Life Lessons

Once in a while something happens in our lives that we can turn into a Life Lesson.  It can be something small and maybe insignificant.  It can pass in a moment and is often soon forgotten.  When I was teaching young children, we called them “teachable moments”.  Well, today I had one of those moments, and I can only hope that the other person involved will remember and learn something important from it.

I had to do some errands and I took my shopping wagon on the bus with me to go to South Keys Shopping Centre here in Ottawa.  In Walmart I bought an egg timer and after paying for it, popped it into my wagon.  Then I went to Chapters and bought a book.  My next stop was Loblaws where I purchased six items.  They were quite heavy and I was glad I brought my cart with me.  It was difficult to get it up the stairs at the bus station, but I managed since the elevator wasn’t working.

I waited a few minutes for the bus and when it came I could see that it was crowded with young people returning home from school.  They were standing in the aisle and I joined them.  It was not easy trying to stand on the bus and hold onto my cart.  Then I spotted a free seat and made my way towards it.

Turns out there was a young woman, about 18 years old, sitting in the next seat and she had her backpack on the empty seat.  There was an older man sitting behind her and he looked at the seat, at me trying to balance myself and just shook his head.

I said, “Excuse me, I’d like to sit there.”  No answer.  She just turned away and looked out the window.  Now I am a nice person.  Politeness is important to me.  But this young lady needed a life lesson and she needed it today.  I obliged.

I reached over and poked her in the arm.  I said, “I want to sit there.”  She grabbed her backpack off the seat and returned to her window-gazing.  I sat down.

Lesson # 1 – Your backpack is not as important as the comfort and safety of a fellow passenger, especially if he/she is an older person or is trying to cope with a cart or stroller.

Lesson #2 – This is for all the young people on that bus.  Offer your seat to an older person or to a mother with young children.  Think of how good you’ll feel.  Think of how good they’ll feel.

Lesson #3 – This is for the teenaged girl sitting with her friends around the middle of the bus.  Keep your “f-bombs” to yourself.  You had the loudest voice on the bus and I wasn’t impressed with your language.  We all know those words and we are not impressed.  It is a public place.  And by the way, the lack of knowledge you displayed about things my 10 year-old grandson knows about was laughable.

I like and admire young people.  But think about the world outside your narrow one, once in a while.  Make your parents proud of you.  Make YOU proud of you.  Be nice.  Be polite.  Be kind.

Life Lessons are opportunities to grow and mature.  Try it!

Kids’ Weekend

This past weekend was a “kids’ weekend” at our house.  We were having a Sleepover!

Owen and Brynn’s parents were celebrating their tenth wedding anniversary and we agreed to have the little ones to stay over from Saturday morning until Sunday afternoon.  According to their Mom, they woke up early, came into their bedroom and asked, “When does the sleepover start?”

It was difficult for them to wait until after breakfast before coming over.  They packed their own bags and were off.

The first thing we did was go for a bike ride on the trail near our house.

A bend in the trail.

They absolutely loved it!  It had rained the night before and they had to ride through every puddle.  Owen who is almost 8 literally rode circles around us, while 6 year-old Brynn and I brought up the rear.  She has been riding “sans training wheels” for only two weeks so it was important to keep a close eye on her.

When we got back home, the kids were soaked so we had to do a load of laundry and they changed into their Sunday clothes.  We drove Brynn to a birthday party and we took Owen to Canadian Tire to buy a new basketball.

We picked Brynn up and went to McDonald’s for supper.  The evening was spent reading and playing.  Bedtime went smoothly and lights were out by 9 p.m., only a little later than usual.

Sunday morning I made French toast and sausages for breakfast which everyone enjoyed.  Then Owen and Grandpa went for another bike ride, this time to Tim Horton’s for a doughnut.  Brynn and I stayed home and baked muffins and cookies.  They were delicious.

Do you know what it is like to talk to and cuddle the children of your children?  It is the most amazing feeling and brings such joy.  We found them fun and funny.  We want a repeat.  Soon!

