Monday, December 29, 2014


Did anyone notice that this Christmas was “different?”

About a week after Remembrance Day, Christmas music exploded out of our local radio channel, CHFI FM 98.1, and Christmas specials bombarded the plasma screen all throughout Christmas and right up until New Year’s Day. Almost every house on our street was lit up with Christmas displays and around the neighborhood there were more Christmas lights than ever before. Department stores had more selection of Christmas décor, with more tasteful items both traditional and modern, and even shoppers were happier.  

Personally, it was one of the best Christmases I can ever remember having. When the Christmas music started playing I got out all my lights and décor and put up the outdoor lights. I found my Christmas card list and started addressing the envelopes, all the while humming Joy to the World and Holy Night, Silent Night, and got those mailed by the last of November. I had our home all decorated by the middle of November with brightly colored balls, twinkling lights, a Nativity display, and a miniature lighted village, not to mention the foil garland hanging from the ceiling and all the plastic canvass patterns adorning the walls. I sat at my computer with a cup of Starbucks Peppermint Hot Cocoa and did my online shopping the first week of December, and we cut down our tree at the tree farm by the weekend. I started and finished all my Christmas shopping and got all my baking done by the following week. I even had all the trimmings for our feast a week early. I did it all at my leisure with a skip in my step and a smile on my face, and I never stressed about money or credit card debt; I bought what I wanted to buy and my son, husband, and I were ecstatic about our gifts under the Christmas tree on Christmas Day. We had so many things to awe and amaze us, and the best part was that we spent time together talking and laughing and playing games the whole day long. It had been a long time since I felt at peace like that. It was a wonderful Christmas. 

I called my younger oldest brother in Nackawic and he seemed to agree, speculating that it may have been the low cost of oil that contributed to the phenomena. When I spoke to other members of my distant family in Atlantic Canada, they were happy and content with their Christmas experiences, despite the absence of snow, and not one person complained that “Christmas is not like it used to be.”  And regardless of the current price of a stamp, I received many a Christmas card.

It was convenient that Christmas Day and Boxing Day fell before the weekend; it gave everyone a four day holiday to spend at home with family and that would put anyone in a good mood. 

Yes, the Spirit of Christmas was strong in many folks this year. I saw it in the happy faces of children when I was out and about, I heard it at the Christmas Eve mass at my church when angelic voices of the choir were lifted to the heavens, and I experienced it at home with my family; the looks of surprise on their faces opening their gifts, the fun and laughter while spending time together throughout the entire season, the twinkle in my son’s eyes while assembling the Gingerbread Carousel on Christmas Eve, and the never-ending signs of love and affection that seemed to flow from heavenly places. And when I was up alone in the quiet hours after midnight, I watched the twinkling of the lights on the tree, and I gave thanks for the food in the fridge, the clothes in our closets, the car we drive, the finances that sustain us, and our warm, safe, home. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


The following is from one of the blogs I follow. This message was in my inbox this morning and it's one of those things that you just want everyone to think about, especially with the new year approaching as we all try to make the new year better than the last. Sign up today for the daily tidbits of enlightenment; the address is in the bottom right corner of the picture. 

 Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
 Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
 It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
 We ask ourselves,
 Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
 Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.
 Your playing small does not serve the world.
 There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
 so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
 We are all meant to shine, as children do.
 We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
 It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone.
 And as we let our own light shine,
 we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
 As we are liberated from our own fear,
 our presence automatically liberates others.
 - Marianne Williamson

 When you find your path, you must not be afraid.
 You need to have sufficient courage to make mistakes.
 Disappointment, defeat, and despair are
 the tools God uses to show us the way.
 - Paulo Coelho

 If a man is called to be a street sweeper,
 he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted,
 or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry.
 He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts
 of heaven and earth will pause to say,
 here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.
 - Martin Luther King, Jr.

© Permission

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


The following recipes are my favorite Christmas recipes that have been passed around in my family time and time again. All are fairly quick and easy to make. 


Heat oven to 350 degrees. 

3 bananas 
2 eggs              
1 cup of sugar              
½ cup of butter                           
Chopped nuts, if desired.
2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt

Mix together bananas, sugar, butter, and eggs until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and stir until smooth. Pour mixture into a greased loaf pan and place in oven for 1 hour. Bread is done when knife pierced in the middle comes out clean.


