When the mind’s a muddle

Do you have those periods where there’s so much going on in your mind that you barely have time to think?
The past few days have been that way. I don’t know if it’s because income tax time is coming and I haven’t done the dirty deed yet, or if it’s the gooey miasma containing the multitude of tasks to be done.
Whatever it is it’s got a head lock on me.    One option is to rapidly retreat to someplace far away. My fear is that the “dogs” would follow me and make the effort worthless.  I guess it’ll have to be head down…drive forward.  I better find my bike helmet!  Sure as shootin’ there’ll be head butting into brick walls along the way.

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In the Name of Her Majesty the Queen

That’s what it says.  Give Mike a pass without hindrence to go anywhere he wants. 

We just got our new passports.  And we got them with a sigh of relief.  There has been some question as to whether or not we would pass the scrutiny of the processing office in Scarborough.  That’s where our package went to.   Hold it. Let me back up a bit.

We took a day, when Jane and I both had an afternoon open, to travel to Peterborough to the passport office.  The very thought of going to the big city always leaves us a bit breathless.  We wanted to renew the passports before they expired and got into the rigamarole of forms and more forms.  It becomes almost unbearable.  

Such a nice building.  And on the main floor the first government service is the passport office.  Wow, they even had Walmart greeters.  Although to be fair, the greeters were young, personable and likely well paid by you and me.  After a very brief wait, and a good deal of jocularity with others who were waiting,  about the ins and outs of government, we were escorted to our processor.   A very nice lady.  She suffered our chit chat with the patience of a pre-school teacher waiting for her class to settle down.  With a well-practiced smile she guided us through the process.  We went through the forms correcting a number of misjudgements that Mike (yeh, me) had made.  Her smile told me she had worked with idiots before.  

The scary moment fell upon us when she peered at our photos.  Her “MMMMM” told us she was not thoroughly enamored with the prison shots taken for this occasion.   With a big sigh she told us that the photographer had allowed a shadow on one side of our faces.  By gosh, she was right.  And she was not happy, despite the fact that the slight shadow helped confirm we were not deceased.  

Before she had time to tell us she was not going to accept our photos, I took in air, puffed up my grisly appearance and wailed, “you’re not going to tell us we travelled an hour and a half to come here and it’s a waste of time!?” 

Aha!  Our processor had an ace up her sleeve.   She advised us she would go talk to a couple of other people to get their opinion.  We already knew what that opinion would be.  I could just hear her presentation of the offending images, “I have two photos that have terrible shadows on the faces of these scary people, contrary to the Passport Act of 1812, and I’d like your opinion on them.”    

She returned and confirmed that others saw the shadows and they too were deeply concerned.  I huffed and puffed a bit more.  But, because I appeared to be someone who might make a scene,  they would send them on to Scarborough and see what happens.  “Please be advised, in these dangerous times, you may be required to get new photos and start all over again.  Right.  Now go. ”   (I hope you’ll excuse the slight paraphrasing)

Yesterday, the two passports arrived in the mail.  Sweet relief.  My wife is happy because she now thinks she may actually travel to some exotic location where she gets to use the passport.  Personally, I was a bit disappointed.  There was no note with the passports congratulating us.  Something simple would have sufficed.   “Nice pictures, her Majesty will be pleased.”

Little Kids Rule

It was quite an amazing Easter weekend.  The weather was incredible and the world appeared to come to a halt for three days.  The traffic in emails and Facebook messages slowed almost to a halt … people were too busy soaking in sun and activities to be chained to “social media”.  Good for them.

It was no different at Eagle Lake.  We spent most of the weekend in the fresh air or sharing meals with family.  There was lots of chat and an abundance of good feelings.

There were 9 adults and three kiddies in our midst.  Two of the young ‘uns were our latest additions to the family.  Liam is just 8 weeks old and Aleicia is 7 weeks old.  They ruled. 

Liam "the toff" and Aleicia "the angel"

You can imagine how the schedules of two recent arrivals can take precedence over anything else that is going on.  They seemed to take turns making sure that the focus of attention was always in their direction.  No complaints from any of us!  I found it amazing that even at their tender ages “they get it”…make a noise, you get attention.

It was little bit of a trip down memory lane for me.  I’d forgotten how interesting discussions about bodily functions were.  You know things to do with spit up, gas, boogers and poop.  Poop alone  had excitingly different chapters for discussion.  As the years go by the conversations will evolve.  Ask anyone with a teenager and they’ll tell you.

All in all it was a wonderful celebration.  The world halted for just a short while.  Now, on this rainy Monday, we’re ready to get back in the cage with the gorilla.  Poop and all.

Cream Cheese

I remember my mom buying cream cheese for my dad.  I think it was not too long after we came to Canada.  I’d be six or seven at the time.

It was a special treat  ’cause we didn’t have the money to live lavishly.  In those days it came in a box, wrapped and protected.  The very sight of it turned me off.  White cheese .. didn’t even look “creamy” so how could they call it “creamed” cheese.  I had no desire to sample this deadly white, soft, spreadable goop.  Dad was happy.  More for him.

