Suspended Coffee ~ Let’s Do It!

BonniebygateThe idea, begun in Naples, Italy, and called “Suspended Coffee” is where  a customer pays for a coffee and “banks” it for someone less fortunate who could really use a jolt of caffeine and good will. This idea has become an international sensation with coffee shops in Europe and North America participating in the movement.

What a great idea! I have not seen it in any coffee shops that I’ve visited, but I sure hope I do one day. I’d happily buy a coffee for someone in need. Come on BC let’s do this. After doing some googling, I found a Facebook page for Suspended Coffee Vancouver, so there is some effort to get it going here. Hamilton, Ontario has the program set up in the coffee shop, Homegrown Hamilton. How about stepping up Starbucks? Tim Hortons? Come on, let’s do it!

Why not take it one step further and do this with food? When you buy a sandwich why not “bank” one for someone less fortunate? It is being done in Taiwan already. A noodle shop in New Taipei has served noodles to people in need for free in honour of the Italian tradition of “caffe sospeso,” or suspended coffee. According to the Apple Daily, Yen Lin-ying, who has run the shop in a market in Banqiao District for 32 years, started asking customers in late March whether they would pay for noodles to give away to others after her son told her about the suspended coffee movement he saw on Facebook. The response was surprisingly positive, she said.

In two weeks, customers have paid for more than 40 suspended bowls of noodles. Among those she has given food to are a single mother and her child who shared a bowl of noodles and an unemployed man who ordered the noodles to go so he could give them to his elderly mother at home.

Awesome!

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Tiny Beautiful Things

sugar says

Bonniebygate

After reading Tiny Beautiful Things, Advice on love and life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed, I immediately logged it in my mind as one of my favourite books of all time. This is surprising to me because I don’t normally like advice columns let alone a whole book on them. This book is different though. I wish all advice columns in magazines and newspapers or online could be as honest and wise as Dear Sugar. This book kicked me in the gut a few times and I found myself sobbing more than once (not just tearing up either – sobbing) but I also caught myself smiling often and I was always left with a feeling of gratitude and satisfaction by her words.

Sugar—the once-anonymous online columnist at TheRumpus.net, now revealed as Cheryl Strayed, author of the best selling memoir Wild—is the person thousands turn to for advice. I’ve never met Cheryl Strayed but I wish she lived close and met me for lunch every now and again. I’d love to hang out with this woman. Here’s one offering from her book (originally on therumpus.net) so you know what I mean. Enjoy!

Dear Sugar,

I read your column religiously. I’m 22. From what I can tell by your writing, you’re in your early 40s. My question is short and sweet: what would you tell your 20-something self if you could talk to her now?

Love,
Seeking Wisdom

Cheryl-StrayedDear Seeking Wisdom,

Stop worrying about whether you’re fat. You’re not fat. Or rather, you’re sometimes a little bit fat, but who gives a shit? There is nothing more boring and fruitless than a woman lamenting the fact that her stomach is round. Feed yourself. Literally. The sort of people worthy of your love will love you more for this, sweet pea.

In the middle of the night in the middle of your twenties when your best woman friend crawls naked into your bed, straddles you, and says, You should run away from me before I devour you, believe her.

You are not a terrible person for wanting to break up with someone you love. You don’t need a reason to leave. Wanting to leave is enough. Leaving doesn’t mean you’re incapable of real love or that you’ll never love anyone else again. It doesn’t mean you’re morally bankrupt or psychologically demented or a nymphomaniac. It means you wish to change the terms of one particular relationship. That’s all. Be brave enough to break your own heart.

When that really sweet but fucked up gay couple invites you over to their cool apartment to do ecstasy with them, say no.

There are some things you can’t understand yet. Your life will be a great and continuous unfolding. It’s good you’ve worked hard to resolve childhood issues while in your twenties, but understand that what you resolve will need to be resolved again. And again. You will come to know things that can only be known with the wisdom of age and the grace of years. Most of those things will have to do with forgiveness.

One evening you will be rolling around on the wooden floor of your apartment with a man who will tell you he doesn’t have a condom. You will smile in this spunky way that you think is hot and tell him to fuck you anyway. This will be a mistake for which you alone will pay.

Don’t lament so much about how your career is going to turn out. You don’t have a career. You have a life. Do the work. Keep the faith. Be true blue. You are a writer because you write. Keep writing and quit your bitching. Your book has a birthday. You don’t know what it is yet.

You cannot convince people to love you. This is an absolute rule. No one will ever give you love because you want him or her to give it. Real love moves freely in both directions. Don’t waste your time on anything else.

Most things will be okay eventually, but not everything will be. Sometimes you’ll put up a good fight and lose. Sometimes you’ll hold on really hard and realize there is no choice but to let go. Acceptance is a small, quiet room.

