Tag Archives: Canadian blog

My Dirty Little Secret

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Cover16I can’t believe I’m going to tell you this!

I’ve chosen today to blab about my secret because I need some serious frivolity in my life. I’m going a little batty in this heat, trapped inside my condo with the AC cranked up. Plus I’m exhausted from listening to recent world events and disgusted by what I’m seeing in U.S politics. So bear with me as I create a diversion and tell you something I never talk about. Something I thought would go to the grave with me. Something I hide in my biggest sock under the bed.

Just say it!
Okay here goes…I love watching The Young and the Restless. There, I’ve said it and now my secret is in your hands.

I’ve been a fan of this soap opera for over 35 years. Obviously when I was working, I wasn’t a regular viewer as we didn’t have PVR’s back then and thankfully I had no idea how to work our VCR. But occasionally I would catch up and see an episode or two during holidays or on a sick day. There was always a degree of shock and awe, as I gobbled up the outlandish story lines where life was even more manipulating and bizarre than the corporate jungle where I spent my days.

Oh the drama!
But now that I’m retired and at home, I admit to taping and watching every episode. And after each daily plot shocker, I go to bed pondering the real meaning of life. I think about big questions, like how many times has Victor divorced and remarried his beloved Nikki, and will she take him back yet again? When will poor trusting Jack realize his scuzzy wife is having an affair with his younger brother Billy? And will Phyllis ever forgive Victor for replacing her husband with a doppleganger on her honeymoon? All this and more – dishing daily on The Young and the Restless.

Blowing soap bubbles
I’m happy to say, watching the lives of the Newmans and Abbots on this show has most certainly not been a waste of my time. A wide array of valuable life lessons have bubbled up over the years from the brilliant writing on this show, and  I’d like to share some of my learnings with you:

  • Contrary to medical reports, complete face transplants are performed all the time.
  • It’s quite normal to marry your stepmother, your sister’s brother and your father-in-law.
  • Amnesia is far more commonplace than we realize and happens routinely every day.
  • An evil twin has many lives and is much harder to kill than a good twin.
  • A coma is a medical state that occurs when someone is about to reveal a big juicy secret.
  • It’s normal for kids to skip from toddler to teenager in 15 months.
  • Breaking into a lab to change DNA/paternity test results is a piece of cake.
  • It’s fashionable to wear winter boots in the house and put your feet up on the sofa.
  • It’s glamorous to sleep in full make-up and a lacy under-wire bra. 
  • A non-pregnant woman can be drugged into believing she just gave birth to a baby.
  • Just because people watch you die and attend your funeral, doesn’t mean you’re dead!
  • And my personal favourite – it’s okay to lock someone up in a cage in your living room or abandoned warehouse for months on end. (Don’t these people ever poop?)

Final word:
So there you have it…a few important lessons I would never had known, had I not invested the time and energy to watch this important program over more than three decades. And judge me as you will, but you have to agree – I would never have acquired this type of sophisticated knowledge on the PBS or History channels. I’m just saying…

Now I know there are many more of you out there hiding in your soap cupboards. Come out, come out, wherever you are!

See you between the lines and on Twitter @PatSkene

Don’t forget to sign up for new posts.

Pat Skene

Leaf Blower Blowback!

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It’s that time of year again when we shake, rattle and roll to the sounds of spring. 

My rant du jour is all about those insidious leaf-blowing contraptions engaged in the ritual of combat gardening. And most days it does sound like a war zone out there, as men prepare to battle mother nature with leaf-blowing devices strapped to their bodies like missile launchers.

Few inventions in history have been as useless and annoying as the leaf-blower…in my not-so-humble boomer opinion.

It’s bad enough when spring is sprung, that we endure the onslaught of noise from gas mowers, whipper snippers, hedge trimmers, lawn tractors, and all things garden beautiful. But when we add the incessant roar of leaf-blowers to the mix, it’s enough to make a person escape to the bottom of the pool for quiet relief…like Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate!

Now besides the ear-shattering, brain twisting noise, what’s so bad about leaf-blowers you ask?

1. Pollution: A 2 cylinder gas engine leaf-blower is a major contributor to pollution. It creates 299 times more hydrocarbon emissions than a pickup truck and 93 times more than an average sedan. Seriously!

2. Allergies and illness: In addition to pollution, wind blows from the nozzle of an average gas leaf-blower at approximate speeds of 180 MPH. It pulverizes everything it comes in contact with, releasing air clouds of dust, dirt and contaminants into the air we breathe:  contaminants like mould, bird and rodent feces, fungal spores, insect eggs, pollen, and toxic chemicals from lawns and gardens…all right up into our noses!

3. Danger to workers: Not only can the force of wind from the blower throw rocks at cars and people, workers are not always well protected from the hazards of using this equipment. But ironically, workers themselves strongly favour using them. Perhaps a bit of manhood symbolism is at play here…or maybe your garden variety gorillas are just too damn lazy to use those archaic things known as brooms and rakes!!!FHQJfVigUmmAANu-556x313-noPad

4. Poppycock: Leaf blowers have been banned in many communities throughout the United States and Canada. There are ongoing online petitions nationwide to expand the ban of these ridiculously annoying devices. But lawn and garden companies continue to fight back hard, citing efficiencies as the main point of reason…clean-up will take more time with rakes and brooms and therefore, more expensive to the user etc. Can failure to manage leaves with leaf-blowers mean unattractive lawns, falling home prices and perhaps the end of civilization as we know it? Sheep dung! I have watched the leaf-blower operator outside my condo numerous times, as he chases a single leaf back and forth across the parking lot in an effort to blow it into a sewer grate or back into the garden! How can that be more efficient than bending over to pick the blasted thing up or sweeping it into a bag?

5. Big money: The proliferation of leaf-blowers has more to do with marketing than efficiency. They are cheap to produce, priced to sell and aggressively marketed. This device was originally invented in the late 1950’s for use as an agricultural crop duster. From there it evolved into a leaf clean-up tool in the fall, to the current use – the ubiquitous summer weapon attacking our summer peace and quietude. The real function of leaf blowers is to line the pockets of the corporations that make them. For shame on them and all of us who buy them!

