Back in 2006, shortly after opening my doors for business, I was invited to attend a networking event sponsored by the Community Business Development Corporation (CBDC) Westmorland Albert, located in Shediac, NB. The hostess of that event was their Executive Director, a vibrant lady by the name of Karen Robinson. I, being the shy and retiring type of gal I am (NOT!) struck up a conversation with her where she asked me tons of questions about what a "œVirtual Assistant" was and the type of services I had to offer to the public.
I was still fine-tuning my offerings as it were, and happened to mention to her that I loved to help other entrepreneurs promote their businesses by writing articles for them to include in their newsletters/ezines, or for publication on the web. Before she walked away, she told me that she"™d give me a ring in a couple of weeks as she had an idea in mind of how she"™d like to promote the CBDC and thought I might be able to help her out.
Sure enough. Shortly after our first meeting, Karen called me and invited me to come out to the CBDCs office to get together with her and some of her staff to brainstorm some ideas.
And so began an almost ten year work relationship between myself, Karen, and the team of wonderful people at CBDC Westmorland Albert.
Over the years, that initial meeting between Karen and me has morphed into a combination of part business and part friendship, with healthy doses of laughter always included in our conversations and dealings. I"™ve watched this dynamo of a lady work tirelessly championing causes for rural entrepreneurs, always believing in that every business owner is capable of success if they have the right tools and training.
Today, July 29th, 2016, at 4:30 pm, Karen is "œhanging up her hat" as the saying goes and retiring from her position at the CBDC. I hesitated typing that word "œretiring" as that is not a word anyone would associate with this lady.
I"™d like to tell her to relax, read some good books at the beach, and enjoy an occasional glass of wine, but something tells me she"™s not quite finished with her desire to help others. I highly doubt she"™s going to quietly fade into the sunset, never to be heard from again as that"™s just not her style.
I do, however, know I"™m going to miss her ongoing presence in my life, as will so many others.
"œAnd here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson,
Jesus loves you more than you will know.
God bless you, please Mrs. Robinson.
Heaven holds a place for those who pray,
Hey, hey, hey
Hey, hey, hey."*
Enjoy your "œtime off" Mrs. Karen. You deserve it!
*Lyrics from the song, Mrs. Robinson, copyright 1967, "œBookends" by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel.
Remember my blog post from a week or so ago titled "œDriving With Ms. Daisy?"
Well, here"™s another one because if I don"™t write down these stories as they happen, I"™ll forget them, and they"™re just too damned funny not to share.
Ms. V had decided that she wanted to plant some "œflerers" (flowers) in the back of her ground floor condo because "œThat thare gravel jest don"™t look right." During this past winter, the gentleman who owned a condo three or four doors down from her had passed, and his beautiful red and yellow Crown of Thorns bushes were being neglected. She"™d checked with the person who was looking after the condo and asked if she could transplant them into her own garden. Ms. V got the go ahead and was waiting for the perfect day to move them over to her place. After all, she"™d already told me "œHeck, I might as wall (well) take "˜em cause he ain"™t gonna be using "˜em anymore!"
Good point"¦ I guess.
Well, Tuesday was that day.
I"™m not quite sure if it was the fact she woke up earlier than usual (around 5:30 am), or if she thought that doing hard physical labor in 80F degree heat with a Humidex rating of 90% would somehow help her lose 5 pounds from digging those plants out were the cause of her decision to do it that particular morning.
When I finally saw her text to me that morning about potentially going shopping, (that"™s a whole other story for another day), I responded saying I"™d love to go out with her, but I didn"™t get an answer. So I took a stroll out by her place only to find her digging up the plants wearing a lovely white blue tank top, white capris"¦ and glittery blue rhinestone encrusted flip flops. Oh, and using ONE work glove she"™d found on the sidewalk. (When asked about her Michael Jackson impersonation of wearing one glove, she replied "œI kin"™t (can"™t) but haul on only one piece of plant at a time!")
Keep in mind here that this Crown of Thorns plant has Â½" spikes sticking out all over its stem which if touched will cause you to bleed faster than water running out of a busted water pipe.
Ms. V is in pretty good shape, but I"™d worked up a light sweat just walking the 200"™ to where these plants were located, and you could cut the humidity with a knife it was so thick. Me, being slightly crazy and not really awake, decided to go give her a hand.
