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Top Ten Irritating News Items of The Week

“No American newspaper will print anything contrary to its own interests”
~George Bernard Shaw~

1) The butter sculpture of Toronto mayor Rob Ford at the Canadian National Exhibition. We go to the ex for the crappy rides and the once a year fair-food indulgence. Spare me the nauseating image of this-little-piggy-a-la-dairy.

2) Lance Armstrong. I work with cancer patients every day. Let’s get a big fat scoop of no-one-lives-forever and suck it up. Instead, how about we live well everyday and learn to practice gratitude and kindness? In the process we might even stop wondering why our polluted earth is making our cells mutate instead of dying a slow, painful death thanks to the vested interest our government has in big pharma.

3) My f-ing horoscope. Honestly, I was supposed to have met the man of my dreams by the 8th of this month and be wealthier than I was on the 1st. What gives?

4)David Letterman ogling Serena Williams. Old men drooling over young, beautiful women is not news.

5)Prince Harry’s naked-I-look-like-a-skinny-bald-dog-humped-over-a-naked-chick photos. Please. Just keep those for your nightstand TMZ. I’d rather see the prince clothed and use my dirty imagination. Thanks to you I now KNOW he looks like any other man naked. Thanks for ruining my fantasies. Thanks a lot.

6)New Blackberries and iPhones. We’ve all been there, done it, and gotten screwed on the stocks. Please report on something truly groundbreaking.

7)The details of the TomKat divorce. Really? Are we that fortunate to have this headline remain in the news like the lingering mucous from a chest infection? I thank God every day that I live in a country where this is news and not some woman being stoned to death. Come to think of it, why aren’t our newspapers full of real news? Oh yah, TomKat.

8)The Blue Jays losing. Losing is not news in this city. Oh what painful, painful, painful hell it must be to live as a Toronto sports fan. The Jays just pave the way for the real rape and plunder, as the Leafs get ready to publicly humiliate their fans once again. Like winter isn’t depressing enough. I’ve moved to the dark side – go Habs.

9)Any talk of referendum in Quebec. “PQ backs away from referendum proposal”. No shit.

10)All day weather forecasts. This has become our news in the GTA /Canada because journalism has sold out and prostituted itself. “Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative.” ~ Oscar Wilde~ Yes Mr. Wilde, I do agree.

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Top Ten Reasons Why Real Men Watch Coronation Street

Oh, you be quiet out there all you doubters, grumblers, and whiners of, “how-can-you-even-understand-what-they’re -saying?!”.  Coronation street is the last bastion of civilized soap-opera drama on television. What? You question my judgement? Why, you ask? Well, because I said so of course!

Never mind all that. Just go put the kettle on, and make a nice brew so you can settle in for the ANDSHELAUGHS Top Ten List of Why Real Men Watch Coronation Street.

1) A lesson in grovelling from Steve MacDonald. Women love it when men are generally man-goofy, but head over heels in love with them. Steve goes after it with his whole heart.

2)Norris. The anti-thesis of sexy. He is everything that men need to know about what women do not look for in a man.

3)Dev’s flower stand. A reminder to all of you wonderful man-steak, lovey-dovey, ding-bats who screw up every now and then, or who don’t screw up and just want to be romantic. Buy flowers.

4)The men who watch Corrie get to spend time snuggling with their women who watch Corrie. It’s the same reason chicks watch hockey and football. Wait. Correction. We watch football for the muscular thighs and tight buns but we like to snuggle into our own cushy men while we watch.

5)While we’re busy comparing our bodies to the lithe youth of Eva and Tina, you remind us that even Maria has a moustache to wax.

6)Men on Coronation Street stick up for their women, even the slimy little David Platt. Men who watch Coronation Street have a keen sense of chivalry.

7)Like Rob Foster, Gary Windass and Tommy Duckworth, men who watch Corrie are all a little bad-ass turned snuggler on the couch. Bad-ass = bad-boy. Everyone knows women like bad-boys.

