The Cards in My Wallet

When I was a teenager, I saw my very first credit card.  My cousin had an Esso Card and was able to buy gas for her car without money!  Very convenient, but debt issues aside, I think all those cards can be dangerous. 

It isn’t about the ability to pay back what I have “borrowed” that concerns me, it is that these seemingly innocuous plastic cards seem to be taking over my wallet and my life.

The following cards are in my purse right now:

  • Two Tim Horton’s Cards.  These can be refilled (with money) so I don’t have to use cash (money) to buy my steeped tea.  ???  Why two cards?  Well, one has on it a cute picture of a miniature hockey player, #11, which is my grandson Owen’s number when he plays hockey.  I couldn’t resist it.  The first one I had, which I am keeping, has no money on it but it does have something more valuable on it.  A picture of not so miniature hockey player, Sidney Crosby!  Enough said.
  • My card from the Sneakers Mall Walking Club entitling me to a free coffee once a month.  I used it once.
  • A Mark’s (clothing company) card for $10.00 off a purchase of $50.00, which expired yesterday.  Unused.
  • An Artistic License Card.  This was given out by my Art Teacher, Paul, when I completed one of his courses.  Funny but not useful.
  • A card from The Canadian Canoe Museum, where I have a couple of paintings hanging.  At least I know where my paintings are!
  • A card with a dental appointment on it.  A year old.
  • An Enterprise Rent-a-car card.  Purpose?  Phone number???
  • A Cleo (clothing company) Customer Card.  I don’t know what this is for.  Maybe I collect points towards “free” clothing???
  • An Yves Rocher (Body and Bath ) Customer Card.  Points for free stuff.
  • A Carleton  Cards Customer Card, which is no longer valid.
  • Two Country Style cards which promise me a free coffee/tea when I buy 9. One card is good only at their downtown location, one at any location.  I think I got a free tea there once about a year and a half ago.
  • A Coffee Culture Card promising me two free teas when I buy 9.  I’ve bought one tea there. 
  • A Government of Canada Card which announces to everyone, interested or not, that I am officially old.
  • Two Senior Ten-Ride Bus Cards.  I use these often.  One has only one ride left on it; the other is full.
  • A Northern Traditions (clothing company) Friends Card.  Points.  I have to buy a lot of sweaters to make this one worth it.
  • An OCT (Ontario College of Teachers) Membership Card.  Yes, I’ve kept my standing, even though I have retired.  You never know.
  • A Sears Credit Card.  Useful.  It also has Sears Club Points associated with it.  I think I got a $5.00 gift card a few years ago.
  • A VIA Preference Card.  Points toward free train travel.  I’ve found this card   very useful as I travel by train often.  I’ve had several free trips, probably worth a total of about $500.00.
  • A Government of Ontario Health Card, entitling me to free health care.  Period.  Very important card.
  • Two Library Cards.  One for Oshawa.  One for Whitby (the town next door).  I use both a great deal, especially now that they offer free ebooks to download for two weeks.
  • A Hudson’s Bay/Zeller’s (department store) Credit Card. 
  • A Hudson’s Bay/ Zellers Points Card.  I’ve earned several $10.00 gift cards over the last few years.
  • A Staples Dividend Card, used to receive 5% in savings.  I receive a gift coupon once every quarter, depending on how much I spend.
  • A Shopper’s Drug Mart Optimum Points Card.  I now have $50.00 worth of points.
  • A Government of Ontario Driver’s Licence.
  • An Air Miles Points Card.  Got a $25.00 gift card once a few years ago.
  • A Chapters (book store) card giving me 5% off all purchases.  Soon to be replaced by a Plum card, giving me 5% off all purchases.
  • A Major Credit Card. 
  • A Card listing the medications I currently take.

I’m pretty sure I could live without 75% of these cards.  I know I’m collecting points, but the companies are collecting personal information about what I like to buy.

These companies know my penchant for buying gift cards for my grandchildren, my clothing size (shhhh), my preference for mystery books, the restaurants I frequent, the trips I take, the colour hair dye I use, how often I visit the dentist, and the treats I buy myself. 

The Governments of Ontario and Canada know absolutely everything about me!

