What better way to kick off a new year than a top ten list? This year I’ve I’ve chosen 11 posts for all you Spinal Tap fans out there that will hopefully inspire you to make a positive change in the year ahead, with a few fun posts thrown in “for shits and giggles”.
Happy reading and may 2023 bring joy, health and happiness.
#2: As a blogger, you always wonder if your posts resonate with people. In June, after I posted this community success story about the Food Redistribution Warehouse in Kingston, a friend reached out to say they started volunteering there after reading my post.
And finally, before you make your New Year’s Resolutions for 2023, be sure to read
Thanks to all my loyal readers who follow this blog and read my posts on Sunday mornings. If you want to subscribe to receive posts by email, just click on the three dots in the upper right-hand corner and enter your email. Here’s to many #HappyActs in the year ahead.
We finally decorated the house for Christmas this weekend. Twenty minutes in, Clare shook her head in disgust and asked, “Can someone become Jewish?”
You see my family doesn’t approve of my decorating skills which are somewhere between a cross of Clark Griswold and anything on the Worst Tacky Decorated Homes for the Season list. Last year after we were done, and I asked everyone how the house looked, Clare surveyed the room blandly and said, “It looks like Christmas barfed up all over the house.”
So this year I tried to take their criticism to heart and not put out every broken ceramic Santa and faded snowman cushion.
The one area I refuse to scale back on is tree decorations. Every year when we open up the box with the ornaments for the tree, Clare says we have way too much and should throw some of it away. But I can’t. To me, our battered old green box is a treasure trove of memories. Each ornament tells a story of a different period in our lives.
There are ornaments I painted by hand after I finished a term at university when I was in my twenties, ornaments made by the kids out of popsicle sticks when they were toddlers, and decorations from every trip we’ve ever taken as a family.
There are ornaments that reflect every aspect of our lives: birdhouses and kayaks, dogs, bagpipers, skates, hockey, musical instruments, wine glasses, plenty of fish (we have an entire tree of fish ornaments!), even a Grinch one that says “2020: Stink, Stank, Stunk”.
There are scores of snowmen because every year Dave’s sister MaryAnne gave the girls a snowman ornament. When they move out, our tree will become less cluttered. And there are at least half a dozen cardinals in memory of loved ones who can no longer be with us in person, but are always with us in spirit at this time of the year. This year I found a beautiful cardinal ribbon garland we added to the tree in memory of my two sister-in-laws who passed away from cancer.
So I will continue unapologetically to put every ornament in my Christmas memory box on the tree. Tacky be damned.
This week’s #HappyAct is to cherish the memories the holidays bring.
The West is beautiful, but you can’t beat the warmth, humour and light o’ life attitude of Easterners.
When we arrived in Antigonish a few weeks ago to spend a few days with Danette’s parents, her Dad Terry greeted us with a big hug and holding two bottles of wine in his hands, Four Skins and Kiss Me Arse.
The next day Terry walked out wearing a t-shirt that said, “It’s all shits and giggles until someone giggles and shits”.
We visited one little fishing wharf where every building had a funny sign on it, some even upside down. There was The Lost and Found Bouys shack and the Little River Fisheries and Heritage Museum, Closed for Innovations.
We sure had lots of giggles on our trip and thankfully not the shits. We learned “The older the crab, the tougher its claws” and if someone was running late, they were “off like a herd of turtles”.
Yes, we can all learn a thing or two about keeping life light and happy from our friends down east. And remember, if yer not happy where yer is, yer never will be happy where yer to.
Warning: today’s blog post contains coarse language because it’s hella cool.
I ate shit the other day. Not the actual shit like in the Cheech and Chong skit or the type you’d find in your hamster cage. I fell down hard in our skating rink of a driveway. Grace and Clare both fell too, and burst in the door saying, “I just ate shit”.
You see, eating shit is the latest vernacular for taking a header, falling down, wiping out. I thought it was a strange choice of words, but hey, kids these days. Amirite?
