Driving With Ms. Daisy

old red carFor years and years I’ve read novels and watched numerous films about the genteel ladies who reside in the southern states of the US. I’ve even had a couple of clients who from the lower 48 and I’ve dearly loved listening to them talk. But the best of them all is a fabulous lady I’ve had the pleasure of knowing while visiting Florida these past two years.

 
Ms. Virginia as I call her, is definitely a one-of-a-kind lady. The fact that she’s has this adorable Southern accent only serves to make her more endearing… and funny as hell.

 
Ms. V does not swear… at all. She always manages to find some redeeming quality about almost everyone she meets, but if she doesn’t find a person suitable to her discerning taste, she just simply avoids them rather than talk to or insult them. (Wise lady, this Ms. V!)

 
However, this poor lady didn’t know when she first met me that I tend to pick up accents rather easily and love to do mimicry. I don’t do it to be mean, but rather to relay a story or incident that has happened while I’ve been in Ms. V’s company to others. You see, most of the funny part is listening to her tell a story with that delightful twang of hers adding some pizzazz to the telling.

 
Ms. V is the only person I’ve met to date who can turn a one syllable word into two and make it sound like a totally different consonant. Her ‘r’s’ come out like ‘e’s, ‘o’s’ sound like ‘a’s’, and there are other letters of the alphabet that come out of her mouth so long and drawn out I have no idea what it actually is!

 
So far this trip I’ve learned that the number ‘four’ and ‘sh*t’ are two syllable words pronounced like this: “Thare waren’t none but ‘fo-ore’ minutes afore I had ta run to the privy.” And today, when we got lost going to a flea market no more than 15 minutes away from our condo, she said when pulling into the parking lot, “Well, ‘she-it!’ It done looks like thare closed!” (She was right ticked at the fact that only a quarter of the market was open for business when we arrived since we’d gotten lost on the drive, driven up an off ramp, and hit a curb.)

 
The other day when she dropped by the place where I’m staying to ‘chat a menute’ she came out with one of the best one-liners I’ve heard in a long time. She was talking about her husband pacing the floors and deadpanned “He were jest about climbin’ the walls. Made me want ta cut a hole(r) in the ceiling so he’d have a way to escape!” I almost spewed coffee all over the carpet at that one. She later went on to tell us about someone who’d cut themselves and they were “bleedin’ like a stabbed ho.” What she really meant was that they were bleeding like a stuck pig and the ‘ho’ was supposed to be ‘hog’ but not the way Ms. V said it. Again, I narrowly missed spitting out my drink all over the place.

 
Today’s excursion, however, is so far one of the best. On the way to the aforementioned flea market, we were driving down a busy three traffic lane street when Ms. V decided she wanted to go all the way over to the left-hand turn lane. With God as my witness, she floored the gas pedal on her Cadillac and cut across all three lanes of traffic in under 30 seconds, and then proceeded to go through a red light. I calmly (not really) pointed out that she’d run a red and she said, “Oh well…I’ll prolly get another ticket in the mail in ‘bout three or ‘fo-ore’ months just like I did the last time.” No sooner had those words come out of her mouth then she jammed on the brakes so hard my seatbelt fetched up against my neck. She damned near ran another red light, but this time she turned, looked at me and said (as I was trying hard to get my breath back from being choked by the belt) “Ha! No sense ina temptin’ fate. Figured I’d best stop for this one.”

 
The next lane change brought on a retort that was said in such a desultory voice I lost it and almost peed my pants. After she cut off another car (changing lanes again, I might add) she calmly said, “Waell…” (Long, drawn-out version of the word well.) “That thare guy in the ker behind us done just flipped me the bird.” HAHAHA! Imagine that! Someone getting ticked off because this lovely southern belle cut in front of him with about two inches to spare before her Caddy would have ripped off his front bumper.

 
I’m not going to tell you about the rest of the excursion or how it took us 45 minutes to do a 15 minute drive to the flea market. Let’s just say it was eventful and leave it at that.

 
Driving with Ms. Daisy is never a dull experience and being in her company is guaranteed to make you laugh until you cry.

 
I am, however, calling home and seeing if I can the payout on my life insurance… just in case, because she just asked me to go ‘shoppin’ with her again next week.

365 Days

Victory fingers Dec 2 14Today is a high-five, way to go, milestone day in my life. I’m not looking for accolades, congratulations or any such thing from you, my readers.

This blog post is my thank you to me.