One hot afternoon during the era in which you’ve gotten yourself ridiculously tangled up with heroin you will be riding the bus and thinking what a worthless piece of crap you are when a little girl will get on the bus holding the strings of two purple balloons. She’ll offer you one of the balloons, but you won’t take it because you believe you no longer have a right to such tiny beautiful things. You’re wrong. You do.

Your assumptions about the lives of others are in direct relation to your naïve pomposity. Many people you believe to be rich are not rich. Many people you think have it easy worked hard for what they got. Many people who seem to be gliding right along have suffered and are suffering. Many people who appear to you to be old and stupidly saddled down with kids and cars and houses were once every bit as hip and pompous as you.

When you meet a man in the doorway of a Mexican restaurant who later kisses you while explaining that this kiss doesn’t “mean anything” because, much as he likes you, he is not interested in having a relationship with you or anyone right now, just laugh and kiss him back. Your daughter will have his sense of humor. Your son will have his eyes.

The useless days will add up to something. The shitty waitressing jobs. The hours writing in your journal. The long meandering walks. The hours reading poetry and story collections and novels and dead people’s diaries and wondering about sex and God and whether you should shave under your arms or not. These things are your becoming.

One Christmas at the very beginning of your twenties when your mother gives you a warm coat that she saved for months to buy, don’t look at her skeptically after she tells you she thought the coat was perfect for you. Don’t hold it up and say it’s longer than you like your coats to be and too puffy and possibly even too warm. Your mother will be dead by spring. That coat will be the last gift she gave you. You will regret the small thing you didn’t say for the rest of your life.

Say thank you.

Yours,
Sugar

Isn’t she great?! Ah, if we could go back in time. I’ve imagined sitting down the younger, more insecure version of myself and having a good ol’ talk. I wouldn’t necessarily tell her to change her path, just her attitude and thoughts about herself. I’d probably say “Be kinder to yourself. And as I start to walk away I’d stop and add, “Let yourself be gutted. Let it open you. Start there.”

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Disconnected and Out of Balance

balance

Bonnie writesSitting down to write a post today I feel torn. Should I write about a recent frivolous clothes shopping excursion? Or, should I write about the imbalance in the media. Both subjects are irritants for me right now.

You’re probably hoping to hear some light and funny stuff about my shopping. Sorry. All I’m going to say about that is this: If you are nearing the 50 mark like me, then you should just walk on past stores called “Forever 21”. The sad reality is that “21” was a long time ago and ladies* “forever” is simply impossible. I ‘d like to meet the big fat liar who named that store and thump them over the head with a large mallet.

*(yes, I said ladiesgirls should be used sparingly now and mainly to describe alcohol induced giggly gatherings a la “girls night out”)

So, back to the media. First of all, I want to say any acts of terrorism are abhorrent and the people responsible for them should be punished to the full extent of the law. I also realize that anyone who has lost a loved one is obviously devastated and my heart goes out to them. I’m just struggling with the massive attention that has been given one, albeit terrible, act compared with all the others. I’m also directing my disdain squarely on the US media. I feel terrible for the 3 people killed in Boston, for all the people hurt, for their families and even for all the American citizens who felt sickened and terrified during the whole ordeal.

I just find the focus and the extent of coverage of the Boston bombings so out of balance and dare I say it, narcissistic.

Since the Syrian civil war broke out 2 years ago it is estimated that as many as 82,130 people have died while 1.4 million people have fled their country. Tens of thousands have died during the Afghanistan war. Recently over 600 people perished in a collapsed garment factory in Bangladesh while working for a pittance making clothing for North American consumers. I could list thousands of other tragic deaths that are happening all over the world but none of those would get the same attention as the 3 killed recently in Boston.

If you want to focus on your country and your country alone, US, I understand. That’s your choice, but hey, how about taking a good hard look at some other disturbing tragedies within your own borders. For example, according to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shooting deaths in 2015 will probably rise to almost 33,000. Let me spell that out – thirty three thousand people will be killed by guns!

And here’s a fact I think you should look long and hard at: Prescription drugs taken as directed kill 100,000 Americans a year. That’s almost one person every five minutes. That’s huge! Why aren’t you focusing your attention on that news American media?

I know. The headline is not sexy enough. Nobody actually wants to hear about it and few want to have to work at being healthy. It’s all too depressing. Good thing there’s a pill for that.

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Love Language

BonniebygateThere are moments in life when we feel a connection so deep words can hardly describe it. But how do we know that it’s real? This is the story of a boy who meets a girl and falls in love.

The Jubilee Project makes films for good causes. This film was produced to raise awareness and support for the American Society for Deaf Children. www.jubileeproject.org
www.twitter.com/jubileeproject

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Heels Firmly Dug In

stubborn goat

Bonniebygate

“Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!”
White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland

“It’s a strange thing, but when you are dreading something, and would give anything to slow down time, it has a disobliging habit of speeding up.”
–J.K. Rowling

Confession: I do not like to be told what to do, and more importantly when to do it. I can still hear my mom telling me “Clean your room!” and me saying “I will!” but thinking, when I’m good and ready to. The mood has to hit me first. I need to be inspired to clean my room and then watch out, I’ll clean the bee-jeebies out of that room, but in my own time. Ya, so that didn’t go over very well. The truth is that when I was a teenager, I rarely felt inspired to clean anything. I fought her every time, but I also lost every time.

