A country mile

country fieldOne of the many things I’m thankful for is living in the country. While I grew up in the suburbs of Toronto, I’m forever grateful we made the decision more than 20 years ago to get out of the city and move to rural roads where the air is fresh, the mosaic fields of fall spread before you like a harvest feast, and you can walk or drive for a country mile without seeing another car or person.

What I didn’t count on was how much the simplistic charm of the little hamlets and crossroads, and the people who inhabit them would grow on me.

For instance, I was driving to Tamworth the other night for a 4H meeting. The sign at the church in Croyden said, “Rhonda. Sunday. 6:30.”

It made me wonder who was Rhonda and what was she doing at the Croyden church on Sunday at 6:30? Was she getting married? Or was it an unhappy occasion—a memorial service for Rhonda? Was she young or old?

I did wonder if perhaps my friend Rhonda Nontell who has a cottage nearby was giving a gospel performance at 6:30 in Croyden, but then the sign would say “Rhonda. Sunday. 6:30. $5.” I mean most of us would pay at least $5 to see that performance.

These are the things that keep me up at night.

And then there is the country wave. When I first moved to this area 20 years ago, my best friend’s Mom Audrey educated me on the country wave. The country wave is different if you’re walking or driving.

When walking, the proper way to wave to people is a slight nod of the head or raise of the hand for a half-wave. No full-out wave, or Queen wave, just an acknowledgement you saw them driving by.

If driving, there are two approved country waves. There’s the two finger wave, where you just raise two fingers off the steering wheel or the four finger wave with your four index fingers extended. A slight nod of the head is acceptable.

Over the years, I’ve experienced everything from discovering a newborn fawn at the end of my driveway, to eating my breakfast cereal with an escaped cow staring at me through the kitchen window, to chickens on our hot tub. Yes, country living is definitely better by a country mile.

This week’s #HappyAct is to give thanks for where you live. Here are some pictures I took on my drive and walk on the country roads near Tamworth the other night.

horses

country sign
This is the first sign I’ve seen for turtles and snakes

barn silosunset over a field

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Conversations with an 11-year old

reflection of girl in window

My 11-year old is one of the funniest, coolest people I know. She’s more comfortable in her own skin than most 40-year olds.

Here’s a compilation of conversations with Clare over the past week.

—————–

This kid Austin in her class tells her he’s planning a big summer blowout. It’s in 2019. Austin brought in a list for all his classmates to bring to the party. The list went something like this: bow and arrow, swan and pink flamingo floaties, Sunny D, chicken nuggets, and beer. Did I mention they are 11? Now that’s a party.

—————–

We’re driving in the car one morning, and there’s a news story about a NHL player who’s back playing after being injured. Now when injured players return, the NHL allows them to wear “red shirts” which means no contact.

I say to Clare, “Wow, isn’t that fantastic—I think that’s new, I don’t remember the NHL doing that before.”

Clare says, “What’s new for you Mom is 10 years old. What’s new for me is a few months old.”

Then a jingle comes on the radio for an adult fun store in Kingston. She starts singing along, then stops and says, “It’s really sad I’m singing to this right now.”

—————–

I ask her what time we need to be at her volleyball tournament. I say, “Okay, let’s leave at 7:45.”

She says, “No, let’s make it a quarter to eight.”

—————–

Clare asks if we can watch a movie. I say, “Can I choose the movie for a change?” Clare says, “As long as it’s not a chick flick or some old person’s movie.” Her favourite movie right now is Deadpool.

Her favourite line is “That’s why Regina rhymes with fun.”

—————–

She recites the full lyrics to Salt n Pepa’s Shoop at least three times a day.

Bright as the sun, I wanna have some fun
Come and give me some of that yum-yum
Chocolate chip, honey dip, can I get a scoop?
Baby, take a ride in my coupe, you make me wanna
Shoop shoop ba-doop (Baby, hey)

—————–

Then she lays a Yo Mamma’s joke on me.

“Yo Mama’s sooooo fat, I took a picture of her last Christmas and it’s still printing.”

—————–

I’m trying to convince her we should visit the Diefenbunker museum when we’re in Ottawa.