It’s been 365 days, or 8,760 hours, or 525,600 minutes since I last smoked a cigarette.

Frankly, I don’t know how I achieved this milestone as I resisted even contemplating quitting for 40+ years. I expended a lot of energy in fighting for my right to smoke and honed my argumentative skills by furiously debating with those who urged me to quit. (more…)

I Saw the Bogeyman

I saw the bogeyman last week.

All the years of my childhood, I feared that unknown scary person. You know, the one that you were sure was under your bed at nights when you couldn’t fall to sleep, or the one who was definitely hiding in your closet just waiting for you to nod off and would then come out and choke you. Yeah, that ‘thing’ – the one without a face or a name, but the one that scared you silly and caused nightmares.

Guess what? He’s now real… at least to me. And he came out in broad daylight last week and terrorized myself and my city.

Around 7:00 pm, on June 4th, a few kilometers away from my tiny little house in the usually quiet small city of Moncton, NB, he came out of the shadows into the slowly fading evening skylight. (more…)

Smile… Pretty Please?

“Smile at strangers and you just might change a life.” – Steve Maraboli

Emily June20004One of the most underrated activities, but most thoroughly appreciated ones, has to be the art of giving and receiving of a smile.

One of the hot topics almost every day in the business world is poor customer service… which I think relates to smiling or the lack thereof. There are tons of posts on Facebook and other social media sites telling tales of how such and such a company ‘shafted’ someone out of money by refusing to issue a refund, or how the cashier at a local grocery store practically bit someone’s head off when they questioned whether the price of the kumquat’s they were purchasing was correct. While some of the beefs are definitely legitimate, I believe I’ve stumbled on one of the biggest flaws in providing excellent customer service. And do you know what it is? (more…)

Confessions of a “Spring-aholic”

I have a confession to make. I love dirt… and I love cows. Read on and you’ll find out what they have in common in my mind.

I love the smell of it, the feel of it in the springtime as it ‘smushes’ between my fingers while I’m digging in my flower beds – I love everything about it. Even when my fur-babies track some of it into the house from playing in the backyard, it doesn’t bother me.

For the first 18 years of my life I lived on a working farm near the ocean. While a lot of my friends loved winter, I detested it from a very young age. I’d wait impatiently for warmer weather to arrive and with it the promise of spring.

Things would slowly start to thaw, including the huge manure pile outside the barn door. Melting mounds of snow would create little rivers cutting through the thawing ground on their way to lower elevations. Everyone seemed to be happier, livelier in some way, as if we humans had been in semi-hibernation along with the bears and wildlife that lived back in the woods at the edge of our property.

Flowers Spring 2014

First Spring Flowers 2014

Living on the farm, I’d know exactly when that wonderful day that I called spring would arrive. It never ceased to surprise me when that special occasion suddenly snuck up on me, but I was always overjoyed when I ‘smelled’ it.

That special day happened anywhere between the middle and end of April, depending on how much snow and cold weather we’d had that winter. I usually arrived home from school between 3:45 pm and 4:00 pm. The bus driver let my younger brother and me off the bus at the lower part of our circular driveway and we’d dash up the coal-ash covered lane to the front door of our farmhouse.

Yet on ‘spring’ day, I’d linger on that walk, savouring the announcement of my favorite season – the smell of rotten cow shit permeating through the air. You see, once the ground had dried up enough so that the tractor wouldn’t make ruts in the pasture ground, my Dad would start cleaning out the cow pens that were 3’ to 4’ high in manure, and spread it as fertilizer on our land.

Man, it stunk! Nowadays most people living next to a farm probably file complaints about air pollution when a farmer spreads manure on his property. I don’t even know how they dispose of a full winter’s worth of cow dung these days as I’ve lived in the city for most of the past 30+ years after leaving my family home and am out of touch with today’s farming protocol.

But I still miss that smell.

The only thing that comes close to it is when I’m out cleaning out my flower beds after a hard winter spell. When my nose is close to the earth and that pungent aroma of half-thawed dirt mixed in with last years decayed leaves reaches my nose, I am one happy camper. Those first little tender green shoots of leaves and flowers to come and that amazing one-of-a-kind smell serves as a wonderful reminder that even after a period of harshness, a reprieve of happiness follows.

I love dirt… and I love cows. I think I need to make a visit to a farm in the country to welcome in spring properly.

