Random stuff, reflections on the meaning of life and death, humour, self-deprecation, a bit of bad poetry.

My husband was collecting hat pics this past week-end to add to the recording of a song he wrote. As a rule, my head is also too big for hats. The great Canadian toque invariably rides up my head and ends up looking like the tip of a condom. And then there is the dreaded hat head which means I have to keep my hair covered until I wash it again. I do however wear many symbolic hats. And more often than not, I end up following a slow-poke “hat” (older person wearing a hat, driving an 8 cylinder car) on my home care route. How about you? Hat person or not?

Click on the video to enjoy the song and the array of hats worn by friends and family.

Vignettes and Bagatelles

I met up several years ago with my good friend Terry to catch up and just enjoy each other’s company over a cup of tea. As we settled in to our seats he asked me how things were going? At the time my life was seemingly spinning out of control. I had a mother who was fading away and who lived several hours away. I had a teenage daughter who was struggling with life, another teenage daughter who wasn’t, but felt neglected. My job was stressful, and my boss was Narcissistic. My marriage was straining (actually failing) and my art was suffering. I said; “I wake up and put on my Dad hat, I drive to work and put on my teacher hat, I come home and put on my husband hat, there were many more hats, but you get the idea. He said “Sounds like you are wearing too…

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Lately, I wear my protest like a badge.

I wear it on my jean jacket, on my light winter coat and on my thick down coat. Sometimes I wear it doubly so that when I remove one layer, I am still protesting.

I wear it during daylight and when it’s dark.

I wear it to the gym, to the office, and to order coffee.

I wear it when I play music.

In November, I wore it alongside my poppy.

And Christmas shopping in December.

People either glance at it or they don’t. There are double takes, quick looks, aversion.

I have worn it out and about my neighbourhood: visiting clients, walking the dogs, doing errands.

I put it on knowing it is controversial. Knowing the majority disagrees.

Mindful of my discomfort, I push the marble down my throat and swallow it.

Only one other person out here wears the anti-Loi 21 pin. Unlike me, he is fearless.

Only one person out here has asked me about its significance. She, a 94 year old Auschwitz survivor.

Out here in suburbia, protest is a lonely affair. It is complacent. It is indifferent. It is silent.

I recently asked an elderly man I know why he wasn’t pursuing a relationship with someone his own age instead of proposing marriage to women young enough to be his daughter(s).

“Because I don’t want some shrivelled up old woman with a walker.”, he said.

Clearly a classic case of the shrivelled pot calling the shrivelled kettle old. Loneliness, apparently, is not a cure for entitlement.

I’ll be honest, that kind of attitude makes me incredibly sad. A huge turn-off in my books.

To counter this bad taste in my mouth, I remember the way my ex father-in-law described meeting his future wife, eleven years his senior, for the first time: “Anne was so beautiful; I had my eye on her. She was the one I wanted.” She had already had nine children by the time they met and together, they had one more, my ex-husband. They remained devoted to each other for forty solid years, until Anne’s death in 2000.

And if that doesn’t revive your faith in true love, listen to Jason Momoa talk about his love for Lisa Bonet, twelve years older than him.

I’m not saying a significant age difference either way is wrong. It just irks me that a crusty old man wearing pull-ups would dismiss the women of his generation so callously.

Care to share your thoughts on this?

From a facebook post four years ago today:

Last night I dreamt that I was with Donald Trump. Hair intact, he was throwing people he didn’t like out of a small plane as it flew over suburbia.

Today I stopped by the pharmacy to stock up on Gravol. I do this fairly regularly and each time, they open a new file under my name and do a background check. I tell them it’s for motion sickness and promise not to drive when I take it.

I wonder what they’d write in my file if I told them the truth. That I take it so that I can have a better night’s sleep. So that I can dream without the shadow of stupid Donald’s cartoon hair waking me up every hour on the hour like an exclamation mark.

And presently he is throwing bombs out of that plane, onto the people he doesn’t like.

January 2nd, 2020. The public health care system I work for requires me to write it in this format: year/month/day.

I purposely did not post resolutions yesterday. Been there, done that. Besides, they don’t really work and leave us feeling less than. Life is too short.

2016-02-20: a birthday present from my sweetie.

