Sunday, December 29, 2013

New Years Revolutions…

The tradition of promising oneself to turn things around or “make better” in some way or other in the New Year has a success rate of accomplishment that’s not thrilling. I’ve read that the two most frequent topics are dieting and quitting smoking.

Professionally and personally, history repeats itself when we set goals that are not realistic – thereby setting ourselves up for a fall. So this year, instead of either shrugging it all off or embracing intention, I’m setting my sights on achievable tasks.

In the December 29, 2013 Toronto Star™ section identified as Insight & Books, an article entitled Moving On struck a chord with me. The five stories offered “five perspectives on saying goodbye”. Everyone every day is moving on from some place or situation to elsewhere; at sleep time we say “goodbye today” and hopefully reawaken with clarity.

Having survived an unexpected career change and then an employment fizzle within the past 6 months, I came into the Christmas Season feeling quavery. Even my proverbial sense of optimism wasn’t sunny – in fact, I felt absolutely humbuggy! Quieting myself to seek and ask for answers seemed inconclusive – then “whammo”!

Saying “goodbye” to the old and embracing the new is my one and only New Years Revolution.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Keeping in Touch…

Greetings by e-mail are the trend now, “snail mail” is seemingly phasing out; and Canada Post™ has just announced that much of its door-to-door delivery services will be discontinued.

Season’s Greetings in the Inbox symbolize that the recipient is held close in thought, if not proximity. Newsletters used to be trendy too, but too often the enthusiasm outweighed the news, or vice versa. I used to write an annual update in rhyme, but my rhyme isn’t poetic of late; so the exchange of communication is quiet.

This Christmas season I received a truly beautiful animated e-card, no message, just a signature. It made me wonder immediately “what’s up?” – These folks are upbeat and outward bound! My efforts to compose an e-mail felt stilted, nothing to say from this end either that they aren’t aware of. I’ve heard it said that when we look at a person we may see, behind that bright smile, eyes that are sad…

In this Yuletide season when we want to reach out and connect, we should make time and do it. Across the miles or across town, we may never know how much it means to the recipient when the Inbox dings or telephone rings – just you ‘n me keeping in touch!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The First Noel….

Respectfully alluding to a historical event that is celebrated worldwide, I am thinking now of every parent celebrating “Baby’s First Christmas”. Commemorative baubles for the tree are treasured adornments that are carefully stored and unwrapped with emotion every year. Sometimes a history of tree-trimming evolves as children become able to take part, homespun or school-crafted decorations are often included – special contributions.

When I was growing up, Christmas Eve tree-trimming was begun by my Dad, and it was sometimes a frustrating event when he couldn’t arrange the lights symmetrically the first time, or didn’t test them first – with disappointing results. Eventually my brother, sister and I were allowed to start hanging decorations. It was important that each strand of tinsel be hung individually – sometimes a tedious method for youngsters who were agog with lights and promise! I sometimes wonder if my Dad actually re-arranged everything after we were asleep…

In more recent years I have embraced the habit of decorating my own tree – each year with a different colour theme. It’s fun and can be really economical if decorations and specially-selected accessories are acquired slowly and during Boxing week clear outs when Santa has gone back to the North Pole! If you’re entertaining family or friends for New Years, simply remove the tree-topper and replace it with a glittered top hat from the Dollar-store® outlet or Dollarama®. Three, five or seven tooting horns can be laid across the branches too – it’s really festive!

Whether this year is your first, one of many or a specially-inspired yuletide, celebrate with enthusiasm and sparkle. Everyone can find fulfillment, however small it may feel, in marking this special Season as if it is your First Noel.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Looking Good….

A lady co-worker the other day was dreamily humming the soundtrack theme from the movie Sleepless in Seattle.  It’s a favourite movie of many, possibly because the romantic aspects satisfy either a craving or nostalgic whiff of once was.

It’s unsettling when our paths cross unexpectedly with someone we haven’t seen for a long while – perhaps a classmate or other adult acquaintance. Our impression may be that the person appears burdened and consequently may have lost or gained weight, lost their “zip”, and their persona is dimmed. Conversely, the person may have a really positive aura that exudes energy, enthusiasm and overall zest.

Anyone who arises after a fretful night of tossing/turning or otherwise affected sleep knows how difficult it is to put on our game face and step out with a spring in our step. Interrupted sleep or no sleep whatsoever is totally debilitating. Overwrought Moms and Dads may be functioning on auto-pilot; caregivers may be light sleepers with their ear cocked for a rustle of bedclothes or other indicators. Financial, marital, bereavement or work-related stressors are other recognizable impacts. If you Google™ the Holmes-Rafe Life Stressors Inventory you can score yourself - which might be either unnerving or comforting!

It’s essential, however difficult, that we each keep at top of mind the inevitability that “this too shall pass”. Some people appear to be able to carry their rucksack of troubles with grace and aplomb, perhaps setting an admirable example to observers. Nobody is truly alone in their toil and if we can offload even a few factors affecting us the result will be lighter, brighter and fresher.