Next we want to have 12 year-old Amelia and 9 year-old Enid stay with us.  I don’t think their parents would mind!  Carla’s 3 boys (aged 14, 12, and 10) will probably be here shortly after that.  Then all that would be left would be 7 year-old Emil, from way out in Vancouver.  They are going to Sweden this summer to visit his other grandparents, so it probably won’t be for a while.

This past week, my sister, MJ, became a grandmother for the first time, to a sweet baby boy.  Congratulations to all the family.

We just can’t wait for the next kids’ weekend.  But I didn’t tell you that as soon as they left on Sunday, we had a long nap and we went to bed around 8:30 that evening.  But that’s okay.  Brynn fell asleep in the car on the way home

(As you can see, Hubby came through, and I am again able to upload photos into my posts.  Things are really turning green along the trail!)

Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat

Subtitle:  Computer – 1, Woman – 0

I began this post a week ago.  At that time I had taken a walk along the beautiful trail that runs near our house and I was ready to download the photos I took of the early spring day.

Well, that didn’t happen!

I have to tell you that my love/hate relationship with my computer and all my electronic devices has now become a hate/hate relationship!  Hey, I’m still attracted to every new device and gadget that comes out on the market, but the scales have fallen from my eyes.  Those devices all HATE me!!!

First of all I was able to load the photos onto my computer from my camera.  Great!  Except that when I went to “insert” them into my blog, I was faced with a blank screen.  There was no way that I was going to be able to get those photos into my post that day.  Or the next.  Or…

Right.  I shut the computer off and have been seething with resentment and bitterness ever since.  Why am I writing another post when it is obvious that, despite being married to an electrical engineer who knows all about these fiendish machines, I know ZIP, NADA, RIEN???

It’s like this.  I need to post.  I need to write.  I need to share.

My computer woes have me shook up.  I decided to “e-file” my taxes this year.  With my income it should be a quick job.  Heck, my daughter did hers while talking to me, and despite a medical condition which I’ve written about in my post “Braless at the Heart Institute”.  Hers took twenty minutes.  Mine took two and a half hours.  I got into one of those “loops” that had me going around in circles like a merry-go-round.  Lots of noise but going nowhere.

I wanted to buy an e-book for my Kobo reader.  Nothing simpler?  Ha!!!  When it came time to check-out, the ******* machine asked for a coupon number.  Keyed it in.  Then it asked for the security code.  Keyed it in.  Then it asked for the coupon number.  Then it asked for the security code.  It was the run-around again and I gave up.  In the end the machine added the cost of the book to my credit card account which I didn’t really want.

Why do I still salivate when I hear about a new tablet, computer, smart phone, or PDA???  I don’t know.  Do you?

By the way, notice there are no photos in this post.

I

Since the beginning of April I’ve been trying to meet the “challenge” of posting 26 days in April, using all 26 letters in the alphabet.  Today’s effort involves the letter “I”, so I decided to write about myself!  I mean it’s my blog, I can write what I want!

I used to live in Nova Scotia, and I cannot imagine a better more beautiful, peaceful place in which to be brought up.  My town had only 4,500 residents, which increased by about 2,000 when the university was in session.  I went to high school and university there and got my teaching degree there.

I was born into a family which already had 4 brothers.  Eventually we five were joined by 3 more brothers and 3 sisters (thank God).  I love and respect all of my siblings and miss my brother Jimmy, who died six years ago at the age of 55.

I started teaching in Alberta at the age of 20.  I was so young that on pay-day, once a month, when the teachers at my school went out for a beer, I was too young to get into the bar!  I didn’t drink anyway and still don’t.  My first assignment was a class of 34 Grade 1 students.  I still remember them fondly.

I met my husband in Alberta and we got engaged after only 3 months and married the following summer.  He’s still my hubby after nearly 46 years.

I went to Zambia, Central Africa, to teach as a volunteer with CUSO, a Canadian university volunteer organization.  I taught Math to high school students, which was a challenge after teaching six-year-olds.  I made many good friends there.

I have 4 daughters who are wonderful women.  Between them, they have all the virtues covered!  They have given me 8 grandchildren – 5 boys and 3 girls, the best ever!

I have visited 14 countries, lived in 3, visited 3 continents, and also visited 9 out of 10 Canadian provinces and 1 out of 3 Canadian territories.  My hubby is from the Northwest Territories, north of the 60th parallel.

