On a recent trip to a grocery store, I had a most bizarre encounter with a fellow shopper.
I was pushing my cart down an aisle that was very narrow, given the shelves of potato chips on one side and an island of cases of soft drinks in the middle. Essentially, the aisle was divided into two one-way streets.
If traditional rules of the road prevailed, in theory, I was taking the correct approach. I was traveling on the right side of the aisle while oncoming traffic should have been on the other side of the Island of Coca Cola.
I was near the end of my one-way street when a gentleman (and I use the term loosely) turned the corner and chose to enter the same one-way street I was using… but in the opposite direction.
I watched him as he picked up different bags of chips and quickly put them down without tossing any into his cart. I sensed that something weird was brewing.
Then he paused, not making eye contact with me, still looking in the direction of the shelf. His body language showed that he not actively looking for anything anymore.
Something was up.
Was this a showdown of some sort? Continue reading
Filed under Humour, stories
I never learned touch typing.
Believe it or not, I type with the thumbs, indexes and middle fingers of both hands, it’s a weird hybrid six finger technique that I developed myself that has stayed with me for more than 40 years.
In having written as much as I have, I know intuitively where all of the keys are. The six fingers in question know when to engage to hit the right keys. As a result, I rarely need to look down and can get words committed to paper pretty accurately.
But back at the office, I recall situations when accuracy suffered… often! It is amazing how last-minute urgent requests, conflicting priorities and needing to be in multiple places at once can conspire to help me conjure up a whole new language… or completely mess up the ones I supposedly know already.
Similarly, auto-correct has tripped me up a few times. I type a word correctly but auto-correct changes it to something obscure, rudely incorrect, or a word that I use so rarely that it makes me wonder if someone else has been using my computer. This is one of the reasons why I have a hard time trusting artificial intelligence (AI).
For all of these reasons, proofreading BEFORE hitting the “Send” button is incredibly important.
Yet some of the typos I have produced over the years have been known to make me stop and enjoy the absurdity, the humour, or both.
For your enjoyment, here are ten of my favourite typos: Continue reading
How I miss the days when I had a stomach of steel (metaphorically speaking of course) and could eat pretty much anything, at any time, and in any quantities that I wished.
Those were the days… the joys of being a growing boy, with a healthy appetite and a metabolism to burn calories like an industrial grade furnace.
In looking back, I am grateful that I did take advantage of that period to enjoy a few all-you-can-eat buffets, which I cannot really do much anymore. Now, just a little too much food can have me immobilized on the couch like a tortoise flipped upside down on its shell, and then skipping the next meal or two.
Also, I am glad that when my stomach was pretty infallible, I was able to get a bit adventurous in going outside of the “meat and potatas” my Dad preferred as our nightly dishes, and to try out different cuisines when the opportunity presented itself.
But for some reason, as I got older, my stomach had its ups, downs and intolerances that have complicated things a bit. Continue reading
Filed under 50+, food, Humour
On a recent shopping trip to my rural pharmacy, when I brought my bottle of vitamin supplements to the cash register, the cashier rang it up and said “With your discount, your total is…”
In true Canadian fashion, my immediate reflex was to reply, “Thank you” as I reached for my credit card. Then the unexpected word “discount” finally sunk in and processed through my subconscious.
“What discount was that?” I asked.
“The seniors’ discount” replied the cashier.
At that moment, I could see a momentary pause came over her face. I wondered if she thought she might have insulted me especially since I believed that my hydrating cream and anti-dark-circle eye stick seemed to be working in perfect unison on the day in question.
I jumped in and inquired “Oh, and at what age does that start?”
She said “55.”
I didn’t want to have her thinking she had made a social faux-pas. I let her off the hook by quickly exclaiming, “Oh that’s wonderful, I’m 56!” Continue reading
Not too long ago, I ran into the “Oh no!” moment that many of us experience at one time or another: The moment when one’s mobile device is having a near-death experience.
It’s not like it was unexpected. Shopping for a new phone has been on my list for a little while. I just hoped that it could have waited a few more months.
The problem was my iPhone 7’s connector port, the one used for recharging and for using headphones. Any cord in that port wasn’t staying in properly anymore. What began as an occasional issue now required progressively more jiggling for it to:
(a) stay in, and
(b) to find the sweet spot for it to recharge or to send music to the headphones.
Needless to say, going for a walk or a run with the phone has been out of the question for several months.
Ironically, this phone was probably the one that has endured the least amount of wear and tear of all of the phones I have owned in the last twenty years. Let’s face it, like most of us, it spent the pandemic at home for two years. Continue reading
I used to pride myself on my punctuality. It wasn’t like I was in some sort of contest or anything, but to me, punctuality meant respect for other people and their valuable time.
That being the case, I always did my very best to leave early enough to arrive on time.
My goal was always to arrive early, but not too early either and rob myself of precious minutes from my time-starved existence.
With years of experience, commuting by car and by bus, I became pretty skillful at predicting how much extra time to allow, when factoring in bad weather, construction and traffic congestion on any given day. As a result, I often enjoyed that sweet spot of arriving about five minutes early for most appointments.
