, the floor.  Glasses may or may not be emptied when left for you to knock off their precarious perch on the edge of the desk where you made the mistake of sitting to check your e-mail.  Plates might be left on the kitchen floor for the dog to lick, forever.

Eye-rolling.  Teenage girls are experts at this, especially if their parents have done something especially “lame” (like telling them to wear a hat in sub-zero temperatures!).

“Fail”.  You may have thought the word “fail” was a verb…you are incorrect.  It is, in fact, a noun, as in “That was an epic fail!” which is what teenagers say when they or one of their friends do something clumsy or stupid.

Giggling.  Giggling is a good thing, except when four girls are doing it during a sleepover in the next room at 2 in the morning.

Hair.  Many teenage girls spend hours on their hair…our girls are no exception.  Our kids’ bathroom is a mass of brushes, ponytail holders, headbands, shampoo, conditioner, hairspray, and hair straighteners.  Our lone teenage boy uses the little bathroom by the laundry room, just so that he has a place for his toothbrush!  I wish I had a dollar for every time one of the girls complained that her hair wouldn’t “go right.” 

I-Pod.  If you tell your daughter you’re going to the mall, and she doesn’t jump up immediately, she is probably listening to her I-Pod.  However, if you tell her to do her homework and she doesn’t respond, she’s practicing “selective hearing.”

Jealousy.  Every teenage girl has green eyes…she wants what other teenagers have!  She also knows, down to the penny, how much money you spent on her sister, and will demand the same treatment.  My kids can whine “It’s not fair!” in three different languages.  

Kitchen.  The only other room in the house where teenagers spend as much time as their bedrooms.  They stand in front of the refrigerator with the door open, expecting the perfect snack to just jump into their mouths.  When it doesn’t, they announce accusingly, “You never buy anything good to eat!,” despite the fact that I get Christmas cards every year from Coca-Cola, Frito-Lay, and Kellogg’s.

Laundry.  Teenage girls account for 80% of the laundry at our house.  They are completely incapable of hitting the hamper, however, being content to leave dirty laundry on the bathroom floor six inches from it (unless it’s a wet towel, in which case, I’ll find it stuffed in the hamper, three days later and smelling not at all like lemons).  The backup places for dirty laundry are either the family room or bedroom floor (see Bedroom).

Music.  Teenage girls “need” music to do anything, which would be fine if: a) what they were listening to was actually “music” and b) the volume wasn’t set to 200 decibels. 

“Nothing”.  What teenage girls say when you ask them what they did at school or what they’re upset about.  This is a complete lie…”nothing” is always “something,” and it’s usually BIG! 

Opinionated.  Teenage girls are never wishy-washy.  Either they “love” something, or it’s total “crap.”  There is no grey area.  And they never entertain the idea that their opinion could be incorrect.

Perfect.  When a teenage girl is leaving for school in the morning, everything has to be perfect: hair, makeup, clothes, and shoes.  If even one strand of hair dares to work its way out of the ponytail holder, the girl’s day is ruined. 

Questioning.  Do you recall when your child went through the “Why?” stage when they were three?  Well, it comes back when she becomes a teenager:  “I want you home by nine.”  “Why?”  “Turn down the stereo!”  “Why?”  There’s also: “Why can’t I have a tattoo of a pink unicorn?  Jessica has one!”

“Random”.  Two teenage girls can be having a deep conversation about lip gloss, and suddenly, one will say: “I think Cory likes me…do you think he likes me?”  The other will respond: “That was random!”

Sensitive.  Teenage girls take everything personally.  Never joke about their appearance, unless you want to spend another hour waiting for them while they change their entire outfit, and redo their hair.

Texting.  Our girls text, a lot.  The muscles in their thumbs are so strong, they could probably hang 20 lbs. of potatoes from each one without doing any physical damage.

Uncompromising.  See Opinionated.

Vacant Stare.  The look parents receive when telling teenage girls to do something they have no intention of doing.

Wishing.  Our teenage girls spend a lot of time wishing they had stuff that they don’t have (or better stuff).  I wish they would realize how lucky they are to have what they have!

X-Box.  This is the “game system” that our teenage girls use to play “Rock Band” and “Guitar Hero.”  We like it when they do things together without arguing.

YouTube.  This is an online video site where teenage girls go to find “awesome” songs and cute boys.  Hope’s favourite singer, Justin Bieber, got his start on YouTube.

