Please note that all posts are copyright. Do not reprint in whole or in part without permission of the author. You may refer to one of my posts in your own writing; simply include the link(s) so readers can be taken directly to my work. Thank you, and enjoy! ~Susan

Wednesday, 27 July 2016


No, this is not a post about hair. Today I'm talking about telephone extensions and how people use them

We have several such extensions at my workplace, and just for fun, I dialed the library's main number to verify what directions people receive when they call. After being informed of our name of business, customers are advised to:
  • press 0 for an operator at any time
  • press 1 for Branch 1
  • press 2 for Branch 2
  • press 3 for Branch 3
  • press 5 for information on renewing materials
  • dial the 3-digit extension of the party they wish to reach, assuming they know what  the extension is
  • press 8 for a staff directory
At no time are they offered the extension number for the desk at which I sit. At this point in my exploration, I checked our library's website. Sure enough, the extension for the Information Desk is there, albeit considerably way down on the page.

Still, I am puzzled. Why, you ask? For this simple reason: not infrequently we receive calls at the Information Desk that go like this:

Me: X Library, Susan speaking. How may I help you? 

Customer: Could I please have extension 1-2-3?   

Me: ???

Of course I really say 'yes' and put them through, but it boggles my mind why they dial my extension when they know the extension they want to reach.

I like to think I'm a fairly intelligent person, but if anyone can explain this to me, I'd be most grateful!  

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Book Review: Life is Friends: A Complete Guide to the Lost Art of Connecting in Person

by: Jeanne Martinet
Publisher: Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 2009
Genre: non-fiction, friendship

Goodreads Description:
How can it be that you receive dozens of personal e-mails or texts every day but have nothing to do come Saturday night? Or that you’re constantly juggling a jam-packed schedule while always feeling that something essential is missing? Who the heck took the social out of your social life?
Jeanne Martinet, the celebrated author of The Art of Mingling, solves these mysteries and more in Life Is Friends. With an attitude that’s savvy, sympathetic, and down-to-earth, Martinet gives you the game plan for relearning the lost art of socializing. Forget texting, IMing, Facebook, and Internet “relationships.” When it comes to building real friendships, she says, there’s simply no substitute for live, in-person hospitality.
Martinet offers a full gamut of strategies and techniques for socializing, from making that first connection with someone to maintaining a long-term relationship. And she focuses on entertainingwhether it’s a dinner party or an informal get-together, a cocktail party or a monthly card game—because sharing one’s home and lifestyle is the most important element in nurturing friendships.
Brimming with generous amounts of wit, all-too-true stories, and advice that’s both pithy and practical, Life Is Friends gets us back on the path to social success and satisfaction. So read what Martinet has to say. And then, go ahead: Invite people over.
 My Review:

There is no doubt some merit in the author's assertion that you can only truly make friends with others when you visit in one another's homes. On the other hand, there are people I've yet to meet in person whom I consider wonderful friends. Some I'd been friends with for years before ever meeting in person. But I get it; there's indeed something special in having people in your home that deepens, or can deepen, your relationships.

Martinet offers tips for hosting and guesting, including for overnight stays. Many of these are useful. However, I found  parts of the book vulgar, i.e. when she wrote about guests having sex with one another or with the host, and when she fished for an invitation to a swinging party. Perhaps I am too suburban and not sufficiently citified, but if that's what citification does to a person, I'm quite happy without it. Still, I'm sure that not every NYC-dweller shares Martinet's mores. I hope not anyway! 

My Rating: 2 out of 5 stars  

Wednesday, 20 July 2016


In March and June I talked a little bit about my bucket list, and earlier this month my husband and I actually got to strike one item off with our trip to Mackinac Island. Because we were so late in deciding to go this year, we weren't able to find reasonably priced accommodation on the island itself (the cheapest I could get was at $245 a night - with the exchange rate on our  Canadian dollar, just not doable). Instead, we stayed at The Rainbow Motel in Mackinaw City for three nights and took the Arnold Line ferry to Mackinac Island on two consecutive days. 

The Rainbow was quite inexpensive, but ranks as the #4 hotel in Mackinaw City (out of 41!) according to Trip Advisor. We were quite satisfied with our stay there, and the money saved enabled us to do other things. While the Arnold ferry is slower than the other two lines, one of which is a hydro jet, they offer a two-day pass, which made it the most economical option. And with a 35-minute travel time, it hardly made for a day wasted in commuting. Both days we were on the ferry for the earliest crossing (8 a.m.), and arrived on the island before it got overly busy. Wise indeed!

