Goodbye 2017 Hello 2018

Fairwell 2017. Hello 2018. Hello to a new beginning.

I am a snowbird and spent most of the last month of 2017 in a Canadian deep freeze. I am in Florida now. The week before I came I was sick and also dealing with a sore back.I was also in shock as were most Torontonians when a high profile couple were found strangled in their home. Around the same time as this tragedy a friend of mine lost her husband suddenly. 2017 certainly did not end on a high note for me.

The day before my departure there were weather warnings of record breaking cold temperatures, massive snow storms and hazardous driving conditions. Schools cancelled their classes. Would our flight also be cancelled? My travel companions were afraid of poor road conditions so we booked our limo service to the airport much earlier than we ordinarily would have under normal conditions.

It turned out that the weather wasn’t so bad.The highways were snow free and the traffic was light. I guess people were afraid to travel. Thus we arrived at the airport in record time and we had hours to amuse ourselves -not an easy task at this location. After spending so much time at the airport we could have missed our flight because the wrong gate was stamped on our boarding pass. We didn’t discover this until shortly before take off. Thus we were forced to take a not so leisurely stroll to the opposite end of the terminal.

Oh I forgot to mention that I was randomly chosen to be tested for drugs when I went through security. Or was it random? Maybe i look like a drug addict or a pusher. The airport photo taken at checkin made me look more like a gangster than a drug smuggler.

The seats allotted to us were middle and window seats. We were not happy we wanted aisle seats. We were able to change our seats. i sat next to a very interesting lady, a ballerina from Venezuela who gave up her career to become a wife to a Toronto man and a mother to their five children. My friends sat next to a sometimes crying baby, albeit an adorable one.

When we arrived in Florida the weather was warm and sunny. That didn’t last long. The Floridians, as usual blamed the Canadians for bringing the cold air with them. They are probably right. We canadians like to share.

My ears were hurting from the flight and when I entered the condo, my poor ears were subjected to high pitched intermittent beeps emanating every three minutes from the smoke detector.It took a long time to remove the battery and find a replacement for it. Most other things were working except the televisions and a toilet seat that kept falling off.The newspaper that was supposed to be delivered wasn’t.It is very quiet at the condo complex A lot of the permanent residents have left to visit their families for the holidays and most of the snow birds haven’t arrived as yet. But that is okay. I am looking forward to some quiet time. Time to read and time to write.

I wish everyone a good year– a year of peace, good health, laughter and joy. Let this be a year, that is overflowing with good stuff leaving no room for the bad.

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Season greetings

Wishing family and friends a Merry Christmas, a happy peaceful holiday season and a New year filled with love laughter and good times. Now go get plastered you b_____ds

 

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WONDER

Wonder, a really wonderful movie is based on a novel.. Acting is superb and features many acclaimed stars. August Pullman, known as Auggie is played by Jacob Trembley who starred in “Room”. Auggie was born with Treacher Collins Syndrome – genetic disorder passed down from a defective gene from each parent, causing severe health issues including facial anomalies. the has undergone multiple surgeries. Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson portray his parents and Isabel Vidodec, his sister Viv.

The film begins when 10 year old  Auggie is about to go to school for the first time. He has led a mainly sheltered life and has been homeschooled and overprotected by his loving family. He shares an interest in things that other young boys his age like such as X Box games and he is a fan of Star Wars. So much so that when he goes out he insists on wearing a a toy space helmet. This allows him to pretend and use his imagination and hide from the world to escape the stares, averted eyes and whispers of those who encounter him.

This isn’t just Auggies story. It is also the story of his family. One can feel his parents pain and anguish as they walk him to school that first day. They question themselves “Did they make the right decision to enter him into the public school system?” Viv also walks him to school. She loves her brother but has conflicted emotions. She considers him her best friend but has had to endure taking a back seat over her brothers needs and a part of her is embarrassed by his appearance. This is also the story of his teachers and school administers and the role they must play in preventing bullying. This is a tale of his classmates- their desire to be cool and fit in and why some of them act badly–often the result of poor parenting.

However this is mainly about Auggie and his struggle to blend in. HIs sister tells him ‘You can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.” Indeed he does stand out.He has a cute winning smile, he is bright, he learns to forgive, and he has a delightful sense of humour. His friend asks him if he ever considered having plastic surgery? His answer:  “This is after plastic surgery. It takes a lot of work to look this good.” This is the story of his initial isolation at school, betrayal by his friend, his forgiveness of him and the eventual acceptance of him by his peers who eventually see past his looks and appreciate him for what he is. He is a wonder.

Although this story is based on a novel, Auggie could be anyone of a multitude of individuals worldwide who is  different .This movie should be seen by everyone, particularly school children. In Toronto many teachers are accompanying their students to see “Wonder “ Hopefully this will lead to discussion and food for thought on self acceptance, acceptance of others, inclusion, friendship, forgiveness, looking beyond ones physical appearance , empathy, the unfairness and effects of bullying and how to prevent it. My granddaughter is going with her class to see the movie. I am looking forward to her opinions and  discussing it with her.