ZZZ’s.  Something teenage girls can never get enough of, especially in the morning when they’re supposed to be getting ready for school.  Apparently, they don’t need them much at night, when other people are sleeping…

I hope that if you’re lucky enough to have teenage girls, that you make it through those years with your sanity intact…for me, one down, three more to go!

Our teenage girls: Anna, Brianna and Hope...


Filed under family, music, satire

A Love Letter, Teenage Talent, and a Zombie Baby…

It’s a lazy Saturday afternoon…Jim and the kids have gone to buy tires for the Corolla and have lunch at my least favourite fast food restaurant (I’ll give you a hint – its spokesperson is a clown with a rhyming name).  I wish they had taken Jake with them…he’s driving me crazy…wants to go out on the deck and chase the chipmunks and squirrels!  I’ve got a Hannah Georgas concert playing on the computer while I work (thank you CBC Concerts on Demand).  The second of three loads of laundry is spinning in the dryer…I’m saving a fortune on dryer sheets!  I bought a couple of those dryer balls at the dollar store, and they actually work!

One of the best dollars I ever spent...dryer balls!

The ear, nose and throat specialist called on Monday with the date for Jim’s sinus surgery: November 10th.  He’s having his deviated septum fixed, and they’re scooping stuff out of his sinus cavity.  I’m glad we’ve finally got the date: Jim’s been off work most of the week with another sinus infection…he regaled me this morning with a description of the secretions he’s harbouring.  Thanks, honey…I really didn’t want to eat lunch today!

Tuesday night was Dad’s chorus rehearsal night, and I was looking for something easy to make for supper…I had gotten turkey bacon on sale the day before, and had bagels in the fridge.  I cooked the bacon, sliced and toasted the bagels, spread them with peanut butter (both sides), put a couple of slices of bacon on, and top them with the other bagel slice.  Jim refuses to eat them (he ate his leftover jambalaya, which was good, but my wimpy intestine did not agree).  However, the girls and I love my bagel/bacon sandwiches!  Try it…you’ll like it!

On Wednesday, I wandered uptown to get some money from the banking machine…I saw one of my male friends pushing his daughter down the sidewalk in her umbrella stroller.  He was doing the “Daddy Push” as I call it…you know the one: one hand on the handle, walking beside it like, “This kid isn’t really mine.  I was just walking down the street and my hand caught on this stroller handle…”  In my head, I know it’s because umbrella strollers are poorly designed for tall people, but I can’t help thinking that there’s more to it when I see a man pushing a stroller that way…like it’s not cool to be a dad or something!

As many of you know, Thursday was the one-week anniversary of my blog being “Freshly Pressed” for the second time.  I had what I thought was an amazing idea…why not do a funny piece about the roller coaster ride that being FP’d is?  Unfortunately, my regular readers thought I was upset, and went about trying to console me!  So, here is a love letter to all my “peeps”:

Dear Fans of Herding Cats (you know who you are):

I would just like to thank you for taking the time out of your day to visit  Hammond River and the ramblings of my brain.  Your compliments and encouragement (and even your criticisms!) are always much appreciated!  I have been fortunate to be in the company of some truly talented writers, all of whom I consider friends, even though we’ve never met (please take the time to check them out on my Blogroll – He Said/She Said).  To my family and “touchable” friends, I love that you care about me enough to read what I write – it means a lot!

I will continue to write Herding Cats in Hammond River as long as we’re both enjoying it!  Thanks again!



P.S. Really…I’m FINE (and I wasn’t “harbouring small rodents in my eyebrows”)! WM      

Last night, Hope and her friend, Gabrielle, were signed up to participate in an Open Mic Night for kids aged 8 to 15.  Jim, Anna and I went to the Coffee Mill in Lancaster Mall for supper before the show (Hope was at Gabrielle’s and would meet us at the show).  Their average customer keeps his teeth in a glass beside the bed and gets a pension cheque once a month, so we missed the rush by arriving at 5:20.   They make the best Philly Cheese Steak sandwich at the Coffee Mill, and their fries are awesome too!  Jim had the roast turkey dinner, and Anna went for the chicken burger platter and chocolate milkshake.  Yummy! 

We got to the venue for the show, paid our $5 admission and took a seat in a large room where about a dozen teenage boys seemed to be making preparations for the show.  Jim and Anna got their cameras out…Jim was taking still shots, and Anna was doing a video of Hope’s performance.  We waited, and waited, and waited.  Finally at 6:50 (20 minutes after the show was supposed to start), the director came to the microphone and introduced the first act: a kid about 12 who played a trumpet solo…not bad! 

