On Being 90.

Earlier this week our small family celebrated my mother’s (aka, the Coach’s) birthday. 90 years young! It was a quiet, but fun day, with goodies being delivered to the door for her and take-out Chinese for dinner.

This morning as I sit with my second cup of coffee, listening to the dog snore across the room – man this dog can snore. I know they make gizmos that humans can wear to prevent snoring, but I wonder if they make such a thing for dogs? Hmm. On second thought, probably not a good idea. If the thing was not made of iron, Trooper would eat it! LOL. But I digress…

I began today to think about all the changes Coach has seen during her lifetime. In 1923, Time Magazine was published for the first time. Hockey Night in Canada was first broadcast on a private station – the first hockey broadcast ever! The Irish Civil War ended. In New Jersey, the first American Airship took to the skies. Walt Disney founded The Walt Disney Company. And these are just a few events from that year, of course.

But what changes would a 90-year-old have experienced? There was no indoor plumbing; facilities for washing clothes were tubs and a scrub-board. No telephone in the Coach’s house. No buses to school in those days. At school the boys lined up at one door and the girls at another before the doors were opened and they could all file inside. Heating of homes was wood or coal. Radio but no TV. Eventually telephones were installed in homes in the small town where she were was raised. One long ring and two short rings, made the connection to our house (yes, I was around by then – so I’m ahead of myself) but those were party lines and everyone in town could (and many would) listen in.

But I’m ahead of myself. My maternal grandfather fought in WWI. He was a veterinarian. He treated family pets and farm animals as well. He was often paid with chickens or potatoes or veggies and that kept the family pantry well stocked.

Coach and my father attended highschool together. Dad was in the Canadian army and after WWII ended, they were married…trudged through a raging snow storm to get the job done, too! He then entered law school and Coach had me. Travel for them was almost always by train, as no car was to be had just yet. My father graduated law school and opened his own office. My parents did eventually acquire a TV when I was about 3 yrs old…big box of a thing with a rolling picture and barely any TV stations. And my baby brother came along. I was very impressed with him, really.

Phones in cars, cell phones, flat-screen TVs, computers were all in the very distant future. But she doesn’t want anything to do with these things anyway…well the TV is pretty neat. Mother was given a Kindle reader by my brother and sister-in-law a few years ago, but she could not get used to not having a “book” in her hand.

Telephone systems greatly improved and, yeah, there was privacy. LOL

Mother’s first washing machine made horrendous noises, rocked around the basement floor and had rollers so that everything could be run through and dropped in the laundry tub for rinsing…but it was hers!

Then, sadly, at age 49, my father died. Life changed dramatically.

Someone put a man on the moon and space travel became more frequent.

These are just a few very minor changes in the world since 1923, but a great deal for one person to experience. And when I think of the things my father had never experienced since his passing in 1972, it’s all quite astounding. What an amazing world we live in.

And think what I could discover that my Grandparents never experienced!

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Did you ever?

Elvis The King. One song that stays with me after all these years…Did yooou ever, Did yoooever…Did you ever have one those days?

Yep …I had one of those days!!

I hate to shop. The Coach, my almost 90-year-old mother, loves to shop (more about her nick-name in an upcoming blog).

So…it is November 17th. The temps were in the high 40’s, full sun…a glorious day. And the Coach had a mission on her mind. She has been unable to find the perfect wreath for my father’s grave. This is a ritual we have carried on since 1972, the year of his passing. So, this is crucial. We have to find the perfect wreath. Would I drive her to the Mall?

Of course I would drive her to the mall.

Now, remember it is Saturday…mid-November…Christmas shoppers! The mall is a zoo!

But, on the way to the “Zoo” and on-coming car pulled to a stop to wait to make a right-hand turn while an advanced car turned left. The woman in the car behind the fellow wanting to make the right-hand turn couldn’t/wouldn’t even pause but swerved over in to my lane…coming right at me so she could keep on truckin’! Good on you lady! I’ve got my 90 year old mother and my dog in my car…good thing I could slam on my brakes! And none of the three of us went through the wind-shield. Praise be!

Now, I figure I drive an invisible car. I had to give up my beloved Malibu a year ago…I loved that car but she choked. So I bought a great little Chevy Cruze on November 15th, 2011. Just before Christmas, 2011, I had to go to the mall…the car was 5 weeks old…and a woman backed up her huge vehicle into my Cruze. Grand. $700.00 worth of damage. Very Grand. I was not going to go through insurance for this…I have never had an accident before and I was’t about to claim one now. But the lady was gracious, admitted her error and paid for the repairs. One for me.

