Time is the…

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Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

I stumbled upon this song and video recently: Time is a Killer. It features REM’s lead singer, Michael Stipe, so that might have been the draw for me, or the pandemic is drawing me to certain songs. The song is written and also sang by Rain Phoenix, River Phoenix’s sister. The song is likely a part of her healing from her loss. At first it seems a bit dark, but also soothing in a way. The lyrics start on a sad note and perhaps speak to some sad realities of our times too, but I was happy to take it all in. I ended up really appreciating the last few statements about time in the lyrics (below in bold). But, here are the lyrics from the beginning:

Everybody’s dying
To know
Where we go
When we die

Everybody’s crying
For those
Who go
Before their time

Time is the killer
Time is the killer
Time

Everybody’s lying
When we say
We are not
Afraid

Everybody is trying
So hard
To be
So brave

Time is the killer
Time is the killer
Time

Time is the killer
Time is the killer
Time

Time.

Everybody is blaming
The other
When things
Don’t go right

Everybody’s judging
Each other
And picking
Fights

Time is the killer
Time is the killer
Time is the mirror
Time is the healer
Time is the teacher

(Songwriters: Kirk Hellie / Rain Phoenix)

I have written thoughts about time inspired by a song before on this blog: Who Knows…?

Readers, feel free to share a song or quote that resonates with you about time.

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The Day After Groundhog Day

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As 2021 rolls along, as well as a pandemic, I still aim to find some celebratory moments in the special days on the calendar. Although every day can seem like “Groundhog Day” lately, the actual Groundhog Day yesterday had slipped my mind until I saw mention of it on social media!

Since I am a big Melanie fan, the day after Groundhog Day also has significance to me — It is Melanie’s birthday. This past weekend she live-streamed a performance just shy of her 74th birthday! Her commitment to making music is quite remarkable and all three of her children have musical careers. Speaking of which, Melanie also wrote a song called Groundhog Day, but it is an expression about returning to her career after a few years of being more focused on motherhood.

People will most likely remember Melanie with the mention of her pop-style hit in the 70s, Brand New Key. Fans know there is so much more to her musical palette. I often suggest listening to the contrast between Brand New Key and Beautiful People.

If you would like to do so:

A early version of Brand New Key:

A couple of other ways to enjoy Brand New Key: One of her daughters who is an established country singer covers it here; and for a different experience, the music of the song on a 100 year old organ here!

I have posted to my blog before about her song, Beautiful People (If you look for it…). What is more beautiful than Beautiful People?: Watching her record the song — from the initial attempts to the final product!

Melanie has had different styles of music over the decades and her songs continue to be an important part of the stages of my life — and now during a pandemic. I hope she has many happy returns of the day!

Bag or Wrap?

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Photo by Hert Niks on Unsplash

I actually like to wrap gifts for others — as in using flat paper to fit the present or the box that I put the present in, especially at Christmas. I suppose it is because my memories of childhood of are removing wrapping paper from my gifts under the tree. It is part of the anticipation, right? Also, “presentation” matters to me when I give a gift to someone special. Again, perhaps it is my past experiences that make me feel that a present in a gift bag doesn’t measure up at times. That’s not to say I haven’t selected fancy gift bags and/or jazzed them up some. At Christmas, I do start wrapping early so I can enjoy it. Rushed gift wrapping is not where I like to be.

When did gift bags become such a popular alternative? Was it prompted by environmental concerns first, or was it because bags provided a faster and/or an easier alternative? Most wrapping paper and tissue can’t be recycled, so an alternative makes sense. If wrapping isn’t one’s thing, an alternative makes sense too.

So I am torn at times, but I still do a combination of wrapping and bagging (with the odd cloth bag too). I still feel compelled to put that really special gift in a box, with tissue, and then continue with wrapping paper and ribbon. I love using gift tags made from cut-up Christmas cards from previous years. Perhaps I will have to come up with a more environmentally safe wrapping material alternative. I remember using the comics section from the newspaper when I was a kid — I think they were in colour back then though.

Open to suggestions!

My Vinyl

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Photo by Eric Krull on Unsplash

Music has been of great comfort during this Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic has also led to a lot of going through boxes and collections of things and making some decisions — keep, donate, or toss?