Why Bounty is THE Strongest (and Best) Paper Towel

Dear Proctor & Gamble;

While I sincerely doubt the story about Bounty paper towel that I’m about to relate to you will ever make it into one of your marketing/advertising campaigns, I’m certain that someone in your company will definitely get a chuckle out of this true story.

I’ve used only Bounty paper towels for years now as I truly find them to be strong, durable and very absorbent. However, I’d never envisioned them to be as ‘tough’ as they proved to be in this recent, shall we say, ‘crappy’ situation.

First, a bit of background.

Max with bowl July 16 12 adjMeet Max – our 2 year old Havenese/Shih Tzu mixed male fur-child. Max is an over-curious, spoiled rotten, ‘baby’ who has a propensity to make the 5 second rule of anything dropping on the floor being edible look supremely stupid. He eats everything… and I do mean EVERYTHING, that comes into his line of vision or near his superior sniffing skilled nose. His steel-trap teeth and muscles around his mouth require that the Jaws of Life need to be utilized to remove anything from his oral cavity if we deem what he’s eating as inappropriate. To say we often fail to successfully remove what’s in his mouth is a gross understatement, as both my husband and I are rather fond of our fingers and fear the loss of same. But I digress.

A couple of weeks ago, my hubby and I had just finished our dinner while watching the evening news. As he often does, hubby had grabbed a section of Bounty paper towel to use as a napkin while eating. We were both so engrossed in the program that we failed to pick up the used Bounty paper towel when we took our dishes to the kitchen. In what must have been no more than 4 minutes, we went back to the livingroom to finish the program, only to discover Max enthusiastically chewing on something while sitting on the couch. Uh oh, this spelled trouble. My hubby grabbed Max and held on to his mid-section while I set about prying apart those Tyrannosaurus Rex teeth of his to see what he was eating. When I finally managed to get his mouth open, I saw the last little piece of the Bounty paper towel disappearing down into his esophagus. Bam! Gone… but not forgotten. You see, Max had to have surgery at our veterinarian (who is on speed dial by the way), a year prior due to an obstruction being found in his intestines. It turned out to be yards and yards of ‘string’ he’d consumed from chew-toys, all compressed into a small ball of indistinguishable content.  So you can imagine my concern over Max swallowing a full half-sheet of Bounty in one gulp.

Then began the ‘wait until he poops’ vigil.

Day one – nothing. Just your regular, average outside call of nature. However, day two brought on the “Bounty is Better” scenario.

Hubby had taken Max out to do his morning ‘constitutional’ while I lay still comfy in our bed, snoozing off and on. From the back door, I heard my hubby holler, “Sweetie, I need your help!” so I knew something was up with one of the dogs. (We also have a 10 year old West Highland Terrier, Angel, who tolerates Max as SHE was here first!) Judging by the tone of his voice I knew one of the dogs most likely had a messy bum but what I saw when I reached the back door was truly astounding. There was my hubby crouched down beside Max who was in a half-sitting, half-standing position… with something off-white protruding from his butt. The words “OMG! Has he already gone for a # 2?” came flying out of my mouth as I stared in disbelief as what looked like the Bounty paper towel, hanging from Max’s bum. “You won’t believe this”, said hubby, “But he’s already gone… and now there’s this thing stuck there!” I grabbed another sheet of Bounty and gingerly started pulling on the protuberance to see if I could dislodge it intact. And upon removal, sure enough – there was the FULL sheet of Bounty that Max had eaten TWO days prior, still in one piece! No pieces were missing, no fibers had disintegrated – nothing!

I relayed this story to my vet who after hysterically laughing herself to the point of tears said that I had to write and tell you about this incident as it was just too amazing (and rather funny to boot!)

I can now say without a doubt that Bounty paper towels are definitely the strongest, most durable product on the market. Unfortunately, I can now also lay claim to the fact that I most likely have the world’s only dog who has umm… crapped AND wiped his butt simultaneously.

PS – Response received from P&G, Tuesday, July 30th, 2013.

Thanks for contacting P&G, Marlene!

We appreciate your interest in our products and the time you’ve taken to share your feedback. While we’re grateful for your efforts, we’re unable to accept unsolicited advertising ideas or suggestions. We rely on our employees or the agencies we hire to create and handle our advertising. We hope you understand.

Thanks again for writing!

Kelly

P&G Team

 

Auto-Correct Isn’t So Correct After All

celll phoneAs most of you know I’m an editor/writer and words are my forte… or so I thought until I got a supposedly SmartPhone and found out I’ve been outsourced to a battery the size of a gnat.

