Day 224. Hanging Around

In the end there were no St. Paddy’s Day festivities for me.  On Friday, I spent a couple of hours at my local Starbucks, so I wouldn’t get in my cleaning lady’s way.  Took my laptopvitamins and decided to do some writing there.

It was cold here; and every time someone opened the door, to come in or to leave, a gust of cold air surrounded me.  By the time I got back home I was really chilled.  Not just cold on the surface of my body.  I mean the kind of cold you feel under your skin.

When your bones feel cold.  When, no matter what you try, you just can’t seem to get warm.

Not that I didn’t try.  I put on my warmest jammies.  I was still shivering.  I put on a fleece robe.  Honest to God I was still cold.  So eventually I crawled under my duvet.  But not before I took an Oil of Oregano pill.  In case you Continue reading

Advertisements

Day 179. Look-Alikes

So here I am.  At Starbucks.  Yes, I know it’s very early to be out and about.  I have no choice.  I’m hiding from my cleaning lady.  No, I’m not kidding.  Listen, if I amoebadidn’t high tail it out of my apartment before she showed up, I’d suffer the same fate as her poor husband.

After years of putting up with the daily grind, he finally got to retire.  For about five minutes.  Before he had a chance to slip into his comfy, old cardigan and try out the recliner, he got conscripted into service.  As her assistant.  Either I disappear, or she’d hand me a mop and put me to work.  Or give me some other chores.  Trust me, she’s got a never ending list of ’em.

What would you do, if you were in my shoes?  Exactly.  Vamoose!  So like I said, here I am.  At Starbucks.

At this hour of the morning there’s usually the odd business type, who dashes in for a shot of caffeine on the Continue reading

Day 165. No Siree

I had a meeting with a client yesterday afternoon.  There’s a Starbucks in the building, so I decided to pick up some coffee for us.  A couple of guys in line ahead of medon't know were discussing their weekend plans.  No, they weren’t talking about ‘chicks’.  Or other men, for that matter.  Or hockey.  Or basketball.  Or skiing.  Or booze.  Or partying.

Both were headed to Home Depot.  One was renovating his bathroom.  The other was finishing his basement.  Themselves.  Neither sounded like they were being forced to do it.  On the contrary, they seemed excited about it.

As I stood there and listened (okay eavesdropped) all I could think about is how absolutely useless I am.  Took me years to figure out the difference between pliers and a wrench.  Home Depot intimidates the hell out of me.  I swear I’d rather have root canal without an anaesthetic, than go there.

On the few occasions when I had no choice, I never did find what I was looking for.  I don’t know how many Continue reading

Day 153. Living Simpler

On Friday I wrote about how we often say we need something, when in fact we don’t.  We just want whatever it happens to be.  Or at least we used to.  Because fishbowlmore and more I’m sensing a change.  In people I know and also in me.

A fair number of you commented and generally we were all of the same mind.  Nobody’s spending irresponsibly.  One comment, from Cupcake Travels, reminded me of my own life, and how different I’ve become.  She mentioned, now that she’s moved to France, how much less ‘stuff’ she needs; and how liberating it is.

I’ve bought and sold a few houses in my time, and I went through this phase where nothing was big enough for me.  Absolutely ridiculous.  I remember going to see a HUGE, old, four-bedroom house on a HUGE lot.  As if that wasn’t enough, it had an enormous addition on the back.  True, it was a gorgeous family room, but I was one person.

Really, what was I going to do with all that space?  And when, exactly, was I going to take care of the lawns Continue reading

Day 49. Pink Poison

I’m not a big sweet eater.  My mother couldn’t get enough.  She had chocolate bars stashed everywhere.  But not me.  Even as a child I preferred olives and spicy food to chocolate, cake and candy.

And I still do.  Except when it comes to tea and coffee.  To sweeten my tea I prefer honey.  For coffee it’s Sweet ‘n Low (pink packets).  Yes, I know it’s bad for me.

Or at least it’s purported to be.  I say that, because Sweet ‘n Low is made primarily from granulated saccharin; and in the early seventies there were studies done that showed that lab rats who were given saccharin, got cancer.