Heat oven to 350 degrees.

1 cup of melted butter
1 cup of molasses
½ cup of milk
1 egg
4 1/2 cups of flour
2 teaspoons of baking soda
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
2 teaspoons of cloves
1 cup of sugar
Pinch of salt

Mix together molasses and butter. Add milk and egg, stir. Mix in remaining ingredients. Roll out on a floured surface to a ½ inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes, or use the top of a drinking glass if you don’t have cookie cutters, and place on a greased cookie sheet. Place in oven for 15-20 minutes. Cool completely before serving.


Heat oven to 350 degrees.

1 cup of butter
¼ cup of sugar
¼ cup of icing sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 cups of flour

Cream together butter, sugar, icing sugar, and vanilla until fluffy. Work in flour. Knead into a ball and chill ten minutes. Roll out on a lightly floured surface to ¼ inch thick. Use cookies cutters or top of a drinking glass to cut out. Place on cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool. Decorate as desired.


½ cup of butter
1 cup of milk
2 cups of sugar
2 tablespoons of cocoa
½ teaspoon of vanilla
2 cups of unsweetened coconut
2 ¼ cups of quick cook rolled oats

Mix butter, milk, sugar, cocoa, and vanilla in a pot on medium heat. Slowly stir until mixture comes to a boil. Let boil for about 3-4 minutes then remove from heat. Add coconut and rolled oats and mix thoroughly. Let cool. Form into balls and roll into sweetened coconut. 


Heat oven to 350 degrees. 


1 cup of butter
1 cup of brown sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 cups of flour
½ teaspoon of salt

Cream together butter, eggs, and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add flour and salt and mix until smooth. Spread into an ungreased 13x9 inch pan and bake 20-25 minutes. Let cool.


1 package of chocolate chips
½ cup of butter
2 cups icing sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 package of small colored marshmallows
¾ chopped nuts

Melt chocolate and butter over low heat in a pot on low heat. Stir constantly until smooth. Remove from heat and add icing sugar and egg. Beat until smooth. Fold in marshmallows and nuts. Spread over cooled base and chill. Cut into squares.

Lemon pie, cupcakes, shortbread, snowballs, holiday bars, and fudge. Yum Yum Yum.

Monday, December 1, 2014


About a month ago, just before Halloween, I went to the post office to post a small bubble envelope with a few Halloween things in it for my little nephew who lives in Newfoundland. 

“Hi, how ya doin’? I said to John, the man working the cash. 

“I’m good, how are you?” He smiled.

“Not too bad, hangin’ in there. How’s the old ticker?” I asked.

“I’m still standing,” he said with a chuckle.

John had had heart surgery the year before and was out of commission for a while, but he was back to work and doing just fine. 

“How’s it going with you? How’s the back doing?”

“Oh, I can’t complain, some days good, some days bad. It is what it is, right?” I said.

“Yeah, all we can do is keep going the best we know how.” He had accepted his fate just as I had accepted mine. 

I handed him my package. “Regular post, John.”

He entered the information in the computer. “That’ll be $18.05.” 


He looked up at me, not surprised by my reaction.

“It went up again. You haven’t sent a package in a while, huh?”

“No, the last time I sent a package back home was last Christmas.”

“It went up a lot this time. It’s $1.00 for a stamp now, $1.13 with tax.”

“Wow, I don’t think I’ll be sending any packages home this year. That costs more than what is in the bag.” I got out my bank card and finished the sale.

John snickered. “You say than every year.”

“Yah, I know, but this year, I dunno. Maybe I won’t send Christmas cards either. I’m always short on cash since I stopped working.”

He gave me the receipt. “It’s not easy for a lot of people, the way things are going these days. But, you know, you can’t give up sending Christmas cards, that’s part of our religion. I see people coming in here all the time sending their cards for Diwali, Kwanzaa, and Hanukah, not too many sending Christmas cards. If you don’t send Christmas cards, you’re not spreading the Word of God, you’re not keeping your religion. Think about it. The next thing you know Christianity will disappear. It’s up to Christians to keep Christmas.”

The Nativity

I looked at him, dumbfounded at his profound words. “I never thought about it that way before,” I managed to say. “Thanks, John.”