Final word: The humble rake and the much-forgotten broom offer so much more to the user than the mind-numbing noise of the leaf-blower. Rakes and brooms are quiet, more precise, far more tenacious – and help the operator keep fit by offering an excellent form of exercise while burning at least 50 calories per half hour. And as an effective peacekeeper, rakes and brooms would never think of blowing crap into your neighbour’s’ yard!

Long live rakes and brooms! Long live a peaceful summer!

I’ll see you between the lines.
Follow me on Twitter @PatSkene

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Dem Bones, Dem Bones…

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13653755-yoga-position-funny-cartoon-and-vector-isolated-illustrationDo brittle bones drive you insane?
Does bending put your back in pain?
How are your hips, your neck, your knees?
Do you need help? Keep reading please…

(originally posted November 2012)

What now? Last year, I noticed that everything in my body was tightening up like the sticky lid on a honey jar.  The doggerel lyrics of that old song about how the toe bone’s connected to the foot bone and the foot bone’s connected to the ankle bone, etc., blasted away in my brain. A cruel reminder that I was coming of age.

All pain, no gain: Every morning, my stiff joints and rigid spine felt like they would crack wide open if I moved too quickly. Well, I wasn’t happy about this decrepit state of affairs. Yes I was Living with Lupus, but I was swimming and walking regularly, so what more could I possibly do and why wasn’t my exercise routine working?

Out of the blue: Then my doctor recommended yoga classes…which in itself was a refreshing thing for a doctor to do!  Thank goodness for our new younger female doctors who know how to think outside the pill-box. But seriously…could yoga really help me?

Well-kept secret: What is it about the word “yoga” that conjures up images of skinny contortionists in leggings, eating raw carrots and tree nuts…while standing on their heads? Think again! Yoga is becoming a serious contender for seniors – to improve strength, endurance, balance, joints and spine. In my experience, it’s nothing short of amazing.

Scaredy Pat: At first I was reluctant because it had been 25 years since I uttered the Ommmm mantra. I would make a fool of myself without a doubt, and I wasn’t even sure I could get down on the floor – or more importantly – get back up again. But fear notwithstanding, I strapped my new yoga mat over my shoulder and hit the yoga scene with my aching bony knees a knockin.’

A big relief!  Thankfully my yoga instructor was excellent and he modified each pose to the comfort level of the participants. It wasn’t pretty at first. I initially had to do some positions with the help of a chair and some poses were easier if I leaned against the wall, instead of getting down on the floor. But that was only in the beginning. There was a natural process from there to feeling stronger and eventually finding my way down to the mat.

Tempus fugit: Now here I am one year later, still attending yoga classes twice a week and loving every minute of it. And listen up!  The improvements to my knees, back and hips is nothing short of amazing. This is serious stuff! I still have some neck problems, but I’m working on that.  And although I will never perform advanced yoga postures, my progress to date is remarkable. But most remarkable of all is how good I feel and how much I look forward to every class…the postures, the deep breathing and the meditation.

The secret’s out: I simply wanted to tell you and pass it on. And do I recommend yoga to everyone out there who wants to slow down the aging process? Absolutely! And not just for flexing your arthritic joints, or lubricating your dried out vertebrae. Yoga also teaches us relaxation techniques and everyday coping skills for life  in general.

Things I learned: But before you run out and book your class – here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Do your homework: Start by researching the different kinds of yoga in your area…at community centres, YMCA or yoga studios. You may not be up to trying a “hot yoga” class where you sit in a 105 degrees Celsius room and sweat out the garlic from last night’s dinner. Instead, I suggest that you look for a yoga class with the words, ‘gentle’ or ‘beginners’ or ‘therapeutic’ or even ‘chair’ yoga if you have more serious disabilities.

2. Speak to the instructor: Before you book your classes, make sure the instructor is willing to modify the poses as you go along, to accommodate different levels of ability. Ask if you can attend  a trial class to see for yourself how that will work.

3. Choose the right class: While there are many places offering yoga for the 50+ crowd – as long as the instructor is open and accommodating, a beginner’s class for all ages should be fine. You might want to avoid the ersatz yoga classes – where the attendees are all lulu-lemoned-up and the focus is more about image than the practice of yoga principles. Use your good sense to sort out the fakes.

4. Don’t compete: Don’t worry about your abilities to keep up with the class, if others around you are more flexible. It’s not about who can twist themselves into the tightest knot, or do the most impressive downward dog while trying to locate their third eye. Push hard, but pay attention to your body and don’t go beyond the edge of your ability. Go at your own pace and I promise you – the benefits are awesome at any level.

5. Ignore the scale: Yoga classes are all about relaxation, stretching and toning. Your motivation should not be weight loss, but overall good health and healing from the inside out. This is the greatest gift from you to you.

6.  Be committed:  Try to go once or twice a week. But if a live class is not available to you, there are many level-appropriate DVD’s out there you can purchase. And while this is a viable option, nothing can replace the positive energy you get from a class of like-minded people and a qualified instructor.

7. Stick with it: Don’t get your yoga pants in a pretzel if you don’t get instant results. Be patient and committed, even on those days when you’d rather stay in your stretchy sweats and eat a tub of rocky road. And although you should feel results in 6-8 weeks, please give it a good year. I promise you a better, more flexible body, with less pain and a noticeably improved sense of well-being. Have I ever lied to you before?
(Okay maybe i-Lied once about being i-Crazy…but only that once.)

8. Be brave, be bold and be healthy: You may want to google “yoga for seniors” and read more about this important emerging trend. Yoga should be safe for everyone. However, if you have specific health issues, you may want to check with your doctor before beginning.