At some point yesterday evening, I found myself eating some pretty high quality chocolate called Mozartkugeln (I refer to them as Mozart heads): “A Mozartkugel (English: Mozart ball), is a small, round sugar confection made of pistachiomarzipan and nougat that is covered with dark chocolate. It was originally known as Mozart-Bonbon, created in 1890 by Salzburg confectioner Paul Fürst (1856–1941) and named after Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Hand-made Original Salzburger Mozartkugeln are manufactured by Fürst’s descendants up to today, while similar products have been developed by numerous confectioners, often industrially produced.” They are so good, I once convinced a couple of friends I was travelling with in France, to take a train to Berne, Switzerland (where Toblerone is made, by the way), in search of Mozart heads, only to realize years later that like Mozart himself, they were actually made in Austria.

What I’m trying to say, is that for more years in my middle-aged lifetime than not, I was always on some sort of diet January 1st. How liberating it feels to be mindfully enjoying my Mozart heads at the start of a new year instead of trying to finish every sweet treat in my pantry by December 31st.

So no resolutions this year. Rather, I have three intentions: 1. to try to read 52 books again 2. to blog once a week, even if no one reads it 3. to add a couple of morning runs on my treadmill to my trice-weekly kettlebell work-outs at the club because it’s always a better day when I move my body in the morning.

Oh, and to declutter my space. An ongoing challenge. Because if I were to keel over tomorrow, all this stuff of mine would be a terrible burden on my son.

Resolutions or intentions, peeps? Or will you simply carry-on?

Whatever your strategy or non-strategy may be, I’m rooting for you.

Happy, happy!

My intention was to read 52 books this past year and I made it to 80.

I will continue reading throughout 2020 and hope that the cataract surgery that is pending will ease the distressing eye strain and blurriness I have been experiencing of late.

Impatient to begin a new list, I started the first book of 2020 yesterday evening. No loud ringing in the New Year for me, just the quiet turning of pages as a brand new story unfolds. I wear my party-pooper badge proudly; I will always chose a good book over a party.

Here is the entire list, the first eight months copied and pasted from a previous blog entry. There was only one real dud on the list, identified with a thumb’s down but obviously somebody somewhere enjoyed that book. If the book has a heart next to it, it simply means that reading it caused something to shift inside me, permanently. Doesn’t mean it will do the same for you but on the off chance it might, I thought I would mention it.

Do feel free to share your own reflections/recommendations on what you read this past year, and of course, what you plan to read this decade.

Lastly, love to all my followers, whether you like to read, prefer to party or live a balanced life with a little of both. And gratitude for putting up with the introversion and anti-social tendencies that tend to go along with my passion for books.

