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Showing posts from June, 2013

Canada Day Warm Up: Ottawa Farmer's Market

It's a hot tamale today, so what better way to celebrate than to canoodle around the Ottawa Farmer's Market, which is held every Sunday at Brewer Park across from Carleton University? BTW, there are signs that say you can pay to park at Carleton University, but there's plenty of free parking around the fancy pants streets where professors spend our hard earned tuition dollars on run down, yet posh houses. Today, we bought some hot sauce. This is Gord, the principal of Gordz Hot Sauce. We're spicing up tonight's dinner with Gordz Smokin' Chipotle, mixing it with maple syrup for our barbecued chicken! And to cool off, we bought ourselves some strawberries to make Margaret Troyer's famous strawberry shortcake (recipe thanks to Scott's sister Jill). When we were growing up on the farm, we just put some sugar in the strawberries and ate them out of the bowl. The Troyers were fancier people than us. Margaret Troyer's Delishus Shortcake 1

RCMP Musical Ride, Virtually Speaking

"There are all kinds of pictures of the RCMP Musical Ride . Just use one of them and just say you went there." -- my husband Scott Look, if this blog is to work, I have to be perfectly honest. I was going to the RCMP Musical Ride tonight as one of my first Rose Experience Blogs. But I'm not going to. It's going to rain and I don't sit in the rain. For anybody. So here's the link . Knock yourself out. I don't mind walking in the rain. I'll walk the dogs in the rain. I'll walk to something, but I'm not, not, not going to sit in the mud and watch the Musical Ride, much as I'd like to. It's not how I roll. I feel the same way about festivals or any other event that says "rain or shine". I'm a shine-only type of girl. Scott and I did a pair of documentaries at the Bluesfest and the Folkfest about ten years ago and I couldn't get over the number of people

Presto! My Ride

  Princess Rose rides the bus. The words kept ringing in my ears today, as I set off to buy my first bus pass in two decades. It's not that I'm against the bus. It's that the bus has never seemed a friendly place to me. I suffer from agoraphobia, meaning I develop anxiety just leaving the house sometimes. I also have generalized anxiety disorder which often forces me off the bus with my heart racing and my head swirling. For years, I couldn't work because of GAD. When I finally did get a job, I spent my lunch hour for the first few weeks wandering around downtown in a daze looking for an ambulance -- or at least a paper bag. GAD is the real reason I don't work out of the house. In the past, I had to steel myself to get into a car just to get to an office. I found it impossible to concentrate. I get sick a lot and ended up on high blood pressure medication. So I quit six years ago and have managed to get my GAD and agoraphobia under control. Even the small

Monumental Ottawa

I come from a small town, St. Catharines, in Southern Ontario, and we don't have many monuments that I can recall. If there are some, nobody took the time to point them out to me. There must be a war monument somewhere -- there's one in every town and city in this country -- but as a teenager, I was never dragged to one. We had a carousel on the beach, a gazebo where old people listened to geezer tunes. There were cemetaries with granite statues. But monuments? Not so much. Part of the problem in monument building is that you have to have money for it. The community has to raise it, and then decide which founding fathers or mothers it wants to commemorate. Largely, I suspect, the monuments are paid for by the commemorees, if that's even a word. But Ottawa is brimming with monuments to this cause or that. This person or that person. You can sit a spell with Lester B. Pearson or leak tears at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. You can take tea with Nellie McClung and

Tourists: Please don't feed the university students

As with any country, Canada has its own dirty secrets. The seal hunt. The Senate. Don Cherry. As your new intrepid Ottawa tourism investigator, I want visitors to be warned about a disturbing problem of abuse akin to the old side shows. Each day from the middle of June, countless young men and women are abused in a public display that is designed to ridicule them and make money for the government. This practice has been going on for decades. As in some other twisted cultures, this activity is actually sought out by job hungry youngsters. If they are chosen, they subjected to Hunger Games like ordeals that involve recycled Canadian animals and precious metals. Then they are put on display for tourists. It is hard not to look away. I've witnessed the carnage and it is absolutely horrendous. Sometimes, these poor souls find themselves carted away in ambulances. Mostly, they are given smelling salts made from beaver tail extract. I am speaking, of course, about the Changing

My adventure. It will be Capital!

