Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Do Over

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In business, it’s important to get it right the first time because an unsatisfied customer may not return. However, although some mess-ups are infinitely worse than others, some “customers” have no choice but to lie down and take it.


Whenever family discussions turn to the inevitable, stories about funerals are many. I remember one comment made by a family member regarding how some deceased people look after they’ve been made ready for viewing.


Making a comparison between the two local businesses that specialize in burials, my relative remarked that she would only be using a particular one, because use of the other establishment resulted in the dead person looking, well, dead.


I laughed at first, but I knew exactly what she meant. Sure you know your loved one is dead, but seeing for yourself is something else. I’ve heard stories where some make-up jobs are so bad that the person ends up looking several shades lighter in death than they ever were in life. Or sometimes the features look a little different from what you’ve grown accustomed to – a sharper nose here, a bigger forehead there.


Given the fact that most people don’t say, “Hey I recognize her because of that mole on her finger or the tattoo on her backside” (I couldn’t resist), it stands to reason that a lot of attention is paid to the face when getting someone ready for a viewing.


During my first year in college, one of my classmates had a fatal accident. I wasn’t close to her but her girlfriends made sure to visit the funeral home to do her make-up. I’m not sure how they actually got through the task, but I knew that they probably would have been happy if someone made the comment that she looked like she was sleeping.


But there’s looking a little different from how you looked in life and then there’s not looking like yourself at all, which is what I thought when I read this story about a man who was informed by a funeral home that they had interred the wrong body – days after he had attended the funeral of his mother.


Although he had questioned, prior to the funeral whether it was actually his mother because he didn’t think it looked like her, he was informed that the funeral home didn’t make those types of mistakes.


I’m going to assume that not enough people who knew her viewed the body and that the funeral home never got a picture (as is customary) to see how she looked when she was alive, because how else could a strange woman end up on top of this man’s father in their family plot?


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Unfortunately for the man, he will have to say another goodbye. I don’t know whether he will decide to recall the soloist, the preacher and the choir for the second go-round. Because that may elicit a fresh set of tears – and I don’t mean just for the dearly departed.



Comic Relief

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Well I haven’t read a comic book since I was a kid, but my how they’ve grown.

In the ones that I used to read, the feats were impossible, the scenarios highly unlikely, nobody grew old and most stories had a happy ending and I was fine with that. But the people in charge are deciding that comics should move out of the realm of fantasy and into the light of reality (although superpowers still appear to be mandatory).

I remember reading the Archie comics when I was in school – the thin ones that had about 15 pages which I would make short work of, so it never make any sense borrowing it from my friend unless I planned to read the same story over and over again.

Around the time I got to secondary school, the Archie Digests became popular and with its numerous pages and hefty feel, it was worth the wait that it was going to take for me to read it – because that one Digest had to make the rounds among all of my friends. Nobody had money to buy it, so we all had to wait our turn to borrow it from the person who did.

I can’t remember when I stopped being interested in comics, but when I saw one of the digests in the supermarket a few months ago, I regarded it with nostalgia. Not enough to open it and take a read though, but if I had maybe I would have seen that Riverdale has come into the real world.

I read last week that Archie’s character would be sacrificed on the altar of proving a point.

Apparently, he is to be killed when he “intervenes in an assassination attempt” on the life of a senator who lives in Riverdale. The said senator was pushing for more gun control, and he also happened to be gay. I’m not sure what upset the shooter the most, but I’m sure the message is in there somewhere.

Not to be outdone, the folks over at Marvel comics realize that their top posts should be open to all applicants, so in the name of equal opportunity Captain America will now become a black man who hails from Harlem.

Seems like the original character has grown old – some 90 years old – and I guess that even superheroes need to go into retirement too – or at least walk out before they have to be carried.  Besides, how many times can they be expected to clean up the messes that we mortals continue to make? So a younger, fitter guy with more melanin is being given the chance to prove that he can do the job.

Comic book purists will ask how it’s possible that the person suddenly becomes a different race, but that’s probably what I’d do if I was working towards a colour-blind society too.

And since I have to please everybody I’d probably just go ahead and make Thor a woman because when her male counterpart can’t wield the hammer anymore, she’s just going to have to take up the slack. Isn’t that always the case?

Couldn't she have her own name? Image credit:

Couldn’t she have her own name?
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I just hope she gets paid the same amount of money though. I know a lot of people will be happy if that’s one thing that doesn’t carry over from the real world.

Spin the Dice?

Those of you who may have read my profile will remember that I said that my children are going to love reading if it’s the last thing I do.


