Menu

Why Canada should annex the United States

When Donald Trump expressed interest in buying Greenland, it was suggested that Denmark buy the United States in order to finally provide Americans with decent universal health care and an improved education system. Touché. That got me thinking about how much more practical it would be for Canada to take over the United States.

  • We’re geographically united and they wouldn’t have to start a war with us over access to our Arctic shipping routes and resources. Being the benevolent beings that Canadians are, they would then be one of us and free to share in our bounty without bullying.
  • Americans would benefit from learning that democratic socialism is not a bad word. It means we take care of each other by spreading the cost of social services equally among the population. It’s overall more economically viable and just the right thing to do.
  • Unlike Americans, most Canadians do not worship, need or possess guns. We acknowledge that the bad guys are still a problem but we’re working on that and we recognize that possessing guns to protect our families is an unnecessary and counter-productive approach to solving the problem.
  • If Americans became Canadian, security at airports would be vastly different. We don’t carry guns.
  • They would benefit from having a Tim Horton’s on every corner. It’s a place to meet and understand new people while waiting in the endless lineups. And some of us even “pay it forward” by buying coffee for the person behind us. We’re nice like that.
  • While Canada is not free of racism, we’ve embraced multi-culturalism as a benefit to be enjoyed by every race our country welcomes to our country. Having a country populated by so many different cultures and ethnicities has enriched our society immeasurably.
  • That Electoral College thingie just has to go. Where’s the equality in having a state with 40 million people represented by the same number of senators as a state with one million people? They’ll be better off with our parliamentary system and more than two parties.
  • No walls required. I remember the time when we could enter the United States from Canada without a passport. Our word that we are Canadian and live in Toronto was good enough. The border guards used to ask us to recite the phone number for Pizza Pizza (967-11-11)to confirm our national identity.

And the list goes on. There are so many reasons why Americans would be better off being Canadian. Contrary to what Americans are constantly told, they are not living in the best country in the world. Many, many surveys, polls and studies have determined that Canada is currently the best country in the world to live in, but most Americans aren’t exposed to international news on their regular networks so how would they know that. Last year it was Denmark with the United States consistently much further down the list.

COME FROM AWAY is a proud example of the Canadian way of life.

That’s not to say we don’t love our American cousins and friends. We do, very much. If you’ve ever doubted this, go see  COME FROM AWAY at the theatre (which we just did) and you’ll be forever reassured. It’s the true story of 7,000 airline passengers being forced to land in Gander, Newfoundland in the wake of 911, doubling their population in a few hours. In fact, take your President to show him that generosity and kindness are far more effective in building relationships than tariffs. Although it might be tempting to annex the United States and show them the light, I think we’ll just remain very modestly Canadian and keep our heads down, our eyes on the road and our sticks on the ice. It’s our wonderful little secret . . . and it’s not our nature to brag.

 

Continue Reading

The Cactus is a metaphor for life in the cautious lane

Reading a good book is much like letting a delicious chocolate melt in your mouth. The anticipation alone is exciting but the real gratification begins as soon as you pop it into your mouth. Then, the pleasure mounts as you allow the outer layer of chocolate to slowly melt, revealing a creamy strawberry centre or a nutty cluster that you can chew on and make it last longer. It’s an experience to be savored. Am I getting too Forrest Gump-y? I thought of that analogy when I considered the path that led me to read Sarah Haywood’s novel The Cactus. I first heard about the book as a result of reading Reese Witherspoon’s Whiskey In A Teacup, which I absolutely loved, and bought copies for friends. That book made me aware of Witherspoon’s book club which ultimately led to reading several books she recommended, including The Cactus. Getting there was a leisurely, delicious process that I genuinely savoured.

Followers of BOOMERBROADCAST will know already that I’m a confirmed fan of British television and British authors. For those of you who enjoyed Eleanor Oliphant is Doing Fine (which I read twice), you’ll love The Cactus. It’s the quirky story of Susan Green, a 45-year-old single woman with major control issues, who lives and works in London at a statistics-related job that suits her somewhat anal personality. Susan is also a trained lawyer who opted to not practise after graduating from law school.