As the years went by I made the leap and quickly learned that it was the perfect companion to a bagel, super in dips and absolutely perfect on a RyVita slice. 

Yesterday morning  I was having my RyVita with cream cheese and, for some unknown reason, I had an instant need to know what kind of cheese it was.  I’d never thought about that before, but suddenly it mattered.  No, I don’t know why.

They say that curiosity killed the cat.   That’s the “They” that are responsible for many of the wise notions in life. 

I took the tub of cheese and, adjusting my glasses to try and read the blue type on a grey background, I  viewed with incredulity the shocking truth. 

Heavenly maybe. But not Cheese.

Cream Cheese is not Cheese.  No.  Not a drop of Brie or Gouda to be found.  Cream Cheese, fellow connoisseurs, is a delicious combination of milk ingredients (I get enough thanks), modified milk ingredients (huh?),  bacterial culture (yum,yum), salt, carob bean gum (my favourite), lactic acid (good for removing rust), potassium sorbate (a summer treat) and may contain sorbic acid (if there’s an industrial accident).

Why, it’s enough to put you off your dip. 

They can call it Cream Cheese if they want to but I’ll never look at a tub of the stuff the same way again.  Sorry, from now on in my books it will be simply known as white soft edible goop.

Hang on a moment!  That’s exactly how I saw it as a kid!   Who knew I could be that smart and not know it.

How Life Works

A little more than a week ago I was recognized with the Highlander of the Year award.  Strangely enough, life has gone on in a normal fashion.   You become yesterday’s news faster than a political promise.  And there is no walking on a “red carpet”, just plain ole indoor-outdoor. I’m thinkin’ that unless there’s a cash award attached to the honour, akin to the Nobel prizes,  it’s highly unlikely that you’ll see much of a difference in your day to day existence.  I was holding on to hope that the Highlands Chamber of Commerce could arrange  for a reduction in my County mil rate, or some other life-altering cash incentive.  But alas, not to be.

Some very nice people have sent notes of congratulations and still others have stopped to give me their best regards in person.  All very kind.  Most people, totally unaware of my new elevated position, have gone about their lives as if nothing happened.  How amazing is that?  A handful of people with whom I am familiar avoided mention of this auspicious recognition.  Wassup with that? 

Over the decades I’ve won my share of awards.  As I recall it all started with a “weatherman” badge in Scouts.  Such a heady moment that was.  I paraded that badge around for all to see, and then the allure of badges got the better of me and I went for many more .  I’ve been thinking back on those occasions and I wanted to see if I couldn’t better understand the dynamics at play.  I know, you’re thinking that this guy has too much time on his hands.  Not true.  I just have a lot of sleepless nights (see previous blog).  All this rumination led me to analyze the dispersal factor for the different groupings of people.  I can only blame this insane analysis on my years in advertising and marketing communiications.   My good freind, Rick Morgan, is a fine researcher and student of human nature, and he was always encouraging us  to understand the business  framework within which each of our cients were operating.  Taking a page from his book I have done a insightful rag-tag analysis of how life works.

Continue reading “How Life Works”

Sammy Lives!!

When ‘Becca, Ben and Michael were little there lived a small spider in Jane’s  kitchen.  He was one of those light beige, almost transparent types that, when fully grown, was smaller than your little pinky nail.  He lived in the top corner of the kitchen, away from the sink but closer to the kitchen table.  The little spider would go on short walks and the kids would always remark “there’s Sammy.”  Don’t ask me how he got the name, it just happened.  It got so that if we didn’t see Sammy for a day or two, we got worried.

Now this is going to sound very strange, but when the whole family moved from Ancaster to Lynden, Sammy came along with us.  And you know what.  Sammy didn’t seem to mind the new digs.  It was larger, airier and certainly there was more to feast on out in the country.  It was good.  Sammy and all of us settled in to a happy new routine.

You know that couldn’t last.

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Benefits of Bad Nights

Each morning, as I wake up, I mutter and grumble about not having had enough sleep.  On the days I go the radio station it’s about 4.15 am when I ooze out of bed.  The other four days I luxuriate in extended bed time until about 5 a.m.  But the truth of the matter is that I just don’t get the 7 hours that I’d like to have.  Sure.  Some days I can grab a power nap of 20 to 30 minutes, but most times I motor, oops, make that cough and sputter, through the entire day.

I’m certainly not alone in this complaint, and like most of those afflicted with this “awakeness” it’s something that I’ve had for most of my adult life.  I usually blame my dear old dad (may he rest in peace, and be enjoying great sleep-ins) for rousting me each morning, early, with the his cheery “come on lad, we’ve got a lot to do today.”  It’s not all his fault.  All through my working career in marketing communications I never really turned off the problems or challenges that we were working on.  Frequently I’d have middle of the night  notions that precluded any further sleep.  With the merry mix of of work/play that I have today the same holds true. 

In the interest of getting that extra hour of sleep I’ve tried relaxing pills, sleep aids, a glass of red wine at bedtime and of course, the old chestnut, changing the pillow.  Forget it.  They are all useless.

I’ve decided to change my attitude.  I found the real benefit to be derived from the “bad night” syndrome.

Continue reading “Benefits of Bad Nights”