Monthly Archives: July 2009

Reasons to pay attention while mowing the lawn . . .

Lessons learned from cutting the grass this weekend.

1. The obvious is so that you don’t run over your toes (of course, if you’re being safe, you have shoes on, and wouldn’t catch your toes anyhow).

2. So you don’t accidentally cut down your mother’s flowers (this did NOT happen, by the way, but it could).

3. So you don’t run over the newly-seeded areas and rip out the grass before it has time to root.

4. So you don’t run over the power cord, trip the breaker in the garage, lose your power source and have to shell out big bucks for a new cord. Really, it could happen to anybody. Not necessarily me or anything. I’m just saying. Really.

FYI – safety first.

Book Reviews

Recently a friend loaned (lent?) me two of her books. Both were books I’d seen on the shelves at Chapters, but for one reason or another, I hadn’t picked them up. I love getting the opportunity to read stuff that I would normally pass by – sometimes that’s the best way to find a favourite new author.

Lullabies for Little Criminals

A Canada Reads award winner, this book takes place in Montreal. It’s the story of a young girl and her father, and their difficult life. He’s a junkie without a decent job, and her perception of the world is coloured by the way she was raised (and saying she was raised is a stretch in itself). It’s very well-written, and despite the somewhat dark subject matter, it’s a quick read. It’s a book that’s tough to put down once you’ve started it. Not for the faint of heart, or anybody who would rather pretend that there is no seedy side of life. Sorry, I can’t remember the author’s name, but I think her first name is Heather.
Rating: B+

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter

Another book whose author I can’t remember. I really should write that information down, or look it up on the Net before I start these posts. Anyhow, the story is about twins born on a very snowy winter night, and the father making a snap decision that will forever change his life, as well as the lives of his family and his daughter (whom he gives away due to her having Down Syndrome). It’s not like there are a lot of twists and turns in the story that keep you on the edge of your seat, but it’s very well written and it draws you in like a familiar friend. A bittersweet ending almost leaves you wanting more. I really enjoyed the book – more than I thought I would when I read the back cover.
Rating: A-

Speaking For Spot

By Nancy Kay DVM (why is it I never have trouble remembering authors’ names when they’ve written dog books?). A great book for any owner that has ever question veterinary care. Nancy Kay guides you through vet visits and lets you in on what questions to ask and what kind of answers you should be getting. She does cover a few specialized areas of care, such as dogs with cancer, but the book is a great way to save a bit of money on caring for your dog, while being your pet’s advocate when they need you the most. You can check out Nancy’s website at
Rating: A+

People are stupid!

Normally I really like the people I work with (and I’m using the words “with with” to indicate all of the people in the trailer I work in), but right now somebody is really ticking me off. I should stop here and say that it could just as easily be the night cleaners or other people randomly wandering through our trailer (it happens!). I normally keep bottles of Diet Coke in the refrigerator, so that I can have a cold drink every day. I buy 6 packs of bottles at the grocery store and keep them cold until I want one. While I was on vacation, somebody drank TWO of the bottles! Now, who would go into a communal fridge and just help themselves? That is so wrong!

But it gets better (or worse, depending on your perspective) . . . Because the cafeteria isn’t easily accessible, I tend to bring frozen dinners to have for lunch. There’s no way I can remember to go outside to the deep freezer to get one every day, so I typically bring them in on Mondays. I know I had enough this week, because I bought 5 of them last weekend while grocery shopping. Lo and behold, when I go to get my lunch today, my last frozen dinner is GONE! Now, in my opinion, that’s worse than stealing my drinks, because now I have no lunch. AND, I took lunch much later than usual today, so I couldn’t even go to the caf to buy something,

Why do people think they have the right to take what’s not theirs? There’s nothing okay about it! Get off your lazy butt and go buy your own drinks and your own lunch . . . your lack of planning doesn’t mean I should suffer.

And that’s my rant for today.

I’m Still Alive, I Promise!

Hey everyone!I’m sure by now you all think I’m dead . . . I’ve chatted with one or two of you, and worked on your farms on Farm Town, but otherwise have been pretty much AWOL for a while now. Fear not, I’m still around, just busy as all heck!
Since starting this new job I’ve done an inordinate amount of traveling, as all of you know. I’ve been to Houston twice and Toronto once, and there’s more travel coming this fall. Home has been busy, because my niece Tashie is here for the summer, which means less time online and more time outside (when it’s not raining). She’s finally learning to ride a bike (with training wheels) and that takes a lot of work.

