January 29, 2023 · 10:01 am
After living in the country for more than two years, I can say with absolute certainty that I like it here.
The peace and tranquility I feel, away from daily doses of traffic jams, chronic noise pollution and a higher concentration of people with an innate talent for exasperating others, have been worth the time, the energy and the price of admission.
Despite this having been a truly joyful experience, there has been one inescapable irritant: Asian lady beetles.
For those who might not have had the pleasure (or displeasure) of meeting them, they look very much like lady bugs, but with a more orange-coloured outer shell.
While I am told that they aren’t destructive to property, one could be inclined to just ignore them… but it’s impossible. The problem is the numbers… on a crisp, sunny fall morning, my partner and I could be squishing dozens of them as they try to enter the house in search of a warm place for the winter. Continue reading →
Filed under 50+, Cats, Humour, stories
Tagged as care, cat, childhood, essentials, family, gratitude, hospitality, kindness, memories, necessities, relatives, travel
January 24, 2021 · 9:02 am
When I turned 55 last fall, I admit that I had a bit of a “life flashing before my eyes” experience. It wasn’t because I was having a near-death experience or anything like that, it was just the inevitable reminiscing that takes place around a major milestone, much like we do at New Year.
In that same train of thought, last month, I chose the date I will be retiring (in late spring), another pretty big life event. Since then, the subconscious walks down memory lane are hitting me faster than I can keep up with them which in turn, had me contemplating how we perceive time.
In chatting with family and friends (remotely, of course) over the holidays, I was reassured to hear that I am not alone in how my perception of time sometimes seems a little out of step with the clock and the calendar.
There is no doubt in my mind that I am indeed 55 years old and that I have offered up 33 years of my life to the public service, but in some ways it just doesn’t feel that way.
Deep down, I still feel like the same guy that I always was. But before I can allow myself to get too cocky about it, arthritis pops up to remind me that I am not as young as I think I am… that, and the fact that it takes an afternoon nap and copious amounts of caffeine to be able to watch Saturday Night Live (live) these days.
While my childhood seems like a distant place in time, sometimes feeling like it was hundreds of years ago, other life events seem significantly closer.
It really doesn’t seem that long ago that I was nearing the end of my university years, completely sick of studying, exams and homework, and itching to get on with my life. I vividly remember the hope for that “big break” into the working world. These are the scenes that seem to be replaying a lot in my head at the moment. Continue reading →
July 7, 2019 · 1:31 pm
This past week I did something I haven’t done in a long time, I read a newspaper!
Normally, I get news coverage from the car radio on the way to and from the office, and 4 or 5 times per week, I supplement that by checking out an online newspaper or two. And that is on top of the articles that I may check out when friends repost them on social media.
But it has been years since I sat down and read an actual print version newspaper.
There must have been something in the air during the more laid back, hot, hazy, humid summer days that put me in the mood to just relax and gently savour the world’s stories from a page that wasn’t glowing at me with bright ads blinking like Times Square … that and the fact that there was nothing on TV, so I had the time.
It could also be my slowly approaching retirement that has me rediscovering things that I enjoyed in the past but didn’t always have time for when I was busy building a career.
It didn’t take long for me to notice the huge difference in experience when reading a print version newspaper.
When I check out online news sources, it is perhaps to my own detriment that my reading is like a squirrel gathering nuts for winter.
I scan through the titles, I click on the ones that spark interest, I read a few sentences until I get the gist of it, and then it’s on to the next. I probably miss quite a bit that way because if the headline doesn’t catch my attention, I may skip an article altogether.
With a newspaper, because the whole article is open and in front of me, I am more likely to look beyond the titles and to preview a greater number of articles. And when I choose to read one, I will likely spend more time reading an article to the end. Continue reading →
Filed under 50+, Misc blogs, pop culture
Tagged as experience, journalism, journalist, media, memories, news, newspaper, newspapers, paper, print, reading, tradition
March 11, 2018 · 12:07 pm
This season, the American television network “The CW” launched a reboot of the favourite 1980’s prime time soap “Dynasty”. In watching the very first episode, I was delighted to see several nods to its original series, including having kept its great orchestral theme song. The only thing was that it was a much shorter version of it.
Similarly, Netflix has recently rebooted “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.” Again, a really unique theme song, but chopped down to just a few bars of its original.
Have you noticed how the opening themes for many American TV shows have gotten shorter and shorter over the years? Now, some shows don’t even have them at all.