So back I go to Ms. Ohio"™s place, (I just call the people here by the state they"™re originally from "“ easier to remember them that way), ask her if I can borrow one of her old t-shirts and heavy work gloves, and off I go to give Ms. V a hand.
By the time I get back to her, she"™s got one of the spikes dug out lying on the ground. Wielding that pitchfork l
ike she was stabbing the very Devil to death, she was trying to dislodge the main plant which was about 8" around and I"™m sure, buried at least two feet deep. The conversation went something like this:
"œMs. V, don"™t you have a shovel?" said I, seeing that the plant wasn"™t budging an inch no matter how hard she was leaning on that pitchfork.
"œ"™Yars"™ (yes) I do, but I done left it up at my condo. It"™s "œlearning" (leaning) on the perch (porch) wall and I"™m too lazy to go git it."
I retrace my steps, get the hoe, and go back to the scene of the grime, I mean crime. (Ms. V was now sporting some mud on those bright, shiny blue flip flops.)
"œYou move over to the side and I"™ll start digging to see if I can"™t get some of the soil to move around the base of this plant" I said, proceeding to dig away.
Dear lord in heaven, I swear the ground surrounding that plant had been baking in the Florida heat for 30 years! It was harder than cement and the size of the shovel base was about the equivalent to a large garden spade. I wasn"™t making much of a difference. (I think Jimmy Hoffa might be in there somewhere!) At this point I felt sweat starting to build up at the back of my neck.
"œPass me the pitchfork, Ms. V, and let me try moving it with that."
"œHare you go," she said, passing me the tool. She then proceed to literally bend over and haul one of the smaller shoots out by hand, saying "œIf I a wanna somethin"™ done it"™s gonna git done, one way or ta other!"
Whoosh! Out comes that Crown of Thorns so fast it almost hit me. I"™d switched to the shovel thinking I could make better headway and laid down the pitchfork on the ground close to Ms. V. When I saw that huge stem popping out, I turned around fast to avoid the thorns and stepped on the pitchfork handle. You know what? Those cartoons where they show the doofus being hit in the head because they stepped on the handle of a pitchfork are totally correct! Thankfully I dodged the upcoming handle and avoided being knocked out cold.
I picked up the @#*! pitchfork, drove it into the cement-like ground with every ounce of strength I had, and started digging.
An hour later, after I had sweat so much I could have wrung out a gallon of water from my bra, we"™d relocated "œthem thare" plants which were now transplanted at the back of Ms. V"™s lanai. She wanted me to place some of the shoots over to the side, pointing to the middle of the space saying "œJest dig a hole thare. I think a piece of two of them would look right nice thare, don"™t you?" I shoved that pitchfork into the spot she indicated and it fetched up against something solid. That"™s when I noticed what was either an electrical box or sprinkler system sticking out of the ground about a foot a way and called a halt to further excavation.
I"™m now officially toast.
I can not move a muscle, I stink to the high heavens, have dirt all down my legs and arms, yet other than muddy blue rhinestone studded flip flops, Ms. V, always the Southern genteel lady, looks like she"™s just gone for a stroll in the park.
Moral of this story? Never, ever underestimate the stamina or strength of a Southern belle because she"™ll beat you into the ground every time.
And after seeing Ms. V drive that pitchfork into that almost solid rockbed, I hope I never, ever piss her off.
PS "“ I told Ms. V that after going through all that trouble to transplant those "œflerers" I expect to get pictures sent to me via email every six months on the progress of our work. Those suckers had better live!
For 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: "œThare 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, "œWell, "˜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 "œHe 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 "œbleedin"™ 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, "œOh 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) "œHa! 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, "œWaell"¦" (Long, drawn-out version of the word well.) "œThat 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.
As some of you probably know, we are born with only two fears: that of falling and loud noises. Anything else we may fear we"™ve developed through our own beliefs or through the teachings or warnings from others. (more…)
Today 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 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…)
"œSmile at strangers and you just might change a life." "“ Steve Maraboli
One 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…)
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.
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.
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.
Meet 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.Â 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 "œBounty 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, "œSweetie, 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 "œOMG! 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. "œYou won"™t believe this", said hubby, "œBut 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!
As 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 "œsend" here"™s what showed up on my screen:
"œSorry 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 "œfurring" anyone let alone my wonderful accountant is anybody"™s guess. (And yes, furring is an actual word. One definition is "œfurring 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 "œI guys" is the new pluralized version of "œus" or perhaps a new urban rap phrase, as in "œI 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:
"œSorry 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.