Almost a month after I posted this I got a one line response with no salutation or sign off – how rude! – though there was a kind of backhanded apology.  Apparently he is actually paying a marketing company to break the law by sending Spam to Canada and display their idiocy by attempting to sell business insurance to a housewife.  So read on and enjoy.  Somehow I doubt they are going to send me the tickets for a jaunt to West Columbia.  Ah well………..a joy I shall just have to forego.

Original blog post: Yesterday I received an e-mail from Brad of an insurance company in West Columbia, South Carolina, USA telling me that my business insurance is about to expire and that he can help lower my costs and inviting me to have a meeting with his company to discuss it. This is my reply:

‘Dear Brad,

I can’t begin to express just how thrilled I was to see your spam….sorry enticing e-mail cluttering up my inbox. I am so touched that you wish to help me renew my apparently expiring business insurance and of course I will be completely delighted to discuss it with you. My business is quite complex: it involves cooking, cleaning, ironing, driving, sourcing, menu planning, consulting, budget control, diplomacy, scheduling, psychological counseling. I am also a mixologist (mixing and pouring drinks), massage therapist, designer, painter and decorator, garden design expert, vegetable market gardener, flower garden expert and I share responsibility for grass control. Oh and I am also a travel agent, book-keeper and car maintenance scheduler, including swapping the winter/summer tyres when needed. In the past I was responsible for child rearing and guidance but that portion of my business is no longer active so you can drop that one off the list when preparing your estimate. Eliminating that portion of my responsibilities has freed up real estate (bedrooms) and allows a lot more time for my favourite part of my job – sex therapist, both hands on and via texts depending on my ‘client’s location – work, travel for work, in the next room just to make him laugh.

As you can see all of these activities will require considerable insurance cover and I look forward to discussing them. I have been to South Carolina but not for a very long time and not to West Columbia in particular. I am willing to travel business class though of course I would prefer first. I prefer Marriott chain hotels though anything 5 star or above will do. A clothing and food allowance is probably a must as I will be traveling from Canada to attend the meeting that you have so kindly invited me to. I look forward to receiving my flight e-tickets from you, copy of the itinerary and confirmation of my hotel booking showing that you have paid for it. Oh and before I forget, something completely up your alley, I will obviously need travel health insurance as I am pretty sure the Ontario Health Insurance Provision won’t stretch to South Carolina. I am in good health and have no pre-existing conditions that I know of but I am 61 so some bits are beginning to show some wear and tear.

Will I have time to see the thrilling sights of West Columbia?

I await confirmation of my trip. ‘

So far…. silence. Yet yesterday he was so keen!


Sadly it looks like we won’t be getting any spectacular colours on the trees, I think it has been too warm. But I have been harvesting veggies from my garden and started to think about Christmas. My thoughts tend to ramble, much like my writing. See below.

As I was driving to Belleville last week I thought

“I saw a great recipe for spicy caramel pumpkin seeds for Christmas snacks in this months LCBO mag. I need two cups of seeds, so two fairly large pumpkins…. then the seeds are boiled, covered in the mix and then roasted, they’d make lovely little gifts when we are invited over to friends and family over the holidays if I bought some pretty jars and ribbons…. But that’s a lot of pumpkin….. I could make pies and freeze them, not sure how well they freeze, is there gelatine in them, hmm might have to think about just pureeing and freezing but not making the pie mix…. I could make soup. I could make pumpkin curry. Wonder if we have enough freezer space, especially if I am getting in a turkey and ham before the holidays….. and then there’s all the veg I am still harvesting…. suppose I should have grown a couple of pumpkins…… the seeds sound good though we don’t eat that kind of thing….come to think of it we don’t eat pies…. come to think of it neither of us actually likes pumpkin….. sweet or savoury…. sod it, won’t bother.”

Anyone else go off at a tangent and have conversations with themselves like this? I do hope so.

This year more than ever I have been lamenting the lack of fall colour in our yard. When we first moved here the autumn brought such magnificent displays, the big maple right by our deck looked like it was on fire when the sun was behind it. We are surrounded by thousands of trees and stretching across the landscape on a crisp autumn morning was a kaleidoscope of red, orange, yellow and even rich russet brown. No more, well at least not lately. The last several years have brought briefer times between the first hint of yellow to total drop of drab beige/brown leaves. This year was barely yellow and seemed to go almost straight from green to gone.

I know why.

Scientists and clever boffins with letters after their names tell us that it is because of global warming. The sugars in leaves need sharp frosts at exactly the right time to produce that glorious display and that has been happening less and later in the year. The scientists and clever boffins are wrong. The cause is something else entirely. A seismic shift in the world that has been subtle and for me at least, unnoticed. A travesty. A change so fundamental it has obviously shifted the world’s axis and undermined the balance of nature.

I am speaking of cricket.

I was having lunch at Montana’s when I happened to put my glasses on and glanced up at the TV. Various interviews were going on with gentlemen clad in bright green, red, orange, etc. I assumed they were footballers (soccer for those who think I might be referring that other game that involves very little in the way of feet but that’s another blog).

