Welcome to my New Home!

I have moved back to my birthplace - a town of about 1800 in rural New Brunswick, Canada.

I have been gone for 20 years working in various cities, but not a lot has changed around here. People still leave their keys in their cars and their front doors unlocked...people still walk into your house without knocking and help themselves to a cup of coffee....and neighbors are both nosey AND some of the most helpful and wholesome folks you will ever find!

I am not sure if I will fit in here. I am used to "breakfast, lunch and dinner", not "breakfast, dinner and supper" which leads to all kinds of confusion when my friends show up at noon for a meal I was making at 6pm. I am also used to wearing $100 Lululemon yoga pants not $15 WalMart specials. (Not that there is anything wrong with WalMart!).

I have a convertible, which is completely inappropriate for a town that has snow 6 months of the year. I loved it when the old-timers would say, half-smiling, "So, you gonna be driving that car this winter?" like I might have just fell off the turnip truck the night before. I'd make my big blue eyes as big as I could as I would sweetly reply "Do you think I could....?"

Well, I WILL adjust, I WILL! One way or another, I want to be part of this town. I want to "be the me I was when I was child", not the one I created while living in the city.

So, let me share my experiences with you, as I adjust to this new, but old, environment.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Killer Chickens

One of the great things about living in P-A is being able to go cross-border shopping, or as we like to call it, going "over cross". Or maybe it is "over across". Anyway, the slang term basically means spending our hard-earned Canadian dollar in a place that thinks it is only worth 80% what we think it's worth.

I have been going "over cross" since I was in the womb. In fact, I had learned how to smuggle shoes by the time I was 5.....wear old shoes over, buy new shoes, throw old shoes away, and whistle non-nonchalantly as you go to the border, hoping they don't smell the new leather on your feet. Just for the record, I don't smuggle anymore. I gave it up at about age 7 when I developed a fear of people in uniforms with guns.

So today I went "over cross" to get groceries. For those of you who say I should "buy local", I mostly do that, except in good old P-A the one grocery store in town does not sell egg beaters and nitrate free turkey bacon. So there.

I was kind of lolly gagging, it being Sunday and all, and wasn't thinking too straight when I choose something at the grocery store that would lead to trouble. Trouble with the people who have guns.

When returning to Canada, the nice lady with the gun at customs asked me what I was bringing back. I told her the dollar amount, and then the amount of tax. Based on these numbers alone, I would either be able to pass go or I would be sent in to pay duty. I ALWAYS have to pay duty because I don't smuggle, and I don't lie to people with guns.

Then she asked me the question....."Are you bringing back any chicken or eggs"? Gulp. Somehow in my relaxed lolly gagging state I had forgotten we are not supposed to bring chicken or eggs back due to the possible transmission of terrible diseases to Canada. I had eggs. 12 of them. I had to confess immediately, as I do not lie to people with guns.

I had to take my dozen eggs into the office for inspection. Turns out I had purchased KILLER eggs that had to be returned to the USA. Even though my eggs were destined to go into my belly, not to a farm, or to be licked by a chicken, the Canadian government has deemed it necessary to restrict USA eggs from entering the country. I tried to explain I would take the eggs home and eat them by Friday, and I wouldn't let any chicken near them, and that I have a stomach of steel and can digest even KILLER eggs, but the man with the gun just scowled. No negotiation. He told me to return the eggs to the US border and they would dispose of them for me. He even gave me a paper to explain to the US customs agent why I was not allowed to enter my own country. Damn eggs.

The US Customs Agent saw me getting turned away from my own Customs Agent, and said "What have you done?", to which I replied "Something illegal. Killer eggs. I am told you will take my eggs and dispose of them".

He said, "I don't want your eggs".
I said "But you have to take my eggs"

Here I was, arguing with a man with a gun. Sweet Jesus, what was I thinking?

I decided try another approach. "Nice looking customs office you have here. Got a kitchen? I can whip up some scrambled eggs up for you - I have green onions and cheese in the trunk. Tasty, hmmmm"?


So, I gave up and had to ask the obvious question "If Canada won't let me back in to the country with the eggs, and you won't take them, then what shall I do with the eggs?"

He suggested I give the eggs to someone. That was not helpful, as I don't know anyone in Maine. So I drove away, and realized I could just go to the nearest grocery store and give the eggs to someone there from the USA. THOSE folks can eat the killer eggs, just not us delicate Canadians with the sensitive digestive tracts.

So I drove to the grocery store. Parked. An older man was sitting in a van, obviously waiting for his wife to finish the grocery shopping. I introduced myself politely, and told him the situation. Then I asked him if he would like to eggs.

"No, thank you" (older man now looking slightly uncomfortable)

Walk away, Donna, walk away. I retreated. I was embarrassed. I am not a crazy woman trying to give away eggs on the street. HONEST!

I threw the eggs in the garbage can, thinking someone surely could have benefited from all that protein.

I went home. I gave Danger his new toy. A rubber chicken. Made in the USA. I gave up the eggs, but they'll NEVER get the chicken!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day Melancholy

Hello, Readers. Normally I try to be funny. Not today. Today is Mother's Day, and I am an orphan. Granted, I am a 45 year old orphan with a husband, a house, a job, cars, food....... but today none of that stuff is being considered, because I just can't shake the feeling of being an orphan..

My Dad passed away in 1995, and Mum passed away a little over 2 years ago. I could just put on Facebook "to my Mum in Heaven" but I figured I would take it up a notch.

My Mother lived until she was 80. Although my Mother probably seemed like a pretty ordinary person, a sweet little old lady, there were some pretty interesting things about her that you probably didn’t know. So, I want to do a top 10 “Did You Know” countdown  to tell you a few secrets about my Mum.