Luckily, my friend Jess recently gave me “A Very Modern Dictionary”, a handy book of 400 words, phrases, acronyms and slang to keep your culture game on fleek (perfectly executed).
I thought I would try it out with my bae, which is different from your bff by the way. Your bae is your significant other; your bff your best friend. Whatever you do, don’t get your bf (boyfriend), bff, gf or bae mixed up. I’m planning a trip down east with my girlfriends this summer (gfs), but my bae is my baller, a rockstar, especially with his dadbod. Together we are the power couple of Spring Lake.
Let me part the kimono a bit more on this new landscape of communication.
I was chillaxing last week with my homies down at the lake, catching fish and taking Instaworthy photos, when we realized we were fungry (f*in hungry) and I said let’s grab some grub.
We were sitting at the table when the dog let out a big question fart, a fart where the sound ends in an upward inflection, similar to when you ask a question and we all laughed and said, that’s craycray, Bentley’s so dope!
Grace was phubbing us, ignoring the conversation and looking at her phone, but stopped surfing for a moment to ask for a loan from the Bank of Mum and Dad. I said, “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”
This generation thinks they’re the bomb, the OGs of words and Wordle, when our generation was actually the Original Gangsta’s of slang. Old school is now a term of “respect and deference” instead of an insult and I laughed out loud (LOL) when I saw TGIF listed as a “modern” slang term.
I blogged eight years ago about being normcore, which the dictionary describes as “a fashion style characterized by the elevation of bland, ‘normal’ clothing” that has become so popular with hipsters it has “turned the style into a trend, making its claim of being unpretentious decidedly pretentious.” Hey dude, don’t call me pretentious.
This week’s #HappyAct is to get savage with your vocabulary, and not be jelly of the younger generation and their slang and feel #blessed. Nailed it!
You may have heard about the 75 Hard challenge that’s taken over TikTok and the internet. Created by fitness guru Andy Frisella, it’s a challenge that is supposed to toughen you up mentally and physically. He calls it “ironman for your brain”. The challenge involves doing five things for 75 days straight:
Drink 3-4 litres of water a day
Follow a diet with no cheat meals or alcohol
Workout twice a day for 45 minutes, and one of the workouts must be done outdoors
Read 10 pages of a non-fiction or self-help book each day
Take a progress picture each day
We were talking about the challenge in the car yesterday, and I said, “that’s way too hard and life’s challenging enough right now, I’d rather do a 75-day easy challenge”. Here’s what our 75 Easy challenge would look like:
Laurie’s 75 Easy challenge
Drink two glasses of wine two days a week, one white, one red
Complete one puzzle
Read the newspapers and actually get moving before 10 a.m. on the weekends (shoot, I guess I’ll have to start the challenge tomorrow)
Walk from my home office to the kitchen fridge and back at least twice a day
Wear something other than slippers and leggings at least once a week
Dave’s 75 Easy challenge
Ice fish twice a week
Pet Bentley 10 times a day, including once on the belly
Read 30 pages of either John Sandford, Wilbur Smith or Ken Follett a night
Drink one bottle of Baileys or Cabot Trail maple cream, with or without coffee
Bring his minnows in every night so they don’t freeze on the front porch (to help with #1)
Clare’s 75 Easy challenge
Eat two Mr. Noodles a day, one small bowl and one large bowl
Limit her screen time on her phone to less than four hours per day
Wear an actual winter coat each time she leaves the house
Watch at least one hour of Netflix or DisneyPlus a night
Clean up after herself in the kitchen at least once a week (again, see #1)
Grace’s 75 Easy challenge
Keep her voice down to under 100 decibels when talking on the phone late at night
Journal every day
Write and re-write her study schedule daily
Pick two items of clothing up off of her floor each day
Learn one new song on the guitar each week
Bentley’s 75 Easy challenge
Chase the squirrels from the bird feeders twice a day
Sleep on one couch at least once every night
Eat two dog treats a day without trying to slobber
Actually come when my humans call, “Come, Bentley”
Bark for only 10 minutes a night on the front porch at absolutely nothing
There you have it. Hey, at least we’ll feel good when we’re all successful at the end of the 75 days. This week’s #HappyAct is to make up your own 75 Hard or Easy Challenge. What will it be? Leave a comment.
