Random thoughts: Telephones

We ditched our home phone months ago. With four cell phones in the house, it had become good only for startling the pets when it rang. Even though we all now carry phones, we use them for that purpose so sparingly, it’s become a remarkable thing (as in, something to remark on) when used for a call.

I’ve been noodling on this lately for a number of random reasons…

Reason #1 – Phones still work.

I needed to know how to pronounce someone’s name. Hooked on Phonics wasn’t going to cut it for me, I needed to know for sure the Mic, Mac, Muc of someone’s surname. So I called them. Admittedly I was hoping for voice mail, to hear them say their name, but a real person answered. And we talked. It was lovely, we laughed, commiserated, I hung up smiling (it’s “Mic”).

Reason #2 – Phone calls can be exciting.

I recently switched jobs. When my new boss called to tell me he was offering me the position, I was elated! Those types of conversations involve a relay of details and information, and I was mostly in receive/process mode for the start of the conversation. At a pause he asked if I had any questions. “Can you hear me smiling?” I said. “Because I’m smiling right now!” He said he couldn’t in fact hear me smiling, but I think my point had been made.

Reason #3 – Phones put voice to text

Look at your text messages. When you read them, you inevitably hear the senders’ voice when you read them, no? People have told me I write like I talk, at times using Julie-speak (words and phrases unique to my happy take on the world). I take that as a compliment – I think its human and authentic and I love when I read messages, tweets, even Instagram posts by people I’ve met and I can hear their voice. That being said, that sense of voice when reading a text is strongest with people I’ve spoken to recently. Note to self: keep calling people.

Final thought: Hearing Voices isn’t a bad thing.

My kids call their grandmothers periodically. Neither granny owns a smart phone so they aren’t on text or email. I think that might be the smartest of moves, as I get to hear one side of their conversations and hear them laughing together, relaying recent events and or breaking down Big Brother.* When I leave voice mails for friends now, I ramble on and leave a code word to see if they’ve listened far into the message, and I love hearing voice mails from friends who are breathless and busy, but have taken the time to call me. I think now, in addition to mailing one piece of snail mail a week, I’m going to try and make one phone call per week, too. To bring back some of the old days, and try to hear more voices.

*disclaimer I detest that show and don’t watch it, but Memere does and so the kids talk it over with her.. much to my dismay


Posted in Inside my head | 3 Comments

Do I have something in my teeth?

Blog challenge this month includes sharing a photo of something from our house that people often ask about…

While no one’s ever asked me about this, I live in hope that one day someone will stroll into my kitchen and burst out laughing at the utter brilliance of it. That’s what I did when I found it at the Women’s Art Festival years ago. It’s a wooden bowl, painted by a local artist (“A. Viner” is what it says, wish I knew more so could credit them here). Do you get it? It makes me smile every time…


If you haven’t visited the festival, it’s absolutely worth it. Held every August in Kingston’s City Park, it features artists and creators from all styles/ages and who all identify as women of the arts. I’ve found gifts, art, bags, baubles, stories, and inspiration every year I have gone. I wrote about the 2012 festival here… it was a sweet post because it included pictures of Audrey, who has since joined the circus. I still have and use what I bought that year, of what I kept versus gifting away. This year it’s on August 19th which is a weekend we are away, so their revenues might be down with me not attending… maybe you can take my spot and support the artists?

Posted in Everyday Adventures | 2 Comments

Random thoughts: Blue Rodeo

Random thoughts posts are like free association on any particular topic. Here we go, Blue Rodeo version.

If I became obscenely wealthy I would book Blue Rodeo to play whatever milestone event I had coming up next.

I had a roommate once who stole several things from me when she moved out… like my Club Monaco white blouse and I forget what else, except for the worst of all: she took my Blue Rodeo CD. I could forgive clothes and knick knacks but I super missed that music.

I read “The Bridges of Madison County” picturing Robert Kincaid as Jim Cuddy and I’m only slightly embarrassed to admit that.*

I’ve seen Blue Rodeo in concert several times, it’s always a great show and inevitably I end up with tears streaming down my face. Not sure why, just feel surge-y moments in music I guess.

Blue Rodeo on vinyl is good stuff. Like, feet up, beer in hand, not a phone in sight, fire crackling, fireflies dancing, small smile staring off into the distance good.