Final word: This has been my story. I know it’s easy to dismiss all the reasons why you need yoga. But all I can say to that is, blah, blah, blah! We boomers and zoomers need all the help we can get! Our aging bodies are going nowhere but down that long mudslide to perdition. (I’m just thankful wrinkles don’t hurt!) So get off your sorry excuse, stuff your chakras into your sports bra – and give it a try! You won’t ever be sorry you did.

This message brought to you by Pat,
Was dreamed up on her yoga mat,
For this, she doesn’t charge a fee,
‘Cause bloggers do it all for free.

See you between the lines and on Twitter @Pat Skene

Please sign up or Follow for new posts. Thank you.

Shock-a-Bye Baby

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buildingblocksTurn on the music and turn off the noise.
Pull out the building blocks, puzzles and toys.
Stick to the basics and you’ll be okay.
‘Cause rock-a-bye baby, is high-tech today.

                        

Don’t panic: I spotted a friend in the baby aisles of a department store the other day. She had the wide-eyed look of a frazzled shopper in the throes of a panic attack. As I approached her, she hollered at me, “What the heck has happened to our babies?”

False alarm: Well I guess the sales girl and a few nearby shoppers thought this was an Amber Alert in the making – so you can imagine the kerfuffle that ensued. Once the fracas died down and she explained that we in fact had no babies, I took her for a cup of tea to calm what was left of her nerves. It appears she had just become a new grandmother and simply wanted to buy a few things for her grandson.

Gizmos and Gear: My poor unsuspecting friend was completely overwhelmed by the complexity of all the new high-tech baby merchandise that morphs into various contraptions as the baby grows. And as useful as this sounds, I often wonder how the parents of today know when to ‘Snap ‘n Go’, ‘Sit n’ Stroll’, or simply ‘Mop n’ Glo’? What has happened to our babies, indeed!

Looking back: As I hauled my friend out of the grandbaby gap, it brought back a deluge of shopping memories of when I became a grandmother thirteen years ago. It all started in the same way…standing alone in the baby aisles, looking desperate and feeling overwhelmed. But in time, I adjusted and learned to let my daughter do the heavy lifting when it came to making complicated baby-product decisions.

You’ve come a long way baby: Thankfully, we’ve travelled some distance since the days of treacherous baby cribs and toys filled with lead. The better care and feeding of our babies should always be the driving force behind any change to the nursery set. And the new mothers and fathers of today have a plethora of choices to make and many new adventures to behold.

5 Things I learned:

1. Strollers are like hot rods: My first stroller simply strolled with a squeaky wheel or two. Today, babies travel in style in trail-blazing strollers that promise easy release hand-brakes, front and rear suspension, multi-position reclining seats and all terrain wheels. It’s an amazing sight to see how the simple stroller has evolved into a deluxe rock n’ roll system, with the features of a souped-up automobile!

2. Car seats kick butt: Good grief! We didn’t even have car seats! Today, there are forward facing seats and rear facing seats and seats that go by the pound. There are latch systems and universal anchorage systems and space-age cockpit turbo-design booster seats for big kids. And if you purchase the travel model with the handy removable seat, you can jump out of your car – pop the whole ‘kid-and-car-seat’ package right into a  stroller base thingy and jog around the block, while you talk mergers and acquisitions on your cell phone!

3. High chairs collect points: My daughter’s old wooden high chair was as tippy as a canoe! And the removable tray kept sliding out and crashing to the floor. In today’s world, high chair designs have miraculously evolved into 3-point restraining systems, 4-point reclining systems and 5-point height adjusting systems. And, like the car seat and stroller, it can transform into just about anything, if you have an engineering degree.

4. New mothers are brave: Gone are the cold clinical hospital deliveries we had on baby-D-day. Today young women have birthing centres and many employ the services of mid-wives and doulas to have a more natural experience. Even my lovely daughter, who has the pain threshold of a gnat and gets sedation to have her haircut – tried the au naturelle route of birthing at home. But that’s a story for another day when my daughter isn’t reading my blog posts.

5. New fathers are nuts: Back in the day, most fathers kept their distance from mothers and babies and played the role of  being useless very well. Today, new fathers are fully involved in baby routines – from birthing to burping and all things in between. But my son-in-law was a bit ‘two diapers short of a pail’ if you get my drift. Before leaving for groceries one day, he instructed me on how to help my daughter breast feed! My advice: never have a milky-nipple discussion with your son-in-law!

Toys on steroids: Did you know that some of the little-girl dolls of today can give birth, breastfeed and poop? Did you know that some little-boy dump trucks can break-dance in a flashing display of lights and music?  And don’t even get me started on the brand new just released “Hello Barbie” – an interactive doll with artificial intelligence that talks and works using your WIFI. Where is George Orwell when you need him? This is nothing short of just plain creepy!

Just imagine: Children might love these multi-tasking toys. But it raises the question of long term consequences on their ability to focus on a singe task – not to mention their ability to learn language. Most of these types of toys are designed to entertain and distract – rather than engage the child. The imagination is a powerful playmate. And if the toy does too much, the child does too little – and the imagination shrivels up and dies. A very sad death by starvation.

Finding the balance: We live in a complex world. And it’s wonderful to see the new products that keep baby safe, and the educational toys that help baby enjoy an enriched and comfortable environment. We can marvel at the new studies just out last week, that stated nearly every child under 4 years old uses electronic mobile devices to keep them busy. And while we may be grooming them to be masters of the universe, there’s also something to be said for the pure joys of simplicity.

Final word: So what has happened to our babies? Nothing. Babies aren’t any more complicated than they used to be. It’s this world we live in that’s become more complicated. And I believe it’s up to each one of us to bring back some small pleasure from our own childhood and introduce it to our children and grandchildren. You just never know what simple goodness you might find.

So don’t be in shock on becoming a Grand,
With new-fangled stuff that you don’t understand.
Despite all the gizmos, the gadgets, the gear,
Our babies are babies – the same every year.

 And may I remind you, in case you forgot,
The best toys are those that do diddly-squat!
And books are for reading and shouldn’t talk back.
Just stick with the program – you won’t go off-track.

