One of the pitfalls of having very good hearing (as I do) is the process of getting familiar with a house’s noises.
In my last house, after almost 20 years, I knew exactly what “normal” sounded like for each individual appliance, sink and toilet as well as for the furnace, the air conditioner and the hot water tank.
I knew that dramatic drops or increases in temperature outside would make the house pop as the building materials contracted or expanded. I was also familiar with the specific creaking noises that tree branches outside would make in heavy winds.
Each sound had a distinct fingerprint, and after 20 years, whenever the house made noise, I could usually pick out the cause and not worry about it.
But in having my radar on like a bat and the ability to filter out common “normal” noises, it goes without saying that noises that weren’t so common and didn’t match the usual patterns, could sometimes make me jump higher than I would when watching most horror flicks.
I wouldn’t chalk up that reaction to perhaps being a little over-caffeinated or being a nervous person by nature. I think it stems from a pride of ownership in my home and any noises that aren’t considered “normal” should be investigated right away to ensure they aren’t a sign or a more serious problem.
When that happened, Ivy the Wonder Cat and I would turn into Scooby and Shaggy (respectively), slowly walking through the house, flashlight in hand, waiting for the noise to happen again to be able to figure out where it is coming from, what it is, how to stop it and if a professional noise-eradicator needed to be called. Continue reading
As someone who has been wearing glasses since grade 10, it was no shock to hear over the years that at some point in time, I might need progressives or bifocals.
What was more difficult was admitting when that point in time was here. I knew it was time when my arms were officially not long enough to hold something at the right distance to read it. And unfortunately, getting longer arms was not the answer.
Technically, I do not need glasses to see things at close range, but I do need them for distance. The smaller, rectangular framed glasses I wore for years allowed me to get the correction I needed for distances, as well as the freedom to look below the frame to see things at close range. From that perspective, everything was pretty sharp.
But as styles changed and I chose larger framed glasses, I couldn’t peek under the frame anymore. I was seeing things at close range through corrective lenses, which made close items blurry. The solution was to hold the item away from me. Continue reading
Back in the 1980’s, when I used to work in retail, there was a customer who used to come in to the pharmacy regularly who was well known among team members. She was a little eccentric and she had what you might call a unique sense of fashion, but she was still very sweet and we were always happy to help her.
But we really got to know what she was made of when her world came crashing down at the news that her favourite shade of lipstick was discontinued.
As I understand it, she had her colours done back in the day and was told that this particular shade of orangey-red lipstick was the perfect shade for her. She obviously took this very much to heart as it seemed that every subsequent visit was punctuated by a question about her non-negotiable shade of lipstick.
I don’t think we ever knew her name, but through her relentless search, she became known to us as the “Orange Lipstick Lady.”
At first, she bought up all the remaining lipsticks in that shade. Then in the months that followed, she asked our head cosmetician to order some for her until the distributor couldn’t supply us with any more.
When she had tapped out our supply chain, she still came in at regular intervals to check EVERY lipstick on our shelves to make sure that there wasn’t one that was missed.
I’ll never forget that lady. And I often think I have turned into her when a company discontinues my favourite product… which seems to be happening regularly lately. Continue reading
A few weeks ago, I published a blog post called The Fears of Getting Older. Thanks for all of the positive feedback folks, it was very nice to hear how that one resonated with so many of you!
Among the feedback I received, one of my friends challenged me to writing its antithesis. It didn’t take long that the ideas started flowing. So here you have it, Gilles & friends… The Joys of Getting Older!
– Little to no risk of getting chosen last for any team.
– In the adult world, spending “recess” alone is not a bad thing.
– Reading a book for the fun of it and savouring every word rather than rushing through it because of a book report or test.
– Homework doesn’t happen often and when it does, it is usually called “overtime” which usually means there’s money attached to it. Continue reading
At 48, which some might call “middle aged” (just not my Mom though – she has banned the use of that expression as the idea that she has a middle aged son freaks her out), it is a strange time for reflection since your career is still in full swing but you know retirement is potentially not far off. It is a time when planning and reflecting actively co-exist.
It’s that middle ground that can be a little weird sometimes… it is not the transition itself, it is the REALIZATION that you are transitioning from one part of your life to another that can be a little scary… and funny at the same time:
– I fear that there are some foods I just won’t eat, not because I don’t like them, but because they don’t agree with me. I used to have a stomach of steel! What happened?
– I fear the day that my favourite tunes of the 80’s which are now considered “retro” will one day become considered “oldies”.
– I fear the day that a fashion I sported in “my day” is back in fashion… again… for the 3rd or 4th time and becomes unquestionably “age inappropriate” for me to wear.
– I fear the realization of the change in wording from “when I grow up” to “when I retire”. Continue reading
One would think I was aware of my journey from the moment my mother kept pressing the 5 year-old me to clean up his bedroom, often referred to as “the fire trap” given the piles of paper surrounding the bed, otherwise referred to as “kindling”. Whether it was drawings, colouring book pages or my early scribblings of the written word, in English or en français it didn’t really matter, as expressing myself on paper just seemed to come naturally from a very young age. I even remember one Christmas around that age, opening a gift that I thought was a pile of loose leaf sheets and shrieking with delight, only to realize that it was actually an activity book. Nonetheless, the fact that surrounding myself with paper (including books, magazines and newspapers) resonated with me from such a young age, you’d think I would have known from that point on, but the journey took a different path.
Throughout the school years, compositions and essays were my most favourite assignment, and frankly, I totally knocked them out of the park, but the parental path, as well-intentioned as it was, was leading me down the path of mathematics, as the most secure and successful path in life. Frankly, I could not argue with the logic that business depends on numbers, and business is generally a lucrative path (from early on, they were making it clear that the Bégin bank was closed once I was set up and moved out). Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, I turned out to be pretty good at math as well. (Don’t ask about how I did in gym or physics) That being the case, my path through numbers was carved out and was the route I followed. (I hate to admit it, but there is a bit of a “Sheldon” deep deep inside!)
Let’s face it though, self-awareness is not most teenagers’ strongest suit and I was no different. Also, there was no arguing with my Dad’s black-and-white and clear-as-a-bell logic so it was probably the best path at the time, at least to avoid the yelling that would arise from not heeding his advice. Frankly, Continue reading