Looking good!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Bleating With Good Intentions …..

The hustle-bustle of pre-Christmas commercialism sometimes has a negative influence on how readily we throw ourselves into the spirit of the season. Malls are crowded, cash registers are ringing and parking lots are bumper-to-bumper with tradition.

While we all know that gifts from the heart are treasured more than something selected in haste or obligation, receiving is not always as fulfilling as giving. Some families are financially well-set; others are challenged more, and as the middle class sinks into oblivion the struggles are more emphatic. Every dollar counts and there isn’t always an abundance of leisure time to hand-craft a gift or devote time and resources to baking up sweet treats or bottling jam, jelly or relishes!

Last year it was a surprise to see envelopes resting on the boughs rather than a clutter of wrapped and beribboned boxes under the Christmas tree where we visited on Boxing Day. Teens and tweens were already engrossed in hand-held technologies – and the adults were hoping for a quieter time than the morning previous. Several sparkly gifts were carried in from the trunk of the car – and the exchange of parcels was begun.

The host presented his envelopes – and inside was a sincere token of his loving heart. Certificates revealed that either a goat, some chickens, fresh water, mosquito netting or a start-up kit for school had been donated on our behalf to worthy communities where they would be received with delight. Regardless of where we live or what circumstances we enjoy, there is always someone else who has less and actually needs more.

This year, if you feel so inclined and your pocketbook allows, gift a couple of chickens or something more robust.  Consider the versatility and significance of a valuable goat; don’t just bleat with good intentions.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Steady Hand On The Tiller...


Global, national, provincial and local news concerning unemployment statistics is more than troubling. While politicians address pressing issues, far from the home site, people of all ages are struggling to find work.

Once acquired, it takes commitment, including attention to detail, to keep that precious source of income. However unfulfilling the paycheque may feel, at least there is one.

In my own municipality I know of several middle-aged people who are working two part-time jobs and taking casual shifts with a third employer just to make ends meet. Their lifestyle is anything but frivolous. Capable able-bodied people are grateful if consideration is given to them during the interview process and fretfulness grows as days pass without even a callback.

My own mother has commented with satisfaction that both my sister, brother and I all have an excellent work ethic. She led by example and no slackers among us. The stress impact of starting new employment rates high in studies and graphs – a normally contented tummy may knot with apprehension and tension headaches love to linger when we need every cell to focus on the task at hand.

In order to make their work an ongoing achievement, everyone requires a steady hand on the tiller.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Betwixt and Between…

Life’s road presents a myriad of choices, from babyhood to past our “best before” date!

We learn early which choices in behavior are good or not. Rewards such as sweet candy are more tangible to a toddler though than a hug or cheer!

Classroom etiquette is clearly identifiable – mischief is often held back till recess when hopefully perpetrators escape the eagle eye of the yard monitor. Sometimes the school bus driver has uproar and upheaval to manage – even so far as adolescents mooning, or worse, in the back seat!

Teenage years are fraught with inconsistencies as we try to find our way – Mom and Dad often shake their heads in consternation as we stumble into adulthood.
And so it goes.

Post-secondary education represented a ticket to success – just “plan your work and work your plan”! Sounded like a piece of cake, except there are usually too many slices to consider; and it’s regrettable if we make the wrong choice. Anguish and despair from funding sources such as Mom and Dad or Grandma/Grandpa or other family members. Remorsefulness and feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem on the part of the errant student, and the weightiness of debt when loans need to be repaid. Unemployment is rampant, adding to the burden.

As we journey along, the pathway can feel uneven and narrow. We can stumble and even lose our way from time to time. The old analogy of light at the end of the tunnel can be viewed two ways – is it a train barreling toward us or actually the end of our troubles in sight?

Peering too hard into the future with intensity can produce eyestrain!
This past weekend I struggled with a list of Pros and Cons to a reach decision that was hanging heavily. Sighs of fretfulness – betwixt and between…
The sun shone though on Thanksgiving Day - and “I can see clearly now – the rain is gone”. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Peasant under Glass...

A well-to-do couple from out of town want to make their annual visit – meet for lunch and catch up on whatever news before winter sets foot.

The gentleman is retired from a long and profitable career in the manufacturing sector; his lovely wife has been a perfect social complement over the years and enhanced his role and popularity. Both have a delightful sense of humour , are impeccable host/hostess at home, and offer pleasant company.
While they don’t particularly flaunt their fat wallet, their lifestyle is by design - more robust and no scrimping. 

When it comes to dining out, the invitation is for presence only, not as a guest. A favourite destination here is a dining room overlooking the water where the food is good and atmosphere relaxed. Next week’s get together will be predictably enjoyable – not highbrow or haughty. One of the ladies attending is a favoured guest – the rest of us fill in with easy conversation and occupy seats; ordering simple fare respectful of our budget constraints - and picking up our own cheque.