I taught in elementary schools until I retired at age 65, two years ago.  A fantastic career and very fulfilling.

I recently moved to Ottawa, and am enjoying the life here.  The future is waiting for more adventures!

Hubert Humphrey

Hubert Humphrey was a vice-president of the USA.  In 1967, I was living in Africa and I saw him as he was being driven past me on the streets of Lusaka, Zambia.  This post is about famous people I have seen and/or met over my 67 years!

  • Lester B. Pearson, Prime Minister of Canada.  He was visiting my hometown and I stopped the car I was driving, to allow him to cross the street!  Quite a thrill back in the 60s and I have to say he was much-loved and respected, winner of a Nobel Peace Prize.  I cried when I heard he had died.
  • Joe Clark.  Joe Who? Former Prime Minister of Canada.  He was standing, all by himself, in the Winnipeg airport, waiting for his flight.  He smiled and seemed a little embarrassed.  There were no security officers around him.  Just Joe.
  • Hubert Humphrey, VP, USA.  He was visiting Zambia, and I just caught a glimpse of him.
  • Hallie Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia.  I also saw him in Zambia, in a motorcade as he was being feted by the President of Zambia.  I’m pretty sure that by the time he got back to Ethiopia, he was ousted as Emperor.
  • Kenneth Kaunda, President of Zambia.  We were invited to a reception at State House, where we met Kaunda.  He was a little late because he had been on the phone with Harold MacMillan, Prime Minister of England.  They were discussing whether or not Zambia would remain in the Commonwealth, because of the Rhodesian Crisis.  He assured us that Zambia would remain part of the British group.
  • Phil Esposito, hockey player for the Boston Bruins.  Met him in an airport.
  • Wayne Gretzky, Hockey Player, Edmonton Oilers.  I was at the airport in Winnipeg and stopped the car to let a bus let off its passengers.  I noticed that all of them were young well-dressed, good-looking men.  And then Gretzky appeared.  Something to tell my daughters.
  • Mickey Mantle, Baseball Player, New York Yankees.  I was visiting my cousins in New York.  We went to a double-header and stayed after to meet the players.  My cousin was a big baseball fan too.  That was exciting!
  • Roger Maris, Baseball Player, New York Yankees.  Same evening,  We also met all of the other Yankee players but they were the two I remembered.  It was Elston Howard night at the game and i remember he was presented with a car!
  • The Pope.  He was visiting Winnipeg when we lived there and we went to a huge outdoor mass and the “Popemobile” was driven directly in front of us.
  • The Queen.  Also Winnipeg.  I figured I saw the Pope, I might as well stay to see the Queen.  She waved and looked happy to see us!!!
  • Prince William and Kate.  Saw them in Ottawa last summer.   I was visiting my daughter and she told us that all motorcades from the airport drive right past her neighbourhood so we popped down the street and they drove by slowly, waving at everyone.  It was very exciting.

That’s all I can remember right now.  What about you?  What famous or infamous people have you seen or met?

Gardens & Grubs

I love gardens.  Really I love the idea of gardens,  The doing of gardens – not so much.

When I was a kid, we had a large backyard, but in no way could it be called a garden.  First of all there were eleven of us kids, and we were not the most organized group of children.  My Mom was too busy with the latest baby to garden and my Dad, well, he would possibly dig a garden (or get our Uncle Alex to do the excavating, more likely) but I don’t think Dad would remember where he had planted things let alone remember to water or fertilize the poor little plants.  It could almost be classified as a case of herbicide, the little chance those plants would have.  There would be no neat little fence or rows with little labels on cute little cards.  To grow in our yard the plants had to be tough.  They had to be hardy.  They had to be crazy!

When I got my first house (in Africa), our servant planted two dead sticks in the parched, dry ground.  I thought he had a few carrots short of a row until the rains came.  After the first rain of the season, the sticks sprouted little green leaves and they took root and flourished.  I couldn’t believe it.  We had banana trees, morning glories, and other exotic plants in our tiny garden.  I didn’t have to do a thing.

