Hotel Living

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“We’re living in a hotel.” A statement that seems to horrify friends and family.

Yes, we are living in a hotel for a few months until our new place, currently under construction, is completed.

“Why didn’t you rent an apartment?”

We did look, but apartments or condo rent was pricey and would entail a year’s lease and we only needed a place for six months. If we rented, not only would we be obligated to pay the rent for the full year, we’d also be responsible for the apartment for the time it sat empty. So living in a hotel seemed the perfect solution.

“But, a hotel? Isn’t that…?”

What it is, is wonderful. The hotel we are in is old, clean, and well maintained. It’s not fancy. We don’t need fancy. We have a suite—a living room with two sofas and flat screen TV, a tiny kitchen with a full fridge and stove (we even entertained friends and served a full turkey dinner for Thanksgiving), and a full bathroom. Cable and Internet connections are included and parking right out our door is free. There’s a laundry room down the hall for our convenience, a fitness room and a pool. Maid service twice a week with fresh sheets and towels is spoiling us.  The suite is small which equals cozy, and we’re finding that we really don’t need more space.

Best of all? The staff. From the front desk manager, to the maintenance man, to the maids, all are friendly and helpful and fun. We feel cocooned in a new family. Of course we’ll be thrilled to move to our new home next weekend, but we’ll miss everyone here too.

The “what” goes by


The congregation listens attentively as the minister preaches his sermon. They rise and sing along with the hymns. The purity of the soloist’s voice soars high to the peaked ceiling and seeps into the parishioners’ souls.

Throughout the service little ones shuffle and chatter, but their small noises barely register with the congregation.

Then it’s time for the silent prayer. Parent’s pick up their children, cuddle with them, and distract them with small toys—all to encourage silence during for the next two minutes.

The father holds his son and hands him his toy truck. The boy is obsessed with trucks. This should keep him occupied and quiet.

For several seconds, one can hear the proverbial pin drop as heads are bowed and quiet reigns.

Suddenly a truck rumbles by. “F**k, Daddy, f**k!” the little boy says using his very best pronunciation.

The father shushes the boy and looks over the congregation. Heads are still bowed, but shoulders are rising and falling with what can only be stifled laughter.

What does the father do then? He rises quietly and carries the little boy out of the church, his wife following close behind.

Do they return next Sunday or search out a new church? We may never know.



7 things about me



Beryl Belsky of was kind enough to nominate me for a One Lovely Blog Award. There is no winner; the nomination is the prize, so to speak. I am honored to join the ranks of others who have also been nominated. Thank you, Beryl.

A requirement of accepting the award is to tell you 7 things about myself so here goes.

  1. I have seen the Sahara from both sides—Mali and Egypt.
  1. I’m a non-athlete who loves body boarding.
  1. I went to a country school with 8 grades and one teacher.
  1. I have the best job in the world—grandma to a precocious and delightful little munchkin.
  1. I lived in Mali and traveled by taxi-brousse through several West African countries. Something I wouldn’t do now, but was entirely safe at the time.
  1. I can’t imagine a life without reading.
  1. I hate winter, but one of my favorite memories is of the horses’ hooves squeaking on the hard packed snow that sparkled in the moonlight.

Note to any bloggers out there: It’s your turn. Here are the rules should you accept one, all, or none of them.

1.     Thank the person who nominated you for the award.

2.     Add the One Lovely Blog logo to your post.

3.     Share 7 facts/or things about yourself.

4.  Nominate 15 bloggers you admire and inform nominees by commenting on their blogs.







So, here’s the thing. Grandma goes to Australia to spend the summer with her sister.

Our summer. Their winter. No central heating. Damp and cold. Of course her thoughts turn to knitting and knit she does. Mitts for her grandson from special wool she bought in Tasmania.

A couple of months later grandson heads off to school, happy and proud to be in grade one. Then it’s winter. Mom takes the special mitts, sews a bit of elastic to each one and attaches the other end of the elastic to the sleeves of his parka.

She sends him off to school content in the thought that he can’t possibly lose his mitts and he’ll always have warm hands.

To her horror, he arrives home that first day with elastics dangling from his sleeves. Elastics only—no mitts.

“Where are you mitts?” she asks.

He looks up at her with a puzzled frown. “What mitts?”

The mitts are never found, not even after several searches in the school lost and found box. Mom is more upset than Grandma, who quickly knits him another pair—but not with special wool from Tasmania.