If I mentioned the names of program like “All in the Family“, “Golden Girls”, “Three’s Company”, “The Brady Bunch” or “Gilligan’s Island”, even if you weren’t a huge fan, I’m sure many of you would be able to recite a few words if not the whole theme song.
These theme songs became deeply entrenched in our pop culture, and some have become synonymous with the decades when the shows originally aired. In doing so, they also became entrenched in our hearts and minds.
As young kids, we couldn’t play “Batman” without singing few rounds of the famous “Na na na na na na na…” theme.
What would have become of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” with a theme song about a messy breakup instead of the inspiring words about making it after all? Continue reading →
Filed under 50+, music, pop culture, TV
Tagged as brand, branding, catchy, change, childhood memories, ear worm, evolution, favorite, favourite, fond, habits, history, icon, iconic, jingles, memorabilia, memorable, memories, music, name that tune, Netflix, networks, pop culture, popularity, programs, songs, technology, television, theme, theme music, theme songs, TV, viewing
December 24, 2017 · 9:08 am
When I think back to my Christmas wish lists over the years, music has been a constant. As a long time music lover, my voracious appetite for music goes as far back as age 10.
Through my early teens, I had an allowance from my parents, and in my later teen years, I had pocket money from a part-time job. A lot of that money was spent on records.
At that time, vinyl record albums were relatively pricey for someone earning $2.35 per hour. Christmas became that opportunity to ask Santa for the albums I did not get a chance to pick up myself through the year.
In preparing that wish list, there was some careful consideration and a few (if not several) trips to the record store(s) to ensure that the albums I chose would bring maximum enjoyment. I would meticulously review the song lists and count the number of songs I knew versus the ones I didn’t, and then compared from one album to the next.
We didn’t have listening stations, YouTube, iTunes or Spotify to check out those other unknown songs. Sometimes I might have been able to borrow a certain album from a friend or from the library, but for the most part, those other songs were often a mystery until the record was home and on the turntable.
When I think back, I am surprised at how methodical I was for such a young age, but value for money was pretty important given my limited means and my appetite for music. Continue reading →
Filed under 50+, Christmas, Humour, music, pop culture
Tagged as 1980's, albums, Boxing Day, Canada, Canadian, Canadiana, Christmas, collection, collector, discounted, discounts, gift certificate, gift certificates, icons, joy, memories, money, music, music lover, pop culture, price, prices, record albums, records, retail, sale, sales, Sam the Record Man, shopper, shoppers, songs, store, stores, teenager, tradition, traditions, value for money, vinyl, wish list, wishlist
October 16, 2016 · 7:40 am
A couple of weeks ago, I had an errand that needed urgent attention, but trying to deal with it outside of work hours would have meant long line-ups. While it may have seemed like a no-brainer to most people, after 35 years of riding the bus, it still is not second nature to me to think that I can jump into my car and to run an errand at lunch time!
As I was driving around, I don’t know why but I had this feeling deep down inside that I was doing something wrong. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it seems like a throwback to my primary school days when leaving school grounds was a no-no.
Picture it… Ottawa… 1974… two boys are playing in the schoolyard and one them tells the other, “Come on, I do it all the time. I’ve never been caught”. The faux-pas in question was the idea of leaving the school grounds to go to the convenience store to buy some candy. Of course I was the boy who needed a lot of convincing, as disobeying orders from authority figures was not second nature to me.
Let’s face it, having grown up as an only child, I could never get away with blaming a brother, a sister or a pet if something got broken. Even if I could attempt to blame the imaginary friend or just simply shrug my shoulders and say “I don’t know”, I was a horrible liar anyway. Between Mom’s glare that would extract the truth out of me without trying too hard, combined with the prospect of “wait til your father comes home”, the skills required for bluffing never became part of my wiring.
After much coaxing and the fact that recess was ticking away from my analysis paralysis, I decided to join him. Continue reading →
Filed under 50+, Humour, Misc blogs
Tagged as childhood memories, errands, funny, humor, humour, kids, Little Rascals, lunch, lunch time, lunchtime, memories, Our Gang, Primary school, school, short story, story, stress, truancy, truant, truant officer, work life
March 25, 2016 · 10:23 am
As we head into the Easter holiday weekend, the memories of Easters past started flashing before my eyes. Maybe it was the delirium induced by a sugar rush of Easter treats that have been in such great abundance in recent days, but when I stopped to think about it, there were just as many great Easter memories as there were great Christmas memories.
The best part is that my Easter memories often stem from their simplicity and their timing. With the floating holiday, Easter sometimes feels like winter while other years it feels like summer. Easter is often associated with the beginning of spring and the approaching end of the school term. It also heralds a period of coming out of our winter cocoons and opting to spend more time outdoors. And of course, there are the Easter treats… some years, too many of them, undermining the New Year’s resolutions, if they were still in effect.