The favoured guest is cognizant of the pecuniary concerns; we don’t however want to peep audibly, preferring to remain discreet. The food is excellent and prices reasonable. There are several menu selections to choose from – one of which is “Peasant Under Glass”.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

It don’t mean a thing……

As clothing styles change and change again from season to season, I’ve heard it said that if we keep a specific item long enough it will eventually come back into fashion! There may be slight differences in buttons, pocket flaps, cuffs or not – but essentially the similarities are close.

Business attire included “dress down” days on Fridays, when employees could appear for work dressed more casually but still professional. Some observers feel that standards of dress went downhill from there, and indeed Premier Kathleen Wynne here in Ontario recently gave notice that anyone working at the provinces capitol buildings (Queen’s Park) would have to dress with respect to the institution and all it represents. In short, no tees/tanks/short shorts, plunging necklines or high-thigh length skirts, flip flops, sneakers, toe rings or the like!

In my profession as a REALTOR® it is seldom that I wear anything but dress pants to the office. When one least expects it there may be occasion to walk an acreage, climb a fence, ladder or tree, or peak into an attic space – and a skirt or dress simply will not do!

Discerning whether clothing items are appropriate for the occasion is sometimes a struggle – the essential little black dress can always be toned down or glitzed up for example. Maybe a tailored jacket over a sleeveless dress or loafers that can be left under the desk and heels instead offer a smooth segue to dinner.

It’s a treat to
walk feminine, talk feminine, smile and be gay feminine (as the lyrics go from Disney’s 1963 film entitled Summer Magic).  Pencil skirts, sleek boots, printed hosiery or tights can suit many occasions, but for me “it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing”!

Thursday, October 3, 2013


Funny how similar traits often are passed down through family generations. Mannerisms, appearance and mode of dress are often easily identifiable – college students returning home for a visit after a long absence may hear over and over again that “you look just like your Dad/Mom” or “I knew it was you before I even laid eyes on you, same voice as your Pa’s”.

Sisters may have close ties and mutual traits and interests, or little in common.
Likewise of course with brothers. In my family, Mother and both daughters have a shared interest in footwear; as does one niece! My sister is a fashionista with a stunning flair for putting “the look” together. She sometimes chides me not to be too matchy matchy with handbag and shoes, or accessories. And only one animal print at a time! We can never have too many pairs of shoes and nothing more tantalizing than eyeing up stunning footwear in the store window at a big mall!

Nearly two years ago, when visiting Toronto at the same time the The International Film Festival was in full swing, we zealously pounded the pavement and included a visit to the Bata Shoe Museum. With tired tootsies we had several purchases to gloat over!

With appropriate occasions few and far between for one luscious pair of life-threatening ohh-lah-lah sandals, I had an opportunity to wear them just this past week. Unbelievably coincidental, a doctor friend was exiting behind me, and he was appalled! “Good god woman, what have you got on your feet? You’ll break your *!XO!* leg wearing those ridiculous things.”

I was too busy concentrating on the uneven sidewalk to reply. My focus was, to be succinct, Stilted/Measured and Careful steps.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Fall Fair Fever…

Fall fair in Muskoka ON

This weekend is the much anticipated Agricultural event. Small towns, villages and hamlets all schedule specific dates to showcase home crafts, farm animals and fowl, heavy-horse and tractor pulls and toe-tapping old tyme music!

Concessions food booths offer a myriad of yummy delights – from cotton candy to burgers, fries and pogo sticks. Outerwear can range from layers one can peel off or rain wear that can be held in reserve and donned as needed. Kiddies line up with glee as they wait their turn for the rides – it’s heart warming to see families for whom this is truly a special occasion and a treat.

Horse trailers and cattle trucks lurch across uneven fields to find designated parking areas; crates of squawking/squalling or screeching pets are bumped along and settled in covered display barns and sheds for everyone to observe.

Would be “hayseeds” stumble along in long-toed boots and tight jeans, trying to look nonchalant while reaching for a tissue to catch an allergic sneeze! If you’ve ever been to the Royal Winter Fair barns in Toronto you’ll remember that the air can actually be thick with dust, dander and farm smells.

This year’s events represent the 146th annual Fall Fair and Horse Show. Agricultural Society Members toil tirelessly from the day-after until opening day the following year.
Wherever you may live, do try and get out to visit a Fall Fair near you. The experiences for youngsters and parents alike are enjoyable, educational and inspirational.

Catch the Fall Fair Fever!

Saturday, September 14, 2013


Recalling this childhood toy is likely an easy task for many – exclamations of glee and feigned surprise by Mom and Dad when Baby squealed! When too many toys cluttered the space a reminder would come that it’s time to put your things away in the box!

Similarly, on Christmas mornings if the flurry of ripping and tearing at wrapped parcels resulted in too much excitement or bewilderment, wise Moms or Dads would reduce the quantity to nurture quality appreciation. Too many objects to focus on can feel overwhelming, regardless of age.

