My.Daily.Distraction ~ Post 195: Fifty Shades Of Candy

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The first thing that I noticed as we walked into the room where Jen had booked the shower were the beautiful tables covered in linen. People were milling about setting tables and preparing the buffet.

That’s when it hit me…

This is really happening.

A bridal shower for my baby girl.

It was a moment.

Then it was time to get to work.

The first things that we unpacked were the boxes and bags of candy that we had been stockpiling for over a month.

I was so looking forward to having a candy bar at Aria’s shower.

It was at my niece’s baby shower that I was first introduced to the concept of a “Candy Bar,” which really captured my imagination.

How glorious it was to have been given a small sack and then to fill it with white chocolate bark, jelly beans, sugared pretzel sticks and a cake pop.

Jen agreed to make the cake pops, and I had resolved to hunt down all the jelly beans, chocolates, ju-jubes, toffee, and lollipops, and let us not forget the bomboniere, or more commonly known as candy coated almonds.

Almost as much fun as hunting down the candy was stalking the store shelves for decorative containers to display our tasty treats. Our favourites were the retro clear glass jars, just like the ones I remember as as a child when I visited the five and dime store.

Jen and Chantel, one of the bridesmaids had volunteered their Victorian cup and saucers sets for added decor.

I can’t believe the fun we had in setting it up.

Even more astounding, is the fact that virtually all the candies arrived at the shower intact and unmolested.

Except of course for a bag of strawberry jujubes that I had commandeered during a weak moment while watching Turkish travel documentaries with Richard Ayoade.

As Jen and I were finally placing the finishing touches to the candy bar, we both stepped back and took in the vision before us.

Willy Wonka would have been proud.

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My.Daily.Distraction ~ Post 194: Spring Shower

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The date we had set for Aria’s bridal shower was June 14.

My oldest daughter Jennifer volunteered to throw the shower.

She booked the hall, arranged the luncheon and picked out the door prizes.

Aria would fly in from Winnipeg for two weeks. This would give her time to finalize her wedding plans and attend her bridal shower.

I had booked off two weeks from work as well. One week before the shower and the week after the shower. One week to prepare, and the following week to recover.

Coincidentally, June 14 date set for the shower was also my parents wedding anniversary.

And that did not exactly end well.

Maybe this is why I found myself so nervous about Aria’s bridal shower.

I really had nothing to fear.

Actually, I did have something to fear.

Aria’s bachelorette party was being held on June 13, the night before her bridal shower.

You would be scared too.

In spite of Aria’s profuse promises that she would still be among the living and hangover free, I still had my doubts.

Then with only days to go before the shower, Aria told me that her bachelorette party had been moved from one night before the shower to two nights before the shower.

Good news indeed.

When Jennifer asked Aria if there was anything that she wanted to see included in the shower, she responded that she wanted the…

“Toilet Paper Wedding Dress Game.”

To be honest, I didn’t much like the sounds of that.

Upon asking for details, I was told that the ladies are split up into groups and given reams of toilet paper. Their job is then to dress a member of their group in a wedding dress fashioned from..

You guessed it…

Toilet paper.

After the allotted time is up, a Fashion show is then held where models show off their toilet paper wedding dresses.

The bride-to-be then picks the winner.

This game struck me as messy, wasteful, and a recipe for disaster.

Both my daughters did their best to calm my fears.

…Again.

Trying to put it out of my mind, I scoured the Internet for a few games of my own.

I successfully managed to find four games that I thought would do nicely, mostly quizzes on wedding-lore and famous couples. After printing off thirty sets on the computer, I collated and stapled them.

Done!

On the day of the shower, I had no idea what to expect.

By 9:00 a.m., we had packed the car with at least a dozen boxes and bags containing all the fixings for throwing a bridal shower: candy, gifts, cake pops, tape, scissors, games, flowers, and forty rolls of toilet paper.

Jen and I had two hours to set up before the guests would begin to arrive.

Seeing as we had lots of stuff to put together, my thoughts as we pulled out of the driveway were:

Will we be ready in time for the guests?

We had so much to do!

This one’s going to be close.