Then the director called Hope and Gabrielle onstage.  We chatted amongst ourselves while technical difficulties with Hope’s CD were being sorted out.  No luck!  It was decided to bring up another act and try again later.  An 11-year-old came up and told an improvised story which only he and his relatives found amusing…please sit down, you obnoxious child! (I thought – I don’t think I said it out loud).  Then, Take 2 of the Hope and Gabrielle duet of “Bulletproof” by La Roux.  The informal tech crew was able to get the CD to play on some kid’s laptop.  The girls did a good job, although Hope kept glancing nervously around behind her at the laptop…her fears were realized when the CD crapped out in the middle of the song.  The girls stopped singing, we applauded, and the show went on.

Gabrielle and Hope in their "Bulletproof" vests...

After a performance by two cute 8-year-old girls who played violin, and then sang a Taylor Swift song badly, the next act came on: A trio of teenagers called All About Appearance.  The lead singer was a Justin Bieber lookalike who could sing and play guitar.  His sidekicks were a male guitarist, and a female drummer.  They were good, and sang three songs.  After that, the show went downhill.  We stuck around hoping it would get better…it didn’t!  Two brothers tortured us with an “experimental” techno song played on a synthesizer keyboard…it lasted an interminable six minutes  (it was at that point that my dad decided he’d had enough, and made for the door). 

The next band was four young teenage boys who were enthusiastic, and could play their instruments, but the lead singer couldn’t sing, and the other guitar player left the stage every two minutes to throw up (the lead singer felt the need to tell us that).  After four deafening “songs” punctuated with heavy drumming, we made our escape!  I’ve always frowned on parents leaving a show right after their child had performed, but I knew that if I didn’t get out of there, I might lose my mind!  I’m all for encouraging young talent, but I believe that some organization and some minimum standards for shows are necessary!

We dropped Hope off at her friend’s sleepover/birthday party on the way home…better late than never!

When we got home, I opened up Facebook to find that my daughter Kaylee’s profile picture had changed:

Zombie Baby...yikes!

I was not amused that someone with far too much time on her hands had turned my sweet “Puddin Pop” into a zombie baby…


Filed under blogging, cooking, family, food, music

Macho Deer, Calzones, Aggressive Squirrels, and Fallen Trees…

Here, for your Wednesday reading pleasure, are some random happenings from my weekend:

1. My landlord and I had a fun discussion about our gardens on Friday when he came to collect the rent.  He told me that he had paid $1500 to install a solar-powered electric fence to keep the deer out of his, but that the bucks had recently started breaching security.  “I don’t know if they’re proving their manhood…they twitch a little when they go through, but do it anyway!”  It made me giggle to see his impression of the bucks as they passed through the current.  He said they had taken a bite out of every one of his beloved squash (he told me he was boiling them anyway)…I invited him to come and help himself to some of our “unused” squash!

2. A new bird has joined the flock which comes to feast at Jim’s Bird Feeder Smorgasbord: it’s quite shy, and just flits onto the deck and picks up the seeds the greedy goldfinches spill.  It’s a white-breasted nuthatch.

White-breasted nuthatch...

The Smorgasbord has been closed for the last couple of days as it had been raining most of last week, and the water had gotten into the feeders, causing the bird seed to sprout.  Not wanting to hurt our fine feathered friends, Jim has been washing the feeders out with bleach and soapy water, and will refill them shortly (he buys so much nyger seed at Bulk Barn, I think we should own stock there by now!).

3. It was a gorgeous day on Saturday…who would have thought I’d be sitting on our deck shelling orca beans in a T-shirt and bare feet on October 2nd (in case you’re wondering, I was also wearing jeans!)?

4. I’m liking this “give Mom a break” thing we started with cooking.  On Saturday, Jim made an amazing pot roast with potatoes, onions, carrots, turnip, rutabaga (from our garden), peas, corn, and homemade gravy.  Last night, Anna and Hope made Chinese food…it was awesome!  The kids are cooking again Friday night…can’t wait to see what they have planned!

5. Anna was taking pictures of one of our resident grey squirrels through a window the other day…when it saw her, it started launching itself towards the window!  It did it at least twice…

6. Saturday night, Jim and I went to see the new movie, “The Social Network.”  In case you haven’t heard, it’s about how Facebook got started.  It was quite an interesting social study…Jim liked that the technical parts were accurate!  The writing is very good, but it’s definitely not an “easy” movie…the teenagers talking behind us made it somewhat difficult to follow sometimes!  The way Mark Zuckerburg’s character talked was sometimes reminiscent of “Rain Man.”  Jim had to go for a pit stop in the middle of the movie…while moving my knees out of his way, I managed to dump half my box of Raisinets on the floor (glad I bought them at the Dollar Store and not the theatre – that would have been an expensive accident!).