On July 8th I flew to Pomona, CA for the American Spaniel Club summer show. I spent 4 wonderful days at the show, soaking up the beautiful dogs and meeting a ton of people (from the Zim forum, and from email lists that I belong to). I spent some time narrating for the DVDs that get made of the show, and lots of time visiting people. Jack Jack’s black sister went to live in Australia, and her owner came to LA for the show, so I spent some time with her. My pictures are all up at
The Monday (July 13th) we went to Disneyland (Jackie, Ange and I). We had an awesome time! Ange and I had never been, so Jackie was our tour guide and we spent a blistering 14 hours there. It was so much fun, and my pictures are also up on the Zenfolio site.
Since getting back, I’ve been on the run at work, as well as being busy spending time with the dogs at home. They’ve been feeling kind of neglected, what with me being on the road so much, so I’ve been trying to spend as much time as I can with them.

100 Reasons To Love Canada

What’s not to love about Canada? Not much, but when asked about what they DO love, our readers shared hundreds of favourite things about our home and native land. Did yours make the list?

We Canadians love our health care and hockey. And don’t keep us from our Tim Hortons coffee — preferably with beavertails and butter tarts. From the rolling Atlantic to the Rocky Mountains, we boast about our hearty multiculturalism and polite people. When Kathy Ullyott, Homemakers Magazine’s editor-in-chief, asked you to share your top 10 favourite Canadian things, our e-mail inboxes overflowed. There are many things that make us proud to live in the Great White North, including our crazy Canadian weather. Sure, we complain about it, but we really cherish beautifully coloured leaves in the fall, snow-fort wars in winter, cherry blossoms in spring and lakeside vacations in the summer.

From the thousands of suggestions we got, we culled this list of 100 reasons to love Canada — beginning with the 10 that were named by the most readers:

Readers’s top 10 Canadian favourites

10. Tim Hortons “Coffee addicts unite! … Who can resist rolling up the rim?” wrote Anne Shelton of Toronto. Yes, we love Tim’s coffee, Timbits, Iced Capps frozen cappuccinos, sour cream cake and maple doughnuts — spelled d-o-u-g-h-n-u-t-s, please, not d-o-n-u-t-s! (See item 56 on this list for more on Canadian spellings.)

9. The beautiful Canadian Rocky Mountains, “…still mostly untouched. You can go hiking without running into crowds of people.” (Lasha MacLeod, Sherwood Park, Alta.)

8. Fresh water That includes our lakes to swim and fish in, clean drinking water, rivers, streams and ponds. “The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway are proud parts of our history in discovering the country,” said Terri McBride of Hunstville, Ont.

7. Hockey Included in “Our Game” are CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada — both the show and its former theme song — as well as national teams: The Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators, and Montreal Canadiens, Cheers to our women’s teams too. In Canada, hockey is “the sport that brings friends and communities together,” said Kim O’Reilly, Calgary, Alta.

6. Health careBarbara White of Barrie, Ont. said it best: “Having a husband diagnosed with cancer at 33 and, 10 years later, still waking up beside him and watching our children grow together makes me thankful every day that I am a Canadian. I have not had to get a second or third job, still have a house without having to sell it all in order to pay medical bills!”

5. FreedomWe’re overwhelmingly grateful for our freedom of speech and religion; for our nation’s independence and democracy, and for our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Linda LaRochelle from Port Alberni, B.C. wrote in to say: “In Canada, a democratic country, we enjoy the freedom to live our lives pretty much as we choose.”

4. Our changing seasons”Canadians enjoy talking about the weather and are often disgruntled by the extreme heat and cold. But the changing of the seasons gives us not only something to talk about, but also to look forward to.” (Cheryl Telford, Newmarket, Ont.)

3. The Canadian characterYou described Canadians as friendly, polite, generous, warm, open-minded, forgiving, humble, welcoming, caring, curious and honest. “It’s the people that make a country great and we have a great country with outstanding people — young and old.” (Beth Corrigan Jenish, Oshawa, Ont.)

2. The landscapeVast, clean, diverse and green — those are some of the words you used to describe our home and native land. “Whether travelling east to west or west to east, we truly have a beautiful country to be proud of,” said Cheryl Telford.

And…1. Multiculturalism “From our people, our landscape, our culture(s), food, etc., the very fabric of Canada is a patchwork quilt, full of colours and textures and richness,” says Linda LaRochelle, Port Alberni, B.C.

After your top 10,* your lists of favourites took on a more personal flavour. And speaking of flavour, we do love to eat, drink and be Canadian! Here are your toasts to Canadian tastes.*The balance of your top favourites are listed in no particular order

11. Culinary variety “The availability of food from around the world, including locally grown produce.” Catherine Charnell, Victoria

12. Maple syrup “Dripping freshly brewed maple sap onto frozen snow for that wonderful taffy treat – awesome!” Louise Aspden, Utopia, Ont.

