The winds of change

My husband was watching a stock channel on television, not something I typically tune into, but I happened to overhear an economist talking about the effects of the global pandemic on our future and it caught my attention. He was talking about the job market and said retailers have been looking for an opportunity to eliminate the simplest of jobs by automation, and while no business would wish a deadly virus on society, this pandemic has provided them with the very opportunity they needed. He went on to say that by the year 2022 we would not see any cashiers in stores, rather we’d be using self check outs and paying with cards, thereby eliminating cash. This startled me in many ways most importantly, how would so many in society make a living if even the most basic jobs are gone?

Over the last few months the Covid virus has abruptly swept across the globe not only claiming lives, but seriously changing our day to day lives and negatively impacting our economies. Many small businesses are closed for good and those corporations large enough to survive now see new ways to do business. Employees are working from home and managing. Many claim to be happier because they can structure their day to ensure work and family balance, and employers who now see their people can be productive working from home so no longer need large office space. (I wouldn’t want to be a commercial real estate holder right now)

We are distancing from friends and family and when we do have social contact we are re-evaluating how and how much. The changes caused by this pandemic are making us more selective of who we choose to be with, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Perhaps we should’ve been more selective all along. I’m seeing more and more families together, laughing, playing, even working together. My neighbourhood has never been so beautifully landscaped because while isolating at home families are making projects to clean up their properties.

Children are missing their schoolmates, no question, but they’re finding new fun with siblings and parents and the joy appears to be reciprocal. This is not a bad thing.

Couples are reconnecting because when we all work from home there’s no escaping each other so if the relationship was strained before this pandemic will make it or break it and that’s not a bad thing either because it forces us all to face our situations. If it was bad before, putting off the inevitable isn’t going to fix it.

The pandemic is also testing world leaders making it easy for all to see those who are strong and capable of leading their nations through a crisis and those who clearly aren’t. (I’ve never been prouder to live in Canada)

Every day brings a new normal, something new to get used to, like it or not, and while we were once so resistant to change, we now have come to accept that the winds of change are here to stay. Life will never go back to where it was, and that too may not be a bad thing.



New world



Till Death do us part

Why do we choose the partners we do? And if we had the knowledge we have now, way back then, would we still make the same choice? (now there’s a loaded question)

I know a number of couples whose relationships are contentious at best, and you have to wonder not only why they’re still together, but what on earth could’ve brought them together in the first place. They have little to nothing in common and they fight openly and consistently, yet they are loyal to each other. Is it simply a matter of comfort and familiarity? (I guess it’s easier to stay with the devil you know)

I married for love (next time I’m going for money) and fortunately for me that worked out well. Now that’s not to say it’s been easy. The people we love can be a royal pain. We do, on occasion, get on each other’s nerves; irritating routines and annoying habits all take their toll on our patience and for some (ok, me) that fuse of tolerance is just a wee bit shorter (it’s really hard to be patient with someone who is almost always wrong) The simplest things become monumental.

My husband is a creature of habit, especially when it comes to eating. He loves his meat and potatoes and I’d venture to say he’s probably never eaten anything without his line-up of condiments. Now over the 38 years we’ve been married, I’ve become a pretty good cook  (largely out of necessity….he doesn’t cook and doesn’t want to, so it was learn to cook or starve) I take great pride in some of the meals I present to my family so when he plops a giant bottle of ketchup on the table before even tasting the food, I take issue with it. An expensive cut of meat that’s been expertly cooked differs little in flavor from boiled cardboard once you smother them in ketchup.

He disagrees, and since he rarely cooks himself I cut him little slack here. His entire culinary repertoire consists of mashed potatoes and homemade croutons, each of which he executes with such excruciating detail (and a HUGE mess) but neither of which requires any great skill, however, I always eat them without complaint and I do not ‘add’ any additional seasoning or condiments without trying them first.

Recently my daughter and her family were over for dinner and I was trying a new recipe I’d seen on a cooking show. It required a lot of last minute attention and because my daughter is a vegetarian I had to make 2 versions of the meal, doubling my last minute efforts. At the eleventh hour my darling decided he wanted Swiss Chalet Sauce with this meal (heaven knows why…I wasn’t serving chicken)  We have a powdered mix I’d stupidly purchased for him (he would occasionally drive to Swiss Chalet to buy just the sauce and it drove me crazy to see $1.79 go through our account so when I saw a powdered mix version of it I bought it…who knew it would come back to bite me?)