In a stroke of double jeopardy, Susan has just lost her mother and unexpectedly finds herself pregnant by her long-term friend-with-benefits, that she has no intention of marrying. When she decides to keep the baby and raise it as a single mother, she envisions life falling into the neat, orderly patterns that she has worked hard to develop throughout her life. But life doesn’t always go according to plan.

Susan’s co-workers are delighted about her expected baby—they’re surprised and pleased she has gentler aspects to her personality that weren’t immediately evident. The collection of cactus plants she keeps on her desk is a metaphor for her life. Thus, the subheading, “It’s never too late to bloom” which reminds me of another meme, “Bloom where you’re planted” which is a personal favourite of mine.

The book, however, is not about motherhood and the joys of giving birth. It’s a character study of a lonely, middle-aged woman with little experience in or tolerance for life outside her carefully defined parameters. When life’s inevitable complications arise, she approaches them with naive optimism and calculated plans for solutions.

As if she doesn’t already have her hands full with the prospect of a baby on the way, she is confronted with another major issue. When her mother dies she inexplicably leaves their family home in Birmingham to her worthless younger brother, Ed. Susan is appalled to learn that their mother, who always favoured her weak (by her standards) brother, stipulated in her will that Ed can live in the family home until he sells it or dies. This hardly seems fair so Susan sues her brother for her half-share.

As she prepares her case against her brother, she negotiates the future relationship between her unborn baby and its father, whose personality is as anal as Susan’s. They’re both overly self-possessed and approach life’s challenges with logical thinking which isn’t always conducive to how real life works.

Most families have secrets and the Green family is no exception. The story takes place over a period of less than a year, beginning during the early months of her pregnancy. Her brother’s temporary room-mate, Rob, provides a buffer between the siblings and their mutual dislike of each other. While understanding and supporting Ed’s unconventional lifestyle, Rob is also sympathetic to Susan’s dilemma and tries to help her. More complications arise.

Her lack of a sense of humour is mistaken for an actual sense of humour which is actually quite humourous. Susan’s life which is set mainly in London and Birmingham reminded me so much of Eleanor Oliphant’s carefully ordered, albeit misguided existence. Which is why I loved this book and I think you will too. I’d rate it 8 out 10.

To order THE CACTUS by Sarah Haywood from Amazon click on the image.
To order WHISKEY IN A TEACUP by Reese Witherspoon from Amazon click on the image.
To order my book BOOMER BEAT from Amazon click on the image.

Disclosure: If you order any of these books from Amazon, you will receive their best price and I may receive a teeny, tiny commission. Thank you.

Continue Reading

Do you ever play the grocery cart shame game?

Shame, shame, shame. (Didn’t Shirley & Company sing about that in 1975?)

 

On my more virtuous days when my grocery cart is full of organic produce, fresh-pressed Green Goddess juice and two kinds of quinoa, I like to cast a critical eye on what’s in the cart of the person ahead of me or behind me in the lineup. It’s a bitchy and small-minded exercise in me getting all sanctimonious and judgey. When I see a cart overflowing with bags of white Wonder Bread, cases of soft drinks, frozen mac n’cheese, Doritos and heavily sugared breakfast cereals, I get all self-righteous and mentally think, “No wonder you weigh 300 lbs.”.

Then, there are the days when I’m dropping in for a few pantry staples—beans, ketchup (Canadian French’s, of course), mayonnaise, Rocky Road ice-cream and a couple of bags of Ruffles, I’m more than a tad embarrassed. I avert my eyes and hurry my purchases into the bag. Should I explain to those in the lineup ahead of or behind me, that this isn’t the sum total of my weekly shopping? I feel obliged to explain that my normal weekly groceries generally include organic produce, grass-fed cow’s milk, fresh fruit, chia seeds, and extra virgin organic olive oil. I buy quality Ace bread (which I only allow myself to eat on weekends—how’s that for discipline?), hormone-free, organic meat and as many fresh and non-GMO’d products as I can manage. I feel like someone should care. Seeking vindication.

