Believe it- the universe is always on your side!

Believe it- the universe is always on your side!

Imagine this: you and your friends are driving down the highway in the pouring rain. You tell the friend who is driving that you really need to use the bathroom. She says, “can’t you hold it?”

And you say. “No, it’s pretty desperate.” There is nothing for miles but highway and dirt roads, so finally she pulls off so you can find a bush to hide behind. The moment the car pulls off the highway, the heavens appear to part for a moment and there as if by magic—

is a porta potty in the middle of nowhere. We all yell- what the heck? in disbelief.

I get out and find that it is spotless inside with toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Afterwards, we discuss the logic of this and of course, there is no logic. I think this is how the law of the power of attraction works. We all wished for a toilet at the same time and it appeared with a rainbow gleaming from behind its’ green plastic exterior


was this a misuse of the power of attraction? I’m not certain,

but I sure was grateful.

photo courtesy of imgur

Click on the link below to read all about the laws of attraction-

How to Become An Armchair Anthropologist

How to Become An Armchair Anthropologist

Sometimes I am addicted to movies that make me ugly cry. The other night I figured it would be safe to watch a classic old black and white movie by myself because I knew no one in my family would be mad that I watched it without them. It was called Penny Serenade. I love Irene Dunne and Cary Grant is pretty easy on the eyes as they say, so I thought I would give it a whirl.  Spoiler Alert: It begins with a woman looking somberly past an empty child’s room so I knew right away that it was gonna get sad and pretty quick. Then you find out that the couple is going to get a divorce -which sets you off to wonder what sort of tragedy has caused this, so you know that you better get out your box of Kleenex and fast.

The concept of the movie plays out where each record the woman pulls out of her album titled, The Story of a Happy Marriage reminds her of different parts of her life. Viewers get to hear the music and see the history of her life connected to each song.  Part of the reason why I love old movies is that I can become a sort of armchair cultural anthropologist as I watch them.  How old record stores worked, for instance- it was fascinating. There is a piano where someone can play sheet music for you or a listening room to choose your music, how else would one hear these songs without the internet? Also anthropologically speaking, seeing how a printing press worked with all of the moving parts was fun to witness.  I enjoy studying how the roles of men and women in the US are portrayed in each era.  Their behavior didn’t seem too far off from how things are today. Early on in their marriage when the man immediately quit his good job when he got a small inheritance and the wife asked: “oh, was it a lot more than we thought?” And when he admitted it was a lot less, she said, “well I don’t understand, why you would quit a perfectly good job.” This made me laugh and think yes, this scenario is timeless. Later in the movie when they didn’t have any income coming in I found it frustrating that they didn’t consider sending the woman out to find work. Witnessing how the adoption process worked was also amusing. Pretty free and easy according to Hollywood. Heres a baby, she’s meant for you, what you have no clue how to look after her and don’t have any diapers?— well just pick stuff up on your way home.

Spoiler alert: My favorite scene was the first night and the following morning after they come home with an infant. The fear and ungainliness of trying to bath and diaper her that first morning were perfectly portrayed, for me this was the winning scene. As an armchair cultural anthropologist, it was fun to have a diaper folding lesson, the one pin kind. What -no bamboo diapers with velcro fasteners? I also loved to see how society once existed in a plastic-free world. I am always on a lookout for scenes in the kitchen and how food is served up etc.  Glass baby bottles were the only option in this era.

The little girl is a show stopper both when she is a chubby little happy one year old and when she is the echo in the Christmas play. These film writers know how to wring out your heart. Especially because of oodles of foreshadowing from the start, you know that things are not going to work out- but like a car wreck, you can’t look away.

Is this film schlocky and full of Hollywood tricks? Yes. Did it make me have an enjoyable time sniffling away and letting the story “play on my heartstrings?”  Yes.

Sometimes I just want to be whisked off into someone else’s problems, problems that make you weep and not in a pretty way.

 This is my (almost) free therapy. Our TCM channel is included with our internet bundle so it is still fairly cheap. Throw in a bowl of homemade popcorn and your night with therapy included is quite economical.

On a scale of 1- 5 Kleenex tissue box rating system, with 5 as the highest rating, I give it a 4.5  for a tear jerker.

Click below for a 10-minute clip- squeaky stairs and all.