The things you don’t expect



You set out on your travels with images in your head. You’ve read about the place. You’ve seen the documentaries. You’ve held tight to your childhood imaginations.

It’s what you didn’t expect that hits hardest. Would you ever have imagined that stepping off the plane in Bamako, the heat would press you into the tarmac with a force so strong that your legs wobbled a little as you made your way to the terminal?

Would you ever have imagined the power of scent; the fact that 25 years after having lived in Bamako a whiff of myrrh could transport you instantly from your living room in Canada to the market in Bamako?

You stand under the Eiffel Tower looking up. You take the elevator to the top. You’ve seen this iconic land mark on dozens of documentaries and travel shows, but did you ever expect to be so awed in its presence?

You studied Egypt in grade 5, fascinated, as all kids seem to be, with the pyramids, the Sphinx, and the stories your teacher tells of the flooding of the Nile. But never, in all your imagining, did you expect the demarcation between lush green and barren desert to be so abrupt as when you saw it with your own eyes.

And your dream trip—a safari in Kenya. You knew you’d marvel at the animals, big and small, meandering in their natural environment, but did you know the greatest impact on your psyche would be the utter silence in the vast expanses of the Serengeti?

The unexpected—that’s what travels are made of.





Snowstorm in New York

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They’re on holidays in New York for Christmas and to see in the New Year. They’re lucky enough to be staying with friends in Brooklyn and even luckier to have a hostess who is a travel writer.

Each morning she asks, “Where would you like to go today?”

“The Lower East Side.”

“Perfect. Be sure to see the Tenement Museum now that you’ve already been to Ellis Island, and then go to …”

And then the snow comes—the worst storm in fifty years. They’re from Edmonton, one of Canada’s northern cities. A little snow isn’t going to stop them.

They head to the subway, step off the curb and are instantly ankle deep in the water that’s hidden under the snow, feet soaked and cold. Not to worry. They have extra socks in their bag having followed the advice of their hostess.

They help push cars out of snowbanks. They help little old ladies clamber over the huge piles of snow deposited by the plows at the side of the road. At home this would be frustrating, but on holiday in New York it’s an adventure.

They wait at the bus stop to go to their next destination. He looks pointedly at his watch as the bus pulls up. The door opens. “Aren’t you late?” he asks.

The driver, a huge imposing black man, scowls as he rises from his seat. He is not amused.

“Hey,” he says. “I drive in northern Canada.”

The driver’s ire melts away. He grins and offers a high five as they board.

Potato on My Desk



“Mrs. Jones, why do you have a potato on your desk?

A question I heard for many years from my junior high and high school students.

“Pick it up,” I’d say each time.

“Whoa, it’s heavy.”

And it was—the rock that looked like a potato, the rock that my young daughter brought home to me after a walk with her dad.

“Look, Mom, I found you a potato.”

Like my students I was fooled until she gave it to me to hold. “Whoa, that’s heavy.”

She giggled at my reaction, mighty pleased with herself for tricking me.

“You know what,” I said. “This will make a perfect paperweight on my desk.”

Many years later it’s still doing its job on the corner of my desk.

Many years later I hear, “Grandma, why do you have a potato on your desk?”

The Serendipity of Miracles



The tourist, who came to their little town every winter, walked with a cane. She didn’t know why, but each day he came into the little store where she worked to get his groceries. He spoke a little Spanish and she spoke a little English—enough that they could have small conversations.

One day he came in and saw her son.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“He was born that way,” she said. From what she understood, there was a problem with the tendons in his ankles. The boy couldn’t walk as his ankles turned in. “His dream is to play soccer,” she said.

He gestured to his cane and nodded. “I understand that,” he said. “I knew a boy back home who walked the way your son does. It can be fixed, you know, with surgery.”

“Um hum,” she said. Just where did this man think she would find the money for such surgery?

The man went back home and she thought no more about the conversation.

Then one day the phone rang. “This is Dr. X. from the Shriner’s Hospital in Mexico City. Please tell your friend to stop emailing me. I will examine your son at the end of January and we will see if we can help. Oh, and just so you know, our services are free.”

“You did this?” she asked, when she next saw the tourist.

“Yes, I’ve been emailing and phoning the hospital about your son for the past year.”

“Thank you,” she said. She wanted to say more, but was stymied by language and emotion.

He nodded. He understood.

Friends and family donated money for the bus fare. They stayed with relatives in the City. The young lad had his surgery. The operation was a success.

2014 in review – A very big Thank You to all my readers.

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 8,200 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.