Category Archives: The Wednesday Word

The Wednesday Word – Open House

Open House: noun – A period of time during which a house or apartment for sale or rent is held open for public viewing.

About a year ago my husband and I reached a point in our lives when we realized that after over twenty years of living in the same house, there might actually be a time in the foreseeable future when we would like to move on. He feels no rush of excitement at the idea of cutting the grass every week. I, sadly, have misplaced a lot of my interest in edging, weeding and mulching the garden. Although I still enjoy relaxing in my yard admiring my plants and watching the birds play in the birdbath, we don’t really need much of a yard anymore.

What really soothes our souls is water. It is our hope to live in a house some day that backs onto a harbour or Lake Ontario. You pretty much have to invest at least a million dollars to live on water in our current location, but by moving 20 or 30 miles farther from the city to a townhouse, we might be able to afford a home with a water view. We think a small property, with its small garden, would be adequate and a fair trade for the satisfaction of living on water.

For various reasons, a move is not imminent, but we have taken up attending open houses as our new hobby. A couple of real estate agents have told us that it’s an excellent idea to get to know what types of homes are available and what you can expect to get for your money before you are serious about moving. You can also familiarize yourself with an area and get a feel for the community, not to mention the obvious fact that it’s just fun and interesting to see what others have done with their homes.

Watch for upcoming posts that chronicle what we’ve learned about houses and fellow house hunters by attending area open houses.


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The Wednesday Word – Sock

Sock: noun – a short stocking usually reaching to the calf or just above the ankle.

Through my teens and twenties I shoved my bare feet into moccasins for all but the coldest months of the year. Uninterested in, and unfazed by, social pressure to wear the latest styles, my feet were free spirits, non-conformists, the hippies of feetdom. Tiptoeing through the tulips in the most minimal of foot coverings, my feet lived in peace and happiness.

Alas, even free thinkers age and one day my feet realized that the times, they were a-changin’. They were tired by day’s end and the padded insoles and arch support offered by sturdier footwear now held much appeal. But how do feet bow to the need for sensible shoes without losing their identity? How do they acquiesce to the addition of socks to their wardrobe? Socks, for Pete’s sake – restraining tubes of navy or brown boredom enclosing tootsies in darkness for hours on end. “Say it isn’t so,” moaned the feet.

Trudging despondently through the department store on their first major sock shopping expedition, my feet soon made a surprising and joyful discovery: socks don’t have to be boring at all! They come in every colour and pattern imaginable. Feet can dress for holidays and display their favourite interests, hobbies and television characters all year long. There are even socks as souvenirs from favourite places. Socks are, in fact, a perfect way for feet to express their individuality.

So now my feet are content to wear stodgy shoes because, still unfettered by the fickle notions of our fad-driven society, they are free to enjoy whatever socks they choose. Sometimes they flaunt the day’s pick, carefully chosen to complement an outfit or celebrate an occasion. Other days call for more subtlety and my feet hide, chuckling, under the boardroom table, rebels clad in Spongebob Squarepants, surrounded by conformists. And if my feet no longer choose to tiptoe almost naked through the tulips, they now take enjoyment from wrapping themselves in colourful flowered socks. To everything, there is a season.

Peace.


A small sampling of socks.


The Wednesday Sock.

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The Wednesday Word – Clock

Clock: noun – An instrument other than a watch for measuring or indicating time, especially a mechanical or electronic device having a numbered dial and moving hands or a digital display.

Clocks make great gifts. They come in almost every imaginable size and style, represent a huge number of hobbies and interests, are available in prices to suit every budget and, as an extra bonus, are even useful.

Dad's clock

I love it on those rare occasions when I find a gift that is so perfect for someone, it might as well have their name on it. That happened to me well over twenty years ago when I saw a timepiece in the window of a little clock shop that instantly brought my dad to mind. The clock had a figure of silent film star Harold Lloyd hanging from the minute hand, recreating the real Lloyd’s role in the 1923 silent film classic Safety Last!, a film my dad loved.

Harold Lloyd in Safety Last! (photo from haroldlloyd.com)

I ventured into the shop. I remember it as a tiny place,  absolutely stuffed full of working clocks of all sizes and styles tick, tick, ticking away. I didn’t see a sales counter anywhere, but suddenly the owner materialized, somewhat startlingly, from behind a wall of clocks and inquired if he could help me. (The shop would have been a perfect mystery movie set.)

I asked how much the Harold Lloyd clock in the window was and I recall that the owner was impressed by my knowledge of  Lloyd, as most people thought the clock figure was the better known actor Buster Keaton. The clock cost more than I could afford then, but from the moment I laid eyes on it I knew I was going to get it for dad, so my sister and I shared the cost and gave it as a gift from both of us. It was money well spent, because all these years later, Harold is still hanging on and circling the clock face every hour.