13. Poutine “Who would have thought fries + cheese curd + gravy could be an out-of-body experience?” Ashlee Mackey, Houston originally from St. John’s, N.L.

14. Beef “Best beef in the world, from Alberta.” Marybell Ritchie

15. “Canadian beer is the best, hands down!” Jennifer Rayment, Bolton, Ont.

16. Seafood including P.E.I. lobster, Atlantic salmon, Newfoundland chowder, “Atlantic Coast Lobster and BC salmon.” Pat Greer, Aylmer, Ont.

17. “We have real bacon. Canadian back bacon.” Patricia Fretz, Courtice, Ont.

18. Nanaimo bars “So traditional and so B.C.!” Alana LeSueur, Surrey, B.C.

19. Fresh produce “An abundance of homegrown fruits and vegetables.” Karen Mitchell, White Rock, B.C.

20. Saskatoon berries “on ice cream, with fresh cream, on their own as you mow by the bush, mmhmm.” Barb Beck, Wetaskiwin, Alta.

21. Wines “Yes, we have some of the best in the world and for many of us, right at our doorstep.” Susan Fox, Thornhill, Ont.

22. Butter tarts “You can’t find them anywhere else! It’s the treat friends from the U.S., Britain and Australia want when they set foot on Canadian soil.” Jo-Anne Page, Toronto

23. “Any farmer’s market on a Saturday morning.” Carrie Chenier, Etobicoke, Ont., (a transplanted Northerner)

24. Icewine “Mmmmm…” Kristi Briltz, Regina

25. Beavertails “Delicious and just part of being a Canadian.” Katrien Reed, Belleville, Ont.

26. Fiddleheads “Nothing heralds spring as much as a steaming plate of freshly picked fiddleheads served with butter and a side order of pork.” Anne Glazier, Bathurst, N.B.

27. Smarties (originated in the U.K., but made in Canada!) “Do you eat the red ones last?” Jaclyn Nelson, London, Ont.Canadians may not be as flag-waving as citizens of some other countries…or are we? All of these distinctly Canadian icons and national symbols got lots of “votes.”

28. “It does us no end of good here to see and have an excuse to salute the flag of Canada — a hockey game (yes, on ice!) or a Maple Leaf Ball.” Shairon Burton

29. The maple leaf “So unassuming, so clean and so elegantly simple — so reflective of Canadians.” Willy Wilkins, Richmond Hill, Ontario.

30. The beaver “Our national animal is hard-working and has a strong sense of family.” Christine Peters, Edmonton

31. Money “Brightly coloured bills and unique coins” Lynda Colvey, Cold Lake, Alta.

32. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) “So proud, independent, brave…they make us feel safe.” Erin Purdy, Ottawa

33. O Canada! “I feel pride in my heart each time I hear our national anthem.” Sandi Larson, Cold Lake, Alta.

34. Parliament Hill “The grandeur of the place added to the lasting memory it created in my parents’ visit to Canada. Their photograph in front of the parliament buildings will forever be present in my living room.” Cynthia G. Garcia

From natural wonders to unique species, from the majestic Atlantic to the awe-inspiring Rocky Mountains, there’s no question that Canada puts the “great” in “great outdoors.”

35. “Our national and provincial parks” Sandra Kropinske, Kamloops, B.C.

36. Niagara Falls “It’s spectacular at night. Canada is fortunate to have a wonder of the world.” Tracey Ilnisky, Gilbert Plains, Man.

37. Oceans “The smell of the Atlantic Ocean (with icebergs and humpbacks in the background of course!)” Ashlee Mackey, Houston, originally from St. John’s, N.L.

38. “Fresh air and blue skies — you can truly appreciate it after you visit some dirty steel towns.” Suzanne Michal, Ottawa

39. “Our caring about the environment.” Chris Sherlock, LaSalle, Ont.

40. “Watching the Northern Lights dance across the winter sky.” Sandi Larson, Cold Lake, Alta.

41. Highway 60 through Algonquin Park “Watching for wildlife, namely moose, hidden within the lush landscape is one of our family’s favourite pastimes.” Louise Aspden, Utopia, Ont.

42. “Red dunes on the beaches in P.E.I.” Lisa Mallia, Toronto

43. The Trans Canada Highway “It allows us to discover all that our beautiful country has to offer. Take the ride!” Anne Shelton, Toronto

44. “Skiing in the morning and going to the beach in the afternoon.” Fiona Baxter, Ottawa (formerly of Banff, Alta. and B.C.)