There is no escape! 

However, that said, I intend to declutter my wallet and will gladly bear the cost of that tenth cup of free tea, to avoid the “cost” of such a heavy wallet.

Those are the cards in my wallet.  What’s in yours?







All the World’s a Stage. Really!

Shakespeare said it over 400 years ago, “All the world’s a stage…”.  But I don’t think even he could have imagined our world.

With the arrival of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Blogging, Texting, and more, we might as well face the fact that we are always on stage.

There is scarcely an event, natural or created, that is not instantly tweeted about, photographed, and sent into cyberspace within seconds.

Flowers from my garden "instantly" uploaded to my blog post.

When Prince William and Kate were visiting Ottawa  my daughter told me they would most likely drive from the airport to downtown on a street very close to her house.  We went down the block and waited for them.  One of Michelle’s friends was in constant communication through Twitter.  “They’ve left the airport.  They’ve arrived downtown.  Oh no, we missed them.  No, wait a second, it was  just the Prime Minister.  They should be here in three minutes.”

Right on schedule they arrived.  And everyone was so busy taking photos with cell phone cameras that no one saw them! 

Let me tell you, there are a billion young people who do not care if the whole world knows every little detail of their lives.  On a recent train ride two young women sat behind us and talked about their personal lives, their intimate personal lives, if you get my meaning, and it was loud enough for the whole rail car to hear.  On the way back, two young guys talked about their quest for alcohol and how they were going to get it.  One guy showed his friend the ID he was carrying, which belonged to his older brother.  His friend asked if his brother had any other spare ID that he could have. Do they know I’m blogging about it?  Not likely.  Would they care?  Again, not likely!

Nothing can happen that is not photographed, written about, and shared within a very short time.  Big brother really is watching.

The Word on the Street

The Word on the Street is an outdoor festival celebrating  books and reading. It promotes literacy and provides an opportunity for adults and children to interact with book and magazine sellers and publishers. It has been held in downtown Toronto for the last 22 years and has grown from a small number of booths to well over 200.

There were representatives from libraries, writers’ groups, poetry writers, sci-fi writers, romance writers, Giller Prize winners, Booker Prize winners, and arts organizations. I met several romance writers who invited me to come to their next meeting to be held in October.

Part of the crowd at Word on the Street, Toronto, 2011.


Many authors were on-site to sign copies of their books.  We received many free books, a few of them signed copies. There were many stages set up for author interviews where the audience could ask questions.  I saw an interview with Guy Vanderhaeghe, a Giller Prize winner and  Chef Michael Smith, who is well-known through his cooking show on the Food channel.  There were over 200 volunteers at the fair, who ensured that everything ran smoothly.

We took the GO (Government of Ontario) train to Toronto and then the subway to the fair. It was the most amazing sight!  The day was warm and sunny with a cooling breeze and the tents were set up down Queen’s Park Street and onto the Queen’s Park grounds, behind the Ontario Legislature.  Children, parents, grandparents, and  young people milled around.  Some tents were swarmed with crowds of interested people but everyone was patient and polite.

A view of Lake Ontario from the GO Train. The footbridge in the foreground is part of the Lakefront Trail.

We had both brought bags with us and they were full by the time we left the fair.  We walked down Wellesley Street all the way to Edwards Street where we had a beautiful lunch at Red Lobster.  It was almost the best part of the day!  I had grilled salmon, steamed broccoli, a garden salad, and a baked potato.  I truly enjoyed every bite.  The restaurant was busy but quiet, the waiter polite and funny, and the food amazing.  John had half of my salad, sole stuffed with cheese and rice, broccoli, and a baked potato.

Where do you think we went after that?  To the World’s Biggest Bookstore on Edwards Street.  I browsed through the Art Department and John almost bought a book by David Baum on Quantum Physics but decided we had enough books for the day.

We walked over to the Eaton Centre where we could hear music and clapping.  There was another celebration across the street in a square and we could see a group performing on a stage.  It was amazing all the activity going on, all the happy people, families enjoying being together, and all outdoors in the sunshine.

We proceeded to walk back to Union Station and we caught the GO Train back to Oshawa, a 45 minute ride.  We had such a nice day, enjoyed each other’s company, and got lots of books to read.