Back in Canada, in Montreal, I planted six daffodil bulbs in our back garden.  The next spring, up they came in all their yellow glory.  I couldn’t believe it.  I did it myself and I was so proud.  Maybe too proud, because a couple of days later our neighbour’s son picked them all and gave them to his mother!

I did have a couple of semi-successful gardens, in Winnipeg and Chicago, although in Chicago the slugs got into the cauliflower and I just didn’t harvest them.  Let the greedy little slugs die from overeating cauliflower.  I wasn’t going near them.

Now I am faced with a new dilemma.  I have a place for a garden.  It is a strip of dirt (soil is too good a word for this spot) beside the garage, measuring about 1.5′ x 15′ running along the walkway from the driveway.  Right now it is just sort of mud, with a small crop of cigarette butts and broken plastic bottle, with a little mound of something which is probably the doodoo of an unfriendly neighbourhood dog.  Well, actually the butts, plastic, and doodoo have all been cleaned up and are awaiting The Planting. 

I think I’ll plant some glads, some alyssum, and some hostas.  But today I saw a “flower runner” which is like a carpet of flowers already planted, which you just have to water and before you can arrange a dozen roses, you will have either an English country garden or a meadowland wildflower display.  Do ya think?

Well, what ever I do it should be better than my friend’s garden which is currently infested with grubs.  She says the grass peels back like a toupee when the wind gets under it, because the grubs have eaten all the roots.  And the skunks have descended on them in search of the grubs.

Kinda makes my strip of dirt seem like not such a big problem after all.

Thanks for reading and have a great time gardening.  Or not!

Fun (Senior Style)

Life is not all about having fun, but hey, fun is important, isn’t it?

For a senior, fun can be as exciting as getting the Senior’s Discount at Tim Horton’s.

I’ll describe a typical day in the life of two fictional seniors, who recently moved to Ottawa.  Any resemblance to Hubby and Me is totally incomprehensible!!!

  • 5:00 a.m. – Hubby gets up.  Yes, it’s early, but it’s all those naps he takes during the day!  They catch up with him, usually around five in the morning.
  • 5:30 a.m. – He goes for a walk to get the papers.  These papers are free, which is very exciting and fun!
  • 6:00 a.m. – He turns on the TV.  We don’t have cable or satellite, but by the miracle of computers, he is able to find a couple of channels.  They are free, which is fun!
  • 6:30 a.m. – He has his breakfast of coffee and a croissant.  The croissants are 5 for $1.00, which is a pretty good deal and therefore fun!
  • 7:00 a.m. – He has a little nap to let the croissant get comfy in his tummy.
  • 7:30 a.m. – I The wife wakes up.  She stays in bed reading her email and checking her favourite bloggers. This must be fun because she does it for an hour.
  • 8:30 a.m. – Wife comes downstairs and has breakfast.  High fibre cereal and a huge cup of tea.  You know what the fibre is for and the tea is just for fun!
  • 9:00 a.m. – Wife and Hubby continue reading the papers.  Wife does the crossword puzzle and the Sudoku puzzle.  She finds this fun.
  • 10:00 a.m. – They talk about what they want to do today.  Hey, it’s Monday.  The buses are free in the afternoon, which is always fun! They decide to go to the mall to pay some bills.  This is an exciting occurence because 1) they actually have the money to pay the bills, and 2) the bus is free.  Fun!!!
  • 11:00 a.m. – They spend the better part of an hour searching for the bills, gathering up their glasses and bus schedules.  Not quite so much fun!
  • 12:14 p.m. – They walk across the street to get the bus.  He wants to be there ten minutes ahead of the scheduled arrival time.  She points out that it is right across the street and they are always too early.  This happens every time, so it must be fun.
  • 2:30 p.m. – They have had their lunch (a two-for-one special of course) and have just cashed in their free coffee coupons at Tim Horton’s.  It’s “roll-up-the-rim-to win” time and there is a chance to win a Toyota or camping gear or one of 2,000,000,000 free coffees or donuts.  This is just a chance but is fun nonetheless.
  • 4:00 p.m. – We’re They’re home again.  Nap time for hubby and time for a decaf tea for her.  This is fun!
  • 5:00 p.m. – Time for a bike ride on the trail by their house.  The trail winds its way through the trees, past parks, and ends up at the library.  They decide to pick up a couple of books while they’re there.  Libraries are free which makes it fun!
  • 6:00 p.m. – While Hubby naps wife scrambles a couple of eggs for supper.  They eat in front of the TV watching “Monty Don’s Italian Gardens”, or “THe Story of Fractals”, or even “Country Houses of Britain”.  Almost too much fun, as Hubby falls asleep and Wife starts reading a book on her eReader.  “The Murder of a Stone Mason” or something like that.
  • 8:00 p.m. – Hubby wakes up and says it is time to go to bed.  He just has to turn off his computer in the basement.  Wife decides to do a blog post when she hears sounds of computing coming from the lower regions of the house.  This part is really a lot of fun!
  • 10:00 p.m. – Time for bed at last.  What a day!  Wife gets out her eReader to find out whodunnit and Hubby falls asleep from exhaustion.