The same can be said about writing letters. I was made to write people letters when I was young, usually to thank them for a gift. It’s the right thing to do of course. I liked to write, but not letters for some reason. I viewed writing letters as a chore, an expected chore, so I would dig my heels in and resist any way I could. This followed me well into my adult life. Years after my ex and I were apart and living on opposite coasts, I received in the mail one day a box of cute writing paper and envelopes from his mother. A box of 12. Each envelope was addressed back to her and had a stamp already in place. The idea was that I sit down with my son every few weeks and write a few lines to let her know how we were doing and what we were up to. A nice gesture? I’m sure she meant it as such. About 15 years later I was searching for something unrelated and came across that box of writing paper and envelopes, and you guessed it, all 12 stamped envelopes still waiting for their self-addressed journey that would never come. The combined postage probably couldn’t mail one letter today.

I can see the same thing happening with my gym routine. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are the chosen gym days. Tuesdays, Thursdays and some Sundays are supposed to be run days. These were my rules. I decided on the schedule but as soon as my husband starts to suggest that perhaps its time to go I get really cranky. I immediately go into Don’t Tell Me What To Do mode and I start resisting. I know! I’m a petulant child. At almost 50 years old, I’m still just a petulant child.

This brings me to my commitment of post writing for this blog. When we started this little blog there were three of us. We divided the week up so that we each would write a new blog post twice a week and then do a combined post on the 7th day. That meant there was a new post up every day. We kept that up for quite a long time, then someone, and I think it was probably me, suggested we only write 1 post each and just leave it up for our 2 days. That worked for quite awhile too. Then somebody, probably me, suggested that we cut back the post writing even more, and we did. When one of our team of three chose to sign off indefinitely and we were down to only 2, we each took on some extra writing. That worked for a bit, but then somebody, quite likely me, decided it was too much so we cut it back again. Now, we have agreed to each write only once every two weeks and post on Monday. Simple. Lots of time to find some inspiration. We get to write about whatever we want to so the possibilities are endless, the time vast, the pressure is off and yet…

So there you have it.  I’m posting this little confession in the form of my blog post…at this time, late on a Tuesday instead of first thing last Monday morning. Plus, as an added bonus, I’ve been working on it at 6pm on this Tuesday, despite, no precisely because that is our expected dinner hour. Not that my husband has that expectation, although I’m sure he’s hungry, but it’s my own self imposed rule and so I must for whatever reason, rebel against it occasionally too. Good grief! What is wrong with me?

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The Dream

what if this reality is a dreamBonniebygate

I once had a dream that changed the way I thought about death from that point on.

In my dream I was walking down a street with my friend, Tracy. We were shopping, looking through store windows and talking and laughing; having a great afternoon.

Across the road from us, I noticed a couple of young men rushing out of a store. My instincts told me that they had just robbed it. I rushed across to their side of the street and yelled, “Hey! What are you doing?” One of them bolted, but the other turned, raised his arms straight out towards me, both hands together holding his gun and pointed it at my head. Time slowed down then and as I turned to run I heard a loud crack before I fell. I lay motionless and confused on the sidewalk.

Was I really just dreaming? This felt too real. I was acutely aware of the gritty cool sidewalk pressing against my cheek. I watched, now fascinated by, the slow slinking away of my own blood, searching for the least resistant paths in which to leave me by.

Blood? This should really hurt, I thought. Why doesn’t this hurt? My perspective changed then and instead of watching my blood I was looking at my open eyes staring ahead, then at the awkward position that my body lay across the sidewalk. I could see all of myself at once.

Instead of being terrified, an overwhelming feeling of calm and love rushed through me and I felt completely safe. I was looking at the whole scene on the sidewalk from above my body and instead of feeling frightened, I felt completely at peace. There was no pain. I only felt love.

I floated gently, effortless and calm. Happy. Really happy…until I felt a sudden sharp tug. Something pulled at my heart. What was pulling at me, and what was that noise? I couldn’t make it out at first but slowly, as it grew louder, I realized it was someone screaming. Tracy. She was hysterical and terrified crouched beside my body. She didn’t understand. She thought that empty body was me. I had to let her know it wasn’t. I was right beside her, telling her I was fine, really! I was pleading with her not to be upset or afraid but I couldn’t get through to her; I couldn’t make her see the truth. I felt a pang of sadness for the pain that she was feeling and I didn’t want to leave her like that, without her knowing the truth. That everything was perfect. Everything was as it should be.

out_of_body_experience_by_aiiro_sama-d5ftufb

Then I woke up. I had to sit up and look around at my familiar room for a while to get my bearings. My dream felt so real and my waking up felt more like a dream. This was profound. It may have only been a dream but to me, there was real truth in it. It was as if I had been given a sacred gift; as if I’d had a real out of body experience without having to actually die to get it.

