It’s all in the details

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Yesterday was my day off. I get one day off a week this time of year so I have to pack as much into it as I can to make the way I spend it last until my next day off. My timing was altered slightly but I still managed to get everything done I wanted to do and enjoy some time with a friend in the process.

After my morning shopping and a few other tasks, I headed to my friend’s house so we could detail my car. He is a recent Honda owner and we both love our Hondas and take great pride in them. Mine has been sadly neglected over the past few months and in great need of a thorough cleaning. My friend, who has an entire Rubbermaid bucket labelled “car care”, was more than happy to help out and we spent a few hours making my car look like it did the day I drove it off the lot.

Every inch of my car was washed, dried and polished. Even the difficult globs of pine tar were beaten into submission and eventually removed. If you look inside my car now, you would never know I have a dog who sheds like crazy, drools everywhere and puts her nose on every piece of glass in that car.

As much as cleaning a car is about the details, so is friendship. It’s about the fact that you can have fun doing menial tasks, that you can laugh at pretty much anything and just enjoy each other’s company without having to feel like you are putting on a show for anyone. It’s about being you and knowing that the details of you are truly appreciated by someone else. And it’s about knowing that a true friendship may collect a little dust but it takes no time at all to polish it and bring it right back to where it should be.

It’s all in the signs

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I admit to having a warped sense of humor.  But in my defense, I have many friends who share my love for the strange and twisted things that make us laugh.

There is a road sign about five minutes from my house that I am assuming leads to a lovely cottage on Lake Muskoka.  It was really just an innocent sign until I told a friend about it and our back and forth texting about that sign had us both in tears we were laughing so hard.

The simple amusement about the sign itself turned into a full-on laugh fest when we thought about invited guests coming up to this cottage but, before they drove down the road, they decided there was no reason to go any further.  The point was moot.  We pictured groups of people milling about at the end of the driveway wondering why they even made the drive up in the first place.  The more we thought about it, the more we laughed.

My friend drove up here to have lunch and we made a point of stopping in the driveway to take some pictures of the sign.  The laughter that we had shared before was brought back quickly as we sat in our seats, tears staining our cheeks as the laughter started all over again.

Now, every time I drive by Moot Point, it makes me giggle.  One innocuous sign is now the thing that can bring a smile to my face because it brings back memories of sharing great laughs with someone who is just as warped as I am.

It takes all kinds….

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I have never been one to shy away from using my voice.  I have learned over the years that having an opinion is the backbone of our individuality.  Our beliefs and ideals are just that, ours.   We have a right to share them and we have the intelligence to know that not everyone will agree with them.

Social media has taken our tiny platform from parties and get-togethers to an extreme level and our opinion, should we choose to voice it, is subject to a wide array of conjectures and unpredictable feedback.  These days there is a very thin line between anything and political correctness.

Lately, I think twice before I post an update on my page or even post a response to someone else’s post. For every nine people who simply click the thumbs-up button to give you a like, there is that one person who can turn a simple post into their newest crusade.  They will mock you for posting it, they will admonish those who liked it and they will go to great lengths to channel their strong feelings and bestow their opinion upon everyone else.

Yes, some posts and memes can cross a line or two…but are we not allowed to maintain some sense of humor in light of what is going on in the world these days?  If we dissect everything we see and find offence in the slightest bit of offside rhetoric, we are bound to be very unhappy people in the near future.

I have a very open mind and a very twisted sense of humor and there are things on social media that I have found to be distasteful, even repugnant, but I have not ostracized the person who posted it….I have merely moved on and chosen not to engage in a conversation that wasn’t worth having.

it-takes-all-kinds

(image credit)

My mother used to say, “it takes all kinds to make the world go around”.   Now, more than ever, I know what she meant.  But it also takes all kinds to show some compassion and understanding and realize that we are all entitled to our own opinion without fear of recrimination.

 

The Church of the Fish

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Times have certainly changed.   When I began my career in the hospitality industry, food allergies were not even a blip on the culinary radar.  The kitchen was, for a Chef, a playground with no rules.   But all of that has changed.

These days, I make a point of asking each person making a reservation at the lodge if anyone in the family has any food allergies or food restrictions that we should be made aware of before their arrival.  The answers always weigh more heavily on the ‘yes’ than the ‘no’.  And although some of the guidelines we are made to adhere to are more preference than necessity, the kitchen now has to deal with a list of these instructions for each week of our summer season.

Now, while I completely comprehend the severity of an ingested or inhaled allergic reaction to a food, it does not negate the fact that I am more than moderately amused by the inability of our Sous Chef to pronounce one of the more prevalent choices in the current realm of dietary options.  A Pescatarian is a person who does not eat meat but will eat fish.  And each time I have the opportunity to add that choice to our “allergy” list for the week, my smile cannot be missed.   As I walk into the kitchen with that list, I calmly await the moment that she will read the list aloud and say the word “Pescabyterian”.

church of the loaves and fishes

(image credit)

According to Karina, somewhere there is a church for vegetarians who occasionally eat fish.  And that latest hotel guest, that new addition to our list of dietary anomalies, is a member of its congregation.  Each time she reads the list aloud, the words Pescatarian and Presbyterian become intertwined and I am reduced to a public school version of myself, unintentionally (not really) laughing at the combination of the two expressions.

Pescabyterian – a member of the religion of vegetarians who consciously choose to eat fish.