7.  Sunday morning, I started boiling down tomatoes from the garden for pizza sauce.  Jim wanted me to make calzones similar to what we’d had last week at a local restaurant.  There were quite a few tomatoes, and it took them several hours to get thick enough for sauce.  I added minced onion and garlic, chili powder, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and sugar.  It was delicious!  Then I made the calzones, which while easy, take time to shape and fill (I used pepperoni, fresh mushrooms, and mozzarella cheese, along with the sauce).  We ate late that night, but they were good!  I had a whole bag of pizza sauce left, which I put in the freezer for another time.

Two of the finished calzones...yes, that's a dinner-sized plate! Yummy!

8. In the afternoon, we went over to Jim’s parents to pick up some firewood.  While they were away visiting relatives last week, a big maple tree in their back yard had fallen down during a windstorm, narrowly missing their carport!  They offered us the wood.  We filled up the back of the van…we went back to get the rest last night.  It should be close to a cord…that will save us some money next year!

9. Sunday night, Jim and I went to the Blue Olive to see Rose Cousins, one of our favourite folk singers.  She was her usual, funny, charming self, although she was fighting a cold…she joked that a Canada Goose had gotten into her nose.  Rose introduced us to a couple of other singers who are just starting out: Heather Green and Ria Mae.  We liked them both, and especially enjoyed the end where everyone sang together!   There had been a mixup with our tickets, and our seats had been given to someone else…to compensate, the hostess paid our tab for the night (which would have been higher had we not been drinking pop – Jim did get a nice Greek salad, though).  We sat with our friend, Stephen Webb, from CBC.  Jim grew up with him.

Rose Cousins...

10. I was out picking tomatoes Monday night, and got into a mild disagreement with a doe.  There was a whole group of deer out there, quite close to the fence, and I waved my arms and yelled at them to make them move away (Dad is terrified that they’ll get into the garden some day!).  They did move, but one stubborn female stayed closer than the others…she stomped her foot and snorted at me.  I waved my arms and told her to “Git!”  She stared at me like my kids do when I’ve told them to do something they have no intention of doing…she snorted and stomped again.  We repeated this exchange for about five minutes before she and her posse hightailed it into the woods.  I win!


Filed under cooking, family, food, friends, gardening, music, nature

Date Night, Chicken Balls, and Musical Chairs…

Friday night, Jim and I did something we almost never do (no, not THAT…get your mind out of the gutter!)…we went on a date.  It was the first time in five months that we actually went somewhere without teenagers in tow!

Way back in the spring when I heard that Simon and Garfunkel were coming to Halifax in July, I had planned to get tickets for that…being the classic procrastinator that I am, I never got around to it…that tour was postponed due to Garfunkel having voice issues.  Then I found out James Taylor and Carole King were playing in Boston (about two weeks before it was due to happen).  Alas, Jim didn’t have a current passport, so that wouldn’t work either.  Some time in July, I heard that John Hiatt was going to be in Fredericton for the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival in September.  That was do-able, but I hemmed and hawed knowing the probabilty of me buying the tickets and then having something come up that the kids just had to do…I finally took the plunge in late August.  Good thing…there were only six seats left at the Playhouse when I finally booked our two (they were in Row P for “Procrastinator”)!  I typed in my credit card number as fast as I could…

John Hiatt...

A couple days later, I picked up my tickets from the outlet down the street, and it sunk in that I was finally going to get a chance to see JOHN HIATT, a phenomenal singer-songwriter whose music has gotten me through a lot of stuff in the last 15 years!  It was a bonus that Thom Swift, a member of another of my favourite bands, Hot Toddy, was opening for John.

Friday afternoon, Jim picked me up at the bookstore after work.  We were away…hooray!  It had been raining most of the day, but cleared up for our trip to Fredericton.  Our drive was uneventful, and we’d gotten away early enough that we beat the traffic.  We arrived in town just after five, and drove down the Prospect Street “strip” looking for somewhere to eat.  We settled on a Chinese buffet place we’d never been to before. 

It was quite busy…we were shown to a table by an Asian man, and soon, a very efficient waitress came over.  “Are you having the buffet?” she asked.  We answered, “Yes,” even though neither of us had any idea how much it was…she brought our drinks and directed us to “Help yourselves to the buffet.”  So we did.

