Tag Archives: Maritimes

Très Jolie?…Non…

I will start this post with a disclaimer borrowed from Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory: “I am not insane!  My mother had me tested” (it’s been a while, though). 

Further disclaimer: any resemblance to actual people (except Jim and I and our kids) is completely coincidental…this piece is strictly entertainment (historical details are accurate).  If it makes you want to come and visit Saint John, it’s a bonus!

It’s all my friend, Omawarisan‘s, fault.  A few months ago, I stumbled innocently upon Oma’s blog after he was Freshly Pressed for the umpteenth time…Oma has his own nutty delightfully-skewed perspective on ordinary aspects of everyday life…things most of us never take the time to think about!  When I found out about his hare-brained brilliant plan to send an action figure of Angelina Jolie to bloggers around the world, I signed up right away to be a stop on “The Jolie”‘s Canadian Tour.  That’s how this box arrived in my mailbox last Friday:

Bad things come in small packages...

The Jolie is the “famous visitor” I referred to in this post last week.

I could hear The Jolie yelling as we pulled up to the community mailbox where Jim and I pick up our mail…it had been a couple of days since we’d checked it because of a snowstorm.  I decided to leave her in the box until she calmed down a little…I could see that Oma had spared no expense in sending The Jolie to Canada!

I prepared a pork stir-fry for the family…I had to turn on the exhaust fan to drown out the swearing coming from the box on the counter!  After supper, I released our guest.  I checked the box in vain for luggage…The Jolie didn’t even have a fanny-pack!  What kind of tourist comes to Saint John, New Brunswick without one of those?

Fanny pack...essential equipment for all Saint John tourists...

The Jolie drowned her sorrows in a cup of King Cole tea (made in Sussex, New Brunswick…it recently began using paper for teabags after its supply of gauze dried up…I swear I’m not making this up!) as she regaled us with the story of her trip.  Apparently, she was awakened to the sound of the packing tape on her box being cut by an eager young Canada Customs officer looking for contraband.  “He was no Brad Pitt!” The Jolie snorted.  “He just about ruined my boots with that box cutter!  I would have sued his ass!”  She paused to regain her composure before continuing.  “Then he wanted to look in my backpack!  I’ve got $1000 worth of the finest cosmetics money can buy in there…do you think I wanted his filthy paws rummaging through my personal things?  I told him to pick on someone his own size!”  I assumed that there had been no further incident, since The Jolie had been delivered without “paperwork” or phone calls from the federal government.

I showed The Jolie to her room to rest from her ordeal.  She wasted no time in soliciting sympathy from whoever she could find…this is how I found her a half hour later when I came to make sure she had everything she needed:

The Jolie in a compromising position with some green guy...he looks strangely familiar...

I sternly suggested The Jolie “get some sleep”, because we had a big day of touring ahead of us on Saturday.

The Jolie stumbled downstairs just in time for lunch the next day…I made her my usual Saturday brunch of “Toad in the Hole” (eggs fried in the middle of a bagel cut in half).  She ate all of hers and half of mine (in between mouthfuls, she whined about the trains she heard in the middle of the night, and “that mutt” which was scratching on her bedroom door)!  Jake had been remarkably restrained…he hadn’t tried to eat her even once!

Jim loaded his Nikon D90 into his camera bag, and he and the girls and I got into the Toyota Corolla to go to town.  Attempting to divert attention from her transgression the night before, The Jolie commented that she’d never ridden in an “economy car” before.  She wondered if our “regular driver” was on vacation.  She balked at putting on her seatbelt, but we told her the car wouldn’t move until she had it on.

Our first stop was guaranteed to remind The Jolie of home: the Saint John sign at Fort Howe…everybody refers to Saint John as “Hollywood North” (not really…that’s Vancouver!).

Hollywood North...except for the snow...

The next destination was where every tourist who ever visited Saint John wants to go: the Reversing Falls.  The Jolie posed with The Loyalist Man, who used to be the unofficial Saint John mascot before some marketing genius from Toronto “rebranded” our city:

Loyalist Man and The Jolie...