Books Read 2019

  1. The Little Paris Bookshop — Nina George
  2. I Know You Know — Gillian MacMillan
  3. Life After Life — Kate Atkinson ❤️
  4. Big Magic — Elizabeth Gilbert ❤️
  5. And Then She Was Gone — Lisa Jewell
  6. Bridge of Clay — Markus Zusak
  7. Grit — Angela Duckworth
  8. The Marrow Thieves — Cherie Dimalin
  9. To the River — Olivia Laing
  10. The Atomic Weight of Love — Elizabeth J. Church
  11. Siddhartha — Herman Hesse
  12. Lying in Wait — Liz Nugent
  13. Less — Andrew Sean Greer
  14. The Woo Woo — Lindsay Wong
  15. A Noise Downstairs — Linwood Barclay
  16. Bird by Bird — Anne Lamott
  17. The Organist — Mark Abley
  18. Homes — Abu Bakr Al Rabeeah with Winnie Young
  19. The Haunting of Hill House — Shirley Jackson
  20. Brother — David Chariandy
  21. The Best Kind of People — Zoe Whittall
  22. It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of War and Love — Lynsey Addario ❤️
  23. The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye — David Lagercrantz
  24. All the Light We Cannot See — Anthony Doerr ❤️
  25. Songs for the Cold of Heart — Eric Dupont
  26. By Chance Alone — Max Eisen ❤️
  27. Life’s too Short to Pretend You’re Not Religious — David Dark
  28. Agatha Christie — The Mystery of Three Quarters
  29. The Travelling Cat Chronicles — Hiro Arikawa
  30. Case Histories — Kate Atkinson
  31. Gift from the Sea — Anne Morrow Lindbergh
  32. Under the Visible Life — Kim Echlin
  33. The War of Art — Steven Pressfield
  34. A Gentleman in Moscow — Amor Towles
  35. The Leopard — Jo Nesbo
  36. Gingerbread — Helen Oyeyemi 👎🏼
  37. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine — Gail Honeyman ❤️
  38. The Moon Before Morning — W.S. Merwin ❤️
  39. The Word Is Murder — Anthony Horowitz
  40. My Brilliant Friend — Elena Ferrante
  41. The Wild Edge of Sorrow — Francis Weller ❤️
  42. Warlight — Michael Ondaatje ❤️
  43. Flash Count Diary; Menopause and the Vindication of Natural Life — Darcey Steinke
  44. Natural Causes — Barbara Ehrenreich ❤️
  45. Voices in the Air (poems for listeners) — Naomi Shihab Nye ❤️
  46. The Blue Between Sky and Water — Susan Abulhawa
  47. One Good Turn — Kate Atkinson
  48. When Will There Be Good News? — Kate Atkinson
  49. Grief is the Thing with Feathers — Max Porter ❤️
  50. Bird Therapy — Joe Harkness ❤️
  51. Lanny — Max Porter
  52. The Tattooist of Auschwitz — Heather Morris
  53. The Song of Achilles — Madeline Miller
  54. The Turn of the Key — Ruth Ware
  55. Deep Diversity (Overcoming Us vs. Them) — Shakil Choudhury ❤️
  56. #HashtagRelief — Blossom Thom (poetry) ❤️
  57. Crow — Ted Hughes (poetry) ❤️
  58. Started Early, Took My Dog — Kate Atkinson
  59. Baggage — Wendy Phillips
  60. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous — Ocean Vuong ❤️
  61. The Impossible Will Take a Little While — Paul Rogat Loeb
  62. All the Lives We Never Lived — Anuradha Roy
  63. Albatross — Terry Fallis
  64. The Overstory — Richard Powers
  65. Moon of the Crusted Snow — Waubgeshig Rice
  66. Fog — Rana Bose
  67. Crow Winter — Karen McBride
  68. The Poet X — Elizabeth Acevedo ❤️
  69. Create Dangerously — Edwidge Danticat ❤️
  70. Crow — Amy Spurway
  71. Night — Elie Wiesel ❤️
  72. The Crying Book — Heather Christle ❤️
  73. The Magic Lamp — Ben Okri
  74. Owls and Other Fantasies — Mary Oliver ❤️
  75. Aspirations: Voices of the Street 2019 — Megaphone’s annual literary anthology
  76. Year of the Monkey — Patti Smith
  77. Blue Nights — Joan Didion ❤️
  78. Normal People — Sally Rooney ❤️
  79. Breakfast at Tiffany’s — Truman Capote
  80. Christmas at the Vinyl Cafe — Stuart McLean
Awesome Christmas gift from my husband’s daughter and her partner.

For several years in a row now, my brother and sister-in-law have invited both sides of the family to Christmas Eve dinner.

Two nights ago, as my 88 year old, East Indian dad was sitting strategically in front of a plate of warm prosciutto hors d’œuvres on the coffee table, my sister-in-law’s elegant and ageless mother swept into the living room, spotted my father, and with arms extended, moved forward to embrace him.

My father saw her coming and extended his arms towards the acorn-fed ham, in the name of all starving people in India, plopped it into his mouth, then stood up to greet her, leaving a long remnant of prosciutto dangling from his chin.

“I’ll just let you finish that, Paul.”, she said, graciously, before giving him a hug.

There was another incident later on, that one might blame on a combination of romantic dinner lighting and advancing macular degeneration, when my sweet-toothed father mistook a rather generous pat of butter on his side plate for a piece of limoncello cheesecake.

The next day, he opted to wear sweatpants to the modest, catered meal he and my mother hosted for a small gathering at their house: Lac St.Jean meat pie and a veggie option for those of us who don’t eat rabbits or other cute animals.

At 88 you don’t choose between red or white wine, you simply have both. And eat two servings of dessert. This time the cake was orange-chocolate with crunchy hazelnut, served under bright lights.

Dad, comfortable in sweats.
Well-lit dessert.

Sometimes I feel like an imposter in my own life.

