Tag Archives: blog humor

Save Those Vintage Clothes – As the Condo Turns

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Hey condo-folks! This is my penultimate post on the subject…well, for now anyway.  After 9 days of this, I’m getting condo-brained-out and I’m sure you’re well into condo-overload by now. Tomorrow will be my last post in this series of 10 episodes about condo living. But in the meantime, here’s today’s topic.

Tip of the day – Save those vintage clothes

One of the hardest things about downsizing and moving to a condo is getting rid of some favourite closet items. This includes the sophisticated Jackie Kennedy ensemble you bought in the 60’s, your favourite Moroccan-style kaftan for entertaining at home in the 70’s, and the power suit, complete with linebacker shoulder pads you wore so proudly in the 80’s. Well, I can tell you that you don’t have to throw out a thing!

Going to a social event in a condo building can be like attending a period fashion show. While many zoomers keep up with current fashions, some of the older residents hang on to their vintage haute couture with the iron grip of an aging actress looking for one final screen test. And if you’re lucky enough to attend a formal gathering with sequined ball gowns and tuxedos, you’ll be catapulted back into a movie set of bygone days. It’s like viewing a ballroom scene on the Titanic! And good for them. It’s a beautiful sight!

So don’t throw away a thing! Keep all your lovelies and don them with pride. You’ll be wearing your memories and be right at home. 

Until tomorrow…these are the days of our lives.

Relax and Make Friends – As the Condo Turns…

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I’ve heard many aging boomers say they could never live in a condo with a bunch of old people. Well, most of us still have a lot of juice left in the blender, so don’t knock it ’til you try it. There’s comfort in living among others who have been there, done that. And you don’t have to suck in your gut or worry about any low-hanging bit and bobs when you go to the pool.

Tip of the day –   Relax and make friends

Living in a tall building of condo units is like living in a beehive. Most days, we all buzz around like contented little condo-bees. Oh sure, there may be some with more active stingers than others, and a few may have more venom in their ego-sacs. But deep down, we all want the same thing – a safe and happy community.

My granddaughter has a difficult time thinking of me in any way, other than the grandmother she has always known. It’s a difficult concept for her to picture me in my younger days and imagine me as a mother with a career, just like her mother.

In the same way, everyone in a condo building has history and experiences hidden away in their baggage. We have all “bee-n” (pardon the pun) somebody else before becoming who we are today. Just imagine the wealth of knowledge and adventures stacked up in all those units, one on top of the other – like a bee colony!

In my experience, people living in a condo environment are friendly and generous in sharing their backgrounds. It’s easy to meet new people and so interesting to hear the incredible stories of the lives they’ve  lived. And it’s not all past tense, by any means. More and more zoomers continue to work and travel, with no plans to stop.

Living in a detached home can sometimes feel isolated, as we grow older. We may no longer go out to work, and our social calendar may not be as busy due to health or circumstance. But in a condo – you’re never lonely.  

Regardless of the weather, just step outside your door to get the mail, go for a swim, or a run on the treadmill. There is always someone to talk to and chances are, you’ll find common ground to talk about.

If you’re like me, you’ll thank your lucky condo-stars that you made the decision to downsize that big-ass house, and BEE happy in a wonderful community of like-minded people.

Until tomorrow – these are the days of our lives.

Stand up to the Bullies – As the Condo Turns…

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As with any neighbourhood, condo buildings will always have their share of  crotchety old farts, who consider themselves the keeper of the rules. A friend of mine from Chicago tells me how someone shouted at her from his balcony at 10:00pm one evening, as she temporarily parked her car in the outdoor visitor lot. He told her she should park in the underground garage. And in the shared laundry room of her building, certain self-appointed snoops patrol the place like they’re on a reconnaissance mission to recover stolen support hose and granny panties. She gets up at 4:00am to do her laundry and avoid them.

This brings me to today’s topic.

Tip of the day – Stand up to the bullies

In my nearly three years here, I have encountered our resident enforcers on several occasions. They’re easy to recognize by their distinctive hatchet faces and beady eyes. I’ve been told with finger wagging precision by the hydro police to remember to turn off the lights in the pool and lounge areas when I leave. Another time, I offered to do a free author reading for the grandchildren of the condo development here, and the signs were ripped down from the bulletin boards because they weren’t approved by the sign police.      

Now I realize without rules we have anarchy. But without reason, we have stupidity. On a good day, I tell myself that these self-imposed guardians of the sacred rules are misguided souls who need to get a life.  On a bad day, I just want to tell them to go to hell.

As owners, we own our unit and everything in it. Common areas are shared spaces, not exclusive to a few obnoxious bullies. But like any bully, if we ignore them long enough, they’ll eventually go away. And if they don’t – release the hounds!