He smiled and nodded. I left the store with a tear in my eye and a lump in my throat. God works in mysterious ways.

The more I thought about it, the more sense it made. I don’t do anything else to spread the Word, to keep my religion. I might go to church once a month, and my home church does receive a monthly donation, but, other than that, there’s nothing else. 

Every year since as far back as I can remember I have sent Christmas cards and have added to the list year after year. Last year, I sent out about 75 cards and never once thought about it as “spreading the word.” I was doing it because it was just something I did as a part of Christmas, never really thinking about it. It was what I did to wish all my friends and relatives a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. It’s funny how something can become so tedious that its meaning is forgotten. And when I told John I wasn’t going to send any cards, something else came into play, the Spirit of God if you will, and I was given a new perspective. 

So every week thereafter I bought a package of stamps and last week I bought some Christmas cards. Sparkling lights, shiny tinsel, and colored bells fill my tiny home, and today, I will be spreading the Word of God by getting my cards ready for mailing. 

The world's first commercially produced Christmas card, designed by John Callcott Horsley for Henry Cole in 1843.

I have noticed that in recent years the number of people who send a card back has diminished, not that I expect a card back; I’m wondering maybe others need a new perspective as well. So I’m going to print this little story and put it in all the cards and hope that all my relatives and friends find a new perspective, too.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


(Joy to the world, the Lord is come)

Here was a man, a man
Who was born in a small village
The son of a peasant woman
He grew up in another small village
Until he reached the age of thirty
He worked as a carpenter

Then for three years
He was a traveling minister
But he never traveled more
Than two hundred miles from
Where he was born and
Where he did go he usually walked

He never held political office
He never wrote a book
Never bought a home
Never had a family
He never went to college
And he never set foot inside a big city
Yes, here was a man

Though he never did one of the things
Usually associated with greatness
He had no credentials but himself
He had nothing to do with this world
Except through the divine purpose
That brought him to this world

While he was still a young man
The tide of popular opinion turned against him
Most of his friends ran away
One of them denied him
One of them betrayed him
And turned him over to his enemies
Then he went through the mockery of a trial

And was nailed to a cross between two thieves
And even while he was dying
His executioners gambled
For the only piece of property
That he had in this world
And that was his robe his purple robe

When he was dead
He was taken down from the cross
And laid in a borrowed grave
Provided by compassionate friends
More than nineteen centuries have come and gone
And today he's a centerpiece of the human race
Our leader in the column to human destiny

I think, I'm well within the mark when I say
That all of the armies that ever marched
All of the navies that ever sailed the seas
All of the legislative bodies that ever sat
And all of the kings that ever reigned
All of them put together have not affected
The life of man on this earth
So powerfully as that one solitary life
Here was a man

(Joy to the world, the Lord is come)

Johnny Bond, Tex Ritter

From the album "The Christmas Spirit"

Monday, November 17, 2014


If you live in the Greater Toronto Area, Ontario, then you are probably out on the road driving on the slippery slush-filled path trying to get to work. If you didn't anticipated the snow then you are one of these people who are stuck in traffic right now. It lightly snowed all night and it's still coming down. I hope that you got a chance to get those winter tires installed and brushed down your car before heading out this morning. I pray that you are taking your time and not tailgating. I'm assuming that you are smart enough to anticipate the red lights and signal your lane changes and turns well in advance. 

Because I live in Brampton, Ontario, where the majority of people can't drive, which is why we have the highest insurance rates in Canada, I have compiled a list of tips for driving in this lovely white stuff. For those of you who feel that you are a good driver, it is not my intention to criticize, but to remind everyone that when it comes to Canadian winters, we all need to read and re-read tips on safe driving to help keep everyone safe, ourselves, our passengers, other drivers and their passengers, and pedestrians. Let's be responsible and work together to keep everyone safe this winter season while keeping our insurance rates from getting any higher.


Did you get a chance to install those winter tires yet? Remember how much snow we had last year? Who's to say that it will be any better this year? As everyone knows, weather forecasts and predictions are to be used as a guide only; we live in Canada, therefore, we are guaranteed snow. 