See you between the lines and on Twitter @PatSkene

For The Love of Clowns!

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closeup_color_clown_vector_154422Okay, listen up! As I sit here propped up by my funny bone, I’m thinking about clowns. Oh get a grip all you wackadoodle clown-hating people out there. I’m talking about the good old-fashioned kind of clowns; the big footed Bo Bo’s that made us laugh before they morphed into twisted freak shows.

Good clowns: Some people feel a cold wetness, like a leaky grave, when they think of clowns. But when I think of clowns, I remember the Ringling Circus clowns in baggy britches doing walkabouts in the hippodrome between acts, and making me giggle until cream soda gushed out of my nose. I think of the endearing pantomimes of Red Skelton’s tramp clown, ‘Freddie the Freeloader,’ who made my whole family laugh and cry with his brilliant TV performances. And I think of rushing home from school to watch Clarabell the Clown cause all kinds of horn-honking mischief on the Howdy Doody Show. Yes, I’m that old and those were the clowns of my generation.

Bad clowns: Okay, so maybe these ‘Joeys’ do have a gruesome past. Centuries ago, clowns were crude and often gruesome entertainment for adults, not meant for children. And we did have a few bad seeds over the ages that gave Chuckles a twisted rep. Unfortunately, we seem to remember those more than the many who made us laugh.

Freaky clowns: Sadly clowns around the world have been victimized by the movie industry, producing clown-hating psychological horrors like Stephen King’s ‘Pennywise Dancing Clown’ in IT and the mind-rotting antics of ‘Twisty the Clown’ in American Horror Story. After seeing these violent graphic images, they become recorded in our brains, and remain in a constant state of replay, replay, replay…making it difficult for many to separate fact from fiction.

Clown sickness: We even have a name for this irrational fear of clowns…coulrophobia! And while clown-fear is spreading at an alarming rate, thankfully it is not recognized as an official disorder. (No, you cannot take sick time from work!)

Send in the clowns: Early in my lifetime, clowns clomped around in exaggerated shoes and made us laugh as masters of slapstick and pure silliness. And even today, bullfighter clowns are the brave souls who risk life and butt to save rodeo riders from being stomped to death, by some angry snot-snorting bovine with his balls in a twist! And really…is there anything funnier than a gazillion clowns tumbling out of a small car? C’mon Coulrophobics…loosen up and admit the humour in that one.

Bravo! In my view you’ve simply got to be a great person to dress up like a clown, hidden behind all that tomfoolery, and simply want to make people laugh…not kill, maim or drop from the bedroom ceiling in the dead of night to slice you into bloody bite-sized chunks…but simply make you laugh.

Final word: Harry S. Truman once said, “Never kick a fresh turd on a hot day.”

But I’ll bet if a clown did it, it would crack you up and release you from the dark side.

Now don’t wait for a fresh turd to cross your path – come into the light and let a good old-fashioned clown make you snort cream soda out of your nose.

See you between the lines and on Twitter @PatSkene

 

Is Cursive Writing Obsolete?

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imagesCursive writing is dying and kids can’t sign their names.
This sentence hurts my heart. There is a strong school of thought that believes penmanship is an obsolete skill that kids will never need.

How did we let this happen? For some time now, most schools in North America no longer teach cursive writing as part of the school curriculum. Rather, basic printing and typing skills are favoured instead. Now I realize we live in a digital age and computer passwords have become our identities for accessing personal data. But unlike signatures, which are unique to each individual with their loops, swirls and dots – passwords can be hacked, duplicated and identities stolen.

It’s not enough: I know there is only so much teaching time in a classroom. And students need to learn new skills and become proficient with computers, a much-needed tool in today’s learning environment. But there is a real world outside of the classroom, and there are still many situations where people of all ages need to sign (not print) their names, hopefully not with an X. In my view, the very basic form of writing in any civilized society should still be a core learning for every child.

The nuts and bolts of it: How will this generation sign passports, bank documents, last will and testaments, or personal legal documents? How will they write a cheque or read a letter from their grandparents? How will they write Christmas Cards, or is this obsolete now too? Will they ever need to write a letter of condolences or congratulations to a dear friend? In some of life’s circumstances, a printed note or text message just doesn’t do the trick. Are we relying on computers, retinal scans, fingerprint technology and other digital identifiers to totally replace our individuality as flesh and blood human beings?

Talk to the hand: My mother had beautiful penmanship. And I’m proud to say, I have developed a nice writing style over the years, similar to hers. When I sit down to begin a new book project, I always write my initial thoughts by hand. There is a strong connection between the pen in my hand and the creative process in my brain, and I don’t move to the keyboard until this connection has been fully explored.

It’s important: For children, learning cursive writing not only stimulates the brain and helps to develop fine motor skills – it gives them back that uniqueness that is so easy to lose in the ubiquitous world of computers. So let’s get back to basics here and do what we can to encourage those in the educational system to bring cursive writing back into our children’s classrooms.

Double dog dare: And to all those who say…it’s a waste of time, it’s obsolete, they’ll never use it…I challenge you to try not using your signature (or cursive writing of any kind) at home and at work for at least one full month…and get back to me on that!

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See you between the lines and on Twitter @PatSkene

Check out my books at www.pressheretostartpublishing.com

I’m Thinking About Kissing…

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face-kiss-hiYikes! Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about kissing. Oh get a grip! It’s because of the recent kissing research released to the news media – not because I’m looking to recapture my youth with a few wild adventures of unabashed spit swapping. But then again, would that be so bad? Well, yes it just might be. According to what I read last week, every time you pucker up with a good old-fashioned smooch, you introduce 80 million new bacteria into your mouth. Now that’s a cringe-worthy thought.

