Saturday, August 31, 2013

Help I Can't Stop Writing! And the Importance of Quality Spices

The Bounty. I've noticed that even in August the big grocery stores are selling produce at a premium, one red pepper wrapped in cellophane for 2 dollars. Hey! It's been a terrific summer for crops, sun and rain .Who are they fooling? I wanted to go to the big market, Atwater,to buy a bucket of red peppers, but couldn't, so I went to the little local market place, D'Aoust, to find a small bucket of about 8 peppers for 5.50. More like it.  
My husband says he saw a documentary about organic crops where it was claimed that Costco sells a lot of organic. That's where I shop in the winter.

It's the Saturday of Labour Day weekend. Why am I writing this? No one reads blogs on Labour Day Weekend. No one reads blogs, period. So I believe. Not my blog, anyway, present company excepted :)

 So why do I post something everyday? Because I like talking to myself.

And, oddly, my husband of 30 years reads my blog when he is at work so it's a good way to communicate with him, obliquely.

A few days ago I was talking to a retired person with a PhD in a useful field. She is bored and thinking of what to do with the rest of her life. I suggested she write a column. She admitted that writing was the one thing she has ALWAYS hated.

And yet here I am, no PhD in a useful field, and I can't stop writing

Labour Day Weekend for me means it's time to get busy. Summer is over. Getting busy means promoting my e-books Threshold Girl and Not Bonne Over Here with even more than blog posts that nobody reads.

Over the summer I sent out queries to History and Women's Groups about giving a talk about the Montreal Suffragettes and their relation to the British Suffragettes. I got no replies.

Very timely it is, as exactly one hundred years ago  the British Suffragettes and their headline grabbing brand of militantism was peaking, in England. The British Suffragettes were threatening to invade Canada, too.

See my short storyboard documentary.

I got up this morning and checked Twitter to see who had won in the Lleyton Hewitt del Potro US Open tennis match. I went to bed before the deciding 5th set.

I assumed del Potro had won, because he was hitting more clutch winners, (I thought) but NO, Hewitt crushed the big man in the 5th set, 6-1.

OK. So I went to the PVR because I saved the end of the match, right?

NO! I saved the tennis only "until the end of the program.' The match went over the designated time slot, I got only seven minutes, right up until the del Potro meltdown.

This has happened before. I SHOULD BE MORE CAREFUL. Stupid TV. Stupid BELL.
It should automatically save until THE END of a live event.

During the tennis I saw an ad on RDS trying to convince Quebeckers to buy local produce. That's fine. That's what everyone should be doing, right?  But I was a little perturbed by the name of the BUY QUEBEC program, La Souverainet√© Alimentaire.

According to an online Radio Canada article, Premiere Marois wants to get the major food chains to sell more Quebec products. But will that save us consumers money? That's what I want to know. (All things considered, in Quebec, the term Souveraineté Alimentaire has a forbidding ring.)

I wonder if the rest of Canada would like some Souveraineté from the Dairy Board. I believe the Quebec Dairy farmers have a special deal and that's why dairy products are so expensive all over Canada.

I saw a tweet on Twitter in the morning where someone was explaining to someone else that 'militant' in French means activist more than militant. (I think he meant activist more than terrorist.)

It's a fine distinction these days, I think.

It was a fine distinction 100 years ago, when the militant suffragettes were branded terrorists. They blew up government property, acts sanctioned by Emmeline Pankhurst, but were careful not to harm people.


I bought some spices at D'Aoust's. This brand in the silver cups is from Quebec. It is excellent. I bought their curry, provencal spices and a salt, dill and coriander mix that fixes up nicely any crappy cheap whitefish.

 A lady makes preserves at the store. The airborne aroma l is heavenly when you walk in. She told me last year she used her old  family recipes for her relishes.  The sweet pepper jam in the picture goes great in chicken wraps.

A while back I thought I'd save money buying bargain basement spices, and bargain basement bouillons and guess, what. My meals have been well below par ever since.

Never again! There's a time to save money and there's a time to spend.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Crisco and the Cost of Living

 Second Installment of Threshold Girl about a Life in Canada in the Laurier Era.