Until tomorrow…these are the days of our lives.

Become a Codger-Dodger – As the Condo Turns…

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Okay, ladies – this one’s for your eyes only. You heard it here first!

I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but I have it on good authority that, as seniors find themselves alone in their golden years, men are far more likely to be looking for new partners. Woman, on the other hand, seem to settle into their new-found single lives rather nicely. Oh sure, there are lots of lovely December romance stories about love and companionship, but I’m talking about the women out there who have no intention of taking on, and training, yet another man in their lives, let alone an old one.

Tip of the day – Become a codger-dodger

For all you single woman of a certain age who have earned your stripes, and want to continue enjoying your man-free lifestyle, becoming a codger-dodger is an important skill to master. Men are creatures of  habit as they age, so it’s easy to determine their routines. This makes the delicate art of dodging the codgers an easy manoeuvre to learn. 

In my building, there is a gaggle of old guys who share a swim and a hot tub at the same time everyday. Imagine my horror the first time I found myself soaking in a tub with the bunch of them! Another afternoon at the pool, I met an aging Romeo, I have dubbed “The Red Baron.” He was  wearing a tiny red  Speedo swimsuit. (Picture this at your peril.) He stood on the side of the pool flexing something or other – I think it was the wrinkles on his biceps.  Anyway, a few days later, he made googly eyes at me in the hot tub. I don’t go swimming at that time of day any longer either.

So this is how I learned to become a codger-dodger – and I’m married. That just shows you how desperate they can become!  So take a notebook everywhere you go and study their habits closely. Work your routines so they don’t overlap into codger-crossing zones and you can become a codger-dodger too. Just pay attention and have your wits about you at all times. They may be charming and seem harmless at first sight, but deep down, they’re all looking for someone to fry their bacon and wash their underwear. Good luck with all that!

Until tomorrow…these are the days of our lives.

Look Outside the Box – As the Condo Turns…

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When you consider your choices  of  high-rise, low-rise, or no-rise, remember – what’s outside can be just as important as what’s inside.  

Tip of the day – Look Outside the Condo Box
As we plunge headlong into our dreaded golden years, it’s important to keep active. Blah, blah, blah you might say. Well, hear me out you old codgers and codgeresses in waiting. I kid you not! We all need to get out into the fresh gentle breezes on a regular basis, to keep the dust from settling into our wrinkles. 

So saying that, make it easy for yourself and choose a condo unit with walking options. Being in the middle of nowhere, or in an isolated suburban area will not entice you to go for that daily airing. But if you have a variety of shops, or access to a waterfront trail or parkland nearby, you will be encouraged to get out often.  

Having a destination like a drug store or grocery store is a good motivator to  abandon that recliner – as are coffee shops and restaurants. If possible, avoid choosing a place where you have to drive to everything. It isn’t good for your heart, your health or your hips! 

Until tomorrow…these are the days of our lives.

Beware of Condo Envy – As The Condo Turns…

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I’m back! I’ve been busy doing all sorts of exciting work – full explanation will come with a big announcement in June! In the meantime – here’s the dealio.  

Condo patter: Further to my previous posts on condo living, I thought it was time to step it up a notch – especially for those of you considering  the spring market leap into condo-land.

Tune in daily: There may be many of you out there having sleepless nights, thinking about making the life-changing, mind-numbing, downsizing move to your first condo as a more mature citizen. Well, listen up! I have a lot to tell you about life in the condo lane – and I’ll do it all in the next 10 days. Compare it to a daily soap opera of sorts…a mini-series if you will.  Except the cast of characters won’t be naked (thankfully) or wearing the latest New York fashions (sadly), but there could be a few naughty bits of scandal along the way, (can you keep a secret?)

Here’s the scoop! While I’m still a newbie condoarian, I do have highly prejudiced experiences and unabashed opinionated observations to share with you, based on my life over the past nearly 3 years. And in no particular order, I’ll tell you about the good, the bad, the not-so-young, and the restless. So stay tuned.

Tip of the day: Beware of Condo Envy
All condos are not created equal. There are usually a variety of floor plans available in every condo building. And while you may choose one suitable for your needs, make sure you can stand the test of condo envy. There will always be another condo on a higher floor, a better view, more square footage etc., and you will be compared to those units.

In my experience, the first thing condo owners ask when they meet you, is  – what unit are you in and what floor are you on?  This is too often done in an effort to establish pecking order via square footage, view and market values. And that’s usually even before they ask your name! It becomes an obsession of comparison among the cotton-head community. And they do it very nicely, but it bugs the condo-crap out of me!