I wonder how many times dad had to explain the significance of the clock to visitors? I suspect it was often, because although the still shots of Lloyd hanging from the clock twelve stories above the city streets are some of the best known photos from silent films, not many people have seen the movie. It stars Harold as The Boy who promises The Girl (Mildred Davis, Lloyd’s real-life wife) that he will go to the city, make good and send for her. Naturally, things don’t go as well as  he would have liked.

The high point, literally, of the film is when Harold climbs twelve stories up the side of a building and, after a series of misadventures, ends up dangling precariously from the detached face of a clock. There is some disagreement as to whether Lloyd actually climbed that high himself  but film critic Roger Ebert notes: “Having seen a high-resolution 35mm print in which I am clearly looking at Harold Lloyd much of the time, I am prepared to believe that certain shots may have been doubled, but that in others the star himself was in mortal danger.”

For everyone’s enjoyment, but especially for those who have seen the clock and wondered about the film, here is a clip of Harold Lloyd in Safety Last!

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The Wednesday Word – Day

Day: noun – (often initial capital letter) a day assigned to a particular purpose or observance: New Year’s Day.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! This is one of the official holidays noted on calendars, even though we don’t get time off work here, and everyone is invited to celebrate the day regardless of their background. I’m not Irish but I’m wearing Lucky Leprechaun socks and shamrock earrings today nonetheless.

What I want to know is, who decides when the unofficial special days are, the ones that aren’t noted, and how do you find out when they are being held?

Below is an account of what happened to me recently as an example of what you can expect when you are one of the uninformed.

The car ahead of me is turning right, I think – it’s moving so slowly it’s hard to tell. Apparently inspired by the recent Olympic Games, the driver is obviously going for the gold in his chosen driving event: turning a corner as slowly as possible without actually stopping. I’m impressed; a turtle with a sprained ankle would move faster than this car. I’m sure the driver would be on the podium if he could make it there before the Games were over, the crowds dispersed and his win just a distant memory. Still, I would prefer that he move a little faster … okay, a lot faster. Come on, spin that wheel! You can do it! Hurry! Finally he makes the corner and I carry on straight, but I have an ominous feeling about what lies ahead.  Sure enough, I’m soon stuck behind a car going under the speed limit. We crawl down the street and mosey onto the freeway. Despite my mounting uneasiness, I’m briefly hopeful that I’ll be able to pull around the slowpoke and get my car up to normal highway speed, but it’s not to be. Not only is the person in the middle lane driving under the speed limit, so is the person in the so-called fast lane. All three lanes of traffic are effectively blocked by cars travelling at the same slow speed, and my worst fear is confirmed: it’s Drive in Slow Motion Day and I’ve missed the e-mail notification, again.

If I had advance warning of Drive in Slow Motion Days (which occur regularly, although I’ve been unable to discern a pattern) I would allow extra travel time and the day wouldn’t be quite as annoying. Without notice, it’s an exercise in frustration.

Just as irritating are the days when I set off for work innocently expecting business as usual, only to find that suddenly everyone is acting as though you need a Masters Degree  in English to fill out a simple form and an understanding of advanced calculus to complete basic math. Oh no, I groan to myself on those days, it’s Take a Stupid Pill with Breakfast Day. If there’s one thing you don’t want to be, it’s the only person who hasn’t taken a stupid pill. Unfortunately, following the instructions for taking your medication is important so you can’t just go ahead and pop your pill at lunch or afternoon tea. No, indeed, if you miss the breakfast popping, you’re doomed to be the only person not dazed and confused for the entire day. I don’t enjoy Take a Stupid Pill with Breakfast Day.

I’m sure you have some special days specific to your area and you probably agree that it’s frustrating being one of the uninformed. So, if you find out where to sign up for e-mail notification of all the unofficial holidays, please let me know.

Meanwhile, may the luck of the Irish be you today and always, but especially on the unofficial special days when you may need it the most.

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The Wednesday Word – License Plate

License Plate: noun – A rectangular, usually metal plate that bears a sequence of numbers, letters, or both and is issued by a government to identify an officially registered vehicle.

There are a lot of hawks where I live. When they’re off duty, I see them soaring majestically over the fields and forests. More often, though, I find them hard at work gathering information for their upcoming collaboration, The Ultimate Guide to Personalized License Plates in North America: A Bird’s Eye View. Perfectly suited to researching this massive joint undertaking, they are unfazed by poor weather as they spend hours perched next  to busy roadways atop light standards, or on fence posts and sturdy tree branches, observing the passing traffic. The hawks use their sharp eyesight (suddenly the phrase eagle-eyed seems offensive) to find the funniest and most original plates to include in their collection. (You’ve probably seen them working in your area as part of their attempt to encompass all of North America.) When they find a license plate worth noting they, well, I don’t actually know how they pass along the information; I’m hoping the details of the book’s production will be explained in its prologue.

Esteemed writer?