I had two pans on the go for some last minute frying I had to do and along comes my darling with a pot and his *^#$% sauce. After a few minutes one of my pans was ready to go much earlier than the other so puzzled I checked the temperatures and sure enough he’d moved my pan to another burner so he could make his sauce. Now I’m a reasonable woman but when you sabotage my meal for want of your 99 cent gravy I have a  problem with it but this time I decided to exercise some tolerance and laughed off this little idiosyncrasy. Would’ve worked too had he not plunked a big bottle of ketchup on the table. (can’t you just see the next days headlines “Wife beats husband to death with ketchup bottle”)

At the end of the day I suppose we all have our issues with those closest to us. It’s not easy living with another and unfortunately we don’t figure that out until it’s too late. (I have a number of friends who chose to remain single …..did they know something we didn’t?) On the other hand it’s probably those moments of frustration that force us to be more tolerant of others and, dare I say it, help us grow? Much as he can drive me crazy, I am more in sync with my partner than not, and I’m sure that’s in no small part to years of exposure. (That or he wore me down)  Who knew that those 5 words, “till death do us part’ uttered in our marriage vows, would have such a resounding impact (That said, if I see a bottle of ketchup come out next time I slave over a nice meal death is gonna come a lot sooner than he expected)

We are all different and how we coordinate to select our life partner is as unique as each of us. Besides, that’s not the hard part – riding it out in the tough times, is. We may be opposites, we might be completely mismatched, but acceptance is our life lesson here and at the end of the day it’s still about love, and that’s the real deal.







Ask a simple question

I was out with a friend recently and we were chatting about the weather patterns; how they were so erratic of late (who doesn’t talk about the weather?) I happened to ask if she’d noticed the full moon we had a few nights earlier because I recall it was so lovely. The night was clear and the moon was so bright it illuminated everything. I guess I was just so in awe of natures’ beauty I felt compelled to share it. (actually, I was just making small talk) Who knew it would open the flood gates? My friend is smart, well informed, and a great conversationalist, so I enjoy my banter with her but I was a little unprepared for her response.

She said the moon is the brightest and largest object in our night skies despite the fact that the moons’ surface is actually dark. I thought to comment my surprise at this nugget of information but before I could she continued. She said the moon is the only ‘natural’ satellite to orbit our earth and is the fifth largest such satellite in our solar system. (who knew?….ok, who cared?)  She went on to say that the moon, which is 400 times closer to the earth than the sun, is actually slowly drifting away from us at a rate of some 4 cm per year. (I’d better make note of the next full moon and get my fill before she’s gone for good!)

Thinking to move the conversation on to other topics, I commented on the numerous potholes on our roads caused by the bitter winter temps and lamented about what would surely be an irritating drive in the spring with construction destined to be everywhere. She replied by saying how amazing the effects of the moon were, not just to our planet, but to us, the people. (ok, wow, we’re still on this) She went on to say how remarkable it was that the moons gravitational pull could literally move our oceans, then she stopped, and we enjoyed a comfortable silence for a few moments. (thank God that’s over….) I opened my mouth to suggest we stop for a coffee somewhere but she started speaking before I could get a word in.

She said a full moon has been attributed to strange human behaviour, and went on to describe the noted irrational behaviours documented throughout the years. (what is she, Wikipedia?)  She said the effects of the lunar pull on the human psyche have also been known to cause strange or insane behaviour, including suicide, sleepwalking and violence, (ok, I’m contemplating the latter right now girl!) then she looked pointedly at me to emphasize the importance of this message. (I asked a simple question… did you see the full moon, yes or no… how hard can it be?) She went on in great detail (I think anyway, I tuned her out at this point) about scientific research, something blah, blah, blah, and I found myself thinking maybe that moon wasn’t so pretty after all (who knew I’d have to pack a lunch to hear about it?) I fell silent deciding I was better off to just wait it out.

After she’d finally run out of steam she looked at me and said, “so, what’s new with you?” Stunned at finally getting an opportunity to speak, I found myself speechless and I just stared back blankly. I opened my mouth, said “not much”, and was about to return the same question, then thought better of it. I still have another 30 or so years of my life to live and I’d rather not live them in this scenario.

If ever you think you’re asking a simple question, think again.





I remember you

Today is Mother’s Day, and yesterday my own mother turned 90. A milestone birthday, coupled with a national holiday to honour mothers; so much to celebrate and yet I don’t know how.

My mother is in Long Term Care. She has no idea where she is, or who she is, and she has no recollection of her family. The global pandemic has locked down her facility so we cannot visit. She has no phone so we can’t call but that’s alright because Alzheimer’s has robbed her of her speech so she wouldn’t be able to communicate with us anyway. I thought to send flowers or a balloon bouquet, something to let her know she is not forgotten, despite the circumstances, but while I was able to find a service that would deliver, they could not guarantee the receiving institution would accept it. It seems that for my mother, this major event in her life will pass unnoticed,  so I will pay tribute in the only way I can… by recalling the many memories she fashioned because I still remember, even though she can’t.

I remember as a child crawling into your bed after being frightened by a nightmare. You’d hold me close until I was no longer afraid and at some point in the night return me to my own bed, only after I’d calmed.