Electric fixtures: 1920 Eaton's Catalogue

Norman Nicholson, of Richmond, Quebec started keeping track of his expenditures in 1881, two years before he married (with 10 cents spent on phrenology and 10 cents for a peek into a telescope, 25 cents for a bottle of musk and 09 for saltpetre (sic) 10 cents for a straw hat, 40 cents for a pair of drawers, 1.25 for a shirt and 55 for one silk handkerchief and 14.00 for a suit of clothes or soot of clowes as he wrote; 25 cents for a shave and a haircut and 50 cents to Masonic dinner and 2.00 to race pool.) until December 1921, a couple of months before he died.

It's fitting, as the year 1922, the year my own father was born, is considered by some as the birth of the modern age with the publication of Ullysses and The Waste Land.

If I compare the 1915-1921 household lists to the household lists from the 1880's, I don't see a lot of difference in what was purchased to eat. This is proof that housewives like Margaret weren't keen to change their ways. Margaret was so proud of her abilities as a cook and baker, why would she? She had her recipes (neatly locked in her head) and she kept to them.

Now, I must admit, I jumped the gun about Crisco. In an earlier post I wrote that Margaret received a 1916 advert for a new product, Crisco shortening, but didn't use it, and I had her 1917 butter bill to prove it! True, there are huge butter bills during the war, but in 1918 Norman started making entries for '1 pail of domestic shortening 1.00.' Butter was bought again in 1920, at great expense.

Anyway, the Nicholsons were living in 'genteel poverty' in 1920. Norman was still looking for work, so perhaps that's why there aren't any entries for newfangled things like wax cylinders for the Victrola.

The few 'new' items on the war time list, 2 cans of Campbell's soup, entered once, and can of tomato soup entered once, box of corn flakes (oh oh) toilet paper 10 cents (which makes me wonder what they used before) olive oil! (considered medicinal back then as today) a duster coat, which is a coat to wear over clothes when driving in a car (for a woman) and auto hire, instead of horse hire. Once.

(As it was, Margaret's grandchild, Marion Blair Wells, my late mother-in-law, born 1917, fed her own kids nothing but canned stuff, vegetables, soups, and the other famous fake food brands of the 60's. )

The biggest change, in the Nicholson household lists between 1885 and 1920, is in fruits purchased. In the 1920 period there are purchases of pears, peaches, and grapefruit and grapes to add to the earlier purchases of bananas, oranges, plums and berries up the ying yang. (For preserves). It seems strange to me that bananas were eaten as early as 1885. (And they liked bananas.) This might be a reflection of the fact Jamaica was a British holding.

Yes, of course, there are plenty of 'new' charges: electricity and phone bills including long distance to Montreal, to talk to Marion Blair, their daughter, 35 to 40 cents. Oddly, a phone call to Lingwick, around the corner, cost the same. Tighsolas was electified in 1913, and instead of buying coal oil and lamp chimneys (which must have gotten broken a lot) they bought electric fixtures.

But one thing they continued to buy over and over throughout the decades: whisks. Margaret must spent a lot of time whisking to wear out so many. (They didn't have built-in obsolescence back then) No, you wouldn't have wanted to arm wrestle with Margaret or any Mom in those days! I made a cake 'from scratch' the other day and had to pause 10 times as I beat the batter. And I do weights.

I took the picture above from the 1920 Fall Winter Eaton's catalogue online. It is 600 pages. The similar one for 1889 is 260 pages. But the 1920 one still starts with women's clothes and ends with horse products. No automotive products yet!!

Some things don't change. Furnishings for instance. The fixtures above look no different from ones you see today in stores. Even Ikea didn't change the style too much.

And I have a living room full of furnishings from the turn of the last century. They look OK, although they clash a bit with the Big Screen HD TV -four years old and already a relic, and the various laptops and iPods and now my Kindle which are strewn about.

Anyway, this is nothing new, that older people are loathe to change their buying habits. Advertisers know that TV shows all want to attract young men, 18-35, who, they say, have little brand loyalty. Just show them a gorgeous girl and they'll buy anything :)

The High Cost of E-books and One GOOD DEED done.

The first bit of my e-book Threshold Girl.  It is narrated by me. 

Two days ago I received an 'urgent' request for a 'hard copy' of the novel. There's no hard copy, only an e-book, but I sent out a PDF not knowing quite what it was about.

It seems someone told an elderly woman about my book, and this elderly woman didn't have a Samsung, (I'm guessing) or a Kindle. So this elderly lady went all the way to a community advocacy group to get a copy of Threshold Girl. 

The secretary of the group  tracked me down, made the request  by email, and then printed out all the pages of the PDF and put them in a binder for this lady. What a helpful group! 

