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Top 10 Things I Like to Do on a Long Weekend

10- Slow down the pace

To me there is nothing better than just chilling, listening to classical music, sipping coffee and enjoying the peaceful silence of a holiday morning when everything is closed. Monday to Friday is always so busy. The extra day in a long weekend is for me, an extra chance to recharge.

9- Give the cat some extra attention… when she is looking for it

Usually by mid-day Monday on a long weekend, Miss Ivy is a little sick of having me around, but I’m certain she appreciates the bonus time to play and spend time together.

8- Indulge a little

While I generally stick to a healthy eating plan, a long weekend is a nice opportunity to break up the routine and maybe have a “cheat day”… especially if the long weekend includes a major holiday that involves feasting.

7- Reading

Usually, I read before going to bed. But whenever the opportunity arises to chill and read in the morning or the middle of the day is a serendipitous pleasure every time. Long weekends seem to offer that freedom of extra time to slow down the pace and check out a good book. Continue reading

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Christmas Traditions, Past and Present

What is it about the holiday season that has us so deeply entrenched in tradition?

Is it the reminder of the eager anticipation we felt on Christmas morning, waking up to see what Santa brought? Is it the feast for the senses throughout the month of December? Is it the reminder of a simpler, gentler time?

Or is the totality of the experience, combining the recreation of old familiar traditions with the new experiences that get woven in as the fabric of our lives changes?

Here are ten such traditions that have formed an important part of the holidays for me over the years:

10. Shopping
I recently blogged about how shopping in December is so much fun, I now shop in November. But in all seriousness, I do have very fond memories of being a store clerk in my high school and university years and how much I enjoyed helping last minute shoppers find the perfect holiday gifts. In those last days leading up to the big day, there was magic and electricity in the air that made time fly, helping customer after customer ring through with their purchases and hurry out the door to their family, friends and festivities. I enjoyed that role of a sort of Christmas Elf so much, things may come full circle as something I might reconsider in my retirement years.

9. Christmas cards
Ever since I was a child, I enjoyed sending and receiving Christmas cards through the mail. As I got older I realized that it was impossible to see everyone over the holidays unless I had my own magic sleigh, 8 reindeer and unlimited time. Sending cards is that opportunity to tell someone that I am thinking of them, even if we don’t see each other that often, as well as the chance to convey my best wishes for the new year. True enough, electronic cards, email and texts can still convey the message so much more efficiently, but I still like the ritual of the mailbox and the “Aww!” moment of opening a card, reading a nice greeting and the joy of the ongoing connection with the sender. Plus, when I find a perfect card that captures an inside joke, makes someone laugh, or strikes the right chord in one way or another, it can be a beautiful thing.

8. Baking
Is there anything that helps to stir up the memories of Christmas past than the sweet smell of baking favourite holiday treats? In the weeks leading up to Christmas, I do find myself puttering in the kitchen more than usual, reviving old favourites to bring to potlucks, parties or to give as gifts. When that sweet smell gently fills the house, it really does whisper “Christmas is coming”. Date squares, pecan squares, butter cookies and rum balls, are just some of the traditional indulgences that I revive annually. Continue reading

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Breathing New Life in Family Photos

beginfamilyIn my recent post “Blogging… More Than Words“, I mentioned how blogging became more than just about the writing, it also rekindled my love for photography.

In doing so, I found myself digging through old photo albums looking for photos to scan. Whether it was to add to my own collection of stock photography for future blogs or to post on social media to breathe new life into old memories, it has been a fun journey.

But along the way, I noticed that some of the albums from the 1970’s and 1980’s were starting to deteriorate. In a few albums, the sticky “magnetic” pages were starting to get yellow. In some cases, the pictures themselves were changing colour. In others, the pictures weren’t coming off the sticky pages at all. I then felt like a surgeon using any flat headed tool I could find in my tool box or art supplies, to delicately remove pictures from the albums without damaging them.

I was reminded that these albums probably date back to a time before photo albums mentioned “acid-free” pages. Who would have thought that the albums intended to save memories of family and friends might have a limited life span themselves. Did anyone see this coming?

And so began the unexpected project of taking all of the pictures out of the albums that were showing signs of age.

The activity became a fun walk down memory lane, reliving the good old days with family, friends and colleagues. But the clock was ticking as I did not want these precious photos to suffer from more damage. Continue reading

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Where Did My “Get Up and Go” Go?

Get Up and Go It didn’t seem that long ago that it didn’t matter what day of the week it was, I could put in a full day at school or work, do something during the evening, even if it meant hanging out with friends until after midnight, and still get up the next day, bright eyed and bushy tailed, to grab the bull by the horns, to turn over a new leaf, and to move mountains.

What happened?

I realize that the responsibilities of being an adult do consume a fair bit of time and energy. However, my responsibilities at work translate to food on the table, my mortgage and bills are covered and that I have the means to enjoy fun experiences in my down time.

But lately, a typical Friday night consists of picking up my groceries on the way home, then a reasonable facsimile of a meal for dinner, a glass of wine, watch the news, maybe one prime time show and then I am pretty much ready to call it a night.

When it comes to going out, there have been times that on the way back after an eventful evening, I see carloads of folks half my age headed in the opposite direction on their way out to party. Then I wonder what went wrong. That used to be me… “Where did my get up and go” go?

Worse yet is to wake up one morning and to be hit with the old familiar feeling: every classic symptom of a hangover. Then in thinking back, realizing that the night before was an evening on the couch with the cat, a ginger ale and Netflix. Sigh!

It should come as no surprise that my running joke about having a caffeine I.V. through the day seems to come up more and more often these days. Continue reading

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My Secret Identity

FirstApartment1989I never anticipated the strong reaction I would get among my Facebook peeps, when I innocently posted this picture for “Throwback Thursday”.

This shot from 1989 was taken at one of the first parties I hosted in my first apartment. What appealed to me about the picture was everything in the background: the cassette deck/turntable, the little TV, the VCR, the record albums, the video tape collection. To me it was a time capsule in a snapshot, displaying a treasure trove of my prized possessions at the time (for a 24 year old in his first apartment), but also an interesting case study in 1980’s memorabilia.

Yet my Facebook peeps seemed to zero in on one thing in particular: the cigarette in my mouth.

“You smoked?” several asked. Yes, my friends, I was a smoker!

At that time, I was what you might call a social smoker. I smoked at parties, in bars, at concerts. I also remember a few smoke-filled evenings in my man-cave at my Mom’s house, preparing university papers until all hours of the morning, as I alluded to in my post The Writer All-Nighter.

I was also a little bit of an oddity in the fact that I rarely smoked when I was stressed, I smoked more when I was happy, content, among friends and doing fun things in a social context.

I remember cancelled classes and the irony of going out for a smoke, while enjoying the fresh air and sunshine of a nice day. I also remember Continue reading

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Is He or Isn’t He?

ACT I, Scene 1
(Two colleagues are chatting by the water cooler)

“…He must be. Look at those bright purple pants he wears!”
-“Not just that… the fact that he has matching bright purple shoes and iPad case to match… he must be!”
-“Yes, meticulously groomed, not afraid of dressing in any colour under the rainbow and relentlessly cheerful? He must be!”
-“True, but did you catch that sombre look a few days ago?”
-“He’s sometimes like that first thing in the morning, but after his third coffee, he’s like Tigger” Continue reading

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