Make it burn: I’m not saying that kissing is all bad. Good grief no! You get to burn 6.4 calories per minute by locking lips and you use 146 muscles when you do it. So that’s got to be a good daily exercise, filled with all sorts of perks. And what a great way to kiss, kiss, kiss your way into (and out of) your skinny jeans.  Some anonymous person once said that kissing is like peeing your pants. Everyone can see it but only you can feel the heat.

Learned or instinctual: So why do we do it? And does the whole world of humans feel this heat in their drawers when they inject saliva into each other’s mouths? Earlier research indicated that 90% of the world’s population engaged in the activity of kissing. But new research now finds that less than half of the world’s cultures kiss in a romantic way. And the rest of us that do, spend an average of 20,000 minutes or 2 weeks of our lives in mouth to mouth action.

Kissing cultures: Of 168 cultures studied, only 77 cultures did it and 91 did not. And of the 77 cultures who did, only 46 kiss in a romantic sense: North America 55%, Asia 73%, Europe 70% – and it was the norm in the Middle East although in private only, but no smoochers were found in Central America. We kiss for all kinds of reasons; comfort, passion, affection, bonding, making up, or just for no reason at all because it feels good. Lips and tongues are packed with nerve endings, so when those nerve endings intensify, we don’t want to think too hard about questioning our motives. Our brain functions drop into the lower extremities of our bodies…thus creating the aforementioned “peeing of the pants” scenario.

Why we do it: The most widely accepted rationale about why we kiss is that it helps us sniff out a quality mate. So let that be a lesson for the poor slobs who dare eat garlic on date night – for they shall be cast out and disqualified. There are people who actually study kissing – they are called philematologists. I wonder if they are really good kissers? Do they experiment with a wide range of kissing partners? Or are they simply professional peepers; watching others doing the job while they study technique, nose placement, measure spit output etc., while they take copious notes. Either way, it’s rather creepy.

Burning questions: And technique is everything ladies, we know that. We have all experienced the voracious kissers who make us question basic kissing etiquette. Like, what do we do when too much saliva enters your mouth when he locks onto your face like a large mouth bass? Is it polite to spit it out? Wipe your mouth on your sleeve, or his? Tell him you’re entering the convent and can’t ever see him again? According to the Rights of Kissing in the Modern Age Handbook, all of the above are totally acceptable responses.

Final word: So while it sounds kinda gross to pucker up and share your dinner juice with a potential mate, there is some reassuring research that says – all that new bacteria entering your system can help to boost your immune system. So let’s go with that. And so I leave you with a quote by the illusive Mr. or Ms. Anonymous:

I ran up the door, opened the stairs,
said my pyjamas and put on my prayers –          
turned off my bed, and tumbled my light,
and all because he kissed me good-night.

pride_rainbow_lips_kiss_decal

 

 

See you between the lines,

Follow me on Twitter @PatSkene

Happiness Engineers

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happy-or-sad

Did you know there are real human beings in cyberspace, who actually want to help solve your problems? Can you imagine my delight at finding people out there with the sole responsibility of making the universe a happier place? These real-life employees have an innate desire to troubleshoot issues big and small – and they do it with grace, a sense of humour and excellent communication skills. 

Meet Irwin, Happiness Engineer: This week I was having some WordPress difficulties when I created a mess trying to set up another blog. With no human to call, I sent a note to the support line and voila! Irwin solved my problem within 24 hours and everything was fixed. He was efficient, clear and succinct in his communications and he even threw in a few happy faces! He signed his name – Irwin, Happiness Engineer. Now how cool is that?

And these positions are not just at WordPress to keep clients happy. Some forward-thinking-out-of-the-box companies are hiring Happiness Engineers to keep employees happy as well. They just may have found the key to getting the best return on human investment. It’s a beautiful thing!

What a concept: I think we need more Happiness Engineers in this world. I am totally in love with this job title and the responsibilities that go with it. Just think what a better place the world would be, if we had more of these individuals in every segment of our lives. Imagine what a team of these specialized folks could do in hospitals, doctor’s offices, schools and nursing homes, just to name a few. And why not include a troupe of “Travelling Happiness Engineers” to visit people who need them at any location, with Have Smile, Will Travel boldly announcing their skills on the side of the van?

Final word: We not only need to have more of these remarkable engineers in our lives…we need to become one as well. And no, I’m not getting all Pollyanna on you! But I am a glass-full kind of gal and I can usually see the silver lining in things, even if it turns out to be tinfoil.

It takes little effort for any of us to pay more attention to the people around us; to make them feel good with a compliment, a helpful hand, a solution to something bothering them, a phone call, a few daisies, an old fashioned note…and yes, sometimes it’s just knowing when to keep our mouths shut. Learning how to go the extra mile should be part of every school curriculum.

Making people happy, one engineer at a time. Thanks for the inspiration Irwin!

So c’mon people, talk to me! Where do you want to see more Happiness Engineers in your world? two-people-talking-to-each-other-cartoon-117

See you between the lines,
Follow me on Twitter @PatSkene

There’s Nothing Like a Dame

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“Never be afraid to laugh at yourself.  After all, you could be missing out on the joke of the century.” Dame Edna Everage. (81 years old)

Hello Possums! Sometimes there are moments in life you need to capture and swallow whole to keep them inside you. (Sometimes, there are moments you need to masticate into mush and spit out into the nearest spittoon.) Well, thankfully, I have one of the former moments – one of pure zen, that I want to tell you about.

Eureka! I was watching television with my 12 year-old granddaughter the other day, when an advertisement for gigastar, Dame Edna and her Farewell Tour flashed on the screen. There she was, her Edna-ship, complete with perfectly coiffed mauve hair, rhinestone-studded wingtip glasses and outlandish wardrobe. My granddaughter jumped out of her chair and said, “Nan! That’s totally you – on the inside!”

How awesome is that? For someone like me who values imagination, creativity and freedom of expression as my raison d’être, it was the highest compliment possible. My eyeballs were sweating tears of purple glee. What more could a grandmother want in life, than to know her granddaughter thinks she has a colourful, funny, nut-ball of a Dame Edna lurking on the inside?