Because of this study, saccharin was banned in Canada, where I live.  And here, Sweet ‘n Low is made with sodium cyclamate instead.  But now Canada is Continue reading

Day 46. Helping Others

A friend posted a wonderful Mohandas K. Gandhi quote on Facebook yesterday morning:  “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”  It  made me think of the volunteer work I do; and how fortunate I am.

Every Tuesday you can find me, in my blue lab coat, at Mt. Sinai Hospital, in downtown Toronto.  With a program that includes about 1,000 volunteers, there is virtually no area of the hospital where you won’t find at least one of us.

We’re there seven days a week, even holidays.  We’re men and women.  Students, middle-aged and seniors.  Rich and poor. Canadians and immigrants.  Married, single, divorced and widowed/widowers.  We have families.  We have friends.  And some, have no one.  We’re in the pharmacies, labs, recovery rooms, waiting rooms, clinics, doctors’ offices, on every floor, in emergency, diagnostic imaging, and even at home, knitting warm hats for premature babies.  We’re visiting the elderly, feeding, filing, documenting, delivering, translating, organizing, making appointments, providing information, answering questions, giving directions and, mostly, assisting —  wherever, whenever and however we can.

What unites us, is why we’re there.  To help others.  To make strangers’ lives a little easier, a little better, a little less lonely, a little less frightening, a little less daunting; even if it’s just for a moment.  And by strangers I mean patients, families and staff.

I work mainly in an out-patient surgical recovery room, where patients come for minor surgery.  Typically they just need Continue reading

Day 20. Love Sundays

When you freelance, like I do, weekends don’t seem to take on the same importance as they do when you have a full time job.

As long as I make my deadlines, I can do all the chores usually reserved for Saturdays and Sundays, any day of the week I please.  As long as I make all my deadlines, I can go for a walk, do pilates, visit with a friend, have a manicure or read a book at any time during the day.  Unless I have a client meeting, I never have to ‘dress for success’.  I can work in jeans, sweats and, for that matter, my jammies.  But despite all the freedom I have, I do look forward to Sundays; and my delivery of the Sunday New York Times.

My parents had it delivered, so it’s a ‘ritual’ I grew up with.

In winter, when I become a recluse, there’s nothing I like better than collecting it from the mat outside my door and getting back into bed — where I stay for hours — with a huge mug of tea (don’t make coffee at home) and the entire newspaper, spread out all around me.  Not the easiest thing to do when you have cats, mind you.  They don’t like being ignored — even when they’re ignoring Continue reading

Day 19. Coffee Culture

I go out for coffee everyday.  I like to write in cafes.  I like the ‘buzz’ of human energy.

When I work I tend to zone right out.  Especially when the writing is going well.  So although I know there are other people there, I’m not really aware of them.  I have no idea when they arrived.  I don’t notice when they leave.  And I can’t tell you what they talk about while they’re there.

But from time to time I do look around.  It’s fascinating.  Different purveyors/brands definitely attract very different people.  And depending on the time of day, you may also find totally different types of clientele — at least much of the time.

Tim Hortons is as Canadian as the maple leaf.  Founded in Hamilton, Ontario in 1964, today it is a multi-million dollar franchise, best known for its coffee and doughnuts.   Although I’ve worked in advertising, I’ve never worked on the Tim Hortons account.  I’ve never seen one of their creative briefs so I don’t know who they would tell you their audience is.  I can only speak about what I’ve seen any time I’ve visited:

Go into any Tim Hortons, anywhere, and you’ll see your average Canadian. Ethnically diverse. Families. Parents with kids.  Multi-generational families — grandparents, with their kids and grandkids.  Seniors on fixed incomes.  Students on tight budgets.  Office workers.  Hard hats.  Policemen.  Some professionals.  Highway travellers stopping for gas, bio breaks and a coffee  on long road trips.   Shift workers, because so many of the stores, even in the city, are open all night.  But regardless of how they earn their living, they are hardworking, decent, looking for friendly service, a good cup of coffee and a price that cannot be beat.  It is not Continue reading