I do use spell-check while writing and editing simply because it came with the software on my computer, and it does pick up on misspelled words. (By the way, according to Wikipedia, spell-check first became available on mainframe computers in the late 1970s. A group of six linguists from Georgetown University developed the first spell-check system for the IBM corporation at that time.) Even though it can’t distinguish between homophones (they’re, their, and there, for example), and doesn’t recognize common grammatical spelling errors, at least it provides a slight improvement in ones written word when used judiciously.

But this auto-correct thing has me baffled.

Where does it come up with these often hilarious substitutions of what ‘it’ thinks you want to type? Is there a mini-me in that electronic box who can mysteriously read my mind, knowing what I want to say almost before I do?

Here’s an example of a text I sent the other day to a friend of mine. Keep in mind that I have rather long fingernails (my one area of vanity) and the touch screen on my phone is definitely not conducive to spelling properly at the best of times.

After I hit “send” here’s what showed up on my screen:

“Sorry I couldn’t join I guys but my accountant I’d fur here around one… bummer.”

Why in heaven’s name would I’d be “furring” anyone let alone my wonderful accountant is anybody’s guess. (And yes, furring is an actual word. One definition is “furring strips are long thin strips of wood or metal used to make backing surfaces to support the finished surfaces in a room”, and another one involves an <ahem> sexual practice which I’m not going to go into here at all!) I’m guessing that “I guys” is the new pluralized version of “us” or perhaps a new urban rap phrase, as in “I guys be wise downtown and round da block… we rock” but hey, it’s a SmartPhone, so it obviously knows the English language better than I do.

Sigh… I guess I truly am now a part of a generation where communication with others involved talking to someone via that black rotary-dial phone which was wall-mounted in the kitchen of my family homestead, sitting down on a sofa and having an honest to God conversation with the person next to you, face to face, or putting pen to paper and <gasp> writing a letter that you actually had to put in an envelope, lick and place a stamp on the upper right-hand corner, then walk to the local post office to have it sent out to the intended recipient.

By the way, what I REALLY typed in (honestly) was:

“Sorry I couldn’t join you guys but my accountant is to be here around one… bummer.”

It’s official. My phone is now smarter than I am.

One Size Does NOT Fit All!

photo of me - cold Jan 24 13 adjWarning: Before reading today’s blog post, be aware that I’m on a rant as I’m tired of spending the past 6 days in deep freezer mode here on the East Coast. I most likely am vitamin D, C, A, Z deprived and any other compound in between that I’m lacking from not feeling the sun’s warmth!

So… as I mentioned above, my neck of the woods has been experiencing colder than normal winter temperatures for the past 6 days due to a low pressure of Artic air that’s stuck over the region. For example, when I dragged my sorry butt out of bed this morning, it was -34C with wind chill factored in (around -29F for those of you who don’t use the Celsius system). Now that’s a tad chilly by anyone’s thermometer and since I don’t own a fur coat (don’t believe in them) by choice I’ve stayed indoors, gazing at the bright sunshine that isn’t providing a smidgen of warmth through the windows of my home. (I should add that my poor electric furnace is also getting a work-out and I’m afraid that the wheel on the meter is spinning so fast that it’s going to pop off its axis and slice through the glass casing!)

Anyhow, I digress from the point of this rant.

To try and combat the cold, 4 days ago I dug through my dresser drawers in search of some heavyweight winter tights that I have for just these occasions. In my childhood days, these were referred to as leotards, but in today’s advanced fashion terms, tights seem to be the more acceptable term. However, there’s one slight problem – I only have a couple of pairs of these winter wonders and this morning after my shower I discovered both were in the dirty clothes hamper. Uh oh…

But wait! After a little digging through aforementioned dresser drawer, I found a brand spanking new pair of ‘patterned’ tights just waiting to be unwrapped from their hermitically sealed plastic covering. I vaguely remember buying them last spring at an end of winter clearance event and had never put them to use, but today was going to be the day they saw the light. (Or darkness under my jeans to be more precise.)

Now the following description may be too vivid for some people to handle, so if you’ve no sense of humour, stop reading here.