Today, actually found a disabled person’s parking spot at the Mall. Yeah! Coach went into one store and came out empty-handed. This is not good. Toured around to find a second parking spot within a reasonable walking distance for her, to a second store…still nothing.


Managed to get out of the Mall without being hit and headed for a second Mall. Had to let the Coach out near the door and said I would drive around and be back for her. Was almost hit twice by idiot, needy drivers in this Mall. At one point, I was stopped at a stop sign…fellow in a huge truck had the right-of-way to go through but decided to turn right. And glared at me because he could not turn that honker truck because I was there. So I reared my little car out of his way and he had the never to glare are me! Sheesh! I told you…I drive an invisable car! By now my blood-pressure is soaring. Eventually found a spot just as the Coach came out of that store with, thankfully, I nice wreath in hand. Whew. Mission Accomplished!

The car is really low on gas…I need to feed the car and I want to get it washed since it is a wonderful, glorious weather day. The rest of the day has been the pits, but…hey!

Take the Coach home and cannot have Trooper in the car going through the car wash cuz the roar of the wind-dryer will kill his poor ears. Okay…everyone safe at home. Off I go. Fill the car with gas and line up for a wash.

But that was okay. It was quiet waiting for the car wash and no other cars were driving straight at my “invisible car”. This works. Car is clean.

Driving home I see our local TV channel truck setting up TV cameras and I remember…It’s our local Santa Clause parade day! Shoot.  By now, I’m talking to my car…”car, get me home and we are staying home!”  LOL

Did I want to cook after all this? Not likely. So I called for a pizza. After I made the call, I remember, poor pizza delivery person is going to have to get here via the Santa Claus parade route! Yikes. The young man apologized for the delay. OMG. Pizza delivery man received an extra tip tonight!

My car is not moving out of the garage tomorrow. I will be staying home and watching the Argos play football.





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OMG, you may say; here she goes again! 🙂 Well, I’ve been thinking about a facebook conversation this morning and it took me back…way, way back.

I have a long-time friend, Marsha Canham. Actually, Marsha became not only a wonderful friend but she also became a lifeline and a mentor to me. We met in Chicago 20 years ago at a convention…we both got into the same limo to attend an event. LOL My first book had just been published and I was as green as one could be. Marsha already had several hugely successful books under her belt. As it happened, Marsha lived in the east side of Toronto and lived in the west end.

Last night I read a truly wonderful post on Marsha’s FB page from a new-to-her friend. I was so moved by that post, I shared it to my own page. As Marsha says, “It is wonderful readers who keep us going.” And that is so true.

When I started writing in the early 80’s I did not know anyone who had written a book, let alone have one published. I was writing in complete isolation back then. I used a stack of 3-ring binder paper and a package of Big pens. It’s difficult to imagine that now.

Going back and changing a portion of the story, whether adding in or deleting, was a nightmare. You can imagine. I had highlighters and tiny notes galore. When I finished the story, I rented a typwriter…an old Underwood, as I reall, for something like $20.00 a month. Luckily I was employed full-time because already this “hobby” was costing me money. Well the “hobby” became a passion and I kept at it. I went to the library and learned how to submit a manuscript and how to write a submission letter. And received my share of rejection. Well, enough of all that. Suffice it to say I graduated and kept at it and eventually had several books published.

But I still remember the excitement of being told a New York Publisher wanted to buy two books. I still remember the thrill and the tears I shed over a wonderful letter from an amazing woman who took the time to tell me how much she enjoyed the first book, Spring Blossom. I wrote back to Audrey and we became fast friends. And I still have every fan letter I ever received.

I don’t know if people who are passionate readers realize their tremendous value. And I’m talking way beyond income potential. In the scheme of things, there are very few authors who earn a living by sticking with the intense process of writing. I never did. I still do not. But every sale is still exciting and every kind word from a reader, even if we’re just chatting on FaceBook or Twitter, is invaluable. That contact is essential in reminding writers that someone out there is enjoying their effors. And it’s so easy now to make those contacts. Yes, I’ve come a long way from those days of isolation and I’m very thankful.

Since Marsha dragged me kicking and screaming into the digital world by pointing me in the direction of Smashwords and Amazon, by introducing me to writer eloops and nipping at my heels when I was dragging my butt, I now have dozens of writer friends who, like me, have been working our way into the digital world. Many of them have taught me a lot and I think, perhaps, I’ve helped out a few along the way. I hope so. And I would venture to say, many writers feel the same about their past and their present as I do.