My husband had fun turning a color photo into black & white to create an impression of times gone by.
With no motor vehicles permitted, the pace of life on Mackinac is much more relaxed, or at least as relaxed as you want it to be. On the first day, we rented bicycles at the Arnold Line dock (I think the pricing is pretty much the same anywhere) and cycled around the 8-mile island. The lakeshore is very picturesque with lots of places to stop along the way, including a climb to Arch Rock, which is quite pretty. There are also lots of plaques posted, where you can read about the island's history. A number of War of 1812 events occurred here. For $2 you can pick up a guide from the Visitor's Center, both to read while you are there and as a keepsake to take home and read at your leisure.

We had breakfast at The Chuckwagon, a popular greasy spoon, a smoothie at Twist 'n Sprouts for lunch, and spent the afternoon hiking along the paths, including a stop at Fort Holmes. I admit that we didn't visit Fort Mackinac, mainly because we tend to feel that if you've seen one fort, you've seen 'em all, and because we were there as a couple and not a family. Fort Holmes, a reconstruction with no activities on site, was a free attraction.

On day two, we rented a horse and carriage from Jack's Livery and Stable and my husband drove us along the lakeshore and through the middle of the island from British Landing. This was an opportunity to good to pass up. Where else can you self-drive a horse and buggy like this? We enjoyed the romance of it, as well as being able to travel at our own pace, instead of being shepherded to sights determined by the official carriage drive at a pace set by them. While we also didn't get all the commentary that goes with that, we felt that we had the info we needed in our little guidebook.

My husband's hand and Shorty's rump as we steer along the lakeshore

That day we also went to The Grand Hotel for their luncheon buffet.  We quite enjoyed it, though we felt a bit uncomfortable that while most of the diners were white, 95% or more of the wait staff were Jamaican. It seemed a throw-back to another era, which is likely the intention. The good thing is that these servers are not slaves or servants. When their paid shifts are over, they're over and they go to their places of residence. I expect Jamaicans are hired either because of tradition or because no Afro-American would take these jobs due to the effect of history on their collective conscience. 

We also enjoyed exploring the public areas of the hotel and the grounds. In a word: exquisite, especially the interior.

The Grand Hotel - note the topiary 'horses' in the bottom left

We walked and walked, too much, my husband would say. But all-in-all a worthwhile experience, and one I wouldn't hesitate to have again should the right time arise. As you know, I have many other travel destinations on my list!

What did we miss? Unfortunately, the monument that references the movie Somewhere in Time.  Forgot all about it and didn't look for it. 

But in Mackinaw City, we did enjoy the Mackinaw City Trolley sunset tour, which took us across the famous landmark Mackinac Bridge. We learned about the city and the bridge, got lovely photos and a spectacular view of the sunset. Highly recommend this if you are going.

Mackinac Bridge, Michigan

Traverse City and Harbor Springs were suggested as places to include in our trip, but we didn't get to them. Instead we stopped at Frankenmuth and Birch Run on our way home. I won't go into detail on them here, as they weren't bucket list items and by this time you've probably read quite enough! 

What's a trip anywhere without a visit to the local library?!

Monday, 18 July 2016

Intentional Parenting, Part 6

When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. ~1 Corinthians 13:11
These days we're constantly reading about  "adults" who have not put away childish things.  In fact, some sources (this one, for example) say that the term adolescence ought now to apply to those up to age 25. It's the age by which the brain is fully developed (for more information on the teenage brain, visit here and here). But try telling that to your young adult.

Anyway, my point is that if you hope that your child will put away childish things at the proper time and be well over "fool's hill" before they are 30, you'll need to parent intentionally.

I mentioned the importance of chores in a previous parenting post, and will emphasize it again now. We have windows of opportunity to teach our children certain things, and it is much harder for them to learn these things later. 

Children are competent beings. They are capable of performing tasks at their level, beginning with obviously simple tasks, like taking the clothing out of the dryer and putting it in a laundry basket. Start them early (I'm going way back in my mind, but as young as two years old seems reasonable). Very young children want to help; don't neglect to involve and encourage them or you may well rue the day you said, "it's okay, honey, you just go ahead and play." When they're young, helping mom and dad is fun for them, and they want to mimic what you are doing.

