Hallmark Christmas Countdown (for Seniors)

It’s December! Christmas Season. The season to be jolly and to overdose on Hallmark Christmas movies.

These movies may all seem alike with the “Kiss” coming at the 59th minute of the movie and lasting to fade-out. Candace Cameron Bure hosts the Christmas Countdown, and stars in many of the movies.

There is always a good-looking, manly , male lead. usually a Canadian, and many of the small towns of Ontario, and British Columbia are used to portray Minnesota or Vermont, or Oregon. This year we saw A Christmas Scavenger Hunt which was filmed partly in my sister’s home town, here in Ontario.

We have seen every kind of plot from a woman forced to travel to a small town to buy out the cookie factory company which happens to be owned by a good looking manly Canadian male, to a good looking, manly Canadian male who is forced to travel to a small town to put everyone out of work including the woman he once jilted, usually played by Candace Cameron Bure, or Lacey Chabert.

I want to make a couple of suggestions for next year’s Hallmark Christmas movies. Mix it up a little, as my husband used to say to our daughters when they were dating. 2020 is the year for Hallmark Christmas movies for seniors. Why should Candace Cameron Bure and Lacey Chabert have all the fun?

The following titles are my suggestions for next Christmas.

  1. Falling for Christmas – The heroine, Mildred Carter, played by  Lacey Chabert’s grandmother, is on her way to the mall to do her Christmas shopping, when she falls, and breaks her ankle. But it’s no problem because semi-retired handsome, Canadian male doctor, George Ivey sets the ankle, and sets Mildred’s heart on fire at the same time.
  2. The (Faded) Sounds of Christmas – Holly Garland makes an appointment at the Hearing Centre because she was unable to hear the dialog in this year’s Hallmark movies. Semi-retired, handsome Canadian male audiologist, Fred Wilkes, fits Holly with hearing aids and fixes her TV set at the same time because the sound had been turned off!
  3. Sugar-free Christmas Cookies – Type 2 Diabetic, Mavis Grant, returns to her home town to take over the Christmas Cookie Shop that her aunt left to her. She decides to bake sugar-free cookies, to help the slightly overweight residents of North Light, Vermont, when Reggie Tudor walks into the shop to satisfy his sweet tooth and ends up going sweet on Mavis, played by Candace Cameron Bure’s grandmother.
  4.  A Blurry Christmas – Myrtle Davis’s cataracts have been bothering her for some time, when she literally runs into the town’s semi-retired handsome police chief who picks her up and personally escorts her to the eye doctor’s office, where Myrtle and the police chief, Clem Fraser, are able to take advantage of the two for one cataract surgery special, for the month of December. They don’t really see each other properly until Christmas eve, but it is okay because Clem is a handsome, manly Canadian police chief.
  5.  I’ll Be at the Home For Christmas – Maxine Simpson gets a little confused around the holiday, and wanders from the retirement residence where she has been living since her husband passed three years before. But semi-retired village taxi driver, Ralph Needham, who had been jilted by Maxine in their youth, spots her and returns her to the home and signs up to become a new resident just before.  Christmas. The “kiss” comes at the 59th minute of the movie.
  6. Mall-Walking Through Christmas – Mary Walsh joins the Mall-walking group at her local shopping centre, and catches the eye of the walking group’s president, Angus MacLean. At first he follows her up and down and around and around the mall, but eventually Mary notices that he is always at her elbow and invites him to join her. However, Shirley Biggs, has had her eye on Angus for years, and tries to stir up trouble. She sabotages Mary’s walker! This is no problem for Mary since Angus invites her to hang onto his walker and they stroll off into the early morning before the mall opens.
  7. A Bridge to Christmas – Josephine Edson needs some work done on her teeth and handsome dentist, Richard Richards, is just the manly man who can provide her with a bridge, so that she can eat the turkey dinner that she plans to have alone in her apartment. The bridge fits very well and Josephine is happy, but Richard wants to check it our for himself, and invites himself to her place for Christmas dinner. While eating, he had a slight dental accident, which leads to the movie sequel,  The Christmas Crown. Kiss at minute 59.
  8. Cold and Hot Christmas – It is -40 C (-40F) but Maggie Sutherland is roasting in her little house by the sea. Semi-retired furnace repairman, Joey Thorn, drops by to see what the problem is. There is NO problem! Maggie’s furnace works just fine. Her hot flashes are causing the overheating, and Joey suggests she cool things down a bit by taking her sweater off and then putting it on then taking it off, then… Maggie explained that that’s just what she’s been doing so they decide to get married since Joey has always been cold since his late wife passed three years before. A match made in heaven.
  9. Back to the Home for Christmas  – The sequel to I’ll Be At the Home For Christmas. Maxine wanders away again, but her man always brings her back.
  10. The Twelve Grandchildren of Christmas – Proud grandmother Janice Neville, has always wanted twelve grandchildren, and is rather annoyed at her daughter who had six boys in a row and refused to have any more babies. But Janice meets retired (yes, he retired two months ago), astro-physicist turned town handyman, Alan Carruthers, in the toy shop she is looking after for her daughter, who is still on maternity leave. Alan, who has six granddaughters, and Janice bond while building a replica of Santa’s sleigh out of Lego. Christmas dinner will be chaotic but all those boys and girls will eventually grow up and star in their own Hallmark Christmas Movies!

