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.
Warning: 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? Â 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!