❤

My.Daily.Distraction ~ Post 193: ***Woo-Hoo***

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Yesterday was “New Washing Machine Day” at our house.

Our three year old washing machine broke down ten days ago.

My husband figured that the problem was the wiring for the lid lock .

A visit to our local appliance centre was in order. He ordered the replacement wiring which cost $100.00. We were told it should arrive in a week. They had none in stock because this was a common problem, and this part virtually flew off the shelves.

A week later after the new wiring arrived Frank installed it.

No luck.

I was not surprised.

To be honest, I never much liked that washing machine anyway.

Three years ago, I was compelled to get the new HE energy efficient model.

There was no agitator.

The instruction manual explained that I was to distribute the clothes evenly around the outside of the drum and leave the centre of the machine free of laundry so that the machine would “swirl” my clothes clean.

Like I haven’t heard that one before…

From the first day I brought it home I knew there would be trouble.

It began with the lid lock.

Once I pressed the start button after making my selections on the washing machine panel, the lid lock slammed into place with a huge metallic clang as it immediately placed the laundry into lockdown mode.

My washing machine literally locked me out as it went through all of it’s cycles.

There was no way I could get back into that machine without a fight.

For example, if I happen to find a sock that had dropped and I wanted to include it with the load, I would try to open the lid.

“No dice,” my washing machine would reply.

“Please,” I would say.

My washing machine told me that they’d think about it.

“Check back with me in five minutes,” it said as it sat there…

…And did nothing!

After five minutes, the machine decided to disengage the lid lock.

After inserting the renegade sock, I would re-start the machine.

After the lid lock slammed into place, there would be a soft buzz.

I was told that this was sound of the sensor as it determined how much laundry was in the tub.

Why was it sensing for load level when I had clearly pushed the heavy load button?

And another soft buzz followed.

The machine was obviously in no hurry.

I was not amused.

At least five minutes passed before I could hear the sound of water running into the drum of the washing machine

It took approximately one hour for the machine to do the load, start to finish before I heard the buzzer announcing that the laundry was now complete.

However, it took another five whole minutes, during which the washing machine held my laundry hostage, before it finally disengaged the lid lock and finally released the clean clothes into my custody.

I felt no remorse whatsoever last weekend as my husband and I made the trip to our local appliance store and picked out a new washing machine.

It arrived today.

Imagine my joy as I commenced the initial load by closing the lid of this new washing machine with no clang of the lid lock being engaged.

What I did hear was the immediate sound of running water as it began it’s wash cycle.

There was no more five minute wait for the load sensor’s approval.

From this day forward, the only thing getting agitated would be the laundry…

…and not my nerves.

***Woo-Hoo***

My.Daily.Distraction ~ Post 192: From Peer To Maternity

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There is a movie that came out in the 1960s which became a bit of a cult classic.

The movie is called…

“Where Were You When The Lights Went Out.”

It stars Doris Day, Patrick O’Neal and Robert Morse.

WIKI describes the movie as being set in “New York City during the infamous northeast blackout of 1965 in which 25 million people scattered throughout seven states lost electricity for several hours.”

Popular urban myth has it, that nine months later there was baby boom in affected states.

Well, here’s another true story. Consider it a variation on a theme.

This recollection came to me last week, on the occasion of my youngest daughter’s 30th birthday.

It was July 24, 1985, the day after my daughter Aria was born. From my hospital room I could hear the nurses making a big commotion at the nurse’s station.

I went out to the hallway to see what was going on.

Across the big white board that hung over the nurse’s station, someone had scrawled in big red letters:

“Doctors we need more beds. Send your patients home.”

“What’s up,” I asked the nurse sitting behind the desk.

She answered:

“For the past week, we’ve been delivering an average of ten babies a day, and for this hospital… that’s a lot of babies.”

I took a good look around…

Until that moment, I had not noticed how busy this hospital floor was. I guess I’d been a little preoccupied.

Then, I became curious.

“Interesting,” I said to the nurse. “Do we know why there are so many babies?”

The nurse paused and smiled, savouring the secret.

“Tell me,” I insisted.