8)Men on Coronation street take their wives on dates at the bistro. Men who watch Coronation street learn this by osmosis.

9)Men who watch Coronation Street know how to make a hot cup of tea and talk to a woman like a friend, not a piece of meat.

10)They have a simple, masculine sense of style and understand that making too much of an effort (aka Steve’s pink shirt) is effeminate.

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She Who Casts the First KFC Stone

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”
~Carl Jung~

I was standing in line loathing myself at a fast food joint yesterday, when one of the women in front of me was going on and on about what kind of meat she wanted with her giant-my-family-is-so-fat-it-could-eat-yours-for-brunch meal deal.

Clearly she was a regular customer and had this whole thing down pat,  in the same way I can make my first cup of morning coffee with my eyes closed.

Anyway, standing there feeling guilty for my little fast food indulgence, I had decided I was better than her.  Somewhere, inside my wee little brain I had judged her for her intimate knowledge of the fast food menu. She was a lazy slob.

Then she started gabbing (unsolicited) to me about how she figured all of this fast-food-special-ordering out….AND that she had to get home to watch my favourite show.

What? This woman, (let’s call her Gabby) who  clearly didn’t take pride in cooking for her family had something in common with me. Me,  the mad home preserving, full-time-working, work-out 4-5 times a week, buddhist, writer, mom-extraordinaire? No way.

Another woman and her husband chimed in when they heard Gabby and I chatting about ‘our’ soap – who did what when and with whom. They were fans too. Go figure. Within a couple of minutes we had formed a little bit of camaraderie in that dank, grease-soaked line-up.  Something that I think happens less and less over time. Not the dank, grease-soaked line up, but the camaraderie.

In general we have become more insular, more protective of the little bit of comfort that we have to ourselves. We are cogs in the final development phase of a decades long silent war to make us worker drones. We wake to alarms, commute, work, commute, eat, sleep, wake to alarms…you get the drill.

Unless we go out of our way to actually engage another human being that we don’t know (gasp! talking to strangers!), while in the line-up for groceries, or fast food, or filling a prescription, we disengage from the world. We forget what it’s like to look into the eyes of another human being whom we don’t have a genetic interest in, and remember that we all have the same needs.

So, I can get up on my soapbox and preach that I watch baseball and Coronation Street and Nicholas Sparks’s movies in order to establish common ground for the purpose of the greater good. Or, I can admit that every once in a while I just want to shut the world off and not think about all of the demands that pull at me every day. My point is, there is still value in these basest of pursuits if we use them to engage in well-intended interaction with another person.

These seemingly insignificant bits about our lives – hobbies, favourite shows, sharing recipes – they all have the potential to turn a grey, silent space between two people into something vibrant and alive.

So, to the woman who only likes legs and wings, from the woman who pays extra for a breast, I salute you for putting yourself out there and confessing your soap opera sins. The world may need less fast food, but it needs more people like you.

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The End


Grape-Shot: 1915 English magazine illustration...
Grape-Shot: 1915 English magazine illustration of a lady riding a champagne cork From The Lordprice Collection This picture is the copyright of the Lordprice Collection and is reproduced on Wikipedia with their permission Source URL http://www.lordprice.co.uk/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=CTGY&Category_Code=Champagne (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How carefully to you plan your endings?   What are the endings we face in life? Are they really endings, or merely commas separating one related series of events from the next?

Do you subscribe to the notion that without a plan, you plan to fail? Or, are you a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-fabulous-pants like me?

 You’re likely asking, “Where did these questions come from?”. An article in the Globe and Mail about endings got me to thinking. I know, I know, a dangerous thing for a delicate flower like myself.

You see, another countdown to holiday time is upon me. I feel my body and mind ache to sit down and write. To edit. To re-write and contemplate.   I know the ending, I know the dots I have to connect in between, but there are still surprises waiting for me that haven’t hit the page yet.  I just know it! 

