A blog sundae with a Cherry on top

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In light of what has been happening on social media these days, I have been struggling to come up with a blog post I am not frightened to make public. On a typical day, I can sit down at my laptop with several ideas and bang away on the keyboard until words form sentences and sentences magically transform into ideas. But my writer’s platform has gone from a sturdy stage to a treacherous landscape where I am leaping from lily pad to lily pad over a crocodile infested pond. I am afraid to write. Something that comes so naturally to me has suddenly become so daunting.

I am not sure when I feel like I lost my freedom to say what I want to say. I cannot pinpoint the moment when I became afraid to offend anyone who reads this blog, but it happened. And then I stopped to really think about how I felt and realized I still have a voice, and there is no one person who can tell me my opinion doesn’t matter. If I allow my writing journey to be guided by anyone other than me, I may as well not write at all. My ideas and opinions may not be shared by everyone who reads what I write but I still choose to send my words into the world, knowing there will always be someone who will disagree and have a strong opposing point of view. That is what life is about.

My mother used to tell me “it takes all kinds to make the world go around”. Thirty years ago, her words fell on deaf ears but, even though she has been gone for almost six years, her words speak louder now than they ever did. Every opinion has a passion behind it. I get that now. And I have to embrace the fact that not everyone thinks the way I do, and that’s okay. What is not okay is feeling like I have to choose my words so carefully that I am afraid to speak.

Words have power, that is a universal constant, but words will always be subject to interpretation. How we comprehend those words speaks volumes about our character. Keep speaking your mind, but know your words will always offend someone and there is nothing you can do about that.

 

 

 

 

 

The good, the bad and the motivating

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Being a writer affords me great excuses for supporting technology and having an online presence. If I am EVER going to find an agent and get my first novel published, freely giving my time to the soul-sucking internet is a requirement. Social media is at the top of marketing tools, especially for writers like me who are wanting to keep a dialogue going about their writing with as many people as possible. I am confident I can keep my phone in my pocket during meals or cocktails with friends, but it is never far from my reach.

When I began writing my second novel (still in progress), I cancelled my satellite subscription for the second time and then took it one step further by sending back my receiver. I thought I was being clever by vanquishing the distraction known as television but an unfortunate series of events led me to discover Netflix and Amazon Prime. Now I am faced with the same demon, but it has a different face.

I can remember watching The Jetsons as a child and thinking how preposterous it was to have a digital diary and a robot who cleans the house. And yet, here I am in 2019 and I can ask Alexa to play my music, broadcast the news and weather as well as “dropping in” on friends who also have Alexa. I can have Siri control pretty much anything in my house and access any information I require just by speaking to him through my phone and my friend has programmed his robo-vacuum to clean his house according to the grid he has programmed.

But as much as I thought technology was controlling my life, my birthday gift of an Apple Watch is helping me take back control of my life. Ignoring the fact that I can text or email from my watch and use it as a walkie-talkie with other Apple watches, this brilliant piece of electronic supremacy can monitor my health and encourage me to get off my ass and be more active. It’s even motivating me to make healthier choices with my cooking.

I’m a big fan of golf because the only person you really compete with is yourself and it is the same with physical activity. If I walk three kilometers on Monday, I’m not comparing my achievement with anyone else but I’m certainly going to try to walk a little further on Tuesday. And herein lies the genius of this particular technology. It is making me want to get healthier. It is diverting my attention from mindlessly looking through Facebook posts and making me focus on myself. It gives me reminders to stand up from my work desk every hour. It gives me a fireworks display if I complete my rings every day and it gives me awards if I go above and beyond my requirements.

I’m sure my watch is frowning at me this morning as I delayed my walk due to the nasty weather. But, rest assured, I will be seeing those fireworks later today!

 

Mastering the Masters Menu

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For anyone who has ever heard of Tiger Woods, yesterday was a monumental day.  I know this first hand because a friend of mine is well-versed in spinal fusion surgery after having the same surgery done a couple of years ago. There is no easy road to recovery.