“Actually, a bunch of us were talking about this during break. That’s when someone started counting back nine months.”

“And…?”

“Do you remember what was going on nine months ago?” she asked looking up at me.

“No,” I said truthfully. “Tell me, what was going on nine months ago?”

“The G.M. strike.”

She was of course, right.

Harry Antonides reported on this strike via Cardus.ca by writing:

36,500 employees of General Motors of Canada went on a 12-day strike in October. Just a few weeks earlier, 350,000 American GM workers had settled for a ‘new contract without a strike. The Canadian strike, which forced the layoff of 40,000 U.S. auto workers, was on the surface all about dollars and cents expressed in direct wages and benefits.

Back in the day, my home town of St. Catharines use to be a big G.M. town, employing thousands.

As I pondered this revelation, I returned to back to my hospital room, which I shared with another new mother, who coincidentally, worked at General Motors.

So, there you have it, a small piece of St. Catharines and the Canadian Auto Worker’s Union history.

If it were ever made into a movie I’ve got the perfect title.

It should be called…

“Labours Of Love.”

*Ba-dum ching*

My.Daily.Distraction ~ Post 191: Postal Pet Peeves, Part One

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Would you like to know how to strike fear in the heart of a postal worker?

Show them a musical greeting card.

You know, the ones that play a hardly recognizable tune the instant that you open it.

Sure, it’s cute for about five seconds…

… Fifteen seconds if you’re easily amused.

However, I’m sure very few people having received a musical greeting card actually listen to their musical interlude for even a whole minute.

Unless, you’re a postal worker.

My co-workers and I have come across them as they play nonstop while still in their pristine and unopened envelopes.

Imagine listening to them while you are trapped in your work area as they continue to play for hours at a time because there is no way to…

…TURN THEM OFF.

At work today, while listening to another instalment of the science podcast series, ‘The Infinite Monkey Cage,’ I learned something about these novelty greeting cards that took me quite by surprise.

A panelist on the show made the following comment:

“The computing power (in one of those musical greeting cards) is MORE than the TOTALITY of ALL the computing power IN THE WORLD fifty years ago.”

Just think about that.

All that computing power, more than NASA had for any of the Apollo space missions, put into a tiny piece of plastic for a greeting card that will be played once, maybe twice, only to be thrown away after a day or so.

Can you imagine?

It’s interesting to think what past, present and a future discoveries hold in store for our next generation.

Maybe, fifty years from now, the food industry will be inserting miniaturized hadron colliders into disposable cardboard cups to keep our coffee from getting cold.

Something to think about.

🙂

My.Daily.Distraction ~ Post 190: How.Sweet.It.Is

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It was a cold and rainy day.

But nobody cared.

Nobody cared because it was cake testing day at ‘Sweet Celebrations,’ makers of wedding and specialty cakes.

Aria, my daughter and bride to be, had arranged a consultation with the owner of ‘Sweet Celebrations.’ Charlene was to meet up with us in her shop for a taste testing of wedding cake possibilities.

Having never been to a cake testing before, I was curious as to how we were going to discern our way through the varieties of cake choices while being overcome by Charlene’s phenomenal French baking. There was also the high sugar intake that had to be taken into consideration.

I was willing to give it a try.

The bride-to-be, myself, and three bridesmaids braved intense thunderstorms along the forty kilometre trek of the QEW Highway that we collectively traversed through to get us to Stoney Creek.

Why would we choose a bakery in another city, you ask?

Because, Charlene’s cakes are not only extraordinary….

… They are ambrosia, the perfect fodder for perfect wedding day bliss.

Shortly after we arrived Charlene, the bakery store owner had us sitting around a table, with our forks in hand.

Then, the fun began.

On a large serving plate, Charlene brought out ten three inch square slices of cake.

This worked out rather well because there were four of us testing the cake; myself, Aria, and two of her bridesmaids, Amanda and Chantel.
Each of us would get a square corner of the cake. This was just enough for a single flavour burst.

After everyone had consumed their morsel of cake, I asked them to rate their preference on a level between one and ten. I would then write the preferences down and tally the totals at the end of the cake testing.