Next post will explain how it takes fifteen minutes to put their shoes on, another fifteen to find their sunglasses, twenty to search for their phones, half an hour to take out the trash, and at least an hour to tidy up after supper!

But it’s all fun!!!

Eight (Reasons I am Happy)

I am a happy person.  I tend to see the bright side of situations and people alike.  I choose to be happy.

  1. I have a husband who loves me and has always been my biggest fan.
  2. I have four intelligent, lovely, kind, thoughtful, and compassionate daughters.
  3. My daughters have given me the absolute best gift any person could ever have.  I have eight amazing grandchildren ranging in age from 6 to 14.  I averaged one a year for a while!  These kids are hilariously funny and so sweet.
  4. I had a successful and fulfilling career as an elementary school teacher.  I loved each student and found them interesting and funny.  Every year when I got my class list for the coming year, I prayed for all of my students and their families.  It often helped to see them as I imagined God saw them.  Little ones in need of educating.
  5. I can’t say enough about the friends I’ve had.  My three sisters, my seven brothers, my cousin, and all the other teacher friends and art club friends have made my life a joy.
  6. I live in a city that has been named the best city in Canada in which to live.  We moved here in mid-December and we have loved every minute of living closer to three of our daughters.  Hopefully, we’ll be able to visit more often with our fourth daughter who lives on the west coast of Canada.
  7. I have a great hobby – my art.  It has been something which I can pick up at any time and I can become totally engrossed.  I’m not as good as I’d like to be, but I’m better than I was, and it brings me happiness.
  8. This is the most important source of my happiness and peace.  I am happy that I am a Christian.. This Easter season I am thankful for His sacrifice and for his Resurrection.

Thank you for reading and have a Happy Easter. – Maureen

Detectives

I love detective novels, detective novel writers and detectives.  I sometimes, but rarely, figure out whodunnit before the author reveals all, but I keep trying.  Actually that’s part of the fun for me.

Here are some of my favourites:

  • Miss Marple – This character was created by the inimitable Agatha Christie.  Miss Marple is an “older” unmarried woman, who lives in a village in England and is a keen observer of the foibles of the people who live around her.  She uses this information to help her understand the criminal mind, often commenting that “it reminds me of Dora, my maid, who ran away with the milkman.”  The police find this little old lady annoying, until they realize what a unique brain she has.  A classic.
  • Hercule Poirot – Another detective created by Agatha Christie.  He is a “foreigner”, a Belgian, who is often mistaken for a Frenchman.  Poirot lives alone and insists on his surroundings being symmetrical and in perfect order.  He detects using his “little gray cells” and rarely stoops to running around looking for clues.  He astounds the police and has a very healthy belief that he is the world’s greatest detective.
  • Hamish McBeth – Hamish is a Scottish police constable who appreciates the slow pace of his life in a small village.  He works hard at avoiding being promoted since he would be required to move to a larger city, so inevitably gives the credit for solving the crime to one of his police buddies.  He falls in love very easily and is not above a bit of poaching.  But he uses his knowledge of the highlands and its people to nab any criminal who is foolish enough to commit a crime on his beat. Created by M.C. Beaton.
  • Agatha Raisin – Agatha was also created by M.C. Beaton.  She is a fiftyish woman who lives in a village in the Cotswolds in England.  She is a retired publicist who had her own business and made a lot of money.  She decided to move to the country to enjoy life but she is bored and ends up creating her own detective agency, employing an old man, a teenager, and several other misfits and between them all they manage to ferret out the truth.  Add in James, her next door neighbour and on-again-off-again love interest, Roy Silver, her former employee, and Sir Charles, who comes and goes like the wind, often getting caught in Agatha’s bed by her current love interest, and you can see that Agatha has her hands full.
  • Precious Ramotswe – Created by Alexander McCall Smith.  Mma Ramotswe lives and detects in Botswana, Africa.  With some money left to her by her father, she starts The Number One Lady’s Detective Agency.  She is a gentle woman who knows the African people and with the help of her assistant, who scored 97% in the Secretarial exams, and by musing over cups of red bush tea after travelling around in her beloved small white van, everything is settled to the satisfaction of all her clients.