This weekend, we attended a very special celebration, the 90th birthday of my father-in-law, John Swinton.
I’ve blogged about John before. He is quite the character and comes with many self-anointed titles. Master Storyteller. Grand Champion of Cards. Number One Habs Fan. I’ve been blessed to spend a lot of time with John this past year, and have been the recipient of his many wisdoms (as he would tell you). Here are words to live by, courtesy of the big guy:
On gender identity and gender neutral names “You can call me anything, just don’t call me late for dinner.”
On entertaining a crowd “Always tell your best joke first and get them laughing, then they’ll be putty in your hands all night.”
On women “If the women don’t find you handsome, they should at least find you handy” (from one of his favourite characters, Red Green.)
On his hometown “I was born in Harriston because I wanted to be close to my mother.”
On marriage “Marriage is a life sentence. If I had killed your mother by now, I’d be out on parole.”
And if you’re slow getting the teapot on the table after dinner, “After 35 years, you’d think a man could get a cup of tea!”
All kidding aside, we love you John and hope you enjoy many more celebrations to come.
On life God, grant me the serenity To accept the things I cannot change; Courage to change the things I can; And wisdom to know the difference.
A few years ago, Clare was hooked on a TV series called My Strange Addiction. It featured people who were addicted to the weirdest things. There was one woman who ate mattresses, another who ate rocks, someone who snorted baby powder all day and a girl who took her pillow with her everywhere. I’ve posted the link to the episode featuring the mattress lady below.
Most of us have a secret addiction. Dave’s is fishing gear, boats and motors. Mine is sweaters (but hey, we do live in Canada where it’s cold eight months of the year).
My dog’s is soccer balls. Bentley is obsessed with balls. When he’s outside, his ball is with him wherever he goes. He’ll even sleep with his head on it, and now he doesn’t want to come inside unless he has his ball with him.
The problem is he destroys balls as soon as he gets them. His ETTR (estimated time to rip apart) is now 60 seconds. About a month ago, Grace bought him a shiny new ball from Shopper’s Drug Mart. The lady at the checkout guaranteed it was dog proof. Grace got out of the car and proudly presented it to Bentley. He grabbed it in his mouth, wagged his tail and started chewing, and on the third jaw crunch, the ball deflated.
I did the math, and figured we’d be broke by the end of summer at this pace, so a few weeks ago, I reached out to my Facebook friends to ask if they had any old balls lying around we could take off their hands.
Here is Bentley with the most recent donations from Clare’s old baseball coach (thanks Gee family!) and my friend Bev.
Secret or not-so-secret addictions can be fun and make you happy. Just don’t let them take over your life to the point where you end up on a TV show.
What’s your secret addiction? Leave a comment and have a happy week!
June is Pride month. A few weeks ago, I finally changed my autosignature to include my pronouns she/her at the end. I’ve been meaning to change it for almost a year now, but finally got a round tuit at the hardware store when I was on vacation last week.
I’ve always considered myself an ally of the LGBTQ community and am looking forward to seeing a rainbow-filled feed on my social media channels on Tuesday.
But I confess I sometimes do find it hard to navigate this world of diversity and inclusion. It will be only a matter of time before I make a mistake and will have to ask for forgiveness.
For instance, I was writing an email to my team last week. I have a small team and we all know each other pretty well, so our work emails are pretty informal.
I started out writing my normal, “Hey guys, I’ll need to move our regular team meeting…” But then I remembered reading an article that said “guys” is inappropriate since it implies men and excludes others. I say this to my family all the time so hopefully I’m not insulting Grace and Clare the next time I say, “Hey guys, what do you want for dinner tonight?”
I thought about “Hey gang” but was afraid it might be discriminatory against people in actual gangs or imply they were a bunch of miscreants or hooligans.
I tried “Hey folks”, but then wondered if that had southern connotations, even though we don’t live in the United States, or a rural connotation that might be offensive.