That’s because I believe that when you read fairly widely and follow it up with listening to items (news and otherwise) from various sources, it helps you to not only speak well, but to pronounce words correctly.


It’s been a few years now, but I remember hearing a local newscaster declare that a government delegation was going to a place called “Burns Airs”, and I wondered where in the world that was until I realized that the group was travelling to Buenos Aires in Argentina.


I don’t think that the announcer realizes that she hasn’t ever lived that one down, because whenever my sister and I see her, her actual name isn’t the first thing that comes to mind.


Even though names can be easily mispronounced these days what with all the exotic spellings and punctuation contained in modern-day monikers, people still answer to old fashioned ones like Penelope. But it’s important to know where the accent falls, so that even though the spelling is close to antelope, it isn’t pronounced like it.


But even if you don’t want to be a radio announcer, a teacher or a public speaker, the fact that you may have some challenges when it comes to pronunciation may eventually catch up with you.


A University of Indiana student was a contestant on a recent episode of Wheel of Fortune. With a million dollars and a trip on the line, he solved most of the puzzle by himself with the words, “Mythological Hero Achilles”. When it was time to read the actual words to get his prizes, he mispronounces the last word. You could hear a pin drop after the applause faded away – because everybody else heard the error.


You could feel his embarrassment, not to mention the pain he must have been experiencing from kicking himself, when the buzzer sounded signaling a wrong answer. The player to his left walked away with the win when she “solved” the puzzle simply by pronouncing the word correctly.


I felt really bad for him, because I’m pretty sure that he’s seen the word before – but I think I know what happened.


Sometimes when I’m reading I may come across a word that I don’t know, but I don’t immediately consult the dictionary for its meaning. And sometimes, after I’ve read a few more pages I may forget about it entirely and never go back to check out what it means, never mind how I’m supposed to say it.


So I was willing to give him a pass.

After his first gaffe however, this guy had several strokes of luck. He was successful in one round and then gave away the rest. Getting the chance to solve most of another puzzle, the providential one to his left, again swans in when he ignores an important clue which he would have seen if he had taken the time to read it.


The final straw for me came when he made a poor choice of words and decided to spin the dice instead of rolling it.


But I think he’ll learn the difference because that’s what he’ll have to do with all the punches he’s likely to get since he’s going to be the butt of quite a few jokes for a while.


So I’ll keep encouraging my children to read not only because it’s fundamental, but because mispronounced words can cost you – big time.


School’s Out

I generally like to bump into old classmates who I haven’t seen in a while, despite the fact that their gray hairs usually mirror the ones in mine. The faces are familiar, but some names escape me. There have been one or two people who, even though they haven’t seen me in years, remember my name – and I wasn’t ever the most popular girl in school.


But maybe it’s my memory that’s bad.


I feel awful when I can’t attach that person’s name to my return greeting, because I know how good it feels to be called by name. And I’m embarrassed when I have to struggle to remember where I’ve met the person before. Did I go to high school with her? Did I meet her in college? Was she the teller that served me in the bank a few days ago? Or was she the person I introduced myself to when she cut me off in traffic?


Last week, I met a former classmate when he came into my place of business. I hadn’t seen this person in years, but he instantly looked familiar. And this time I knew exactly at which institution we had crossed paths. We recognized each other at the same time. He said my name, and as usual, I was struggling to say his. Luckily, I kept my eyes trained on his lips and I was able to say his name just as it came spilling out of his mouth.


Anyway, he was in a spot of difficulty and was hoping that I could help him. Unfortunately, I couldn’t assist with exactly what he wanted, but I did have an item that would tide him over. So I agreed to lend it to him and he promised to get it back to me a few hours later.


It took four days and two phone calls before I got my property back. Since I “remembered” his name, I was able to scour the phone book to get his number. Because if he thought that he was going to be getting a free what-ya-ma-call-it from someone that he used to know, he was quite mistaken.


This borrowing without bothering to give back is something that’s plagued my children’s classrooms as well – and they’ve unfortunately been the ones on the giving end. Sometimes, if they aren’t diligent in asking for what is theirs, they may not ever get it back. I, however, was not going out like that.


When my former classmate finally returned the item, he gave his apologies, but he didn’t even, as we say, have the grace to look embarrassed. And he didn’t bother to offer an explanation either.


I had planned on giving him a piece of my mind, but I didn’t feel up to teaching a lesson that day.


However, I learned mine.


“Cooties” at 30,000 feet

As if travelling in a sardine can wasn’t bad enough, I’ve begun to feel like a Venus flytrap – susceptible to every germ and microorganism able to survive at 30,000 feet of compressed cabin air.