There are a few places in Brampton to get some winter tires installed while you wait. TIRE DISCOUNTER at 190 Bovaird Drive, 905-451-1116, has been putting tires on my car for years. If you don't know a thing about buying winter tires, they will give you a quote on a brand they have in stock, then you can Google the brand name and find reviews and ratings about the brand and then, upon your approval, they will install your tires while you wait. They do not take appointments, it's first come, first serve, so be sure to get there early if time is limited for you. Since being told about this place by my mechanic, who has a shop at the far end of the building, I haven't gone any other place. They are knowledgeable and quick, and if they don't have the tires you want in stock, they can get them for you. I got my winter tires installed for $300.00 less than the dealership. Also, they have good used tires if buying new is not an option. I have put used tires on my car in the past and they did just fine. 

P.S. Don't bother going to their website, you will only get confused and frustrated. Just go on over and ask in person; face to face communication is always better.


Have you ever been behind one of those people who didn't bother brushing off the snow from their car and it's like a mini snow storm until you change lanes, and then shoot them a dirty look when you pass them? Yes, we have all been there. Remember what you said and how you judged them? "Look at that guy, lazy bastard!"
Don't be that guy. Walmart has an assortment of snow brushes and ice scrapers to fit any budget. Put it on your to do list and get up extra early to brush the snow off your car, and keep your car clear of snow. You're putting your life, and others, in danger every time you get on the road where the only clean spot on your vehicle is the spot your wipers will reach. Regardless of what you think, snow doesn't always blow off your car and by then it may already be too late.

This was taken this morning, she wiped off the side window with her her sleeve then got into the car and took off.

With respect to windshield wipers, regardless of cost, they only last six months, max, so while your car is getting a winter tune-up, you might as well dish out the money for a new set of wipers, why make your winter driving more hazardous with old and worn wipers that can't keep your windshield clean and your visibility 100 percent? Walmart and Canadian Tire have a vast assortment of wiper blades in a wide range of prices; your apt to find a pair that will do the job.


Yes, I know you feel like you don't have to be told to slow down. It should be common sense, right? For many people common sense goes out the window right after they get off work. You're not going to get where you're going any sooner by driving like a maniac. Everyone is trying to get home, think about getting home safe, not ten or fifteen minutes earlier. Driving in the snow is not like driving on dry asphalt. It's slippery, especially in freezing temperatures when patches of black ice form, and heaven forbid, there's zero visibility. Get up earlier in the morning to prepare for the drive: dress warm, warm up your car if you don't use an automatic starter or block heater, and clean the snow off your entire car. 


If the guy in front of you slams on the brakes, are you going to pummel the car's rear end should your car just keep sliding on that slushy or icy road? Think about it. This happens more than you may think and keeping a safe distance from the car in front of you may save you a lot of time and money. Did you know that Brampton, Ontario, has the highest insurance rates in the country?


Don't try and race that red light, it's not worth it. I have personally seen drivers making left hand turns on the yellow caution light and get hit by an oncoming car racing the light. This is even more dangerous in the winter because it can cause a pile up. Think of  a Bumper Car ride at the amusement park. That is exactly what it looks like. One car hits another then those cars slide into other cars and so on. It's not pretty, trust me. Take your time approaching traffic lights, don't try and race them, or you may find yourself bouncing around like a bumper car in the middle of a busy intersection.


There is always some driver out there who just refuses to signal and then they slam on their brakes just before making a turn leaving you with little or no time to react. Even if you are not tailgating it is quite annoying not knowing where that driver ahead of you is going. Is he/she going right or left? Then when you think he/she is going one way, they end up doing the opposite! Perhaps you have done this yourself. I have, but not on purpose! How do you expect people to get out of your way if you do not signal your intentions? If you are changing lanes, signal first, look, then if the way is clear, change. Don't try and race the other driver because you want to get in the lane, just wait until the car passes, do it safely. Let the driver behind you know what your intentions are, if you're signalling right, go right, not left! Remember, it's slippery out there, our vehicles may not stop when we want them to. We need time to react. It also pays to know where you are going and the route you are taking. 

So, there it is.  Don't just talk the talk, walk the walk, or in this case, drive the drive. Let's get through this winter with the least amount of incidents as possible. It starts with each and every one of us. We must realize that driving is a privilege and driving in the snow can be dangerous, even treacherous. 