Fly Like An Eagle

Fly Like An Eagle

It’s nineteen seventy-six,  I’m in my dentist’s chair and I am in a strange dream-like fog similar to something from a Cheech and Chong movie— from a generous dose of nitrous oxide. I am eight years old. My tiny ears are clamped down by a massive set of headphones and a mask of laughing gas completely covers half my face held in place by an elastic strap. The song that is pumped into my impressionable brain is Fly Like an Eagle by the Steve Miller Band. The lyrics -like an eagle-eagle -eagle- waiver in my mind just the wings of an eagle, or I imagined they would if I ever got the opportunity to see one in the prairies.   I was relaxed and tripping out and soon my dentist came in with a needle that seemed larger than my head. It came towards me and I watched in interest as it was placed into my small mouth with a long slow push. It is interesting that this was the song choice. 

Was my dentist being ironic?

He was friendly and over the top. He said you were so good today you get a kiss, and I would look worried but he would lean in with great theatrics and stamp my hand with a red ink outline of lips. Ever time I hear this song I can’t help but remember myself with my cavity-prone candy eating teeth, laying in that dentist chair in my bell bottom pants. I often had to take the bus home with my mouth frozen and drooling through the North End of Winnipeg. We had the same family dentist for years. And I miss him, like I miss my childhood—with a misguided longing for things that seemed simpler and fun, but were really just ordinary and often painful.


Of Mice and Women

Of Mice and Women

Living in the country is not all freshly picked roses and sipping lemonade on ivy-covered porches. It can be chopping kindling every morning and battling the deer and raccoons for your freshly grown fruit and vegetables all summer. It involves battling the wrath of storms,  with trees falling all over your hydro lines and enduring long power outages. But the biggest battle I have ever had was with—


I have lived in many different properties on a small gulf island, and some houses have been better than others when it comes to keeping out rodents. But lets’ face it. Wherever there are humans, with warmth and food scraps there will be mice.

I remember fondly a place that we lived up on five acres. It was a cute little log cabin surrounded by ferns, apple, cherry and plum trees, and a big huge network of mice families. In fact, sometimes I felt that I was living in their house and not the other way round. I tried all of the traditional ways to get rid of mice. We had a cat. I went round and stuffed all the holes with steel wool. I tried to leave the doors closed at all times and had a cover on my compost bin. I eventually set traps for them and even this did not keep them from coming. I remember one day I had bought a flat of peaches because they were in season. I set the cardboard box out in the middle of the kitchen table and in the morning, each peach had one tiny bite out of it.

I thought I could outsmart them. When I made bread I thought, well, I’ll just leave this nice loaf in the oven and in the morning I’m sure it will be safe for our breakfast. Well, the next morning, I opened the door and there, sitting on the top of my fresh baked bread was a little mouse having his own breakfast. He looked up mid-munch and I’m sure he waved at me and said,” Hey! This batch turned out great! Thanks.”

At night I could hear little mice fights- there were so many of them. I had had enough. I went to the local hardware store and said, give me poison and lots of it. I set it out under the sink and was shocked when it was empty within the hour. I set out more. Empty again. This happened too many times.

I couldn’t believe how much poison they ate. Now here is the horror story part of this tale. It was summertime. A few days later, I noticed flies coming out from behind the stove. My poor husband was asked to investigate. We pulled the stove out and he pried open the wall. There was a whole panel of the wall filled up with dead mice! It was the stuff that Amityville horror movies were based on, but worse.

This seemed to keep them at bay for awhile.  But soon the next generation of mice descended upon the cabin with a new vengeance. They were mad about the murder of their cousins and grandmothers and grandfathers I suppose, in the great rat poison extermination of 2003.

One day I opened up the compost bin and sitting at the bottom of it was a tiny cold and shivering mouse. He looked up at me with his sad little eyes, and I couldn’t take it. I carried that bucket as far away as I could manage and let him loose in the forest, even though I knew he would be back, scratching in the walls, or chewing on my earplugs under my bed. Ah well. Times are tough for all of us. That was his lucky day. But tomorrow may not bode so well for him if I don’t feel infused with the milk of human kindness.

On Record Players

On Record Players

Why do I get so much enjoyment from the fact that my teenager has to ask me how to use my new Christmas present?

This year I asked for a record player so that I could enjoy the old albums that I have been hauling around for over thirty years. They are in bad shape on the outside but amazingly play just fine. Asking for a record player has allowed me to take a step back in time. I am a time traveler to my sixteen-year-old self. The album Sandinista by the Clash drop kicks me with memories of my youth, every time. I love it as much as I did all those years ago when  I would listen to it while doing my aerobic exercises on my carpeted bedroom floor. Now I listen to it while doing yoga on my living room floor. Not much has changed. Besides everything.