I’ve sometimes used “Hey peeps” which seems pretty harmless, but could be racist towards chickens.
In the end, I just went with “Hey team”. Whew, problem solved.
You see my dilemma.
I know I’m being cheeky and there is a good chance someone who is reading this has already taking offence to me making light of an important subject.
I believe people have a right to be called whatever they want, whether it’s he, she, per, ze/ziethey, or they. Addressing people the way they prefer to be called is simply a matter of respect and is no different than when women started challenging the use of Miss and Mrs. as part of the feminist movement.
Personally, I don’t care what I’m called as long as you don’t call me late for dinner.
I know I have a lot to learn. I will make mistakes. I just hope you forgive me/she/her when I make them.
And to all my LGBTQ friends, I love you just as you are. You are authentic, funny and strong, and I am proud to celebrate by your side, a true ally, this month. Happy pride month, everyone!
Ed. Note: The dilemma of how to address people was encapsulated perfectly in the Saturday Night Live skit, “It’s Pat” in the early 90’s. Here’s an episode where the friends of androgynous Pat throw a birthday party for them. SNL was always on the cutting edge of societal issues. While the character of Pat was a caricature, the humour was in seeing how people with good intentions tried to unearth clues as to how to address Pat.
I’ve often said on this blog, it’s just as important to know what doesn’t make you happy, as what does make you happy. Here are ten things that haven’t made me happy in the past year:
1) Talking to car salesmen. Seriously, do these guys go to school to learn how to be schmaltzy and schmarmy? In fairness, the team at Kingston Volkswagen were great and we love our new Tiguan.
2) Teenagers who roll their eyes at everything you say and whose favourite words to describe you are weird and embarrassing (and that’s on a good day).
3) Road construction. My road is a mess right now. It’s year two of what most likely will be three years of construction. We’ve given up trying to keep our cars clean and washed.
4) Real estate prices. What is going on? It makes me sad that home ownership has become out of reach for the younger generation.
5) Wasted food. Remember the teenagers I mentioned above? I wish I had a dime for every bruised banana, unopened granola bar or uneaten sandwich I’ve seen thrown in the garbage. It makes my blood boil.
6) Waiting in lines. This may be a necessary evil right now, but if I see a line longer than 10 people, I don’t bother.
7) Bad online shopping experiences. Online shopping has been a lifesaver for many of us during COVID, but some sites need a lot of work to create a better overall customer experience.
9) Hockey fans who whinge about unfair penalty calls and Leaf fans who think Auston Matthews is a god. Okay, the reffing was a bit blatant last night, but bad calls are part of the game.
10) COVID-19: Don’t underestimate it. Keep wearing a mask, wash your hands frequently and get vaccinated. I know we’re all tired of it, but we’re so close, let’s see it through so we can get back to some semblance of normal.
I’m starting a week’s vacation, and to be honest, I’m pretty stoked about it. I plan to poke around some garden centres, do a little kayaking, fishing, lots of eating, drinking, and watching Netflix. Basically all the same things I’ve been doing for the past year, minus work.
I used to be one of those people that would never take a vacation day if I didn’t have anything to do. The whole thought of spending an entire day at home was foreign to me. I always had to have something planned, either a big trip, or at least some day trips or overnighters to friends’ cottages or the city. Staycations were not my thing.
Now Covid is giving staycation a whole new meaning.
But there is something liberating about a do-nothing vacation. You can sleep as much as you want. You don’t have to worry about packing or having to be somewhere on time or follow a schedule. If it rains, who cares? It doesn’t ruin your plans because you don’t have any. You can just curl up for a nap, or find something to do inside.
Actually, it sounds rather idyllic except for two things.
My teenagers, both home all week, one home schooling, the other waiting for her summer job to start. All of a sudden, work doesn’t look that bad.
This week’s #HappyAct is to plan the perfect do-nothing vacation. What do you plan to do on yours? Leave a comment. Here’s a picture from a do-something vacation from two years ago outside Bubba’s Love Shak on a boardwalk in South Carolina. Sigh.