It was Virginia Lee, of Dagonsblood fame, who became a friend via Twitter and introduced me to the Independent Author Network. It’s a great spot for readers and writers. And I’ve since branched out to many other reader and writer sites. I’d post links here but I’m not quite into this blog thing yet. Forgive me! LOL

Okay, I’ve rambled on enough for one afternoon. Besides, I’ve depleted my ration of coffee!

To the readers and writers I value, have a great weekend!

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In my opinion you are either a morning person or you are not. I am not! In fact, I am a night-hawk. I like the quiet of the wee small hours to work, or to read, or to veg out with my favourite cooking show on TV. I dislike mornings…the early morning hours at least. I don’t even want to talk, so don’t telephone me before 10 a.m. 🙂

What brought this on? A friend said she liked Monday mornings because Monday meant a brand new week to look forward to.

Mondays just make me think about getting garbage ready…clean everything out, pack it up, have it ready to go down to the curb. I put the recycling boxes out Tuesday night but cannot put the food scrap bin or garbage bin out until early Wednesday morning because our strong, little raccoon friends are break-in artists and like to feast during the night. I dislike cleaning up the mess they leave even more than I dislike getting up early.

All this has a purpose…hang in there.

So, this morning my alarm goes off at 7 a.m. I hop up (I use that term loosely, believe me) get downstairs prepared to do the battle of the recycling and garbage bins. I take off my diamond ring and place it on a shelf in the kitchen because I’m afraid the handle on the large bin will loosen or damage a diamond.

Moments later…task accomplished…most of it with my eyes have closed. Let dog out…feed dog…go back to bed to grab an extra hour or so of ZZZZ’s

Sometime later I’m getting dressed, look down at my left hand and…”Oh, my God! I’ve lost my diamond ring!” I’m frantic, near tears! I race around the laundry room, the breakfast area and finally turn toward that shelf in the kitchen and breath again. My ring! Right on the shelf where I had placed it. I did not remember placing it there in my early morning stupor.

I ask you…do I deserve to have to get up at 7 a.m.? No! I’m dangerous at 7 a.m.! LOL

Let this be a lesson to all night-hawks. Be wary.

Me, I like Thursdays the best.

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Happy Mother’s Day

…to all the Moms out there.

My own mother turned 89 years young this past March 7th. On March 24th she missed the bottom step coming down a flight of stairs and fell, breaking her hip. The hip was replaced the following day and April 3rd the Coach, (a title she earned while telling the Toronto Blue Jays how to play baseball) took up residence in the living room where a hospital bed has been installed.

Coach has had her ups and downs since but overall she is doing amazingly well. Mind you, at 88 she was a going concern, a fact that has aided her recovery.

Do I admire her? You bet your booties I do. Oh, she gets out-of-sorts now and again, but I can’t blame her. I’ve been there. And patience is a virtue the Coach has never acquired…and she admits it. LOL And my younger brother and I have been fortunate to have her all these years…and I hope she’s around for many more!

While she’s getting around the house a bit now, Mother will not be out dancing this Mother’s Day but I hope she will have a nice day tomorrow.

And I wish the same for all Moms. Have a great day tomorrow and remember…you DO NOT cook on Mother’s Day!!

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How Much Do You Love Your Car?

I love my car. It’s a 1999 Malibu. I know, there are people out there rolling their eyes…1999! Yikes! But I love this car…it’s the best car I’ve ever owned. Alas, I had decided it would take me through the salt and slush of this winter and then I would give it up and buy new wheels in the spring.

Today I took ‘my friend’ in for a regular check-up and to have the snow tires put on. I was sitting comfortably in the waiting room, Kindle in hand, when the Service Manager entered and looked my way. “No, Russell,” I said. He grimaced. I groaned. *Sigh* Three major problems that will become safety issues in a matter of a few weeks…okay, one major problem probably won’t occur for a few months, I was told. But the other two must be attended to within the next two to three weeks, depending on how much I drive the car.

Now I’ve got what I consider, officially, as a clunker, no matter how much I love the old thing. I can no longer feel secure in its loyalty or that it guarantees my safety of the safety of those who travel with me. Time to give it up. No use in investing a few thousand dollars which could go toward a new vehicle. But it’s like say goodbye to an true, faithful pal.

Alas, next week I will go out and test drive a few cars and prepare to say goodbye to some $$. But I continue to say it isn’t the $$ and my friends and family continue to laugh at me. It really isn’t. I’m giving up a comfortable, faithful mode of transportation that has served me well for almost 13 years.