45. Canoeing “There’s no better way to reconnect with the natural world and so many wonderful lakes and rivers on which to do it.” Bernadette Hardaker, Orangeville, Ont.

46. “Cottage country — i.e. beautiful Muskoka, lovely Tobermory, sizzling Sauble Beach.” Vivian Lee, Toronto

47. Wildlife “We have everything — moose, deer, rabbit, beaver, squirrels, raccoons, chipmunks, etc.” Joyce Poyton, Hamilton, Ont.

48. Polar bears “This bear is twice as big as a lion or tiger…OH MY!” Pat Greer, Aylmer, Ont.

49. Canada Geese “Each time I hear their calls soaring above and see the unmistakable “V” formation I remind myself how grateful I am to be Canadian.” Louise Aspden, Utopia, Ont.

50. The loon “Hearing their eerie love song invokes a sense of peace and wonder within me.” Louise Aspden, Utopia, Ont.

51. “Sideways snow.” when you live with it, you never think you’ll miss it.” Ashlee Mackey, Houston, originally from St. John’s, N.L.

52. Autumn “Love that crispy clean air and the crazy quilt of colour.” Shairon BurtonDoes Canada have a unique culture and heritage? You’d better believe it! And here are some of its hallmarks, identified by Homemakers readers as among their favourite things about Canada.

53. Diversity in history and heritage “Canadians have a diverse and rich heritage from our ancestors. It’s instilled in us that we must leave a mark as Canadians on our planet.” Connie Grant, Saint John, N.B.

54. Bilingualism “What an advantage to know another language — especially good for solving crossword puzzles!” Mary Danieli, Burnaby, B.C.

55. “Our First Nations…a great heritage, a rich culture, a great people.” Ruth Witt

56. Canadian spelling “The letter U — I love sending e-mails to my U.S. friends with words like colour, favourite, and humour. A special mention for the letter Z (zed).” Jennifer Williatte-Battet, St. Joseph du Moine, NS

57. Family Whether you gather at your local Tim Hortons or during Canada Day or Victoria Day celebrations, you cited family as source of Canadian pride.

58. We actually say, “eh.” Tammy Taylor, Oakville, Ont.

59. Canadian comedy and our sense of humour.”Canada has some of the funniest quirky comedians from French Canadians, Newfoundlanders, Nova Scotians, First Nations…Russell Peters, Shaun Majumder.” Barb Derick, Ottawa

60. Canadian literature Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables was a popular choice. “Robertson Davies, yes, and Alice Munro and Margaret Laurence and Margaret Atwood…we have so many wonderful writers in this country.” Lily Gillespie

61. Local talent “Uniquely talented Canadian actors, directors, writers, artists representing!” Vivian Lee, Toronto

62. Canada Day fireworks “Unites wonderful people of all ages and cultures in this great country of ours.” Danielle Vincent, Gatineau, Que.

63. “CBC radio and TV keep us in touch with our awesome country and with the other nations of the world.” Ruth Witt64. “Homemakers magazine I can’t wait for the next issue!” Brenda Critch, Lindsay, Ont. [Well, really, how could we resist including that one?!]

Of course, Canada has scores of native sons and daughters, of whom we’re all justly proud. Here are just a few that rated special mention:

65. Terry Fox “A true Canadian hero.” Nicole Okano, Richmond, B.C.

66. Mr. Dressup “Although Ernie Coombs passed away a few years ago and Casey, Finnegan, Aunt Bird and Alligator Al are all tucked away in a special chest. Our children will always remember the many skills and information they learned from the show.” Jo-Anne Page, Toronto

67. Pierre Elliott Trudeau “He was an inspirational leader.” Shammy Singh, Toronto

68. A prime minister [Stephen Harper] who apologizes. “The prime minister’s apology to the aboriginal peoples who attended residential schools is a wonderful accomplishment and a step in the right direction for the future.” Eileen Lucas, Fort McMurray, Alta.

69. David Suzuki “He is fighting the most important fight there is today…to save our place on this planet.” Bernadette Hardaker, Orangeville, Ont.

70. “Mike Myers “Canada’s greatest ambassador.” Linda Lee, Moncton, N.B.

71. Musicians “Jann Arden, Bryan Adams, Sarah MacLachlan, Great Big Sea, Loreena McKennitt, Barenaked Ladies, Chantal Kreviazuk, Terri Clark, Nelly Furtado, Anne Murray, Gordon Lightfoot, Shania Twain, Tommy Hunter, Chilliwack, Loverboy, Nickelback, The Rankins, Diana Krall, Avril Lavigne, the list goes on and on and on!” Linda LaRochelle, Port Alberni, B.C.