I remember you always made my favourite comfort food, noodles and sour cream after I’d recovered from stomach flu (which I seemed to contract frequently)

I remember church every Sunday and coming home to the heavenly aroma of the pot roast you prepared before we left.

I remember the holidays, traditions you engraved in our hearts forever; traditions we still follow. You’d start preparation weeks in advance, baking and coordinating meals, shopping for gifts and staying up late to wrap and hide them, and you managed it all while working full time.

I remember how you loved music, often singing, and your radio was always on. I remember in particular your love of Sambas, memories of your native Brazil, and when we were young you and dad would pull out the old albums and dance after we’d gone to bed.

I remember how much you loved your trinkets. We hailed you “Queen of Clutter” because every table top, every counter, and every square inch of wall had something on it – you didn’t like vacant space.

I remember how you’d stay up late into the night sewing clothes for us, after working all day. We always had a new outfit for the holidays.

I remember when I suffered my first broken heart and you sat there and cried with me, not because I got dumped, but because you hated to see me hurting.

I remember how hard you worked to host my wedding and all the gatherings that led up to it. And again, you stayed up late at night for weeks, after working all day, to make my wedding dress.

I remember you took a week of vacation from your job to stay with me after the birth of each of my three children and I remember I cried when you left because I was so comforted to have you there.

I remember how much you loved marzipan and, your ultimate treat, marshmallows covered in toasted coconut, and I remember how hard you laughed when you watched The Beverley Hillbillies or All in the Family.

I remember how you rejoiced over the birth of each grandchild, welcoming every new arrival with a lovely handcrafted blanket, booties, and sweaters. And when the family expanded until we numbered into the twenties, you still hosted family dinners, even though you no longer had the stamina of youth. Somehow you always found the time and energy to bring us together and you took great pride in your family.

I wish I could take all the wonderful memories you gave me and package them into a beautiful present  but I fear there isn’t a box big enough or a bow grand enough to do it justice, so I give you the only gift I can, my memories. They number into the hundreds I’m sure, and I treasure each and every one not just on this special day, but every day of my life. You may not remember me, but I promise to always remember you.

Happy 90th birthday Mama, and Happy Mothers Day.


Online shopping

Recently I went into an electronics store to buy a stand for my television. (We’d had it mounted on the wall but after redecorating decided to place it on a table). Unable to find what I was looking for I asked a salesman who replied they no longer stocked television stands in their stores, rather, customers had to order these items from their online website. That surprised me, although I guess it shouldn’t. Last summer I needed to buy a wedding gift. I drove to the store where they were registered, printed off their wedding list and wandered through the store to make my selection but everything they listed was ‘only available online’. Why do we have store fronts if nothing is available there? (aaaah, maybe that’s the point!)

Companies are looking to ditch their ‘bricks and mortar’ because of the cost… real estate to maintain. And no real estate means no sales people to pay. Now they can direct customers to their self-serve online shopping site, where we can do all the work ourselves. And if we do need to speak to a live body there’s an 800 number answered by someone in a third world country, who doesn’t speak English, but that’s ok, cause he hasn’t a clue about the products we’re inquiring about anyway.

I think mine is the last generation of those who legitimately like to shop in person. I need to touch it, see it, feel it, before I buy. I don’t care about your easy return policy. When I ‘touch it, see it, feel it’, I know whether I want it, so if I buy I won’t need to return it, making your easy return policy unnecessary. I don’t want an 800 number. I want a sales person, a living breathing one who looks me in the eye. But I am finding it increasingly difficult to find these things and I suspect that’ll only get worse.

Future generations will likely only shop online and since I am not a member of the future generation my opinion matters little.

I think the hardest part of all this for me is that I (and many of my peers) thoroughly enjoy shopping. It’s an event, an outing. It’s a social ritual and for those of us firmly committed to retail therapy, it’s a religious ritual. When I need to buy a gift I thrill at the exercise of selecting that special something after wandering various shops. I love getting my fellow shoppers opinion, and when we stop for lunch we review our purchases, celebrating our ‘finds’. At the end of the day we all go home tired and satisfied because we enjoyed our outing and did our part to support the economy. Going online to order merchandise isn’t quite the same. It’s a mechanical task and for me, it takes all the fun out of giving a gift.

It’s been 3 months since I went into that electronics store and I have not yet gone online and ordered my television stand. I refuse to. If you can’t stock basic items in your store I won’t shop there. And if it costs more for me to buy the same item at a local boutique than via your online portal, I will do it, because I am determined to support the ritual of shopping; the way it was meant to be.

Technology has already robbed us of so many simple niceties. Can’t we just enjoy some of these manual processes, if for no other reason than socialization? I think I’m fighting a losing battle here.

Online shopping