She says, “Mom, I don’t learn about history. I make history.”

—————–

It’s 9 o’clock and we’re playing HQ Trivia. Clare is sitting beside me. I bug everyone in the house to join in so we have a shot at winning. Third question, and I know the answer, but Clare is yelling in my ear the wrong answer and I tell her to be quiet.

She leaves in a huff and says, “You know Mom, sometimes with you, it’s damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”

She knows me so well.

At least it’s nice having a kid in the house that will actually talk to me.

This week’s #HappyAct is to have a conversation with a cool 11-year old. Mine’s free if you want a kid for a week.

Clare shooting a bow and arrow
Clare practicing her archery for Austin’s big summer blowout

Ten inventions that would make the world a happier place

Jetsons comic of the family of the future

The other day I read about a new invention: a tiny implant for your brain that injects medicine. Modern technology has led to advances in communications, medicine, and business. And yet, there are still so many basic necessities of life we still struggle with.

Here are ten yet-to-be inventions I’d like to see in 2018:

  1. A dryer that automatically sorts your socks
  2. A zip-up bathing suit top so you don’t have to wriggle out of your wet clingly suit like Houdini trying to escape from a straightjacket
  3. A teapot that doesn’t spill when you pour it
  4. A massage jacket that gives you a soothing massage when you wear it
  5. A device that could magically remove moles so no one would ever have to worry about skin cancer again…while you’re at it, a cure for cancer, Alzheimers and diabetes please
  6. A jet pack like the Jetsons so you never have to be stuck in traffic or drive your kids anywhere ever again
  7. A blender that doesn’t spout hot liquid like lava from a volcano
  8. A toilet paper roll that automatically refills itself
  9. A duvet cover that has zippers or buttons at both ends so when your husband tosses and turns and all the duvet winds up on your side of the bed and he blames you, it’s easy to fix
  10. A robot that will go around the house and pick up all the mitts, scarves, hats, markers, dishes and clothes that your kids have just left even though you tidied the house twenty minutes ago

Maybe for Mother’s Day, I’ll get my robot. In the meantime, if some smart inventor out there can work on numbers one to nine, that would make me happy.

Top 10 Happy Acts of 2017

Happy New Year, from our family to yours

Got the post-holiday blues? Tired of winter already? Why not brighten your day by revisiting some of the best happy acts from 2017.

To inspire you in 2018

  1. Be a child genius: see what Aldous Huxley and Ron Howard have in common
  2. Always see with your heart: a tribute to a very special dog
  3. Swimming in a fish bowl: My eyes filled with tears reading this post again.

Happiness at work

  1. The rise of incivility in the workplace: fight stress and the impulse to snap back when the pressure is on at work
  2. How to be happier at work: learn three simple things you can do to up your happiness quotient in the workplace

Life on the home front

  1. Eight tips for achieving family life balance: struggling to keep up with your to do list at home? Read this post or watch Bad Moms Christmas.
  2. The most important decision you’ll ever make: a must read if you have kids.
  3. Make friends with fearsome creatures: I was surprised at the vociferous reaction to this post on snakes.

Just for giggles

9. What if your best friend was a robot? 2018 may be the year machines take over the world. We might as well make friends with them.

10. Check out my top predictions for 2017—hey at least I got one call right—my dogs did manage to get off the couch once this year before 11 a.m.

Happy New Year everyone! Here’s to more happy acts and the world being a happier place in 2018.

Visit PetSmart at Halloween

Dog in hat and sunglassesCalling all ghosts and goblins. If you want to get into the Halloween spirit early, and put a ghoulish grin on your face, visit PetSmart this week.

Every year, PetSmart offers Halloween photos of your pet in costume. Last year when we visited the store before Halloween, the store was filled with primped pets prowling the aisles. There was a ghoulish greyhound, a devilish Dalmatian and a schnauzer dressed as Superman.

At PetSmart, trick or treating takes on a whole new meaning. Raise your paw, get a treat. Roll over and speak. Woof down another treat.

We popped into PetSmart on Saturday—there weren’t many dogs dressed up since Halloween was still 10 days away, but there was a big lab growling at the Pet Smart mascot, and a little Jack Russell trying to catch the rats in the photo display.