I can always recognize their music. I recently infamously mistook a Led Zeppelin song for Billy Joel and my husband hasn’t gotten over it. I love telling people as am convinced someone else will agree that particular song is evocative of the piano man… until then I’m not worried of mixing Blue Rodeo up with anyone else…

Queens University released a cool version of “Oh Canada” for July 1st this year featuring famous and talented musical alumni. I love hearing our anthem on most days but that version is goosebumpy awesome and not only because Cuddy sings in it, in both national languages.

For all the listening I’ve done, I’m still bad at remembering lyrics but I blame that on the fact I love their actual music. Harmonicas. Jazzy clarinet. Soothing swelling sounds. Good to “lalalalalaaaa” along with.

I like them so much I wear them. I reserve t-shirt purchases to thingsI mega adore. Like Harry Potter. Star Wars. Local beer. And Blue Rodeo.

I love to fall asleep listening to their music… which I am off right now to do.

*I also consider that book the thinking person’s 50 Shades although I’ve never read them… and won’t.

Posted in Inside my head | 2 Comments

CostCo marriage advice

Kid1 and I were headed to Costco. I stupidly thought it wouldn’t be busy on a Thursday morning, but it’s busy all the time. I blithely strolled in, thinking there would be no crowd but my sweet jeepers was I wrong. Once I saw the crush of people, emergency measures were required – I turned into the houseware aisles. Normally I avoid these aisles as they cause impulsive off-list purchases, but we were on a mission and I didn’t want to Plinko my way around people trying to get our shopping done.

I had taken about five steps when I stopped in my tracks. It was magnificent! A patio lantern the size of a concrete piling, spotted with holes and nature shapes, that you set out and light up and it brings you zen, just like that. “Wooaaahh Daws, look at THIS!” I said.

“No, mom. Keep walking” said my kid, who acts as my CostCo over-spending sponsor. I was preparing a wheedling reply when someone tapped my arm. I turned and looked down on a neat-as-a-pin, turned-out-just-so tiny lady of advanced years. With her smart little handbag over her arm and her sweet smile I switched from wanting the patio lantern to wanting to take her home.

“Dear,” she said. “Do you mind if I tell you something?”

I told her to please go ahead.

“I have been married for 48 years and I know one thing to be true. When men hear a woman say “I want that,” their ears turn off.”

We laughed, and she turned and tootled off, her husband trailing her with their cart, not having heard our exchange. Kid1 asked me what she said. I told him, and we headed to the bread section, without the lantern.

p.s. CostCo is a mecca for quality family time. The image in this post is me modelling their balaclava last summer, to kid1’s delight (that’s him marching off in the distance, once again towards the bread).

Posted in Everyday Adventures

Adventures in Citizenship

I woke him at 6 a.m. He’s always been a champion sleeper, the kind of baby some people resented because he slept through the night at six weeks of age. As I gently shook his man feet and the cat begrudgingly vacated the end of his bed, I saw him register why I was waking him up earlier than usual. It was time.

He had confessed he was nervous – he worries about public speaking because he can be difficult to understand due to an articulation delay, his deep voice, and from being a speedtalker. He wanted to do a good job, because the experience was something he really enjoyed, and he appreciated having had the opportunity to attend. He had prepared his slides, reviewed his notes and printed off what he needed, so we headed out.

The Rotary Club of Kingston provides incredible opportunities for youth to see the world, and participate in programming closer to home that grows their network and understanding of our country. Kid1 was one of 200 youth across Canada chosen to attend the Rotary Club’s Adventures in Citizenship program for 2018. The program brings youth together in Ottawa for an inside look at Canada’s government, policy development processes, and they even witnessed the ceremony where people became Canadian citizens! To say he loved it is an understatement.


Kid1 presenting at the Kingston Rotary Club that sponsored him to attend #AIC2018

Today he presented at Rotary and shared what he learned, how the program exceeded his expectations, and how he has remained in touch with people he met during the three days in Ottawa. As he spoke, I could not have been more proud of him, or more grateful for the opportunity he was given. Part of his speech included sharing the essay he wrote to be considered for admission to the program. His essay is shared with his permission below.

For a kid who worries about always doing a good job, and who gets told he is too much of a nice guy, it was nice to see him own a moment and proudly represent what the AIC program meant to him. His final slide, and closing remark was to say “thank you” for the opportunity, which is perfect as I give thanks every day for him.

Essay – What being a Canadian Citizen Means to Me
“Pride” is the first thing that comes to mind when I am asked what being a Canadian means to me. I’m proud of being Canadian, and I’m proud of how being a Canadian stands for having respect and showing compassion.