Shake it up! As we get older, it’s easy to become crotchety and bad-tempered, as we deal with deteriorating bodies, death of spouses and old friends, and of course, lack of identity and loneliness. It becomes too easy to feel forgotten and left behind, as we see younger people around us enjoying a more robust lifestyle. And it’s natural to be afraid to step out of ourselves; outside of our comfort zones to try something new. Sometimes the only difference between a recliner and a grave is the view!

Inner Dame: In my opinion, we all need to channel our inner Dame Edna to shake us awake and make us feel alive. There’s nothing like boredom and complacency to cause wrinkles ladies…and for the men out there…Dame Edna is really Barry Humphries, so there’s a message in here for you too. And no, I don’t mean cross-dressing! Although, if it’s something you’ve always wanted to do…?

Outer Dame: So to celebrate this momentous gift given to me by my granddaughter, I bought some new face furniture – a pair of purple cat’s eye glasses, trimmed with pearl. So cool! But for now, I’ll keep my hair white and leave the “wisteria hue” to the Grand Dame!

See you between the lines,

Follow me on Twitter @PatSkene

She Put a Spell on Me

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music_noteAnnie Lennox sang at the Grammies last night. WOW! Can that broad belt it out! And she sang with a real voice, without all the pyrotechnics we see and hear today with so many of the talent-impaired.

I think any beautiful female with a provocative costume, powerful thigh muscles and satanic dance moves might be fanciful entertainment for those of us practicing our couch-potato routines at home. But when it comes to wearing the big girl pants, you need real talent like Annie to show us how it’s done. Sadly, performers today keep upping the stage-ante, by adding special effects in the form of dancing human bulls ( Grammies) or ridiculous wiggling sharks (Superbowl) to name a few. All this in an effort to wow an audience into a trance-like state of shock and awe.

Okay I get it – I might be of the aging cogerette era and still love the old songsters like Tina Turner, and the soothing voices of yesteryear with classic crooners like Roy Orbison and yes, God help me…The Everly Brothers. But I also love listening to tunes of any era and any genre, including the talents of so many new voices in today’s music, thanks to my granddaughter. It’s really too bad most of these superstars need to uber-up their routines until we can’t hear the pure goodness of a beautiful voice at it’s best.

When I listened to Annie belting it out and simply being Annie, I thought…now there’s a timeless talent to be reckoned with. I had forgotten what a force she was years ago with the Eurythmics. And she has truly improved with age. When she sang I Put a Spell on You last night, she put a spell on me and I downloaded her music. Now that’s what I’m talking about!

Click here to listen to Annie: www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZEChv1AaOk

See you between the lines,

Pat Skene

 

Why?

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question-mark-face1Ordinarily, I am quite content to seek out the solitude of my own company. But recently, I’ve had a bit too much quality time with myself…and frankly, I found that I am quite lacking in the answers to many of life’s complex questions.

They say when you’re drowning, your life flashes before your eyes. Well, I’m happy to report this did not happen to me. But in my extended state of reflection and solitude, many burning questions flashed relentlessly before said eyes, and I was reminded of how little I knew about the many ordinaries of life.

My Top 20 Burning Questions:

1. Why do grandchildren and grandparents pass each other in opposite vertical directions so quickly?

2. Why does life bitch-slap you awake, just when you doze off snuggled in the comforts of old age?

3. Why is it always the patient’s fault when doctors make a mistake?

4. Why are all nurses not angels of mercy? Have mercy!

5. Why do men put fruit and veggies encased in sweaty plastic bags, directly  into the refrigerator?

6. Why do men put beer or yogurt encased in cardboard boxes, directly into the refrigerator?

7. Why, when I’m not well, do I look out the window and think everyone has a life but me?

8. Why are big honking boobs supposed to be so spectacular?

9. Why does my oldest besty Marjorie never email me from BC?

10. Why do socks in my sandals feel so flippin’ good and look so freakin’ bad?

11. Why does time go like stink when I’m well, then hang around like a bad smell when I’m sick?

12. Why do I insist that my toilet paper roll be placed in the “over” position and not the “under” position?

13. Why, if some words in the English language are considered bad, did we invent them in the first place?

14. Why are simple blue jeans not allowed in some places, but bad-ass-red or trailer-trash-white jeans are?

15. Why can geese poop their brains out in the park and we can’t kick their feathered arses outta there?

16. Why can’t parents get it right by being grandparents first?

17. Why can’t I find out how much wood a woodchuck would chuck, if a woodchuck really could chuck wood?

18. Why did I get cancer?

19. Why do I float effortlessly in the pool, but my daughter and granddaughter sink to the bottom like mafia snitches?

20. Why do so many people hate nature’s beautiful dandelions?

Help!! Does anyone out there know WHY?     

See you between the lines

Pat Skene

 

Bully for me…and for you!

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(Portrait of a Bully)

Fob Ford, scaring the crap


 

Rant du jour: Bullies come in all shapes and sizes. Sadly they’re in our lives to stay, because there will always be damaged human beings and egos that need constant feeding on the entrails of a kinder gentler folk.

Big and bold; Some bullies are larger than life, like Toronto’s jackass mayor, Rob Ford (ROFO) and his dumb ass brother, Doug (DOFO.) You might get the idea that I don’t care for Toronto’s mayor…I tried hard to be subtle.

Vicious in black: Some bullies come in tiny packages, like Sister Alicia, the 4 foot 8″ nun in a black and white habit who tormented students daily in the girl’s school I attended a half a century ago. Bullies like this feast like gluttons on the intimidation and fear they create in our lives.

Unbridled ubiquity: During my life, I have met threatening and abusive doctors, nurses who ran their own domain of terror, Nazi receptionists, barking-mad grade school teachers, obnoxious waiters, engineers with explosive egos, pit-bull lawyers, alcoholic bosses, and on and on and on…you get the picture. Bullies come in a variety of disguises in all professions. Sadly, we meet them on a daily basis.