I have written before about my “45” vinyl collection and I think I might be ready to let it go now. From time to time, I pull out the index card in the storage tote to check if I really did buy a certain title or not when different songs or bands come up in conversation. I could probably keep that list. But as I look through my collection of forty-three 45’s, I really don’t think I would ever play many, if not most, of the songs again (on turntable or otherwise). There is a lot of high school in that little tote!

I have two that I think I would listen to again for sure — my first purchase and my last!. I mentioned those two in my first “45” post — From Melanie to Squeeze! But I can find both on YouTube for a good listen or a live performance.

So I may finally weed this old collection down to few and figure out where to donate the rest. Muskrat Love, anyone? Bohemian Rhapsody? Oh, but I do have a stack of Beatles 45’s that I got from older members in my family so maybe I will hang onto those…. Will I get to this same stage of letting go with my “LP” collection?

Do you have a song or two that makes you instantly think of high school? Good or bad, or both? Do you still have the song(s) handy? If so, in what format do you listen to them? Did you ever play the B side of 45’s? Do you have any “45” advice for me?

Ticket in a Teapot

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A number of years ago, I bought a cool looking teapot at an estate sale (photo above). I was into collecting unique or antique teapots at the time. When I was about to clean this particular new find, I noticed a piece of paper folded up inside it. Instant curiosity! Of all things, it was an “Irish Sweepstakes” ticket! Date: 1965

Front of ticket
Back of ticket

It didn’t take long for my husband to look up to see if it had been a winner — Nope. I still didn’t toss it though. I came across it again in a recent flurry of going though stuff in the house. I suggested to my husband that we could probably throw it out now. This time he searched eBay — mint condition tickets are up for sale at 20 – 30 dollars. Well, this one is in crisp, mint condition, but who would really want to buy one?

Further reading confirmed that such Irish Sweepstakes draws are no longer being held. They ran from 1939 to 1986. It all started as a good cause to help fund Irish hospitals. I didn’t know that it also involved horse races and it led to illegal ticket purchases in other countries. According to Wikipedia, many tickets did not make it back to the rotating drums in Ireland for the draw! I guess this ticket is one of them? I wonder what the real story is about this ticket tucked into a teapot!

So I guess we are going to hang onto it for a bit longer…

The things I wouldn’t know about if I hadn’t bought a funky teapot 🙂 Do you have story about an unexpected or surprising find? Have you ever found a winning lottery ticket?

Cider Rules

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Another “comfort drink” post for today…

I assume many people enjoy apple cider in the fall — warm or cold. It is delicious either way. But when it comes to warm, mulled apple cider, that is either a Christmas holiday or a cold day in January treat for me.

I prefer to simmer it in a crock pot to avoid boiling it. And it has to be apple cider not clear juice. (If you are wondering about the difference, a good explanation here.) I still use a mulling recipe that my husband and I got while visiting a fruit farm over 30 years ago when we lived in Southwestern Ontario (I remember a nice Christmas gift shop area set up for the season). When we moved back to NW Ontario, it was a bit more difficult to find fresh cider, but we managed to find some in a few local markets before Christmas.

Eventually we strayed from that fresh pressed cider rule. I think it had to do with purchasing a commercial brand apple juice and discovering that it had a similar consistency and flavour as cider. A label did claim that it was “100% fresh pressed”, so I hope that means good apples! That led us to trying it out for the crock pot brew. So after many years, we made the switch! Not to plug the brand, but it has to be Tropicana now… 🙂

We still have the original little recipe card with the farm’s logo (The only other thing I have added to recipe was some ground nutmeg).

We often wondered if the farm that introduced us to apple cider still existed. After some poking around on the internet recently, I was able to learn that the farm is no longer there and the apple orchards are gone. I was able to find the exact location on Google maps. That south part of London is certainly not the rural country area we remember. The original Cornell sign is still visible, but faded. The signs below it advertise different businesses on the site (a fruit stand, at least, and a Greek restaurant). It’s funny what one can come across on the internet in a random search — I found a painting of the farm featured here.

Things have changed, but this recipe lives on with us and will always serve as a nice memory!

A Good Canadian Maple

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No, not another post about a tree this time, but one for some good cheer…

A friend of mine was right. I really do like the maple cream liquor that she suggested I try. Sorry, Bailey’s Irish Cream, you’ve been replaced. The label on the bottle of Cabot Trail Maple Cream, further describes it as, “maple syrup cream liquor.” It is made in Quebec, but here is a good article about it from Ottawa Life Magazine. And if you want to know more about and/or travel (someday..) to explore the actual Cabot Trail, a resource from Nova Scotia here.

