Being a human pinball isn’t so bad


The Christmas Spirit has ruthlessly stalked me, once again, and dug its talons into my inner-elf.  Yesterday I spent the better part of the afternoon spending money that has been generously donated to our 3rd Annual Toy Drive at Shamrock Lodge and strategically placing those purchases around our tree in the front office.


I have never been a big fan of Christmas shopping but the last three years of managing this toy drive have given me a reason to slightly alter my thinking.  My dad was a big fan of fighting holiday crowds to shop at the largest malls in Toronto.  My traumatic experience with that is described in this post.  But I now understand a bit of the glee he felt.

I became immersed in the spirit of giving and the outside noise of the store slowly fell into silence.  I was in a holiday bubble and the more I shopped the happier I felt.  Feeling like a pinball in an super-sized Christmas pinball game was a minuscule annoyance compared to the immense reward.  A few hours of doing something I am not fond of to make a child smile at Christmas was well worth the discomfort.

We should give thanks every day

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Although our Canadian Thanksgiving has come and gone, I came upon this post I wrote at the beginning of my blogging journey and I wanted to share it again.  May my friends south of our border feel as many thanks as I do each year during our celebration.


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My family is a collection of characters.  They are as unique as snowflakes.  No one member is remotely the same but they are all intelligent, articulate, thoroughly amusing and fun to be around.  There is never a dull moment at the cottage when the relatives are in town.

With our hectic lifestyles and spanned locations, we don’t get to see each other as often as we used to when I was a kid but that just makes holidays and get-togethers that much more special.  Since it is Thanksgiving weekend, we gathered once again to celebrate the holiday and enjoy each others company.  The stress of life and all of the troubles that we face during the day seem to melt away when the family reunites and nothing else matters except the people who embrace you when you walk over the threshold of the door to the family cottage.  The outside world ceases to exist and laughter and love wrap themselves around our family members like a warm security blanket.  The food is abundant, the conversation is easy and the feeling of love is overwhelming.  There is nothing more important than family.  We can be thankful for all of our possessions, our jobs, our wealth, but all of those things are replaceable.  Family is not.

Thanksgiving is a time to truly reflect on what is most important in our lives.   I am certainly thankful for my health, having a job that I love, co-workers that I admire and respect and possessions and a home that I truly appreciate.  But I am most thankful for the branches on my family tree that continue to envelop me and wrap themselves around me when I need them the most.

With each passing year, the trunk of our family tree grows stronger and it roots itself more firmly in the soil of our existence.  That tree has weathered many storms but still manages to endure the bad times as well as flourish in the good times.  Its bark remains tough but the core of our family tree still remains tender and nurturing.

As seasons come and go our family tree continues to thrive.   I am thankful for my ancestors who planted the original seed.  I am thankful for my family members who have passed and still hold roots in my tree.  And I am abundantly thankful for the family who continue to create branches on that ever-growing tree.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  I hope you all take a moment to give thanks for the things that are truly important in your lives.

No more sleeps ’til freedom



The saloon doors met in the middle several times before slowing to a close.  Deke extinguished exterior lights before leaving for home.  His fluffy robe and slippers waited just where he had left them.   The Dude Ranch had closed for another season.


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Sometimes you just want breakfast for dinner


I have said this before and I’m sure I’ll say it many times again before they pry my cold, dead fingers from my laptop – I love to cook.  I find great pleasure in mixing flavors and trying new things (sans recipe – my dad would be proud).  Some of those things work and some don’t.  And since I referred to my dad, I will tell you that although he was a fabulous “do it yourself” cook, some recipes just didn’t have the desired effect once on the plate.  For those of you who have ever entertained the idea of scrambled eggs made with eggnog – Don’t Do It!!

I have worked in many restaurants from breakfast diners to fine dining restaurants and I had the foresight to pay attention to how each Chef took the time with their presentation. From swirls of Balsamic Reduction to the height they could achieve on a plate, every little nuance, every detail on that plate, made that dish even more special by enhancing the flavor.  It was food for the eyes as well as the palette.  The term “Amuse Bouche” delighted me.   When a single, delectable morsel became the new trend at the beginning of a meal, I was taken with its modesty in size but explosion of flavor.

eggs in nests

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I do my best to amuse my bouche every time I create my feasts, whether it is for company or simply for myself.   But sometimes, on those rare nights you just want to curl up under a blanket with an intriguing book, there is nothing better than a good breakfast for dinner.  Those recognizable morning food items are the epitome of comfort food.  Sizzling homemade pork sausage patties and the perfect fried egg were the perfect end to my day, especially since the eggs were nestled in a bed of potato pancakes.  Simple, delicious and just what the bookworm in me required for the perfect night.  My bouche is amused and it is time to find out who Darwin really is!!

Under a winter sky


Dusk descends.  The deep blue of the night sky edges its way into darkness and evening begins to fall.  Stars mottle the nightscape and any heat the earth consumed during the day is slowly released back into that vast open space.  The long spindly finger of Old Man Winter begins to caress the world and the cold enters everything it touches. Trees snap and groan in their defiance of the stinging night air and animals have long since retired to the protection of their dens.

winter sunset

The smallest portion of exposed skin is ambushed by the cold and is threatened by the gnawing jaws of frost bite.  It hurts to breathe but the beauty of a cold winter night is unparalleled.  The sky seems anxious to introduce every star in the milky way without the intrusion of clouds and the silence is deafening.

This is my winter.  These are the nights that I am drawn into the cold for the sole purpose of watching the stars put the sun to bed for another night.  I tilt my head back to take in the constellations and wait for a shooting star.  This is life in my Northern town.  This is the pastel portrait that saturates my brain before I go to sleep.

Every time a bell rings


With all of the negativity that has been thrown haphazardly around the myriad of social media, the timing of our 3rd Annual Toy Drive at the lodge couldn’t have come at a better time for me.

For anyone who has ever done anything nice for someone, you know what an astounding feeling of satisfaction you get knowing that you made a difference or at least made someone smile.  Random acts of kindness, whether large or small, create a ripple effect that we need to send back into this world.

I’ve written before about “paying it forward”.  It is a concept I truly believe in and one this Earth could really use right now.  You may think that buying someone in the line behind you at the drive-thru a simple cup of coffee may seem like nothing, but that person may turn around and donate $50.00 to a charity that may help a family have a real turkey dinner at Christmas.  For each kind wave sent into this world, the ripple of that kindness swells into bigger rings on the pond of our life.

I took our first few monetary donations into a local shop and bought the first toys for our Toy Drive today.  It made me feel happy and it made me feel hopeful.  That spirit of giving still exists within each one of us.  Whether it is a donation for a charity or merely a kind word to someone who could use a smile, kindness begets kindness.

It is easy to lose sight of the simple niceties with all the fear and anger being broadcast on every news station around the world.  It is understandable that our anxiety and apprehension are clouding our vision and not allowing us to remember the kindness we have been raised to feel and to share.  I am thankful that I have been made aware that tolerance and humanity still exist and I am extremely grateful that I continue to comfortably tread water in the sea of optimism.

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I am reminded of the line from ‘It’s A Wonderful Life” ~ every time a bell rings, an Angel gets its wings.  Perhaps we can bring that thought process down from such an ethereal level and just hope that every time a kind act is performed, a small piece of hatred dies.