Listen to your local radio announcer, he/she has all the traffic updates and information regarding your commute. And for the sake of all of us, please keep your fingers off your phone, Ipod, or other device you may have. 

Safety should be your top priority when you get behind the wheel. Be responsible, set a good example for your passengers and the other drivers around you. Stay focused, keep your eyes always on the road, and concentrate on getting home to your loved ones safe and sound.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


It was the Thanksgiving weekend and we decided to go for a drive north of the city to check out the fall colors. It was a beautiful day and the drive was uneventful. My partner was in the passenger seat taking pictures and my son was in the back seat enjoying the scenery. 

Tractors for sale.

Green barn and silo.

The power of the wind.

Grain elevator in the distance.  Click on the link to find out more about the grain elevator.

I had printed a Google Map to Blue Mountain and got it out when I got closer to our destination. I knew the way to Collingwood from Brampton, but getting to the actual attraction was tricky. Either the map needed an update or someone needed to add a few more signs saying that you’re on the right track. I threw the map aside and just went with my natural sense of direction. I could see the mountains and I knew I was on the right path when the vehicular traffic picked up. And then when I saw the crowds of people I knew that I was in the right place. 

There were four entrances, each one leading to a different place: red signs labeled 1 South led to the South Base Lodge, blue signs labeled 2 Village led to The Village, orange signs labeled with 3 Inn led to the Blue Mountain Inn, and black signs labeled 4 North led to the North End parking lot.  I came across three large dirt parking lots but they were all full. It was a job trying to get through the people. We wondered what was going on.

My partner got frustrated and started talking stupid saying how he wasn’t going to be walking all over the place, and I tried to ignore him. I drove around some more and tried to find the entrance to The Village, but apparently it was a walk-through with parking on the outer circle. I got out of there and drove to the top of the mountain where there were a few attractions: zip-line, tours, some cave, and hiking/biking trails. Vehicles were parked on the side of the road and tickets were under everyone’s wiper. I drove some more and found a small parking lot. I was relieved to get out of the car as I was beginning to get “car fever.” We go out, stretched, and went for a short walk.

The crowds were unbelievable. There were people running, walking, biking, and a tour guide had people riding Segways. We had to yield right-of-way to bikers because they didn’t care where they went. We wondered if it was always like this or was there something going on. We stopped to talk to a few people; some were out of town, some were locals who told us that it was always crowded, especially on weekends. But it’s a ski resort, what is there to do other than that? Well, I guess they all had the same idea as we did.

We walked farther and took a few pictures. The scenery was nice. You could see the entire bowl shape of the southern end of Georgian Bay, to the east the Wasaga Beaches, the town of Collingwood, and to the north distant shorelines of the bay. It was hard to take pictures because there were so many people passing by, but we managed.

This is The Village from atop the mountain. It may look quaint, but looks are deceiving.

Then something happened, I needed to pee. There were no portable toilets anywhere, so I did what any woman would do, went into the bushes. Not a very good idea. The bushes were also swarming with people! My partner and son walked with me half-way down one of the slopes and I squatted in some thick underbrush while the boys kept watch. I couldn’t understand why a big attraction like Blue Mountain, brimming with people, did not have at least one portable toilet! 

We went into the woods and found that there were trails all through the woods. Stairs were built to help with the climb. Little streams flowed from above. It was very nice, but nothing remarkable for a two hour drive. I wanted to walk down the slope to get to The Village to check out the stores and to see if there was a place to eat, but the boys didn’t want to. My boys are couch potatoes which is unfortunate for me because it’s a fight every time I try to get them out. I was a bit disappointed, but I was tired from the drive and it was starting to get cold. We took some more photos and headed back to the car. 

My boys, the couch potatoes.

As we drove away, we heaved a sigh of relief. Even though we were outside we were surrounded by thousands of people. It was like downtown Toronto on New Year’s Eve. All we wanted to do was get out of there. My partner drove home, my son fell asleep in the back seat, and I dozed off in the passenger seat.  

When we got home it was late so we went for take-out. I sat at the computer munching on my fried chicken (yes, I eat fried chicken occasionally, don't judge me) and researching Blue Mountain. I came across some review sites and perused the reviews, seems like everyone who left a comment had nothing good to say about their experience there. Most people commented on the crowds, the expense, the lack of a decent restaurant – I’m glad we waited to get home to eat, and how going south of the border was a better idea. I copied a few comments below.