72. “Proud artist Emily Carr.” Lynmarie Hubley, Kingston, Ont.

73. “The talented artists and the people who support them.” — Jeanette BearssCanmore, Alta.

74. Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven “These artists really had it all together. Their paintings capture a true feeling of what Canada is and how vast and different its landscape can be, even in just one province.” Katrien Reed, Belleville, Ont.Peace, Order and Good Government: It’s enshrined in our Constitution; it’s something we’re famous for worldwide — and, in one way or another, it made the lists of dozens of our contributors.

75. Education “Even with budget cuts there are still many excellent English as a Second Language programs offered in many schools, community centres and religious institutions in cities and towns in our magnificent country.” Jo-Anne Page, Toronto

76. Our military “Thank you for the fighting, the peacekeeping and the ultimate sacrifice of your lives to make this world a better place for my children and myself. ” Barbara White, Barrie, Ont.

77. Order and citizenship “We don’t assassinate our political leaders…we,“pie” them instead!” Christine Peters, Edmonton

78. Democracy “I love being able to vote in a democratic society.” Linda Klages, Hanover, Ont.

79. “The economy and opportunity that Canada offers to her people. We can aspire to a sound future. Students can find vocational training at a reasonable fee and most could afford to take some type of post secondary training education.” Sharon Thurston, St-Anicet, Que.

80. Pensions “How many countries take care of its older generation like we do? At some point we will enjoy the Old Age Security Pension and Canada Pension Plan.” Susan Scriver

81. Transportation “Subways and buses, trains, ferries, cars, and planes to take us anywhere in our vast country within a matter of hours instead of weeks, like in pioneer times.” Sharon Thurston, St-Anicet, Que.

82. Clean roads, cities “I love that our highways and streets are kept clean of litter. ” Lasha MacLeod , Sherwood Park, Alta.

83. Safety/sense of security “I feel safe in my community and trust in my neighbours.” Laurie MacNeil, Cleveland, N.S.

84. Peace “Our peace-loving nature, known throughout the world.” Linda Chaput, North Bay, Ont.

85. Opportunities “It’s the land of opportunity and the best place to live on Earth.” Gloria Shields, Port Hope, Ont.

In many ways, Canada is a nation of communities, and many of our readers cited local landmarks, hometowns and home provinces as inspiring patriotic pride.

86. “The streets of old Quebec City.” Ashlee Mackey, Houston, Tx originally from St. John’s, N.L.

87. “We have 13 beautiful provinces and territories to explore. The beauty is incomparable to anything or anywhere else.” Peggy McPherson, Windsor, N.S.

88. Ottawa’s Rideau Canal “I never feel so Canadian as when I am skating on the Rideau during Winterlude.” Katrien Reed, Belleville, Ont.

89. “I love the CN Tower lit up at night. Your eyes are drawn to it like a magnet.” Susan Scriver

90. Toronto “This city is amazing! The galleries, the theater, the community, the Toronto Maple Leaf fans!” Suzanne Creighton, Toronto

91. Calgary Stampede “I lived in Alberta for 13 years and loved when the Stampede came to town. It brought the wild west to us for 10 days.” Roxanne Zinck, Sussex, N.B.

92. “Free multicultural events at Harbourfront, Toronto.” Patricia Lewis, Toronto93. Prairies “Grain fields and grasses that look like waves as they change direction with the wind.” Kathleen Alexander, Saskatoon

94. “Ottawa and the Tulip Festival.” Cindy San Antonio, Whitby, Ont.

95. “Vancouver is one of my favourite cities. It is so diverse and has beautiful scenery right in town!” Lasha MacLeod, Sherwood Park, Alta.

96. Muskoka “Canada’s area of magnificent lakes, rocks, flora and fauna. Boating, swimming, fishing, golfing and cottaging in the spring and summer. Walking the trails and viewing the changing of the leaves in the fall and skiing, skating and snowshoeing in the winter. Lucky us!” Jo-Anne Page, Toronto

97. “The beauty of British Columbia” Sheila Kawahara, Thunder Bay, Ont.And finally — drumroll, please — unique entries we couldn’t resist!

98. Pineapple Crush. “I think it might be a Newfie thing.” Ashlee Mackey, Houston

99. “Elk jams in Banff National Park.” Fiona Baxter, Ottawa

100. Ketchup chips — “Not much to say except YUMMY!” Susan Paisley