I explained to the girls, that in this manner everyone participates and has a voice. In the end after the cake scores are tallied, the cake with the highest score will be our choice for wedding cake.

Everyone agreed.

The cakes we would be sampling were as follows:

Key lime, Pistachio, Caramel, Goat Cheese, Red Velvet, Raspberry Champagne, Chocolate, Vanilla, Lemon, and Carrot Cake.

All were delicious, however, some were more delectable than others when one accounts for personal taste. For example, I was not big on carrot cake, while another taste tester didn’t like lemon.

(However, this particular carrot cake was the best I’ve ever had. I’m so tempted to order one for my husband, who has always loved carrot cake.)

In the end, the top scoring cake was the raspberry champaign with a high score of 32 out of 40.

The only drawback is that now I have to wait another two months before I can get my very own piece of raspberry champagne wedding cake, baked by hand from scratch in a Parisian pâtisserie.

Bliss…

I cannot wait.

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My.Daily.Distraction ~ Post 189: Lessons From ‘The Infinite Monkey Cage’

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If you are a student of the late, great astronomer and physicist, Carl Sagan, then you should be paying very close attention to English physicist and Professor of particle physics, Brian Cox. Perhaps you have seen him in his science series ‘Wonders.’ Perhaps you know him from his work at CERN.

Along with Robin Ince, he has been co-hosting ‘The Infinite Monkey Cage’ which according to BBC Radio is “An irreverent look at the world through scientist’s eyes.”

Today, I downloaded four episodes of the podcasts and listened to two episodes called ‘Parallel Universes’ and ‘So You Want To Be An Astronaut.’

It was as I was listening to the second episode, ‘So You Want To Be An Astronaut,’ that I found myself searching for a pen as I was desperate to write down the insight that was being shared.

The first set of remarks that had caught my ear was the discussion of the photographs taken by the Apollo 8, Apollo 11, and Apollo 17 astronauts that virtually changed the world.

Perhaps you remember them. One photograph was the planet earth as a backdrop against a close up of the moon’s lunar surface.

There were those in the 1960’s who feared that to gaze upon a picture of the Earth from space would be to go mad. This was because, they reasoned, that the human psyche was unable to comprehend actually seeing our planet from space. “It would be too much for the mind to comprehend,” they argued.

In reality, mankind greatly benefitted from photographs of the Earth and moon from space. The sight of our beautiful planet proved to be an inspiration for many. It was something to protect and keep safe, especially from our impending self-destruction.

Before we knew it, we were gathering in groups to talk about and find ways to take steps to ensure that our descendants would inherit an Earth free from pollution and undamaged by the horrors of the nuclear age we found ourselves in.

I remember how smitten my Father was with the picture you see above taken by the crew of Apollo 8. He even bought a poster of it and hung it over our sofa in the family room. That’s when he started buying astronomy magazines.

That’s when I started paying attention to NASA.

In this podcast, I heard a remarkable statement from one of the show’s panelists.

What was said is as follows:

“In the last 40 years what we really learned was how to cooperate in space. The first thing that I remember is 1975, the Apollo-Soyuz test project and the Americans and Russians at the height of the Cold War, cooperating, carrying flags through the airlock, and realizing that they had to have a partnership in space and the future of space flight totally depends on global cooperation in space. So, most of what we learned in the last 40 years in space is that how to get 16 member nations to work together to build this platform that floats around the Earth at 250 odd miles at 70,000 miles an hour, and that’s a massive, massive, massive achievement.”

This is insight which I can learn from.

This is insight which gives me hope.

If you would like more information on ‘The Infinite Monkey Cage’ podcast, please follow the link given below.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00snr0w/episodes/downloads

My.Daily.Distraction ~ Post 188: Picking Up The Pieces (A.K.A… ‘The Sprawl’)

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Like most children, I had my own collection of Lego. Not a lot, but enough to build a small house and an economy sized car.

I can still remember my Father walking barefoot across the living room. He would suddenly stop with a brief wince. Then, lifting his foot he would reach out his arm and proceed to remove a Lego piece from between his toes. As he handed me the offending Lego piece, the look on his face conveyed one message:

Death to Lego.

