BOOMERBROADcast

Enjoy, laugh, disagree or simply empathize with those who lived life in THE sixties and are now rockin' life in THEIR sixties, and beyond.


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Timmie come home. We miss you and we need you.


Bring back the old Timmies we knew and loved.

We knew it would happen didn’t we? It was a predictable outcome when American/Brazilian-owned Restaurant Brands International (who also owns Burger King) bought Canadian icon Tim Hortons in 2015. When the Canadian-themed commercials disappeared from our televisions, so did the level of service and quality of the products. It’s now strictly a numbers game for the big business that owns Timmies.

I may be going out on a limb here but I’m pretty sure Canadians wouldn’t mind paying a few pennies more for their daily double-double and maple glazed donut to have them freshly made in-house and promptly served by happy people who receive benefits. We don’t ask much. After all, we’re Canadian. But the natives are restless and unless Tim Hortons takes drastic steps to improve service and quality of their products without penalizing their employees’ benefit plans, we could be screwed—by foreign owners. Oh, that it should come to this.

What can we do?

We hate to say “We told you so” but . . . customers are unhappy; franchisees are unhappy; employees are unhappy. Stock prices are going cold. Under American leadership, Timmies has lost its basic Canadian flavour, its essence. Being a good corporate citizen is about more than the bottom line and we are sure that bottom line would bounce back up if they treated their customers, employees and franchisees with more respect. Taking care of each other is the Canadian way.

Should we pass the toque and buy back what should still be ours? We could have bake sales (ironic!), get the Leafs to play a charity fund-raiser game (after all, do they really deserve to get paid for what they do?), get little kids in red mittens with donation boxes around their necks to stand in their skates outside Beer Stores, ask Justin and the missus to put on their Indian costumes and pray?

There has to be a way we can bring Tim Hortons home again. It’s our heritage, our right and should still be our Timmies. The CEOs in charge in 2015 should have never sold out and now all Canadians are paying the price. Get out the old handbook—the one that spells honour and flavour with a “U” and films its commercials in places like Grande Prairie and Chicoutimi—before the Yanks messed with our special formula, our secret recipe. We’re dyin’ here. We need to buy back our Timmies.

Here’s what I posted in 2015 when Restaurant Brands International took over:

Is Timmies still a Canadian cultural icon?

For better or worse?

For better or worse? No longer Canadian.

Canadian Baby Boomers remember the real Tim Horton—the handsome young hockey player who helped the Toronto Maple Leafs win four Stanley Cups back in the sixties. Tim Horton was killed in a tragic car crash in 1974 shortly after one of his entrepreneurial endeavours had just started up. Tim Hortons was originally just a system of franchised donut/coffee shops in Ontario and grew to become a national icon, representing everything Canadian. In fact, I think they should change their corporate colours to red and white.

Is there a Canadian alive who hasn’t at least once walked down the street with the iconic brown cup in hand? Over the years, customers have supplied the material for Timmie’s feel-good commercials showing young kids and parents getting into the car on freezing winter mornings to drive to the hockey rink; our soldiers enjoying Tim’s in faraway desert postings, and seniors meeting over a newspaper for an early morning assessment of the world situation at their local Tim Hortons.

The upside. Mmmmm.

The upside. Mmmmm!

When American-owned Restaurant Brands International (owner of Burger King) purchased Tim Hortons, Canadians were collectively horrified, nervous and skeptical that our national identity would continue being treated with the respect it had earned over several decades. I think enough time has elapsed now that we can make a fair evaluation. I haven’t really seen any major change in the quality or choice of food and beverages being offered. They offer menu items that are fast and affordable, with seasonal promotional treats. I am concerned, however, that they might diversify too much into fast food menu choices which are bound to affect the culture.

