Tag Archives: Blogs

Yep, It’s Cold Outside

As a shallow person you might imagine that I have mastered the art of small talk. And you would be right. To some extent at least. Honestly,  there are many times when I really don’t want to talk to anyone about anything. But when I do I can usually figure out something small to talk about. Especially these days with “45” and all of his hijinx. Can’t get much smaller than that. But there are better things to talk about. Like pets. It’s pretty easy to make small talk about a pet, particularly when you happen to have one that’s 19 years old. There’s a lot to be said about growing old no matter who/what you are. Just ask my 103 year old Mother. She’ll tell you a thing or two about it. And not that I would ever try to equate the two, but both make pretty decent conversation starters. If, of course, it’s a  conversation you actually want to start. However if, unlike me, you don’t have longevity to fall back on, evidently you can always talk about the weather. Because, it seems, that’s what Canadians (and I’m guessing) Americans do. Although, I must admit, I have never really seen the point.

It’s not that I don’t care about the weather. Anyone who knows me well knows that this sleek “do” of mine requires a fair bit of tampering and has a significant dependence on blue skies and very low humidity. Even the slightest of mists will cause these strands to go awry and there’s nothing worse (to me at least) than making my way to some fancy, shmancy party only to discover that my carefully coiffed hair has transformed into something that I’m quite sure would have made a rather comfortable home for Joey, my dearly beloved but very long ago gone, pet budgie (may he rest in peace). Suffice to say, it is very unlikely you will find me out frolicking in the rain. But other than my hairstylist, who really cares about my first world weather problems? It just seems to me that, whether we like it or not, weather simply does not make for great conversation. As a matter of fact, I find the whole notion of our collective obsession with weather rather disconcerting. For a couple of, perhaps, unrelated reasons. Let me explain.

Who doesn’t spend oodles of time watching, listening and googling weather reports?. As a regular TV news fan I see people who have selflessly dedicated their lives to showing us all manner of weather patterns each and every night. There’s maps covered in solid, dotted and dashed lines, some curving, some straight, some just going around in what appear to be endless circles. And to what end? Why on earth do I want to know that it’s sunny and 80 degrees in Florida when I am sitting on my couch, shivering under my blankets? And, as much as I hate to cast a dark cloud on their predictions, we all know that many a time the weatherperson is simply wrong. I mean who hasn’t woken up to what was supposed to be a bright and sunny day only to find the rain pouring down and, as a result, no chance you’re gonna fulfill your promise to take your ten year old nephew to the go-kart track? Somehow the prospect of seeing “The Return of Mary Poppins” just doesn’t cut it with him. Although if I must say, it is a very delightful movie and something every parent should keep in their back pocket for a rainy day. But I digress. The thing is, how helpful is it to know what the weather will be tomorrow or seven days down the road anyway? I mean in most cases, who can change their plans? It’s not like I could say, “Oh darn! Wednesday’s going to be rainy. Guess I’ll just have to stay home from work so my hair won’t get frizzy.” Besides, in this part of the world we all know you can wait 15 minutes and the weather will change. Seems to me if you really want to know what the weather’s like it’s best just to open your door and step outside. Guaranteed you’ll be 100% accurate, for that moment at least. So why, may I ask, would anyone want to talk about something as unpredictable as weather?

Not only that but, in case you missed it (icymi) people seem to treat weather as a blood sport. And I can say that having recently spent 38 years in one of the northernmost cities in this country of ours. Just try talking to me or one of my compatriots about the weather. Because, when we say “yep, it’s cold outside”, believe me, we know from where we speak. Have you ever spent an entire month getting to and from work, school, grocery shopping, and just about everywhere else knee deep in snow with temps hovering around the -40c mark? Without factoring in the wind chill? Do you know what happens to your skin, nose, ears and just about every other part of your body in that kind of cold? Have you ever looked outside your window and thought that someone had forgotten to mention you had landed on the moon? You get the drift. When someone from this little Island of mine complains about a chill in the air ‘cause the temps have uncharacteristically fallen slightly below the freezing point you can bet your bottom dollar I’ll call, raise them 50 bucks and take the pot on this hand.  Seems to me there’s a lot of one-upmanship going on when it comes to weather and who knows what kind of trouble that can lead to? There’s a pretty good chance that amidst all of your chin wagging about the cold you’re going to run into a climate change denier and I, for one, don’t want to be around when the resulting mayhem ensues. Which is why it seems to me that it’s best to avoid the weather topic altogether.