Before the final turnover, I have to rescue all the treasures that travel with me…garage door opener, fav. CDs, doggie blanket for his lordship, etc. Here is my second *sigh*. LOL

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Myth Busters/House of Horrors

I’m not a superstitious person, but I always believed if you had one bad thing happen and then a second bad thing happen, there would be a third bad thing. A lot of people I know believe the same. And I believe, from experience, that bad things nearly always happened on a Friday. Not so, on either count. Bad things can happen day-after-day. That’s two myths busted!

My mother, who is now 88 years old and in bad health, and I found ourselves each alone and purchased this house together about 22 years ago. We’ve been diligent about upgrading, adding energy efficient furnace/air conditioning/appliances etc, and keeping the house in good repair overall.

This past Friday I suspected the water softener was out of salt as the water seemed hard (not too many frothy bubbles in the washing machine or the sink for dishes…I won’t even mention the shower!) and we have a lot of lime in our water. So down…down..down to the bowels of the basement I went (very steep steps) to check it out. There, on the concrete floor was a stream of water and white foam floating into the floor-drain. Okay, the water heater has a leek and it’s only a few years old. Also discovered the water softener, that is not yet a year old, is not working. It’s still full of salt that I put in three weeks ago.

Back I go, ascending to the first floor and pick up the phone. First the water heater people. They sent a repairman out within a couple of hours and he replaced a valve. By then I had already set up for the water softener people to come out…Sept 6th is the earliest. Okay, hopefully our house pipes won’t clog up with lime in that length of time, so I can deal with that.

So, water heater fixed on Friday…water softener repair ordered. In the meantime, I confirmed two specialist doctor appointments for my mother, aka “The Coach”. She likes to tell the Toronto Blue Jays how to play ball. And let’s not even start on the Toronto Argos!

Saturday I wake up and hear rushing water. Hurried downstairs (I’m didsabled so I don’t run anywhere) and could really hear water rushing on the main floor. Make my way back down to the bowels of the basement and it’s okay down there. Back up to the top floor…upstairs toilet has running water in the tank. Being once a property manager many years ago, I think, “I can fix this.” I take the top of the tank and fiddle around…okay, so I can’t fix this. Back on the phone I get and call a 24 hour emergency plumbing service. A repairman arrived, good to their advertising word, 23 hours later. Nice young man he was, too. He replaced a flow value in the toilet. That was Sunday. So, we’re good to go!

Not quite.

Monday about noon a town’s crew arrived and started digging up some broken sidewalk in front of our house. Now, my dog, Trooper, always goes to daycare Monday and Wednesday afternoons to play with the other dogs…he needs that interaction. I put the dog in the car, press my gizmo and the garage door goes up…there is a back-hoe across my entire driveway, digging up the sidewalk. I couldn’t see it from inside the house because of the trees. And obviously they would not be moving for a time. So, I put the garage door down, take my confused dog out of the car and we go back into the house, whereupon I call the daycare and advise that Trooper will not be coming as planned.

Then, wisely, I decided to go back down into the bowels of basement and just check things out down there. Augh! The water heater is still leaking water and foam! Back on the phone I get to call those repair people to get their butts back out here!

As I’m talking to them, there is a knock at my front door. Live call in progress I went to the door with phone in hand and my neighbour asks, “Is your phone working?” Um, yeah, and I held up the phone…”I’m on a call right now.” “Is your cable TV working?” he asks. At this point I’m wishing I were two people. I invite the neighbour in so the dog won’t run out the door (dawg is a real runner!), resume my phone conversation and flick on the TV at the same time. No cable! The guys digging up the sidewalk cut into the cable lines! We were lucky as we had the phone line…they had cut off the neighbours phone line as well as their cable.

Neighbour goes home. Water Heater guy shows up within an hour.

Down the repairman goes into the bowels of the basement. Now I’ve got the dog on a leash attached to my wrist so that he doesn’t run, when I hear, from the bowels of the ‘earth’, “Hello”. I go to the top of the stairs. “Um, your water heater is bust.”

Oh good, that’s fine. “I’ll have to replace it,” he says. “Oh good, that’s fine,” says I. Meanwhile as he’s working I’ve got the poor dog confined and attached via his leash to my wrist because the repairman is going in and out to his truck…the water in the house is turned off for the better part of the afternoon, but, hey!, the new water heater is finally installed, the water is turned back on, and off the fellow goes.

I’m exhausted but all should be hunky-dory now. We’ve got the regular, annual furnace check-up scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. No prob…piece of cake. And I was still laughing about it all.