Much better, and not necessarily more expensive.

There’s another nasty habit I have that I shouldn’t share, but it’s just you and me here so I will. I also tend to be critical of the food choices by people who claim that eating well and/or eating healthy is expensive. I’ve seen 10-lb. bags of carrots for $5.00. Tomatoes in season are cheaper and easier than trying to grow your own in a pot on your deck or balcony. Zucchinis are so abundant and cheap they’re practically free. For the price of a small container of ice-cream (which I’m ashamed to say I can consume in a single session), you can get an entire bag of grapes or a bunch of bananas. Ontario apples are ridiculously cheap when purchased by the 5 lb. or 10 lb. bag, particularly in the fall when they’re in season. I’m a true believer in “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”.

Our 21st-century taste buds are so conditioned to needing food that’s overloaded with fat, sugar, and salt, that it takes some time to readjust our pallet to appreciate real food at its best. Years ago I stopped taking sugar in my tea and then started reducing it in other areas of my diet as well. It’s been a journey. I’ve also become an enthusiastic label-reader. I’m far from perfect (having a sweet tooth) but I do try.

I’m also extremely concerned about the high percentage of us who are getting unexplainable cancer. Most of us know not just a couple of people suffering from the disease, but far too many. It’s rampant and I wonder if there’s something in our food chain that Big Agra and the corporate food producers should answer for and are not fully disclosing. I understand the rationale behind all the pesticides and fertilizers used to protect and grow our crops but how much of it is getting into the food we consume on a daily basis?

You might want to avoid me in the grocery store.

Sometimes, however, science and logic defy the rules. There are people who consume all the foods I look down my nose at, who smoke and drink to excess and amazingly live to a ripe old age. Then, as we’ve all witnessed, others who live a healthy lifestyle and are careful about everything they eat, yet they’re the ones who face a health crisis. It’s unfair and illogical. But that doesn’t mean we should just throw caution to the wind and live on junk food.

I did once advise the woman behind me in the lineup to not the buy the dried pigs’ ears she had picked up for her dog. I cautioned her against Asian pet food and treats, which she seemed to appreciate and removed them from her cart. (We have a friend whose dog died of kidney failure after eating dried “chicken tenders” loaded with unknown, unlabelled chemicals so I’m on high alert.) We can eat whatever we choose, but please don’t feed helpless animals something that might harm them.

I’ll probably never stop mentally critiquing your purchases in the lineup at the grocery store but in order to avoid public violence, I should probably keep my opinions to myself. But, I’m warning you, I’ll be watching your shopping cart. Don’t make me say something! Unless, of course, there’s some Black Jack Cherry ice-cream or Ruffles in my cart, in which case I’ll just keep my big mouth shut. Then, it’s shame on me.

 

Continue Reading
Do you ever play the grocery cart shame game?
You might want to avoid me in the grocery store.

Big Sky is neither a family saga nor a story about the wild west. It’s ‘way better.

Well! When I started reading Kate Atkinson’s Big Sky I must confess the title led me to expect a family saga along the lines of The Thornbirds, or perhaps a story about the American wild west. Obviously, I hadn’t done my homework about the author. Kate Atkinson is in fact a contemporary British crime writer with many novels to her credit that feature a recurring main character/hero by the name of Jackson Brodie.

Brodie is an ex-cop who hung out his own shingle as a private investigator after he left the force. Like Father Brown, Miss Marple and Jessica Fletcher, Brodie has an uncanny knack for getting himself in the middle of nasty crimes that have unlikely connections to people he knows. Big Sky is set in the northeast of England in smaller, working-class towns where everybody seems to know everyone else. Yorkshire and its local culture are integral threads woven throughout the story.