The selection of items was quite large, and heavy on deep-fried items.  I filled my first plate, steering around anything labelled “spicy” (I’m a food wimp).  Jim is a lot more adventurous than I am…

I enjoyed the chicken balls, the sesame chicken, the beef and broccoli, and some nicely-cooked fish fillets.  The lemon chicken was very “lemony” and not sweet like the version I’m used to having in Saint John.  Jim and I both agreed that the spring rolls were not good.  He summed it up nicely: “Aftertaste of barnyard…not something you’d normally go for in a spring roll.” 

While we were eating, we people-watched, kind of like Steve Carrell and Tina Fey did in Date Night…at the next table over, a couple in their early 40’s sat making small talk over their buffet food.  He was well-muscled and good-looking, but not terribly bright.  She was a tall, well-worn blonde.  We decided it probably wasn’t their first date, but it was still early in the relationship (which I predict will be relatively short, once she gets over the physical attraction and finds out that he has nothing intelligent to say).  At least we found out the price of the buffet while we were eavesdropping: $15.99.

We each refilled our plates with “safe” items, and finished up.  We skipped dessert…we were stuffed!  Jim paid the bill, and we got in the van.  It was still early, but we knew that finding a parking spot close to the concert would be tricky.

We arrived at The Playhouse forty minutes before showtime.  We walked around and checked out the art in the galleries there while we were waiting for the theatre doors to open.  I was attracted to a large clock made of old vinyl records (and other assorted objects), which was part of a silent auction…minimum bid was $1500…guess we’re skipping that one!  I popped a couple of Imodium to counteract the effect of all that greasy food.  After one last trip to the washroom, the doors finally opened.

Our seats were in the back row, on the aisle.  There were two steps leading up to them.  Luckily, there were only six seats in that row…we were the first of the six people to arrive.  We sat down and chatted until another person came along.  We had to exit the row, because there wasn’t enough room to get past even if we’d stood up.  We heard her say that her friend might arrive a half hour late…great!  Soon another couple came.  They were on the other end of our little group, so we all three exited the row into the aisle.  We sat back down.  The show was almost ready to start, when the “late” friend arrived.  We filed out of the row yet again, so she could totter to her seat in her very high gladiator sandals.  Her friend explained that she had ordered beer for them for the break, and offered her a sip of the beer she already had…the new arrival seemed very grateful.

Once we were seated again, I looked over to Jim’s right…sitting on the carpetted step beside Jim’s seat was a man wearing a baseball cap and holding a guitar…Thom Swift was sitting beside us!  I toyed with the idea of acknowledging him, but didn’t want to seem like a crazy fan, so I just pretended he wasn’t there (which was really hard – just look at him!  Thom is a six-foot package of smoky, swarthy, sex appeal).  I also thought it would be impolite to climb over my fiancé to get to him…

Thom Swift...

Bob Mersereau from CBC Radio came out and introduced Thom, who walked up and down the aisle playing some rockin’ blues for his first tune.  One of my favourite songs that Thom played was the title cut from his new album: Blue Sky Day.  I’ve been a fan of Thom and Hot Toddy since I first saw them at the Imperial Theatre in Saint John in 2000.  He is one of the best steel guitar players in the business!  He is also a big fan of John’s, and described a Hiatt concert he’d seen in his youth as “life-changing.”  After a solid hour of playing, Thom’s hometown crowd gave him a standing ovation.  I bolted for the ladies’ room to beat the crowd.

After the break, we returned to our seats, playing the musical chairs game as other occupants came back…Ms. Gladiator Sandals didn’t make it before the show resumed.  Bob came out and introduced John to thunderous applause (John mentioned that he hadn’t been feeling very well, but he felt a lot better after that welcome!).   John opened with one of my favourite songs, Drive South.  Ms. Gladiator Sandals made her entry three songs into the set…I was starting to lose my patience!  Later in the show, her friend had to go to empty the beer from her bladder, and we filed into the aisle again.  When I wasn’t jumping up and down, I enjoyed John’s music and the stories he told in between – he played solo, with no backup musicians or singers.  John did all his greatest hits from the last 35 years or so (Cry Love, Tennessee Plates, Feels Like Rain) and a few new ones from the album released this spring, The Open Road.  Two hours went by before I realized what happened!  John too, received a standing ovation from the very appreciative crowd, and played Have a Little Faith in Me for an encore. 