I still felt desperate to tell Tracy that everything was ok. So as soon as I could, I told her my dream in detail. Excited, I told her not to worry about death and that when I die I’ll be just fine and that her being upset will only tug at me and work to weigh me down and keep me from being completely free. Heavy, spiritual stuff right? So what was my dear friend’s reaction to this thought provoking, mind blowing dream of mine? Well…

She listened carefully as I recounted my dream then said, “Why did you cross the street and confront the guy? That was so stupid! And just so you know, I am never going shopping with you. Anywhere. Ever again.”

Well, that’s one way to look at it I suppose. 🙂 Just a dream right?

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How Do You Like Me So Far?

04beegeesdancecoll
Bonnie writesDon’t answer that.

For some reason it is painfully important what people think of me. Not only is it important to me but I worry about it. I don’t know why that is, but it is. It always has been. I’m approaching 50 years old and still I worry about what others think of me. When I was young and tried to imagine 50 year-old me, I saw this very confident, savvy, successful grown up person who looked a little like me only more mature and waaaay more sure of herself. Oh, and she had beautiful clothes and drove an immaculate shiny expensive car. I never stopped to imagine how she acquired all the nice clothes and the fancy car which could be the reason behind why they haven’t actually materialized. Boy, did I miss the target. I’m none of those things. Not even the grown up part.

Why do I care so much about what people think of me? I don’t know, but I’ve been giving it some thought lately and after going back, way back, into my rusty memory bank I realize, sadly, that I’ve always been this way. At least, I know for sure I was like this as far back as 5 years old. Maybe, just maybe, I had been a confident self assured 4 year-old, but if so, it was all over by 5.

At 5, in kindergarten, I recall being mortified after being called out for wearing the same dress twice in a row. I abruptly learned that wearing anything two days in a row was not the “normal” thing to do. And by not doing the normal thing I therefore stood out from the crowd. I did NOT want to stand out from the crowd. I preferred to blend in unnoticed so I could quietly observe from the side lines; make up my mind about people and events at my own pace, without anyone watching me. But mostly, I just wanted to be liked. I feel the same way today. Suddenly, I was being judged. At 5. And so it began. To this day I will not wear any item two days in a row, at least not out of the house anyway.

Such insecurity! Even as I write this, I’m typing my shitty first draft (every first draft of anything is shitty – it’s a universal law) on my computer using Word™, and I’m worried my computer doesn’t like me and thinks I’m an idiot. My spelling is routinely underlined with angry red squiggly lines that scream at me “You can’t be serious! Really? You still don’t know how to spell ‘way’? It’s a three letter word for crying out loud!” “I know!” I silently scream back, (don’t want anyone to hear me and think I’m crazy) “I purposely added the extra a’s for dramatic effect!” At which point my computer, lets out a disgusted “Pht! Amateur!”

I long for the freedom to really and truly not give a hoot about what others think of me. I’d probably go without makeup and groan really loudly at the gym. Stare all you want, I don’t care what you think! I’d spontaneously invite people over for dinner without working for hours beforehand cleaning, tidying, planning and prepping for a meal. It’s only a bloody meal! I might go bra-less while wearing that pretty white top with the very thin straps, oh the freedom! I’d sing out loud and well within ear shot of others. And I’d dance all over the dance floor, maybe even beyond, with or without a partner, swinging my arms above my head, wiggling and shaking all my bits to the music. Yes, even to the BeeGees, actually, especially to the BeeGees.

Then I’d write more. I’d write true stories straight from my life and I’d write imagined stories, then I’d blend them both for fun and let the sentences run on and on and on. Next I’d share without having to worry if people liked or disliked what I wrote, or worse yet, didn’t care enough to read any of it. I wouldn’t worry that I might not be educated enough, sophisticated enough, witty or worldly enough to write and therefore I’d be completely free to just do it. And I certainly wouldn’t freak out if someone looked over my shoulder while I wrote my shitty first draft. Who cares? Not me! I’m free!

Recently I very sagely advised someone, a decade or two younger than myself of course, that as you get older you let go of caring so much about what others think of you. Yes, me. I told them that. It’s true. Even scared-n-insecure ol’ me has managed to get better at it, although it is still an issue for me. Something I need to work on. I’m trying. In the mean time, please, whatever you do,  do not look over my shoulder if you catch me writing. Seriously. Don’t.

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To This Day

Bonnie writesI wrote a post featuring Shane Koyczan, spoken word poet, writer and music man, 2 years ago titled We Are More. That poem inspired a myriad of feelings the first time I heard him perform it and it does again every time I read it.

