1958 was a great year for producing men

Last weekend my husband celebrated his 60th birthday with 5 of his BFFs, 4 of whom were also born within the last half of 1958.  The sixth is one year younger. Although these guys get together for weekends a few times a year, their better halves were included in this celebration. Three couples live in Ottawa (including us), two live in Toronto and the fifth birthday boy resides in Belleville.

These guys have known each other since primary school, growing up in Kingston, Ontario.  Most of them attended post secondary school in Kingston as well. Only two of these six men have biological brothers so they are very much like brothers to each other. That makes them real, actual BFFs although they affectionately call each other “Bud.”  One could say BFFs are the new Buds, or more aptly Buds are the old BFFs.

1958
their hats say “bud 60”

These BFFs have been together through good times and bad, including six weddings, the birth of fourteen babies, one divorce, the deaths of many of their parents, and very tragically, one death of a beloved spouse. Our fourteen collective children range in age from 21 to 35 but we are the only couple with grandchildren to boast about.  So far.  I’m sure they all left here looking forward to welcoming their own grandchildren after meeting one of ours and seeing lots of pictures of the other two.

Although we celebrated my husband’s 60th birthday with our immediate family in August, he did not want a big splash.  This weekend party (it did last pretty much all weekend) here in Ottawa was the perfect way to celebrate their friendship and their milestone birthdays. Together, like brothers, buds or BFFs.  Now that most of them are retired, we hope to get together more often.

I wasn’t around yet in 1958, but can vouch for the fact that it produced some pretty awesome men.  One of them I am married to, the other four are his buds.

 

 

 

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Kitchen Tower by J.L. Woodworking

A kitchen tower is an awesome idea for those of you with small children (kids or grandkids) that love to “help out” in the kitchen.  The ingenious design allows toddlers and small children to be safely at counter height for baking, snacking or just watching (as my grandson loves to do) you cook.

This kitchen tower design can be adjusted for height and folds up for easy storage too. Constructed of painted or unfinished (your choice) wood, they are made just south of Ottawa (North Gower). Scheduled deliveries are currently available to Toronto and Montreal.

My neighbour and friend has one (the original prototype) for her grandson.  Her nephew-in-law makes this line of children’s furniture in his spare time, over and above his day job.  Recently moving the start up business from a single car garage to a more spacious workshop, he and his wife are on their way to their ultimate goal of a full time family business.  The demand for these kitchen towers in particular has skyrocketed.  Please check out their website at JL Woodworking for more information, pricing and ordering.  This hard working couple would appreciate your business, so please be sure to like and share their info

This Grandma has ordered hers!

Salif Gueye dances his way into Ellen’s heart

Salif Gueye wowed Ellen and millions of viewers today with his dancing…

With Michael Jackson as his idol and inspiration, 22 year old dancer Salif is amazingly talented.  He currently dances in the streets (for tips) to showcase this talent.  In fact a YouTube video of him doing so in his home town of Paris, France recently went viral catching Ellen’s discerning eye.  His fluid moves are simply (actually nothing simple about them) spectacular.

Salif

Known for helping to launch many talented performers spiralling them into fame, Ellen may be on to something (someone special) here.  Just ask Justin Bieber. He was invited to her show after Ellen saw his first video on YouTube.  He was so new to the scene that Ellen mispronounced his last name.  Shortly after that appearance Bieber released his first album.  The rest is now (music) history.

I dare say Salif is an even better dancer (if that is possible) than Michael Jackson.  What do you think?

MMIW: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

Information and knowledge about and support for the MMIW database is spreading.  If you are unaware (as I was) what this is, please check it out and add your support.  The number of indigenous or native women and girls that are missing and/or have been murdered is staggering.  Help to spread the word and bring about justice for these women and their families.

MMIW

 

This database, created by Annita Lucchesi, a doctoral student at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, includes data from both Canada and the USA from 1900 onward.  I learned of the database from my sister, currently the Dean of Liberal Education at the same university.  The MMIW project does not (currently) receive any funding from any government or academic facilities.  Hopefully, that will change, and soon.  So far, 3148 cases have been documented, but many more (close to 25,000) are suspected.

This issue should be treated as a national crisis in both countries! In fact, I remember an election promise by current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that he would treat these missing women as a priority.  What is the government waiting for?  This MMIW database is a good start.  Hopefully it will generate more support (from the right people)than any previous research on the subject.

Governor General Expenses are How Much?

Here in Canada we have a (some say redundant) Governor General position.  The person to fill this position is chosen by the Queen (or current monarch) of England, with advisement from the prime minister, as their representative of the monarchy in Canada.

Predominantly ceremonial in nature, the necessity of the role has been debated for years.  Tax payers dole out an annual salary of $288K for a current Governor General and an annual pension payment of $140K for former position holders.  That’s pretty lucrative for a short term position.  The issue is even more controversial recently as expense reports (over and above her pension) for former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson were revealed by the National Post as over extravagant.  To the tune of a million dollars overly extravagant.  After her mere six year stint as our Governor General.