An interesting view of the CN Tower from Front Street, Toronto.


The only thing missing at Word on the Street was any reference to ebooks.  I wonder why the e-book publishers and sellers were not represented.  Anyone?

A Beautiful Day in Retirement Land

This morning I woke up to the announcement that we had no hot water!  The shower in hubby’s bathroom broke and he had to turn the hot water off.  Well, I’ve brushed my teeth with cold water before so no problem.

The nearby hardware store doesn’t open until 9 a.m. so walked to the Mall where I did some mall-walking.  I belong to the Sneakers mall-walking  group and am attempting to virtually walk across Canada.  I started in St. John’s, Newfoundland on the east coast of Canada, and am making my way west.  But at the rate I’m going it’ll be a long time before I get to British Columbia! 

From there we walked to Canadian Tire, a hardware and auto parts store.  There were no parts that would fit our ancient shower.  But I did see some beautiful pumpkins.  They were for sale for $3.99 each. 

The pumpkins at Canadian Tire.

We took a different route home that brought us to the Farmer’s Market that is held each Friday in our mall parking lot.  I meant to take a photo but got so caught up in buying fresh veggies that I forgot. 

Some of the fresh veggies that we bought at the Farmer's Market.

Walking up a street near ours we passed by a  house that has its entire front lawn as a flower garden.  Every season of the year it is a treat to walk by that house.  It is just small but they obviously take great pride in their garden.

John had to go out on his bike to try to get the part.  He tried Lowe’s, but they didn’t have the part either.  They recommended another shop in the next town to ours so John is pedalling his way over there.  The only problem is that rain is predicted to start soon and John could get a little wet!

He got back about two minutes before the skies opened up.  The shower has been repaired already.

I spent the rest of the day, which turned out rainy and windy, working on this computer trying to download a couple of photos but to no avail.  I don’t know if it is a problem with our ISP or of it is something else all together. 

Even my resident techie is stumped.  So, sorry, no photos today.  As you can tell, I am updating with a couple of photos.  My techie found a round-about way to upload the pics.

Has anyone else had trouble uploading photos?  What did you do about it?

Thanks, Friends

I have been nominated for the versatile Blogger award by Nancy of notquite old.  Thanks, Nancy.  I feel coming from you that’s a real compliment.  I do hope people out there in cyberspace can get some enjoyment out of my musings.  I know I have enjoyed every one of your posts.

Now, the rules of this award state that I must link back to the original blogger, nominate fifteen of my favourite bloggers, provide links to them, inform them personally of their nomination, and tell seven things about myself that readers may not know. 

Since I just started blogging less than three months ago, I am not familiar with fifteen bloggers.  It sort of reminds me of when I get a chain email, asking me to please not break the chain, and to send it on to twelve of my closest friends.  I always break the chain because I don’t have twelve close friends on email!

So I’ll just nominate my seven favourite bloggers and hope that is acceptable.  I had thought about just “borrowing” a few blog addresses from others but that wouldn’t be honest.  Would it?

 My seven favourite bloggers:

 Fit For the Love of It 

Andrew’s Blog 

Left on Walnut


My Funny Little Life

Not Quite Old

RVing Girl

Seven Things You May Not Know About Me

  1. I am not a real blond. 
  2. I have read 77 books since January 1st.
  3. I just finished Day 278 on my read through the Bible in a year plan.
  4. I plan to move to Ottawa in the next six months.
  5. My favourite food is salmon.
  6. I am afraid of The Three Stooges.
  7. I went to boarding school for my last year of high school.

I realize that all of the seven things above could be a post in themselves!

Happy blogging and have a good day!


You Know You’re Old If…

This morning my husband and I had a discussion about age.  It went something like this:

Hubby:  We aren’t old yet, are we?

Me: We-ell…

Hubby: What would you say old is?  75?  80?

Me:  Maybe 70.

Hubby:  Well, I guess we’ll decide when we get there.

How can we tell if we’re old?  I mean the Government of Canada has given us cards that say we are.  These are the exact words:

The holder of this card receives a benefit under the Old Age Security Act.  The Government of Canada asks that you extend all possible privileges to the cardholder.