It is really quite fun to see an eighteen-year-old look at the small 45’s and ask, what is this?  I try to not smirk as I say knowingly, “that record needs a special plastic insert for the large hole, and you must change the little knob from 33 to 45” It is great to feel wise and all-knowing for once about a form of technology. Oddly enough after moving provinces and about ten different homes, my husband and I have managed to keep our records. We have the same taste in music- we have doubles of the Sex Pistols and the Violent Femmes- this is an indication to me that we are soul mates.  We still enjoy the same music and now we can listen to it all on my new record player—

which we all know is really a time travel machine.




Fasten Your Seat Belts, It’s Going To Be a Bumpy Ride!

Fasten Your Seat Belts, It’s Going To Be a Bumpy Ride!

Because it is New Year’s Eve, I thought I would comment on a movie that is all about eve.

Often after watching a classic old movie, I wonder why is this considered a classic, why is it so loved?

Is there a reason that this particular movie was nominated for fourteen academy awards and won six of them?

After watching All About Eve and thoroughly enjoying it, I had to ponder other questions like- why is the woman Eve so evil? Is this depiction of a conniving woman in Hollywood realistic? Are the issues in it outdated and wrong? I googled All About Eve and found out some interesting facts about this film.

It was originally based on a short story that was loosely based on a true story.

Besides Betty Davis’ riveting performance both actresses were nominated for the academy award. Marilyn Monroe played one of her first parts in this film, and while I’m a fan, I have to say, no matter how hard she tried Munroe’s acting is always bad. I am still a fan though, don’t get me wrong.

I am crazy about the role of birdie. I was reminded that she played a great part in A Letter to Three Wives. Here is one theme of the movie that I completely missed- the theme of homophobia. I completely missed it- and I thought I was paying attention. But now looking back I can see the little tidbits I may have overlooked.  Little hints such as when Margo asks Eve- “would you like to put me to bed?” Eve replies.  ” Yes, if you would like.” The coupling of the heterosexuals was portrayed as loving and unbreakable in the face of the evil Eve and the plotting newspaper columnist. How could I have missed all that? I suppose the performance of Bette Davis was too dazzling and full of fire and spirit for me to stop and think about what message the film was sending out. I was bowled over by Bette Davis’s performance. Her character was messy and complicated and full of surprises.  I should have fastened my seat belt because I practically fell off my couch watching it.

It’s Christmas time For The Jews

It’s Christmas time For The Jews

I enjoy Christmas with a zeal that only someone that comes from half a Jewish family background can have. I know my mother really enjoyed putting on Christmas, probably more so because she was raised in a Jewish household. When she married my Catholic-raised father and had children she threw herself into the festivities. Even long after they were divorced we still celebrated Christmas. Her favorite game was to say teasingly, “Let’s not have a Christmas tree this year!” to see our reaction and we always would exclaim, NO! WE WANT A TREE!  I recall walking with her on a particularly brisk Winnipeg winter evening to the Loblaws parking lot to pick out a live tree. We had to drag the poor frozen thing down the back lane to our house. It took a whole day for the tree to unthaw after we cut the strings that wound its way around its brittle branches. I don’t know why I am fond of this memory, but I suppose it was the special time that we spent together and it was a rare time that I remember my mother’s laughter as we had to run -walk to keep our feet from freezing on our way home.

At this time of year, I sometimes can’t help myself and say things such as, “let’s not give presents this year,” just to see my family’s look of horror. This is one of the traits I have inherited from my mother. I have also inherited some of her Christmas ornaments.  I love them with a  ridiculously strong sense of sentimentality.  I treasure a plastic angel and a red apple. I have been hanging these small tokens onto the branches of various trees for over forty- five years. Many people believe that this holiday is steeped in too much mass consumerism, which I agree with. But I believe that for most people this time of year is all about what your family creates together; whether it is sitting at the dining room table together with your Zeida (grandfather) celebrating Hannukah- eating heaping bowls of buttery perogies as part of a feast that took your baba all day to prepare. Or whether you are sitting around a fragrant hand-cut Christmas tree with your family eating seafood together on Christmas Eve. We shouldn’t get hung up on the other stuff, because we all know that it really isn’t about the stuff, it’s about the people you spend it with. The ornaments that we love—we love because of the people we have hung them with.

I am just reminding myself of this.

Click below for SNL’s It’s Christmas time for the Jews

Want a different kind of Christmas movie suggestion?

If you are in the mood for something a bit dark and like a character study with a Christmas twist try All is Bright, with two amazing actors-Paul Giamatti and Paul Rudd, there is nothing formula about it. It is dark, funny and bittersweet.