Governor General

These expense claims are not currently made available to the public.  In this day and age of promised transparency (at least in an election year) and accessibility to information seeking technology (google), one would think this information would be easy to find.  Doesn’t it make you wonder what other former Governors General are claiming as their expenses?

Our prime minister has promised to “look into it” but that doesn’t give too many people (myself included) a warm fuzzy feeling.  Especially as his priorities do not appear to be focused on the concerns of taxpayers.  I have a feeling Clarkson’s expenses are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Maintenance Free Garden Favourites

 

This time of year blooms are pretty scarce in my gardens.  As I prepare my clients’ garden beds for the fast approaching winter, I take note (mentally) which perennials are essentially maintenance free.  That feature is in great demand for busy gardeners.

Heucheras are one of these.  They look great all year, even after the first few frosts have turned most other perennial stalks and leaves to mush.  They are absolutely maintenance free in the fall and require next to nothing in the spring.  Remove any crispy leaves and they are good to go.  I particularly love the dark burgundy colored varieties, but there are many others, including rusty orange and chartreuse. More and more I am using them as edging plants in my gardens…

maintenance free

 

Other (almost) maintenance free perennials include the ornamental grasses that are so popular today.  One of the reasons they are so popular is the fact that cutting them back to the ground first thing in the spring before new growth appears is the only maintenance required.  Another reason for their popularity is the growing number of gorgeous varieties available.  Remember though to check tags for their hardiness before purchasing. Here are just a few…

Although sedges look like they belong in the ornamental grass family, they don’t.  They are grass-like in appearance and grow in tufts, especially well in wet marshy areas.  Unlike the ornamental grasses, they don’t do well in the hot dry conditions of full sun spots in your garden.  They do however look great in shadier spots and tolerate part sun conditions.  Remaining green all year, they are maintenance free.  Another bonus is that they are very easy (unlike the ornamental grasses) to divide and move around.  So easy in fact that I have even used them in winter containers with evergreen boughs.

maintenance free

 

Although roses are not completely maintenance free, the newest varieties are pretty close.  Some don’t need any pruning (shrub roses) and others need only minor pruning after the last frost date in spring.  Many of the newest varieties bloom all summer long too.  Shrub roses do not need winter protection and many are hardy to zone 2!  To protect other hardy roses I mound soil around the base/crown of the plant after the ground freezes.  This prevents damage from freeze and thaw cycles through the winter.

 

Take your pick.  Most of these perennials pictured here are relatively maintenance free.  Just what busy garden lovers want.

Reverse Advent Calendar, Lesson for Children

This idea of a reverse advent calendar is wonderful and a great way to teach your children to think of the less fortunate instead of themselves. Skip the routine chocolate/candy advent calendar and try this instead.

reverse advent calendar

When my sons were young we helped deliver Christmas food baskets that their schools had filled.  I will always remember the proud moment when one of my sons (I cannot remember which one or which event) commented “I like how it makes me feel inside when I do something nice for someone else.”

Our family also used to participate in Operation Christmas Child sponsored by Samaritan’s Purse.  For this project we filled empty shoeboxes with small toys, school and art supplies or other things kids would love.  Convenient drop off locations made it very simple to donate to a great cause.  We even received pictures (after Christmas) of children around the world opening the boxes.

reverse advent calendar

Of course we should donate all year around and not just at Christmas time, but these ideas are powerful learning tools for our kids and grandkids.  Kindness and compassion for others never gets old!

 

Windy City (AKA Chicago) Adventures

Recently I had the opportunity to travel to the Windy City, AKA Chicago Illinois.  My son was to be a member of a good friend’s wedding party in Chicago.  The problem was, my daughter in law wanted to go too, but did not want to leave their eight month old daughter at home.  That’s were I came in, Grandma to the rescue.  Of course I was thrilled with the chance to spend five full days with my baby granddaughter, (and her parents).  As a bonus, a few extra days of sightseeing in Chicago was included too.

 

We arrived in Chicago from Ottawa (via Toronto) Wednesday evening. As the wedding festivities did not begin (officially) until Friday evening, the four of us had all day Thursday and Friday morning to tour the city.  We walked and took the train for hours each day, learning all about the city.  When my son and daughter-in-law spent time with their friends Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, my granddaughter and I spent quality time together at our airbnb home.

A boat cruise, #ShorelineBoatTour aptly named an architectural tour, taught us everything we need to know about Chicago.  On this guided tour along the branches and canals of the Chicago river system, one cannot help but be amazed and impressed by the artistic beauty of the skyscrapers, old and new.  The background of a strikingly blue sky on a beautiful sunny day added to the majestic scenery.