This evening, my rockstar husband and I are playing a gig at our beloved Mariposa Cafe to raise money for the St. James Drop-In Centre, a wonderful community resource that supports members who are coping with homelessness, addiction and mental health issues. Our friend, Antonella, volunteers in the art therapy program there and her enthusiasm for the program and compassion for its members convinced us to support the cause.

It is less sold out closer to showtime but for a few weeks it was!

We played a similar gig nearly a year ago, selling copies of our self-funded cd of cover tunes and raising close to $1500. This year, all proceeds from the $15 cover charge will be donated to the cause.

I’ve come a long way, baby.

From music teacher Mrs. Bloomer with the chinny chin hairs and frightening side part insisting I draw what I feel while listening to Chopin’s funeral march in primary school to Mr. Hay, my high school music teacher, snatching the tenor sax from my poor, hobbit hands and replacing it with a mid-sized clarinet when I told him my fingers didn’t reach the keys, and forever marking my failure as a sax player by taking aim with a stubby piece of chalk (he later claimed he was aiming for the student behind me, as if that made it okay), throwing it overhand, and hitting me smack-dab in the middle of the forehead. Owie.

Then there was the time my friend and I auditioned for a high school variety show, singing You’ve Got A Friend, only to have the the cheeky grade 11 student judging our audition tell us to come back when we’d practiced.

Or that time in my early 30s playing in a guitar quintet, when I sat for several minutes on stage tuning my classical guitar down to drop D, before realizing that the other four people in my group, not to mention the conductor, had already taken their bows and left the stage. I can only imagine that the members of the audience were holding their collective breath waiting for my rendition of Passacaglia by S.L. Weiss. It is much more likely however, they were politely waiting for me to leave so that they could go home.

Sometime in between the above, I think I was in grade two, I begged my parents for a guitar. Miss Rona, my teacher, used to play and sing for us in between lessons, songs like Jamaica Farewell and Yellow Bird. Those singalongs transformed me. I was smitten. It also didn’t hurt that Miss Rona was beautiful and had two eyebrows instead of a single V-shaped one.

“And if your eyebrow goes straight across your head, you will most likely become a murderer.”

“Oh, my God!” someone shrieked, touching their face.”

— Elaine McCluskey, The Most Heartless Town in Canada

She also didn’t throw chalk at me.

I got my first guitar at the end of the school year. It cost $20 and came in a cardboard box from a bottom shelf in the “music” department at Miracle Mart.

Fast forward several decades that include hundreds if not thousands of hours of lessons, probably a gazillion hours of solitary practice, a romantic interlude with a 3/4 violin, and back to the guitar, an acoustic mini now, and here I am playing music again.

And singing. Way out of my comfort zone. With an untrained, reedy warble reminiscent of George Harrison ( i like to think). Into a mic. In front of an audience. Next to a gifted music teacher. Gifted because he inspires everyone to sing and encourages them to sing with their own unique, authentic voice.

If there is one thing I have learned is that music is to be shared. It is community. Musicians need listeners and vice versa. The best music is about heart and not ego. So just play or sing or do both. Find a safe and welcoming place, take a deep breath and let the song out.

“To play a wrong note is insignificant; to play without passion is inexcusable.”

— Ludwig Von Beethoven

From a Facebook post 3 years ago today. I have no idea where the umbrella in question is. I’ve since moved on to one of those inside out models with the ergonomic handles.

Fed up of all the cheap models breaking or opening up at the most inconvenient times like in the middle of the highway or going through a doorway, I bought the mother of all umbrellas at the pharmacy today and promptly hit myself in the face with it getting into my car.

It was on odd feeling, kinda like getting out of bed and realizing you can touch your toes without bending over or carrying your shopping bag out of the store with your arm extended only to realize it’s dragging along the floor.

I haven’t even opened it yet but I’m already worried it might lift me up and carry me away on a windy day.

My search for the perfect hood/umbrella combo continues.

“Grandma says if I eat too much rice it will make me unconscious.”

If it weren’t for facebook memories, I would forget these little gems.

Wish I’d written them all down but I didn’t.

If I think hard, these are the only two that come to mind: 1) “Mummy, can I play on your pincuter?” And 2) “Just read the constructions.” The latter in response to a gazillion lego pieces falling out of box instead of the fully-formed Star Wars space ship on the cover.

This morning a hooded figure headed down to the basement for a work-out. He says it gives him positive energy to start his day.

Now there’s something I should write down.




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