A recent discussion with a dear friend on this subject of too many choices was enlightening, to say the least. In today’s too-busy world where the pace and expectations sometimes exceed reason, it’s inevitable that people feel frenzied, overly anxious, and sometimes incompetent. Too many objects to focus on at the same time with little opportunity to intently examine just one at a time.

She explained, when I asked “How do you manage to do everything you do?” the simple theory of “compartmentalizing”.

Juggling too many balls in the air at the same time for too long leads to an inevitable error in judgement. Oops! To create ease and increase simplicity, imagine individual little boxes – each one labelled with a different subject, or task. When one is addressed, and dealt with, simply close the box – and move on to others which need attention.

Circumstances may direct that more than one box be open at the same time – multi-tasking of sorts – but the key is to close each box when you’re done with the contents and never have all the boxes open at one time!

My web designer sister today reiterated that process – a well-known process in writing programs. Compartmentalize different aspects of the whole into their own “box” – then presto, everything runs smoothly.

By implementing the theory, it should become easier to cope – inevitably some people will have more boxes than another! I’m striving now for that exclamation of glee, and maybe a delighted squeal, when a lid is removed and out jumps Jack-in-the-Box!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Please be seated….

I had occasion recently to wonder what a traditional gift choice might be to celebrate an 18th wedding anniversary. Silver and gold are too far off and it’s unlikely either will be achieved due to time constraints!

A helpful website had all-inclusive information, to my dismay though – the traditional gift for this year’s event is listed as Feathers, and more recently Porcelain, or Cat’s Eye Jewelry. I’m wishing it was another year we’re celebrating!

As I understand it, the phobia name for Fear of Feathers is called pteronophobia.
For me, the uncertainty is whether it is wings, feathers or the beating of wings that throws me for a loop.

My Mother tells of a childhood incident around age three where I stood agape at a chain-linked fence which enclosed pheasants. My grandfather raised them for both for meat and ladies’ hat adornments. Talons grabbing the fence, an agitated bird was beating its wings and loudly squawking. Mother dashed out of the house and plucked me away.
I have every intention of whispering in a certain someone’s ear beforehand – lest his chivalrous presentation cause me to swoon not with pleasure or femininity!
I’d love to survive till Year 19 – when a chili pepper is noted as the traditional choice of commemorative gift. A porcelain gravy boat or cat’s eye marble would be truly preferable!

It will indeed feel worrisome if my husband, with prettily wrapped remembrance in hand, utters “please, be seated”.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Trimming Your Nose Hairs….


Coincident to the subject, I’ve remembered a clever cartoon depicting a wife who was peering up at her taller husband and double-checking to confirm his nose hairs were not obvious. Being short, she was qualified to be the best judge!

One of the joys of being a REALTOR® is meeting and interacting with many people of all ages, sizes, and cultures. International travellers, especially businesspeople, are trained to become familiar with different customs of countries they visit – diplomatic affairs can be influence by one misplaced faux pas.

Most Canadians pride themselves on being polite world citizens, and our renowned civility is widely admired. Door-to-door canvassers mightn’t attest to that on occasion though! The “golden rule” of doing unto others seems to hold fast, except in two instances:  new-found wealth or old-wealth and simply no class.

A colleague reported back to me recently on the results of him showing one of my listings to prospective buyers. Oddly, the best part of the outing, for him, was the fact the fellow bottomed out on a rough road in his expensive car! Now this does not strike me as feeling particularly funny, there must have been extenuating circumstances that prompted such a remark…

Whether in the grocery store line up or other circumstances, when peering from under one’s eyebrows at a seemingly lesser being, anyone with a case of the “high and mighties” should remember not to stand too close.  

The unfortunate victim of your haughty demeanor may not treasure the memory of being forced to look upward and identifying that today’s first exercise should have been trimming your nose hairs.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Since then….

I noticed recently, when perusing the television schedule for a Saturday night movie, that films made in the mid-last half of the 20th century sometimes portrayed the hardships of female entertainers who had a long row to hoe.

Female vocalists travelled from gig to gig on a bumpy bus or overcrowded sedan – enduring miles of journeying without adequate rest or other niceties. Hard raw liquor, swigged out of a bottle shared by everyone, groping and other less discreet advances for favours seldom mentioned, little privacy and a lot of pressure from the band leader to perform well must have felt desperate – with little or no hope of changing the game.

In more modern times I wonder if there is much improvement in the lifestyle. Luxurious motor coaches, or custom-outfitted limousines may provide a smoother ride and more comfort – the toll however must be unrelenting and with infrequent relief. Taking one’s band “on the road” or heading to the promised land of stardom requires good fiscal and personal management, unswerving ambition and strength of character to resist adverse temptations.

When hysterical fans are a faceless crowd and home seems very far away, I think it must feel like an ever-running hamster on a wheel. Fame, fortune and adulation is measurable – the long and winding road leads past many a mile of new experiences and challenges.

Entertainment icons who historically have given back to their communities and continue to implement benevolence are more memorable than their starring roles or inevitable falls from grace.