Apparently, this made the woman 'ecstatic.' 

So, I made someone 'ecstatic'. Now that's a good day!

Yesterday, I took to the sun-dappled courts in Lachine, vacant likely because school has sprung. 

The person I am playing tennis with is a big reader, but of popular titles.

 I was with her when I got the email, and I told her about my Threshold Girl book on  and I told her it was only on Kindle and she said she had looked into buying e-books, for the convenience and to save on paper, but she was AMAZED to see that how expensive they were, often more expensive than buying the book new at a discount place and certainly more expensive than buying books second hand.

Tell me about it!

I told her about all the excuses the e-book sellers use for this: they say the cost of any book isn't in the paper and delivery, it's in other things, like paying authors.

I don't believe it, not for a minute. 

Cutting down a tree and pulping it and turning it into a book and delivering every book by vehicle using gasoline ISN'T more expensive than writing an e-book and posting it? YEA.

I liken it to the cost of paint. There are no oil based paints anymore, but somehow LATEX paints are just as expensive as oil paints once were. I guess OIL is free.

I like Lachine, it reminds me of NDG. I wonder if it's true, that it is named The China because the first explorers, Jacques Cartier? thought (hoped?)  it was China.

I remembered to bring my racquet and water...

but somehow forgot my socks!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Heritage Canada and The Canadian History Awards and the History Fund that isn't

 Furies Cross the Mersey. My story board documentary about the Canadian Suffragists, the British Suffragettes and the WWI Conscription Crisis.

Well, apparently, I'm wrong. The Canadian Government IS interested in promoting Canadian History.  It announced a new program in June: The Canadian History Fund.

And with this fund comes a new award for schools: The Government of Canada History Awards.

(Giving out an award is rather a cheap and  cheesy way to promote anything, I think.)

But, according to the website, 'at this time the Canadian History Fund is not accepting any new applications." What? It's been a few months, a few sleepy summer months when non-profits are all on holiday. Seems weird, don't you think?

Apparently, they are going to strengthen EXISTING programs for local organizations and youth groups.

Lucky I didn't get too excited. I've been working on my Tighsolas Project for 10 years now.

It's a labour of love. When I first found my Nicholson letters (a rare and unusual stash, or so claimed a top Canadian Historian) I asked a representative of Heritage Canada if I had a chance to get a grant to make sense of them and she just got this far away look in her eyes and said "You have a lot of work to do. A lot of work."

The fact is, whatever grants are available are only available to publishers and organizations, not individuals.

Well, I've done the work and spent a few thousand dollars.  But there is no money available for my kind of project.

Oh, Well.

I've put my books up on Kindle variety.

The other day a history organization emailed me asking for a hard copy of Threshold Girl. I sent them a pdf...

"History gives us a sense of how we got to where we are as a country," says Anthony Wilson-Smith in the Heritage Canada Press Release. He's President of the Historica Canadian Institute.

Well, yea.

And we women in Canada got the vote through some very iffy means.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

We women have been asking for the vote, now it is time to do our duty..Carrie Derick 1915

Here's my storyboard video of How Canadian Women Won the Vote:

You probably didn't hear it before.

It's not a pretty story.

With the 100th anniversary of WWI coming up, you'd assume Canadian documentarists are gearing up for a slew of specials.

But it doesn't look like it.

I guess WWI was no War of 1812.

This story in particular, well, it won't be spread...

But it's worth knowing.

It's the story of how Canada's social elite hijacked the Canadian suffrage movement and sacrificed the youth of Canada (male youth) to get the vote.

Chain-Smokers, Skunks and Nuclear War Zones

My husband cleaning the goo from the veggie bin. Today I did an inventory of the fridge to make a veggie curry..Small kitchens are hard to keep clean. That's my excuse.

More than a few years ago I worked in a windowless room at the famous 405 Ogilvy Avenue in Montreal where CFCF TV and radio had its offices and studios.

I was a radio copywriter and my office fit four desks and was without ventilation and sans any natural light at all. (Not good for a girl with SAD.)

The yellow walls of the interior (5 feet thick or something built in the 50's to protect our communications from nuclear war, apparently) didn't help to soften the ugly florescent light that made us writers all look jaundiced.

And all my co-workers were chain-smokers. I just coughed all the time for two years.

Today, I woke up to the usually horrible news online, impending wars, stock market crashes, New York Times malicious take-downs,  and a light and lively piece on saying that creative people have messier offices than their non-creative co-workers.