 

 

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A beautiful rainbow and it’s shadow

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NIAGARA FALLS and Falls View casino

This week I  took a day trip to Fallsview Casino arranged by residents of a nearby condo building. The cost was five dollars and included our round trip on a chartered bus, including a tip for  the bus driver as well as water and snacks for the bus. As if this wasn’t  enough of a bargain once we reached our destination we were given a ten dollar voucher by Fallsview for use in the casino to entice us to gamble.

The drive from Toronto, Ontario to the Falls took about an hour and a half. I was looking forward to the scenery especially the fall colours on the trees and shrubbery. But alas although the leaves were changing ,  they lacked he usual lustre and  vibrant coloration of previous years. The poor trees were confused. They didn’t know what season it was. We experienced a very rainy and cold summer followed by an unseasonably hot September and October.

The colour  and excitement of the casino made up for the dullness of the trees. Over the years the number of slot machines have grown. The bells and whistles and sounds emitted from them have increased in volume and frequency, while the payoffs have decreased in frequency and amounts. A one cent machine isn’t really a  one cent machine. it is often a fifty or more cent machine because most times you have to play a minimum of fifty lines for each bet. To make matters worse it often states to qualify for the jackpots you must bet the Maximum amount. This can add up to many dollars.

I lost my ten dollar voucher quickly, followed by further losses. Most of our group were losers. There were a couple of winners but of course the casino was the biggest winner.

For my friends and me the nicest part of the day was lunch and taking a break from the casino to sit outside and admire the beautiful serene Falls. October 18, 2017 was reminiscent of a warm and sunny summer day. There was a light breeze,  birds were chirping and squirrels were dashing about. Young couples in love were holding hands and admiring the  famous Niagara Falls.

Would I go again to Fallsview Casino even hough i lost some money. You bet I would.

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IRMA, IRMA GO AWAY — DON’T COME BACK ANOTHER DAY

Irma, Irma go away. Calm yourself down. take a dip in the ocean and stay there. There is enough heartbreak and suffering in the world without you adding to it.

I am a snowbird. I have been receiving  emails and telephone calls from the management company of the condo complex where our family owns a unit. Daily updates on the status of Irma are provided as well as advice on hurricane preparation in case Irma targets Florida and in particular our area. There is an evacuation order. Not everybody follows orders. The conscientious lady who checks my condo put rolled up towels under windows, the sliding doors and under the refrigerator as recommended and then she went back to her apartment to wait out the storm with her elderly husband.I spoke to her. She says they have no where to go. She is  not worried and feels safe. I pray she is correct. I also have friends living in the threatened zones. I  pray for their safety too. I pray for everybody to be safe.

My thoughts go back to October 2005 when  Hurricane Wilma, an intense tropical cyclone slammed into South Florida. We were in Toronto at the time. We arrived to the sometimes Sunshine state a couple of months later and couldn’t believe the devastation in our area. The roof of our building was badly damaged and the rooftop air conditioning unit flew off and landed in someones condo. Hurricane shutters and balcony cages disappeared.. Patio furniture flew off, becoming dangerous missiles that caused further damage. The roof of the recreation hall was lifted and the public library a few blocks away was levelled. It took ten years for it to be rebuilt,–And the trees, the beautiful large  century old trees were uprooted and scattered about.

It has been 12 yeas since Wilma unleashed her fury and our condo complex has not been the same since. We were once a beautiful, close knit and comparable  community, but not any more. The buildings were under insured, and there was no reserve fund. Many owners did not have hurricane insurance. As a result a heavy assessment was necessary. Many couldn’t afford the extra expense and  walked away from their property causing extra expense for those who stayed. There was water damage left behind as well as mold and mildew. These issues  hasn’t been properly addressed. Every body blames everybody else for this unfortunate situation. We cant seem to find a compatible board and we have leans against the property from fired contractors. Condo owners are hoping that within a  couple of years we will have gotten our act together and to borrow a phrase from your president who some  of you may still admire–We will make our complex great once again.

However if Hurricane Irma targets us  we will be back to square one or much further back. So please Irma leave us alone .I wish all those in your path to be safe.

 

 

 

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The Glass Castle

The Glass Castle, a film based on the 2005 memoir by Jeannette Walls, takes the viewers on an emotional  journal, as they become privy to the impoverished  life and unorthodox  upbringing  of The Walls children. A young Jeanette was portrayed by Ella Anderson. Her older self  played by Brie Larson.j The parents aptly played by Woody Harrelson and Naomi Potts, are intelligent,  idealistic and completely out of touch with reality. The mother, Rose Mary a former teacher and artist is so obsessed with her painting that she neglects her children  Her father Rex, has a dream of building a glass castle to house his family. Despite his good intentions he  is emotionally unstable, an alcoholic with a vile temper and an inability to support his family..

This is a movie about the dynamics within this dysfunctional family= especially , the complicated relationship between Jeannette and Rex and the close bonds of the siblings. They help each other and manage to leave the family home.

I have great empathy for Jeannette and I was curious as to what her life is like now.. So i did a google search. I was happy  to see that she is married to a journalist, who was instrumental in convincing her to write her story.. Jeannette  works as a gossip columnist. They have no children but they own two homes and lead a satisfying life.

I recommend this movie, The acting is superb and the story well told.

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