Category Archives: Lifestyle

On Easy Street . . . again

I’m taking a mini- vacation. I’m re-posting something from nine years ago, because I love it.


Our family was heading to our favourite bakery to pick up cream-filled doughnuts. But . . . our way was blocked by road construction. We had to detour.

We grumbled. The detour stood between us and our doughnuts, and we weren’t happy.

That is, until we read the sign for the upcoming cross street.

Street sign for Easy Street

My husband said: “Look. It’s Easy Street. I’ve got to turn down there.”

My daughter said: “Awesome! Wouldn’t it be cool to live on Easy Street.”

My son said: “You know, there are never any streets named Difficult Street, or Challenging Street.”

The personalities of my family revealed in a few short sentences.

We turned onto Easy Street, and immediately felt wonderfully, irrationally great.

“Oh yeah, we’re on Easy Street now, baby!”

The whole family was laughing and smiling. The name had amazing power to make our day.

But then . . . . we looked ahead. More construction at the next intersection meant that we could only enjoy our ride on Easy Street for one block. Isn’t that always the way? When you finally make it to Easy Street, it doesn’t last.

From this I learned three things:

  • Sometimes a detour is more interesting than the planned route.
  • When you have the chance to turn on to Easy Street, take it.
  • Once you’re there enjoy the ride, because it might not last long.

Just . . . know, or just . . . no

Do you ever hover between yes and no?

Saying yes can

  • suck away hours of time for a project you’re not passionate about
  • lead you to grand adventure, in the way of Shonda Rhimes
The book YEAR OF YES by Shonda Rhimes

Saying no can

  • save you from being used or abused, or from drugs as Nancy Reagan would have wished
  • deny you fun or a fantastic learning and growing experience

Some days, on the surface, it seems hard to decide. You have to dig deep before the answer is clear. When you do, you discover you just . . . know.

Other times the answer is spelled out.

In my cottage area, garbage must be protected from wild animals. Waste management workers need to access the containers, so parking in front of them is a definite NO.

I love the simplicity of the sign. One word. No explanation required. If you’re the person thinking of parking in that space, just . . . no.

You just know, or just no. The answer is always clear.

Tech-off Part II: The need for reliable, in-depth news

When journalists appeared on this kind of “jumbo screen,” (3 square feet!) all news gatherers had to dig deep for their stories.

Remember when the word Twitter was never a part of a news story?

I miss those days.

The first time I saw a Twitter news story—you know the kind where a person stands in a studio beside a big screen and points to Tweets written by prominent citizens, or ordinary citizens who write something pithy—I was looking for information about an Important Community Event. To inform me about that event, the news source relied on Twitter. He hadn’t:

  • left his cushy chair, except to walk to the big screen
  • made a phone call

I was shaken. How is that news coverage?

These days, anyone, anywhere can post information that hasn’t been fact-checked, or even alternative fact-checked.

Enter COVID-19 and social distancing. Even if journalists wanted to leave their cushy chairs to interview someone in person, it’s not allowed. It is not only acceptable but expected that journalists use Zoom, or FaceTime, or Google Meet, or any number of other such resources for video interviews.

What happens after social distancing passes? How many of our news gatherers will continue that practice because it’s easier, if less effective?

The newsrooms of the most reliable news sources don’t have the staff they used to; people don’t pay for news when there’s so much free stuff floating around out there.

Because we’re not paying, we’re paying in a different way.

Reliable, trustworthy, in-depth news is getting hard to find. Thinking about it has me feeling a little tech-ed off.

Subscribe to your favourite, reliable, trustworthy news source.

Tech-ed off: More technology, less technology

During my book club gathering (on Zoom) one of my friends said she was becoming a little “tech-ed off.”

The need to hold a book club electronically does test the patience. Sure, it’s fine to discuss the book via the internet, but, let’s be honest, the real heart and soul of a book club is the shared glasses of wine, the tea, the dessert, and the lingering conversations that have nothing at all to do with literature. Being deprived of that connection has me a little tech-ed off too.

At the same time, I am so-o-o-o-o-o grateful for technology in other ways. I have spent more time on my laptop over the past six weeks than ever.

Even though the electronic book club was not as satisfying, it was better than no book club at all. I’ve participated in writing circles, dinners, coffee times, meetings, and church. Seeing a friend’s face pop up on a video screen is not as much fun as an in-person visit, but it’s . . . enough. The whole experience certainly has clarified who the people are that I really want to see.

I’ve also done more activities not related to technology than ever. There are six of us here, ranging in age from 22 to 64.

We have done:

  • paint night
  • blind coffee taste test (McDonald’s overall winner. Really.)
  • blind beer taste test (Molson Canadian overall winner. Really.)
  • giant crossword puzzle
  • jigsaw puzzles
  • learn-to-draw night
  • card games
  • board games (Scattergories, Scrabble, Cranium)
  • baking (desserts, bagels, baguette, bread, sourdough starter, pizza dough)
  • walking and biking
  • cleaning and organizing

In some ways this experience has a “time at the cottage” feel. We’re doing a lot of the same things we would when technology isn’t an option.

Except for when we’re using technology more than ever.

Temenos: Are you in your sanctuary?

I might have been a hermit in another life, I think.

This time of social distancing is easy for me. I’m in my home. I love my home. It is my sanctuary.

Or one of the anyway. I also find sanctuary in other places: the woods, friends’ houses, and, yes, church.

Are you in a sanctuary? Which sanctuaries do you miss?

Woods in the spring

Tastes from childhood

A few weeks ago, Tuesdays with Laurie posted about Plans & Projects. She said that she was getting “That itch to empty the house and scrub it from top to bottom. Only putting half of everything back in and donating the rest.”

At the time, the fullness of what COVID-19 would become was not clear. “I won’t be scrubbing my house,” I thought. “I’ll be free, outside, in the spring!”

More fool me.

We’ve been social distancing for two weeks. I’ve been tackling plans and projects that I thought I’d be leaving until fall.

I cleaned my fridge. At the back corner of the top shelf of the fridge I found a jar of chokecherry jelly that I had bought at a Christmas craft fair. I’d forgotten about it.

(Remember when we could have craft fairs?)

This morning I had chokecherry jelly on toast. The flavour transported me instantly back to my childhood on the farm.

Toast with butter and chokecherry jelly
Toast with butter and chokecherry jelly

My brothers and I would pick the bitter fruit from trees that grew wild along our fences. The tiny red berries always looked so good. I’d put one in my mouth and screw up my face because of the bitter flavour.

My mother would take our buckets of chokecherries, boil them and add sugar. She’d strain the juice through cloth, and from that came a jelly with the distinctive flavour I love.

It’s one of my tastes of childhood.

There are others: fried bologna, fat green onions straight from the garden, biscuits and brown sugar.

What are your favourite childhood foods?