Of  course, I thought of that Ogilvy Avenue office. It was certainly a pig sty. I recall one day one of my clients, a dapper and gentlemanly financial manager, came in and sat at my desk and started picking up stray pennies from the floor.

Now, this Salon article is a soft piece of social science if there ever was one. You can find an anecdote to fit any study, after all.

But I'm wondering? Does this go for households as well? If a bedroom is messy are people creative in the bedroom? Or a kitchen?

I would think so, wouldn't you?

Except that a kitchen needs order or it becomes a 'war zone.'

Chefs can be creative and messy as long as they have multiple minions cleaning up. In an household there's ideally one cook and one cleaner upper.

In my house, I am the cook, my husband the cleaner upper. He is an enthusiastic cleaner upper, often putting away things, like all my spices, before I have used them!

When he cooks a meal it can take all afternoon. He does each step at a time, and cleans up after each step. And he's made the same excellent bean and rice stew for 30 years.

The meal turns out fine every time but by the time it is time to eat I've already gone to A and W for a snack.

My house seems messier than ever today. Probably because last night, well at 3 am, my husband let the dogs out (because he had fallen asleep and forgotten to at 11pm ) and one of them got skunked.

The silly clueless old Boston, the deaf and blind one.

My husband went out to look for said dog and the skunk ran around the corner of our house right into him. Luckily, Peppy LaPieoooo (how do you spell that)  had already blown his nose-hair curling load.

I woke up to the smell of 'engine exhaust' and heard my husband calling our bewildered Boston who had gotten lost in the yard, and yelled, "It stinks out here." I thought there had been an industrial accident nearby.

My tired husband replied, "You think?"

Anyway, thank goodness for apple cider vinegar and baking soda - and the fact your olfactory glands can adapt to any aroma, however foul, eventually.

Anyway, I am doubly pissed today. I have some books on Kindle and now they tell me that I have to fill out some kind of  form or have my books deleted. (Threshold Girl is about Canadians in the Laurier Era, and is based on real letters.)

TAX FORM? I am Canadian. I've sold 40 dollars worth of books, half of which I purchased on my account as gifts! They say if you live in Canada (not the UK) the IRS must withhold 30 percent of your royalties at source.

I am now going to look at different ways to sell my e-book. (Besides, someone on a YUMPU has uploaded an old PDF of three of my books, pdfs that were on my website which I have since taken down. So it's free for the downloading.)

I recall that around the year 2000 I was offered a steady gig at a well-known US magazine, but then they sent me this form that said the IRS would hold back 30 percent of my income. (And that income was excellent.) So I quit the job! I just couldn't be bothered.

I have been wondering if I did the right thing ever since. I sure could use a career right now. The magazine is bigger than ever.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Colourful, Cramping Vacek Pospisil

I'm off today to play my third ever game of tennis, the term game, I mean MATCH, used loosely. I'm bringing  a few towels, cause it rained last night in Montreal, and I saw two guys using a towel to sop up water from a puddle on a court the other day. Good idea.

Anyway, I doubt I'll be as good as Serena was last night at the US Open.

My son and I watched Ms. Williams as we 'followed' the Pospisil game on TV. (They showed the Eugenie Bouchard game on RDS, luckily, through the supper hour.)

Why can't we live in the States and have choice of courts?

"Pospisil is cruising, " said my son.

And then all of a sudden... "Pospisil has been broken." and then it looked like he had broken down completely.

"What's happening?" asked my son. "It makes no sense." Pospisil was up two sets and 5 3 in the third set. And he lost the set in a tie-break.

"He must be injured, "I said. "but not injured enough to stop."

And then the game, ah match,  was postponed and my son looked up the game stats.. Pospisil had all the winners and ALL the errors. All the aces, etc.

"He's been playing all by himself," said my son.

"It sounds like he's been playing AGAINST himself, " I corrected.

Well, I got up this morning and Twittered Pospisil to see what happened. It appears that  Pospisil  had cramped up.  In a big way.

"Ah, makes sense."

And that's good news, I guess, for today.

"What bad luck for his opponent, de Silva, " said my son when he finally got up.  (de Silva is apparently a clay courter.)

"What bad luck to cramp up within one game of a match win."

"That must have been one of the silliest,  craziest tennis games ever, " said my son.  I mean matches, ever,alas not televised..