It may be juvenile, but this marriage of words helps alleviate some of the stress in our summer.  It gives us the freedom to laugh at the increased amount of tension in an already volatile environment.  And it allows a break for laughter in a scene that is meant more for drama, creating an oasis of calm in a sea of chaos.

One simple word, whether Webster chooses to recognize it or not, has the power to change the trajectory of our day.   Let’s hear it for the Pescabyterians!

Stuffing all you can into the holidays

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There’s a lot to be said for the joy the holidays bring – or any celebration, for that matter.  Whether it be a birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas or a reunion, the ease of the conversation, the steady flow of wine, the melodic sound of laughter and the joy of being with a close-knit group of people is unequalled.  There is an undefined comfort level that allows us to become absorbed in the festivities that surround us. The fact that we can gorge ourselves and have an excuse to eat everything in sight with only a few fleeting moments of guilt is sublime.

turkey

The molecules change in the room when family and friends get together for a holiday celebration.  There is something intrinsically sacred about holidays and the memories that are created within those moments. Time has a way of strategically obliterating those precious seconds as it marches on at a frantic pace, but our shared memories have a way of stopping that clock, if only for a few moments.

Holidays are a portal.  They can freeze time and create a vortex that allows us to travel back and relive certain periods in our lives.  The memories wrap themselves around us like a blanket and soothe us with the warmth of the times that have engaged us and truly breathe a bit of life back into our frenzied lives.

Although many holidays have passed and are collecting dust in the books of my hallowed history, watching my brother “float” his dinner in gravy brings back a rush of nostalgia, and that, to me, is what the holidays are truly about….personal moments that any other person would find arbitrary but, to me, define my holiday experience.

Our Canadian Thanksgiving has come and almost gone and the only glaring items that were missing, as always, were my mom and dad.   I know they were with us in spirit, especially during the making of my brother’s always-spectacular turkey dinner.  And I know my mom was smiling down on our dinner knowing that my brother nailed her stuffing recipe this year!

Embrace your family, enjoy the moments and get stuffed with the memories your family helps to create.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Balls to the wall

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It lay dormant, nestled in the corner of the family dining room at the cottage.  It listened to every one of our crazy conversations and eventually became the topic of many of those conversations instead of just blending into the background.

Its birth was accidental.  It came to be through a simple act of property maintenance.  The family cottage was built in the early 1900’s and had begun to show its age so, without regard for its final appearance, a spray foam was used to seal a few cracks in the old building.  What resulted in the upper corner of that dining room was eventually named and heralded as a true piece of our family history.

Perhaps this innocuous object was made more grotesque by my family’s depraved sense of humor.  It is even reasonable to say that other families may never look at this simple mass and see what we all saw.  But from the first time it was noticed at a family dinner, it was affectionately dubbed the “shiny ball sack’.

Over the years, this harmless protrusion witnessed our highs and our lows.  It feasted on the sounds of our laughter and it absorbed the collection of our tears.  Somehow that inanimate object became a large part of the traditions of our family meals and I was devastated to find out it was going to be amputated from its place in those family traditions.

I haven’t been able to visit the cottage yet this summer so I was unaware that the surgical removal had taken place – until today.  I came home from work to find a lovely gift bag on my front door step and when I saw what was inside, my heart swelled.  There, gently preserved in a shadow box, was the shiny ball sack that has been a part of our family dinners for decades.  My aunt had painstakingly saved this piece of history and presented it in a way that would allow me to keep this little gem of our family history safe and sound.

ball sack

My mom and I used to laugh endlessly about this mutation of foam and it will now find its place beside a picture of my mother in my living room.  It is a fitting ending to this chapter knowing that two of the things that brought me so much joy will be together again.

 

 

I’ll bet you think this blog is about you, don’t you?

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She’s so vain.  I didn’t think it was possible but my dog has begun to show narcissistic tendencies.  She is absolutely one of the sweetest dogs I have ever known and I never thought I would be writing these words about her.

Our routines have changed since she had her second seizure a few weeks ago.  She came through it just fine but I wanted to keep as close an eye on her as I could, so her outdoor adventures became shadowed by my presence and an extendable leash so I could monitor her well-being.

Three or four times a day, we walk to the end of our road and back and she thrills in discovering new smells each time we travel along the same stretch of pavement.  She has been trained to sit down at the side of the road every time a car passes so they are not concerned about getting too close.  But lately after each car has passed, her smile widens and she leaps from her seated position to follow the occupants of the vehicle that she has convinced herself are on the road only to see her.  I am loath to admit that my dog has become a Kardashian.

Tail wagging, she veers into the middle of the road to catch a whiff of the humans in the metal can on wheels.  If the car is going in the opposite direction, I suddenly find myself the one being walked down the road.  And, much to my dismay, several cars stop to chat only reinforcing her belief that they have stopped just for her.  After her faithful subjects have curtsied and paid their respects, her head swells slightly, I feel moderately deprived of oxygen and we continue our walk until we are securely tucked back into our humble abode (which I’m sure she now feels is beneath her).

new 008

(image: Callaway as a puppy)

As I’m sure it happens in Hollywood, Callaway’s fame happened overnight.  Three or four times a day, I apparently walk a movie star.  I missed the memo explaining my new role in this relationship but as long as I still have that smiling face in my life, I’m okay with it!