Most girls ask for wine or flowers or a nice dinner on their birthday. This year, I asked for a bus pass. I live in one of the most beautiful cities in North America, but I haven't really even been downtown since 2006. Oh, sure, occasionally I've met people for dinner. Or I've had to attend an event. But mostly, I have spent the past seven years as a shut-in sitting here in my window looking out at St. Laurent Boulevard, making the daily trek to Loblaws and The Liquor Barn or getting in the car to take the hounds to the dog park. I live six minutes from the Rideau Canal but haven't looked in its murky water in nearly a decade. I am a stone's throw from the Byward Market but I buy produce shipped in from Mexico. I can practically see the Museum of Science -- if even that's what it's called -- but haven't taken my granddaughter there to watch her hair stand on end. Mostly, I am a shut in because I'm poor. The life of a freelance writer can be

Jurassic Pug and The Game of Shadows

"There's something I need to admit to you about Gordie," Scott said, as we settled in to watch some bad Stephen King last night. "When we first got together, you told me that pugs could live to be 15. "I started having second thoughts." "About us?" "No, I was thinking that if Gordie lived to be 15, I'd be 61," he said. "I didn't know if I could survive that." As he spoke those words, he patted Gordie on his little black bastard head. Every evening, Scott gets "Gordie duty" which means that his lap becomes Gordie's chair where he plops himself to snore and fart contentedly after a hard day of doing absolutely nothing. This chore is not for the faint of heart. Gordie sometimes also lets fly with three perfect nuggets of shit. No long runners for Gord. Not one or two. But a hat trick.  Always a hat trick of perfectly formed turds the size of mini chunky chocolate bars. There's no moaning

Gordie: The Don Quixote of pugs

We decided to get up the courage to take Gordie to the vet today. I found myself in tears on the elliptical this morning. The general rule when a dog is old and ill is the 50-50 rule. If he enjoys his life more than 50 percent of the time, he's probably good for a few more months or years. If less, then, well you know. I got up this morning and decided to make an appointment. It had to be done today. Part of my decision was because he's had a few good weeks. He's walking a bit more, though he does teeter and list to one side quite often. He's been barking, though he's somewhat like Don Quixote, a bit demented and swatting at unknown windmills.  He's also been coming to his food bowl and whining at the smell of bacon. And yesterday, yesterday, was the biggest news of all. Yesterday, he sat outside with his schlong hanging out. I haven't seen the angry little knob for years now. But there is was, airing out like a bright red pencil crayon. Normall

Still life as an aging Avatar

I ran into Donna, an old school chum, at the local Starbucks today. Donna is an engaging soul, always busy. She was in Starbucks to grab a quick libation on route to a nail salon and then she was off to a life celebration. Donna told me that over the past weeks, she's been staging her home in hopes of selling it, after which she will retire with her lovely husband Jim to a house they are buying in the Maritimes. Next week, she'll be going to Edmonton for work. Aside from those duties, Donna somehow manages to do community theatre and travel North America as a professional Scrabble player. What a whirlwind life she leads. This kind of life is foreign to me. Our chance encounter came as I was walking back from the gym, all sweaty, listening to Bruce Springsteen do a bad impression of Pete Seeger on my iPod. After Starbucks, I was attending the grocery store to see if I could find some half price meat to put on the barbie tonight. Unlike Donna, I have no place to go t

Do it Daily: Read the Standard

I saw today that The St. Catharines Standard  is moving from its ancient spot on Queen Street to a spiffy new locale. Brings a tear to my eye. Like many ink-stained wretches, I earned my first callouses on the typewriters of The Standard. My initial job there was in high school as a columnist reporting on all the fascinating events at West Park Secondary School.  It's hard to imagine, given the space wars today, but nearly every high school in St. Catharines had a weekly column where nerdy wannabees like myself got their chance to commit journalism. The man I worked for was Jimmy Simpson -- no relation -- who had the classic look of the old newsman. He was about 92, by my recollection, and sported a skinny torso and a basketball where his tummy used to be. We got paid 25 cents a column inch which was -- and still is! -- a fortune in the freelance game. The trick to making money was to write long, so every week I included the names of every single athlete. (This experien