"Yes, today de Silva should put up a cardboard cut out of himself,(or a crash test dummy) and see what happens, " I replied, wittily.

Good luck Vacek Pospisil.  You are a colourful player, even on Twitter.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Don't Drop that E-book in the Bath...

A picture from my ebook Threshold Girl. 1910 fashion.

September is soon upon us and I have a (very little) dilemma. I'm only a quarter of the way through Wolf Hall by Hillary Mantel and my book club meeting is coming up on the third.

September 3 seemed so far away back in June! 

It will  take me exactly 10 hours and three minutes to read the book all the way through and I have just 8 days.  And the U.S. Open is on for the next week. . And I have a work project to complete as well.

 (I"m helping someone format a book for Kindle.).

I know this because my Kindle Reader on my Note 2 tells me so. 10 hours three minutes!.

The  same page of Threshold Girl.

Wolf Hall is Mantel's scholarly attempt to take grand personages and grand events and bring them down to earth.

Threshold Girl is my layman's attempt to take ordinary people and put them in historical context. Threshold Girl takes place in the Laurier Era in Canada and is based on real family letters.

 I put pictures on my e-book Threshold Girl because Kindle is a visual medium.  At least I think it is.

Big books like Wolf Hall are best read in hard copy form..Probably. I'm guessing,

I'm guessing, from how long it's taking me to read this Booker Prize Winner.

And if you don't know your British History back to front you  must keep referring to Wolf Hall's  list of characters at the beginning and you can't do that when it is in e-book form, Not easily.

I kept thinking, "Maybe I should download A Man for All Seasons on Netflix and watch that. (Just like a naughty schoolkid.)

Fancy work created by Edith Nicholson (probably) of Threshold Girl.  Fancy indeed. Who could do this today? 

My bookshelf with the 'important' books.  My son says this case is an homage to Barbara Kingsolver.

The Kindle I bought for 400 dollars a few years ago. Waste of money. It can't even show colour.

Some books tossed under a table in the living room. The green book is Edith Nicholson's 1888 copy of Middlemarch. I bet she read it all the way through. And more than once.

I actually read Fall on Your Knees all the way through. See, hardcover. You can stop to rest your eyes and weigh the book in your hands and flip it to see the top part and see how far you have gotten. 1/3, 1/2, 2/3's almost finished.  Just 1 millimeter to go! 

I got through many a huge classic tome in my youth doing just this. Handling the book and then when I'd finished a great book, like East of Eden, I'd think, "My gosh, I'm HOLDING all this wisdom here in my ordinary little hands."

Actually, and this is true, I dropped my paperback copy of East of Eden in the bath and it all bloated up. That didn't stop me from lending it to other people who agreed it was one of the best books ever.

This was the summer of tenth grade.

Books in the basement ready for the dumper.

A neat stash of sacred childhood texts belonging to my son. "Don't touch! EVER!"

Saturday, August 24, 2013

My Dickensian Childhood

I had a very Dickensian Childhood. I had two very dangerous jobs to do. I had to dust the furniture and clean the tub.

To dust the furniture I used aerosol Pledge which I inhaled in good measure, unintentionally, of course.

To scour the tub, I used Old Dutch. I bet I still have that blue crap in the deep recesses of my lungs.

Luckily, my mother wasn't a stickler for cleanliness, I only did this when we had guests coming.

My next door neighbours, two girls,  had parents from the Old World who were super strict. These girls had to clean the house every day OR ELSE. I would often go over and help them dust and vacuum and even, yes, cook the evening meals.

Their mother worked.  (POOR KIDS. One became a medical doctor, if I am right. Another a painter.)

When I dusted, at home, I had to lift the ashtrays off the little doilies they were on and then dust.

All flat surfaces in our house in the 1960's  had ashtrays on them and all ashtrays had doilies under them.

Doilies were a throwback to the Edwardian Era. Our melamine furniture did not need to have doilies to protect them and our marble and glass ashtrays did not sweat.

(So, as you can see, back then,  I also breathed in lots of cigarette smoke to go with the lead-laden exhaust fumes from the cars front and back of our duplex in Snowden in NDG.

It's a wonder that I am still walking.

Dickensian London had nothing on 60's Montreal.

. Those brown buses and turquoise cars with fins spewed lead into my lungs.

The other day, organizing my cupboards I found a bunch of doilies from the Edwardian Era that I had pinned together.