By the time that my sister was old enough to play with Lego he had enough practice from picking up stray Lego pieces that he could effortlessly bend the afflicted leg up in front of of him crossways in what looked to me like a ‘pliĂ©.’ With the balance and poise of a ballerina, he was able to hold this pose until his fingers plucked the Lego out of his foot.

Once he started having grandchildren he never complained about their Lego being all over his living room rug.

I’m sure that the Lego pieces hurt him just the same when he stepped on them.

I could tell this by his momentary wince.

After that, my Father was all smiles again.

Of course, my own daughters had Lego collections of their own.

You could not walk into my eldest daughter’s bedroom without stepping on one.

The Legos never broke. Instead, they would imbed themselves into your tender flesh. More than once, they have brought tears to my eyes.

By the time my second daughter was old enough for Lego, we had collected enough Lego to fill a shoebox. We also learned the importance of storing them properly and keeping them away from their Mother’s feet.

When my youngest finally outgrew them, I packed the Lego away with a happy sigh.

Never again will I have to deal with these plastic tidbits between my toes.

No more stepping on them.

No more tears.

After twenty years of my floors being…

“Lego free,”

…the time came a little over a month ago when my youngest daughter flew in from Winnipeg, to begin the final preparations to her wedding in September, which she and her fiancĂ©e decided will have a Lego theme.

When she showed me some of her plans, I retrieved the pail of Legos, which was stored upstairs.

After my daughter sifted through them, she decided that yes, they would be suitable for her wedding projects.

After packing them them up, she informed me that she was off to visit her prospective new Mother-In-Law, and show off her Lego projects.

Shortly after she left, I got up to head towards the kitchen.

By my third step, I suddenly stopped as my back stiffened. I had just experienced a sharp burst of pain from my underside of my foot. I didn’t have to look, I already knew what the problem was.

Yet another piece of Lego had managed to find it’s way between my toes.

Again.

And at that moment, I could almost hear a child’s voice from somewhere inside my brain telling me….

“They’re ba-aaack!”

In closing, I will leave you with this annoying little sound byte courtesy of Pink Floyd and my love for silly rhymes…

And it goes:

“All in all…

They’re just…

Lego bricks on the sprawl.”

My.Daily.Distraction ~ Post 187: Open Letter To My Aunt

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I’ve been blessed with a good family. Throughout my life they have been a continual source of joy, love and affirmation.

Take for example, my Aunt in Virginia, who is always surprising me with little comments to my blog posts.

One of her latest comments came in response to my blog post 181, which was titled ‘Dysfunctional Shopping.’ It was all about the trials and tribulations of preparing for my daughter’s wedding.

In case you missed it, I’ve included a slightly truncated version of her comments to my blog post below:

———————

Irmgard Scherer said:

June 20, 2015 at 7:51 pm

It’s soothing to know that the female condition around wedding preparations (especially a daughter) lives and breathes in quiet desperation in Canada, no less than in Spain, in Germany, in Virginia and Fairfax. I hear wedding plans are positively excruciating. Why do we put ourselves through such misery for, if truth be told, often ill-fated matrimonials? Whatever happened to the fairer and saner modus operandus for marriage, like eloping, much cheaper and more humane for the bride’s parents? I guess suggesting the elopeness option now, even floating the idea of a grand reception with family after the honeymoon and upon return, might be a little late. But September is a long way off. Just a thought! Thanks Doris for the blog. Underneath it all, it looks like you’re excited and having more than a little fun.

————-

And now, for my response…

My Dear Aunt:

Please be assured that it did not take long for me to exhaust my arguments and all options for an elopement.

To put it euphemistically, those seeds of suggestion fell on rocky ground.

My Mother was very much in agreement with you as well. She was horrified over the impending expense. I’m sure that she would have bought the happy couple the fanciest ladder she could find.

I remember way back when I got married just out of high school. One of my close girlfriends from school attended the wedding. Imagine my horror a few days later, when she confided to me that she had never been so drunk in her life as she had been at my wedding. She then told me all the tragic details of her ride home from the reception which included many roadside stops.