The hounds of Elmvale, the gates of hell

One day, not long ago, my son Nicholas posed this question: "Do you ever wonder why, after you had two of the nicest dogs ever, you ended up with these two?" He was speaking about the black bastard Finnigan and his faithful pug sidesick, Sophie. The first iteration of dogs -- Hannah, the golden, and Ming, the pug -- were amazing, quiet and sweet as apple pie. We couldn't have found two more terrific dogs. Finn and Sophie, on the other hand, are punishments from God. Take yesterday. My friends Roger and Jennette arrived for our weekly gabfest on the deck. Roger is frail having nearly died a couple years back. Jennette is a little less frail, but weighs about 100 pounds soaking wet. It's never easy to accept guests into our abode. The Levetts have always been good sports, but even they find the new group of dogs challenging. A successful visit usually involves my refrigerator-sized, former linebacker husband holding Finnigan while I put Sophie in the house

Smelly, smelly, smelly pug

You know everyone is looking at him, shaking their heads, wondering: when is she going to have him put down? He's old and smelly and he's moulting like an ancient bird but I still see a spark in those red rimmed old pug eyes. Mostly when he's eating. Often when he's sleeping. Always when he has his little nose nuzzled into the crook of my right arm while I'm watching television. Gordie is pretty much on his last arthritic legs. I may be sentimental, but I'm not stupid. But it doesn't mean he has to go to the Green Mile just yet. I'm giving him one last good summer while he can still lift up that familiar button nose and smell the barbecuing meat, and have a taste if it's his want. Or roll around and put his nose to the feisty young Sophie who sometimes gets him going in that old familiar male way. Gordie is a dirty old man. And that's just fine by me. I thrill to hear his bark but it's raspy. I get all jiggy watching him lap down

Up with toddlers

The ritual family gathering wouldn't be complete without something horrible happening. Like a toddler falling down the stairs. It's been years since we've had a little one running around and they are easily misplaced. One minute they're in the corner, the next, they have their hands in the dog dish and the very next they're taking a header down the stairs. That's what happened at our Father's Day celebration yesterday. The baby Skylar must have gotten into her mama's Red Bull, for she certainly had wings. I've tried hard to babyproof our house, but there's always something that's missed. Like the plants placed lovingly on a teetery table just waiting to be pulled down. Or an errant cellphone or remote just waiting for sticky hands. Of course, there is also the perfect canine storm: Sophie the pug, just the right size to push down a two foot todder; Finnigan the extra-large labrador with an everready tail to launch her into space; a


I get up at least four mornings a week to bust a gut at The Athletic Club. Exercise has become an important part of my life, along with juicing and the baking of strange manifestations that resemble bread but are, in fact, almond and garbanzo laden nutbars. I'm still over-weight -- I don't think it's even possible for me to win the battle of the bulges -- but I consider myself in good physical shape. I am strong, I am invisible, I am middle aged woman. Unfortunately, I am no match for a toddler. Yesterday, Nick was going for a job interview so I agreed to take his 15-month-old daughter for a few hours, and that meant a trip to Pleasant Park, a sprawling little bit of heaven in the middle of the city. How hard could it be? Compared to the other grannies, I'm ripped. I envisioned a good half hour pushing her on the little swing, talking to the other mums and grannies while our little charges played together in the sand. The reality didn't exactly resembl

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee: Season 2

Sorry, I can't write now. I'm watching Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. The new season. Think Jerry Seinfeld meets Mel Brooks. Here's a preview from last season. The new season starts today. Ciao.      