What I have noticed, however, is that the always-slow lineups are growing longer and slower. Where there would generally be eight or ten people ahead of me, there are now eighteen or twenty. I recently waited so long in a line at Tim Hortons on Mavis Road in Mississauga that my roots need retouching. If there’s a lineup of cars extending down the street waiting for the drive-thru, I often opt to park the car and line up inside only to find that the drive-thru is still moving faster. I do miss those feel-good Canucky commercials though. Please tell me they’re not using an American ad agency now too. Where are the scenes of red maple leaf mittens hugging a hot chocolate, the maple donuts, all the pedestrians cradling a cup of Tim Hortons as they make their way through daily life?

The downside of Tim Hortons - the #@$%^&$ lineups.

The downside of Tim Hortons,

the #@$%^&$ lineups.

While I am politely (like any good, true Canadian) waiting in the Timmies lineup for the seasons to change or my Canada Savings Bonds to mature, it gives me time to look around and appreciate the common denominator that brings every ethnicity together under that ubiquitous brown and cream-coloured logo every day. It’s a reminder to be thankful I’m living in the best country in the world where we don’t have to clutch our precious children and flee down railroad tracks, over mountains or cross seas in leaky boats to simply be safe while drinking our morning coffee or steeped tea. We are fortunate that we’re not living in refugee camps because our lives were at risk in the place we once called home.

Every single one of us now living in Canada is the product of an immigrant. The next time I’m tempted to become impatient with the lineups at Tim Hortons, I’ll stop and think about those millions of people lining up to flee terrorism in their own homelands who would give anything to be in my place. The fact that many Tim Hortons are owned, staffed and frequented by immigrants is a testament to our tradition of welcoming newcomers to our country. We can only hope that the world leaders will soon get their act together and come up with a solution that will allow these families to rebuild their lives in safe, new countries such as Canada, or better still, to live safely in their home country.

Maybe we should export Tim Hortons to the Middle East, invite opposing sides to sit down and talk over a steeped tea or dark roast with some Timbits, and perhaps they would see that we’re not so different after all. We can all get along. Under that iconic logo we’re polite to each other; no one’s packing a gun; we’re not ducking mortar shells, and we’re sharing warmth and friendliness in a place we all love. You can’t get more Canadian than that—unless we bring the Stanley cup back to Toronto. We can only hope.


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Just don’t ask me to bring hors d’oeuvres


Only if I can pick up a ready-made platter at Costco.

You’re having a pot luck? Great. What can I bring? Dessert? Salad? Veg? NOOOOO! Not an hors d’oeuvre! That’s the one thing I hate to do most in the world—right up there with washing the inside of my kitchen cupboards. Even worse, because it requires planning, specialty shopping, fiddling and figuring out how to keep everything fresh/crisp/moist/whatever. And my creations are never as fresh/crisp/moist or as visually appealing as what everyone else in the world can do so much better. It’s like the time my coworker tore apart and rewrapped all our corporate Christmas gifts for clients because she was appalled at what a sloppy job I’d done. I must say, her exquisitely mitred foil end flaps and creative flair with ribbons was far better than my version which was more like preschoolers playing with paper and scissors. I’m just not engineered to do fiddley.

My idea of artful hors d’oeuvres never looks anything like the symmetrically arranged shrimp atop iced butter lettuce in a seashell glass dish that I’ve enjoyed at friends’ houses. My presentations are more like I went dumpster diving, found some salvageable scraps and arranged them on a platter. Some people even brave the world of hot finger foods and present what appears to be the main course entrée on delicate china plates. Have you ever had those gems of nouvelle cuisine served in individual serving-size Chinese porcelain spoons or in colourful martini glasses with themed toothpicks? They seem far too pretty to eat. Don’t expect anything like that at my house. I’ve been known throw a handful of little bags of leftover Halloween potato chips on the coffee table when unexpected guests drop in for a glass of wine.

And for this food that Lynda has prepared, we are truly thankful!