The Jolie complained bitterly when she saw the actual “Falls”, which are technically just rapids…they’re nothing like “backwards Niagara Falls”!  “That’s it?” she asked.  I hope she’s not planning to stop in Moncton while she’s here: The Tidal Bore will probably live up to its name…

The Reversing Falls with the Reversing Falls Bridge...

Then it was on to Carleton Martello Tower, which was built on the West Side during the War of 1812 to guard the land approaches to the city from the pesky Americans.  Unfortunately, it was closed for the winter…The Jolie was keen to check out the gun turrets!  She had to be content to pose outside, though.

The Jolie pretending to throw a grenade at Carleton Martello Tower...there used to be cannons sticking out those holes...

 We headed uptown to show The Jolie our premiere performing arts facility, the Imperial Theatre:

The Jolie in front of the Imperial Theatre...

The original Imperial began life as a vaudeville theatre back in 1913, became a movie theatre in the late 1920’s, and then a Pentecostal church in the 1950’s.  In 1982, the theatre was purchased by a dedicated group of volunteers who restored it to its former theatrical status over a 12-year period.  It was formally reopened on May 24, 1994.  The 900-seat venue has hosted musicians and theatrical performances from around the world over the past 16 years, and countless performers have declared it their “favourite place to play in Canada.”

*Special thank you to Jim, who lay down on the sidewalk on his stomach to get the last shot, and to the people walking by, who watched what we were doing, but didn’t call “the men in the white coats.”

More highlights of The Jolie’s tour coming up…


Filed under blogging, satire, travel

Bits and Pieces…

I’ll start by apologizing to my regular readers for the long hiatus from posting…it was a combination of laziness, and not having much to write about.  Here’s what’s been going on the last little while:

1. Kaylee and Scott celebrated their fourth anniversary together last Monday.  Anna put her artistic touch on a Black Forest Cake I made.  We also made cupcakes, which Hope and Brianna decorated. 

This is the cake...we found out afterwards that neither Kaylee or Scott are fans of maraschino cherries...

Brianna's cupcakes...


Hope's cupcakes...


The cake recipe was from my trusty Better Homes and Gardens cookbook…I’d like to try pairing it with my brownie recipe for a “chocolate overdose” dessert…maybe a layer of each with chocolate ganache in between?  Yummy!

2. Jim made a delicious turkey soup with the remains of our Christmas bird and some more of our garden veggies, and served it with awesome homemade biscuits.  That was a good supper!

Jim's soup and biscuits...delicious!

3. Jim was on vacation last week, but spent almost every day doing something IT-related…a great deal of time was spent building my dad’s computer for him (Christmas present).  We installed it at the bookstore on Wednesday (the same day I was running late, and Dad decided I wasn’t coming and left ten minutes early, without me!)…unfortunately, neither Jim or I remembered to feed the parking meter out front in the afternoon, and we got a parking ticket!  On Saturday about lunchtime, Dad’s monitor “went black.”  We didn’t find out about it until Sunday morning about 9, when we came down to find a note he’d left us.  If he’d called us at one of the three phones we have between us, we could have fixed it for him Saturday (my dad’s picture is in Webster’s under “passive-aggressive”)!  I discovered this morning that the monitor had bitten the dust…luckily my old one was still out back, and I got it hooked up with no help from my techie guy…I was pretty proud of myself! 

4. Last week, I was honoured to be asked by my blogging buddy and fellow Ohioan, Maura at 36 x 37, to be a guest host at her blog while she is offline this week.  You can find me over there on Thursday with a post from when I had five loyal readers my early days.  It was neat to get the invitation…it’s lovely to know that someone likes (and trusts) your writing enough to put it on their blog!   I told Maura that I finally felt like “one of the cool kids” (the other writers who are filling in are also on my Blogroll).

5. I have a famous visitor coming in the next couple of weeks…all very hush-hush for now, but of course, I’ll be blogging about her visit!  We’ll be showing her the highlights of Saint John, New Brunswick…she’s never been in the Maritimes before!