Ground Zero: When the only answer is suicide

It's been over five years since Michelle departed our lives, and since then, I have been drawn to any headline, every story and whatever I could get my hands on regarding mental health, depression and suicide. Over the years, I kept returning to one burning question: what saved me that Michelle could have benefitted from? If I deserved a second chance, why not her? -- Nicholas Gagnier, Ground Zero Michelle, the girl that my son was writing about in his new poetry anthology, was a constant presence in our house during high school. She was shy, waiflike, with a healthy head of blonde hair. She was always polite, rarely a bother, but was clearly troubled. Scott drove her home once after finding her crying in our bathroom. All she could say was "sorry". Like all the other kids, Michelle proudly graduated high school and then set off to pursue her dreams. But things didn't work out for Michelle who battled demons on multiple levels. About a year later, we heard t

Taxpayers pay millions for media training that politicians ignore

Consultants in Ottawa and Toronto have made piss pots full of money doing media training for politicians. These one-on-one sessions cost the taxpayer thousands of dollars, yet the basic messages are simple and can be found in any public relations text book. Never have more than three messages. Stay on message. When you make a mistake, admit it. Too bad none of our federal, provincial and municipal politicians are practising what the "experts" are preaching. They lie. They cover up. They run from the cameras. Dalton McGuinty, take a bow. Stephen Harper take a plane out of town. Mike Duffy take your unfortunate wife on a cruise and have her photographed in an unflattering bathing suit. Rob Ford retreat to your private bathroom and have some blow. You can run. But you cannot hide. Daltie, Steve-o, Mikey, Robbie Boy listen to your media trainers. Your lying, cheating, obfuscating ways will not just get you in trouble. People will vote you out of office. Don'

Dalton McGuinty: You've got some 'splainin' to do

  Dalton McGuinty, where are you? As your constituent and former supporter, that is exactly what I would like to know. I don't make enough money to keep me above the poverty line, but you have no trouble spending all that money you receive as a member of the provincial legislature. Not to mention collecting a king's ransom in pension dollars. Yet you have not graced the legislature with your face more than two times this year. What the hell are we paying you for? If you don't want to be our MLA, then get the hell out of the legislature. Retire already. Not only is your absence an insult to your constitutents, it will kill any chance of anyone Liberal getting elected in Ottawa South. On the gas plants and deleted emails, you've got a lotta 'splaining to do, mister. Pick up the phone. Call this reporter back. He's left you a thousand messages. You need ot.

West Park closes: Kids take drugs someplace else

My old high school was built around a swimming pool in the middle of a public park in St. Catharines, Ontario. This year, it will go back to seed as its doors close after 40 years. Takes me back. I was part of the second year of West Park, a tough little school with a bad reputation. The school was located on Western Hill, a pretty rough part of town. On the other side of the tracks were high schools like Denis Morris and Sir Winston Churchill which graduated famous folks like supermodel Linda Evangelista and CTV's Roger Smith. On our side of the tracks, kids got shipped off to the military. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) The rumors were rife in town that girls had to carry switchblades in their purses to fend off hoods. I, myself, carried lip gloss, a comb and a wallet. To my knowledge, no one was ever gutted and found floating in the canal where our crews famously rowed on the Henley Regatta course. All I ever saw in those waters were Port Dalhousie

Newspapers should be read, not heard

  I tried and failed to read the Ottawa Citizen -- again this morning. The much ballyhooed digital edition takes two minutes to load. Once you finally get it on the screen, you must gingerly navigate the splash page lest you accidentally click on, or hover or, a stupid ad for new homes or Via Rail. Trying to read the damned thing feels like it's ten years ago and I'm on dial-up. And I hated dial-up. The other thing I hate about online newspapers is the video component. I go to a newspaper website to read. I don't want to be distracted by some video shot by a bored photographer who has been given video to do, double duty. It's not horrible if the video starts when you click on it. I put videos on this blog all the time, but I don't expect anyone to have to watch them if they don't want to. The videos on these sites are distracting, badly shot, give no insight whatsoever, etc. etc. The other annoying thing about online newspapers is The Journalist Interv

Donut Day: Another missed Canadian opportunity

Fun facts about the American celebration of National Donut Day. National Donut Day is celebrated on the first Friday in June.    More than 10 billion donuts are made every year in the U.S. alone. The largest donut ever made was a 1.7 ton jelly doughnut, which was 16 feet in diameter and 16 inches high in the center. Adolph Levitt invented the first donut machine in 1920. The Dutch are credited with bringing doughnuts to North America with their olykoeks, or oily cakes in the 1800s. The Guinness World record for donut eating is held by John Haight, who ate 29 doughnuts in just over 6 minutes. Now consider this: Per capita, Canada has more donut shops than any other country. Yet we don't celebrate the donut day here. Another missed Canadian opportunity.  