If anyone from Hallmark ever reads this, know that I love all the Hallmark movies and mysteries, especially the Christmas ones. I think Candace Cameron Bure and Lacey Chabert are very good actresses, but I am not sure about their grandmothers.

I’d like to be the first to volunteer my services, should Hallmark decide to produce one of these 2020 movies. My choice would be The Twelve Grandchildren of Christmas. I think it offers more scope for my acting abilities.

Merry Christmas and the Lord bless you throughout the New Year. Thanks for visiting my site. – Maureen Brasset Coyne



Birthdays and Winter

Today is my 74th birthday, and I have received good wishes from across Canada, the States, Bermuda, and South America. I’ve had cards from friends and family, texts from grandchildren, and had a great FaceTime conversation with my daughter and her family way out in Vancouver. A few gifts came my way and I had a delicious lunch with two daughters and two granddaughters. I got phone calls from another daughter (I have four) and from a beloved niece. A wonderful day!

The winter has been severe so far but I have to say I don’t mind it as much as usual because in April I am going to Bermuda again to visit my sister and brother-in-law. Yay!!!


These two photos of me were taken last week by my husband.


It was very cold and very snowy. It is not like that in Bermuda.

Have a great week and thank you for visiting!

– Maureen

Walking the Malls

When I was growing up in the 50s and 60s, in small town Nova Scotia, a night out on the town meant walking up and down and up and down Main Street, past the shops restaurants, and the teen-aged boys, who were also walking up and down and up and down Main Street. The only thing that changed was that after turning 16, we often drove the family car up and down Main Street.

A couple of small problems there! There were six of us siblings who had to share the car, so we had to be creative. One brother and I had an arrangement. He would take the car to pick up his date, and take her to the movies. He would leave the car parked in front of the town’s only movie theatre, with the keys in the ignition. I would pop by and take it out for a spin on Main Street and bring it back to park in front of the theatre. If any of his dates noticed that it was parked in a different spot, I never heard about it.

Another little embarrassing moment happened with a 1960 Pontiac that we had. While driving it one evening, at a very inconvenient moment, as I was making a right turn, I turned the signal light on, and the car horn honked three times. Loudly! The three boys who were on the corner waved cheerfully and I turned red. From that moment on, every right-hand turn caused the horn honking so I devised ways to avoid them. Instead of turning right into my driveway, I went up to the corner, turned around at the gas station, came back on the other side of the road and turned left into the driveway.

I have always been a good walker, so a couple of years ago, I joined a local gym, to keep myself active, especially in the winter months when it is too cold and windy outside, and the summer months, when it is too hot and humid. It was fairly expensive and not very interesting, and I have been looking for an alternative. I have finally found the perfect solution.

This week I joined a local shopping centre’s  mall walking group, which I will call Walk and Talk.

The women and men I met there are very friendly and welcoming and the whole atmosphere is relaxed and cheerful. And at $10 a year it’s a price I couldn’t say no to.