These doilies, I am sure, where stitched by Edith Nicholson (or maybe her sisters or Mother) who figure in by Kindle e-book Threshold Girl.

 She made these doilies and entered them in the Country Fairs in September. Her mother referred to them as "fancy work."

A while back I learned (from historian Amanda Vickery on the BBC) that fancy work was an important skill for unmarried young women.

If you were good at fancy work, it meant you had the time to waste and therefore you were rich. It also meant you were a docile, unimaginative type, not wanting too much excitement. Easy Maintenance.

I like to to think of these doilies as mandalas or dream catchers. Meditative endeavors. Witchy endeavors.

What to do with doilies nowadays. These aren't ordinary doilies. They are family heirlooms.  They didn't make it to the wedding last month..They were hidden in a closet. Lots of other Nicholson family lace did.

I made a speech as the mother of the groom. The speech was OK, but were I to do it again, I would have opened the speech with a bit about the lace and 'docile' wives.. It would have been a good lead...

Ironically, the Nicholson women were far from docile and inactive. They were hyper-active, socially involved women.

Especially during WWI.

Read Not Bonne Over Here, a Family in WWI

Lots of mention of sewing and fancy work in these wartime letters. You see, life went on in 1914-1919.

Friday, August 23, 2013

A Little Biking with that Tennis?

Well, I can barely move. I played  a little tennis today (well, I hit the ball back and forth with a partner) and I took a bike ride by the Lachine Canal.

A decade  ago, I told my husband, "Now that the kids are off at school, we should buy two good bikes and take rides by the Lachine Canal.

It never happened. Elder care issues got in the way.

And now my old body is 10 years older.

But this morning, a glorious 22 degree morning in August, I fulfilled my pledge. It is beautiful down there in Lachine (a place I love) this time of year.

My friend and I ate by this old pump house. I"m assuming it is an old pump house.

Sandwiches. Chicken, chipotle and maple syrup seasoning and avocado slices.

As I wait for the US Open to start for serious, I  can honestly say  I'm no longer a pure armchair referee. And I do great lobs. Unintentional ones, but whatever.

(Dancevic has made it to the Third Qualifying match before getting into the US OPEN. My son emailed to say how ridiculous he thought this was. I agree.

We saw Danevic play Janowicz at the Rogers Cup. Their little golf cart passed us as we were walking out of the stadium area. The players keep poker faces in public but Dancevic  looked a bit down. He had lost, but jsut.

I don't think he had to qualify in that tournament as a Canadian, and he played amazing! Maybe there should be a trophy just for winning the qualifying.section of the US Open.)

My tennis partner lent me am interesting book as well. We got to talking about what we are doing  and I told her I had just written an article on the Suffragettes in Canada (soon to be published)  and she asked what is a "Suffragette,"

She is French.

I explained.

She said, "Oh, like Therese Casgrain."

I said "Right."

Then she said she had Casgrain's new bio and also a bio of Casgrain's father, Sir Rodolphe Forget.

Well, what a thing! I've been researching Sir Rodolphe too, in that he is a distant relation.

(I told her all about my research into the subject, but I do not believe she understood.)

I borrowed the book, Le Roi de la Place by Danielle Brault. I thought I'd scan for info about my grandfather. But the book doesn't have an index and it appears to be written in beautiful prose, something worth READING line by line.

So I will. I will read it, line by line.

(What  a weird coincidence that  my new tennis partner would have a book I'm  interested in.)

And I'll need something to read the next few days. I doubt I'll be able to move around much.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

JUST DOING IT in Lachine, Quebec.

Tennis court, Lachine.

"Don't I look like Victoria Azarenka, but 9 months pregnant,"

That's what I said to a friend, yesterday as we prepared to play a game of tennis.

I made a little WOOOO sound.

Well, we weren't  PLAYING  a game, per se. Hitting  the ball back and forth is more like it.. That's good enough for both of us right now. Us almost Golden Agers.

My friend didn't know what I meant. She doesn't follow professional tennis. She just grabs a friend, goes out on her bike to one of the many lovely courts in Lachine, Quebec and tosses the ball around..


Actually, she's just started playing racquet sports  again after twenty years. She's recently retired - and a very active retiree, who bikes and swims and participates in  all kinds of fitness courses.

(It's easy when you live in beautiful Lachine with its bike paths and tennis courts.)

She's a retired professor of physiotherapy.

She stopped playing tennis years ago, because it was affecting her joints.