One line of We Are More stands out for me as I prepare to introduce you to Shane’s latest piece called To This Day:

“we live to get past what we go through”

We do. And we all do it in different ways. Such is the human spirit.

This time Shane writes about the experience of bullying. His personal experience and the experience of others. He knows of what he speaks. The pain you hear in his voice is real and the essence behind his words merged with the images are powerful. What an amazing talent and what an important message. Thank you Shane Koyczan.

About the “To This Day” Project

“My experiences with violence in schools still echo throughout my life but standing to face the problem has helped me in immeasurable ways.

I wrote “To This Day”, a spoken word poem, to further explore the profound and lasting impact that bullying can have on an individual.

Schools and families are in desperate need of proper tools to confront this problem. We can give them a starting point… A message that will have a far reaching and long lasting effect in confronting bullying.”

Please share far and wide. ~ Shane Koyczan

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Happy Birthday Tracy!!

hearts in nature

“A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.”
– William Shakespeare (smart guy that Bill!)

What a great year this will be! Hey, I just realized that we’ve been friends longer than some people have even been alive!

Here’s wishing my very old dear friend a happy, happy birthday! Born on Valentines day, she was created with the BIGGEST heart! I’m proud to walk beside you, Tracy, in this life journey. Wishing you all the happiness in the world. You deserve it! xoxoxoxoxoxo

how old

Happy Valentines Day everyone!!

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Black Heart, Red Heart or Meh…


bonnie laughsIt’s almost that time of year again so I did a search on Google for the following:

People who hate Valentines Day – 93,600,000 pages
People who love Valentines Day – 988,000,000 pages
People who don’t care about Valentines Day – 166,000,000 pages

So I guess the lovers win! Good for them. Me? I mostly fall into the “don’t care” or “meh” category. By the way, 166 million pages all devoted to “I don’t care”?! Wow people, we need to get a life.

To me, Feb 14th is Tracy’s birthday, and that makes it special but it is not a special-once-a-year “love” day and I definitely do not expect or want a box of waxy chocolate in a heart shaped box or a dozen roses you have to take a second mortgage out in order to buy.

I also did a search on Google for Valentines Day gifts and got a ridiculous amount of absolute silliness like a heart shape photo pillow, an acrylic poster print, and a crystal key ring, to name a few. Yep, things we all yearn for.

Do people actually take Valentines Day seriously? Should they? To each his own, or to own his each. I say, just have fun with it!

valentines stupid gift

Don’t. Just don’t.

bear

That’s one way to put it I guess.

candy under wear

Every twelve year old boy’s fantasy?

Every fat ol' rednecks fantasy?

Every fat ol’ rednecks fantasy?

So romantic!

So romantic!

This goes too far...way too far.

Because nothing says love more than funeral arrangements.

Well, there you go. In case you were stuck for gift ideas. You’re welcome.
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Inspired by Lungleavin Day

lungleavin day

BonniebygateInspiration is all around us. I am often inspired by words artfully strung together, by music and colours and fresh air, or when I stop and look around at nature in all its beauty and truth, and again when I look for the good in people; which, by the way, is always there.

What I find particularly inspiring are those who have suffered a major health crisis but have fought tooth and nail. Souls who have been through so much and then decide to share what they’ve learned. These people always look at life differently afterwards and I’m grateful when they want the rest of us to really get how precious life is. They know so many of us take it all for granted because they did themselves once. Before.

The recovering and the recovered often work hard to share their knowledge and wisdom with those of us innocent of the pain and fear they’ve endured and to those who may be newly diagnosed they also offer understanding and hope.

So, thank you fighters and survivors. Thank you for sharing all that you do.

Here is one such survivor who has been offering up what she has learned over the past seven years:

Heather Von St. James is a seven year mesothelioma cancer survivor and continues to provide unending inspiration to mesothelioma victims around the globe. She carries out her mission to be a beacon of hope for those afflicted with mesothelioma by sharing her story of faith, love and courage both as a keynote speaker at conferences and through social media forums.

She writes “My journey through cancer was quite a terrifying one and I’d like to turn my struggles and obstacles into inspiration and hope for others. One of many things that came out of my battle with cancer is a holiday I created called Lungleavin Day. This is the anniversary of my surgery (Feb 2nd) in which my entire left lung was removed. Lungleavin Day is a celebration of life and facing your fears. Each year we celebrate with nearly 100 loved ones. The idea of this day is for everyone to fill a blank plate with their fears and smash it into a bonfire at my Lungleavin day party, symbolizing people throwing their fears to the fire. I also use Lungleavin day as a fundraiser for mesothelioma research.”

Read Heather’s blog post about fear. “FEAR” is an acronym for “False Evidence Appearing Real”

Thanks Heather and Happy Lungleavin Day!

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Is Fifty Really Nifty?

50

bonnie on dock bw

Ok, this whole aging thing…I’m not sure I like it. I get that we all have to go through it because the alternative is, well, dying and I definitely do not want to do that for a very long time. My goal is to live to 103. But what will that look like and, even scarier, what will that feel like? Do I really want to go there?