Now you know the inside scoop. It’s nothing to worry about, just be aware that it goes on. And no one will tell you about this or, least of all, admit to it.  So choose carefully, be happy with your investment and ignore the rest. 

Until tomorrow…these are the days of our lives.

Don’t Buggy Me!

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To working moms who ride the bus,
Your strollers cause some folks to cuss,
They clog the aisles and take up space,
We don’t want babies in our face!

Generation war:  An article in the news today got me ranting. A woman in her early sixties complained to the transit authority that there were too many buggies and strollers in the aisles on buses. She said they should impose a limit on the number of baby vehicles allowed on board, and mothers should be denied access if that limit is reached. What a wonderful idea!!! And thought up by an aging boomer who may need a walker on the bus someday. 

Lest we forget: Everyone knows that working mothers of young babies have it too easy. Refusing to let them on and making them wait at a bus stop a little longer to catch the next bus (if that bus has not yet reached its quota of strollers) is not too much to ask,  if you have a baby in tow, is it?  And as we Canadians know, our winters are very refreshing and we are fortunate to have the luxury of hats, mitts and coats to keep us toasty warm on those -25 degree days.  

Morning bliss: We all know that mothers with babies ride buses – not because they don’t have cars – but because they want to relax and enjoy the view on their way to work.  And anyone who has gotten a child ready for daycare before themselves in the morning, knows what a joy this experience can be. So who do these mothers with strollers think they are? And why should they expect to be welcomed by bus drivers and other passengers? Shame on them!

Easy rider: Young mothers are known to be quite relaxed when dropping children off at daycare, especially if that child is screaming or clinging to said mother’s leg. And the reward to the parent for this experience, is often boarding yet another bus to get themselves to work on time. Obviously these irresponsible mummies are taking advantage of the bus system, designed to help real everyday more important folks get about the city.

Teach them a lesson:  So it’s only fair to say that the self-serving behaviour of these young mothers (and babies) should be punished by any civilized society with a conscience. And certainly, banning them from getting on buses with buggies and strollers is a good start. Let them stay home and eat cake!

Money-maker: Perhaps imposing a hefty fee per stroller would work to discourage this selfish behaviour.  That would teach young parents to be prudent in their frivolous decisions to take baby vehicles on a bus, and inconvenience other more deserving passengers.

Radical thoughts: Alternatively, it has been suggested that a couple of rows of seats be removed from buses to allow for parking baby vehicles on board. In my view, this is far too simple a solution and should be discouraged at all cost. Our children deserve a much more complicated solution.   

Leave it at home: The more enterprising of young mothers could be encouraged to save money and leave the strollers at home. They could bulk-up their muscles, get in better shape and take juggling lessons. That way, they could more readily carry said crying-baby-in-snowsuit, complete with blankets, toys, diaper bag, purse and lunch bag onto the bus…without too much difficulty. And over time, many of these items could be strapped to the back of the toddler, as soon as they begin walking. No baby vehicles required. Problem solved.

Last word: Mothers of small children have had it easy long enough. I say we unite and take a stand…even if it has to be on a bus with a bunch of buggies and strollers!

So that’s my ranting, tongue-in-cheek,
I hope you know of which I speak,
Let’s think it through, for heaven’s sake!
And give moms everywhere a break.

Pat Skene 

Hello Blog? It’s Me, Pat

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I may have left you in the lurch,
I hope I didn’t make you search,
There’s so much back-blog on my plate, 
But first I’ll bring you up to date.

I’m Back: Hello again blogger world – mea culpa! I’ve been AWOL for a few months, but my cyber-batteries are now fully recharged.  A change in routine is always invigorating. It tends to breathe new life into my ever-deteriorating-but-still-breathing  60 something body parts, and puts a sexy shine on my 50 shades of grey hair.

What’s Up? Okay, let’s get down to business. Before I give you something new, I want to give you something old and update just a few of my past post shenanigans. Just click on the post if you need a refresher on what started the rantz in my pantz in the first place.

SCARY WORLD of AGING:
Since I wrote this post, I discovered black spots and cobwebs floating around in my left eye. I keep swatting at the invisible bugs as they land on my book or in my food.  It’s all part of this wonderful world of  aging, I’m being told. And, between Hubsey and me, we have collected a plethora of frequent ambulance-ride-points to the local hospital over the past year. We plan to redeem the points at Christmas for a swanky new fly swatter.

BACK in the SADDLE:
Hubsey got his driver’s license back! Hooray! It took 18 months of wrestling with the motor vehicle department, the medical system, the eye-doctors, the bureaucracy and all the mistakes and delays along the way. And what a test! It was 3 hours long, part written, part cognitive, and part actual driving a car with an occupational therapist and a driving instructor. All this because he lost a minor bit of peripheral vision in his right eye. He’s only been driving for over 50 years. Anyway, he’s back driving with a bad case of wheel-envy because I’ve grown into such an awesome chauffeur during his reluctant absence.