 

 

Here are a few facts I learned:

  • Believe it or not, Chicago is not named the Windy City because of the wickedly cold winds coming in from Lake Michigan.  Instead it picked up the nickname years ago (1892) when Chicago was awarded the right to host the World’s Columbian Exposition to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the New World.  Other contenders like NYC, Washington DC, and St Louis were envious as the event was sure to be a huge cultural and social success.  So envious in fact, that a popular NYC editor dubbed Chicago politicians and architectural leaders “windy” in their 8 year pursuit of the prestigious award.
  • The Chicago River was once so disgustingly polluted that the city was sued by other states and even Canadian provinces because of its adverse affect on connecting waterways.  Linking Lake Michigan (one of the Great Lakes) to the mighty Mississippi River system and eventually the Gulf of Mexico, it’s restoration was vital to millions.  To do so,  civil engineers designed and created a new series of canals around the turn of the century into the 1900s,  then reversed the flow of the river by increasing the volume of water available from Lake Michigan.
  • “The Loop” refers to Chicago’s downtown business section, the second largest in the USA, second only to Manhattan in NYC.  The Loop also refers to the hub of the  elevated railway system where eight separate train lines intersect downtown.  This train system appears to run as efficiently as the subway system in NYC.
  • A massive fire destroyed a huge chunk of Chicago in 1871.  Igniting on the southwest side of the city, the abundance of wooden streets, sidewalks and buildings fueled the fire for two days, killing an estimated 300 people and costing close to 200 million (1871) dollars in damages.  However, there are people that believe the fire turned Chicago into the successful, thriving city it is today, the second largest in the USA.  The fire established new building standards so wood was replaced with brick, stone and metal.  Innovation thrived as the economy and population soared to new heights and never looked back.
  • The Chicago Outfit refers to (Italian/American) members of organised crime (AKA the mob or mafia) dating back to the early 1900s.  Do you remember the 1974 song “The Night Chicago Died by Paper Lace?”  It was reportedly based on a shootout between police and Al Capone’s gangsters.
  • My granddaughter travelled like a pro, I’m sure her passport will be well used.
  • And last, but not least, Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville at the Navy Pier makes awesome watermelon margaritas!

Windy City

 

Well, you can see I learned a lot in five days, did you learn anything?

 

Social media busts vandal in Kingston

If you read one of my previous posts you will know how angry and disgusted I was with the idiot that trashed our car at Queen’s University Home Coming celebrations in Kingston, Ontario recently.  Well, thanks to social media his actions were captured and displayed for all to see, including the Kingston Police Department.  Their investigation is pending.

This video shows him on the roof and stepping off onto the front hood.  Listen for the “holy F***, he dented the hood!” at the end.

 

These are the pictures my son’s friends were able to provide us with when we asked for help finding this guy. Thanks to social media!

 

Damages have been estimated at $7200.  Our insurance has said the damages will cost more to repair than what the car is worth.  In other words, it is a write off.  If we pay the $500 deductible, we will end up with a pittance in compensation and no car.  Here are a few pictures of the damage.

We can only assume he broke the brake light on the back spoiler while climbing onto the hood. We also don’t have (visible) proof for the dent in the door, the gouged out rust spot, or the Toyota emblem missing off the front of the car.  We can only hope now that the police prosecute this idiotic (drunk) vandal to the fullest extent possible. I realize we will probably not recover more than the current value of the car, but it sure would be nice to see the police (or other authorities) make an example of this idiot. Too bad Judge Judy doesn’t practice in Canada, she would be all over this guy!

social media

I believe (and judging by the response I have received) it’s the principle of the matter that should rule here.  We are not asking for a new car.  I do think though that this guy should pay to fix the car to the condition it was in before he trashed it, regardless of what it’s blue book value is.  Am I wrong? You be the judge!

Vandalism rampant at Queen’s Home Coming

Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario celebrated home coming this past weekend.  The problem is the celebrations get out of hand each year when idiots resort to vandalizing anything they get their hands on.  This year our car was one of the unfortunate targets of the rampant vandalism.

Our son had taken the car to Kingston for the weekend to spend time with some of his high school buddies that currently attend Queen’s.  We had instructed him to park the car in his friend’s driveway when he got there and leave it parked for the weekend (ie no drinking and driving).  He did what we told him to, sort of.  There was no parking spot available in the driveway when he arrived on Friday, so he parked on the street. When he went to check on the car Saturday, he was dismayed to see that it had been trashed.  The roof was caved in, front and back hoods dented, brake light on the spoiler kicked in, almost every inch of the car covered in scratches and beer stains, as well as the Toyota emblem torn off  the front.

vandalismvandalism

It saddens and sickens me that these so called intelligent students resort to this disgustingly destructive behaviour.  How and why do they feel this behaviour is acceptable?  How do they get away with it?  To all the people standing around watching (apparently there were lots of pictures and a video posted on social media) it happen, WTF were you thinking?

I realize the car in question is old (2003) with lots of mileage.  We planned to keep the car for our youngest son to drive (he’s 21 now) while he still lives at home. The costs to repair the vandalism will most likely be higher than what the car is worth.  Then the insurance deductible will eat up the measly amount we will receive as compensation, but that’s not the point.  The car is our possession, it is incomprehensible how some idiotic kids can damage other peoples’ property with no remorse.

I can promise you any pictures I find of our damaged car on social media will be forwarded to the police to supplement the original report.  Hopefully, authorities will find the culprits that thought this was funny and penalize these idiots accordingly. I am hoping the power of social media will bite them in the butt.

If you recognize any of these students, please let me know!