Other favourite authors include:

  • Deborah Crombie
  • Caroline Graham
  • Ann Granger
  • Janet Evanovich
  • Rhys Bowen
  • Gail Bowen
  • Earl Stanley Gardner
  • Ian Fleming
  • David Baldacci

Do you have a favourite author or detective?  I’d like to hear about them.  Thanks for reading and have a great day. – Maureen

 

Computers

I have had a real love/hate relationship with all my computers, both past and present.

My first computer was a Commodore 64.  Remember that one?  It was a wonder and opened to me the whole world of computing, downloading, uploading, entering data, RAM and ROM, DOS, and Easy Script, a word processing program.  I mean, who knew words had to be processed?  But I have to admit, being able to “fix” a mistake by backspacing was a welcome change from ink erasers or WhiteOut.  I adored my 64.  Total cost about $800.00.

Next was some sort of IBM PC, which had to have its head parked whenever you were going to move it!  I didn’t know a computer had a head and I didn’t know where it got parked, but it had to be done.  There were floppy discs and more sophisticated word processing.  Total cost about $5000.00.

There were a few 386s and 486s after that, each one becoming more and more complex.  Information was lost on a regular basis and I can tell you I shed many tears over work that hadn’t been backed up and therefore had to be retyped.  The discs became smaller but held more information.  After that came Pentiums.  I don’t know what that word means but as far as I can tell, it means expensive and fast.  If you didn’t have a Pentium, you would hang your head in shame.  No nerd would admit to it anyway.

At the school where I taught, all the teachers were involved in a partnership with a company which provided each teacher with a free laptop, modem, and printer.  Together these things cost about $5000.00 for each teacher, and were intended to help us in our classroom management and in our research.  They really were important in helping me to become more computer literate and assisted me in lesson planning and assessing the students.

Later on, each teacher had a computer on his/her desk which was used for recording attendance and marks, and some fo them even connected to Smart Boards which were at the front of the classroom and could be manipulated by touching the screen.  Every teacher wanted a Smart Board (Cost – expensive) but only 5 or 6 teachers actually got one.

The most important thing we used the computers for was for report cards.  We had a software program for this and the headaches it caused was incredible.  Sometimes all of my 40+ hours of work on the reports was lost.  It just disappeared into cyberspace.  At times like these, I called on the assistance of Hubby, an engineer and computer nerd whiz.  I can tell you the tears were flowing and I made promises to him that I cannot repeat here for fear that he may read this post, and hold me to them.  Just let me say that he is going to be happy for the rest of his life.

Since those days, we have had one or two computers which promised to be bigger and more powerful or smaller and even more powerful.  It’s all about power.  According to hubby, our last five computers had enough power to enable us to rule the world.  I’m pretty sure we aren’t in charge of the universe yet, but there are even more powerful computers on the horizon for the future, so I guess there’s still hope for a take-over.

Many times, computers do NOT do what you want them to.  There is no way to figure out why.  Most of the time, I just do what Moss and Roy from, “The IT Crowd”, say to do, “Have you tried turning it off, and on again?”  It doesn’t always work but it gives me something to do other than weeping bitter tears of regret for the old paper and pencil.