WILD GOOSE CHASE
Well, this is still a big pile of political poop. I did meet with the Director of Parks and Outdoor Spaces, and with my local town councillor. That was in June. Promises were made to address the outdated Bird Treaty Act at the federal level – and to try a pilot project to control the geese, using one of the simple recommendations I made. Nothing has been done to date and the Director of Parks is not returning my follow-up attempts. I’m now in escalation mode and will keep honking until this crappy issue gets some action. TBC…

AS THE CONDO TURNS…
Where do I start on this one? I still spend way too much time and head space – hopelessly trying to change the way things are done here. But I remain relentless in my efforts to lift the plastic covers off the furniture and replace old girdles and corsets with a comfy pair of roomy bloomers. Maybe it’s the latex restriction or pants hiked up to the armpits – that makes these old codgers, dowagers and all things ancient –  pucker their mouths into that soul-sucking-sour-lemon look when I try to make changes. And despite my two-year effort, I’m sorry to report that I haven’t made a pinch of progress with the condo board. But I’m not giving up…so stay tuned.  

FARRELL’S FIRE:
On a happier and more successful note, I am always trying to be the best grandmother I can be and follow the principles I wrote about in this post. I am so incredibly proud of this little girl, now 10 years old. Please indulge an old woman and her pride for a moment, while I go on… 

She’s Kicking Butt: Farrell has been studying tae kwon do for 4 years and achieved her black belt status in June of this year! What a kid! If only she was there to help me, when in self-defense, I whacked a guy in the head with a bag of beans at the Farmer’s Market in Toronto many years ago – or when I punched my boss in the stomach! But I digress – those are stories for another post.

She’s making Waves:  Anyway, I have something to show you. I went through an Emily Carr stage a few years back and couldn’t read enough about this fascinating woman. I bought my daughter a coffee table book of Emily Carr paintings and Farrell was looking at them last month. Without saying anything, she went up to her room and started to paint this picture to give Hubsey for his birthday. 

She’s One of a Kind: It took her 5 days to layer the paint and complete the picture. Emily Carr influence and all – this is an original painting from the delightful imagination of a 10 year old. So I’m very happy to report that the flame in Farrell’s Fire continues to burn brightly for all those around her.

So there you have it for today,
That’s it, that’s all I have to say.
My blogger fingers have been flexed,
Just wait and see what’s coming next!

Pat Skene    

 

 

The Green Thing

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AWOL Blogger: It’s been a while since I’ve written a new post so I wanted to let you all know that I’m on a self-induced cyber-sabbatical of sorts…taking care of business as it were. I hope to be back shaking the rantz out of my pantz by the fall.

Have you seen this? I bumped into this article on the internet the other day, after a similar thing happened to me at the drug store. It left me in a frustrated blogger mood with no time to write a post about my experience – then I found this timely piece – not sure who the author is. I couldn’t have ranted it better myself! So the Duke of Url kindly allowed me to check it out of the cyber-library for you to enjoy!

Here’s the story: Read the rest of this entry

A Blemish in My Garments

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The first year after I retired,
I felt renewed and so inspired,
Then housework soaked my spongy brain,
And made me go a bit insane…

The year I left my busy working life to run free in the pastures of retirement, I was overwhelmed with an anxious energy to do everything I had missed out on in my life. I had no bucket list back then, just a longing to fill a whole bunch of empty spaces.

But that kind of desperate enthusiasm scrambled my brain and caused a few synapses to misfire. As it was happening, I wrote an article about my experience, which was published in several newspapers. The letters to the editor led me to believe I was not alone in my irrational behaviour.

It’s been nearly 14 years since I wrote that article. Keep in mind that I was in a quixotic state of divine domesticity. I have since reestablished my raison d’être and properly restored my sanity. Here’s my story…
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At Last, I’ve Found the Kitchen by Pat Skene

Toronto Star – 1998

“Success in housekeeping adds credit to the woman of intellect, and lustre to a woman’s accomplishments. No matter how talented a woman may be, or how useful in the church or society, if she is an indifferent housekeeper it is fatal to her influence, a foil to her brilliance and a blemish in her garments.”
THE HOME COOK BOOK, Toronto Rose Publishing Company, 1877

“Give her a wide berth,” I heard my husband whisper to my daughter, as I breezed through the kitchen to check on the contents of my new slow cooker.