My biggest objection to this whole hors d’oeuvre business is that it takes the edge off your appetite for dinner. When I’ve spent the better part of an entire day on my feet in the kitchen chopping, ladling, stirring and otherwise slaving over a meal for my guests, I want everyone to come to the table faint from hunger. Then, whether my meal presentation is a success or not, no one will know the difference. They’ll be so starved and desperate for food they can barely sit up, so whatever I serve will be a triumph. “Oh Lynda, this meal is amazing; YOU are amazing!”

When you come to my house, enjoy those Tostitos  and the bowl of Kirkland cashews on your dainty paper cocktail napkin because that’s all you’re getting beforehand. It’s called smart meal planning. And if you have a pot luck and ask me to bring an hors d’oeuvre, I hope you like Halloween potato chips. You can always count on me to do my share.


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Have I lost my decorating mojo?


Give me strength; it’s baaaack

After decades of subscribing to various (OK, too many) home decorating magazines (a.k.a. house porn), I’m seriously considering cancelling at least one if not more of my subscriptions. The reason? I’m finding I like the “Before” pictures better than the “After”. Yikes! I’ve outlived the decorating fashion cycle. Without naming names, I noticed that one of my favourite Canadian decorating mags recently featured makeovers that reinterpreted the apartment from my first marriage in the seventies. It was all geometric wallpapers in headache-inducing colours, hard surfaces and, oh lordy lordy, an honest-to-goodness real-life macramé hanging planter. As they say in the world of fashion trends, “If you’ve worn it once, don’t do it again.” The same applies to home decorating. I’m certainly not about to start cruising ebay for my vintage polyester orange shag rug that required raking.

I’ve spent many years and most of my RRSP neutralizing my large decorating pieces like sofas, chairs and carpets so that I can blow my brains out on whatever pop of colour in accessories the experts tell me I can do more economically. I’ve tried that approach and I like it. I can change my cheap sofa throw cushions seasonally. My bed coverings can be easily swapped out for summer and winter looks and I never get tired of my plain sheets and towels. Old boomers like me also tend to enjoy throw covers to keep us warm when we’re binge-watching The Crown and they can be picked up in the yummiest colours. For a minimal investment we can change our entire “look” with one quick trip to Ikea, Urban Barn, HomeSense or Crate & Barrel when their sales are on.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Then, there are those who choose to throw good money after fads and trends. Tell me why anyone would ever want to install an expensive imported Portuguese tile backsplash in a bold, dizzying black and white pattern or crazy green and orange graphics? I know I’d get sick of it in about forty-eight minutes. And furthermore, if you put the house up for sale, any prospective purchaser will instantly subtract from his offer the cost of ripping it out and replacing it with white subway tiles. Spare me another go-round of teak furniture, moss green upholstery and patterned drapes. Unless you can afford to redecorate every year, keep the big investment pieces neutral. The decorating gurus got that part right. Obviously, I’m a strong candidate for the Brian Gluckstein Medal of Honour for my use of taupe in interior decorating. I’ve earned and I’m proud of it.

It’s the nature of business however, to keep selling magazines and furniture and the only way to do that is to induce us to want something different, better or trendier. It’s the same in clothing, makeup, shoes and automobiles. It’s called built-in obsolescence and Apple ingeniously engineers it into their iPads and iPhones. We have no choice after a few years to trade in the old, still functional consumer item and replace it with something supposedly better, more efficient and shinier. Which is why I would never recommend buying expensive consumer items—purses excepted of course.

When I first married in the seventies, we were advised to buy quality furniture that would last a lifetime. Who wants a high quality Barrymore sofa and loveseat in dusty rose with a pattern of exotic birds on it that will last forever? Well, my second husband sure didn’t. So I sold the set for a pittance, covered with an Ikea white twill slipcover because used furniture has little to no resale value.  And the cheque bounced from the woman I sold it to so I had to go after her for $200.00. Today, that same sofa and loveseat set would cost thousands of dollars to replace. That one still stings.

Moral of the story

With a comfy LaZgirl, a sunflower-coloured throw and a big screen TV we’re set for life.