As the holidays approach, I will be thinking about different ways to use the cream liquor. So far, my husband and I have tried it with and without ice, in coffee, and on ice-cream. Hot chocolate next perhaps.

On what would have been John Lennon’s 80th birthday recently (Oct. 9), I recalled that his favourite alcoholic drink was a Brandy Alexander and that he had referred to it as “just brandy and milk”. I have never had that drink before, but I thought… hmm.. maple cream instead? I decided to find out what was in a Brandy Alexander for certain, and yes, most recipes list brandy or cognac, milk or cream or “half and half”, and dark creme de cacao. We do have a bit of dark creme de cacao left in a bottle, but it is used sparingly as we can no longer get it at the LCBO. We can still get and also have a bottle of the clear creme de cacao, but it doesn’t seem the same — chocolate should be brown. So, I went for it:

1/2 oz. of brandy, 1/2 oz. of dark creme de cacao, 1 oz. of maple cream.

It would be easy to adjust each of those measurements up or down (and use the white/clear creme de cacao), depending on taste or preference. I have named it a Chocolate Maple Brandy Alexander for our records. I also tried this combination in coffee. All very good — shaken or stirred!

Our favourite antique “leafy” fall glasses

I thought I would share this to my blog, since we can’t have a group of friends over for a cocktail and conversation during this on-going pandemic situation. We can only hope by Christmas, but not counting on it.

Feel free to share a recipe for a comfort drink that you enjoy in the winter or during the holidays. Is there a drink that you enjoy that reminds you of location or destination that you have visited, or hope to soon? Do you have any dark creme de cacao that you could spare me? 🙂

That One Post

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My blog is becoming less and less about education and I have been thinking about starting an alternate blog site. I often wonder about the value of my posts of the past, but they remain as archives for the time being. Visits to my blog are few now, which makes sense given I seldom post now. When I do post, I don’t always share further to social media. There has been some comfort with that — my blog is just my blog, a space of my own, but with an open door. I doubt a podcast would ever suit my needs.

But this was about one post…

From time to time, I check my blog stats and clear out spam comments. There is one post that consistently gets “hits” over the months, and now years, according to my stats. It isn’t a post that gets repeated spam comments either. I don’t have details on where the visits to the post originate, just the “via links to my blog site” information. The post isn’t about parent engagement or EQAO standardized testing, or even music 🙂 It is this one:

Appointed vs. Elected School Boards

I wrote it in 2015.

I did a quick follow up about the Chicago school board that I discussed as an example. A short internet search informed me that the board is still an appointed one, but a new mayor has promised to take action to bring back an elected board.

I will go with the assumption that the debate about the value of “appointed vs. elected” board members comes up a lot and the title of the post gets prompted when searching online for the answer. I suppose it might also be linked somewhere as a resource on the topic. But it is one blog post the lives on, for whatever reason.

Respectfully Opposing

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I have a lot of “favourite links” saved and I have been weeding out some from my files. I came across a saved article from 2017 that I thought was relevant to the issues addressed in my/David’s recent post, What David Said.

I Respectfully Disagree: How to Have a Proper Argument

This article suggests possible paths to mutual respect during disagreement or discussing opposing viewpoints. I thought “The 10 Golden Rules of Argument” were good for in-person and to some degree, online dialogue:

  1. Be prepared – Make sure you know the essential points you want to make. Research the facts you need to convince your opponent.
  2. When to argue, when to walk away – Think carefully before you start to argue: is this the time; is this the place?
  3. What you say and how you say it – Spend time thinking about how to present your argument. Body language, choice of words and manner of speaking all affect how your argument will come across.
  4. Listen and listen again – Listen carefully to what the other person is saying. Watch their body language, listen for the meaning behind their words.
  5. Excel at responding to arguments – Think carefully about what arguments the other person will listen to. What are their preconceptions? Which kinds of arguments do they find convincing.
  6. Watch out for crafty tricks – Arguments are not always as good as they first appear. Be wary of your opponent’s use of statistics. Keep alert for distraction techniques such as personal attacks and red herrings. Look out for concealed questions and false choices.
  7. Develop the skills of arguing in public – Keep it simple and clear. Be brief and don’t rush.
  8. Be able to argue in writing – Always choose clarity over pomposity. Be short, sharp, and to the point, using language that is easily understood.
  9. Be great at resolving deadlock – Be creative in finding ways out of an argument that’s going nowhere. Is it time to look at the issue from another angle? Are there ways of putting pressure on so that the other person has to agree with you? Is a compromise possible?
  10. Maintain relationships – This is absolutely key. What do you want from this argument? Humiliating, embarrassing or aggravating your opponent might make you feel good at the time, but you might have many lonely days to rue your mistake. Find a result that works for both of you. You need to move forward. Then you will be able to argue another day.