I’ve been lucky to see clear examples of respect for our country, and it has inspired me. My grandfather served in the Canadian military and after his active service, continued to give back as the Honorary Colonel of our local regiment. He served Canada his whole life in a variety of capacities, and never once spoke of it as anything other than something he was honoured to do. Being Canadian means being generous with time and energy, something I was able to do in some small part by being an Armed Forces cadet for three years.

Whether in global peacekeeping or in welcoming refugees and encouraging diversity, being Canadian means showing compassion. For several years I have been lucky enough to participate in motionball for Special Olympics, an event that works to integrate, celebrate, and educate communities about the inspiring abilities of Special Olympic athletes. I think the event is a great example of the compassionate society we have, but also how much opportunity there still is to continue helping everyone feel recognized and included, no matter if they have a disability, or are from other countries with different cultures and beliefs.

My pride at being Canadian was reinforced when I met Master Corporal Jody Mitic at an author event in Kingston last year. I read MCpl Mitic’s books and got to speak with him after the event. He told me “…a C is just a P” meaning a C grade was just a pass and okay but it was better to push hard to achieve more. He spoke about not being average and doing the hard work it takes to be exceptional. Canada as a country is great as a result of hard work and dedication over many generations. I’m proud to be Canadian and hope to contribute one day to keeping our country as great as it is.

Posted in Everyday Adventures, Kid Stuff | 1 Comment

Mapping Memory Lane: Diary entries

Kid2 graduates from public school next week. She’s had a pretty good run with the expected rough patches but overall I think she’s leaving it behind with much less residual angst and awkward than I did. I’m going to go ahead and take some credit for that, plus she has gone to a really great school.

We were recently talking as I was writing thank you notes – people had been extremely generous to me for my birthday. Kid2 commented that I seem to like writing, and asked if I always did, even long, long ago when I was her age (she had the grace to smirk when she said that).

I had to think but then realized, yep I’ve always liked writing. Always captured moments or expressed gratitude and vented with pen in hand. I told her I’ve written since before I was her age, and that I had proof. I then went and dug out my public school diary and looked up entries for this week, 33 years ago. I have to admit I winced, cringed, and at times smiled softsadly to myself.


The major accomplishments of Grade 8 were listed in an entry dated June 25th. I had made it to the science fair, made the soccer team, and seemed proud of my grade in math (which was a “C”)… I itemized track results (mostly distance running), and had danced with a boy for the first time. As I flipped through the pages, I first felt mortified for my childish perspective then sad as it seemed I never felt confident in anything I was doing. I also had to admit I hadn’t always written what was in my heart, the diary contains an edited version of what I was living. Sometimes I had gone back and added postscripts like “I wasn’t glad he dumped me, I just wrote that to try to be brave” or “I wrote this for your benefit, Sister” as privacy wasn’t a guarantee in our house growing up.


Either way, the gift of peering back into my 13-year old psyche makes the diary precious to me. It seems I’ve always loved language – I used words like “betwixt” and “mayhap,” and swore like a sailor in many entries. It also seems certain things that mattered back then still matter today, like books I’d read, our pets and their adventures, and things I saw or read that inspired me. Finally, I love what the diary shows me most clearly, which in contrast to my tween self, I’m finally comfortable owning the choices I make.

As kid2 breezes out of public school, I think the best I can do is tell her to do as I did, 33 years ago, and see what comes next as a grand adventure, one worthy of coloured markers and captured memories. Wowzers indeed.


Posted in Kid Stuff, Mapping Memory Lane | 2 Comments

A word on birds…

I’m pretty out there as liking birds. Their imagery, plumage, symbolism. You name it. I like birdy everything.

That’s why my ears pricked up leaving work the other day. Two women were walking ahead of me and they were commenting with disgust about bird droppings on the ground, saying someone should do something about it, that it was gross.

As they stepped along, looking down at the ground and “tsking” about the mess I registered something. I registered how different I was from those ladies, as the mess didn’t bother me. I wear shoes so I don’t step directly in such things. It also was the last thing I would have noticed, stepping outside into glorious sunshine and a light breeze. Lastly, while they were looking and putting down, I was looking up. This is what I saw:

Barn swallows are a species at risk in Ontario. Their habitats are disappearing and their nests are constantly knocked down by people who can’t stand mess. I actually think they look kind of sheepish. Like they wish no one could see them or their messy nest area. I also think they look new and full of swooping promise.

I’ll take the nest and the mess. I will also continue looking up instead of down. It’s a much better view.


Posted in Inside my head | 1 Comment