At this point, the house is locked up, I free the poor dog, and myself, from the leash and I walked out into the kitchen to pour myself an adult beverage, because I had damned well earned it! And I hear water rushing…augh! Just shoot me! I am no longer laughing! It’s the upstairs toilet tank again…the one that was just repaired yesterday.

So, myths busted, I should have a quiet day tomorrow and be able to get some work done. After all, I’m still hoping to get Trooper to daycare for his play, the furnace man is schedule to arrive between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. and I’ve got to call the plumbing service to get their butts back here! LOL. And, hey, by tomorrow night, we might have our cable TV back in operation!

Jill…signing off from the House of Nonsense in downtown Georgetown.

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Algebra And Other Hateful Things

I like to watch Wheel Of Fortune…love solving puzzles. Tonight there was a young woman contestant who teaches algebra in middle-school.

There were several things I loved in school…the first of which was history. There were two things, as a kid, I cried over. The first was spelling. Man, this is going to date me. But in grade one I got caught, along with all the other kids, in a pattern change in the teaching techniques for spelling. It was my worst subject. And the more the teacher punished me (she would smack a wooden ruler across the palms of our hands), the worse I became at it. Finally I taught myself and my mother, for years, proudly annouced that I was self-taught when it came to spelling. Typos are another matter, LOL. It came to light several years later that the grade one teacher had a few problems of her own…but we kids suffered for it.

The second thing I hated was algebra. When I hit highschool, that subject hit me right between the eyes. It didn’t go into my brain, ever…I just didn’t get it. I carried it over another year and still didn’t get it. I excelled at English and History but a mathematician I was not.

So I switched electives, which meant I could not go on to university. Ha! Not so. After ten years at working at this and that and being disatisifed, I returned to school and spent two years in college and picked up a number of university diplomas.

In the end, the dreaded algebra didn’t do me in after all. But algebra in middle school. That made me shudder! LOL

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The Process

Lila’s Dance went live at Amazon and Smashwords yesterday, which made me very happy…I didn’t think I was ever going to have that puppy available. *g* I kept editing it, even as I was proof reading. I didn’t change the story from the original, but re-typing is a chance to fine-tune a few things.

It’s wonderful to see it available after all these years. The title came to me while I was attending my first Romantic Times Convention. Spring Blossom had just been released and RT had nominated it for an award as best first book in Historical Romance. So, there I was in Chicago, totally high with all excitement. Running up a massive telephone bill as I called home every night to report the great things that had happened during the day.

That was where I met Marsha Canham, btw. Marsha lived on the east side of Toronto and I lived west and we met getting into a limo to go to a booksigning in Chicago! Huh.

Back to the title…I walked into my room at the hotel one evening, flipped on the TV and there was a ballroom dance competition going on. Watched that for a few moments and, voila, Lila’s Dance…jot that down.

So, I had a title and that was all.

A few weeks later I was enjoying a driving vacation and stopped for breakfast at a small place in the country that cooked wonderful food. But the conversation at the table beside us proved very interesting, indeed. Went back to my car…grabbed paper and pen and made a few notes.

Now I have a title and an underlying theme of small town, family life. From that, the romance between Lila and Daniel was born. And out of that story came one of my fav characters…Sammy. I don’t know where he came from in my imagination, but I love him. *g*

Have a great day, everyone!

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Memory Flashes

Do you ever have flashes of fond memories that can be so far back in your past you tag them “Ancient”?

Met up with an ex-neighbor recently. Our families lived side-by-side. And it made me think fondly of our days on Tannery Street (yes, there had been a tannery just up the street but eventually it turned into a bowling alley). Anyway, the youngest neighbor boy and my younger brother were constant companions. Those two little boys got into the best of mischief. One winter day, with my brother wearing a brand new snowsuit, the boys went across the street and got messing around with an above-ground oil tank. They opened the valve, drained all the oil, and ruined their suits. Oil was less expensive then (what wasn’t) and that neighbor agreed there should have been a lock on the value. Meanwhile, two more snowsuits had to be purchased.

Another day, the boys (and they were little guys then) got behind my father’s lovely home-made bar and got into the Vodka, thinking it was water. One sip did it and they were staggering up the stairs.

The following summer the boys went uptown and were caught by the village police officer, throwing stones at cars. They were taken home in the one and only patrol car and were quite proud. 😮

Of course, I never pulled any of these pranks. Oh, there was the time I put my baby brother in my doll carriage and pushed him across town with him screaming all the way. Someone called my mother and ratted me out. 😮

By the way, our phone number in those days was one long ring and two short. LOL What does that tell you?

Share some of your fondest memories. Come on!

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