So far I have walked more than 10,000 steps each time I have been there. That’s been my goal for months and one which I rarely achieved until now.

It’s been a good beginning and I hope it continues in the same way.

Thanks for reading and happy walking!

– Maureen


How to Have a Conversation (with your grandmother)

Most of us already know how to have a conversation with our peers. If I meet a woman of a certain age, we can be talking like best friends in a few minutes. In fact, one of my new closest friends became my buddy just through a conversation in our local library.

This blog post is mainly for the young person who finds himself or herself, without the support and loving companionship of their smart phone or tablet, facing Grandma across the table. You could begin talking about your video game stats, your friend’s cat, or how much you love or hate a TV show.


You could start this way. “Grandma, where did you go to school? What was your most difficult subject? When or why did you decide to become a … teacher, artist, electrician, nurse, police officer? Are you happy you did?

Did you have your own bedroom when you were a kid? Who was your favourite sibling? What games did you play? Who was your best friend? Are you still friends?

What did you do to help your family? How old were you when you got your first job?  What was the worst job you ever had? What job do you wish you could have done?

Were you ever bullied? How did you handle it? What was the nicest thing a friend did for you? Did you ever stand up for a friend who was having a difficult time?

Did you ever have a birthday party? What was your best gift? What was the best gift you gave someone else? How did they react?

What was your favourite book when you were young. Why did you like it so much? Have you ever re-read it? Who is your favourite author now?

Is there a country, city, location, that you would like to visit? What would you do if you were there right now?”

These questions can be applied to any situation where you are faced with someone you don’t know much about.

Grandma can ask grandchild, you can ask a neighbour or colleague, kids can ask other kids.

Just show some interest! You might learn something new about someone. A relationship can result. You just never know where it will lead. It might turn out to be one of the best things you ever did.

Thanks for reading. Have a wonderful day! – Maureen


BERMUDA – 2018

I returned last week from an amazing trip to Bermuda, to visit my sister, Helen, her husband, and their children and grandchildren.

Do you feel excited when you are going on a trip? I couldn’t sleep the night before the flight and had already been packed for a couple of days.

I was a little disconcerted by the announcement that our Westjet pilot was Lance and our copilot Tyler. I think I taught them in grade four a few years ago!!! What happened to last names?



Helen had prepared a room for me in my own private wing of their beautiful house, and after depositing my suitcase we were off to church for prayer meeting. The music was amazing and the message was inspiring.

The next day, Helen and I went to the Bermuda aquarium and zoo. They have recently renovated it and we saw a lot of local sea creatures, and animals from all over the world.

We relaxed on the patio in the afternoon and had many cups of tea.This is the view from the main floor patio and then from the upstairs patio.

The next morning we went to visit Glass Beach which is full of colourful pieces of glass which have been tossed up by the ocean and rubbed smooth by the action of the waves on the sand. We collected a few pieces and also saw a Portuguese Man of War, a type of stinging jelly fish.

Then we went to Dockyards, passing over the world’s smallest drawbridge, and had lunch in The Frog and Onion. We browsed in all of the craft shops and I bought myself a Bermuda 2019 calendar.

On Friday we went to Hamilton and tried on hats, and had lunch in Queen Elizabeth Park. It was a beautiful day as all of the days are in Bermuda.

On Saturday we went to a hotel for lunch with Ray, and it was stunningly beautiful with the most amazing views.

The pool was very inviting but we resisted the lure of the warm water.

We drove into Hamilton again to see the ship that had just docked on Front Street. It was very impressive.

On Sunday we went for a hike on the old Railway Trail, and visited Shelley Bay Beach on the way. The views were stunning!

We went back at sunset and took a couple of beautiful photos. It is difficult to believe that there is such a place on earth and that my sister and her family live there.

On Monday we went to St. George’s, at the other end of the island from Dockyards. We really enjoyed visiting the shops and trying on more hats. I bought a Bermuda baseball cap and another purchase that I instantly regretted! We had lunch at a seaside restaurant where a friendly waiter took our photo. Even the restrooms are elegant!