But her sister, also retired, took some tennis lessons recently. . And her sister has a history of back and foot problems.

"If my sister can take it up again, so can I," my friend  told me.

Besides, did I mention? She's an expert in physio

I've never played tennis, (for any longer than an afternoon) although I did play racquetball and squash in college, the hacker variety. (We used to love to tie up the courts at McGill  so a certain prof couldn't find a place to play.)

And ping pong, where I could beat most anyone, even my athletic best friend, who was a great tennis player.

I had excellent eye-hand coordination.

But that is (WHOA) 40 years ago, even before the Sarajevo Olympics.

And I played a bit of tennis when I dutifully put my sons in  lessons about 15 years ago. But I was a tired stressed out mother with sore knees back then, sore knees from carrying huge sleepy children up and down stairs in my arms, male children who are now the age and size of your average professional tennis player.

Yesterday, I said "I look like Azarenka," because I am 5 foot 11, a good height for a tennis player and I was wearing tight latex pants, not necessarily the best look for someone close to  60 years old. (Chris Evert was born 20 days after me, but doesn't she look great!)

But I no longer care about such things. And to the youths playing in the adjacent court I might as well be invisible.

(The joys of aging.)

So we two hit the ball around and I found the pilates and weights  I've been doing has made my right arm pretty strong.

And I still have good eye-hand coordination. (If only my knees will hold up.)

And I instinctively went for the lines and had to apologize, because that wasn't the point of this pick up game.

I decided to take another stab at the game of tennis last week when I saw two lonely abandoned tennis courts as I walked the dogs in Rigaud, near where I live.

Rafa NADAL. I took this two weeks ago at the Rogers Cup

So there is a court nearby! And it's almost always EMPTY.

I just needed a partner. My husband is game, except he had an childhood eye issue which has left him with a blind spot the size of Brazil (As Bridget Jones says.) He's built just like David Ferrer, oddly enough.

David Ferrer.

I have another friend my age who is a serious player. She played 5 hours the other day in the heat. .An inspiration she is, but not a fitting partner.

I know another super fit couple my age, who play tennis - and snowshoe and skydive  etc.. But clearly they'd blow me off the court.

This old family  friend is perfect. And she's a physio,too.

Yesterday, in the humid 27 degree heat I played tennis exactly 20 minutes with my fit physiotherapy professor friend and had to stop. My heart hurt.

Despite the fact I like to dance to 30's swing music, in my living room, I am not in nearly as good shape as she is. She hadn't broken a sweat and my face (I later saw in the car rear view mirror) was BEET red.

But I hope to be in shape. If I can keep from getting injured. But did I tell you? My friend is a physiotherapist?

I took this  of  Tomas Berdych.

Nadal is seeded 2 and Berdych 5 at the 2013 US Open.

I took this of Dancevic. What a hard road it is for qualifiers... Dancevic has another quali match today and then he gets into the first round of the US Open and has to beat Djokovic or someone similar..

Dimitrov is seeded 25 and the Media is pulling for him as the Next Big Thing, because he is so pretty to watch..

Monday, August 19, 2013

How To Murder Your Wife (Or Hot Tub Death Machine)

Yesterday I saw that Sex and the Single Girl was on Turner Classic Movies, so, of course, I turned to it for a bit of 60's nostalgia and, of course, could only think of the beautiful Natalie Wood and how she died young in a boating accident

The Great Race, also featuring Natalie aired next.

That's a movie I have often seen seen, especially lately. It's a better movie than Sex and the Single Girl and it's directed by Blake Edwards.

Well, what do you want?  Sex and the Single Girl is based on a non-fiction book, am I right?

 Anyway, I checked online and saw that Sex and the Single Girl was directed by Richard Quine who directed the Catch 22 movie and it was Joseph Heller who wrote the Sex and the Single Girl screenplay.

I did a little more 'six degrees of separationing' on IMDB and discovered that Quine also directed How to Murder Your Wife. another blast from the past.

I thought this Sex and the Single Girl was a lot like It's a Mad Mad World (which I saw in 1963 or 4 despite the fact kids weren't allowed in the cinema in Quebec).

Stanley Kramer directed that film and also directed the Secret of Santa Vittoria, based on a book by Robert Crichton I recall adoring way back when. (I actually read it as a tweenager and I would like to read it again.)

I can't recall ever seeing the movie, it is one of those movies that NEVER plays on TV. Some movies like The Great Race play over and over and some are never replayed, EVER.