I unfolded the beautiful jacquard patterned black tights, easing them lovingly over my toes and then rolling them up my thighs… and that’s when the elastic hit the fan. These totally posh tights STOPPED an inch short of my umm nether region! I started pulling with all my might but nope, they weren’t budging. By this time I’m sweating from the exertion of trying to haul up the now obnoxious pair of too-tight tights and I’m ready for my second shower of the day.

In a fit of rage, I grab the package to see what possible size these thigh huggers are and there on the label lies the culprit: ONE SIZE FITS ALL.

Okay. Who the BLEEP is ‘One’ and how come HER measurements are used as a gauge for the rest of us?  One isn’t even a prime number for heaven’s sake! I remember from the movie The Matrix that ‘Neo’ was determined to be The One, and frankly at this point of trying to get these stupid tights on, I was going to need a miracle of futuristic proportions in order to get them on my body!

I say we outlaw the ONE SIZE FITS ALL labelling of garments because it never does. Same goes with hats. That label equates to them being either too small or too big on me and I’ve yet to find sweaters that fit perfectly bearing that tag as well.

Let’s start a movement, ladies, to get this stupid ‘no size’ label off clothing now! How about we get rid of it and create ‘MIGHT FIT’ or ‘NO WAY HONEY’ labels instead? They might be a tad more accurate and at least not give one false hope that the garment may cover whatever body part it’s meant for.

I did manage to scrounge another older much worn pair of tights from another drawer which fit just fine. But get this: the tag on this pair says ‘Large – Tall.’ I’m 5’ 3” (and that’s pushing it) so perhaps the labelling on what constitutes tall is a tad off as well.

So, what’s the moral of this story? Don’t buy anything labelled ONE SIZE FITS ALL unless you’re 110% positive that you’re the ‘one’ who was directly involved in the construction of said garment. Either that or just take your chances and be ready for an extra workout in the morning trying to get the @#*! on J

Stay warm everyone!

Why Money Should Never Be Your Motivator

Yesterday I watched a short clip that a friend had posted on Facebook entitled “What If Money Was   No Object?” and it was so good that I shared it on my own wall. It made me stop and realize that for a good part of my life, money was my motivator – the driving force behind 90% of every decision I made.

For a lot of people, their life’s equation looks like this: work + money = success. Yet at what cost to human creativity? I wonder how many of us reach a certain age, stop and look back over our lives and wonder, “What if I’d done something different. How would I feel today?” Even worse, there are far too many people who lay on their deathbed and think, “I wish I’d followed my true passion of …” you fill in the blank.

Yes, money is important, to the extent that we need a certain amount of it to live a reasonably comfortable life. We all need a dry roof over our heads, clothes on our back, and food on our table. These are the basic necessities of life and in order to enjoy them, we need to earn money to pay for them doing some type of work. However, where is it written that we have to stifle our dreams and desires for doing what we truly love to do in order to be considered a success? Who, exactly, dictates that we need to work at a 9 to 5 J.O.B. that we detest simply because “That’s what everybody does!?”

I wonder if people like Monet or Rembrandt thought, “Well, I’ll never be rich and famous because I’m ‘just’ a painter” or if writers such as Hemingway, Fitzgerald, or so many other literary giants decided, “I’m going to write because I’ll achieve critical acclaim and be revered for my work when I die.” I suspect they, along with thousands of others who have followed their passion, did what they did because they paid attention to their innate intuition to follow what made their heart sing – to do what fulfilled them and made them want to get up in the morning, EVERY day of their life, and do it all over again.

The title of this piece is “Why Money Should Never Be Your Motivator” and here’s why I believe this statement to be true. If you base your sense of self-worth and self-esteem on the size of your bank account, you run the risk of having a zero balance – in both your wallet AND in your life. Finances have a way of ebbing and flowing, much like the tides of the ocean are governed by the moon. If your moral character is based on hard currency, then what happens if you lose all your wealth? What do you have in your ‘internal’ safety deposit box to fall back on to get you through such a hardship? Probably zilch.

I have no children of my own, but I do have nieces and one nephew whom I adore, as well as an extended family of great-nieces and great-nephews. If I were allowed to share with them only one piece of business advice, it would be this: Choose your career path by that which makes you feel happy. For if you follow your instincts and take the path that fills your soul with satisfaction, the money will eventually come. And when it does, you will most likely be more appreciative of those dollars and cents, and share your wealth (and joy) with others in the world.

Pay attention to your dreams as they will provide you with a lifetime of joy.

PS: By the way, here’s the link to the video clip should you like to watch it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=siu6JYqOZ0g

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