We Know Where That Information Is

Have you seen a blue binder?

From his glassed-in perch, the bulldozer operator frowns for a moment at the note in his hand, looks down suspiciously at the guy with the mop of curly hair who is looking up at him hopefully, and then checks the note again. Yup, that’s what it says, all right.

Have you seen a blue binder?

The operator shakes his head, trying to look regretful rather than stupefied. As the guy with the mop of curly hair walks off, shoulders slumped, the operator reaches for a lever. The bulldozer lurches forward, pushing the next mound of garbage into the channel prepared for it, and life at the Saskatoon city dump goes on.   Continue reading


Filed under Business

Life is a Purse


Sitting in an airport holding pen, I look up, disoriented. Have I missed my flight? As panic rises, the thinking part of my brain rouses. Reluctantly. Sluggishly. My watch is still on Vancouver time from a trip a few weeks ago. It’s 6:10 where I am. Whew.

But, once roused, my snippy internal monitor is not content with merely correcting my mistake, or with alleviating my (mis)apprehension. What’s that she’s saying? That if the watch showed the correct time, I’d be early for my flight, not late?

Thanks for that. Given that the 6:10 in question is the oh-dark-hundred kind, not the glass-of-wine kind, and that I’ve been up since oh-4:30, I’ll cut myself some slack for slow thought processes.   Continue reading


Filed under New perspectives

Sayin’ Somethin’ Stupid

I haven’t actually seen that, but, yeah, potentially.

In our back-row seat, the Big Guy nudges me with his elbow and I turn my head in a mute, What? Just as quietly, he subtly inclines his head toward the front of the van, where our Glaswegian tour guide has just wrapped up his answer to an earnest and sort of silly question from one of our tour group.

Ah, I think. This is what he was talking about. After a week listening to various interactions betwixt this tour leader and our fellow tourees, the Big Guy has broken the code.

It always starts the same way. Walking or riding, someone spots something and asks the guide about it.

What bird/flower/bush/tree/crop/mountain/river/ruined castle is that?

For these questions—a genuine if sometimes casual request for information—the matter ends there. But other questions lead to more back-and-forth.   Continue reading


Filed under Uncategorized


I’ve had it with sex.

No, I mean it. There’s no point in trying to change my mind: I understand its benefits, all right. Where else, as they say, can you have so much fun with your boots on? Or was that with them off?


And of course there’s that whole thing about how it mixes up the gene pool, combining things in never-before-seen ways. In a world where TV ads urge us to “Celebrate (those who are) Different,” celebrating sex would seem as natural as, well, sex itself.    Continue reading


Filed under New perspectives

Black is the New Clear

Clear, please.

There is a short pause and then a disarmingly frank admission.

I’m sorry. I don’t know what that means.

I’m in an aisle seat at the back of the plane and the flight attendant is, perforce, standing well within the comfortable limits of my personal space.

She has just asked how I want my tea; I have answered without looking up. Now I tilt my head sideways and up so I can see her face, all without touching the stranger in the middle seat. It’s a bit awkward but I do my best. Sometimes conversation demands eye contact.

When I explain that ‘clear’ tea is tea without creamer or sugar, she happily corrects me, Oh, you mean ‘black.’
Continue reading


Filed under Relationships & behaviour

Devoutly To be Wish’d

All that information is on the website.

Ouch. It’s not the words, it’s the tone. Biting. Impatient. Annoyed.

I’m guessing this is not the time to mention that the requested information—an email address—was not, in fact, on the parent website from which I got the name of this association.

I’m gathering email addresses so my publisher’s publicist can send out notices about my book to those who might want to buy it. Finding a national motherlode of association listings, I doggedly follow the links through to provincial listings of local and regional associations, only to find that many provide phone, fax, and snail-mail contact information, but no email address. Odd.

Down the rabbit hole I go, only to find that there is no email address shown on many of the home sites either. I check every page, tab, and category I can think of, but no joy. Rather than slog through all 47 listings for nothing, it seems better to just pick up the phone. And so I follow business hours across the time zones from Newfoundland & Labrador to Vancouver Island, gathering email addresses—and reactions—as I go.    Continue reading


Filed under Relationships & behaviour

Snip Snip

This one will never come to anything.

Snip snip. A long, skinny twig growing sideways off a major branch is gone. The professional gardener is explaining as he goes—a favour to me, since I mentioned an interest in becoming a better pruner.

This one is crossed.

Snip snip. This time, his clippers move too quickly for me to see the habit of growth to which he’s objecting—to see the branches that were crossing over each other. Nor do I quite get how he has chosen one branch over the other.

And this one is growing inward.

Snip snip. I squint at the tree sideways. Now I’m confused. Wasn’t there also something about not leaving holes? If all the branches growing inward are removed, won’t that leave holes everywhere?   Continue reading


Filed under New perspectives

Instructor, Instructee

He asked the same question six times.

I was indignant.

Yes, and you answered six times.

He was amused.

Decades ago, as a novice university instructor, I shared an office with a fellow who should not have been so encumbered. It was hardly a reciprocal deal. My office mate was an accomplished, confident instructor who had seen a good deal of the world. A Turk, he had studied in the USA, professored (professed?) in New Zealand, and managed marketing for the biggest glass factory in Turkey. By contrast, his office mate was a recent graduate without much work experience of any sort, struggling with all elements of the job: to keep ahead of the students, to set fair and meaningful exams, to mark assignments, and to handle the inevitable student whinging.    Continue reading


Filed under Management & work, New perspectives

Coming to Terms

Do you think I look like a hooker?

Wearing knee-high boots, a super short skirt, and a tight, low-cut top, the teenager on the verge of leaving the house for an evening with friends was, of course, deliberately provoking her mother, looking for a reaction to react against. A veteran of the home front, however, her mother missed not a beat as she glanced up from her book and replied calmly before returning to her reading.

No, dear, you look lovely. Just don’t stand around on any street corners.

It’s been 20 years since this cross-generational exchange, but some things never change. As a general rule, teenagers dress more revealingly, more provocatively, than older women. Even than women just slightly older.

Why? There are likely many reasons, but I suspect one is the novelty of being able to display their newly sexually mature bodies in a sexually attractive way.    Continue reading


Filed under Politics & policy, Relationships & behaviour

6 Times More Confused!

I stop briefly in the grocery store aisle. We’re out of paper towels and I’m looking to buy. What could be simpler?  I have, after all, reached an accommodation with paper towels.

The youthful foolishness that saw me experimenting with cheap paper towels is long done: now I pay for quality, reasonably. The mid-life restlessness that saw me sampling all the name brands is also gone: now I buy one brand, faithfully. Even the more-recent indecisiveness that saw me alternating between full-size and half-size towels has passed: now I buy the half-size ones, exclusively.

My reasonable, faithful, and exclusive paper-towel-buying rut is also comfortable, effective, and efficient. Like any good habit, it keeps me doing the little things that need doing, while saving me from the tedium of thinking about them. Think flossing, taking calcium supplements, making the bed.    Continue reading


Filed under Business, New perspectives