6. We got a big bunch of books in on Thursday…17 garbage bags full…yes, I did say “garbage bags.”  Believe it or not, they’d been thrown in the back of a pickup truck!  It was all anybody could do to lift them, and of course, all the corners were ripping through.  What a mess!  At least there were some decent books in the lot.  That was a first in ten years…it amazes me how stupid people can be, especially with valuables!

7. Devin went to driving school last week.  He had some bad luck in the classroom simulator the first day…I asked him on Thursday after he got home if he’d hit anything that day: “I don’t think so,” he replied.  Probably not the best answer…he reported that at least when he had hit something, he didn’t scream and take his hands off the steering wheel the way the girls in the class did!

8. I was pleasantly surprised at the reaction/support to my last post…so far, we’re doing well with our “experiment.”  Anna and Brianna de-decorated the Christmas tree on Friday, and Jim dismantled it (that’s probably a record for early removal!).  I almost “slipped” on Saturday, when Anna demanded I make breakfast for her.  I was making my own anyway (the same thing), so Jim suggested I do it at the same time in a larger pan (I was going to make mine first, and then hers, after she got out of the shower).   Anna floored me yesterday by asking what I needed help with while I was trying to get dinner ready (I needed someone to take stuff out of the washer and dryer, and put more clothes in, which she did).  Anna and Hope have even been getting along better!

9. Anna’s friend, Celia, came over on Saturday for a sleepover.  It was her first time visiting.  Jake liked her as long as she was either sitting or lying down (or feeding him treats)…standing up, not so much!  Luckily, Celia works part-time in a veterinary hospital, so was fairly comfortable with our neurotic dog.

10. I am now the proud owner of a “pastry cloth.”  After a search through Saint John’s kitchen stores, I finally found what I was looking for at Decor 8 in Brunswick Square…a thick cotton cloth especially made for rolling out dough.  It even came with a rolling pin cover: $10 plus tax.  It will make things easier not having to use wax paper!

11. Elise and her parents were here for a visit last night.  Elise’s vocabulary of words (and signs) is growing quickly…that was the first time I’d heard her say “NO”!  I warned her parents that Kaylee had hit “the terrible twos” at eighteen months (Elise was 16 months old yesterday).  I’m working on trying to get Elise to say “Gramma.”  She is also having fun with the Elmo drum set that her sadistic “Uncle Ben” got her for Christmas…glad those things stay at her house! 

12. The kids go back to school tomorrow, after the longest Christmas break ever!  We’re all happy!


Filed under blogging, cooking, family, food, friends, rants

Sounds That Soothe My Soul…Part 2

So, my friend and I went to Toronto to see Genesis on their promotional tour of “Abacab” in the summer of 1981 – luckily, my best friend and her boyfriend lived in TO, and were able to meet us and guide us through the massive transit system to our destination at Exhibition Place.  I remember the concert ticket price being $30…a fortune at that time (I was making $3.00/hour at the camera shop).  The only things I really remember about that concert was the crowd (40,000 strong), the noise, and seeing how tiny Phil Collins looked from the nosebleed seats!

Genesis "Abacab" Album Cover...

I was still keeping the record store busy – in addition to Genesis, I was heavily into Fleetwood Mac, Bryan Adams, Chicago, Hall and Oates, Dan Fogelberg, the Steve Miller Band, and Olivia Newton John.  I dabbled in R & B – the Pointer Sisters, the Commodores, the Jacksons, and Stevie Wonder.  I bought Rick Springfield’s album because he was cute, and I liked “Jesse’s Girl.”  A boyfriend introduced me to Steve Winwood’s music – whenever I hear “While You See A Chance,” I always think of him.

When I went back in school in 1982, my musical tastes expanded further.  My Broadcast Journalism class used to party with the Radio Broadcasting kids – they played all the best music at their shindigs!  While continuing my love affair with the Police (“Roxanne” never fails to take me back to my college days), I discovered rockabilly with the Stray Cats!  I love dancing to rockabilly music!  Men at Work from Australia was a favourite, as well as the J. Geils Band, and Joan Jett.  I remember one of the radio guys being enamoured with the Clash, and one of my classmates, who loved everything Devo.  I saw Murray McLaughlan for the first time at a Loyalist College “Pub”, and Maritimer Matt Minglewood too (my boyfriend spent most of that pub in the washroom – he had eaten some bad hamburger for supper!).  Local Belleville acts played as well: Lee Aaron, and Bentwood Rocker.