“Mom bought a crock-pot?” she said, as she lurched backwards to get out of my way and slammed into my new rack of stainless steel cookware. “Where did those come from?” she complained, holding the side of her head.

Breathless, my husband continued as though I were not in the room. “And that’s not all. She has two boxes of mason jars in the basement. She wants to ‘do
down’ dill pickles and tomato relish. She’s been out everyday driving around the country roads, scouring the farms for fresh produce.”

“Geez, she’s even wearing an apron,” was all my daughter could say, as they stood in silence watching me with their eyes locked on my every move.

Poor things, this was all so sudden. It started very innocently really, when I bought a new dust mop and ironing board cover. I felt so harmoniously domestic after ironing my tea towels, that it spurred me on to clean behind the refrigerator and try out that new miracle floor cleaner I ordered from a home shopping catalogue.

This uncharacteristic burst of domesticity appeared suddenly in the first year of my retirement from corporate life. After many decades of being an exhausted working mother to my daughter and often-distracted partner to my husband, I left the rat race to preserve my energy, my health and to pursue my passion for
writing.

Like many working mothers, I still sported all the guilty baggage that busy parents usually bear well into their golden years. I worried about the scars my daughter had carved into her childhood, from deprivation of home cooked meals and the long-term effects of latchkey after-shock.

Instead, she managed to survive with professional parents who adored her and she became independent and self-sufficient at a very early age. In other
words, my baby grew up while I wasn’t looking and in spite of my lack of domesticity.

My husband banned me from the kitchen a long time ago, when he witnessed me teaching my daughter how to make a Christmas Meat Pie. He threatened to get a court order to stop me from teaching her how to cook.

So there I was, with my adult daughter and retired husband – ready to do the wife and mother thing – and all they could do was stare at me all goggle-eyed like kitchen road kill caught in the scent of my boneless rump roast.

As my family continued to tread softly around me with suspicions that it was just more Menopause Madness, I continued on my domestic journey. I washed the linens in logical color combinations, organized our kitchen shelves, cleaned out closets and dusted every piece of bric a brac I could find. All this, while my stuffed green peppers bubbled deliciously in my new state-of-the-art crock-pot.

I approached my household responsibilities with the same appetite as I did my career. I savored the goodness of field-ripened tomatoes and the emotional harmony that flowed from a clean, organized home. Simplicity in a world of complications seemed to take on a rhythm of its own.

Unfortunately, while I harvested these revelations along with my bounty of summer vegetables, my family suffered future shock from my sudden coming in and out of the broom closet.

Was I morphing through a type of corporate decompression chamber? Maybe. I’d come to accept that I couldn’t rewind all the days I wasted away, the days I took for granted, the working weekends, the conferences, the cold dinners and the baby-sitters. But I needed to believe that it wasn’t too late to start paying attention to the things that mattered most and to some things that never seemed to matter at all.

I busied myself with long neglected writing projects and I enjoyed being a friend to my daughter, not to mention a new and improved partner to my husband. And in between the exciting chapters on my word processor and the scary experiments in my food processor, I might even try my hand at making Christmas gifts this year, if it doesn’t push my family over the edge. (September 1998)
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So read the quote above in blue,
And tell me, what’s a gal to do?
That ‘blemish in her garments’ threat,
Is something I cannot forget…

Pat Skene

Wild Goose Chase

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Today my rant is for the birds,
For Canada geese and all their turds,
For splattered playgrounds, walks and grasses,
I wish we could plug up their asses!

I don’t mean to cry fowl, but in the war against Canada geese (Mother Goose excepted of course), we humans are not even in the battle. If you live or walk anywhere near the waterfront, you’ll know exactly why my rantometer is in a big honking kerfuffle.

Here’s the poop: Canada geese are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. This was necessary at the time due to the dwindling goose population. Well, guess what? It’s 94 years later and those flocking birds have poop-ulated their numbers into an environmental catastrophe! And Bird Treaty or not, it hasn’t stopped the geese from declaring war on our waterfronts and poop-bombing everything in sight.

In a flap! Yes I’m in a flap about it and so should we all. Our beautiful waterfront walkways and parks are laden with an explosion of green goose droppings – all potentially disease ridden and parasite contaminated. The children’s playgrounds are smeared with the stuff and park grasses aren’t fit for human enjoyment. This not only creates a  health hazard for everyone, including our children, but a slipping hazard for the many people who must weave their way through the slime  in order to enjoy the waterfront.

Case in point: I don’t mean to put you off your Green Eggs and Ham, but as they say – a picture is worth a thousand turds. I took this on my morning walk a couple of weeks ago. Feel my pain?

