Sunday, February 26, 2006


Did I mention that I hate winter?

Living in eastern Canada where winter seems to last nine months of the year and summer for one week, weather is an important topic. In addition to a fair amount of snow we also get days of freezing rain, where sidewalks become treacherous and un-navigatable. It is at this point that Quebecers depend on the kindess of the Public Works department or 'PW's' as I call them, to come to the rescue. In theory they should be salting streets and sidewalks once the storm has passed, but the reality is that citizens have to wait...and wait...and wait.

Last week was a perfect example of such a slippery situation. The temperature rose above-normal for this time of the year, causing a quick melt down followed by what the media called "a flash freeze." The end result were streets and sidewalks so icy that the ice shows could have used them for practice. Cars travelled at a snails pace barely able to stay in their lane and walking was next to impossible.

The 'PW's' for their part spread de-icer products at busy intersections, period, but no sand or salt for sidewalks or local streets. Pity the poor pooches out with their owners trying to make their way along the sidewalk while looking for a place to pee. Let's just say that it wasn't a good idea to get too close to anything metal like a pole.

As a law-abiding citizen there came a time when the 'PW's' had to be notified and reminded who pays their salaries. The conversation went something like this:

Hello? Is this Public Works who is supposed to take care of public roads?

Um...yes. Depends what you're talking about

Exactly what I said. Are you or are you not taking care of our roads?

We handle the complaints

I'd like to complain - and then some

Is there a problem?

It's about the lack of sanding or salting the streets

Where do you live?

blank-blank...(provided them with address)

Oh we salted/sanded there

Oh really? How come I can ice skate in front of my house?

You went ice skating on the street?

No...but I could have!

So what's the problem?

No sand. No de-icer. Nothing. Rien. Nada.

Uh-huh. I'll have the supervisor call you back.

What the hell good will that do? Is he or she gonna come salt the streets?

THEM, but someone will call you back!

What about salting or sanding?

Um... Someone will call you back. Here is your file number

Silly me assuming that being given a file number meant things would get moving, however, I planned my conversation with the supervisor.

I waited and waited and then I waited some more and nobody called back. Undaunted, I called them back. After all - didn't I have a file number, now?

Hello. My file number is blank-blank. I called yesterday to complain about the lack of sanding or...

Your file number?


Are you the resident living at blank-blank on blank-blank street?

Yes. That would be me. Listen...there has still been no salting or sanding on the street

You have to understand that our policy is to sand corners and intersections first

What about in front of homes? Don't they count?

Eventually but we adhere to the policy manual

How do you change the policy, one asks knowing darn well what you're gonna say

Oh you have to have the bylaw changed and that will require a meeting by local council members and...

I get the picture. You know what? I give up. I'll just wait until Spring until the weather gets milder and then - presto! - my problem will disappear just like the ice.

And then I hung up.

In their defence they did come, eventually, three days later when the temperature went above normal, again. At that point they brought out the big snow clearing equipment, snow blowers and little side walk sanders.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Anybody seen Vivi around? The whippet who just happens to be an award-winning show dog, escaped her cage at the Kennedy International Airport.

In spite of a thorough search Vivi has vanished, and so other methods of finding her have been brought in. Other methods consist of twelve psychics who are counselling searchers as to the wereabouts of the whippet. There is no mention of how or what type of psychics are lending their hand...or in this case, feelings...or connection with the great beyond.

So far the psychics feel that the dog is warm and safe and laying low in a building...somewhere. Thing is, how do the psychics know if they have tuned into Vivi and not some other missing pooch?

'Helllll-o? Am I connected to Vivi?' just won't do the job. Some dogs will do anything for a meal and a warm place and some strays may even claim to be the missing pooch.

"Yes it's me!" a wily german shepherd may bark. "I'll be Vivi or anybody you want me to be if it'll get me some food and bones!"

Now why would a dog who spends a large portion of its life in a cage and being felt up and down by strange hands want to take off, one wonders.

Vivi's sudden departure followed a win at the prestigious Westminster Kennel Show. A $5000 reward has been offered for Vivi's safe return. That would buy a lot of dog food for a lot of strays and lost dogs waiting to be adopted in shelters accross North America.

Friday, February 10, 2006


It has been a long time coming but there is good news today: Barbie, “the” fashionista of the doll set and her used-to-be boyfriend, Ken, are a couple, again. They had a parting of ways almost two years ago just before Valentine’s Day, orchestrated by their “parent”, Mattel, since Ken’s popularity was on the wane. Things were never the same once the boy-toy was relegated to peaking out of a cardboard box in the hope that someone would take pity on him.

Hard to believe given their ageless faces but the two-some had been dating 43 years when they separated. Word has it that Ken was finally about to pop “the” question having bought her an engagement ring 41 years ago, when he was given the boot instead…or sneaker as the case may be. To make matters worse and to add insult to injury Barbie took up with Blaine, an Australian surfer-type. Perhaps it was his accent or what is believed to be an addiction to surfing, but they drifted apart.

Actually, Ken never appeared to be into much of anything other than hanging around Barbie with an adoring puppy-dog look in his eyes. During their years apart the blond with the 2 inch waist, permanently pointed toes and ever-present smile, tried her hand at acting playing the role of princesses.

In as far as the dating scene is concerned her name was connected with the mucho-macho G.I. Joe and an entourage of hangers-on including Kelly, Midge, Kayla doing the club scene. Word has it that she gave Joe the push due to his habit of bringing along a weapon and firing it in the air for effect, while on their dates.