Applause please; cheers and respect for the innumerable film stars and singers who somehow keep their eye on the ball and heads screwed on straight.

A lot has evolved in the entertainment industry since then.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Much Ado...

Trafalgar Castle
Trafalgar Castle

As a P.A.N.K. (Professional Aunt No Kids) I’m over the moon about forthcoming nuptials of Niece # 2 of 4. Coincidentally being celebrated on her maternal grandmother’s birthday, the various stages of planning and pre-scheduled completion dates are well in hand.

Engagement pictures in a beautiful setting; bridal shower with e-reply options; glorious and very personal wedding invitations with wax-seal on the envelope of Groom’s surname initial – it’s all the glitter and we’re a-twitter!

Princess of Cambridge and new mom Kate Middleton’s wedding to Prince William was termed the wedding of the century – for our family this is, thus far, the premier event.

The dress is fit for a queen, in fact the bride-to-be is affectionately thought of as a Queen Bee. Ruffles, bustles, a train and décolleté will undoubtedly make the groom swoon. A multitude of nose tissues will be flourished to dab at damp cheeks and ladies will blink quickly in hopes their eye makeup doesn’t smudge as we snuffle.

We’ve never seen such pomp and circumstance – reminiscing recently of more simple events with a ceremony at home, a hand-picked bouquet from the garden, pretty bridal attire that can be worn on other future occasions, and a smaller budget occasion.

The venue for the upcoming occasion is equally astonishing – a commoner’s castle with turrets and the appearance of a trumpeter would not be any surprise!

Everyone’s agog with Much Ado.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Remembering Sherman…

A jaunt northward to Haileybury Ontario to celebrate a niece’s college graduation has given recent cause to remember a long-ago experience in Temagami, on the Victoria Day weekend, in the early 1980’s.

The owner of the Temagami Inn at that time was a fellow named Paul Leitch. He was an established businessman and known to many. After hearing my musician husband playing piano in the lounge of a North Bay hotel, Paul thought him a good choice to spend a weekend at the Temagami Inn and play for the patrons.

We arrived early afternoon and made the acquaintance of the hostess at the Front Desk. Directing us to the bar area we proceeded to set up and complete the sound tests for microphones, speakers and amplifiers. During those years I played the drums, and we performed pleasing renditions of easy listening music, including light jazz and some vocals.

At 4:00 p.m., dressed in our finery, we descended from our upstairs room to start the first set. Eyes were wide – ours and theirs! We had never performed for a truly workingmen’s audience, and the off shift miners had never seen the likes of us either.
Feeling somewhat tremulous, I gathered my brushes and we launched into a spirited rendition of Sweet Georgia Brown. Silence hung too heavy in the air afterward and we sensed there would be little or no encouragement.

We offered to take any special requests – and somehow managed to play through distinct feelings of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Friday night was a ripsnorter and as the suds took hold the awestruck miners from the open pit iron ore facility found a soft spot for our efforts.

Nearly thirty years later I vividly remember the incredulous and incredible audience of hard-working men from the Sherman mine!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Confidence or Conceit?

In the world of real estate salespeople, as with other professions, individual traits are sometimes consciously subdued or repressed so as to not create an unbecoming impression. For example, one’s voice can be trained to be less strident to a listener, and more evenly modulated.

Many years ago there was a radio announcer in Montreal whose voice was widely recognized,in person however his appearance didn’t match the resonance and depth we heard over the airwaves; so the first aural impression superseded the visual actuality.

Well-established salespeople seem to eventually present themselves with more cockiness than in beginning years. They strut their stuff and – but may also be recognized as much for the perceived arrogance as their competence.
In fashion, women who hang on too tightly to younger styles in an effort to not look their age can be either admired or gently scorned, This occurs as well with gentlemen in their mid-life crisis who gasp in too-tight jeans and burn rubber at the stoplight in sporty/fast convertibles.

I noticed a big flashy pickup truck today in Bracebridge with several slogans painted on it. Nothing subtle either. One of them read “If I wanted a Hummer™ I’d call your sister”.. Hopefully it was a joke – the take-away though was a question of whether the owner was overdosed in confidence or conceit!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Everybody Hurts……

A recent Sunday night television program caught my eye on the listings schedule, so I tuned in to The Choir, a series about Choirmaster Gareth Malone whose efforts are focused on assembling people to unite as a choir. The Part 1 episode I watched revolved around a hospital choir-in-the-making, destined for a competition with other “workplace choirs”.

The song selected by Gareth Malone; entitled “Everybody Hurts”, was composed and released by American rock band members Berry/Buck/Mills and Stipe – most commonly known as R.E.M..

"The challenge with Lewisham Hospital was getting them to open up and sing with emotion. By their own admission they tend to be quite clinical, quite matter-of-fact."

The similarity to many people struck me, few are inclined to “wear their hearts on their sleeve” for fear of making themselves vulnerable. In this faceless world of too-busy/too much everything, anonymity is a defence mechanism we might wrap around ourselves like a cloak.