It’s just that aging, apparently, involves slowly falling apart. The gears start to grind, mosses (or skin tags as the doctor calls them) grow and hair starts sprouting in new and unacceptable places. It would be ok if this thick dark hair began showing up on the top of my head and that transparent silver hair decided to grow out of my neck, but of course, it has to work the other way around. Luckily the hair on my head grows past my shoulders and falls around my neck thereby tricking the eye into believing all hair around my neck originated from my head. This is why I refuse to ever cut my hair short. If you are wondering why I don’t just pluck, well that would take decent eyesight wouldn’t it? And then there’s gravity. Gravity has insisted on declaring itself a fact and bits that once lured are trying to lag and sag. Nooooooo……

My step son’s girlfriend turned 30 this month. I like her. We have quite a few things in common and get along well. I don’t think about the 20 years that separate our birth dates when I’m with her. It doesn’t even occur to me…until I catch a reflection of myself in a mirrored surface like a window or toaster and then I gasp (and likely wet myself a little). Who the hell is that?! And why does she kind of look like my mother? My husband thinks it’s funny and tries to get my goat by calling me by my mother’s name. He gets really quiet though when I answer him back by calling him by his father’s name.

I’ve entered a new era of aches and pains and there is nothing I can do about it. If I don’t go to the gym and work out I ache and when I do go to the gym and work out, I ache. Somehow the after work out ache feels better. I shouldn’t complain. I still have all my own teeth, they may be a little longer but they’re all mine. Despite being a clencher (ooo sounds sexy), I’ve ditched the mouth guard for now… plus I’m grateful not to have sleep apnea so I don’t have to wear any contraption over my face when I sleep. So there’s that. Yay me!

I organized a surprise birthday party for my mother when she turned 50. I remember thinking how very far off turning 50 was for me. *Poof!* What the… how did that happen so fast?!

There are some bonuses to aging if you look for them. Filters fall away allowing words to fall out of your mouth (or on the page) before you can stop them. And nobody seems to mind. Then there are all those discounts to look forward to and government cheques eventually and, um, what else, what else…what else is good about aging? That’s all I’ve got – for now. I have another 53 years or so to look for positives, if there are any. I’ll try to remember to update you if I find any.

There is a line in Their Eyes Were Watching God that I just love – “There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” I feel like I’m entering into the years that answer stage. Although I doubt I’ll ever stop asking.

I don’t “qualify” for the discounts until June but judging by how fast this train is moving, that’s only a blink away. “All Aboard!” I guess so.

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The Sun Also Sets in Key West

welcome to key west
bonnie laughsKey West – Where The Weird Go Pro” – Written on a t-shirt displayed in the window of one of Key West’s many, many tacky t-shirt shops. The best humour is always born from truth and that particular t-shirt summed up some of Key West’s more “colourful” locals in my opinion. Colourful sounds so much nicer than weird don’t you think?

Every beach-y resort town has a few things you can count on: ice cream, patio bars, t-shirt shops, seafood, tourists, art galleries juggling fireand kiosks selling booze cruise and para-sailing tickets. Key West has all of that and more. You can also find female impersonators, alcohol, nude girl peep shows, alcohol, fetish shops, alcohol, Cuban leaf (rolled in the Dominican) cigar shops, only one book store (sadly), alcohol and street “entertainers”. I use the term entertainers loosely. One scruffy looking guy had a small dog, a Chihuahua maybe but it was hard to tell because he had it wearing little dark sunglasses, a small visor hat and about 6 colourful bead necklaces around its little neck while it sat obediently on the curb. He had a sign beside the dog that said “Take a picture – Leave a tip” You lazy SOB. You can at least beat on an empty paint can or something. Make a little effort like the guy riding around on his bicycle decorated like a disco, complete with spinning mirror ball and Donna Summer blasting. Now that was creative. As was the guy who was literally jumping through hoops and those crazy guys riding tall uni-cycles while juggling fire sticks. Now that’s entertainment. Especially when you realize there is no way they can afford health insurance!

Anyway, back to the guy exploiting his little dog…at least he didn’t say anything. He just sat there waiting for the money to roll in. In houndsight hindsight, he is better than the guy playing guitar and singing down at the park where everyone gathers to watch the sun set each evening. That guy was belligerent because he wasn’t getting tipped enough in his opinion. He’d play one song (not that well I might add) in his rough I’ve-had-too-many-whiskeys-and-cigarettes voice and then stop to shout things at the crowd like “Tipping is not a city in China people!” His tip bucket was a large 5 gallon plastic bucket with a sign on it that read “Tipping EXPECTED and appreciated” “Ya, I don’t think so! I came to the park to see the sun set and not be harassed by you anyway, you talent-less jack ass!” I screamed while swinging punches at him but John scooped me up around the waist and was carrying me away so none of my punches landed. I made that last part up, I’m too heavy to be “scooped”, and too polite to yell at people strangers…but I thought about it! We did get a few hundred pictures of the sunset so it was all worth it.sunsetkeywest

Apart from, and despite the weird, Key West is a very charming and cool place to visit. The historical district of Key West dubbed Old Town where we stayed is wonderful. Most of the architecture dates from around 1886 to 1912. Wood-frame construction of one to two-and-a-half-story structures with peaked metal roofs, horizontal wood siding, gingerbread trim, pastel shades of paint, side-hinged louvered shutters, covered porches along the fronts and wood lattice screens covering the area elevated by piers.