So for this season of light, joy and happiness take my advice and do your best to talk about anything but the weather. If you’re at your wit’s end about what to say you can always revisit my blog. With a few notable exceptions I’ve pretty much provided you with 5 good years worth of topics. Think of it as my little holiday gift to you. You’re welcome.

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It completed me

I’ve always had a healthy skepticism about technology. It’s not that I don’t use technology. Like many I rarely leave a room without some sort of device attached to my hand. And I’m certainly not a Luddite (although I would have been proud to be one in the day) as I spent the later part of my career (yes, I am that old) devoted to making learning online the best experience it could possibly be for those who wanted that experience. But that doesn’t mean I buy in holus bolus to every knicknack or gadget that promises to make my life oh so much better than it already is. “Cause, if I might say so, my life ain’t so bad right now. Besides, how often do you invite the latest and greatest into your life only to discover that without a millennial in the house there’s no possible way to figure out how to make it work? Sure they showed you what to do in the store. But get the thing home and without all that fluorescent lighting nothing looks the same. As for me, you can bet your bottom dollar that, if there’s an “app for that” I’ll take a “pass for that“.

It’s not just figuring stuff out that’s the problem. There’s the whole over promising thing too. Like the self park feature on my car. Pretty exciting, eh? I mean all you have to do is press this one little button and lo and behold, the next thing you know you’re on the sidewalk waiting for the car to finish up and hand you the keys so you can be on your way. At least that’s what I thought it would do. Then I find out the car doesn’t actually find the parking spot for you. It just parks the car and what’s the point of that?  I know how to park a car. The problem is driving around the corner 15 times with the false hope that someone might actually leave just at the moment you sidle up to their spot. Or waiting for the person who has been sitting in the driver’s seat for nigh on 10 minutes (n reverse, I might add) before you realize they clearly have just broken up with their partner and are now calling each and every one of their friends to commiserate about the bum and how they never should have put up with all his/her nonsense in the first place. Fellas, It’s finding the parking space that’s the real problem. When you get that one worked out, call me.

Having said that, every once in a while something comes along that’s right up your alley. Something that fits like a glove, is on target and hits the proverbial nail on the head. Like those rather spendy noise cancellation headphones that you dithered about buying and then wondered what all of the anguish was about the very first time you wore them on a five hour flight and realized you no longer had to listen to the person beside you crunching on chips or worry every time the pilot “dinged” the flight attendant. Your logical self knows she probably just has to use the bathroom but there’s that niggling feeling it could be something else and at 39,000 feet “something else” can be a little disconcerting. Best not to hear at all which makes those buds worth their weight in gold. Then there’s that new fangled device that lets you see who’s at your front door without actually having to be anywhere near your front door. If that means not having to run down the stairs to find out there’s yet another person who wants to paint my “just been painted” house then, as Martha would say, it’s a good thing. But as good as those might be, neither can hold a candle to the hi tech wonder that has recently come into my life. If you ask me, it’s not even a horse race.

As you can probably imagine I spend a fair bit of my time at a computer, much but not all, dedicated to sending and responding to emails. It’s not that I don’t like writing emails. It’s just that so often I say the same thing over and over and over again. Like me, I’m sure that you have thought to yourself “if only there was an easier way”. “If only this computer could read my mind and finish all of my sentences”. Well my friends, you are in for a very pleasant surprise! The other day as I was typing away, much to my amazement my computer started typing all on its own. That’s right! Before my very eyes it was anticipating what it thought I wanted to say and then said it. Without any help at all, it completed me. At first I wasn’t all that receptive to this rather personal intrusion. My immediate reaction was “how do I get rid of this pesky little feature which is clearly something new from those Google peeps?” After all, it can’t possibly actually know what it is I want to say, can it? The truth is, it can’t but the reality is that, most of the time, what it had me say wasn’t so bad. I could live with it. And so it was that I decided to let the computer say what it thought I should say. Rather than the other way around. Which makes a lot of sense if you are a shallow person like me. I mean if it’s willing to do the work why the heck would I not let it? In most cases what I was going to say wasn’t really all that much better anyway.