Professional salespeople are tenacious in their efforts to secure a client and follow through to the completion of the order; and this includes a REALTOR®.
The process of meeting and greeting, spending time together in a vehicle and discussing the process and progress can evolve to include personal subjects.

In my own business I try to lend my utmost accountability to either Buyer or Seller clients – if there’s ever a doubt about anything I visualize a loved member of my own family in the client’s shoes – and my caring becomes even more keen.

 As with the Lewisham Hospital Choir members’ self-discipline, not daring to be too gushy or mushy –  most dedicated professionals find it impossible to leave work at work when the business day ends.

Regardless of the line of work we perform, it can feel personal – and from time to time, “Everybody Hurts”.

Friday, July 19, 2013

What's The Buzz...

Sheridan Rondeau in Muskoka bug suit

Die-hard campers, fisherpeople, hikers or bikers, and runners all have one thing in common – insects in late spring and summer! Speed or agility are not necessarily a winning accomplishment, winging stingers will catch up somehow and then an owie to remember.

Fragrance free and clad in light colours is recommended, and many portable repellents are available to increase protection. Wasp traps, pseudo nests that identify territory, and even mosquito magnets and defoggers may be seen in use.

A one and only encounter last August with a yellow jacket was not only aggravating, it became serious. A secondary leg infection developed, resulting in treatment - the cellulitis further impacted my recovery.

Once someone has suffered a frightening reaction of any kind, anxiety can surface quickly when there is even the tiniest possibility of being stung again. Companions may also be acutely alert – wide eyed and their own antennae twitching in both apprehension and anticipation. I once knew of a well-meaning guest whose energetic swatting bruised the metal screen and actually pierced a small hole where the weave was compromised!

If you or anyone you know carries an epi-pen™ to be administered promptly, please ensure that whomever you’re with is aware of the how-tos should the need arise. Like all creatures in nature, ourselves included, there are good practices and not-so-wise activities. Be safe, be smart, and don’t panic when your ears become pointier and you query “What’s the Buzz?”. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Welcome Visitors!!

The Canada Day weekend is really the advent of summer fun and visitors pouring out of city confines and hitting the open road to cottage country. The highways and byways can sometimes clog the time schedule in mind, however, with the car crammed and everyone ready for at least a weekend away it’s exciting!

I had occasion to be heading southbound along Highway 12 south of Orillia when a series of delightful sights caught my eye as I passed through the Town of Brechin.

Parked and secured along sidewalks and fences were a series of colourfully painted bicycles, each festooned with cascades of flowers spilling from handlebar baskets, seat brackets and even a tag-along cart in front of the Post Office.
The bright sunshine and abundance of fluttering national flags added to the feeling of celebration. There were lineups at the chip-truck, drivers were jockeying for a spot in parking lots at both the grocery store and hot pop shop.

School’s out, vacation time is here, and summer weekends offer plenty of varied and interesting events and points of interest.

Small town spirit is robust even when the budget isn’t – the folks of Brechin deserve special mention for their wonderful display of folksy and delightful pedal-power flower power.

What an imaginative and cheerful way to welcome visitors!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Wearing Horseshoes….

I was musing the other day about how often we hear expressions about horse shoes being symbols of good luck…A generalization is that if a horseshoe is hung as an adornment on a house it should be mounted so it looks like a “U” shape rather than an “n” shape.

My thoughts then wandered to querying different kinds of horseshoes, knowing only that different materials and customized adjustments are used for both specific uses and for hoof or gait correction.   A Google™ search returned that there are two distinct styles –

An open heeled shoe is rounded over the front of the hoof,
but does not cross in the back.
A bar horse shoe is a closed shoe, wrapping
around the entire hoof and back of the foot.”

Similarly, in the fashion world of women’s’ shoe styles which may be referred to as a sling-back or a pump. Gentlemen sport sandal-styles either an open back or dress-type shoes styles. Athletic shoes of many kinds are designed and intended for more specific use.

At a young man’s recent graduation from elementary school, the intended dress code was white shirt, dress pants and dress shoes for the on-stage presentation of certificates. My own grandson reluctantly acceded to his parents’ insistence and reluctantly donned dress shoes to complete “the look”.

Mom and Dad were both horrorstruck and thunderstruck, too late to intervene, when they observed their son striding across the stage. The designated footwear indeed had been surreptitiously switched to the young man’s preferred style!

I feel hopeful that this fellow has an ample supply of horseshoes, preferably of the racing kind. He will need all the luck he can muster to circumvent any repercussions.

The possibility now of summertime hobbles to correct his gait may prove without question that a wiser choice would have instead been to wear bar-style horseshoes. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Reading Between the Lines…

Today was a scorcher temperature wise, and otherwise as well.
In an effort to chill a little, I decided to go for an enticing swim at the lovely Gravenhurst pool – new, modern and indoors.