I’m no germaphobe, but on my last airplane ride I couldn’t help but feel bad for the passenger in the next aisle because he seemed in grave danger of becoming infected with something worse than cooties.

For two hours I could hear the passenger next to him as he coughed, wheezed and snorted his way through the flight. Although they were separated by one seat, I could tell that he wished that he was somewhere else because he only used half of his seat the whole time. He was leaning so far over he was practically in the aisle.

Near the end of the flight, he dispensed with any pretense and was using his paper napkin to cover his mouth – the best defense he had against the onslaught of flying phlegm. But the embattled passenger was way too busy emptying his sinuses to be offended.

I could see him glancing my way (hoping for sympathy, maybe?), because I knew he wasn’t asking to switch seats – but I avoided his gaze even though I did feel his pain.

Actually, there were several similarly affected passengers on the flight because there was a cacophony of flu related noises all over the cabin.

I’m aware that you can book extra room on certain flights these days. But I don’t really need all that. I don’t care about business class or first class for that matter. I don’t care if they’re serving food or just drinks. I don’t care whether there’s an in-flight movie or not.

I just need me a flu free flight.

Role Play

I agree with blogger Fanny P that it’s a little unbecoming for mothers, even mothers who sing and dance for a living, to be rump-shaking on TV. What the blogger really did in her post was to repeat a statement made by President Barack Obama, when he referred to Beyonce as being a good role model for his girls. But what’s acceptable depends on which way the pendulum is swinging.

And right now, it’s all the way over on the side of “anything goes”.

Dancing while she sings is something that the pop star does whenever she performs, and her presentation at the 2014 Grammy awards show was eagerly anticipated. Throw in the fact that her rapper husband would also join her on stage, and the organizers of the show were guaranteed millions of viewers.

I was one of them. I saw her come out in silhouette, giving the impression that she had just left the shower. In the course of the performance, she crawled on the floor, straddled a chair, gyrated suggestively and, as previously said, shook her rump. In my face.

At some points, the broadcasters had to ‘bleep’ out what seemed to me, wide swaths of the song – obviously the areas that contained some profanity. I haven’t listened to the track, which comes from her new “surprise” album so I couldn’t say just what I was missing. But I’m wondering if the song lost any of its flavour because of it.

The audience members were beside themselves when her husband graced the stage. Fully clad in a suit, his attire was more formal than his wife’s own, and his biggest move was one that simulated riding on a surfboard. Can’t tell you what he sang or what he said because I didn’t know that song either. Was it his song? Beyonce’s song? A mash-up of the two?

However, it is nice to see a couple work (the stage) together. And being in the same business they would both understand the need to stay relevant. That’s why it sometimes pays to do the kinds of things that have people talking about you several days later.

I’m not judging anyone and I have the same opinion as those persons who say that celebrities are the last people you should look to as role models for your children. And I know that most personalities will tell you that what they do on stage is all about performing – in other words, they’re just playing a role.

I’ll agree with one presenter who declared that the husband and wife duo “killed it” on stage – if by “it”, he meant, “good taste”.

I Heard it through the grapevine

I knew it was going to happen. My son likes … a girl. You know – well you may not know, but he’s ten years old. I know I seem a little flustered, but maybe that’s because I’m a little unprepared.

It was just a few weeks ago that I was surprised at his physical growth, so is it any wonder that I’m a bit behind in considering his emotional development? Regarding girls?

I’ve got to tell you too, that he didn’t inform me of his crush. His father was the one who told me. I’m a little surprised that the frequent hugs and kisses that he bestows on me did not segue way into his little secret.

Boys and their mothers? Apparently, this boy and his mother are not that close.

Although his father has brought me into the loop, I’m still feigning ignorance about the particular girl in question. I played the guessing game and hopped over the names of the girls that I know in his class, and when I got to “the one”, he reneged on his promise to confirm, by saying that he wouldn’t admit it while his sister was in the room.

But his smile gave it away.

I know he’s dying to tell me though. He’s informed me that he thinks girls change as they get older. Apparently when they’re younger (say six), they’re open books, and when they’re older (say ten and up), they play it close to the chest. Or is it hard to get? By not telling anybody (meaning boys) who they really like. Do we actually begin that early?

So I asked if boys are in the habit of saying who they like. And he had to admit that they didn’t either.

So on that score, apparently Mars and Venus are perfectly aligned.

Art Has a Shelf Life

My daughter has been getting her writing on. And not just any writing – but writing in cursive (or as we say locally), “in join-up”. Being in grade two, she’s not being taught yet, but since her brother doesn’t write any other way now, she figured she’d follow suit. But I digress.

