Welcome to my focus group

Dear friends; I’ve been thinking. Should I be doing something more with this space? I’ve been writing here for 10 months now. I started on a birthday eve and, just so you know, even when the name no longer applies specifically to me, I think I’ll keep it. When I’m 64 forever. Think of it…

100 phone calls for 100 years

Do you know 100 people? Sure you do. Do you know 100 people who would happily pick up the phone and call you to chat about old times? Not sure that I do. But imagine you’re 99 and the last living person of your group of friends and peers. What then? How many people will…

When a wee hours call means tsunami

The phone rang at 4 a.m. This could only mean one of two things: Bad news. Don’t answer it. A ‘computer repair’ scam call from a far away time zone. Don’t answer it. I answered. It was my pal Pauline calling from Hawaii. Had we heard about the Alaska earthquake and the resulting tsunami warning?…

So long to my good doctor

I said goodbye to my doctor today, all verklempt and blubbery as I sat in the thinnest of thin patient gowns. I hate change. Dr. K isn’t so much retiring as choosing to have a life. She’s moving into a medical field that will have her caring for patients all day and then going home…

The best, booziest, and fastest Christmas cake

In my grandmother’s handbook for living – a collection of recipes and cures curated from her arrival in Canada in 1908 through her family-raising years – are seven Christmas cake recipes. There is Andy’s Christmas cake, calling for two-dozen eggs and a full bottle of vanilla; Mrs. Topham’s cake with four eggs and two spoons…

30 years later – thank you, lady

Dear lady; It’s American Thanksgiving and – since I didn’t act on the impulse during Canadian Thanksgiving last month – I’m borrowing our neighbour’s holiday to say thank you. Some 30 years late. On our own Thanksgiving in October, I went to church with my daughter and her family. Each member of the congregation was…

What not to say to Sears employees

A little advice on what not to say to Sears Canada employees when you visit the death throes sales of the old girl over the coming weeks. Do not ask them if they’ve been screwed in their pensions. They will only tell you that they’ll be fine, thank you. Will your purchase be on debit?…

The return of mom jeans

It’s too bad mom jeans are back. This was Linda from the bow of the boat we row around the harbor on Sundays. You should write a piece about fashion and what people should and shouldn’t do at our age. Linda has a big public sector job that keeps her more or less paying attention…

Forgiving friends, trees, and a swoony jam

Here’s how you recognize a true friend. You set their kitchen ablaze (true story, told here) and months later they give you a heaping bowl of damson plums. Damsons are tiny and tart jewels of autumn fruits. The jam, beloved by the English isn’t as well known here in Canada. Brit-born Chris (of the flaming…

The tipping point on tipping. What’s yours?

Australians aren’t automatic tippers. I was reminded of this while enroute to Australia earlier in the summer when I shared a cab with a couple heading home to Brisbane. “I’ll get it,” said the man as the cab pulled up to the international terminal. The fare was about 15 times the cost had we taken…