How to Murder Your Wife, I don't recall seeing lately, but no doubt I have seen it over the decades.

Well, as it happens, yesterday, I had a How to Murder Your Wife moment, at home.

It involves a hobby my husband has lately taken on.

Don't get me wrong, I am really happy my husband has a hobby for the summer.

Just don't expect me to be the first to test our 'brand new' hot tub, despite the fact he's doing it all for me.

 I'm the one who loves hot hot hot baths.

I am the one who takes hot hot baths daily or twice daily all winter long and my husband thinks this 'time-machine' will save us on electricity costs.

The neighbours actually gave the contraption to us. It was 'leaking a bit'. They were fed up with it. They didn't want to pay the cost of repair. *Oh Yea.

My husband and his brother managed to fix the leak, after about 5 day's labour. Very proud they were. It cost just 50 dollars for new piping...

And then they filled the tub up, plugged it in with improvised wiring, (oh my)  and got it a'churning.

"Come out and see this," shouted my husband from the driveway. And so happily, too.

I did.

"Am I going to get a shock if I put my finger in the water?"I said, in a joking way.

Ha. Ha.

Then I put my finger in the water and got a shock! A little buzz, as it were.


They thought I was putting it on.

Suburban eyesore. But if it keeps we warm during our COLD COLD winters here in Quebec...

My husband put his hand in the water and got no shock.

He mocked me (a bit).

I put my finger in the water and got a BIGGER shock.

"You are wearing running shoes," I said.

"You are in bare feet," he said.

"What's that got to do with it? I replied. "And I'll have more than bare feet when I eventually get into  our BRAND NEW hot tub."

He tried again, for me. Sticking his fingertips into the water. Still no shock.

My son tried. He FINALLY got a shock after about six tries.

Now, my husband believes me.

"Oh," he said, after looking around, "The tub isn't grounded."

This is where the grounding wire should be.

So, I am not sure, but I think it will take about 50 certified electricians to get me into that tub -even in the depths of winter. (Or maybe not.)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Exercising Mr. Darcy, Part 3. Dog Un-friendly Quebec.

Exercising Mr. Darcy, our lazy and kibble-crazy Labrador/Bloodhound mix isn't going to be as easy as all that. We just discovered provincial parks in Quebec don't permit dogs to attend their humans.

We wanted to go over to Oka Park yesterday, across the water from us, where there's a hiking trail that is a mini-pilgrimage, with 7 quaint little chapels to visit. But no Darcy allowed.

So we went a little further afield to Pointe Des Cascades and I got a lecture on the Old Seaway System from my husband, who loves such things.

And Darcy got to experience new smellsations while he exercised off his excess dogipose.

There's a little outdoor nautical museum at Pointe-des-Cascades. Their other attraction is a summer theatre in an old church, which is a very smart use of an old church, I think.

Using a little imagination this could be a Thames Walk, and the Hammersmith Bridge JUST AROUND THE CORNER, and we could stop and eat at that famous old Pub that Charles Dickens (was it?) frequented.

A trailer park hugs the old seaway, but these stairs suggest there was a nicer home here at one time.

The biggest weeping willow in the world? It's in the old Reservoir.

These signs look weathered.. This trail is neglected.  There's a well-maintained paved bike and walking track going towards all the way to Valleyfield, but NO Dogs allowed that direction. But then, why would you want to walk a dog on a busy paved bike path?

Dogs allowed in this direction, just not their poop.

Rickety, rickety lock...Toronto would still be a backwater were it not for these locks. 

Hmm. Leaky lock. It looks as if we are a few broken boards away from being swept away by a giant flood.

A little Look Out up there. 

So, a bit of Canadian History; an important bit, actually.  This is how goods got to Upper Canada way back when (I am told, because I know nothing about this aspect of history. I'm more into shirtwaists and suffragettes.)

Hurry Up. Mom!  And you say I am the one who has to get into shape. 

 This Pointe des Cascades hike certainly isn't a stroll through an English Garden. And there seems to be a strange absence of wildlife...(Darcy isn't as impressed with the smells as he was on Rigaud Mountain.)Maybe I am wrong.

I'm not in Hammersmith. Damn! I am near uninspiring Dorion, just a few kilometers from home.

Old Seaway, New Seaway

Maybe I can pretend I am in Nantucket...and there's a place to buy salt water taffy around the corner.

Fresh Air. Times Square!