Stray Cats Record Cover...

In late 1983, my boyfriend (later husband, later ex) got a job at a brand new country radio station in St. John’s, Newfoundland – I really didn’t enjoy country music at the time, but I soon got to like what was called “New Country.”  We moved to Moncton, New Brunswick in 1984, where he was music director for another country station.  One of the perks of being in radio is getting free tickets: the first concert we saw in Moncton was Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton.  What a show that was!  In the 12 years we lived there, we also saw Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Alabama (twice), the Rankin Family (Anna, who was two at the time, slept through their concert!), Prairie Oyster, Michelle Wright, Terri Clark, Randy Travis, Clint Black, Jason McCoy, Paul Brandt, George Fox, Dwight Yoakam, Martina McBride, Alan Jackson, and Reba McEntire.  We got to go backstage and meet several of the performers:  everyone was really nice!

Kent, Reba and I - ca. 1985

My husband would also bring music home from work – since he worked in radio, we never had the radio on when he was home.  I would listen to tapes or albums instead.   One CD he brought home was John Hiatt – I absolutely love him!  Another one I still play is a tribute to Neil Young – his songs being played by various Canadian bands.  I discovered some amazing Canadian musicians who I probably wouldn’t have run into, like Cassandra Vasik and Jim Witter.  By attending events such as the East Coast Music Awards, I started being exposed to many of the very talented regional acts in the Maritimes: Melanie Doane, Rob Thomas, Ron Hynes, Barachois, and Gordie Sampson. 

After my marriage broke up, I moved to Saint John in 1997.  A friend turned me on to CBC Radio One, which played a lot of Maritime artists: Modabo, Hot Toddy, Madrigal, Charlie A’Court, John Campbelljohn (excellent steel guitar player), Rawlins Cross, Vetch, and Isaac and Blewett.  We saw Isaac and Blewett at the Saint John Arts Centre one time.  They performed on folding chairs set up on a small riser (about 6 inches tall).  During the break, Jim Blewett’s chair leg slipped off the riser, and he sunk to the floor (he wasn’t hurt).  Upon Tim’s return from the lobby, Jim related the story of his misfortune:  “I fell off my chair, man…” (Jim really talks like that!).  Tim’s deadpan response was, “Guitar okay?”

The Boys from Hot Toddy and Isaac and Blewett...

The Saint John Jazz and Blues Festival introduced me to many of the above artists, and other greats such as Matt Andersen (I thought his head would bounce right off his shoulders!), J.P. LeBlanc (one amazing guitar-playing kid!) and Fred Eaglesmith.  At home, I used to put a CD in my kids’ ghetto blaster in the kitchen, and rock out while I did my Sunday cooking/chores!

About five years ago, I started to get into folk/roots music – my boyfriend at the time was a big fan of the ’60’s: Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, etc.  Since then, I continue to listen to my old favourites, while adding new ones: the Be Good Tanyas, Meg Hutchinson, Joel Plaskett, Michael Kaeshammer, Howie Beck, and the Deep Dark Woods, to name a few (thank you Rich Terfry and CBC Radio 2).

My Favourite Be Good Tanyas Album...

Jim and I have revisited our seventies roots twice in the last couple of months at tribute concerts: one of Supertramp, and one of Queen, Jim’s favourite band of all time!  It was fun to see him singing along with all the songs…

Last Saturday night, Jim and I attended a Rose Cousins/David Myles concert at the Imperial Theatre.  Both are very talented and personable singer/songwriters.  It’s obvious that they love what they do.  I realized that I really haven’t taken enough time to enjoy music in the last couple of years – I have been too busy with “busyness” (and being bombarded by our teenagers’ “music” – Lady Gaga and her ilk!).  I have resolved to make time for music in my life again…I need it!


Filed under friends, memories, music, self-discovery