Thursday, December 27, 2012

Walking Tall...

I have heard it said that “as a man walks, so goes his life” – which creates, at least in my own brain, the supposition that if someone has a bouncy stride their life’s rhythms are uneven as well.

What of people who saunter along with a gangly loose gait; or others like me who take two steps for everyone else’s one, just to keep pace…  Does a person’s inner self reflect in the way they carry themselves, as in “confident = walking tall” or  “slouching = shy”?

The first impression we interpret upon seeing someone for the first time is sometimes difficult to “undo” as we get to know them better. Appearances may not be a true indicator, nor conversation by telephone or e-mail – we simply form our thoughts based on experiences in the past.

A colleague who has joined our brokerage recently commented that I always seemed to be in a hurry…when in truth it’s because I walk quickly and don’t lollygag along!
A person’s manner of speaking, even the pitch and nuances of their voice can affect how we perceive that person as well. Sometimes the old adage “an empty barrel rings the loudest” proves itself true, conversely, a quieter person may not have more merit!

Yesterday, while window shopping at a large Mall, I moseyed into the shoe department – one of my favourite destinations. Espying a pair of thin stiletto dress shoes, I envisioned myself Walking Tall for a few short steps before coming back to Earth with a thud!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing...

Every once in awhile, regardless of how discerning we think we may be, someone else’s unexpected action or response may come as a real surprise! At such times the most natural thing to do is react…but isn’t there more to think about?

In this hectic and unrelenting world, where the buzzword is “24/7”, most people are running at full tilt. How other people cope with their stretched timelines and too many irons in the fire may be quite different than the way we personally might manage ourselves.

For myself, I prefer to refrain from reacting too quickly – and try to evaluate the motivation, even an underlying reason, that may have prompted a remark or comment that feels unsettling. There is, to me at least, a distinct difference between responding in a conservative manner rather than  behave as an antagonist. Some people like to argue or otherwise stir up the dust in the blink of an eye; others choose to fight the battles they can win and may be mistakenly perceived as a peacemaker. 

The old adage “a wise man forces his way with gentleness”  reflects the merit of civil discussion, a clear understanding of what’s being said, and a response rather than a reaction. You might ruminate aloud, with words so sensible, that  perpetrator  will slink away, confounded, if you’re the target of ambush by a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Hockeymania in Muskoka...

One of my colleagues is an enthusiastic, hair-pulling, encouragement-screaming, and very proud hockey mom!

Lines from Robert Frost’s poem Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening include the words “and miles to go before I sleep”… ‘Nuff said – the commitment of attending practice periods and games, tournaments and hopefully playoffs is a daunting task!

The star of this family’s hockey night adventures is a keen, swift and steely-eyed player who garners admiration from everyone everywhere who sees him play.
He’s a goalie extraordinaire – called up at the tender age of 9 from Double-B league to Triple A. He’s a pint-sized tornado of activity with a maturity beyond his years. Even sharing ice time with the other team goalie doesn’t dampen this eager beaver.

A weekend marathon recently racked up significantly more than 1,000 km on the family vehicle – piled high and stuffed tight with both gear and people. Just time to catch their collective breath and they’re on the road again.

Teammates extol his prowess and accomplishments too – just last week 36 saves in one game! Breathless agility and demon speed in the crease… I’m a proud supporter and thrilled to be a part, however small, of Bradley Webb’s career in the net.

Here’s Brad with NHL goalie Kevin Weekes who played with the Ottawa Senators™….

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Simply Thunderful...

Over the past twenty-five years, more or less, there has been a proliferation of musical Nature Recordings which appeal to many listeners. Here in Canada, one of the pioneers was the late Dan Gibson who founded and produced the famous Solitudes Series which I believe numbered a staggering 157 CD’s in total.

Many other New Age Music artists are  renowned – offering  innumerable themes and instrumental combinations. I am an avid music lover of many styles, and seem to have trended from one type to another as years come and go. In the days of yore before the advent of CD’s, cassette recordings were the norm.