Of course as it oft does, this got me thinking.  Why just emails? Why not let the computer finish all of my sentences everywhere? I gotta say it would make writing this blog a whole lot easier and I’m pretty sure that my computer could learn to be as shallow as I am in no time at all.

Yeah. Now I’m just gonna sit back and watch that skepticism of mine fade away.

PS: Thank you to the person who left the Starbucks mug on my doorstep. Just a guess but I’m thinking it must be someone who reads this blog as otherwise it was a very uncanny random act of kindness. Gotta admit. The last time I was in Saskatchewan I don’t think there was a SB, let alone a mug dedicated to the “Breadbasket of Canada“. It is very much appreciated and a wonderful addition to my collection!

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Things I want to like…but don’t

People say that you should write about what you know and obvs I’ve been doing that for the past five years. But just so you don’t think I’m some kind of one trick pony, today I’ve decided to write about something else I know. Gardening. Only because that’s what I have been doing lately. And what I know about gardening is, I don’t like it. Not even one little bit. Which might not be a problem where you come from. I get that. For 38 years I lived where the weather alone legitimized my dislike for the garden. I mean why spend countless hours and exorbitant amounts of money on plants that, in a good year, might actually blossom before the first snow? Who needs a tomato plant that yields, if you’re lucky, a whopping three tiny little fruits which, if you bother to take the time to calculate, end up costing in the vicinity of $40.00 a pound (that’s .453 kg for those of you who don’t know). At my old abode there were no expectations; you either gardened or you didn’t. But my new reality is different. My new found home, I’m afraid, is not garden optional. Which is why you might find me outside doing something I would like to like…but don’t.

The thing is, around here you won’t hear a passerby exclaim “Oh, what pretty flowers you have!”. No. Around here what you’re most likely to hear from the lovely couple with the matching Tilley hats (I can say that, I have one) is, “Oh, what lovely antirrhinum majus. If I were you dear, I would surround them with some hemerocallis just to bring out the colour” to which the only reasonable response is “thank you. Perhaps next year.” Because as you might have guessed, I don’t know one flower from the next, even when they go by their “real” names. This becomes painfully clear if you were ever to accompany me on my once a year trip to the local nursery where you are apt to hear me exclaim, “Oh look! Pretty blue ones. Let’s get those”. To which my husband, being the more practical one in this partnership, will invariably start asking some silly questions about sun or shade, height and width, wet or dry. That’s easy! “Who cares! They’re flowers. They’ll grow”. Although to tell you the truth, sometimes they don’t. So you see what I mean. 

It’s not that I don’t want to like gardening. Sometimes I dream about  living out in the country on an acreage where I can stroll through fields of wildflowers nestled beside rows of carefully cultivated, meticulously trimmed roses and tulips and chrysanthemums and other things that look pretty. I can imagine myself becoming self-sufficient as I literally reap the fruits of my labour, bringing in baskets of pears and apples that can be made into wonderful home-baked pies and served to top off a dinner filled with only the freshest of vegetables picked moments before being set down on the table. Perhaps a goat or two whose milk will be crafted into an exoctic variety of feta cheese and added to the fresh from the garden salad, a staple at each and every evening meal. At which point this dream of mine takes a quick left as I get rudely awakened by the two rather miserable, and I must say very itchy, bites that have put me in this ™Benadryl stupor for the past two days, reminding me of just one of the many reasons that I don’t like gardening. Even though I really would like to.

When I think more about this I realize that it’s not just gardening that I want to like but don’t. There are other things too. Like flying. I mean who doesn’t want to like soaring through the air to some fascinating destination in this wonderful and wide world of ours? I sure do. But I don’t. Put me in the belly of that flying machine and watch me turn into one big bundle of nerves as I consider everything, and I mean everything, no matter how improbable, that could go wrong during the time I am trapped in that cylindrical metal tube which, for some reason beyond my comprehension, can stay suspended 40,000 feet above the earth for extended periods of time. I want to like it but I just don’t. 