When we came out of the theatre, I was nearly giddy from the experience…I announced to Jim, “That, my darling, is why I love the blues!”  After a quick stop in Oromocto, we headed home.  Jim turned the radio on…Randy Bachman’s Vinyl Tap show on CBC Radio was a special one about Guitarology (Randy is a former member of a couple of Canadian supergroups: the Guess Who, and Bachman-Turner Overdrive).  It was a perfect accompaniment for our drive (although I probably would have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t been peering anxiously into the brush at the side of the road watching for moose!).

Randy Bachman...

We arrived home just after midnight, and went to bed after checking our respective e-mails…we were exhausted but happy!


Filed under family, food, music

My Top Ten All-Time Favourite Songs…

My friend, Jane, over at Theycallmejane mentioned one of my Top Ten All-Time Favourite Songs today (James Taylor – Fire and Rain) in this post:

Not having a topic for what is to be my 100th post, I thought a list of those songs would be a good idea…so here they are, in alphabetical order:

1. Chicago – If You Leave Me Now.  I was in the band in high school…I loved any group with saxophones and horns in it!  At the time this song came out, I liked a baritione sax player named Steve…go figure…

2. Climax – Precious and Few.  A sappy love song.  I think this was their only hit.  I played it over and over, and sang with all the passion my 11-year-old self could muster.

3. Fleetwood Mac – Songbird.  Christine McVie’s amazing voice makes this one of the most beautiful songs on the Rumours album.  Melanie Doane did an excellent remake of it a couple of years ago with Jim Cuddy:

4. Guess Who – Share the Land.  A bunch of guys from Winnipeg sing the ultimate hippie song…what’s not to like?

5. Elton John – Levon.  I love most early Elton songs, but this one is hauntingly sad…Rocket Man is a close second.

6. Carole King – So Far Away.  I saw Carole on a TV special with James Taylor a few months ago, and she sang this song.  It still makes me cry…

7. Joni Mitchell – River.  Another “love gone bad” song…there seems to be a theme here…

8. Seals and Crofts – Get Closer.  This song came out when I was hung up on a guy named Nick who did not return my affection…there were a lot of “Nicks” in my school years.

9. Simon and Garfunkel – The Boxer.  Not only is this song a beautiful ballad, I like it because it’s about an underdog: “I am leaving, I am leaving, but the fighter still remains,” is my favourite line.

10. James Taylor – Fire and Rain.  As far as I’m concerned, James has never sung a bad song, but this one is the top of his playlist for me.  This one is guaranteed to produce tears, especially the last line: “But I always thought I’d see you again.” 

I’d be curious to know what your Top Ten All-Time Favourite Songs are…maybe you could link to my post with your list…


Filed under music, self-discovery

Things I Learned on My Summer Staycation…

I’m back at the bookstore today after our first 11 days of vacation…here’s what I learned:

1. Laundry and dirty dishes never take a vacation…in fact, when everybody stays home, their volume increases!  Wishing clothes would fold themselves doesn’t work.

Why can't clothes do this themselves?

2. Cleaning under furniture once in a while is a good thing…on a hunt for the satellite remote (it has to go back to the company in a couple of weeks because we’re changing over to fibre-op TV), we moved our couch.  Lurking underneath were bowls, spoons, forks, plates, assorted food wrappers, pencils, pens, dozens of ponytail holders, and a mystery object, which we later identified as a petrified clementine which resembled an oddly-shaped peach pit.  All together now: EWWW!  Oh, and we didn’t find the remote there either…

3. Our dog hates the vacuum cleaner…I think he thinks it’s some sort of loud animal.  He barks and whines and tries to bite it…we have to put him out on the deck to use it.

Jake's worst enemy...probably because he hasn't seen it enough to get to know it...

4. Sleeping in never makes me feel more rested…it just makes me feel guilty that I’m not accomplishing more (I think I’m the only one in my family who feels this way).

5. Wallpaper is now pretty much obsolete…Jim had to go all over town to find some…it was on sale for $5/roll because the store was selling out of it.  It’s just as frustrating to put up now as it was 25 years ago (which is why I let him do it himself!).

This isn't Jim...

6. I’m grateful for what we have after finishing the book “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls.  This was our Book Club choice…it was a tough read because I was so outraged that no one did anything to help Jeannette and her siblings!  It’s amazing to me that they all survived with their sanity intact.

This book made me furious!

7. Small things excite me – finding out we had a cherry tree and blueberry bushes in our yard after living there a year-and-a-half was the highlight of my week (see!

8. The number of times Hope has to pee on a road-trip is roughly the number of miles divided by 25.  There’s Gravol for carsickness…I wish they’d come up with something for “travelbladder.”