In the autumn of 2012, I remembered to take along one cherished cassette which has not been played very often; reason being that I’m supposed to save it for a certain someone’s Celebration of Life service - and it feels irreplaceable! Wending our way home along backrounds and sideroads, it seemed a perfect time to snap the tape into the dashboard player. I nearly held my breath in apprehension that it wouldn’t play; then anticipation as the sounds became audible.

The stirring, exhilarating, and very contagious Thunderdrums by Scott Fitzgerald very nearly made the windows shudder as I cranked up the volume. The effects were simply thunderful!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Walk on the Wild Side….

When the freshness of Summer colour fired into a blazing Autumn, peoples’ senses seem more alert and the feeling is somehow expectant. Boat traffic and skinny dipping are decreasing activities,  curls of woodsmoke can be seen above the trees on a chilly cottage morning, and hikers appear in earnest!

I made it a point to stop at the Algonquin Park Visitors Center over the Thanksgiving weekend. No fewer than eighteen tour buses were evenly parked in the lot, and several more arrived in the few short minutes I was there.
On the chalkboard inside the main entrance one can decipher notations made regarding the time of day, date and location of specific wild creatures – such as “08:30  Oct. 8  Moose   near km. 13”.  This time there were only three sightings marked – but wildlife thronged nonetheless!

After despairing of even getting a toe inside the Gift shop – where the lineup stretched nearly to the main entrance of the building;  or having a munch in the overcrowded restaurant, I shouldered my way out to the Observation deck. Hunching short I was able to attain a place at the rail, scooting below innumerable elbows and long-lenses of impressive cameras. Smiles were everywhere despite the drizzle and stiff wind!

Never in one location have I ever observed such a varying collection of ages, sizes, and shapes of people; nor the stunning array of colourful outerwear. Everything from patterned zodiac-image leggings to spandex tights with bulky sweatertops reaching the knee! Puffy windbreaker jackets, hoodies clutched close, and even a parka with fur trimming! The excitement was palpable and brought a smile to my own face…reserving months ahead, arising very early to meet up with the tour bus, and travelling several hours from Toronto took a lot of determination.

It was indeed a walk on the wild side!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Which One Is Pesky, Which One's a Pest...

Within the past three weeks I had occasion to ask my family physician for a referral to a specialist. He would be more than happy to oblige I was quite sure; especially being that I am not a pesky patient!

In my business as a REALTOR® I know clearly the importance of following up with clients – especially by telephone, and  timing can be a sensitive issue.

Just by coincidence, because I wasn’t clear whether the specialists’ office would call me with the appointment or whether my own doctor’s office would call, I thought a follow up enquiry might be in order.  Turns out that the “bee sting man” had apparently not received the request…and their office was already booked for this entire month!

It’s a certainty that our health care system is overwhelmed, and my own small issue is not of paramount concern – after all – the probability of getting stung by another bee in the midst of a cool autumn seems unlikely. My quest to resolve which bee is a pesk makes me query now if I should have followed up sooner?

Nonetheless, my brain is buzzing! Nearly everywhere I look there are bees seeking shelter for the coming Winter months, and my timing brought stinging results.
I could’ve and I should’ve but I didn’t.

Which one is pesky, which one’s a pest?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Looking Brash and Flashy...

On a recent weekend foray out of my Muskoka area, I was looking forward to seeing a close girlfriend at a family rendezvous. It had been awhile and one of the greatest pleasures is to have a stroll, a “girl-talk” and generally vent our frustrations into the air.

Both of us know better than most that each other is each carrying a heavier-than-usual weight of concerns on our back; but realizing  that complaining accomplishes naught, we’ve soldiered on with the best of intentions.

This particular friend I hold near and dear to my heart – she’s a proven thoroughbred in her chosen profession and races with heart and determination. Always dressed to the nines and truly chic…she is a real head-turner for admiring women and salivating men! Not brash, not flashy – just radiating confidence!