I know it isn’t as easy as some articles and advice can make it seem. Respectful dialogue requires effort and practice. I think it is something we can develop over a lifetime and experiences often teach us — negative and positive ones. Clarity in communication has become even more important with so much dialogue in online spaces now.

When I starting using Twitter about 10 years ago, conversation and debates about issues were frequent in my network. I don’t participate as actively anymore as compared to the past. I seldom post opinions now and I suspect that I am not alone in that. It can be overwhelming and easy to back away from discussions on social media. I often wonder if valuable insights and viewpoints get shut down or not heard at all in the often quick to dismiss or shame on social media? But if we tend to be mostly in ideological filter bubbles on social media platforms, how much does that matter?

I continue to use Twitter as a means of staying informed (Am I just a “lurker” now?). I try to be aware of various perspectives on an issue or event. I find that accessing information on current events through an associated hashtag feed can help reveal opposing viewpoints and the nuances to issues. Just like trying to understand disputes in person, there is often a larger context to many situations that “trend” on Twitter that may need time to consider before a response.

Reading replies to tweets or articles shared is another way to be exposed to different viewpoints or takes on a situation. Sure, that can be painful in ways, but too often I see an opinion responded to with name-calling or calling out, rather than, “Tell me more”, or “Where are you coming from with that?”. Or just leaving it…

Who else is looking forward to a few coffee shop conversations when the pandemic is behind us? 🙂

Another Good Tree Story

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I have read that trees can communicate among themselves, so I hope it is still okay to tell their stories!  (Last year, I wrote a Christmas related one.)

This time, a post about a travelling tree of sorts.  Or maybe just a sentimental tree story…

During the first few years that my husband and I were together, we moved from city to city and also within city a fair bit.  After a first out of town move, we bought a small pine tree for the front yard to help make the place our own.  Even though it was a rented townhouse, it was important at the time for some reason.  I am not absolutely certain why, but we chose a Swiss Stone Pine.

After one year, we moved again to a new city.  We dug up the little pine tree, put it in a pot, and then it went into the car with us for the drive across the province and into another (the rest of our household contents were transported by a moving company).  I don’t recall where we planted the young tree that fall at our newly rented house, but it did survive.  I know this for sure because, once again, we moved to a new city a year later, dug it up, and off into the car again — A little more south this time and back into Ontario.  Once again, I am not sure where in our new yard it got planted, but this time it got to spend some time in the same hole in the ground for 4 years!  Good thing it is a fairly slow growing tree!

We probably shouldn’t have moved the now maturing tree ever again, but… our next move was within the same city and it was the first house we bought, so…. up it came again!  This time, I clearly remember where we planted it in our front yard — and it survived and flourished!  How do I know this?:  Because it is still in that spot!  We did move from that “starter home” after 3 years or so and that time we did part ways with it (sob!).  Besides, we had 2 kids in tow by then 🙂  BUT, we still get to check on it! Just this past summer, we drove by and I snapped a photo! We should try to talk to the owners of the house one day, but I think the house has changed hands a few times now (we notice different cars over the years).  All have left the tree in its place, if you can imagine… 🙂

Just look at this beauty! (It’s not as close to the hydro wires as it looks):

After that drive by, I decided to research Swiss Stone Pine a bit more (the things one has time for during a pandemic!).  Should we get a brand new one for our yard?!  An online site informed me that they were planted around houses and yards in Switzerland as a symbol of good fortune.  Another online source informed that, yes, they are a slow growing species and that they do not transplant well.  Oh! 🙂  Will there come a day that we will discover that it was chopped down? That would be sad for us!

Do you have a favourite tree species?  Do you have it planted in your yard? Is there a tree that represents a symbol of something for you?  A favourite tree as the leaves turn colour in the fall?  Tree stories welcome!

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