Spinal fusion surgery is not like getting your tonsils out. This procedure helps to alleviate chronic back pain by connecting two vertebrae that were once separate working parts and eliminating the movement in between them. For Tiger to have that surgery two years ago and come back to win the 2019 Masters Tournament is astonishing!

In true form, I planned my Masters menu and even included a “wedge” salad. I had planned to do my meal preparation in the morning and put the final touches on at my friend’s house while watching the tournament but Mother Nature had other plans. Tee times for the final round were moved to Sunday morning due to an impending storm so my meal prep was done in my kitchen with my laptop precariously perched on my far counter so I could watch as I cooked.

Shrimp Cocktail is always on the menu and I opted for Spinach Pinwheels (shown above), Wedge Salad with homemade Fresh Herb Dressing, Meatloaf Sliders, Crockpot BBQ Ribs and Creme Brulee Cheesecake Bars. It may have been a bit of overkill for the small guest list, but it was delicious. I even had a few pinwheels for breakfast this morning and the sliders are teed up for lunch!

Here is the recipe for the pinwheels for those who were asking. Happy Monday everyone!

Spinach Gruyere Puff Pastry Pinwheels

Ahhh….the profanity comes flooding back….

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I don’t have children but my countdown to the beginning of the school season is just as exciting.  There are no giant red X’s on any calendars but the anticipation for the first week of September is palpable.   While the teachers prepare their rooms with the letters of the alphabet strung across the top of the chalk boards, I am only concerned with three of those letters.  N-F-L

new-66

(one of my favorite pics of my dad)

 

My child-like excitement for the sport is well-known throughout my friends and family and especially by many others who are members of my football pool.  My incessant emails begin during pre-season and escalate substantially as the NFL ramps up to the first kick off of the regular season.

I prepare my dog for the blast of profanities (my sports-related Tourette’s syndrome) that will inevitably be passed from my lips only to fall on the deaf ears of the referees.  This is a beloved family tradition passed down from my grandparents and who am I to argue with tradition?  They were masters of the verbal barrage of expletives and were not selective when it came to yelling at referees  – hockey, football, baseball umpires, nobody was safe.  I reserve my assassination of the English language specifically for the line judges, field judges, side judges and back judges of the NFL.  There are also a few well-placed curse words expelled during fumbles, sacks and interceptions.  (I don’t discriminate.)

I have been busy over the last few days preparing my three pages of football sheets for the over 60 participants in my football pool.   Let the games begin and let my grasp of the English language be slightly marred.  Hell hath no fury like a woman watching football!!

It’s all about choosing the right club

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“Many people only talk about that perfect drive they had on the 14th hole, but you rarely hear about the other 17 holes.” ~ M.S.

rock

(image credit)

Life is very much like a game of golf.  The scenery is stunning, the fresh air is vital but the course can be very unfavorable.  There are moments when you feel like you should just give up.  And then it happens.  For one brief, shining moment, the Gods smile on you and you drive it straight down the middle of the fairway about 300 yards.

At that moment the rest of the world ceases to exist.  All of the bad shots that happened in the past disappear and are replaced with the vision of that perfect drive.  You are only able to focus on that dimpled ball in the distance surrounded by nothing but the manicured path of greatness.

But those other seventeen holes are the lessons that keep us humble.  Those muffed shots and missed putts are the fuel that keeps our fire burning.  Those missed opportunities are what keep us coming back again and again to try to be better than we were the last time.  If life wasn’t remotely challenging, it would hardly be worth living.  Like the game of golf, you never know what to expect in life.  Some days you should be playing at the Masters and some days you are stuck at the mini-putt.

Golf is a great analogy for life.  In golf, unless you are a professional player, the only real competition you have is yourself.  Life is the same way.  You can only try to be better than the person you were yesterday.  You can never compare your life to anyone else’s life because your approach is different and the winds can change the trajectory of your reality in the blink of an eye.  You most likely play the game of life with different clubs and your follow through will never be the same as your competitors.