A crappy situation: Each Canada goose will eat 2-3 pounds of grass and unload 1-2 pounds of droppings – everyday! In the urban area where I live – there are hundreds of these gluttonous grazers on our waterfront. And the resident goose poop-ulation doubles in size about every five years. No wonder our beautiful parks have morphed into bird toilets of convenience.

Wings of change: So what can be done about the problem you might well ask? The answer is a lot – and not much! Because of the aforementioned Bird Act, federal permits are required to destroy eggs or nests, capture or translocate, disturb or harvest (fancy word for kill) Canada geese.  So local municipalities must go through the Federal red tape bureaucracy to get approval for any action, before even one of these pooping machines can be culled or controlled. It’s a wild goose chase trying to find a politician at the federal level who will get involved, and there’s usually not much action going on at the local level either. 

Tricky techniques:  But before you think our collective gooses are cooked in this regard, there are various control strategies that can be implemented, if we all honk loud enough to our elected officials. Goose management strategies include everything from oiling or puncturing eggs, implementing various hazing or scaring techniques, use of scarecrows and dogs, erecting fences and wires, installing reflective tape, and a whole slew of other creative devices. Some experts say that introducing swans to the area is a solution. But we have about 40 swans who cohabit with the geese on our waterfront. The geese and the swans stay here year round to party hardy on our local waterways – like one big happy feathered-family.

Note: Re scaring techniques – it is permissable to harass Canada geese without a federal permit, as long as the little flockers are not touched or handled in any way.

For pity sake! Oh I’m sure the animal/environmental activists will want my guts for garters for writing this post. Well, all I have to say is – get over yourself and walk a mile in my muck-encrusted sneakers! Look at the picture above and you’ll see why I’ve chosen to ruffle a few goose-feathers!

Final word: So as I tiptoe through the green pooplets on my morning walks, I will continue to wage my war against this atrocious waterfront embarrassment. And I will persist in my efforts to hunt down some elected official who gives a damn. Now despite my revulsion at what has transpired since the Bird Act Treaty of 1918, I still find the Canada goose a remarkable looking animal. But as W.C. Fields once said about elephants, “I like to look at ’em, but I wouldn’t want to own one.”

Some people find these geese spectacular,
But I’m stuck here – in the vernacular,
They’re beautiful birds, I must admit,
Until you slip in their green sh__!

 Pat Skene

Christmas at Squabble Rock

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It’s hard to rant about anything at this joyous time of year. But if I were to have rantz in my pantz about anything, it would be the fact that some people now register for Christmas gifts – just like for a wedding! Are you kidding me!

Anyway, all that nonsense aside, I wanted to thank you for riding along with me on this new blogging adventure. And as a token of my appreciation, I tried to send a slice of my delicious Christmas tourtiere to each one of you, complete with a jar of Hubsey’s homemade peach chutney. But the shipment was stopped at the blogosphere border by the Duke of URL. He advised me that it was not an approved food item for entry into cyberspace. Sorry about that.

So all I can give you is a story. Happy Reading and Merry Christmas! Read the rest of this entry

The BIG Move

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moving-cartoonAfter Mucking Out the Memories, I continue to trudge forward into the final stages of my downsizing saga. I’ll exit this series with a dishonorable discharge for the actual move itself. At this point, I hadn’t unclenched my back-teeth for two months and my neck felt like a cement post.   After I continue to trudge forward into the final stages of my downsizing saga. I’ll exit this series with a dishonorable discharge for the actual moveitself. At this point, I hadn’t unclenched my back-teeth for two months and my neck felt like a cement post.

The right moves: I did all the requisite things, like getting several estimates and performing a surgical evaluation of each moving company. I avoided the shady list of truck-gorillas whose reputations screamed – you pack ’em, we crack ’em! Instead, I chose three large international moving firms who I thought would be well versed in the art of changing spaces – and in the delicate handling of downsizer-shock and aging boomers-in-motion.

The wrong moves: In the final analysis, my selection wasn’t based on the cheapest bid or the strongest company – but foolishly on charisma, enthusiasm and promises. I was especially taken in by one particularly skilled salesperson, with a fresh young face and flawless pitch. She made my much-dreaded move sound so blissfully effortless. 

All hat and no cattle: Like a moth to the headlights of a moving van – I fell dreamily under the spell of this fast-talking wonder-woman. She said all the right things and I was eagerly sucked into the great abyss of her promises; pain-free packing and professional transport. But once the contract was signed, I soon found out that my fresh-faced girl, along with her company…was all truck and no wheels…all box and no cardboard…all pitch and no punch…well, you get my drift.