10. When my cell phone rang, a Kid Rock song would play. When Mum heard it, she would start dancing around the kitchen, bathroom, wherever.  In fact, my 80-Mother dancing to the song “So Hott” got my attention way more than a ringing cell phone ever could.
9. in 1960 Mum was one of two people that got polio in the Perth-Andover area. The doctor said she would never walk again without braces, but with Dad’s help, and Mum’s strength and resilience, she never had to wear leg braces.
8. Mum was a beautiful singer, and she used to sing to her kids all the time. When I was little, I tried and tried to convince Mum to be a country music star so we could be rich. But Mum said she was too shy, so that money making scheme was a no-go.
7. When I was about 7, all of a sudden Mum started crying uncontrollably, and was very sad, for many days. I didn’t know who this Elvis guy was that had just passed away, but he obviously was Mum’s close personal friend for her to cry so hard and for so long.
6. Mum had a condition called spinal stenosis. She was in pain quite a bit of the time, but she was really concerned that she might get addicted to one of the hard-core drugs the doctor prescribed. Tylenol.
5. When Mum was young, she completed a correspondence course in nursing. She didn’t complete the whole program because she would have had to work in Boston for a while for the practical part of the course. It didn’t really matter if she finished her degree or not, we called her Doctor Miller, anyway.
4. When my Mum was going through menopause some number of years ago, she went through a grumpy spell, and she used to tell her kids not to stand so close to her …She’d say…”Get away from me, you’re using up all my air…..” That sure made a kid feel loved.
3. Mum was always a fan of the underdog. It didn’t matter what bad stuff a person did, she would always find their good qualities and focus on those. I can just imagine her saying, ….”well, the Devil is not that bad of a guy, he just made some bad choices, he’ll come around, just give him some time….”
2. Mum was unusually thankful. These last few weeks in the hospital, she thanked everyone that helped her, even if the person did the smallest of tasks like empty the garbage can in her. How many of us have the strength of character to thank the person who gives you a needle?
1. At every funeral Mum ever went to, she wore big black sunglasses over her regular glasses. I suppose she didn’t want anyone to see the grief in her eyes. She kind of looked like a white-haired Roy Orbison.
As much as Mum was just a simple farm wife from the country, she led an interesting and full life, and was a hoot ‘til the end….she loved and was loved by many. And I suppose that is all any of us can ask for.
Here is a secret I didn't tell anyone until now. I am the only person in the whole world that heard, saw, and even felt, Mum's last breath. My sisters were in the hospital room at the time, but were distracted. I was very present for her last breath, just like she was there for my first.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

People are Funny

I have been a people-Manager since I was 28 years old. I have met and managed some wonderful people. But being a manager can be quite a challenge. You need a strong sense of humor to get through some of the days.

Over the years, I have had some interesting conversations with some of my employees. Some of the conversations have made me laugh, some have made me cry, and some have made me want to poke them in the eye. Luckily for me, there has been lots of laughter, little crying, and the only time I ever poked anyone in the eye was on a streetcar in Toronto when I lost my grip on the pole I was hanging on to, and a lady was standing too close to me.

So I have decided to share some of those interesting conversations between myself and my employees here....for your reading pleasure. All of these conversations happened somewhere in the last 17 years. Likely the employees who made the comments don't even remember doing so. But I remember. I remember it all.

Spiritual Lady
One of my employees was late for work. When she arrived, she asked me to step into the boardroom with her, and to bring a box of Kleenex. Since she had been having medical issues, my first thought was that she had received some terrible news about her health. Instead, she began...."The reason I am late for work is because my spirit guides told me I should drive right on past work and go to a church where a man was praying, and who needed my help".


She continued to tell me how her "kundelini was rising" and that she could see spirits all around.

I have nothing against people who have non-traditional spiritual beliefs. I have nothing against people being late for work. But I do have something against people who creep me out and give me nightmares and the heebie-jeebies every time I see them.

Pretty Lady
A very pretty young lady came into my office, obviously in distress and wishing to talk. When I asked what was wrong, she said that she never wanted to work with a particular gentleman again, and asked if I could please make sure that happened. When I inquired as to what was the issue, she said that "Every time he looks at me, he's undressing me with his eyes....you know what it's like..."

I didn't want to smile. I tried not to smile. But I smiled.

And then to test her skills to see if she TRULY could tell if someone were undressing her with their eyes, I undressed her with my eyes. Nothing. Nada. Zip. No response. 

By the way, I do not know what it is like to have someone undress me with their eyes. But at my age, if someone wants to do that, I encourage them to do so with my blessing.

Creative Lady 
I got a phone call one morning from one of my employees. It was early enough in the morning that I assumed she was calling in sick for the day.

When I answered the phone, she said "Donna, I wont be able to come to work today. I looked out the window and it looks really windy".

You know how some people have an allergy to peanuts and if they go near peanuts, the result might be anaphylactic shock and potential death? I am thinking that this creative lady was going to tell me she had a severe allergy to wind, and if she stepped onto her porch she might go into anaphylactic shock. Or maybe she has a deep-rooted psychological fear that she is going to end up in a tornado like Dorothy, and she HATES Kansas.

Man on a Mission
I had a male employee who made it quite obvious he thought of himself as very intelligent, very capable, and just a whole lot of other good things.

He was a lot of those good things, but he was also lazy and refused to do what I asked him to do for customers.

So I had to fire him.

His response "You can't fire me, I am going to be the General Manager here some day".

If he would have stopped there, we just could have parted ways on friendly terms. But no, he had to continue.

"And I'm smarter than you, so I should actually have your job instead".

Um. OK. So I should fire you from your current job and give you mine? Good try, but YOU'RE STILL FIRED!