I’d also love to like living in an historical heritage house with a big comfy porch. One where you open the heavy, wooden door to reveal a stately, hand-carved staircase; where the walls hold the secrets of another time. Who wouldn’t want to curl up with a good book on the cozy window seat, close enough to the wood burning fireplace that you can hear the gentle crackle of the flames? Yeah, I want to like it, but I don’t. Mostly because I lived in an old house and know all about broken furnaces, leaky pipes and the everyday occurrences that invariably cost you almost the exact amount of money you were saving to take that flight to some fascinating destination in this world of ours.

While I’m still here there’s something else I suppose I have to admit. I’d like to like writing this blog all of the time, but sometimes I don’t. Which I suppose is ok. Because one thing I can tell you for sure. I always like writing the blog better than I like gardening.

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I’m Afraid the Grass Isn’t Always Greener

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This past week was the 75th anniversary of my elementary school. Let’s get this right. It’s the school that’s 75 years old, and, just to be clear, I wasn’t there in its inaugural year. Unfortunately, I wasn’t there this year either. Not because I didn’t want to go. After careful consideration I figured it was just too long a hop from this little Island of mine for two hours of nostalgia, reconnecting and trying to inconspicuously glance down at people’s name tags just in case I actually could remember who they were. Because even though I wasn’t able to attend, I am guessing that, like me, they too no longer look the same as they did the last time I saw them. Which was probably in the vicinity of 1965. Let’s face it, a lot of things change over 50 odd years. Which got me thinking, as oft is the case, that as much as we are encouraged to embrace it in all facets of our lives, change, in and of itself, is somewhat overrated.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve embraced plenty of changes in this little lifetime of mine. Like writing this blog. Only five years ago I wasn’t writing it and now I am. And how about those moves. Two of them. Took me right smack across the country. First to one of the coldest and then one of the most moderate climes in this vast land of ours. If that’s not change, well I just don’t know what is. There are other things too. Instead of bell bottoms I wear skinny jeans and I rarely enter a store to get them. I type rather than write all of my correspondence. Can’t even remember the last time I bought a stamp. I no longer have to call my friends to find out what they are doing, where they are going, who they are with, what movie they just saw, where they were last night, or what they are “liking” on any given day. With just one click I’m going to find out all of this and more. Whether I want to or not. If I must say so myself, I’ve adapted quite nicely. And yet, having successfully navigated my way through decades of change, I still contend there’s something to be said about the benefits of consistency. Honestly, in this world, some things are just meant to stay the same.

Why, you ask, have my thoughts about change started to change? Well you already know this but there’s nothing wrong with saying it again, as a shallow person I’m pretty laid back when it comes to, well (al)most everything. So when some friends suggested coffee at “someplace new” I thought “Ok, I can try someplace new. What could be so wrong with that?” Looking back at it now of course I should have known better. But there was something enticing about the thought of exploring this new city of mine which is chock full of funky little places to enjoy a cuppa. To make a long story short (and how rarely do I do that?) we traversed many a mile, stopping periodically at various establishments but never finding one that had that je ne sais quoi we apparently were seeking.

It was hard to put a finger on it. I was pretty sure they could all quite competently make my grande, no foam, non-fat, latte even though, no doubt there would be a tinge of disdain as those words so eloquently and effortlessly rolled off of my tongue. I suppose I should learn to say “medium”. Besides, if truth be told, I’m no coffee connoisseur so as long as there is lots of milk in that latte of mine, I’m good. Which is why I am pretty certain it wasn’t about the coffee. I can’t in all good conscience, say I am exactly sure what was happening. The first place we set foot in was too bohemian, the second too avant garde and the third, well the third just didn’t feel right. As we continued on our rather unsuccessful quest we finally and somewhat reluctantly conceded that the grass really isn’t always greener and sometimes that place where “everyone knows your name” (they pay those Baristas to learn your name you know) is where you need to be. Sometimes there’s just no substitute for that comfy chair by the window at your same ol’ same ol’ stompin’ grounds. And sometimes I think my Mother (remember Mom? She just hit the big 101) hit the nail on the head when she admonished me to leave well enough alone.