The article that I read in the Globe and Mail was about Hemmingway’s writing and how he wrote and rewrote the ending to a Farewell to Arms. It explained Hemminway’s  claim that he really didn’t have  structure in mind while writing. The article aslo waxed whiney about how the teacher struggled with student’s who didn’t plot their novels.  Having some experience with this writing thingy, I have my own opinion about it all.  Sitting down to write a novel is not an easy thing. Just sitting down takes discipline, and the voices in my head whisper things like, “Who are you kidding – you’re not a real writer? No one cares about what you have to say. You know, good mothers would be sewing or cleaning or sacraficing themselves in some martyr-like way at this hour for their children. I think that Carlie’s character would do this, but will the reader be ok with that or is it too harsh?”

As a writer, a lover, a friend, a mother, and all of the other titles I own, I’ve concluded that endings are really just middles. After all, what happens next is the karmic residue of seeds we’ve already planted. Whether in real life, or in the stories we write.

The road to hell is indeed paved with good intentions. But, it is a long, winding, multi-forked road with doors that slide in and out, and force us to detour and re-route.  People with carefully plotted out lives generally have wide margins. In other words, they have more cushion in place (socially, emotionally, economically) if something goes wrong.

People with narrow margins on the other hand have either not had a rich environment for development, or have twiddled away their opportunities. People with wide margins feel more in control, and likely will say that they plan their endings well. But do they? Do any of us?

Planning the end of relationships is rarely by design. Usually it comes through unexpected changes in circumstance. Perhaps a lie, a death, or a failure to relate. Planning the end of a job is a bit more within our grasp, but who really ever knows when a great opporunity will pop up, fade away or the  path take an unexpected sharp a turn?

This unexpected journey has been my experience writing as well. I have a sense of where my plot is going, but sometimes the twists and turns are the most interesting and rewarding parts.  What my creative mind cooks up is the yummy broth that holds the meaty bits of writing stew together.

During a romantic getaway in a past relationship, I asked my true love to pull off the road and stop at a winery that was not marked on the regional marketing ‘wine route’. He grumbled and jerked the car to the side of the road pouting because it was not part of the plan. As it turns out, it was a unique “bubbles” only winery, the only one in our province.

I fell in love with the bubbly, and out of love with my spoil sport companion.  Who would have guessed that road held so much adventure and change?  That an unplanned ending ( stopping at somewhere we hadn’t planned) would free me up to enjoy the people and things that make me so happy?

I do wish every one of you wide margins, the security to take chances and to be well. I also wish you grand adventures, so that  the road to your endings is winding, wonder-full and a gateway to something new.

Beach shoes




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She Loves You ….yah, yah, um, maybe…Ok, Yah, She does…

“Friendship is far more tragic than love. It lasts longer.”
~Oscar Wilde~

There are many famous quotes about friendship. Many clichés, and many pieces of advice.

The saying that wraps up the essence of friendship is this one by Elbert Hubbard; ” A friend is someone who knows you, and loves you just the same.”…or this one by Norman Douglas..”To find a friend one must close one eye; to keep him, two.”…or perhaps this one by Oscar Wilde, “It’s a very dangerous thing to know one’s friend.”

Real friendships are hard to find and are one of life’s truly precious treasures. Throughout the years, it has been my friendships, not obligatory relations that have sustained me.

In my life I have friends I’ve known since I was born. I treasure each one as they have been added to the fold because at one point in time, or many, they have been my life-preservers.  They have seen me at my ugliest, both physically and emotionally and they have maintained steadfast in their commitment to our relationship. They are the women who I call and ‘talk it out with’. They  are the kindred fools that giggle and cry with me.