"Growing up in Toronto, Blue is the closest thing to a "mountain" that we have around here and therefore it seems to be the place to go. It has always been over crowded. To give credit to Blue, opening up the "orchard" area has seemed to disperse the crowds a bit, but 15 minute waits for lifts are still very common. I won't comment on the amount of snow because ultimately Mother Nature has final say on that front, but what I will say is that due to the sheer volume of people on the hill whatever snow there is gets quickly eroded away by around 11:00 a.m. After that the snow is slushy or very icy (depending on the temperature). The things that seem to be out of Blue's control however, are the clientele. Blue gets an inordinate amount of idiots on their hills. I'm not talking about beginners or simply young rowdy kids here; I'm talking about semi-experienced skiers/boarders that think they are on some sort of World Cup circuit and have no regard for anyone else on the hill. I've been to Blue many times over the last 30 years and just about every time I witness many near misses. It really is quite dangerous. Blue seems to have no patrols on the hill (other than the first aid patrol). It seems that these same people feel it's okay to throw cans and litter off of the chair lift. Never have I seen so much garbage under the lift anywhere! Just an FYI....if you are wanting to go to the terrain park, Blue charges EXTRA for that! I've never been ANYWHERE that charges extra for runs that you've already paid for!! My recommendation (even if it means you find this little gem) is that if you live in the Toronto area and want a weekend or a couple of days skiing/boarding...turn your car south and go across the border to Holiday Valley just south of Buffalo. Yes it's a longer drive, but they have more vertical there and the time will be made up by not waiting in line at the lifts."

"This is the first time I'm writing a review and I am hoping this would be a wakeup call for Blue Mountain if they ever read these reviews. I was there a couple a weekends ago when a friend's daughter got wiped-out by a snowboarder, right at the base of the run 20 or so meters from the Inn's lift. She was taken to the hospital by ambulance with a head concussion (she was wearing a helmet) but luckily she has recovered well. My 8yr old daughter almost got wiped-out by a Toronto ski Club instructor who jumped over the top of a hill without looking and seeing that my daughter and another child were skiing right in front of him past that edge. This was happening on the way to Happy Valley which is supposed to be "Slow area and green run" Yesterday we visited Blue Mountain resort again. This time the crowds were not as big, but they had all the resort's snow making guns blowing snow on an already foggy, and very cold (-15C) and windy day, reducing the visibility to ZERO in a lot of areas on most of the ski runs. I skied the north side and the Inn's side and I was constantly afraid that I could ram into a lift tower. I thought yesterday was the most dangerous ski experience I've ever had, despite skiing a lot of much bigger mountains (Colorado, Utah, Alberta, BC, Europe, etc.). I talked about this to the people running the lifts and they merely shrugged off my concerns. This resort doesn't seem to care about its customers' safety at all. They get big crowds during the weekend and on holidays because they're the only resort close to the GTA having a somewhat decent terrain. Very disappointed."

"Been twice to Blue recently and have been wiped out by a board both times. There really should be separate runs for each, since they move differently and boarders have larger blind spots. (Note I am an advance skier, with regular turns (not like beginners who travel across the hill erratically). Also so many boarders block the opening of the runs, instead of going off to the side of the run. There should be a designated area for adjusting boots & bindings. Safety is a real issue here at this hill. Not worth the risk, will go elsewhere."

"Again, it is Ontario, and Intrawest loves to add all the goodies in order to make you feel your somewhere else, you’re not it is just Ontario. So the prices are now high, the slopes are busy, low prices rooms hard to find close to hill, too much ice etc."

"I should start by saying that in Southern Ontario just about anywhere you go you can expect it to be busy. Blue Mountain however goes above and beyond this... From my visits there are always way more people at the resort than the hill can actually handle. The lift tickets are rather pricey for what you get (56 dollars for the day when I went). I did not have to rent, but people I was with did and the rates were high (38 dollars for a day). The hill itself is alright at best; I found the hill to be really chopped up and wasn't expecting this at all. I didn't find any of the runs to be terribly challenging, but there is a good variety. In summary Blue Mountain is an alright resort if you don't have any other options. Contrary to what many people think, it is not actually the biggest hill in Ontario, so don't believe everything you read. For anyone in Southern Ontario looking for the absolute best skiing/snowboarding you can find in the province... head up north to Sault Ste. Marie if you have the time. You will not be disappointed as Search Mont provides basically everything Blue Mountain doesn't... cheap lift tickets, non-existent lines, the best hill you can ski/snowboard in the province AND it’s bigger than Blue Mountain."