Now let’s be fair: I’m sure all moving companies are not the same. But the one I selected said it prided itself on customer service. And they were polite – I’ll give them that. It was the follow through and quality of their work that was a dismal failure. The company’s human resource department should be very proud. Every staff member I encountered was exceptionally friendly and courteous, while they lied like hell, ignored my instructions, threw my furniture around like frisbees and stuffed my treasured wedding dress into a jam cupboard.

The Highlights:

1…Planned ahead: The survival kit we packed to take with us in the car was invaluable. We included things like: bedding for the first night, linens, kettle, cups, wine, glasses, paper towels, clothes, wine, pills, toiletries, address book, t-towels, wine, dish soap, cleaning supplies etc. The bottom line, is bring the wine!

2…Followed the rules: We were careful to determine the condo rules before moving day and communicated these in detail to our mover. This included approved moving days and times, elevator reservation forms, maximum truck size and restrictions to the delivery access route. The mover ignored my instructions and our truck was turned back at the gate. It was too large to access the loading docks at our condo building. I’d like to hurl, that fresh-faced girl!

3…Held our breath: As the movers carried in our belongings, stuff was falling out of cartons because the cheap packing tape they used had come unglued. There were several deep gouges in our furniture, broken knobs on a custom hutch and my writing desk had been split open and glued back together. Such careless work! I went berserk!

4…Bossed the crew: Like a traffic cop, I directed movers to place furniture where I wanted it. I had them stack most of the boxes in areas less-used, like the spare bedroom and dining room. We kept our bedroom and kitchen as clear as possible. Don’t eat and sleep, under a heap! 

5…Held our ground:
After unloading (a day late) the movers presented us with forms to sign. Despite the pressure, we signed for delivery only – and not for damages. It took us weeks to check everything as we unpacked – and then we duked it out for several months to settle our claim. Oh happy day! We made them pay!    

Give me a break! The morning after the move we ignored the mess – and took off for my sister’s cottage. The stacks of bloated boxes didn’t go away while we were gone. But we had time to escape the madness and refresh our sanity.

Reality bites: When we returned home, my desk was still in pieces on the floor, the knobs were still hacked off my dining room hutch, we had nowhere to put our big-ass TV, and my bunched-up wedding dress was still jammed in the jam cupboard. But I kept my chin up as I knuckled down and chanted my coping-mantra…this too shall pass…like noxious gas! 

See you between the lines and on Twitter @PatSkene                   

10 Tips for Mucking Out the Memories

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Yard Sale CartoonThe sequel to my Downsize This post.

So after that grisly marriage-blasting, nerve pinching experience of selling our big-ass house and downsizing our worldly attachments – here we are a year later happily ensconced in our condo. Thankfully, I no longer see that goggle-eyed, crazed woman staring back in the mirror.

Our little storage locker is chock-full of Christmas decorations, photo albums and fishing gear. Nothing else. It’s amazing how we boiled it all down to the bones and survived the madness. Do I miss the rest? Sometimes, but mostly there’s an incredible sense of relief; a simple freedom in de-cluttering our lives.

Top 10 things I learned:                              

  1. Make a Floor Plan: We measured each piece of furniture and made cut-outs so we could move them around on the floor plan like a doll house. This was a great way to see what furniture would be the best fit in our new place. Warning: not recommended for sissies. Big screen TV’s and well-loved recliners may not be condo-worthy.

  2. Test the size of your locker: Measure your locker and make an outline on the floor, like they do for dead bodies. After much pushing, pulling and pouting, we stacked the things we couldn’t part with in this space – like a precarious block of Lego’s. If it didn’t fit, it didn’t get on the moving truck. Proceed with caution: can be deadly to relationships.

  3. No storage wars!Sometimes when the pushing, pulling and pouting didn’t work and we reached an impasse on what to keep, we were tempted to cheat and rent an off-site storage locker. Fortunately, our daughter arrived in full swat-gear to talk us down from the ledge. When it’s stored, it gets ignored!

  4. Beware of auction houses! The two companies we used were shockingly dishonest by controlling bids to fall within their highest commission parameters – and by directing some sales to their friends – or to their spouses for resale in their own shops. Make a detailed list before you give them anything. Then kiss your assets good-bye.

  5. Check your collectables:  We checked sculptures, paintings, carvings, china, etc., for signatures and markings – and tried to determine the value by checking the internet. A sort-of-do-it-ourselves ‘Antiques Road Show.’ The money’s in the details; the devil’s in the dark.

  6. Get a long closing date would have given us time to sell more stuff online. As it was, we were pressured into hustling our belongings out the door, like unwanted houseguests. Remember the Rule of Three: a minimum of 3 months for closings and a maximum of 3 nights for visitors. Don’t get them confused!