Doing chores together is also bonding. As you work, you talk, and you teach the importance of being in a team. You also teach that each person bears a responsibility for the state of the home. "Many hands make light work" and benefit the whole family. When the tasks are done, you can all enjoy life. "All work and no play make Jack a dull boy," so ensure that your children make the connection between taking care of the necessities and then being rewarded. Of course, there is reward in a job well done, so point out that they've done a task well and give them a pat on the back, verbally and literally. Don't go over their work and do it again yourself. As they practice, their results will improve.

Other rewards? I'm not a big fan of attaching pay to housework. Moms and dads don't get paid to do it, so why should anyone else? Household chores are part of living in a home. Everyone contributes to the dirt and any disorganization, so everyone should participate in cleaning up. But you can tell your children that after the work is done, they can go play with their friends or you can all go to a movie, the beach, on a picnic, or have a board games night. Give them something to look forward to and follow through. My mom always used to say that she didn't have fun until the work had been completed. The problem is I don't remember her having fun very often as there always seemed to be work to do. 

Chores don't have to be boring. Play music while you work, make a competition of it (who can do something the fastest?), set a timer for ten minutes and see how much can be put away in that time. If you have other ideas, please share them in the comments below. I'm sure there are readers who can use them! 

Of course there's more to setting aside childish things than learning to do chores. Stay tuned; I'm getting to that!

If you missed the earlier parts of the series, please click on the following links:

Part 5
Part 4
Part 3
Part 2
Part 1

Friday, 15 July 2016


Open up a newspaper or online news site and you're bound to be bombarded with horror stories of what's going on locally, nationally, and around the world. A person could be permanently depressed and/or anxious if she allowed herself to dwell on the violence, hatred, and pure evil that people are perpetrating on each other. 

While I don't recommend burying one's head in the sand and pretending - lalalalala - that everything's just fine and dandy, it's important for mental health to remember that there are lots of good stories that aren't making headlines, there are people who are choosing to act in positive, life-giving ways every day, and that we do better when we count our blessings and maintain an attitude of gratitude no matter what is going on globally.

 Today I am thankful for the gift of life. I am thankful for breath and health. While there is stress in my world and I hold it in my shoulders, there are physiotherapists and massage therapists working with me to loosen my muscles and improve my posture. I also know that while I don't know the future, God is worthy of my trust, and it's probably a very good thing that I don't know what lies ahead.

I am thankful for the beauty He created for us to enjoy and for the opportunity I had last week to strike an item off my bucket list when my husband and I visited Mackinac Island in Michigan. I am thankful for the safe travel, for our son's safety at home, for the relaxation, the beautiful setting and the resources to afford the trip.

I am thankful that my mom has been surviving the current heat wave and that we have air conditioning at home and in my workplace.

I am thankful that even though it appears my daughter has a moderate allergy to bee stings, it is not life-threatening.

Most of all, I am thankful for a God who never leaves us or forsakes us, and who even gave His life for us. Accept His gift and know that you will never walk alone.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Five Books

Our workplace social committee is running a summer challenge, and I thought I would pose this week's question to all of you:
A disaster is about to happen (apocalypse, zombies taking over the world, stranded on a desert island, the choice is yours) and you can only save 5 books.  What 5 books would you save?
I answered:

1. The Bible - for spiritual sustenance and survival I couldn't do without it

2. The Ultimate Survival Manual, Canadian edition - for obvious reasons.

and for pure reading pleasure:

3. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

4. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

5. Charlotte's Web by E.B. White

I would never get tired of them. Interesting that #3-5 are all written by authors who go by their initials!

I would not take: Ulysses by James Joyce. It has sat on my home bookshelf for years (since I was in university!) and I have yet to read it even once.
How about you? Which five titles would you choose to save?

Monday, 11 July 2016

Intentional Parenting, Part 5

I was away from Tuesday to Saturday last week, so am going to continue the series this week with parenting thoughts from other writers. Here's a classic:
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight
If children live with ridicule, they learn to be shy
If children live with tolerance, they learn to be patient
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence
If children live with praise, they learn to appreciate
If children live with fairness, they learn justice
If children live with security, they learn faith
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves
If children live with acceptance and friendship, they learn to find love in the world
by Dorothy Law Nolte 
 This begs the question, what are our children learning to live with? What are we teaching them through our words and actions? What are we modeling for them?