Our tastes change over the years and particularly when we’re young, it’s not a good idea to buy expensive furniture. Just ask any baby boomer or their parents who are trying to download that heirloom dining room suite to millennials who would much rather have something cool and contemporary from Structube or Ikea. Off to the charity shop goes Grandma’s treasured antique solid cherry desk that no one in the family wants. Buy what you like within your budget and be prepared to swap it out in a few years when you need a change of scenery.

By the time boomers are grandparents, we’ve pretty much nailed what we like and are content with what we’ve whittled ourselves down to. Downsizing is a big part of our lives now as we move from the family home into something smaller, whether a condo or a smaller house. That transition often calls for more compact furniture (except in televisions) but we can still repurpose a lot of what we already have.

It’s a wonderful life.

We could probably afford to replace that worn out old leather LaZgirl but we’ll just get a newer version of the same thing. The neutral Hudson’s Bay polar fleece point blanket thrown over our legs keeps us warm and cozy while we watch the Leafs get humiliated for yet another year. It’s so lovely to kick back in our taupe-coloured recliner with a cup of tea or a glass of wine and watch reruns of The Big Bang Theory on our magnificent 4G 55-inch big-screen television. Am I losing my decorating mojo?


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Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.


The only thing more annoying than those television commercials for personal alarms is when you actually are down and can’t get up. Who hasn’t gotten stuck at least once on your hands and knees trying to retrieve that scrap of something from under the kitchen table or the dog’s ball from under the couch? The other day I got stuck on the floor after getting down to put felt pads under furniture legs. In fact, it’s reaching the point where I’m sometimes challenged to even hoist myself up out of a chair. The parts just don’t work like they used to. So many everyday functions I used to take for granted now require effort and a bit of choreography. During my daily walks with the dog, I’m conscious of every step—feet hurting, joints creaking, cracking or not responding the way they used to. Sigh!

Jane Fonda’s Instagram pictures confirm she’s really not that different from the rest of us.

It happens to the best of us. Jane Fonda recently posted a picture of herself the morning after a red carpet event wearing the same gown she had on the previous night. She had been unable to unzip herself and was forced to sleep in the dress. It’s reassuring to know that someone as glamorous, strong and capable as Jane Fonda is also affected by mechanical failure from time to time. We also appreciate her candor in showing her ‘morning after’ face that backs up the old saying by so-called beautiful people, “I don’t wake up looking like this”.

And on the subject of muscles that have atrophied, am I the only one who’s also having trouble writing now? I mean by hand with a pen and paper? I’ve discovered that today’s young people are not the only ones unable to execute cursive writing. Even scribbling out a few Christmas cards was a challenge. I spend so much time typing (that word surely dates me) everything on my laptop that I’ve almost forgotten how to use the mechanism that drives my handwriting. My hand stalls; the words don’t flow gently from my pen. In fact, my penmanship has become atrocious. Gone are the days of personal letters and notes beautifully written by hand using a fountain pen with lovely  “washable blue” ink. We’re all using laptops, tablets and phones. In reviewing my own handwriting as I go through old scrapbooks, I can see my evolving personality over the decades. The beautifully executed cursive letters Mrs. Thompson taught me in Grade Two changed over the years—from forehand to backhand, to straight-up-and-down; from careful to downright sloppy. Use it or you lose it. (Click here to read In praise of cursive writing.)

We’re now witnessing a diminishing in the efficiency of our basic motor skills despite our best efforts at keeping active and mobile. Many boomers have already had hip and/or knee replacements which has restored our mobility to some degree. I consider my own double hip replacements a huge blessing. Not that long ago we would have been permanently immobilized and perhaps housebound if we didn’t have the option of being given new joint replacements thanks to our health care system. In fact, even the word ‘joint’ has taken on new meaning in our senior years. As we creak and groan through retirement, we can now celebrate the possibility that our creaks and groans may soon be alleviated by legal medicinal ‘gummy bears’ which don’t require that we inhale. Getting “up” with a little help from our friends may have taken on new meaning, if you know what I mean.