So you can see why these days I’m giving the whole “change thing” a second thought. I don’t know. Maybe it’s because as I get older I just know what I like and what I don’t. Maybe it’s because some things will always be more comfortable than others. Like a chair that molds to your body when you slip into it. Or that pair of shoes you’ve tried but simply can’t throw away. Or that favourite pair of jeans. Yep, that favourite pair of jeans. Even if they are bell bottoms.

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I Need Some Motivation

keyboard-question markEvery year around this time I get thinking about what motivates me to write this blog.  Obviously as of late not much has, which is perhaps why I began to wonder in the first place. Not to mention the fact that it’s time, once again, to pony up those 24 buckaroos for yet another year of sole ownership of the “shallowbemyname.com” address on this world wide web of ours. I’ll just bet there’s a line-up of people waiting for me to miss that deadline. The thing is, it’s not like I need to be writing the blog to fill up my day. Let’s face it. Between work, coffees on the patio and my rather “annoying even to me” Candy Crush habit, my days seem to be remarkably full.  And while I do have a fanbase, small as it may be, it’s not like anyone has rung me up lately to ask when I’ll be making my next post available. Of course I continue to hold on to the faint hope that one day this little hobby of mine will gain some traction, but to date, I certainly can’t say that the prospect of  fame and fortune is the raison d’etre that keeps these fingers waltzing (well in my case it’s more of a polka as I jump around not always knowing where I’m going or where I’ll land) across the keyboard. 

I suppose there’s something to be said about sharing one’s perspective on life with others. Not that I would ever try to change anyone. The truth is though, when I embarked on this journey I did have some concerns about the amount of time and energy people spent seeking meaning and purpose in their lives. Now don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with asking the big “what am I doing here anyway” question from time to time. We all like to think that there’s a place for us in this world to make a difference, even if it’s an itsy-bitsy little one. But it seems to me that people have a tendency to get carried away with their eternal soul searching and like it or not, it can get somewhat depressing at times. Here’s the thing. For all intents and purposes, most of us only live once, and with that reality in mind, perhaps it’s not such a bad thing to let go of the “meaning-making” and be a little shallow every once in awhile. Just live a little. And since I know something about that, I suppose I should share. After all, it’s what my Mother always told me to do. And while I’m more than happy to give it my best shot, I can’t imagine that’s reason enough to keep this project going.

Of course there is the thrill of knowing that people from all over this world are somehow finding their way to my meanderings. Don’t get me wrong. I’m under no illusion that they all get here intentionally. Even so, it is interesting at times, to speculate about exactly how they landed on the site. I mean who would have thought there were literally dozens of people, from both near and far, seeking advice on how to have a conversation with their hairdresser. Or what not to say to when they bump into someone who looks like a famous person, but isn’t. And as exciting as it might be to think that I can reach out and have a modicum of influence in this rather limited sphere, I do sometimes worry about the impression that a shallow person might make in the far reaches of this world which, if anything, would give me pause rather than inspiration to write on any given day. 

This whole venture has turned into quite the puzzle and, if truth be told, one with which I continue to struggle. Just what is that elusive je ne sais quoi that motivates me? But all of this thinking has not gone to waste as I have come to realize that I seem get most of my ideas rather serendipitously.  A comment made in passing, an inconspicuous gesture, or an otherwise run of the mill life event that triggers an idea in this shallow little head of mine.  So, (get ready) perhaps it’s my fascination with humanity that keeps me keeping on. The intricacies and complexities that make each person unique and special in their own way. Possibly it’s my deep-seated need not only to understand but to fully immerse myself in the very essence of the human condition. Maybe that’s what keeps me going.  And yet, something inside of me thinks that doesn’t quite hit the nail on the head. 

That’s it. I’ve dug as deep as I can and have come to only one conclusion. Really I should have figured it out at the get go. It was right there, staring me in the face all of this time. There’s one thing and one thing only that keeps me writing this blog. For the fifth year in a row I have put down my 24 bucks. And apparently for this shallow gal, that’s motivation enough. 

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