We always give Hope this when we travel...

9. I’m loving the headphones Jim got me for my birthday…I can plug them into the computer, and listen to CBC “Concerts on Demand” while I work on my blog…Jim and Anna got a kick out of watching me “get down” to Garrett Mason and Colin Linden’s rendition of John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom” yesterday (I think they were both giggling hysterically) .

10. Our hummingbirds are fearless…one buzzed my head while I was picking beans in the garden the other day…they like the nectar from the scarlet runner bean blossoms!

Hummingbirds love these blossoms...

11. Kids “can’t hear” you when you ask them to do chores, but announce that food is ready, and they’ll knock you over getting to the table!

12. I like my regular routine…as much as I love the kids, I really don’t want to be home with them every day!  I was happy to get up at 5:30 this morning and come to the bookstore, even though I have a ton of work to do.

A corner of our store...

Next vacation is in mid-August…


Filed under books, family, gardening, music, nature, tourism, travel

Of Birthdays, Bieber, Balloons, Beans, and Blueberry Pancakes…

Last Saturday was the day my youngest daughter, Hope, elected to celebrate her 12th birthday…she isn’t actually twelve until the 31st, but since that weekend is a holiday weekend in Canada, she often has trouble getting people to come to her party (Anna has the same problem with her August 3rd birthday).

On Monday, Jim took Hope to Sobeys to order her special photo cake…she is crazy about a young singer from Ontario called Justin Bieber…you may have heard of him.  He sings that song that keeps getting stuck in my head: “Baby, baby, baby, ohhhh!” Anna Photoshopped a picture of Hope and her teen idol together…this is what Hope wanted on her cake.

Anna's Photoshopped Picture of Justin and Hope...

Hope had invited about seven or eight friends to her party…I asked her to confirm how many were coming Saturday morning before I bought the food.  She was disappointed to find that only three girls were able to make it…”Having my birthday in the summer sucks!” she declared miserably.  I had to agree with her…mine is July 17th…I almost never had kids I knew from school at my parties…

We went to town to pick up the snacks and the cake.  Hope decided to have takeout pizza from Greco instead of the tacos she’d asked for originally…I was fine with that…it was deadly hot on Saturday, and I really wasn’t excited about cooking.  Anna helpfully reminded me of Hope’s allergic reaction to Greco pizza a few years before, after we’d already decided to get it…I decided we could risk it…the allergy had happened after repeated consumption over a period of weeks.

We got the chips, pop, ice cream, and Smore makings.  The cake was gorgeous (and not really expensive)!

The cake...

After we got back, I picked some blueberries.  Then I went on an expedition in the yard to find some good marshmallow-roasting sticks…wading through the thistles in our front field, I came to a likely-looking bush.  Whoops…don’t think so!  They were wild roses…a little prickly.  I went to the side yard, where there was some dead wood on an old apple tree…perfect!  I cut several sticks, and cautioned the kids not to wreck them…good sticks are hard to find!

While I was outside, Hope busied herself blowing up balloons…her oldest sister, Kaylee, hates them: “I’m going to chase Kaylee around with them when she gets here,” Hope said.  Such a loving sister…

The party was set to start at four…Jim and I went to pick up the pizza…the guests arrived while we were gone.

We arrived back to find out that one of Hope’s friends had issues with eating cheese…I felt bad because I didn’t know…she said she’d just pick it off the pizza.  We all ate pizza and garlic fingers (the adults took theirs out on the deck where it was quieter).

After supper, Hope opened her presents…quite a haul considering the small guest list…she’s in town spending her birthday money as we speak!  She pretended to be surprised when she opened her cellphone (we’d picked it up on Thursday – she’d been using it constantly since then).  The girls had a great time batting the balloons around the living room at each other.

Then it was time for cake…Hope requested “Justin’s head.”  I cut carefully around his haircut…Hope winced as I sliced under his chin.  She stuffed the whole piece in her mouth at once!  Her friends, most of whom were not Bieber fans, took turns poking his chest with a sparkler…mean girls!

Hope and Justin's head...

Justin's head disappears...

Kaylee had requested some veggies from our garden…I took her and Scott outside and harvested some salad greens, some chives, some peas, and gave them a bag of green/yellow/purple beans I’d picked the night before.

I played with Elise a little bit before they went home…her hair and teeth are coming in nicely…can’t believe she’ll be a year old in September!

Elise...ten-and-a-half months old...