We visited the unfinished Church which was started in the 1800s and was never completed. It’s in a beautiful spot, just steps away from the town.

Some of the street names are hilarious!

Here are some of the views on the way home.

On my last day we visited a private garden where I went for a little impromptu scooter ride courtesy of my bother-in-law. Then, because of an incoming squall,  we drove to John Smith’s Bay to look at the waves. Beauty everywhere!

A huge thank you to Helen and Ray for making this trip possible. I missed the worst Ice Storm of the year in Ottawa and had a restful and restoring visit. I loved seeing all the colourful houses, and especially Ecum Secum.

Helen and Maureen on an adventure.



I loved eating the bananas picked off the trees by Ray, and I was glad to take a few back to Canada with me. The Portuguese Red Bean soup was amazing, and the dinner at the Lobster Pot was delicious.

Playing cards in the evenings and visiting with the family were tops!

This is Ecum Secum, Helen and Ray’s house.

Adieu Bermuda! A la prochaine!


Yesterday in Ottawa, two marvellous events occurred at the same time, making it a monumental day for seniors!

First of all, it was a Wednesday, which meant that all city buses were free for seniors. Every week, this really gets the citizens of golden years out and heading for local malls. Especially at Christmas time.

The second breathtaking circumstance was that it was also the Old Age Pension payment date. You know what that means – every person 65 years or older goes to the bank. We all have direct deposit, but we’re not stupid – we can’t trust that the federal government will pass along our  $585.49 unless we stand in a line as long as a football field, to check it out for ourselves.

Being, good, card-carrying seniors, my husband and I put on our winter shoes, our parkas, scarves, toques, and mitts and left the house to wait for the number 40 bus, to go to the mall. The 40 is always either 3 minutes early or eight minutes late. Yesterday, it was -30C (-22F), so of course the bus was eight minutes late, and we were out there early because, you know, it could have come early!

Finally we spotted it coming around the corner and this is when the Senior Winter Olympics, Ottawa style, started.

The first event, for which I received the gold medal for Canada, was Bus Hopping. It is not as easy as it seems. The bus stop was not shovelled out and we had a pile of snow to slog through. The bus pulled up and I had to climb onto a snow bank, take a step forward, and JUMP onto the bus.

I am almost 73 years old and you would have thought my jumping days were past me, but I was like a gazelle. I nailed the landing and earned a few smiles and congratulations from the other passengers. So the Hop, Step, and Jump On the Bus event was a success.

On the 30 minute journey to Shopping Heaven, I spotted a couple of nimble seniors doing the Ice Walking event. This takes place after every freeze, thaw, freeze, and freeze even more weather. The senior approaches an icy patch and decides to go for it! No skates or cleats are used in this event. To do so would mean disqualification!

I saw an old lady actually do a couple of double axels, a flying camel, and she finished with a beautifully executed sit spin. I gave her a 9.6 and she gave me a thumbs up as she boarded the ambulance.

At about the 10 minute mark of the ride, my husband drew my attention to the Two-Seniors Bobsled event, that was taking place near the Science and Technology Centre on St. Laurent Blvd. Two old geezers, sorry, I mean, two gentlemen of a certain age, were sitting on their shopping bags, and flying like bullets down the embankment, only to come to a halt at the museum door. They were way ahead of their nearest competitors, a couple of retired civil servants (you can tell them by their suits).

We arrived at Shopping Heaven, and saw the Mixed-Doubles Slush Jumping event was just getting under way. Freeze. Thaw. Freeze. Thaw. SLUSH. The French word for slush is neige fondant, which paints a picture, doesn’t it?

In this event, husbands and wives dodge piles of drippy, salt-laden slush and try to make it through the mall doors without getting sprayed by the 3,657 buses that race by. It was very exciting, but my husband and I narrowly lost to a couple of spry 68 year olds who I think were taking supplements! I spotted a suspicious package in the wife’s tote bag, but she said it was just her blood pressure medication! Hah!!!

Inside all was festive and the Christmas carols were dancing in my head when we came upon two teams of women from a couple of rival seniors residences, just starting a game of Women’s Cane Hockey in the mall’s centre court. I knew it was hockey, because several of the women smiled at us nicely and I noticed that they didn’t have any teeth.