Anyway, Ken is back and has gone through a make-over (doesn't everyone these days?). The shorts are gone and replaced with a designer wardrobe by a celebrity dresser. His wardrobe now includes cargo pants, a fitted suit and a trendy motorcycle jacket. In addition to the change of outfits he has had some plastic (in the true sense of the word) surgery with a nose job and a mouth adjustment. Whether this will be enough to satisfy the plastic babe remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, there are reports that the new and improved Ken has been secretly seeing Roxxi and Pheobe, twin Bratz dolls. Uh-oh…could be trouble in paradise…

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


Sometimes I wonder about people and their love for pets. Not just any type of pet mind you but a chicken. Don't get me wrong because I'm a chicken lover...well a chicken liker anyway, but I prefer mine barbecued with a side order of french fries.

All of this is leading to a story concerning how the life of chicken was saved due to the quick thinking of a retired nurse. The fowl who was owned or lived with the nurse's brother, was found floating beak down in the family pond. This leads one to ask a variation of that age-old question: "why did the chicken cross the road?" and in this case, "why did the chicken jump in the pond?" with the answer probably being, because it was there...the pond, that is. Chicken's aren't the brightest sparks on this planet.

Getting back to the story the nurse who said she hadn't practiced CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) in years, for some reason or the other known only to her, decided she was going to try and revive the chicken to see if she "still had it."


It's one thing to give a human being mouth-to-mouth resuscitation but it's an entirely different issue when you're dealing with a beak.

Presumably, she first checked to see if the chicken had a pulse. Perhaps she probed the chicken's neck with her fingers or being that she was a nurse, maybe she had a spare stethoscope hanging around the house and listened to the chicken breast.

Go know!

According to the story the nurse put her lips on the chicken's beak and breathed life back into the poultry. When you think about where chicken's live and the type of pecking they do and where they do it, you have to give this woman credit.

Once the chicken was revived the nurse advised the owners to put in a box and keep it warm, which they did. The owners speculated that the chicken who frightened easily, had been startled and flopped into the pond. Imagine how the fowl felt when it came to and was greeted with a human face a few inches away from it.

This reminds me about a friend who gave her pet dog mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, and was very proud to supply all the grimy details regarding the method involved. Contrary to what people believe, dog's saliva is not the cure-all as it was once believed to be.

At one point - at least among my circle of friends - when a child had a nasty scratch, someone would inevitably offer the advice: "let the dog lick it. It'll heal faster." This is not recommended by the medical community these days.

I've owned pet fish - many, many pet fish - who went to meet their maker in the great toilet tank in the sky and never, not once, have I ever felt the urge to give it "the kiss of life." Let me state for the record that I'm a big fish lover, especially with a blob of tartar sauce and a squeeze of lemon.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


The first thing wrong with Valentine's Day is that it falls at the wrong time of the year. How can one really have warm romantic inclinations during a month when a good portion of the North American hemisphere is caught up in a deep freeze?

We can blame it all on one Bishop of Spoleto, who was martyred on February 14, AD 271. If he had died in the month of May, this holiday would take on a whole new vista. Traditionally, Valentine's Day was celebrated as a lover's feast, hence the reason for restaurants offering special gastronomical banquets. Profit has nothing to do with it, of course.

So...why not switch Valentine's Day with let's say...Mother's Day, for example? I'm sure that mothers being mothers and blessed with extra-understanding qualities, wouldn't mindobserving their special day in winter. Right?

Love first touched my life at 8 years of age, although it wasn't recognized as such. My friend Tony was a year older than me and we accompanied each other to and from school. He had a great sense of humor but was not considered romantic material. It was just friendship - at least on my side, anyway.

As in many school classrooms, ours had a Valentine's box where pupils could send each other cards as tokens of friendship, or to express romantic sentiments. Sometimes the cards were signed but frequently the sender chose to remain anonymous. I received about a dozen nameless cards, which I knew were from Tony. In return for his expression of great affection, I sent him one miserable card and even then, I agonized whether or not he deserved it. At that age, it just wasn't cool to show one's feelings.

After class that Valentine's day we sat on the step at my house and compared cards. At the point when it was time for us to part, Tony suddenly and without any prior warning, bent over and kissed me on the cheek.

Horror of horrors!

A member of the opposite sex had romantic inclinations - and towards me, no less! If he were allowed to get away with the action, more kisses would follow and then what would I do? There was only one course of action to take and I didn't hesitate. I punched him in the stomach and he reacted by doubling over and groaning. Then he took off screaming in pain and headed for home. Thinking back, I was quite pleased with myself.

I immediately regretted my move but it was too late and the harm was done. Nothing was ever the same between us again. Tony didn't return phone calls and he rejected any overtures of friendship. He even took another route to school by by-pass my house.

The second time that true love struck was in high school and it was unrequited. The object of my affection or crush to be more precise, was a popular guy who was adored by half the female student population. His locker was directly opposide mine and I eagerly looked forward to class changes and lunch break, in hope of catching glimpses of him.

All my textbooks had hand-drawn hearts on the inside pages with his name and mine inter-twined. It all ended on a sad note one day toward the end of the school year, when I spotted him walking hand-in-hand with one of the most popular girls in school. They flaunted their love in front of me, even though they weren't aware of it. Time as they say, heals all wounds and I got over him during the summer break.

The "romance" was all but forgotten until a chance meeting at the airport years later, while waiting to pick up a member of the family. Walking through the gate was a vaguely familiar face and my memory was suddenly jolted back 25 years.

The eyes were the same but that was the extent of the familiarity. HIs thick, wavy hair had all but disappeared and except for his sideburns, his scalp was shiny and bald. The lack of hair emphasized a long nose that I hadn't noticed when my love for him blurred any physical imperfections.

For the first time our eyes met and I remember smiling at him. He returned the gesture, assuming perhaps that we knew each other. However, my smile was one of smug satisfaction.

Sometimes we have to wait until we're adults to fully savor the fruits of childhood romance - and a clear vision.