We’re first introduced to three golfing buddies whose friendships go back a number of years. They come from different backgrounds and the ever-present British class system has a lingering effect on their ongoing relationship. For a variety of reasons, they have a tenuous loyalty to each other. Known as The Three Muskateers, Stephen, Andy, and Tommy have legitimate businesses that front more nefarious goings-on behind the scenes. Who would ever think that a lawyer, hotel owner and haulage entrepreneur would be the kingpins in a network of human trafficking and other sordid activities? The fourth member of their golfing foursome, Vince, by virtue of his social standing and background is not included in their business activities, but because he once saved the life of Stephen when they were teenagers, he’s accepted on the periphery of their social activities.

Stephen the lawyer is married to Sophie, a socially presentable partner. Andy and Tommy are each on wife number two. Andy’s wife Rhoda is adequate for his needs and Tommy’s new wife Candy is a walking, talking Barbie-doll with a secret past. Vince’s wife Wendy has kicked him out of the house. He’s lost his job and company car and he’s living in an unsavory little flat pondering what to do with the rest of his life. Then Wendy is murdered. Whodunnit? Even Jackson Brodie has a string of bad marriages and relationships that he’s trying to juggle to accommodate the needs of his two different children from different mothers. Lots of juicy subplots that include the various children of the characters are tossed in to sweeten the pot.

Kate Atkinson is a marvelous writer. She has a subtle sense of humour and her characters are exquisitely detailed, right down to what they like to eat. The good guys and bad guys are fairly evident right from the beginning but the reader is drawn along in a steady plot development that keeps us engaged right until the end. Will the human trafficking ring be exposed and the perpetrators brought to justice? What secrets do the characters have? Atkinson probably could have finished the story a bit earlier. There’s a story-line at the end that I could have lived without but perhaps it’s a leadup to a future book. Now that I know Atkinson’s stock-in-trade, I’ll definitely be reading more of her books. I loved this one, despite its overabundance of coincidences and convenient overlaps. We keep hoping the bad guys are going to get their comeuppance but the suspense lies in the series of events that gets us there. I’d rate Big Sky 8 out of 10 and I’m looking forward to reading more of her books.

 

To order a copy of BIG SKY by Kate Atkinson from Amazon, click here.

Disclosure: If you order from this link, you will receive Amazon’s best price and I may receive a teeny, tiny commission. Thank you.

Continue Reading
Big Sky is neither a family saga nor a story about the wild west. It’s ‘way better.
Young lady reading a book, pop art retro vector illustration. Interesting reading

NO! I definitely do not need my ducts cleaned.

Those annoying telemarketers give the entire industry a bad reputation.

 

Does anyone know how to stop those infernal, annoying, never-ending calls from telemarketers trying to sell me duct-cleaning services? It’s been going on for years and they nail me anywhere at any time. I was sitting in the hairdressers yesterday and ring…ring…ring. I rarely use my cellphone so when it rings it’s always my husband. Not this time. After fumbling in my purse, digging out my phone from the bottom layer of purse detritus and trying to figure out how to turn it on to take an incoming call, only to hear . . .  “This is XYZ Duct-Cleaning Services calling . . . “

The other day I was pickling beets in the kitchen. Just as the sticky mixture of cider vinegar and sugar came to a boil on the stove, the phone rang, and once again – duct cleaners. They interrupted me just long enough for the sugary vinegar mixture to boil over on the stove . . . and there aren’t words to describe the mess it created, not to mention the stream of bad-swears uttered in anger and frustration. For the record, a boiling mixture of cider vinegar and sugar turns hard as titanium when it erupts like a volcano from the pan and hits a flat surface. Or a vertical surface like the front of the stove. Or the floor. You get the picture.

Is it still illegal to put out a contract on telemarketers?

Even though I’m on a Do-Not-Call list for telemarketers (which obviously is not effective), I have a variety of responses when they do call. It ranges from a simple hang-up to screaming at them, informing them I have radiators, not ducts (a lie), yelling at them to never call me again, and ordering them to take me off their call list. Nothing works. They’re as persistent as . . . well, telemarketers selling duct-cleaning services. Our neighbour told me that when she informed them she didn’t have ducts, they insisted she did! What’s a girl to do?