Yeah, right.  I’d like to see that happen!

You can tell you’re old…

  • if your idea of getting lucky is finding the last box of  bran on the grocery store shelf.
  • if your idea of a hot time is when your hot flashes begin to set off the smoke alarm.
  • if your legs are beginning to look like a Rand McNally Road Atlas map.
  • if the crow’s-feet around your eyes and the laugh lines around your mouth meet in the middle of your face.
  • if you stay out of certain stores because of the loud music.
  • if you go out to dinner before school is out in the afternoon.
  • if the car you drive is bigger than the PEI Ferry.
  • if your idea of a tailored outfit is tucking your shirt into the elastic waistband of your track suit.
  • if your idea of exercise is getting up four times during the night to use the washroom.

Of course I can’t relate to any of these, except maybe the one about…

I know from experience that retirement is a wonderful stage of life.  I love every day and try not to take any for granted.  They are filled with things to do but I can do them at a leisurely pace.  I take joy in discovering new things to do and new people to meet.  I am taking classes and reading books, painting pictures and listening to music. 

I take great delight in my eight grandchildren and love listening to their ideas of the world around them.  When Brynn says she loves when Grandma is silly, or Damiano keeps measuring himself to see if he is getting to be as tall as I am, or Emil tells me he is allowed to watch PG movies without his parents (he’s NOT allowed, by the way), when Enid tells me she is going to go to Japan to teach school, or Owen tells me he thinks I have a hearing problem, or Cameron and Enzo talk about their hockey games, I treasure each moment.  I would not be younger for anything. 

Well, maybe just a little younger!


10 Things I Love About Canada

I have lived in Canada for all of my life except for two years in Zambia as a newlywed and two years in the Chicago area in my mid forties.  People who criticize their country are all around us but I think it is time for a little praise.

  1. Nova Scotia.  Nova Scotia is my home and will always be in my heart.  Life is slower there and people take time to get to know you.  There is nowhere in Nova Scotia that is more than 50 miles from the ocean.  This is where I swam when I was a child.  Not very busy, is it? 
    Grandpa”s Beach near Antigonish, Nova Scotia.
  2. Quebec.  I love that we have a province where French is the main language.  My Dad was French Canadian but he never taught us to speak French.  All four of our daughters speak French and are very much at home in Quebec.  Our grandchildren are learning it as well and seem very comfortable giving a presentation in French at school.
  3. My daughter Carla took this photo last spring while walking in the Bois Franc in Montreal.

     3.  Manitoba.  We lived in Winnipeg for six years and we loved our time there.  It is “big sky country” and is so beautiful.  There are a lot of wheat farms in Manitoba and it is a treat to see huge fields of it waving in the wind.  We discovered one of the most beautiful beaches on Lake Winnipeg while we lived  there and we visited often.  Now my nephew and his family live in Manitoba.  This photo came from him.

    Grand Beach, Lake Winnipeg. Around 10:30 p.m.

  4.  Alberta.  I met my husband in Edmonton, the capital of Alberta.  Many of his brothers and sisters still live in the province.  There are flat, fertile farms and high, majestic mountains. The Rocky Mountains are beautiful and the two national parks, Jasper and Banff are known around the world for the wildlife and the scenery.
  5. British Columbia.  Vancouver held the recent Winter Olympics and is an amazing city with mountains on one side and the ocean on the other.  It also has my grandson, Emil, who lives on Burnaby Mountain.  I have three brothers and a sister who live in BC.  as well. Vancouver Island is full of natural beauty, lakes, mountains, and wildlife.  Watch for bears!
  6. The North.  My hubby is from the Northwest Territories, which lies north of  the 60th parallel.  When I first visited there, it was -50F and the sun rose around 10:00 a.m. and set around 2:30 p.m.  In the summer it is the opposite.  It never really gets dark at all for a few weeks. The Wood Buffalo Park is there and I even saw a couple of those huge animals when I was visiting there. 

    Spectacular scenery in the Northwest Territories. Courtesy our niece, Sue.