Despite the fact the location is poorly signed at the main road, and entry somewhat convoluted, new visitors will be pleased with their discovery.

I parked my car in the shade, alongside 4 others. Upon exiting, I heard the slurpy syrupy sound of a Bylaw Enforcement vehicle burbling with fulfillment as it moved away from the area. Aghast and alas, parking tickets for all the patrons’ cars parked in a delectable row. Easy pickings for the picker.

It must be noted that there is no signage whatsoever indicating this was an undesignated parking area, and in fact, concrete barriers were in place to ensure one’s front wheels were not moved too far forward and off the pavement.

Not being a resident of the Town of Gravenhurst, and unlikely to return within seven days, I went to the Municipal Offices to pay the ticket; and then returned to take this photo at the site of my infraction – written up as “parking in an undesignated area”.

Would you park here? One of the aggrieved commented that he parked there every day – and others as well. Perhaps, this being Monday, the bylaw officer sought refuge under the shade of the yum-yum tree to watch and wait for unwitting victims; similar to a bird of prey lurking/watching/waiting.

Facility staff at the pool did remark that the parking areas had been recently set back from the wooded, shady area – sadly no sign to say so. I know that no means no, but how would anyone know to “no”?

Poor devil, perhaps he is a non-swimmer who either fears the water or has never dreamed of finding refreshment from the summer heat. And feeling scratchier as well under a synthetic-fiber uniform.

Discerning where or where not to park was about as clear as reading between the lines of the printed ticket.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Diggin in...

The time frames between youth, middle age, the “zoomer” years and the golden years can easily be identified by changing viewpoints as we progress. Some things do hold fast however, and one of those passions is love of nature.

I have often thought I would have been a wonderful farmer, or perhaps a farmer’s partner – in my younger years when I could heave mightier weights and toil almost tirelessly. A love of animals and skills to be self-sufficient felt like two necessary qualifications, even then!

My zeal was not quelled as life cycled along, gardening know how became a focus and included the design and building of a 25-foot waterfall when the number of years notched on my belt exceeded fifty-five. Countless hours of landscaping my in-town property was a labour of love, much to the head scratching of neighbours who didn’t quite share my dream.

Magazine subscriptions or off the rack publications which relate to gardening, nature, decorating and the search for a peaceful environment are always popular!
In late winter, the seed catalogues or bulbs and perennials available by mail order are avidly pored over and items circled in highlighter marker for future reference. Graphing and planning the plot is always fun, and many city dwellers are feeling inclined to abolish green lawns and turn to xeriscaping or other styles that are natural and require less maintenance.

Mother Nature rules when it comes to planting dates. Seedling vegetables may be too fragile until they are toughened up; and if there’s a frost warning announced gardeners scurry to cover their precious window boxes, planters and flowerbeds to save both their investment and the probabilities.

Truckloads and multi-tiered rolling racks of plants are shipped in late April and hordes of eager buyers may be seen in both rain and snow trudging ecstatically around garden centers and other outlets. 

The Victoria Day weekend is the “go” date that signals eager gardeners to start digging in.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Keeping in step….

Keeping In Step

On certain occasions such as military marches, parade route exhibitions, dancing recitals or even arm-in-arm strolling, it’s easily noticed when one participant falls out of rhythm and is “out of step”. We are immediately aware that a double skip or lagging back might rectify the fluidity, or maybe not!

Some people naturally lead the pack, with long striding steps and authority. Others may set a pace that enables several to walk as a group, each confident in their progress and in solidarity.

Of late, popular personalities have emerged on television and in print media as “whisperers” of horses, dogs, and even ghosts - influencing behavior and responsiveness with persuasiveness.

A Realtor® who may represent both Buyer and Seller clients, offers assorted communication skills; aural or visual/emphatic/or otherwise suggestive. Some clients like to be seized firmly by the halter and move through the entire process by following the lead. Anyone who’s ever tried to cajole a balky horse to walk smoothly and calmly knows that the secret is being in rhythm of movement – whatever the direction.

If the client is headstrong and foot stomps or shakes his head wildly, a different manner of communicating is required. Jerking the bridle, yanking or pulling likely will result in hooves flying. Conversely, finding a pace that suits both parties will reduce anxiety; ease flailing and bucking just for the sake of it, and eventually progresses to moving smoothly along side by side.

Whether the natural gait is walk, trot or gallop headlong with eagerness, a steadying hand and sweet whispers in the ear can earn a tasty carrot – the completion of a transaction without rodeo-style athleticism. Synchronized, measured movement with hardly noticeable cues takes practice and tenacity when learning the how-tos of keeping in step.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Staying Afloat...

The ravaging floodwaters experienced this year by so many Muskoka residents, as well as points north and east, caused a rude awakening and plenty of grief.
Year round homes located in what is usually a passable area were affected significantly - electricity turned off, and no way to get supplies or relief.

Absentee cottagers could only anguish about the state of their property and possessions – insurance company adjusters and claims consultants felt sadly popular – and in some instances perhaps an ounce of prevention invested at an earlier time could have contributed to a cure. We never think “it will happen to us”, and then wham!