Not so. They were cricketers. Cricketers! In colours! I swear I reeled in shock.

Cricket should only ever involve a slight hint of colour, creamy beige jumpers (sweaters), perhaps a jaunty flash of red stripe in the umpire’s cap and a gentle blush of red on the front of white trousers (more of that later). The rest should be white, pristine and crisp, highlighting the green grass, the blue sky and fluffy white clouds, or as a sharp counterpoint to slate grey skies pregnant with impending rain. Pressed long trousers and long sleeved shirts, sleeves rolled to elbow to display well honed forearms.

There is one exception permitted to this rule but it also has strict guidelines. Bright coloured shirts and shorts are acceptable but should be worn by young people as they play cricket on the beaches or back streets of places like Barbados (memories of my youth).

Apart from that there should only be two types of cricket and in both cases the clothes worn should be white.

The first is the posh kind, bores me witless but seems to make my brother and nephews happy, played at places like Lord’s with the aim of winning some pile of ashes from the Australians. This goes on for days and days, interrupted by rain and tea, and is accompanied by subtle clapping and the odd cheer.

The best kind of cricket involves a bit of planning but is truly worth the effort. I am writing this from a woman’s point of view. I suspect men have a different opinion but then when have men ever made any sense?

First, on one of those glorious summer days that only really happen in England, call a friend, sister or, in a pinch, random woman off the street.  Pack a nice blanket, some wine and things to snack on. Wine can be substituted with cider (called hard cider in North America) or bubbles if you want to push the boat out.  Nothing too hard though. You want a gentle buzz, not to be comatose oblivious of the view.

Next find a village green where they are setting up for a cricket match. It doesn’t really matter which green or who is playing, you won’t understand it anyway. Settle down, preferably under a tree, pour some wine, have some high calorie cheese or chocolate or whatever you fancy, and watch. Soon a dozen or so very nice young men will appear and position themselves at random intervals on the grass, and
some middle aged and even older men, that’s OK they all look good in the outfits. Every now and then two of the men will run towards each other, pass, and sometimes run back again for no apparent reason. You will notice how well the tight white trousers accent chuchy bottoms as they lope by. Should you feel a bit naughty you will also notice that over the course of the match the bowler rubs the ball (the red one, the cricket ball) down the front of his trousers. Apparently this polishes it. Whatever. It does leave a slight defining pinky red shadow in a pertinent place which if you are very near sighted like me, gives you a signpost for where to look.

If this all makes you feel a bit of a flushed and flustered it is perfectly alright to lie back and have a little nap. The game will go on for hours and no one will notice. Just sit back up, raise your glass and say ‘Well done that man!’ or ‘Here, here!’, and everyone will think you have a clue about what it is they are actually supposed to be doing. If you get tired of one lot they very kindly swap in new gentlemen at regular intervals.

The health benefits of this sport are phenomenal. It lowers your blood pressure. The wine is good for your cholesterol. The sit ups on your blanket strengthen core tummy muscles. The dappled sunshine gives you an excellent boost of Vitamin D.

I fear for our future now that coloured strip has been introduced as mainstream. I am all in favour of progress but some things are sacrosanct.


Bet I get flamed for this one.

Having just come out the other end of a bout with this year’s flu I am just happy to be feeling well again. Next year Dr. N I promise I WILL get the flu shot. I rarely get colds or flu because I rarely venture out into the world but this was a doozie!  Alan had it first and then me. On the plus side I did lose 18 pounds in 10 days but that’s probably not the way to do it.

So what is the title of this blog entry all about? As some of you know, my family generally consider me to be mad as a box of frogs and from time to time, I rather suspect I am. But for the most part I am still doing OK and holding the grass together.

When I was 14 we were living in Guadeloupe in the French West Indies. Beautiful place, two islands shaped like a butterfly. One volcanic, lush and green and the other coral, dry. Each lovely in their own way. Really expensive place though. I had experienced tornadoes, hurricanes, even the odd civil war in Nigeria, but never an earthquake until I went to Guadeloupe. The first time was a Christmas Day. I had just got there from boarding school in the UK and was having a hard time adjusting to the heat and humidity so I slept out on the veranda on Christmas Eve. The house was built into the side of a hill, the veranda on very high stilts with a swimming pool underneath, then the grounds sloped down to the beach. Lots of banana trees, it’s amazing how much you really don’t want to eat another banana when there are hundreds of them right there….. but as usual I am digressing. Anyway Christmas Eve our dog Prince was really restless too. Constantly pacing up and down. This was unusual because Prince’s usual attempt at exercise amounted to a slow wag of his docked tail at the most.