They interrupt meals; they interrupt my favourite tv shows; they interrupt my entire life. I can’t imagine these calls generate enough sales to even pay the minimum-wage earners who place the calls, with a little robo-help, of course. I’ve considered recording the number they’re calling from and blocking it, but the number isn’t always the same. Sometimes it’s a 289 area code; sometimes it’s 416; other times it’s 905 or 647, or the ubiquitous 800 or 866. I don’t know who’s calling until I pick it up and hear that familiar, dreaded pause before the spiel.

It seems self-defeating and counter-productive to have to disconnect my home phone and cell just to avoid the telemarketers but extreme circumstances call for extreme measures. Too bad there wasn’t some kind of tear gas that we could release through the telephone lines to temporarily disable them. If you have any suggestions, send them my way. I’m desperate. Even illegal measures will be seriously considered. The greater question that now remains is who should I call when I actually do need my ducts cleaned?

 

To order BOOMER BEAT

from Amazon, click here.

 

 

 

Continue Reading

The Farewell is a movie worth going to see

 

Writer and Director Lulu Wang’s indie movie The Farewell has been getting a lot of media attention lately for its sensitivity and deviation from standard Hollywood themes. Filmed primarily in Mandarin with English subtitles, it’s the story of a Chinese-American girl’s reaction to the news her grandmother in China is dying of cancer. It’s a universal theme and appeals to anyone who has lost a loved family member. The main character, Billi, played by rapper and actor Awkwafina, was born in China but immigrated to New York as a child with her parents and she is thoroughly Americanized.

It’s the custom in Chinese culture to not inform cancer patients of their potential demise from the disease. Eastern philosophy dictates that the relatives bear the burden of the knowledge, relieving the patient of any associated negative energy. It is their belief that being given a death sentence creates fear which saps happiness and positive thinking. Billi finds this difficult to accept and constantly questions the decision. She is challenged when her American standard of sharing honest information about the diagnosis is over-ruled by her Chinese family.

The Farewell is worth seeing for its universal appeal and cultural insights.

 

In order for the extended family of Billi’s grandmother (Nai Nai) to pay their respects and say their farewells without her knowing why they are gathering, a grandson from Japan is coerced into returning to China to marry his Japanese girlfriend. The wedding calls for several days of celebration climaxing in a lavish wedding banquet attended by everyone in the extended family. The grandson and his girlfriend are not entirely on board with the scheme but go along for the sake of Nai Nai.

Like many young people, Billi has a special bond with her grandmother.

The movie has its funny moments and is universally appealing. We’ve all had grandmothers or other close relatives that we’ve lost due to old age or disease. We’ve all sat around the table with a diverse assortment of family members enjoying the camaraderie and the great food prepared by mothers, aunts and grandmothers. We’ve all experienced generational disagreements of one sort or another and we’ve all, much to our surprise, learned along the way that sometimes the older generation is actually wiser.

I enjoyed the movie, with one caveat. The main character Billi was morose and pouty throughout most of the movie. I accept that she could not accept her family’s decision to hide Nai Nai’s diagnosis from her, but would it have killed her to overlook her personal take on the situation and put on a happy face at least part of the time for the sake of her grandmother?

What I particularly enjoyed was the insights into Chinese culture and family dynamics. There were realistic scenes of Chinese apartments, streets, and daily life that I found very illuminating. As someone who has never been to China, I enjoyed the mini-travel experience. The movie is definitely worth seeing with rare insights into a different culture. Just try not to let Billi’s long face pull you down. So, if you’re looking for a movie to watch this weekend that doesn’t involve endless violence, endless fight scenes, endless special effects depicting zombies and world-ending disasters, consider taking in The Farewell. It’s a nice way to pass a couple of hours and a reasonable excuse for the consumption of warm, salty popcorn and a bucket of Diet Coke. We also need to support indie moviemakers who eschew traditional commercial Hollywood themes. And it has a great ending.

Continue Reading
Close Menu
×
%d bloggers like this: