NO! I definitely do not need my ducts cleaned.

  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,…

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Maud Lewis’s artwork lights up the McMichael Gallery in Kleinburg

Art speaks to me or it doesn't. My tastes are not sophisticated, informed or educated. When I see a painting or piece of art that uplifts me or makes me feel happy, I like it. It's that simple. Which is why I don't like winter scenes, paintings of crowded city streets on rainy days or industrial landscapes. I'll never appreciate abstract art because I just don't get it.Canadian primitive folk artist Maud Lewis's paintings make me smile, fill my heart and give me hope, so naturally, I love her work.…

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Disappearing Earth offers a peek into everyday life in a remote Russian community

Certain books appeal to me for their ability to transport me to another place, another culture or another time that I would never otherwise have the opportunity to experience. That's what appealed to me about Disappearing Earth, a novel by Julia Phillips. It's set in Kamchatka, a remote peninsula extending south from the eastern coast of Siberia in Russia. It's a contemporary story about the abduction of two young sisters, 8-year-old Sophia and 12-year-old Alyona on a warm August day. This crime is the unifying thread that ties a wide variety…

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A rose by any other name wins by a nose

Scents touch a special chord, not only in our olfactory systems but also in our hearts and in our brains. We all can relate to a certain scent transporting us to another time and place. It's a magical transformation. The smell of certain things baking in the oven may take us back to our mothers' or grandmothers' kitchens. Being near water may remind us of all those carefree days as children swimming in the lake or nearby river every summer. The fragrance of certain perfumes may transport us to memories…

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Japanese occupation of Singapore still resonates today

Every so often we read a book that gives us a renewed appreciation for when and where we were born. That's what struck me the most after reading How We Disappeared, a novel by Jing-Jing Lee. I've always felt I won the lottery being born in Canada as a baby boomer after the end of the Second World War. Growing up in a free country that offers so many opportunities and privileges as well as a comfortable standard of living is truly a gift.The main character of this book, Wang Di…

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When you’re retired, every day is Saturday

Type A personality types who must be constantly busy and productive must also be constantly exhausted. Or maybe I just wish that so I don't feel guilty about not being as virtuous as they are. Much as I wish I could be like them, that's not the way I was engineered. My mother had to register me in morning kindergarten so I could nap in the afternoons and unfortunately, the habit stuck. I still love to nap in the afternoons. It was inconvenient when I was working (!!) but now…

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