Whatever our circumstances, wherever we live, and whatever our profession or source of income, the “what ifs” of life and living can be so enormous that often they are shelved without due consideration. Hindsight, as we all know can be either valuable or with regret!

In addition to the popular topics of “weather” and/or “health”, conversations turn both literally and figuratively to the meaningful subject of staying afloat!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

A to Zoo…

Ever come across such an astonishing collection of teacups, figurines, model airplanes or cars, shoes, etc. that is just makes you shake your head? Many people accumulate favourite theme pieces which hold special appeal, sometimes sentimental, sometimes just because they like them.

After a Spring purge of my closet clutter, which was too long overdue, I realized that too many pieces of clothing resembled animal motifs, as well as a pair of leopard-print cocktail boots, but thankfully no handbags. That would have been just too-too!

Having accomplished that huge task, I set myself to the assortment of costume jewellery – sorting through sets that match - and a few bracelets thrown into the mix. Horror of horrors, a panther-head bracelet – bling and glitter galore!  And a leopard-look necklace and earrings set from Ooh-La-La boutique.

It seems peculiar, even to me, that I should have such an assortment of jungle wear – cheetah palazzo pants included. Grrr- even an animal print satin robe and gown; and unmentionables seen only by the wearer! Many of these wild possessions have been relocated to a valise for a future holiday extravaganza, out of sight but not out of mind!

My Mother always admonished me to never use a safety pin to secure a skirt hem or button, and always wear acceptable and clean underwear in case I am ever in a mishap and have to be rescued!  Looks can be deceiving I know, it makes me purr to think of the paramedics’ reactions even though I know they are quite used to encountering everything from A to Zoo. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Short Circuit….

There is a lot of media coverage regarding the purported malfunction of some governmental authorities at several levels.

Public reactions include considerable discussion, presumption and puzzlement.
It matters not which soft scandal or hard line misdemeanor is the subject of conversation.

Everyone’s abuzz about notoriety, impropriety and insufferable delusions of grandeur that are brought into view!

A comment I heard this week from a gentleman made me pucker up in merriment. His background was a long career with one of the major hydro service providers, from which he retired more than two decades ago.

The fact that this chap suffers from dementia made the slip of his lip even more emphatic…The reference was to our “electoral system” which inadvertently was identified as our “electrical system” which clearly has a short circuit.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Entering backwards…..

My fashion-savvy sister came for coffee this morning and I muttered something about what to wear for a Sunday brunch outing scheduled for two days from now.
Her ears pricked up and I could almost see her nose twitch in anticipation…The suggestion was made, not by me,  that we look through my closet and she would recommend something perfect for almost-Spring but not quite.

In retrospect, it’s positively amazing that we survived the ensuing fracas of weeding out, recycling and tossing! Even my seldom-worn leopard print cocktail boots went the way of other cast-offs!

I must confess that I am drawn like a moth to a flame when shoes, handbags or animal prints are within view. Over time I have been educated so as to adorn myself with only one item at a time which even hints of animal pattern, and I no longer fear that I might resemble the famed “Mimi” from the Drew Carey Show.
Thusly, at least in my sister’s opinion, far too much of the same – so the frenzy began.

Now that the car is loaded with bags and boxes of good, clean and totally usable clothes and footwear, the closet looks amazing. I can readily identify every item;
and pledge, from this day forward,  to neatly hang everything neatly and all facing the same direction.

Educating me as to how I might make a fashion statement is truly impossible, but I have grasped the elementary concept that shoes, bags and accessories don’t have to be “matchy-matchy”!

Still stinging over parting with my leopard print booties, I do solemnly pledge that never again will it be necessary to watch anyone at the closet door entering backwards!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Sing Out...

Identifiable periods in everyone’s life can sometimes be tagged with a specific piece of music that seemed fitting at the time. Melodies of yore were easy to follow and hum along to; and lyricists have the savvy to wordsmith the emotion that makes the composition memorable.

Adults who were raised in a home where music was in the air often carry that same habit into their own environment – and it matters not what the style or tastes are! My husband’s daughter was the first woman I ever heard who lulled her baby to sleep with rock music – it never occurred to me that punctuated fast rhythms and repetition of words would work!

My favourite Auntie, now singing in the angel choir, had a sweetly trilling voice I can still hear if I close my eyes.My Mother had a terrific voice and sang as she did housework or other tasks. I never knew until a few years ago that she had dreamed of being a “band singer” when she was a young girl!  Many of us aspire to be songbirds – in the shower or maybe the car. When we raise our voice in song it can make our spirits soar as well.

One of the most thrilling performances I have viewed on the PBS channel is The Tenors’ 2013 “Lead with Your Heart”.  A more lovely melding of harmony and marvelous stylings is hard to imagine. Even though I can just carry a tune and croak in a very breathy manner that has little merit, their music makes me want to Sing Out!