The women from The Good Buddies beat the The Golden Girls by a score of 3 to 2. There were several penalties, and a game misconduct, when Maude, the captain of the Good Buddies said her grandchildren were cuter than Millie’s from the Golden Girls. But they stopped fighting when I showed them a photo, taken this past summer, of my eight grandkids. They both had to agree that mine were the cutest EVER!

The morning’s events ended with the Biathlon event which includes Cross-Mall Shopping and Mailing a Christmas parcel to Alberta. Only the hardiest athletes are able to enter this event and I have heard that the contestants do their training throughout the year by waiting for the number 114 bus, which never comes, because it inexplicably and with no warning, changed its number to the 40.

Yes, this is my bus and yes, it is eight minutes late again.

I concluded the day with two gold medals.

Please stand while the flag is raised and we sing, Oh Canada!


Waiting for the 40 bus. It was 8 minutes late!

Thank you for reading and have a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year. – Maureen



The summer of 2017 is passing by very quickly. One minute you are anticipating an event, and before you can blink, it is just a memory.

We celebrated our 51st wedding anniversary in the middle of July, and a week later, our daughter turned 50. We took her to High Tea at MacKenzie King’s Estate (he was Prime Minister during WWII), and then walked around the grounds enjoying the flowers and birds and the stone ruins, brought over here from many buildings in Europe which had been bombed.

Then, a few days ago, our whole family, eighteen of us,  got together for the first time in nine years. My husband and I, our 4 daughters, 4 sons-in-law, and 8 grandchildren! Our daughter who lives in Vancouver, was on her way back from a trip to Sweden, to visit her husband’s family.

Two of the sons-in-law had had birthdays in the previous week. Then there was our daughter’s 50th, and one of our grandsons had turned 18 a few days before. Lots to celebrate!


At the top are our two oldest girls, followed by our two youngest. We had dinner together and our waiter kindly took the bottom photo.

Nine years is too long to go between these larger reunions. In 2008,  our girls were in their 30s and our grandchildren were aged 2 – 11. We were a sprightly 63 years old, but these people are keeping us young. In spirit if not in body!

No matter what the next nine years brings, I will treasure these moments in my heart forever!

Thanks for sharing in our celebrations. – Maureen


Canada’s 150th

Tomorrow Canada celebrates its 150th anniversary.

I live in Ottawa, the capital city, where 500,000 people are expected on Parliament Hill, to watch an all-day concert, starting at 9 a.m. Around noon, there will be a fly past of Canadian Military planes.  I always find this part very exciting. The jets come out of nowhere and fly fast and low.

Prince Charles and Camilla are here and I feel certain there will be a speech in there somewhere. Probably a couple more from Canadian government officials.

Security is tight this year, due to recent world events. There will be two entrance points to the Hill, and every one of those half a million people have to be scanned and have their bags searched. That is 250,000 per security post!

In front of city hall, a mobile hospital has been set up to deal with any possible medical problems, from heat stroke and overdoses, to situations requiring minor surgery. Apparently the EMTs will transport patients in golf carts, since dozens of downtown streets have been closed to traffic,

All across Canada there will be parties and flag waving followed by fireworks in the late evening.

Today I brought two of my grandchildren to the mall to buy Canada Day “stuff”. Everything is red and white. We got a frisbee, a cowboy hat, temporary tattoos, stickers, a baseball, cookies, cakes, a wind sock, cup-cake holders, pennants, and flags. Our house is decorated and I am sure when they got home, their house was next on the list. Everyone at the mall was smiling and you could just feel the excitement.

Here we are, married three days, and leaving for Montreal, en route to Zambia.

We were in Zambia in 1967 when we celebrated Canada’s 100th birthday, waiting for the birth of our first daughter a few weeks later.

Canada’s motto is “From Sea to Sea”.

From the Atlantic to the Pacific to the Arctic, Canada is a wonderful country. I pray that we will always follow the principles upon which our country was founded, back in 1867.