Life or golf – it’s all about picking the right club to help you get the distance you need.  Keep your head down, focus, follow through and always go for it.  Life, like golf, always gives you a second chance and that Mulligan could be the second chance that will change the outcome of your game – of golf, or of life.

Eternal optimism while staring at your balls

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There is a local golf course that is always the first one to open every season.  They even have a count down sign on the highway so driver’s passing by can share their enthusiasm for the start of golf season. It is a nice reminder, a beacon of hope that lurking under the mounds of snow lie tiny blades of grass waiting to be kissed by the warm, Spring sun.

noodle-golf-balls

(image credit)

I drove by that sign today and the magic number on the sign is 25 days to golf.  I almost drove off the road I was laughing so hard.  As I collected myself, I began to scan my surroundings.  Mounds of snow still shroud anything that may slightly resemble a golf course and the temperature on my car thermometer was -12C.

Maybe the optimism of the course owner is misguided.  Perhaps he knows something the rest of us do not.  But I’m willing to bet that the sign proudly stating golf season will start in 25 days will say the same thing 25 days from now!

Willie, may the odds be ever in your favor

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Superbowl Sunday has arrived!  The culmination of seventeen glorious weeks of watching the pigskin, followed by Playoffs and now it’s time for the Big Show!!  Even the groundhogs get a reprieve this year and get to watch the game in the comfort of their burrows without being dragged into the daylight until tomorrow.

Ah, Groundhog Day – that magical morning when we put our faith in an abundantly nourished, rotund mass of fur to predict the arrival of Spring.  This over-sized rodent is depended upon to prognosticate to the best of his ability and tell us, by virtue of seeing or not seeing his shadow, when we can expect the return of Spring.

Last year my post about this auspicious day focused more on the history and process of Willie’s predilection for weather.  This year I thought I would look at things from the perspective of poor Wiarton Willie (the Canadian version of Punxsutawney Phil).  First, he is rudely roused from his winter-long slumber to come out of his burrow and predict something even educated meteorologists cannot agree on.  Second, when he finally does make his appearance, he is greeted by a bemused but somewhat urgent crowd as they try to keep themselves warm enough to endure the period-costumed pomp and circumstance.

I am inclined to guess that Willie’s urge to get back into his cave has nothing to do with seeing his shadow.  I don’t know about you but, if I awoke to large crowd focused solely on me, I would be in one Hell of a hurry to bury myself back under my nest of blankets, shadow or not.  I feel somewhat sorry for Willie.  After being forced from his snug home out into an artic-like morning, the New England Patriots are probably not the only ones with deflated balls.

Given the success rate of these whiskered weather forecasters, the only prediction I would really take to heart is perhaps Willie’s prophecy about Superbowl 49.  Enjoy the game Willie and good luck with the madding crowd on Monday!

gh2

The fat lady began singing last night

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The holidays are always an emotional time of year.  This year was no exception for me.  But something else happens every year, always between Christmas and New Years, that leaves me heavy-hearted and very melancholy.  Last night, the regular season of the NFL ceased to exist for 2014 – time of death 11:32 pm.

fat lady

I am a self-professed NFL junkie and I have been since I was a kid.  For seventeen glorious weeks, I am content to sit on my couch for 10 hours on Sunday and watch the pigskin travel across the gridiron.   That is my happy place.

About ten years ago, I took charge of an existing football pool and grew it from approximately fifteen participants to the seventy-one we had this year.  With a fairly substantial buy-in, this pool has been a great success over the years and has given me the much-loved moniker “The Commish”.   Running the football pool has not only been a great challenge to perfect the spreadsheets but it has introduced me to many new friends.