The fact that my early-but-not-too-early arrivals were pretty consistent was a great source of pride. It got to a point that I considered it my superpower.
Needless to say, on those rare occasions when Murphy’s Law (or weather, or construction, or traffic accidents) played against me and I showed up late for something, I was beyond apologetic that my superpower had failed me.
But then three life events happened that have totally messed up my superpower: the pandemic, moving to the country and retirement. Continue reading
Filed under 50+, Humour, stories
After nearly four decades of cooking for myself, I can’t say that there is much that scares me in the kitchen. I have no problem following a recipe, word for word, in the hope of achieving the expected results.
I will even go so far as to say that I am pretty confident when keeping my eye on two dishes at once.
But it’s when a meal has three separate components (or more) than my anxiety can potentially boil over. In those moments, I start wondering how the talented jugglers I have seen on TV could spin multiple plates on the end of tall sticks, and keep them spinning beautifully.
To me, cooking is very much the same thing. It is the variability of variables that can potentially spoil a meal that keeps me on edge.
Let’s start with the essential work tools, the stove and oven:
I’ll never forget the stove that came with the house in my last place. At 15 years old, it wasn’t an antiquity, but by today’s standards for appliances, it was getting old… and increasingly unreliable.
It didn’t take many under-baked goodies for me to figure out that there was a problem with the oven. After a while, I bought an oven thermometer to get a second opinion on the temperature. Sure enough, the oven was almost always 25 degrees under the temperature I requested. Continue reading
Filed under food, home, Humour
When we moved to a rural property, it was hard to resist the prospect of getting a bird feeder given the many species of feathered friends that stopped in for a layover.
While the process behind bird feeders may appear fairly straightforward (get bird feeder, fill with bird seed, birds eat food, watch, enjoy, repeat), who knew that being restaurateur to an avian clientele would present such a learning curve?
Upon arrival, we noticed that the previous owners left behind a hummingbird feeder on a shepherd’s hook in the garden. We thought that was a good starting point.
Upon closer inspection, the feeder needed a thorough cleaning, so I brought it in the house, let it sit in hot water for a while and then started scrubbing.
I googled “hummingbird feeder” to see what was recommended in terms of the liquid to put in it. To my great surprise, it was a simple solution of 1 part sugar dissolved in 4 parts water. I was quite thrilled that it would be this easy to get started, as I had never seen a hummingbird up close before.
However, when I poured the “nectar” into the feeder, I discovered that the old feeder was due for replacing as the liquid dribbled out all over the place.
On our next trip to Canadian Tire, we picked up a new hummingbird feeder to replace the old one, as well as a basic bird feeder and a bag of bird seed designed to attract smaller songbirds. The larger birds would have to fend for themselves for now, but I knew that they wouldn’t go hungry as they seemed quite content with the berries on some of our small fruit trees. Continue reading
I have to admit that when I first fantasized about what retirement could be, I had visions of truly kicking back and relaxing.
I saw myself camped out in front of the TV, indulging in back-to-back game shows, soaps and talk shows, and occasionally drifting off for an afternoon nap despite the crunch of low-sodium potato chip crumbs that may have fallen here or there.
Idyllic, isn’t it? It wasn’t exactly a big dream, but in some ways, that was what I saw as my little piece of heaven.
Sadly, “Guiding Light” and “As the World Turns” are no longer with us. The full schedule of game shows that used to keep me company when I was home with a bad cold has been reduced to only a few classics. The talk shows are there, but regrettably, I don’t find a strong attachment to any of them.
When I came into the knowledge that writing was my life’s purpose and reading was something I enjoyed as passionately as TV, my retirement dreams changed significantly.
Just the same, in the grand scheme of things, no matter what I enjoyed, it was to be a more quiet existence than I experienced in my fast-paced career which demanded a lot of extrovert energy.
I wish I could say that after my first year of retirement, I feel recharged from my leisure and hobby time. Thanks to Covid-19, it’s been anything but. It’s been like squeezing years’ worth of activity through a funnel.
What I didn’t envision was having a backlog of backlogs to deal with first: Continue reading
In an effort to finally gain the upper hand in dealing with overgrown plants, very bushy bushes, and relentless weeds, we invested in professional help for our garden.
While I cannot speak to the reasons to how or why the garden got to this point, I can only say that the year we took over the house, a walk in our backyard was what I imagine might feel like a walk through a lush rain forest.
It was soothing for the senses to see Mother Nature at work like that, with so much greenery billowing in the breeze.
But the bottom line was that the garden was out of control with plants growing into each other or suffocating each other. It was like plant wars, witnessing the survival of the fittest first hand. Nonetheless, the potential for a really nice garden was definitely there.
Trying to stay on top of the weeds was the impossible dream for us, cautiously putting in an hour here and there, on weekends, weather permitting, when the mosquito count was low, without upsetting the delicate balance of degenerating back conditions. Aging sucks!
It was an incredibly validating exercise to see that it took three young people, a small tractor and two very full days to whip the garden back into shape!
By the time that the crew had completed the work, our gardens were finally a source of pride rather than a source of embarrassment. The curb appeal was returning and we expect it will improve further over time as new growth fills in the spaces vacated by the former plants having near-death experiences. Continue reading