One cautionary note. On the 6 o’clock news tonight we were told that there would be plenty of bathrooms. There are 36 temporary toilets set up on Parliament Hill. I did the math. It works out to 13,888 people per toilet! I don’t care for those numbers. I am glad I am going to celebrate with family. There will be eight of us and two bathrooms. I prefer those numbers.


Our 13-year-old grandson with his Canada Day cowboy hat from Dollarama.

Happy Canada Day everyone!

Stay safe.




A Playlist for Me

Because John, my husband, is a techno-whiz, I know very little about the electronics in our house.

We have a “set-up”. There is a 55″ high definition TV, a sound system, a DVD player, a set-top box (?), a computer, and really about six or seven other black boxes. They are all connected through hundreds of wires and cables, and they all have their own remote, and I can’t even turn the TV on. We don’t have cable or satellite but we have 12 channels and we have Netflix (the Canadian version, which doesn’t have as many shows as the American version, which really makes little difference since there is very little we want to watch anyway). We also have Filmon, which allows us access to some British shows, among others, and I do enjoy some of their mystery series like Midsommer Murders. We can also use YouTube to play shows and music.

So here is what my husband of 49 years, 11 months, and 20 days does for me on a typical evening. He sets all of this up on his phone and they form a queue and play one after the other.

We start off with one or two ABBA songs to get things going.  Then maybe he’ll play a couple of songs by the Travelling Wilburys. I just love them. Next we might watch Escape to the Country, a British home-finding show. The last one we watched was set in Cornwall, UK.

Then we settle in with beautiful classical music playing while paintings by Claude Monet are shown on the screen. It takes my breath away! Another favourite is The Flower Duet song from Lakme, sung by Anna Netrebko and Elena Garanca. It is so beautiful.

We then go flying possibly in Norway or British Columbia, or maybe experience a terrifying landing at St. Martin. We come back to earth with some gorgeous piano music played by Ernesto Cortazar. He is my new favourite artist. He has written and performed countless pieces all of which are stunningly beautiful.

I don’t want to make anyone jealous, but often all this is played to the accompaniment of John giving me a foot rub while I relax and look and listen.

This is my Playlist. Why would I want to learn to turn the TV on anyway?

What  would be on your Playlist?

Have a great day! – Maureen







Rules at Grandma’s House

On Friday, teachers in Ottawa are having a holiday  professional development day.

So tomorrow evening my daughter is going to pick me up on her way home from work, to I can spend Friday with her two children and their dog.

The last time there was a PA Day, they came to our house and we went out on the buses, which they loved, and went to Tim Horton’s, which they loved, and to A&W, which they loved, and came back here to play video games, which they absolutely loved! We had a great day.

I told them that at Grandma’s, there is a different set of rules.

  • You can eat what you want when you want to.
  • You can read Archie comics all day if you want to.
  • A visit to Tim Horton’s for hot chocolate is a must.
  • Cookies are in the jar and you can have as many as you want.
  • Our TV and Netflix can be accessed all day.
  • Video games can be played for as long as you like.
  • You can sit whereever you want to on the bus.
  • You can change seats as often as you like.

It’s a wonder my daughter and son-in-law still want us to watch the kids!!!

But on Friday it is going to be VERY cold and I don’t want to be outdoors at all, especially not waiting for a bus. So I am going there, and the rules are different. Can you believe it???

I am looking forward to spending the day with Owen and Brynn. And Chip, the dog. The very cute dog.

I am going to stay over into Saturday so that I can go to watch the Moms play hockey against the Daughters. It should be a close match. On the one hand, the girls have been honing their skills all season long, but on the other hand, the Moms have size on their side. The girls are strong skaters. The Moms CAN skate (at least most of them can). The girls are good at passing. The Moms will try to pass, if their sticks ever touch the puck. The girls have energy. The Moms have energy bars.

Owen is coaching his Mom and putting her through the drills he himself practices before a big game. Apparently he is very encouraging. Brynn has been getting secret coaching from her Dad. I think she is going to try to get a penalty!

I just hope there is no fighting during the game. I’d hate to see how that would turn out!

I’ll have a recap of the game highlights in my next post.

Thanks for visiting. Have a good weekend. – Maureen