The point is that she has been busy writing these letters professing her love and appreciation for me. Which is really sweet. She also presented me with a picture of our house along with that of the neighbour’s, a family portrait (her version), a bee family and several cartoon characters. So I am faced with the dilemma of what to do with all these creations.

If you know me, you will know that I’m not a fan of clutter (anymore). Not since I moved a few years ago. I have provided the kids with a bulletin board which holds favourite pictures, school notices and favoured art pieces, but we long ago ran out of space. It’s not just drawers and cupboards that have to be cleared once in a while. In this house, art also has a shelf life.

I remember when my son was in kindergarten and he came home with his first colouring project – the letter A. He wasn’t anywhere inside the lines, but he wasn’t the only one who was pleased with his attempt. As a result, that letter A was stuck to the side of the refrigerator for about a year. My daughter’s first colouring project also had pride of place – in her bedroom. It wasn’t that I was any less proud, it was just that it was a new fridge.

Once, after having sifted through the craft and art projects and putting a few in the garbage bin in the bedroom, my daughter presented me with one of the items that she had salvaged from the bin. Needless to say, she was mortified that I would discard of it in such a manner. Needless to say, I feigned ignorance.

So while I’m happy to keep the appreciation letter, I’ll dispose of the other drawings deep in the garbage bin in the kitchen. And just for added insurance – I’ll do it tonight, after she’s fallen asleep.

Come and get it!

I was sent an inspirational quote yesterday, the gist of which was that you never know when you’ll make someone’s day when you purchase a small item from someone seeking to raise funds for someone or something.

While the person was probably referring to bake sales and flea markets, it got me thinking about the job of a salesperson. Some people would say that we’re all salespeople, because don’t we all have to primp, and fuss and make ourselves look presentable before we go out that door to face the world? So that people can like us, and listen to us, and buy whatever we’re selling?

Unfortunately, I’ve never been a good salesperson. I think it takes a certain kind of individual to go out there, to talk, with enthusiasm, about your product for the fifteenth time that day, in the hope that somebody will bite buy. I manage a small retail and service business, and most days I sit back and take the money from the people who walk into the store.

But there are times, and increasingly so now, when I actually have to go out to bring some business in.

So when I’m preparing to visit potential customers, I go through the phone book and my memory, and bone up on my selling spiel. Some dispense with me over the phone. For others, I actually have to go into their offices to be told the bad news.

So having been on the other side of the table, I should probably be a little more understanding when someone wants to sell me that boxed educational DVD set, the ‘free’ membership or the best economic opportunity of my life.

But I think I’ll just buy the cupcakes, the scented candles and the cookies instead.

My First Time

I remember when I had my first article published in my local newspaper. When I first contemplated doing it, I knew personally of two other people who wrote for the same paper. One was a published author who was a sought-after speaker and panelist. The other (at the time), was actually the editor of the paper, but the column included neither her name nor picture, so it was a while before I knew that it was her.

Anyway, I was expecting to use a pseudonym, so when I was asked to provide a picture and a short bio, I realized that I would not be able to hide behind the words. It gave me pause for a minute and then I decided to call some friends and family members the day before the article came out. It was a hit. With them at least – and I hoped so, because I had spent hours agonizing over those 554 words.

What really caused me to try my hand at writing had nothing to do with school. I remember being able to write a decent essay and once I was commended for a poem that I wrote that included that famous quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, about wanting his children to be judged by their characters and not by the colour of their skins.

In almost every group that I’ve been a part of, I’ve had secretarial duties, so I’ve had to pen several letters in my time. I also find that I can better express myself after I’ve had time to ruminate and move the words around on the page.

I’ve felt more comfortable using a letter to tell my sister how things that she has done have made me feel.  I’ve written a friend, telling her that certain actions surprised me (and despite being diplomatic, she didn’t take it very well). I’ve also composed my words to nicely inform the head of a group to which I belonged that his actions were inappropriate.

But what really spurred me to write, was a letter that I sent via email to the owner of a children’s party planning outfit. Ever mindful that criticism is not always well received, I began by stating what I was happy about, before detailing the reasons for my discontent. I never got a response, but it’s surprising how that persons’ silence caused me to find my voice.

As the weeks turned into months of writing that column, I saw that many shared my points of view. Some people provided suggestions for topics. And some said that sometimes, the articles caused them to view things in a different light. That’s not what I set out to do, but it’s one of the things that has given me the greatest satisfaction.

And now, I blog.