To read the full story about Jane Fonda’s ‘morning after’, click here.

You’re beautiful mes très chères.

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There’s work and then there’s ironing


Princess Diana once confessed that she enjoyed ironing. I totally get it. Like Di, I find the job of ironing to be somewhat zen-like, calming and relaxing. Ever since I started setting my ironing board up in front of the television to watch The Mary Tyler Moore Show in the seventies, I can honestly say I do not regard it as a chore. But my instruments and environment have to be exactly to my specifications, much like professional chess players, athletes and Glenn Gould. When the world’s fastest typist, the late Barbara Blackburn once failed to meet her usual high output of up to 212 wpm on a manual typewriter in front of an audience, she attributed her disappointing performance to her chair being adjusted one-quarter of an inch too low. We artists have specific standards.

Ever since my Mary Tyler Moore-watching days, I’ve scheduled my ironing to coincide with watching a favourite television show and the time just flies by. After putting up with a wobbly, inferior ironing board for years, I finally bit the bullet and purchased one of those sturdy extra-wide European models that cost about $150.00 and I can vouch for the fact they are so worth the money. It’s solid, has a rack for piling finished garments, an attached rack for the iron and slots in the frame for stacking empty hangers. Of course, a proper ironing board requires a serious iron that can guarantee an abundance of steam. Thus, another serious investment in a Rowena iron. Fortunately I haven’t yet felt the need for a Miele electric mangle for pressing sheets, pillowcases and tablecloths which is fortunate as they cost more than $3,000.00, Other than hotels and restaurants, who uses that many tablecloths?

One place where I draw the line, however, is men’s shirts. My husband’s wardrobe has been carefully curated so his everyday shirts are no-iron and dress shirts are handled by the dry cleaner. Does that make me a bad wife? I don’t mind ironing my own things, but men’s shirts are just plain drudgery. I once had a friend whose husband did all the ironing and he threatened to quit unless she stopped buying 100% cotton blouses. He understood the difference between work and pleasure.

You can’t deny it’s a beautiful thing.

I also have a passion for 100% linen tea towels—not cotton and not 50/50. I like to pick them up as souvenirs from places I’ve visited. It’s particularly satisfying to iron linen tea towels which always look so colourful, crisp and orderly when neatly pressed and stacked next to a pile of freshly ironed pillow cases. I use scented linen water to spray whatever I’m ironing so my spirits are always uplifted by the scents of lavender or ocean breezes. And there’s nothing as satisfying as admiring a line of freshly ironed blouses and tops. Call me crazy but it’s a truly rewarding sight. Let’s be clear. This doesn’t mean you can start sending me your laundry to iron. The Marilyn Denis Show and CityLine are each only an hour-long and there’s only so much I can accomplish in such a tight time frame. We don’t want it to become work and we have our standards.

Stay special mes très chères.

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All The Money In The World . . . doesn’t buy happiness


John Paul Getty III with his mother Gail after his release.

If you’re a boomer like me, you probably remember the sensational newspaper coverage of a brutal kidnapping in the early seventies. Paul Getty, the sixteen-year-old grandson of the world’s richest man J. Paul Getty, was snatched off the street in Rome and held for ransom of $17 million. The drama played out for several months. Getty Sr. refused to pay the ransom while the Calabrian organized crime ring who kidnapped him grew increasingly desperate. I clearly remember the universal shock and horror when we read that the kidnappers amputated Getty Jr.’s ear and sent it to a newspaper to a) prove that they still had him and, b) to confirm their commitment to following through with further amputations unless their demands were met.