Badge of honour: After surviving decades as a female-executive in the male dominated war-zone of banking where testosterone saturates the boardroom, I developed a wonderful life-saving condition called BBS…or to the lay person, “Bully Block Syndrome.” This condition took years to develop and has now left me immune to the slings, arrows and emotional tactics of any bullies I now meet in my life. In short, they can’t hurt me anymore. I don’t fear them and as an added advantage of this condition, I can smell a bully at a hundred paces.

Dangerous liaisons: Bullies have different modus operandi. Most of us vividly remember the bullies who taunted us in the schoolyard with hard knuckle punches to the nose and even harder verbal punches to our feelings. But bullies aren’t always an overt threat, especially as they age. Young bullies often grow up to be professional bullies, where they work covertly in stealth mode and become even more cunning and more dangerous.

Bully spotting: Some bullies merely stand in a confrontational pose with fists clenched and a hard stare (like ROFO), daring anyone to challenge them. Others use their positions of influence to bark orders at underlings and leave no room for being questioned (like ROFO). Some intimidate and threaten their long-suffering wives into submission (like ROFO.) Many avoid sharing knowledge, in an effort to overpower and keep others dependent on them with a tight grip on their control, (ROFO has no knowledge of anything). Some take the coward’s route behind the anonymity of the computer through cyber-bullying, (ROFO doesn’t know what a computer is). And still others take every opportunity to treat you as a friend, while they secretly discredit you behind your back. (ROFO has no friends.)  These are all the acts of a despicable bully.

Prime targets: While children are thankfully being taught all about dealing with bullies in school…you know what? As a senior, we are just as vulnerable to bullying, because they… the grown-up professional bullies…think we won’t fight back. We’re much too weak , too stupid, too old.

Pushing back: Well they’re wrong! We all need to stand up, face them nose-to-nose and hold our ground.  And we can’t be shy about it. Call it what it is. We’ve lived long enough not to have to put up with that crap anymore.

Speak out: So the next time you snag a bully in your bully-radar, tell them exactly what you think of them! You’ve earned the right! And so have I. And as a final word…if you live in Toronto, for everything that’s holy…don’t even think of voting for another “FORD MORE” years of  that red-faced  buffoon below!

See you between the lines…Pat Skene



Rob Ford red face

Ford ford finger

It’s Spring Dammit!

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Rant Du Jour: Okay, I’m just as sick as the rest of you about this winter thing. And yes, I’m watching with my nose pressed    against the glass for even the slightest sign of spring. But today I made a big decision. Screw it! As far as I’m concerned, the calendar says it’s spring…so it’s spring!

Looking back: Some of it was fun while it lasted. I have to admit that watching marathon episodes of Breaking Bad, while chowing down on ice cream and cheesy nachos was a decadent winter indulgence. And furthermore, I enjoyed it guilt-free because of the raging blizzard outside. Nowhere to go, nothing to do and even if there was, can’t do it anyway in weather like this. It’s a beautiful thing.

Now what? So it’s time to put away the stew pots, the pizza pans, the bread maker and all things that scream comfort food. It’s time to get off to the grocery store and load up on fruits and vegetables before scurvy sets in. If you’ve already lost a tooth – I recommend an immediate infusion of lemon-gin and tonic.

Growing pains: And that leads me to our great Canadian winter waistlines! Our bodies are our biggest asset…but bigger doesn’t always mean better, even in these cold Canucky temps. Size does matter, regardless of what anyone tells you. We need to drop our tracky bottoms with those ever-expanding elastic waistbands, and slide into a pair of last summer’s pants to assess the damage. Reality sucks!

Mixed messages: Now if you’re like me and still have your Christmas arrangements outside…don’t even consider putting a few painted eggs in with the holiday ornaments to make nice with the Easter bunny. Throw them out! And do it this week or the evil winter witch will camp out at your door and invite all her witchy winter friends to party on. It’s still too cold to enjoy our beloved tulips and daffodils out there, so put them in the window to welcome the spring-angels of mercy. God help us all.

Get out! And finally – for all that’s holy – let’s get off our assets and walk in the fresh spring air, regardless of the temperature. And if you’ve still got snow, pretend it’s a beautiful white sandy beach. We’ve all closed our eyes and thought of England at some point in our lives. Well it’s time to exercise that skill again…we just need to change the thinking location to the Bahamas. All those butt-busting exercises we’ve been avoiding because…blah, blah, blah…are no longer valid. Time to shake and bake our booties!

So? It’s spring! Winter is over and that’s all there is to it! Now let’s get out there and enjoy it, dammit!

Pat Skene

See you between the lines.

 

 

 

Hanging Out With Mary

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Happy International Women’s Day: To celebrate this event, I attended a dinner this week where Canadian comedian Mary Walsh spoke to over 700 people…in a black bra! There was nothing sexy about it.

What’s this about? Mary is an entertainer of a certain age, who changed her costume in front of the audience, as part of her routine. She simply stood there in her underwear with all her jiggly bits jiggling, as she kept right on talking. It was a hysterically funny and incredibly beautiful thing.

Just hanging out! Now I don’t normally get excited about seeing an middle-aged woman in her underwear. But the sheer comfort and confidence Mary displayed, with her muffin tops muffin-topping, and her cellulite and wrinkles winking at the crowd…well, it was a vision of divine intervention. Especially for anyone in the room wearing Spanks, body shapers, control top pantyhose and all things that pinch and squeeze us into unholy togetherness.

Starving for attention: What a refreshing change she was from just a few nights before, when I watched the beautiful people of Hollywood parade their botoxed, surgically altered Oscar worthy bodies up and down the red carpet. The fact that many of them can no longer smile…or eat for that matter…doesn’t mean a thing. All that does matter is for someone to ask, “Who are you wearing?”