  7. Have a yard sale: This was a great way to recycle. We priced to sell, grouped similar items together and the bargain-pickers were lined up around the block. We sold everything! The boxes of “Free Stuff” we put at the end of the drive was a big hit. They took that too and saved us a trip to the dump. My garage runneth empty; my fanny-pack runneth full…of coins.

  8. Hawk your stuff:  I made a list of everything I had for sale and emailed or handed it out to everyone I could. Friends, relatives, real estate contacts, trades people, the new buyers etc. I sold lots of stuff this way. Be bold. You’ve gotta tell to make it sell.

  9. Book donations: Parting with books wasn’t easy. But a targeted donation can help to ease the pain of separation anxiety. For example, I donated several boxes of children’s books to a local Ronald MacDonald House, and a collection of creative writing books to my high-school teacher-niece, who made a special library for herself and her students. ‘Tis a far far better thing I do…than I have ever done hoarding my books.

  10. Think Charities: These were great places to donate clothing and household goods. Many agencies picked up right at my door. Recycling and consignment shops were also good options, but they had lots of restrictions on what they would take. A bit of homework was needed, but worth the effort. So when in doubt, don’t throw it out.

Final word: While mucking out the memories was one of the most difficult things I have ever done, the memories themselves are surprisingly alive and kicking up dust bunnies. The good news is – I love that a lot of our stuff has been recycled to someone out there. The bad news is – I hate that a lot of our stuff has been recycled to someone out there. It all depends on the day.                                            

Now as I sit and write this rhyme,
I look back on those days in time,
Remembering how we were stressed,
And acting like two fools possessed.

So here’s the moral to my tale;
Don’t put your big-ass-house for sale!
Stay where you are until you’re dead,
The kids can muck it out instead.

See you between the lines and on Twitter @PatSkene

Check out my children’s books at www.pressheretostartpublishing.com

Downsize This!

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cartoon-lady-closet1-246x300The confessions of one woman’s trek through the perils of downsizing hell!

Have you ever seen an aging Boomer after the mind-numbing experience of shrinking a house into a condo? There’s a goggle-eyed, crazed look about the eyes that stays for months after the move. I see it with the new incomers here in our condo building. Happily, this stunned look seems to wane after a few months of swimming in the pool and watching someone else do the yard work.

Let’s get down to it: Okay, further to my post It’s Time to Sell, our house sold quickly. The next step was to snap on the rubber gloves and muck it out. So much stuff, so many memories, so little time.

Shocking secrets! I found this painful phase of downsizing a rollercoaster ride into perdition. There’s always one partner who is a collector of peculiarities, and in this case it isn’t me. Seriously! I’m not saying that my beloved Hubsey is an oddball, but rummaging through the darkest corners of our garage, we did uncover a collection of oddities that reflected his supreme oddness; like a large wooden-bin of coal, a case of moldy peach preserves circa 1922, a WWI bayonet with questionable stains on the blade, a well-used hookah pipe and a rather deflated looking blow-up doll. All these items had colourful stories screaming to be told. Unfortunately, they were dug out in deadly silence by our panic-stricken daughter and sniggering son-in-law, during a Saturday morning mucking-out-marathon.     

Painful stuff: As we sorted through the storyboard of our lives, a flood of memories washed over me, drowning out my sense of selection. How could we choose what things to take into our new life, and what to discard like abandoned puppies on a highway? Just how much could we squeeze into our condo and small storage locker? What were we to do with the gazillion tools in Hubsey’s workshop, the storage boxes stacked to the ceiling in the furnace room or the enormous pine box filled with old vinyl records? And would my new condo have space for my eleven rocking chairs? (Okay, so maybe I have some oddities too.) 

Shrinking our piles: We asked our only daughter to rummage through the pickings and take what she wanted. But the poor girl could only haul away so much – until sadly, her garage looked like ours did. The piles just weren’t going down fast enough, and our dreaded closing date was looming large! Short of finding a super-duper vat of Preparation H – nothing was going to magically shrink those piles. Fraught with emotions and the pure physical challenges of back-breaking work, we wanted desperately to turn back the clock and wake up from this nightmare. My sagely advice at this stage of the horror show is to do what I did: dig down deep, cry yourself to sleep and jump in with both feet!  This is going to hurt!
                                            We made our bed…and so we sleep,
                                            Our memories are running deep,
                                            It’s only stuff, we tend to say,
                                            But still it’s hard to give away.

                                            And as we buckle down to work,  
                                            We try hard not to go berserk,
                                            There’ll be a story here to tell, 
                                            If we survive downsizing-hell.
 

Check out my next post Mucking Out the Memories for the scoop on how we did it.

See you between the lines and on Twitter @PatSkene