The Ultimate Guide may be the first of many books to be authored by the hawk community. With their wonderful powers of observation, it should be easy for them to produce several volumes just from their notes gathered while researching license plates. Perhaps we will soon see The Bizarre Driving Habits of Humans and Spectacular Crashes Annual. For some lighter reading there could be the anecdotal collections Honestly Officer, the Light Was Yellow and Sign? What Sign? For an overview of everything the hawks have learned, there will be the Field Guide to the Humans of North America. This book — another species’ study of human cultures and interaction — could be a real eye-opener for us. And then, of course, there will be The Secret Life of Humans … you might want to be a little more aware of your open curtains.

But first up will be The Ultimate Guide to Personalized License Plates. I admit that it’s unlikely I’ll buy the book, but I’ll definitely borrow it from the local library. It will be very interesting to see the results of this enormous undertaking.

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The Wednesday Word – Connectivity

Connectivity: noun – a computer buzzword that refers to a program or device’s ability to link with other programs and devices.

You would not believe the terrific ideas I get for blog posts. They pop into my brain almost in their entirety: ideal sentences–whole paragraphs even–fluid, funny, complete, no need for editing, no struggling to find perfect words because they’re already there. Do these brainwaves occur while I’m sitting at my computer, hot coffee at the ready, fingers hovering expectantly over the keyboard? No. They arrive, unbidden, at completely inopportune times, such as when I’m lathered in the shower or merging onto an 8-lane highway. There’s no way of jotting my genius down then–it’s too wet or dangerous or even illegal to pull out a pad or keyboard and focus on writing–and by the time I do get to it, the ideas may be just shadows of their original brilliance.

So I thought, wouldn’t it be great if I had a memory card in my head? I could just install the ConnectivityBlog program and all my great ideas would transfer instantly onto the card. I’d take it out and pop it into my laptop at the end of the day and presto, I’d be done.

But I quickly realized that this seemingly simple concept would never work, because the program designers wouldn’t stop there. Soon there would be ConnectivityPro, Advanced, Deluxe, Ultimate, and numbers 1 through 7. In short order the program would have advanced so far beyond a simple, helpful tool for writers that the arrival of ConnectivitySecurity would allow Big Brother to insert his own card into my brain at the airport and do a search for any bad thoughts I may harbour about airplanes, airports and airport security.

I can picture it now. The day I’m to leave on the Big Trip I’ve been looking forward to for over twelve months, my card reader won’t work. “No getting on the plane without a scan,” says Airport Security. “But, but, it worked this morning!” I stutter, “I just downloaded my last post two hours ago! Try again!” No, they won’t try again, but there is a computer repair shop in the airport if I’d like to try getting my card reader fixed in time to still make the flight. If? I’ve been saving for a year for this non-refundable trip! I’ve never had a bad thought about airport security in my life—this isn’t fair!

So I race to the computer repair store which is, of course, in another terminal a monorail ride, four escalators and two sets of stairs away. After paying five times the normal repair rate, the card reader is declared fixed and I sprint back to the departure area, arriving sweaty and breathless with four minutes to spare until the gates close. But now I have another serious problem, because now I am having bad thoughts about airport security. … It would be a nightmare.

But wouldn’t ConnectivityBlog be handy?

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The Wednesday Word – Emergency Ward

Emergency Ward: noun – a hospital or primary care department that provides initial treatment to patients with a broad spectrum of illnesses and injuries, some of which may be life-threatening and require immediate attention.

I spent the last couple of days in the emergency ward with an elderly patient, which prevented me from writing the entry I originally had in mind for today, so here are some of the observations I made while there.

Seven people came in on Monday with chest pain, which made me wonder if there was a correlation between the pain and the first day of the work week. Maybe when those people say they’re really dreading going back to work on Monday, they’re not exaggerating.

The incessant beeping of assorted monitors was so irritating to me at one point that I’m sure it raised my blood pressure to a level where I almost needed my own monitor.

The nurses worked very hard, especially on Monday night when the ward was so crowded that there were occupied gurneys lining both sides of every hallway. It was lucky that we arrived early in the day and secured a highly sought after cubicle.

On Tuesday afternoon the ward seemed substantially quieter than Monday and the nurses, while still helpful, had more time to gossip. I learned that the blond, female nurse just had a nice vacation, although the weather wasn’t great. The male nurse has a six-month-old baby who is doing just fine, thanks for asking. One of the nurses is on a power trip and had a run-in with another nurse, who wasn’t about to take any nonsense, but Power Trip apologized to Are You Talking to Me? so everything’s okay now.

I got to see an echocardiogram  (ultrasound of the heart). I don’t know how it looked to the trained technician but for several moments I thought the image looked like a disembodied alien head floating in space and I wondered if  this type of test has been the source of inspiration for more than one science fiction writer.

If you are a tiny, confused, 88-year-old man who looks surprisingly similar to a garden gnome ornament, you can get away (at least occasionally) with being nasty to the very people who are trying to help you. Some of them will even laugh and call you “so cute”. Thank goodness for the patience and training of hospital staff.

Other words and phrases that may apply to this situation: waiting and waiting and waiting, tiring, sad

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