Chickens and roosters roam and yes, even cross the streets. Why? We couldn’t get a straight answer from any of them. Six toed cats, descendants of Ernest Hemingway’s cat, Snowball, still reside lazily all around Hemingway House and quite likely beyond its gates.roostercrosses6toedcats

There is a long list of well known people who have called Key West home at one time or another. Ernest Hemingway (whose home we toured), Tennessee Williams, Jimmy Buffet, Calvin Klein, Shel Silverstein, Judy Blume, Truman Capote, Harry Truman, Ralph Lauren, Robert Frost, to name a few. I completely get why. The southern most tip of the US (only 90 miles from Cuba – so close and yet so far) has a kind of beauty and magic in its humid salty air. It’s just different and quirky enough to have its own unique southern charm. After a few Cuba Libra’s in Sloppy Joe’s Bar (served to me by Bonnie the bartender who looked about 68ish and was a scary “there, but by the grace of God, go I” reminder) I declared in a slur – I must write about this place!

“Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.”
– Ernest Hemingway

True dat Mr. Hemingway! (He’s rolling over in his grave right now)

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Happy New Year!

bonnie laughsIt’s a new day, it’s a new year. Time to look forward to the possibilities. Just before we do though, let’s have a quick look back at a few amazing moments in 2012 caught in photos.
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This stunning view of Earth reveals the planet at night in unprecedented detail. Released by NASA Dec. 5, it was assembled from multiple shots taken by the Suomi NPP satellite during April and October 2012. The new data was mapped over existing Blue Marble imagery of Earth to provide a realistic view of the planet.

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Felix Baumgartner jumps out of his capsule Oct. 14. Baumgartner shattered the sound barrier while making a tumbling, death-defying plunge from a balloon to a safe landing in the New Mexico desert.

children who stand up against hate
A young boy bravely takes a stand against hate by holding a sign that reads “God Hates No One”.

doctors who gave free medical care

After Superstorm Sandy, there were many acts of kindness shown to the victims, proving once again, the good out weigh the bad.

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Gabby Douglas in the Artistic Gymnastics Women’s Individual All-Around final on Day 6 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at North Greenwich Arena on August 2, 2012 in London, England.

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Awww! A 4-day-old newborn silverback gorilla clings to his mother in the Ramat Gan safari, near Tel Aviv, Israel, Wednesday, Nov. 14.

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President Barack Obama sits on the famed Rosa Parks bus at the Henry Ford Museum following an event in Dearborn, Michigan, April 18.

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A kayaker looks back at the dorsal fin of an approaching shark at Nauset Beach in Orleans, Mass. in Cape Cod on Saturday, July 7. An unidentified man in the foreground looks towards them. No injuries were reported.

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The space shuttle Endeavour, atop the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, lands at Los Angeles International Airport on Sept. 21. Its journey marked the final scheduled ferry flight of the Space Shuttle Program.

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A group of 138 skydivers form a massive snowflake over Ottawa, Ill Aug. 3. Falling at speeds of up to 220 mph, the divers shattered the vertical skydiving world record as they flew heads-down.

tightrope walder

Famed tightrope walker Nik Wallenda crosses Niagara Falls on a wire, June 15. It was the first walk across Niagara Falls in over a century, and tens of thousands of spectators watched from the US and Canadian sides of the falls. Wallenda’s walk on a cable suspended 196 feet up over a never-before-traversed rim of the waterfall took under 30 minutes, less than expected.

To all our Tara Cronica readers, we wish you a wonderful, happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

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Christmas Spending – Ho Ho Holy Sh*t



The count down has begun. We are weeks/days away from that gluttonous time of year that we in the 1st world call “Christmas”. There is debt to be accumulated, empty calories to scoff and guilt over and a wide swath of poor decisions to be made. You know, shopping decisions. Would he/she really wear/play with/be appalled by/be impressed with/be disappointed in/re-gift at next years staff party/(insert your own gift insecurities here)… or should I just buy a gift card. Actually gift cards are not as easy as they used to be either. There once was a day when it could only be an iTunes card or a gas card, now the possibilities are endless from big box stores to restaurant chains to ski passes to lingerie stores and everything in between. Plus…do you buy the $25, $50, $100 card? There’s no bargain shopping with gift cards either, your giftee knows exactly how much you paid for this gift.