Here they are, my Top 10 Easter memories:
10. My first road trip to Montréal
While I can’t say for sure the exact year, maybe it was 1990, it was right after I had moved out into my own apartment. It was the first time I had rented a car for the weekend with the purpose of a same day trip to Montreal to take in some sights, food and shopping. It was a great taste of independence and doing exciting grown-up things. I vividly recall a beautiful sunny day, the road conditions were perfect, even though there was still some snow on the ground, but I had a lovely day enjoying the charm and warm hospitality of Montréal, the first of many trips to come.
9. While it usually meant a long weekend of studying for exams, it also meant that the university term was almost over.
It was always difficult to stay in and study for exams when the urge to break out and enjoy the spring-like weather was tugging at me. Just the same, I knew that school was almost out. Bringing the books outside to study seemed like a fair compromise.
8. 6:00 a.m. Easter egg hunts
As an only child, waking up early and keeping myself quietly entertained (often, just watching cartoons) until my parents woke up was a weekly weekend ritual. Easter Sunday was really special as I recall waking up, finding the basket and hunting around for Easter eggs that my Mom would have hidden the night before after I went to bed. I recall my huge excitement every time I found one and then shushing myself to keep it down and not wake up Mom and Dad. Continue reading →
Filed under Humour, Lists
Tagged as break, brunch, bunnies, childhood memories, chocolate, church, dinner, Easter, family, FlashbackFriday, funny, holiday, kids, memories, parents, school, spring, Sunday, ThrowbackThursday, treats, university, winter
January 18, 2015 · 11:52 am
Just before the holidays, I found a great photo store that could convert old slides to digital format. While many companies offer this service, my dad’s slides were in 110 format, a popular camera format in the 1970’s that is not as popular today when it comes to conversions.
After picking up the CD containing the digitized slide images, I ran through them (go figure, on “slide show” mode on my computer) and could not help but notice picture after picture of younger me, barely smiling, looking like I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. This was quite unusual for a borderline extroverted, always cheerful, only child who was never shy in front of cameras. Then I remembered why… the barf bag years!
I had a pretty bad case of it too. From the age of 8 to the age of 12, we could not travel from one end of the city to the other without car sick bags. For longer road trips… THAT was an experience!
Keep in mind that 40 years ago, some of the very straight, boring highways that we enjoy today had not been built yet. To get to some of the places we visited required trips along long winding country roads with lots of hills. So between the ups and downs of the terrain and a car with no air conditioning, my stomach was not terribly happy and reacted accordingly. On some trips, it reacted many times to the point of having to make multiple stops on the way, sometimes to replenish our supply of bags.
What I don’t get is why, shortly after I left my lunch on one of those hills, Dad felt a compelling need to park me in front of landmarks and yell “Smile!” If I could articulate then what I can articulate now, I probably would have yelled back “Seriously? We’ve travelled 400 miles, through which I was carsick for Continue reading →
December 8, 2014 · 7:40 pm
When people ask me the secret to how I am so cheerful all the time, the possible answers are endless. I could chalk it up to any of the many things for which I am grateful including a great family, wonderful friends and colleagues, good health and living a good life. But the one factor that never fails in keeping my spirits high is a great caffeine buzz… one that has probably been going on for over 40 years.
My earliest memories of the sensual experience of good coffee go back to my childhood and the percolator. Whenever we had guests over, the wonderful aroma of percolated coffee would fill the house, which created an association in my head between drinking coffee and its social nature, an association that would last a lifetime.
Maybe once per year I would ask for some, but my underdeveloped taste buds did not fully appreciate coffee just yet, regardless of how much milk or sugar I dumped into my cup. Perhaps that was just as well, I could not imagine a heavily caffeinated version of me in childhood.
It was in my later high school years that the aroma of fresh coffee wafting through the cafeteria heralded that rite of passage and the long standing love affair that continues today with my daily brew. On certain cold mornings or after traveling 15 km on city buses in the middle of snow storms, that first cup of coffee with friends was to become the source of great memories as the heartwarming conversation that accompanied it easily melted away the morning’s chill.
It was in the university years that coffee truly became my best friend. I could always count on coffee to Continue reading →
Filed under Humour
Tagged as anecdotes, aroma, café, coffee, cup of coffee, International Coffee Day, kaffe, memories, morning, morning coffee, morning person, ritual, social, taste, wake up, Writing