I and my family have been skiing at Blue Mountain for over 30 years. The only reason that we continue to ski there, is because of its proximity to our home, and our love of skiing. The Mountain itself has little to offer that is attractive to the avid or fairly accomplished skier. The staffs is inconsistent in their level of friendliness, courtesy, and enthusiasm, which I suspect is directly attributable to the level of interest and training supplied to them by their supervisors and managers. We have noticed a decided decline in the level of customer service/appreciation since the arrival of INTRAWEST. It is also interesting to note that Blue Mountain is one of the only resorts in North America that we have visited which will not guarantee your accommodation location. In other words, you may want, and indeed be prepared to pay for slope-side accommodation, but when you get there, you take what you get. Think twice before spending your hard earned money at this over-priced, underserviced excuse for a resort.

"Food is expensive. And forget buying gear there. But then that’s kind of expected. Why bother. When downtown Collingwood is approx. 3min away. And you can find a lot better options, Also when it comes to renting gear. You can rent gear just outside the resort. It’s a fraction of the price. Ps. AVOID HOLLIDAYS... IT WILL BE BUSY."

"Overhyped and overpriced. Crowds are too large you spend more time waiting for lifts than you do skiing. The mountain despite its posting has no expert or advanced runs. Any intermediate can ski any runs at Blue. Intrawest does such a great job drawing crowds into the area that it over loads all the services and eateries afterwards. The accommodations are very good but too pricy for the type of experience you get at Blue. The cost of everything in the village is exorbitant so don't lose or break anything or you will have to take a bank loan to get replacement equipment or clothing. My suggestion for the same price but a real hill is Tremblant. But explore Holliday Valley New York Ellicottville 53 runs with some great drops. Forget Blue. 1000 more vertical feet and it may be worth it."

"I am a Toronto area resident. And I would have to agree with all the arguments from the first post. I have had many equally dismal experiences at this mountain. And there are attractive options, close to the GTA, Barrie, for instance."

Even though I prefer cross-country skiing, I plan on returning to Blue Mountain in a few months perhaps for a night or two to gain a better perspective and report back with a more informative post.

Saturday, November 8, 2014


I tell her my darkest secrets and my
deepest thoughts. She listens without
judgment or criticism; she is indifferent.

When I’m with her I feel at peace, nothing
else exists, it’s just her and me. Her presence
envelopes me until I am saturated with her.

On occasion I deny her, but her essence
always finds me and I can ignore her no
longer, for she is a powerful force.

The more time I spend with her the more
confident I become. She makes me feel 
pure, cleansed, and sensual.

Her fingers caress me, her touch is 
transcendent; it cannot be replicated.

Her eyes are sometimes as black as a 
moonless night when stars refuse to 
sparkle, and other times they are as blue
as a cloudless midsummer afternoon sky; 
they are mesmerizing.

She wears many different colors: florals, earth
tones, fiery, and shades of gray; they match
her ever-changing moods. She can be calm and
then become ferocious in a split second; she is 
hard to predict.

I am lulled by her sweet nothings. I hear her 
melodies in the rustling of the leaves, in the 
swaying tallgrass, in the effervescent water 
of the river, and I am transformed, forever.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Thursday, November 6, 2014


My son is studying this poem in English class, like so many others before him. The poem needs no explanation.

By Edwin Arlington Robinson

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
"Good-morning," and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich—yes, richer than a king—
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.

Friday, October 31, 2014


There's gold in our garbage bins. There has to be. Almost every late evening and early morning there are people scavenging through the building's outside garbage bins. And I don't think they are poor because the vehicles they drive are new, the gold they wear around their necks and on their fingers and wrists are quite shiny, and their clothes are neither torn nor tattered.