*Spoiler alert* Stop reading if you think stockings are stuffed and presents under the tree magically delivered via your chimney by way of a jolly (albeit probably diabetic) fat man in a red suit.

Are you sure? Ok…so, I tried telling my family that I would forego the stocking stuffing this year. Before you get all judgey on me, understand that stuffing stockings at our house this Christmas would include “me” buying and stuffing stockings for my semi-retired (<-clue to his age) husband, my 24 year old son, my 37 year old bonus son, my bonus sons 30 year old new girlfriend, my 35 year old bonus daughter and her significantly older boyfriend,  and my husband happily buying and stuffing a stocking for 49 year old me. I thought that maybe at this stage we would have all grown out of wanting stockings. HA! There was a loud outcry from one son and one daughter and so…the show must go on.

I don’t know about you but I get nervous at this time of year when I see anyone who does my hair or taxes, delivers my newspaper or mail or picks up my garbage. I’d avoid seeing my gardeners and housekeepers too if I had any. Apparently these people get Christmas tips or gifts, which is fine I guess, but how much? What does this kind of “gifting” look like? A friend in the States told me she gives the hostess at one of her favourite restaurants $50 every Christmas. (Which is more like buying insurance for getting seated quickly at a good table than it is good cheer; I guess we’ll be sitting near the bathrooms all year.) By the way, she has more than one favourite restaurant.

Where do you draw the line? Should I gift or tip the kid that bags my groceries even though he puts the bag of oranges on top of the bread? What about the girl at the gym who laboriously swipes our membership card or the lady from Home Depot in the flooring department, or how about the guy that stopped his car at the cross walk so I could cross the street the other day?

The pressure is building…must get the perfect gift…must tip or give a gift to anyone who has crossed my path this year…must get fun original stocking stuffers…must decorate Martha Stewart style…must bake family favourites…must…must…must poor myself a large tumbler of red wine.

And then it was all Ho Ho Happiness again.

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I Wish You Enough

“I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.

I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.

I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.

I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger.

I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.

I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.

I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye.”

Author Unknown

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The Right to Bare Breasts – Not Arms!

Ahhh Florida. We’re back indulging in your warm salt water breezes, dodging pelican poop and trying not to step on your geckos.  We have settled in nicely now starting each day by taking turns with sections of the local paper while leisurely sipping our coffee. This is what it’s all about…relaxing.

We shake our heads over all the attention given to wanna-be socialite Jill Kelley. This woman has been raked over the coals here because she “tried too hard” to fit in with the old-money-rich in Tampa. Meanwhile the woman that was sending nasty emails about Kelley and having an affair with the director of the CIA, eh, not so much talk about her. Instead the paper reports that Jill Kelly dressed “too revealing” and the old money folks did not approve. Really? So, you don’t mind the one woman having an affair with the CIA’s top dog but the woman who tried to break into your social circle was deemed too tacky so you boot her to the curb. Ohhh kaaay.

Then we giggle in a kind of nervous twitchy way over the news that our adopted city has a freaky radio celebrity by the name of Bubba the Love Sponge. Yep. This class act offered up his wife to Hulk Hogan and then secretly video taped their tryst so he could profit from it later. He also announced on his radio show that he planned to “deep fry” the Koran. Thankfully he was persuaded to abandon his sick, messed up idea. Bubba, you are a menace to humanity, now go hang your head and sit quietly while tightly strapped into your straight jacket on the corner of Lame St and Creepy Rd.

Sadly, we are reminded, every time we read the paper, of the sacred “right to bare arms” in this country, as in the holy Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, contained in the Bill of Rights. We are reminded of this because almost everyday there is a case in which someone was killed by the gun of someone else. Someone who “has the right” to bare arms of course; someone who deemed it their “right” to take the life of another human because they “felt” threatened in some way or other.

The most recent sad story in this old “right to bare arms” case played out recently when one man decided a young skate boarder should not skate on some newly surfaced black top in his neighbourhood park. He stormed out of his house to confront the kid and got into an argument with another neighbour who had already told the kid that it would be ok to skate in the park. He was in such a rush to confront the skate boarder he hadn’t stopped to put on his shoes. But he had his gun with him. He never went anywhere without his gun. The neighbour he argued with was at the park shooting hoops with his eight year old daughter. She witnessed her father being shot to death over a stupid argument. She was a witness to the shooting of her father because one man was determined to stop a kid from riding his skate board. Senseless.

People are allowed to disagree. People should debate and fight for what they believe to be important, but they should not be allowed to bring their guns. Come on people!

My husband has always said the rule is backwards. In the US people get arrested and worse, deemed tacky, by bearing their breasts, but it’s ok to pack a gun wherever they go. The Amendment should be “amended” to read “the right to bear breasts”…not arms. The country would be so much better off, don’t you think?

Happy Thanksgiving America!

 

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