Hope and her friends played on the trampoline, and then Jim lit a bonfire in the firepit for them to do the Smores.  They weren’t outside very long before deciding to come in.  Up to Hope’s room they went to giggle and do what tween girls do…paint each other’s nails, and listen to bad music too loud!

I stayed up way too late writing my blog, and went upstairs to bed about 12:30.  I told the girls they would need to settle down, since I was going to bed.  About 1 a.m., there was a knock on my door…Hope reported that the girl with cheese problems didn’t feel well and her dad was coming to get her.  I heard the dad arrive (Jake barked) but fell asleep after that…I have no idea what time the girls finally conked out… 

Hope called me on the intercom at 9 a.m. Saturday morning: “What are you making us for breakfast?”  I felt like a truck had been driving over me…rolling back and forth, repeatedly, the entire night…

After consultation with the remaining two party guests, Hope elected pancakes and hash browns for breakfast.  I dragged my butt downstairs in my jammies to prepare their feast.  Opening the fridge to get the milk, I saw the blueberries I’d picked the day before…I’d surprise the girls and put them in the pancakes!

Pancake Batter...

That went over like a lead balloon: “They’re kinda sour, Mom,” said Hope.  I thought they were amazing!

Blueberry Pancakes...yummy!

During breakfast, Hope informed me that one of the girls needed a drive home…luckily, the other girl lived close by.  I decided to ask her mom if she’d mind dropping her off.

When 11:00 came, the mom arrived, and she said she’d drive the extra kid…good thing, because Jim wasn’t up yet…

After the kids were gone, our Sunday went back to normal…got the dishwasher and the laundry started…Anna and Hope went back to their usual arguing…

Anna’s 16th birthday is the next one…don’t know if she’s having a party or not…can’t wait…


Filed under family, food, friends, gardening, music

Nancy’s Homework Assignment…Where I’ll Be in 2030…

My friend Nancy at Embracing Myself recently wrote a post about how she saw herself in 2030  I hope she doesn’t mind if I do my own version of it…

In 2030, I’ll be 69.  I’ll probably have about 8 or 10 grandchildren by then (I hope all our kids have finally moved out).  I’m going to be the Gramma who’s always got chocolate chip cookies in the house, but knows how to hide zucchini in a chocolate cake!  My grandchildren will have to put up with listening to me sing silly songs, and read them stories like “Peter Rabbit.”  I’ll be telling them ALL the embarassing stories about their parents, and I will also tell them about their ancestors (being the unofficial family historian).  Anybody who wants to learn how will be taught how to crochet.  Grampy Jim can tell them what computers were like before they were born.

One of my favourite books to read aloud...

I’ll dress for comfort, not fashion…just like I do now (I am capable of matching colours though – no stripes with plaids for me!).  I’ll still put on makeup every day and have my hair done regularly…

I'm unlikely to ever wear one of these...

I’ll still be running the bookstore (my way, since I’m assuming my dad will be gone by then).  No more classical music…talented singer-songwriters will play as customers choose their books.  I might even have enough money to hire another staffperson by then, so that Jim and I can travel  occasionally (short trips mostly – a long weekend here and there).  Once every couple of years, we’ll take a big vacation: Italy or somewhere else in Europe.

I hope to see this view in Tuscany some day...

I want to be the kind of old gal who says what she thinks, and doesn’t worry much about what other people think of her…kind of like Hallmark’s Maxine.  That broad tells it like it is!  I pretty much do that now anyway…don’t ask me if you look fat unless you really want to know!

I love Maxine...

I’ll still have my garden, although hopefully by then, I’ll have some flowers too.  I ran out of time for them this year. 

I’m still going to be blogging, and maybe will have published a book or two – probably something historical.

We’ll have bought our home, and decorated it to our taste (although the decorating process has started as we speak…Jim’s in the other room, swearing at wallpaper).

Jim and I will have friends over frequently for “Game Night.” We’ll play games to keep our minds sharp, like “Scrabble”, “Upwords”, and “Trivial Pursuit.”  We’ll chow down on veggie platters and dip, and cheese and crackers.  There will always be music playing in the background.  There will be lots of family dinners too, potluck so that I don’t have to spend all day cooking.

Scrabble...a classic game...

In the summer, we’ll go fishing, canoeing and biking.  We’ll hire somebody to mow the lawn and bring in the firewood when it’s delivered.

Wait a minute…this sounds a lot like my life is now (except for the kids being gone part)…interesting…

Where will you be in 20 years?


Filed under blogging, books, family, food, friends, gardening, music, self-discovery, travel