  7.  I love our health care system.  My grandson, who is hearing impaired, has had eight surgeries.  His family had to pay nothing for any of them.  He has two cochlear implants.  Each surgery costs between $45,000 and $125,000.  Cost to the family – zero!  There are sometimes waiting periods but it is really nothing.  My friend’s husband recently had a heart attack.  Within hours he had an MRI,Cat Scan, Echo Cardiogram and any test he needed.  Cost to the family – nothing.  The peace of mind it brings is priceless.
  8. I love our winter sports and activities (and the summer ones as well).  There is nowhere that is far from the countryside and all towns have a hockey or ice skating rink.  There is skiing, downhill and cross-country.  Skating on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa.

    My granddaughter, Brynn, skiing last winter, in Ottawa.

  9. Ontario.  Niagara Falls.  Canada’s Wonderland.  Ontario Place.  Rideau Canal.  Algonquin Park.  Sandbanks.  Houses of Parliament.  Queen’s Park.  The Blue Jays.  The Senators.  The Maple Leafs.  The Tiger Cats.  The Argonauts.  Lake Ontario.  Lake Huron.  Lake Superior.  Lake of the Woods.  I could go on and on.
  10. We are a country that is welcoming and supportive of people in need.  Refugees have always been able to find a home here.  We are quick to offer assistance to the victims of floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, storms, earthquakes, and other natural and man-made disasters.  We are tolerant and allow others to be themselves and teach our children acceptance. 

Canada is a great place to live.  I am sure those of my readers who live in other countries could write about their particular homeland.  I’d like to hear from you about what you love about your country.  Maybe I’ll visit your part of the world one day.

Apple Picking

We had a great time apple picking today.  Monica and I and her kids, Owen (7) and Brynn (5) and I went to Mountain Orchards for the morning.  We were joined by Julia and her kids, Colin (6.5) and Laura (4). 

We arrived and took the wagon to the orchard to pick our apples.  Unfortunately in August a small tornado and hail storm destroyed more than 50% of the crop in just 45 minutes.  There were a lot of apples already on the ground, more actually, than on the trees.  The ones left on the trees were pitted and not very appetizing looking.  There were several bins set up in the orchard already full of apples and we just picked from those.  The kids didn’t seem to mind and it was really easy.

Apples in the bin at Mountain Orchards

We managed to get some photos of the kids picking apples from the trees.  In the sunshine the day was glorious.

Brynn is having a great time trying to find a good apple to pick!

Although the trees haven’t changed colour much, you can tell they’re thinking about it!

Owen is carefully examining an apple.

When we got home we made caramel apples and the kids decorated them with candies and sprinkles.  They had a lot of fun and couldn’t wait until they cooled before tasting them.  Laura dropped hers in the grass and just picked it up and kept on eating.

Later on Owen went to hockey practice and we made acorn squash soup, apple crisp, pasta al forno and home-made salsa and bread.  Michelle, my eldest daughter came for supper with her husband Gareth and their two daughters, Amelia (11) and Enid (8).  The kids had so much fun together.  They played outside until dark.  For supper they ate outside and apart from a small food fight, everything went well.

The kids just had showers and are fast asleep in bed.  I will be following shortly!

Weekend to End Breast Cancer

I am visiting my daughter, Monica, in Ottawa.  Monica recently lost a dear friend from high school to breast cancer. My darling sister, Helen, is a breast cancer survivor.  So this weekend Monica and I are preparing a few things to help in the fight against this terrible disease.

Monica has gathered a team of friends and family to walk with her for the CIBC Run for the Cure.  Even my two pre-teen granddaughters are joining her.  She bought pink T-shirts for them all to wear on October 2, when the walk/run is to be held.

On Tuesday Monica is having a bake sale at work and we are having an intensive weekend “bake-off” to get things ready for it.  She bought pink ribbons to hand out as well.  We bought a “pink-ribbon-shaped cookie-cutter” to make cookies, and we are making loaves, cupcakes, muffins, and cookies.  They will all be bagged and they will sell for $1.00 each.

Monica invited friends via Facebook, to sponsor her on the walk and she has already raised a good sum of money for Cancer Research.  I am proud of her and I am happy to be supporting her in this endeavor.

Maureen baking for Breast Cancer Research.



Monica baking to honour her friend Brigitte.