Bobby Kennedy died 45 years ago. So did our innocence

I remember being sick to my stomach riding my bike to my public school after my mom told me the news that Bobby Kennedy had been shot dead the night before. His death was 45 years ago today. I was only 11 years old. It was the first time I realized that the world was a scary place. I get the same feeling in the pit of my stomach often these days. I want to be 11 again. The day before Bobby Kennedy died.

McGuinty Liberals: Stinkin' to high heaven

Boy, the NDP is looking pretty good of late. Dick Wolff should give Tom Mulcair a call should he decide to resurrect his franchise as  Law and Order: Special Senate Unit. Frankly, though, it's hard not to look good in Ottawa when you don't have any Senate seats. And now the Ontario Liberals have given the NDP another gift. This gas plant thing is a hot mess that's getting positively nuclear now that it's been revealed that McGoo's crew and staff in the energy ministry have been pressing the "delete all" buttons on all of their computers hoping that they won't smeared with the shit that the ex-premier left for Kathleen Wynne to clean up. His stall is mighty dirty. She's going to need an extra pair of rubber boots. Again, the NDP haven't been in power in Ontario for decades, so none of the manure will stick to them. My kids were tiny tots when Bob Rae was premier, when Rae Days were all the rage. Look it up, children. His complete debasi

Parliament Hill: Sex and the pity

The federal NDP deputy leader, Megan Leslie, says she's shocked at the "casual sexism" on Parliament Hill. “The first day I came to Parliament Hill in 2008, an MP told me I had a ‘fine body.’ I was startled and offended,” she wrote in the June 3 edition of Blacklock’s Reporter , an Ottawa-based subscription news outlet which reports on Parliament Hill. Thanks, Megan, for the trip down memory lane. Things seem to have gotten better on Hill, if the worst she gets is a compliment on her bod. Good thing she wasn't there when John Turner was patting bums and the Deputy Streaker was prancing down the halls in Centre Block with a square of towel pasted to his genitals. The Hill has always been an "if I have a nice body will you hold it against me" kind of place. Especially during holiday season. Or after the Parliamentary Press Gallery dinner. Or during voting at leadership conventions. A big part of the issue is the acceptance of public drunkedness as

Harper Government doesn't want kids to listen to New Kids on the Block!!! Pass It On

Over 30 days without a day off could not stop us.No voice couldn't stop us.Immigration, on the other hand, has forced us into a day off! — Donnie Wahlberg (@DonnieWahlberg) June 4, 2013 As if the Herpes government hasn't done enough to piss off Canadians, today it was announced that the New Kids on the Block have had to postpone their trip to Ottawa because of The Herpes Government's immigration department. It seems that The Herpes Government has a whole new group of Canadians who will detest them. My daughter and her friends were "over the moon" as she put it because Donnie Wahlberg and his weinerfest were going to serenade them. Now she's going to have to wait one more sleep to see the boys and their friends. Showing up a day late, the NKOB make Justin Bieber look positively early. RISE UP! The Herpes Government Doesn't Want You To Listen to This Music!!!!  

CTV dumps Don Martin rant about Duffy on legal advice

I guess CTV was none too happy about Don Martin's commentary on Friday, in which he tore a new asshole on Mike Duffy's expensively tailored rear. The video, which I posted last week from Youtube, has been yanked. Nobody is saying why. Update: The National Post is reporting today that the video was yanked after CTV got legal advice. Maybe Duffy threatened to sue Little Don for slamming him. Maybe the video reinforced what many of us have been thinking: that CTV has been embarrassed by Duffy, who is a long time former employee and network star. Or maybe it's a personnel vendetta, which slipped out in Martin's diatribe. Whatever the reason, copywright infringement or further embarrassment heaped on CTV execs. It's gone. But wait! has a transcript. Here's part of it. But in the last year, Mike Duffy has become the all-Canadian poster boy for political fakery. Auditors have proven him to be a fake Prince Edward Islander, pretending to represent a pr