Watching the movie All The Money In The World filled in all the background information that was missing and forgotten about the notorious kidnapping. The substitution of fallen-from-grace Kevin Spacey with Canadian Christopher Plummer was a deft move. Plumber was perfect in his portrayal of Getty Sr. as a calculating, dispassionate, eccentric old billionaire. He protected his fortune greedily while indulging his passion for collecting art with the love and dedication he should have afforded his own family. Casting of Charlie Plummer as Paul Getty Jr. was also excellent and he even somewhat resembled Michelle Williams who played Getty Jr.’s mother. Williams played Gail Getty with just the right amount of angst, indignation and anger. Gail married a Getty son and divorced him without any form of compensation from the Getty family in order to retain custody of her three children. That decision left her broke and incapable of raising the ransom money herself leaving her at the mercy of her former father-in-law.

Michelle Williams played Getty Jr.’s mother Gail, accompanied by Mark Wahlberg as Getty Sr.’s negotiator.

All The Money In The World is a good movie. Not only do we learn the story behind the story, but we’re treated to beautiful shots of Rome and the Italian countryside. We watch the negotiations for a $17 million ransom drop over time as the kidnapping ‘contract’ is sold to a second crime ring. And, there are the obvious conclusions to be drawn about ‘money doesn’t buy happiness’ and the disastrous effects it often has on second and third generations in wealthy families. My gal pals and I really enjoyed our couple of hours watching this movie and I’m confident you will too. We gave it four beautifully manicured thumbs-up.

You are special mes très chères.

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What do you do when the lights go out?


Have you experienced a power blackout recently? It’s been awhile since we totally lost power but a recent day-long loss of television and internet service (thanks to Ma Bell) resulted in some serious introspection about our marriage. I was reasonably occupied with reading on my iPad and sleeping, two activities at which I excel, but my honey was completely lost. It’s scary to think what life would be like if we lost the services we take for granted and are so much a part of our everyday lives. How would we cook our meals, heat our homes, communicate with our fellow human beings?

Our resourceful ancestors managed to keep busy when the sun went down.

Early pioneers were constantly occupied with the mundane everyday chores required to keep everyone alive in the days before Edison—chopping wood for the fire, feeding, killing and plucking the chickens to eat, bringing in the hay for winter feed and growing crops to feed the family over the winter. They also went to bed earlier (who wouldn’t when there’s no TV) depending on when the sun set as the oil to keep lamps going was expensive and wasteful. That also explains how our ancestors ended up with fourteen kids, although they came in handy when it was time to harvest the crops and milk the cows.

Attacking our power grid would be the ultimate bloodless war. We wouldn’t be able to survive without electricity and would capitulate to our enemy within a couple of hours. Perhaps Putin has already thought of this. In the meantime, I’m grateful for the conveniences we enjoy, despite the usurious charges we pay for electricity each month. But that’s a political issue to be addressed at the ballot box.

Obviously, we should always be prepared for a power failure—candles, matches and the usual precautions. But what steps should we take to preserve our relationships when we’re deprived of television, internet or phone service? That’s another facet of the survival dilemma. We could and should use the time to engage in real conversation with our partners, or wash the floors, get to know our neighbours better over a glass of (warm) white wine, clean out closets or weed the gardens. More ambitious and creative people might use the time to write, paint or meditate. Others might take the dog for a walk, exercise or play cards. When we’re stuck within four walls alone with those we love without electricity, our love can be severely tested. Our dependence on communicating with our fellow human beings via cell phone or on-line leaves many people conversationally crippled.

I don’t know what you would do but I’m afraid my own preference for taking a nap during a power outage, while not very productive or honourable, is my default activity. Our household would have been in our glory during pioneer days when everyone went to bed at sunset. While sleeping is something I enjoy and for which I seem to have a particularly strong aptitude, it doesn’t get the floors washed, the cows milked or the dog walked. I’m going to have to be more proactive about being productive the next time we lose our television, internet, telephone or power service. In the meantime, let’s hope Putin doesn’t march his armies across the North Pole into Canadaland and blow up our power stations.  I don’t think most relationships could survive such an apocalyptic power failure.

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