A sense of anticipation flickered as the roads melted by;  rather than resignation that has felt too prevalent lately. Feeling a trifle worn with concerns, I knew that as soon as we laid eyes on each other it would all feel brighter and a few laughs would be such fun!

Over the years I have acquired a certain sense of tact – and generally avoid foot in mouth occasions – so imagine my horror when, at first glimpse of my friend – I reacted badly - exclaiming “Oh my goodness, you look like I feel!”…

 A long hug, teary eyes and crooked grins could not dispel the bald truth, when we feel overburdened and unable to transfer our load of trouble for even a short time, the effects are guaranteed to render anyone not looking brash and flashy!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Winkin', Blinkin' and Batting...

Women of the western world and some parts of Europe are beset with television and glossy-mags advertising which promote youthfulness and anti-aging cosmetics. It matters not our occupation – whether businesswoman or not – the message is intended for all women.

Several months ago I had the distinct pleasure of being introduced to a truly accomplished high-flying business woman – a Team Leader in her own right, published author and well-respected in her field of commercial real estate.

On the several occasions we met, I marveled at how she multi-tasked with her phone and  laptop-style of computer; with vivacious flair, while addressing architectural choices and contractor interviews to proceed with a specific project already in-hand.
Cosmetics perfectly applied, jewellery tasteful, attire stylish but not over-the-top – everything about this lady was to be admired -  sculpted brows, hairstyle and hue included! Eye contact in all social, personal and business occasions is essential – but I gotta say – her eyelashes were the most exquisite and memorable!

Looking as fresh as a petal whilst maintaining a harrowing schedule is challenging indeed – for some a nightly ritual of makeup remover pads, cleansing/toning and final application of night-cream is a routine, and indeed is essential even if basic….
 Some evenings the weary face that peers back from the mirror hardly resembles the look of my youth – if I’m winkin’/blinkin’ and batting it’s only because there’s something in my eye!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

When Tears the office

Overhearing someone’s boo-hoos can be truly disconcerting – whether to approach with a tissue box in hand or remain discreet and wait is a difficult choice.

If one has been included in the ongoing events that might have lead up to the sobs it could be wiser to just sit tight and wait for the person to come to you; but possibly not.

If there’s trouble on the homefront sometimes the privacy of one’s own office is the perfect retreat where one can just let it all go. Better there than while driving or grocery shopping!

Conflicts with colleagues can also bring tears to one’s eyes –  while some people prefer to weep alone in frustration others may want a hug or other comforting expressions of care.

Illness, accident, death/dying or other serious issues are tiring to cope with and feel harder to carry on one’s back the longer the time frame. In frustration or loss, we must remember that words uttered by the person who is suffering are not always their usual form of expression – we must not bark back or otherwise show our teeth, for it is then that our own tears may flow…at the office.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Tiffany Turquoise….

In late Fall I had the pleasure of representing a colleague who was vacationing away – Buyer clients were in the process of finalizing a purchase and needed someone on hand to wrap things up.

The transaction was completed with just a little hump or two, and the buyers’ excitement was palpable. Hubby had his own vision of the finished renovations – including a light grey-washed “beachy” feel in the Great Room – which – incidentally, combo-ed with the open concept kitchen.

During the three or four visits with contractors, and the buyers discussing plans for work, there was a bantering back and forth between husband and wife about accessories. He wanted no part of pillows plumped on the couch or other such niceties – nothing frivolous or silly. Simple, distinctive, and classy.

The lady on the other hand was caught up in the thrill of the chase – such fun to shop on her out of town business trips when the long day was done and she thought fondly of “home”.

On one occasion when husband Don flew to meet his Princess for a weekend away, he came upon inspiration in a glossy airline catalogue on board. As they strolled 5th Avenue in New York city, he stopped in front of the famous Tiffany’s – and confirmed that the turquoise brand colour was his choice for accessorizing.

I’ve been invited to drop by and see the completed work this weekend – it will undoubtedly be stunning and I feel the same anticipation felt on the few occasions I received a gift box, however small, coloured Tiffany turquoise.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Raising Rabbits

During the years after the great Depression of the North American economy, my maternal grandparents moved from Regina, Saskatchewan to the Eastern Townships of Quebec. My Gramma had missed being closer in proximity to her sisters, and it had been a longtime coming!

One of the ways my Gramma brought income to the home was raising rabbits – two varieties and both for different markets. The Belgian hares were for eating – large and meaty. The Angoras were for furriers in Montreal to buy and create jackets, stoles and other wraps and trims.

I myself have a fondness for rabbits, and my small collectibles have been acquired as gifts over the years. They are discreet, in various poses, and valued from very little to slightly significant in dollars. There’s a consistency that runs through whatever theme a person is drawn to – whether it be elephants, dolls, silver spoons, teacups,  golf hats or fishing lures, to name just a few.

Last week my “joy-trip” friend added a new member to the bunny collection – a small representation made by the famous Swarkovski manufacturers.
This fellow is the tiniest of all in size, but represents a huge affection that’s been long-term and unbroken. He is golden in colour and facets sparkle, even through the glass case.  I feel like he is more powerful in feel than  any of the others – the proverbial “small but mighty”.

I’m glad my rabbits don’t reproduce and crowd out their space with diminished appeal – just 8 in the collection – each one symbolizing a special friendship. It’s a pleasure to be raising rabbits!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Enterprising Women...

I recently received an online invitation to register for a professional business event which would include up to 50 area women for dinner and a seminar.
The YWCA-Muskoka is a forward-thinking and totally committed advocacy group which supports and encourages women entrepreneurs with educational opportunities, and regularly scheduled programmes on pertinent subject matter for women who are at specific levels of personal or business development.

The two distinguished Presenters from Rotman School of Business (associated with the University of Toronto) sounded exciting, and I registered promptly. My sense of anticipation was fulfilled – the ladies were excellent and enthusiastic – as was the audience.

The only tinge of disappointment, and it was slight, was that my business income does not yet qualify me to participate in the School of Business courses which are available. It would have been terrific to have a group of Muskoka participants – even if we could have met in a selected location and tele-conferenced or joined in a webinar.

The experience which the presenters acquired and developed into presentation form was inspiring – I wish I was the “American Express income” league and could qualify for further participation sooner than later.

Thanks to Susan Lovell for including so many of us on her mailing list – keep ‘em coming!

Indeed, the numbers in Muskoka are significant and truly promising when we think of Enterprising Women.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Rabid encounters of the worst kind….

The days of mid-August are often referred to as the dog days of Summer.
I’ve heard that, historically, crimes of passion increase when the weather is hot and tempers are short. Highways are clogged, the parking lot at the liquor and beer stores are packed tight, and lineups at the grocery store checkouts can feel tedious.

Local citizens of any cottage-country community are well aware of the seasonal influx to towns, villages and hamlet destinations – store owners anticipate exchanging coin for goods and folding money to see them through a lean Winter and business practices include happily greeting visitors whenever the door swings open!

It’s important to realize that time is valuable to everyone, streaming up the highways bumper-to-bumper can be hair-raising; by easing up just a little people will be more likely to reach their destination! Clerks at the till ringing through customers’ purchases are seldom harried by the volume – they are doing their very best - and undeserving of being hassled by those in line. When the weather’s hot, everyone feels sticky, and there’s no time to waste!

Everyone should try hard not to bare their gums and growl at one another….
it’s unnerving and onlookers feel helpless when tempers rise. Those unforgettable incidents are rabid encounters of the worst kind!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

I've Heard It Said...

Some folks feel just plain important and sit just that little bit “higher” than many others when they tool around in big name, brand name, luxury cars – sometimes speeding and otherwise showing off.There are more prestigious vehicle makes on the roads now than ever before – zowie…the monthly payments must be astounding. Even to lease is a big ticket item. Different strokes for different folks.

Fashionwise as well, everyone has their own style – sometimes it is more flamboyant or attention-getting than another person might choose, but nonetheless, we are all individuals. Dressing for success can also be dressing with flair, as long as it’s in good taste.

Another significant manifestation of “having arrived” may be observed in how supervisors manage their staff.  Some folks swagger, some act totally rigid, and some look at others either through their eyebrows, over the rim of half-glasses, or down their noses. Ah, the grandeur of positioning oneself “up there”!

In my profession as a REALTOR® one of the greatest pleasures is making contact and building a business relationship with both prospective Buyers and Sellers; striving to earn their trust;  thus turning them into clients who will recommend my services without hesitation. My disposition is such that I feel comfortable and seem to interact well with everyone…  Colleagues have been heard now and then to mutter about “that so-and-so, who does he think he is…..grrr, grrr, grrr”, after an unwieldy conversation.

Hail to the high-end achievers who have retained a sense of mortality. It’s a pleasure to share the lineup in the grocery store with you on Friday nights!
A Mentor of mine said on more than one occasion that everyone should “be nice to the people you meet on the way up because they’re the same ones you’ll meet on the way down.”

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Waiting All Year...

Waiting all Year…

One of the celebrations at Summer’s end is the great number of Fall Fairs throughout not only Muskoka, but the entire Province. People of all ages anticipate these festivals…families rooted in the community for generations and visitors from more urban areas.

For some children it’s a first-time opportunity to see farm animals up close – giggling over miniature goats perhaps or awestruck by the sheer size of working horses as they pass by – their hooves causing the very earth to tremble!

I am an avid fair-goer, and my sister as well. We attend the Bracebridge Fall Fair every year, rain, shine or sleet!

“Layering” ones attire is the secret – early mornings perched at the horse ring can be chilly and damp, when the sun peeps through it feels promising, and midday can be time to peel off the jacket or heavy sweater and let one’s bare arms absorb some of the last rays of summer.

Whatever the appeal may be, everyone admires the freshly picked vegetables, ooh and ahh at the size of weighty pumpkins, marvel at the intricacies of quilts and knitted goods or other textiles on display. “Junior” classes feature the efforts of imaginative young school children, and there’s often live music or dancers on stage in the background.

Support the Agricultural Societies everywhere by attending an annual event closest to you. These earnest folk continue to educate, promote and invite people to come, see and inhale the sights, scents and flavours of the annual Fall Fair dates.

See you there!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Speculating In Real Estate...

Whatever one’s occupation or profession,  it seems inevitable that the male species has admired from afar a well-turned ankle or scintillating personality.
Regardless of one’s personal sexuality, I think everyone from time to time views another person as “interesting”or “intriguing”. It’s simply the chemistry of attraction; and when tempered with ethics and impeccable personal standards a little speculation does no harm to anyone.

As a REALTOR®, my work in Muskoka includes the delights of meeting many people from various walks of life. Whether their interests are buying a high end property or not matters little to me – as long as their budget accommodates their wish list. There have been many business articles and admonitions regarding personal decorum and dressing professionally at all times. On sweltering summer days it’s truly better to be stuffed into a demure tank top and jacket rather than something cool that may be frothy, loose and gaping . Hopefully one may be forgiven for a peep-toe sandal or tailored capris on occasion, as long as the styling is appropriate.  Hard to climb a fence in stiletto slides at best!

On rare occasions, a new client may have many interesting facets to their character which prompt easy conversation. Occupations, interests in common, or personal experiences perhaps having vacationed at the same locale, or even pets are just a few subjects  that people may have in common. It is seldom that I include any personal information about myself, and I don’t pry too deep into others’ detail that does not pertain to the job of buying or selling real estate.

When the transaction is complete, or the search is discontinued for certain reasons that can’t be unravelled by me, there is sometimes a very faint regret that paths may not cross again. So many very lovely people come and go – and though I do keep in touch regularly with all of my buyers and sellers it’s simply not the same as interacting face to face, sharing a purpose, and discussing the intricacies of probability.

Very recently a prospective buyer found a different locale to search in – he
e-mailed to say that he and the “kids” (his 4 cats) had found and purchased outside of Muskoka. And “by the way”, please stop for a drink if I’m in Florida vacationing”. A pleasant thought, a pleasant invitation, and a pleasant fellow.
Pure speculation!!!!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

In the “A-choo-li” Patch…

One of my Seller clients habitually wears the patchouli scent – which I, at first meeting,  almost mistook for another pungent aroma some people refer to as “pot”.
Having developed adult-onset asthma several years ago, I am constantly searching out the triggers that make me lose my voice within 30 seconds and reach for my puffer. After my first flare up my pipes were tickly and I was over-anxious. Even going into the grocery store aisle with scented laundry products and other cleaners was intolerable – so as a result, such delights as the Body Shoppe stores became  pretty much out of bounds!

For fellow-sufferers, I think I’ve discovered a truly “scents-ible” alternative.
The owner herself has COPD and asthma – an unwieldy combination – and Donna is  walking/talking proof that the products she and colleague Sue produce are a wonderful alternative to perfumes and chemical additives.

The Manitoulin Soap Factory at Shegundiah, Ontario is housed in a non-descript accessory building on the property where Donna’s home is situated. At 10955 Highway 6 between 10-mile point and Little Current, you need sharp eyes to spot the location – when I was there out of tourist season the road sign had blown into the brush.

When you enter, feel free to breathe deeply without fear. All of the ingredients are natural scents. The Manitoulin Chamber of Commerce website describes this must visit destination as
A place where scents and sensation come together in a glorious bath of colours and textures! “

*Handmade on Manitoulin Island/* All natural vegetable based glycerin soap
* Body Lotions/* Bath bombs/salts/* Lip balms/* Shampoo & Conditioner
* Wedding soaps/ And much ... much more!.

My Seller client loves the Patchouli Lotion and glycerine hand soap – I couldn’t resist buying these items for her – and I don’t need my puffer at hand when I’m standing near!

e-mail: for online catalogue

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ole Ole...

Olé! Olé! Olé Olé…feelin hot hot hot!

The soca rhythm song was by Arrow(Alphonsus Cassell) was a Caribbean hit in 1982 – heard and danced to as much now as ever.

I’m also humming this one a lot lately – even sunbathers and beach babies are muttering about the temperatures.….“Hot town, summer in the city – back of my neck’s feelin’ dirty and gritty” – the lyrics composed by Regina Spektor and  made famous by the Lovin’ Spoonful are heard again today on cellphones as a downloaded ringtone. Some of us actually remember when it was originally broadcast, performed as well by Joe Cocker!

I’ve heard it said that the one thing most people everywhere complain about is The Weather. Even in the shade it’s still stifling – with scant breeze. Leaves are drooping, the fire ban in Muskoka is rated as High, and farmers are losing their crops to drought.  One of my colleagues, also a REALTOR® mentioned that even  the water temperature in her pool are too warm to be refreshing..

Young children are fretful, anyone with respiratory afflictions knows it’s time to lay low and be still,  and it’s hard for anyone to get a good sleep. Last night when it was easing a bit, I took my little dog for a stroll. Both of us were panting…The landlord at a nearby apartment building had the lawn sprinklers oscillating a wide swath – and there were four robins flapping and splashing in the droplets!

Meteorolgists say that all of our seasons will be warmer still – so I’m going to take on my Barbados point of view and dance up a storm even though I’m in Bracebridge!   “Olé! Olé! Olé Olé…feelin hot hot hot!”