This week’s #HappyAct is to visit PetSmart before Halloween. Just don’t shell out near the fish tanks and steer clear if a black cat crosses your path.

Ed. note: I didn’t get many good photos at PetSmart this week, so I’m sharing a couple of costume pictures of our loveable mutts.

Dog in flamenco costume

 

What if your best friend was a robot?

I heard somebody raving the other day about Google Home. Google home is a voice-activated assistant that plays music, turns on devices and tells you things you want to know. They said it was like having a new best friend or roommate except they never left dirty dishes in the sink or a mess in the bathroom.

It got me to thinking. In this age of artificial intelligence and bots, what if your best friend was a machine? I decided to have a heart to heart with Siri about this.

Hey Siri, talk to me.
“Let me think, no.”

Siri, will you be my best friend?
“That’s nice. I’d like to be your friend.”

Siri, tell me a joke.
“The past and future walked into a bar. It was tense”

Tell me another joke.
“What did the one iPhone say to the other iPhone? Hmmm, I used to know this one. I don’t think I understand a joke in my language. They’re not so funny any way.”

(At this point Clare takes over the conversation)…

Clare: Siri, is the Easter bunny real?
“The Easter bunny is as real as you wish him to be.”

Shut up!
“That’s not nice.”

Be quiet, you’re annoying.
“I wonder what that’s like, being mad?”

Siri, do you want a pumpkin pie sweetie?
”I have everything I need in the cloud.”

Siri, what do you look like?
“In the cloud, nobody cares what you look like.”

This week’s #HappyAct is to befriend a bot. Hang out in the cloud. It seems like a cool place to be, even if it is lacking in humour and emotion. But I’m sure there’s an emoticon for that.smiley face emoticon

Lucky Charms–because they’re magically delicious

Box of Lucky CharmsEd. note: For your reading pleasure, read this week’s post with an Irish accent.

Ah, St. Paddy’s Day. The day when green beer and green blood flows through our veins like the River Liffey.

This year, we’ll be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in the wee town of Westport, Ontario. Dave will be piping in the parade, then we’ll be off to hear Turpin’s Tail at the Cove. It should be a fine night, to be sure.

While there are many wonderful things about the day of green, one of the most brilliant is eating a bowl of Lucky Charms cereal. What is so special about me Lucky Charms?

Well, for starters, they ARE magically delicious (the best marketing slogan of all time, along with “You’re always after me lucky charms!”)

Second, where else can you eat a rainbow that is a marshmallow? What a crack way to start your day.

And third, each charm has magic powers.

I also like how the colour of the milk turns green at the end of the bowl.

This week’s #HappyAct is to take this quick quiz on all things Irish, including our favourite breakfast cereal and have a marvellous St. Paddy’s Day.

  1. Which province in Canada recognizes St. Paddy’s Day as an official holiday?
  2. Name four of the shapes in a box of Lucky Charms.
  3. Which Canadian city flag has a shamrock on it?
  4. What is the name of the mascot in Lucky Charms?
  5. Beoir is the Irish Gaelic word for what?
  6. In what year did General Mills start making Lucky Charms?
  7. True of False: St. Paddy’s Day is celebrated in more countries than any other national festival?
  8. How many calories in bowl of Lucky Charms (3/4 cup)?
  9. True or False: Lucky Charms was the first cereal to include marshmallows in the recipe.
  10. Each marshmallow charm represents a different power. What power does the blue moon represent?
  11. BONUS question: There is also a Westport in Ireland too. Which county is it in?

May the luck of the Irish be with you this day and all days forward. (Quiz answers appear below).

green milk in bowl of lucky charms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quiz answers:

  1. Newfoundland and Labrador
  2. Any four of hearts, stars, rainbows, horseshoes, clovers, blue moons, hourglass, red balloons
  3. The Montreal city flag includes a shamrock in its lower right-hand corner
  4. Lucky the Leprechaun
  5. Beer
  6. 1962
  7. True
  8. 110
  9. True
  10. The power of invisibility
  11. BONUS ANSWER: County Mayo