But what about when a friendship sputters and trips? What happens when one friend feels slighted, perhaps repeatedly by their friend? Is it time for a friend break-up, or just time for a little undeclared space?  I tend to go with the undeclared space. This is something that I’ve never been able to do in  a romantic relationship, but offer the courtesy of to my friends. After all, I can be a rather intense prima donna when I climb up onto my soapbox.  I know my tongue is sharp, and my words can slice to the quick.

Judgement is something that we all do well. Perhaps its a defense mechanism against absolute insanity, organizational chaos and anarchy. We tend to judge someone as being right or wrong, good or bad, divided by the thin line between black and white. But wouldn’t you know it? Life, as it happens, is a large slice of grey most of the time. It is our friends whom we rely upon, when we’re lost in that dank, grey, forest to bring us out on the other side. They are our oars in rough water.

Every single one of my closest friends has made me think twice about our friendship. I’m sure that each of them has spent time considering my value as a friend as well. We have all done things that we don’t respect. We’ve seen one another’s ethical underbelly and had to turn away from it’s ugliness. But we come back. We take our time, we have our talks, we listen to one another, and we mend our friendships.

We have kept secrets from one another fearing the truth would hurt our friendship; that if we were brutally honest about our bad choices, our friendship would wither in the stagnant air of disgust, only to reveal the truth years later because we felt that our friendship was strong enough to handle it.  The passing years had lessened the sharpness of the blade. And we were right. Years later, five years, ten years, twenty years….it doesn’t matter so much, and life goes on.

I think about my friendships, both old and new, and I am grateful for everyone. More forgiving than romantic relationships, there is an enduring quality, a commitment to friendship which  transcends the trials of living every day. Friendship is the stick we measure our experience by, the safe confessional of all of our doubts and despair.

Regardless of what they do, where they go, and the decisions they make, I hold my friends in the highest esteem. Most of them are as crazy, whimsical and hard to figure out as me.  What’s not to love?

So to my friends – I love you all. Each one of you….no matter what kind of crazy you brew up today.


Love & Life on the Farm

“Man’s heart, away from nature, becomes hard.”
~Standing Bear~

My weekends on the farm are a lot like going ‘home’.  Home to an extended family, home to the people and places that are a touchstone for everything; your hopes, dreams, disappointments, expectations, morals and values.

I go ‘home’ to the farm to visit two wonderful friends and kindred spirits. Two friends who dote on me like parents in their concern, and send-offs with of  food and plants and good advice.

Not only is the physical landscape a welcome change from the concrete city (which I equally adore), the change of pace and intellectual landscape lends itself to introspection and fresh starts.

I was welcomed by a rain shower and a wet, wagging-tailed dog with white boots.   Stepping out of my car, I am at the second last house on a long, dead-end dirt road.

At the end of the ‘dead-end’, is the beginning of a lush wood with trails we ski on the winter and hike through during the fall. When I am here it  reminds me of what is important, and  what kind of life commitment, hard work, and integrity can build.

For years my lack of partner is a concern for the stoic, loving, well-intentioned man who lives here.  Not because I’m a weak woman who struggles with my happiness or can’t provide for herself. He merely recognizes the benefits of being part of a couple.  He is a strong, quiet man, and hasn’t mentioned my singledom since my last break-up. He wasn’t so keen on the man, let me know, and then carried on without further interference.

Second to the jolly dog, I was greeted with this  just picked Vitamin-A-Snuggle-Bundle of carrots  from the abundant garden;

It was left on the table by the door for me to see. A hint perhaps? Perhaps quietly whispering, “Look closely. Do you see girl? Having a partner is what nature favours, what it intends, and what you need to do.”

The next morning I was greeted before breakfast with this;

 Maybe I should pay attention to these signs of  abundance. Perhaps it’s time to dust off my dreams and give one of my lovelies a serious chance. After all, you never know what delightful surprises might hatch.

The wet, windy weather was rolling out the red carpet for autumn as I pulled back onto the dirt road to make my way home. I couldn’t help but think of a special someone, and daydream a little bit about curling up next to him this winter when the wind and snow howl outside.