When I hear them going through the garbage I look out my window and watch as they dig through the dog feces, the dirty diapers, the rotten remains of our meals, the cigarette butts, and countless other dirty disgusting things, and wonder what possesses a person to do it. What can you possibly get from the garbage that is worth getting sick or hurt over? Especially nowadays when we are all so careful of what we throw out. I mean, if we don't want something we put it in a pile and save it for a garage sale, or we put it on Kijiji or Craig's List. Nothing of value ever gets thrown in the garbage anymore. And do these people even care about their health and safety? 

We live in a First World country, a highly developed industrialized nation. We have various resources for anyone and everyone. We have welfare, healthcare, shelters, soup kitchens. Now, I'm not gullible, I know poverty exists, but going through the garbage when you're wearing gold, driving a new car, and wearing nice clothes just doesn't make sense.

And the recycle bins are untouched. Mind you, recycling is mandatory so you’re not going to get anything for cans and bottles unless they are liquor cans and bottles. But, for the most part, people who drink usually take their own cans and bottles back to the store.

So why do people go through the garbage? 

Is it identity theft? Maybe. They won’t get my info – I’m a shredder. With the hullabaloo about identity theft, I think a lot of people shred. 

Is it for clothes? In this community, we give to the Salvation Army or Value Village; our used clothing gets reused.

Is it for metal? Metal is usually piled up alongside the garbage bins for scrap guys who collect such items. 

Is it for food? There are places to get a free meal and food banks. Wouldn’t a person go their first? Instead of eating something that could make them seriously ill?

So, why do these people go through our garbage? Because "dere's gold in dem dere bins!"

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


When I was a child I lived in a haunted house in Flat Bay, NL.

One night, when I was about five years old, I woke up and saw a man, or a very tall woman, staring at me from behind the wood stove. The apparition was transparent, so I could see its bones, and it had a kind of wispy glow surrounding it. It did not move; it just kept staring at me with its hollow eye sockets. 

I sat up in bed and thought that I might be dreaming. I kept staring at it trying to figure out if it was real. The more intently I stared, the more intently the apparition stared. I thought that I was seeing things, but then it moved ever so slightly. I decided that I wasn’t seeing things and started screaming.

My mother and father woke up and came to see what the fuss was about. I had been sleeping in a small bed, in a room that wasn’t really a bedroom, more like a living room with a bed in the corner, close to the bedroom where my mother and father slept. 

“What, what is it?” my mother said.

I kept screaming, never taking my eyes off the skeleton. “Over there, it’s over there!”

“What’s over there?” my mother said.

“The skeleton, it’s over there!” 

My father walked toward where I was pointing, but when he got nearer to the stove, it moved over behind a chair. I kept screaming and pointing, my father kept going back and forth from the stove to the chair, and the skeleton kept running away from my father. 

Finally, my father stopped, and said, “There’s nothing there.” He got fed up and went back to bed. 

My mother tried to reassure me, told me that I was having a bad dream, and that it was just my imagination. There was nothing to worry about. 

I stopped screaming, not because the thing had gone away, but because I knew that they couldn’t see it. It was staring at me, and I was scared out of my mind. My mother pulled the blanket up to my chin and went back to bed. I kept my eyes on it until I couldn’t keep them open any more. I pulled the blanket over my head and never moved an inch. I prayed and hoped that it wouldn’t come get me, then I fell asleep.

I remember that night as if it were last night. When something affects you like that, your brain vividly remembers everything.

As years went by there were a lot of strange things seen and heard in that house. Cutlery would be heard rattling in the drawers, cupboards would be heard opening and closing, and ghosts would be seen cooking and going about their business in the kitchen.

A year or two later the house was sold to relatives and they experienced occasional hauntings until they eventually built a new house to live in. The haunted house still stands and is used as a shed; however, its doors have been locked up for quite some time. 

Later, when I grew older, I found out that the house had been hauled over to Flat Bay from Sandy Point, a small settlement on a peninsula just off the coast of Flat Bay that used to be inhabited by early European settlers who seasonally lived in the area during the summer fishing season. 

As time went on Sandy Point became home to MiKmaq, English, and French settlers. Eventually, after confederation, government forced settlers to move further inland to the community of St. George’s. Apparently, a huge storm in the 1950s caused a gap in the peninsula creating an island.  
So, there is no doubt in my mind that the house was haunted by those early settlers. 

circa, 1882