Mirror, mirror: Our obsession with perfect bodies is like a social piranha, eating away every day at our confidence and self-respect. Yes, the magazine and movie industries have nurtured this obsession, but so do we, as we continue to buy and watch and compare…in the mirror. And as we age, as Mary is doing, graceful acceptance of our sagging bits and bobs is a rare gift. We need to learn to embrace our softer squishier parts without wrestling them into a spandex torture chamber or underwire harness.

Key note: Now I’m not saying we shouldn’t strive to have as healthy a body as we can. That goes without saying. But if only we could be more like Mary…and let it all hang out with pride and humor. And while I enjoyed the entertainment value of Mary’s keynote address at the dinner, her confidence and charisma while standing there in her black bra and middle-aged body, said more to me about International Women’s Day than anything in her evening performance. It was downright liberating, even for a tough old broad like me.

Seriously: Mary made us laugh at her, with her and at ourselves. We need more women like that. And more real women who can stand in front of 700 people in a black bra ala muffin tops, and not give a damn. And as I am reminded by the sign on my desk, “She Who Laughs, Lasts.”

Pat Skene

See you between the lines.

Gold Finger Salute Awards!

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Hey, I don’t mean to be a brute,
With my new BOOMERRANTZ salute,
But Nominees had best beware,
Now read my blog-post if you dare…

Enough already! I can’t turn on the television these days, without bearing witness to yet another ubiquitous award celebration for the rich and famous. Night after night during the months of January and February, we’re seduced by the ornamental glitz of shameless egoism, showered on the synthetic world of the stage and screen elite.

Get real people! I think it’s time for ‘we the people’ to hand out some awards of our own. When we use our collective powers to select individuals for awards, perhaps more of us could maximize the potential of these impressive rituals of public display for a higher and greater good.

That’s it! Let’s use our people’s choice license to charter a new category of awards that would express opinions and experiences from our not-so-glitzy everyday real life; experiences that are not always pleasant and sometimes deserving of a Gold Finger Salute!

Fertile ground: These new awards could be used to acknowledge the weight of unwanted residue often left in our lives by people in our community, our government, professionals in any field – and yes, even the entertainment industry. Anything that puts rantz in our pantz is fair game.

Let’s get the ball rolling: Here are a few categories that I hope will generate some passionate nominations from the silent reservoir of thoughts and experiences, that pick-pick-pick away at us…everyday.

Categories open for my “Gold Finger Salute” Award nominations:

1. M.V.P Award– Best performance by a Medical Doctor who finds the ‘Most Vulnerable Patient’ and prescribes the largest number of pills in the shortest appointment time, without the distraction of actually listening to the patient or making eye contact.

2. GRUBBY FINGERS Award – The Corporate CEO with the dirtiest hands and the coldest heart who cooks the hottest books in the corporate kitchen, while leaving his hungry investors boiling with a bad taste in their bank accounts.

3. WINNING WARLOCK Award – The surviving Celebrity who melts down in millions of living rooms, while drinking tiger blood and proclaiming himself to be a wild thing – stronger than two and a half men.

4. GOTCHA Award– The most elusive and convincing General Contractor honed in the artful techniques of creeping scope, making the most money over contractual budget on any one renovation.

5. TRIPLE M Award– The Lawyer or Law Firm who can demonstrate the ‘Most Money Milked’ from any one client on any legal action, for the longest period of time, without ever actually bringing the case to a close.

6. JUMPING JELLYFISH Award – The cruise Ship Captain who manages to cause a shipwreck, jump into the first lifeboat to shore and abandon his 4,234 passengers. All the while singing his favourite rap song, “Imma Be Imma Be…a Rat From a Sinking Ship.”

7. MATING RITUAL Award– The Corporate Banker who can exhibit the deepest levels of profit-envy, during a courting dance with an equally greedy partner. The best dance and musical combos for this category include; the Quickstep for “Size Does Matter,” the Hustle for “Bank-Bail-Out Boogie” and the Cha Cha Cha for “Sub-Prime Fiasco”.

8. GRINCH’S CHOICE Award – A multiple award to all School Administrators who cancel Christmas concerts due to misguided apprehensions, and replace said performances with bland non-Christian events where nobody gives a damn.

9. BOTTOM FEEDER Award– The Television Reality Show with the most voracious appetite, exploiting the highest number of living organisms from the lowest point on the food chain for public display and humiliation.

10. GREAT PRIMA DONALD Award – The Celebrity Businessman who manages to Trump all his opponents, by building the highest number of skyscrapers, while exhibiting the lowest degree of humility – and simultaneously sporting the worst comb-over in America.

11. SOFT SHOE SHUFFLE Award – The Elected Official with the biggest smile who makes the most provocative empty promises for the longest period of time, while side-stepping controversy and dancing non-stop to that popular politician’s ditty called, ‘The Power, Perks and Pensions Polka.’

12. BARKENPOOP Award – A multiple award to all deserving Pet Owners who miraculously believe that a cacophony of barking canines is music to a neighbor’s ears, and that the muck left behind by their dogs and cats running amok on other people’s properties is a welcome bit of fertilizer.

13. NINCOMPOOP Award – Any trusting Traveller in a male or female role, who – while of sound mind – chooses a Mexican vacation destination and naively expects to return alive – or minimally – with their bowels intact.

14. A-Hole ROFO Award – The mayor of any major city who smokes the most crack and tells the most lies, while in and out of any number of drunken stupors, and drags his long suffering wife in front of the nation’s television sets, to witness his declaration of eating preferences.

15. A-Hole DOFO Award – To the loudest-mouthed male sibling of any mayor of a major city, who supports his crack-smoking idiot of a brother.

Final word: While this list is just a drop in that big bucket of tarnished gold fingers, our collective salute to deserving nominees in these selected categories could put a whole new polish on the all-powerful-award-granting rituals. I’m sure you will all have many very personal choices to add to this not-so-distinguished collection. Good luck with your nominations and may the biggest losers win!

Although my carpet isn’t red,
And my awards are in my head,
To Nominees I say, “Salute!”
But now I really have to scoot…

Pat Skene
See you between the lines…