There is an overwhelming sadness in me today.  Although the playoffs begin this weekend, I will miss the sixteen game roster every Thursday to Monday.  Knowing the culmination of the entire season will arrive in five short weeks makes me want to stop time and rewind it back to the beginning of September….or change lyrics to songs from old musicals…..

Raindrops on grass fields and whiskers on backers,

Cheering the Chargers or watching the Packers,

Receivers that run like their feet sprouted wings,

these are a few of my favorite things.

~~

*Sigh – they should make a pill for this!

Feeling that warm Canadian glow

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canada

Our love for our country runs deep.  We, as a nation, bleed red and white and this morning I felt the vibration of a country celebrating in unity as the Canadian Men’s Hockey team took Olympic Gold.  The West coast rose at 3:30 am (or stayed up) to watch the puck drop at 4:00 am PST and the wave of Canadian spirit undulated across the nation.

During these winter games we battled and we fell.  We picked ourselves up and congratulated those who bested us.  We honored those who carved the way for new Olympic challenges.  We watched the families and friends of our Olympians cheer on our Canadian athletes in Sochi while we cheered from home.

We did not just celebrate our victories.  We celebrated our efforts in every sport and paid tribute to those willing to represent the best our country has to offer.  We felt the pain of those who came up short of their goals but we also felt their Canadian pride in their attempt to be the best.

We battled with the world, we won with pride and we lost with dignity and grace.  We leave Sochi with the same sense of self and the same Canadian values we had when we arrived.

An entire country will go to bed tonight proud of our Canadian athletes, their coaches and their support staff.  We will appreciate the thankless hours parents spend teaching these children to learn from defeat, to lose and to win graciously and keep striving to be the best they can be.

(image credit: karenfron.com)

The memories that will linger from Sochi 2014

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2014-sochi-logo

(image credit: sochi2014.com)

I have been watching the Olympics intermittently.  During the time that I have been able to stop and watch, there have been some proud Canadian moments that will live on in our history because they have been documented.  Athletes have been awarded medals that will be displayed for generations and their names have been chiseled into the stone tablets of time.  Those victories have been celebrated and are cemented into the foundation for our future Olympians.

Dara Howell, a young girl from a small town so close to mine, proudly claimed her Gold medal and made the boundaries of Cottage Country swell with pride.   Sisters Justine and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe topped the podium and took home Gold and Silver medals together.  Alexandre Bilodeau won Gold and, once again, shared a tender moment with his brother Frederic who has Cerebral Palsy and is, undoubtedly, Alexandre’s biggest supporter.   These are the precious Canadian moments that make us proud of our fellow countrymen and make us bleed white and red in their honor.  Support and pride can be felt across the country for ALL of our Canadian athletes.

But there have been moments that may never be recorded in the hallowed halls of Olympics gone by – moments that not only made me proud to be a Canadian, but proud to be a human being.  Newscasters delighted in showing the film footage of our Canadian ski coach, Justin Wadsworth, unselfishly replacing the broken ski of Russian skier, Anton Gafarovski, so he could “finish the race with dignity”.  Justin showed the world the heart of a former Olympian, the heart of a Canuck and the heart of the true human spirit.

Gilmore Junio has been plastered all over the coverage of Men’s Speed Skating because he gave up his spot in the 1000M race to allow his teammate, Denny Morrison, to compete after Denny fell in the qualifying round and was not entitled to race.  Denny went on to skate the track of his life after being cheered on by his family, Gilmore’s family and the rest of Canada, and he earned a Silver medal.  Gilmore may not have won a medal for the 1000M race but he won much more than that.  He won the heart of every Canadian and many other hearts from around the globe.  In true Canadian fashion, Denny Morrison is now campaigning to have Gilmore carry the Canadian flag at the closing ceremonies.

I can only hope when I think back on the Winter Olympics in Sochi that I will remember these moments and not just the jubilant faces on the podium as the winners received their medals.  The Olympic games are about being the best you can be and, in my opinion, Justin and Gilmore both won the Gold in that category!