Part 4
Part 3
Part 2
Part 1

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Have a Good One

At times I am somewhat of a literalist, so it can bug me when people say, "have a good one." "Have a good one what?" I want to ask. A good life? A good idea? A good hair day? 

Why can't, or don't, people complete the sentence properly? Don't they care? Is it really that hard to replace the word "one" with the word "day"? They're both one syllable, three-letter words after all. Who came up with this alternate anyway? Perhaps someone with an interest in etymology can enlighten me.

Any particular phrases that get on your nerves? Feel free to share them in the comments.

And please, have a good day. I insist!


Monday, 4 July 2016

Question of the Month

As a life-long avid reader, I'm in love with Michael's question for this month, which is...

“What was the first book (or book series) you really fell in love with?”
As a life-long avid reader, this is also a really challenging question. It's hard to go back to when you were three to remember what you read then. However, I do recall very much enjoying the Madeline, Curious George and Babar books. As I grew older, series I enjoyed included Anne of Green Gables and The Chronicles of Narnia.

Today I'm a big fan of cozy mysteries and one of my favourite characters is Agatha Raisin.

Until recently I had over 1450 books on my Goodreads to-read list, but I hacked it back to just under 900 for greater manageability. That being said, I'm always on the lookout for new and worthwhile titles. What are some of your favourites?
Are you part of the Question of the Month blog hop?  Why not join us? Sign up here!

Intentional Parenting, Part 4

So again I'm going to depart from the styles of parts one and two of this series. You may have seen the following acronym before, but it applies to parenting just as well as it does to other parts of life. When we interact with our children, we need to begin with thinking:


        • T (True)
        • H (Helpful)
        • I (Inspiring)
        • N (Necessary)
        • K (Kind)
    We need to ask ourselves, is what we are saying or doing:

    True - if not, we most definitely should not be saying it. Sometimes words come out of our mouths without filtering through our brains first. Everyone makes mistakes; everyone gets annoyed/upset/angry from time to time. If you say something hurtful and/or untrue, apologize immediately and make it right.

    Helpful - is this something that is going to benefit them, or are we just spouting off or reacting? Are they in a position or at an age level to hear and receive? If yes, proceed. If not, stop. There's no point in wasting everyone's time or worse, being unhelpful.

    Inspiring - are our words or actions likely to inspire and motivate? Sometimes we inspire by withholding rewards just as much as when we deliver them. Sometimes we inspire through punishment, though it's usually better if we can positively reinforce a behaviour. 

    Necessary - this is pretty straightforward. If what we are saying or doing isn't necessary, why spend the time and effort? There are no doubt more important things we could be doing to build into the lives of our children. Lots of things are good, but not all things are necessary (or helpful or inspiring). For example, we can keep our children busy with many activities. These activities may all be good in and of themselves, but they aren't all necessary and can, in fact, put a burden on our children and ourselves. It is good to have free time for play and for creating memories.

    Kind - this is another straightforward one. We all know right away if we are being kind or mean. Kindness is always the best choice. Acting on feelings and emotions can backfire because they are reactionary.

     So, try to breathe or pause or count to ten before you speak or act, especially in challenging or trying situations. Think about whether your response is going to be helpful, inspiring, necessary or  kind. This is all part of being an intentional parent. And remember, children learn by example. Make sure yours is the best it can be.
    If you missed part one of this series, go here.
    If you missed part two, go here.
    If you missed party three, here.

    Friday, 1 July 2016


    Dear God,

    Today I am thankful for Canada, the country of my birth and where I have lived all my life. Thank You for all the men and women in our armed services who have sacrificed everything that we might be "glorious and free." Thank You for the freedoms we enjoy and take for granted much of the time. Please continue to keep Your hand upon us.
    Happy Canada Day!

    I am thankful for my husband and children, for my family. You are working in us, sometimes behind the scenes in ways we cannot see. But I know You are being faithful to complete the good work that You began.

    I am thankful for my daughter's camp job, that she can earn some money toward her schooling this fall. Please help her to be a good saver and a wise spender. Thank You for the opportunity You are giving her to learn new skills and build her resume.

    Thank You for today's rain. It's been dry here and we need it. Our gardens and growing things thank You, too!

    The last few days our dog has had "the runs." Thank You for the American Kennel Club and the advice I found on their website. Last night's pumpkin mixed with his regular dinner seems to have taken effect already. Thank You for providing all good things to make us healthy and strong.

    But most of all, thank You for loving us perfectly and completely. How wonderful You are!