Christmas day arrived and my parents were hosting a party. There were about 30 or 40 people in the house and on the veranda. I was in the bedroom climbing into an evening dress, putting my hair up and generally titivating. I felt a low kind of rumble, like being on an Underground railway station when the train is still in the tunnel but coming your way. We had a really heavy wooden front door, I  came out of the bedroom and staggered a bit and put my hand on the door and it jerked my arm back. There was a kind of whoomph of soft warm air, just like you feel on the tube station as the train comes out of the tunnel. Then the shaking really increased. Dad said ‘Everyone outside.’ but for some daft reason my tiny brain registered ‘outside’ as the veranda. Fortunately I was swimming upstream by this time and so got swept out the front door by the other guests. Once outside we kind of stood about looking a bit lost, then there was another big shake and everyone sat down on the lawn. I remember kneeling and looking down at my turquoise evening gown and thinking how very silly this all seemed. I grabbed hold of the grass on either side of my knees and thought ‘As long as I can hold this bit together everything will be alright’. Then it was over though the after shocks continued for several days and the volcano on the other island had a bit of a burp.

Now I just think of it as a metaphor for my life, I’m still here, holding the grass together and everything is alright.

For many years I have said it is only a matter of time before restaurants will be required to have signs saying

‘Don’t stick the fork in your eye. It really hurts.’

The day is coming. The EU has decided that footballs must have a warning stamp that they may be a chocking hazard.’ Seriously? Whatever bright spark came up with that must have some funny looking big-mouthed kids.

The US has already outlawed Kinder eggs because the little toy could be a choking hazard. Do parents not watch their kids any more?  They allow guns, bullets, bows and arrows and let their youngsters drive honking big powerful cars in their mid-teens but Heaven Forbid letting a chocolate egg and a plastic toy in.

Is it just me or have others watching a made-for-tv movie actually said aloud to the actress on the screen ‘With all the made-for-tv movies you’ve been in honey you would think you would recognise the psychopath by now.’


Just me then……………

For some time, many years in fact, people have heard us tell the stories about our family and suggested I write about them. Well that’s not going to happen, mostly. My family would probably take out a contract on me to shut me up and I am not entirely sure about the laws concerning statutory limitations so I’ll not risk it. However, of the many ‘Harry’ stories there are I can probably share a few without actually landing him in prison or me in the doghouse.

So here goes….

My Dad Harry.

Dad was a youngster during World War II and was evacuated to Wales. After the war though he was part of the National Service generation and knew that sooner or later he would get called up. Then he realised that if he went in voluntarily rather than wait for conscription and did an extra year he could not only choose which branch he went into but would also go in immediately at a slightly higher rank.

So there he was, barely out of his teens, a corporal in the Royal Air Force.  His rank and moustache added to the fact that like all of us Fishers he looked and sounded much older than his real age, meant that it was assumed he had been in active during the war and would therefore have at least one medal at the very minimum.

My Dad Harry is not overly fond of the typical, pompous, military officer types who strut up and down with those little sticks under one arm and bark at people so it was inevitable that he was going to be spending quite a lot of time in trouble. An early example went as follows while they were on parade.

Officer: No medals corporal?
Harry: No, Sir!
Officer: Why not?
Harry: I’m a coward, Sir!

Like I said, he spent a lot of time in trouble.

Something has been driving me bonkers for ages is when we go to stay in hotels and everyone on TV is suddenly short and wide. I finally found out what is causing it, completely by accident. We bought a new (cheap) TV because we have guests visiting soon and wanted something for that bedroom. I was on the treadmill and trying to find the mute button and accidentally hit the aspect button. Bam! the new TV zoomed in, I hit it again and it zoomed out. Puzzled, I hit it again and finally people were normal looking. The really short and wide ones were still short and wide but not abnormally so. I plan on fixing it next time we stay in an hotel, which is coming up quite soon. I might just spend a few hours following the housekeeping cart around and nipping into each room I can access and change the aspect. I will be the ‘Phantom Stealth Aspect Changer’ around the world! Alright maybe that is a little ambitious but I do plan on doing my bit, hotel room by hotel room. So if you see a short, gently rounded, white-haired lady darting in and out of hotel rooms that are being cleaned, I am not stealing your stuff, I am fixing the &^%$* aspect on the TV.

We had a lovely day out yesterday. Mainly because it is hotter than hell here in Ontario and we have no A/C in the house. 99% of the time that is just fine, we open windows and the cross breezes take care of everything. But lately………….

So we decided that in spite of my strictly opinionated and ridiculously self- rightious youth when I wittered on about aerosol cans, A/C  and the ozone layer, we got in the car and I said ‘Sod the ozone layer. I will die before it runs out, crank up the air.’ My apologies to David Suzuki but sometimes you just get too hot and cave to the temptation. We took a trip through the County (Prince Edward County) and then Alan took me on a cruise. Granted it was the Glenora ferry (less than 15 minutes and it is free) but hey, it was a boat and on the water. that counts as a cruise in my book. Then we went to Kingston for lunch and a quick stop at an outlet mall where, of course as always, we met someone from Sears. Every time we go there we see someone from Sears. We reckon the company has a GPS on Alan to check if he is shopping outside of the brand. On the way back down the 401 we were passed by a bus/coach doing some considerable speed. It had no logos beyond the Canadian flag. The windows were dark and as they passed we could see all the windows had heavy duty grills. Don’t think it was miltary so prison maybe? If so, by the speed it was doing we think it was being driven by an inmate on the run.

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