To think that this was how she would remember the happiest day in my life was disappointing.

My Aunt Victoria in Cleveland once told me, that the average wedding in her day and age (mid 1950’s) served only coffee and cake. Wedding gifts consisted of tea towels, a vase, or perhaps a cup and saucer.

Times were indeed much simpler then.

When I try to understand why my daughter and her fiancé wanted to invest time and money in a wedding, I believe it is because they wish to create a memorable occasion to celebrate with their friends and family.

Several years ago, Frank and I attended a family wedding with our daughter and future son-in-law. I was moved at how obviously smitten he was with the idea of a wedding. It showed me what a truly romantic guy he was.

My daughter was a lucky girl.

Wedding celebrations are rare in our family.

To the bride and groom’s credit, they have shouldered the majority of decision making and preparation planning. Just the thought of all the details involved leaves me weary and anxious.

However, I can happily say at this point in time, with the wedding two months away…

“Ich bin zufrieden…”

Or as translated from German to English…

“I am content.”

Both sides of the family are playing major roles in helping with expenses and planning.

In closing, you are correct in your observation that I am having more than a little bit of fun.

This wedding has turned into a family project that I believe is bringing out the best in each of us.

Proof positive that out of the worst of times, can come the best of times.

With much love…

Your niece,

Doris xo

My.Daily.Distraction ~ Post 186: Phoneless

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Today, as I got to work, I realized that I had done something that I rarely ever do.

I forgot my cellphone at home.

Well, that is to say, that I think it’s at home, in fact, I’m fairly sure that it is.

I did not have the phone with me in the car. Home is the last place where I remember seeing it.

Usually, I put it in my right jacket pocket. Until tonight, I have always ritualistically patted this pocket before leaving for work to make sure that I had the phone on me.

But not tonight.

I doubt that it fell out of my jacket pocket, as my pockets are on the deep side. Further, I know it wasn’t in the car or in my purse because a glowing red light on my watch indicated that the phone is not within the maximum ten feet of distance required to enable the Bluetooth.

Now, don’t get me wrong…

I am not a big fan of the telephone. Originally, the only reason I agreed to carry one is because of my thirty-six kilometre trek into work. It was my genie in a bottle in case my car breaks down. In fact, I have never reached even half of my quota for my monthly phone minutes.

What I do use it for is dictating my blog posts. It’s much faster than typing. Also, while driving to work, I enjoy listening to CBC radio program ‘Ideas,’ which is broadcast weekday nights from 9:00 to 10:00 p.m. I never get to hear the end of the programs because I have to report for my shift. Thanks to the podcasts, I can now listen to them in their entirety while I am sorting my mail at work.

Thankfully, I will not have to endure the usual “Where is my cell phone” angst as I believe it is waiting for me at home on top of the coffee table in my living room. This is where I enjoy my last few sips of tea before leaving for work.

So, tonight I am without my phone.

There will be no music or podcasts to listen to.

I won’t be able to take a picture should anything catch my eye.

No silly on-line gaming.

No checking my Twitter.

Last but not least, for the next eight hours, my family has no way to get hold of me.

Well, maybe that’s not so bad.

What I will miss Is the ability to be able to google random questions that tend to pop up from time to time…

Questions like:

Who was the original Ronald MacDonald?

In the television series ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show’ who were Rob and Laura Petrie’s neighbours?

What are the words to Billy Joel’s song ‘We Didn’t Start The Fire’?

How old is Jimmy Carter?

When I first realized that I was without my cell phone, the first thought that occurred to me was that tonight’s eight hour shift at work was going to be an interesting experiment:

How long would I last before I started getting phone withdrawal.

Would I get the shakes? Fidgety? Find it hard to breathe?

Well, we will just have to see.

(Six hours later…)

After finishing my shift and having arrived back home, I am happy to report that none of the above ever happened.

In case you were wondering, I found the phone on the sofa underneath a throw cushion.

It’s a good feeling to know that I was able to detach myself from my cell phone for a change

It was kind of nice.

In fact, I even got some overdue blog writing done.