All posts by Mary

12 Nov

Ambulance Etiquette Lessons

A siren pierces the air.  Emergency! An ambulance hurtles down the road at top speed, the people inside it feverishly working to save someone’s life.   A firetruck races against time towards a burning building.  Every minute counts.  Sometimes,  every second counts.  You call 911, your beloved lies dying in your arms.  Why are they taking so long,  you desperately think,  why aren’t they here NOW?

I’ll tell you why. Because drivers on the road who don’t pull over for emergency vehicles are 100% selfish.  I was walking down the street today and encountered this very phenomenon.  Literally in a full and busy street of cars in the middle of the afternoon,  one person pulled over to the side.  ONE PERSON.  ONE.  ONE PERSON ONLY.  SERIOUSLY.

Ambulance Etiquette Lessons - Traffic

What is wrong with people?  Are they texting? Talking?  Figuring that it doesn’t have to do with ME so I can just ignore it?  This is one of those things that makes me weep for human kind.  It’s only a few seconds to pull over and let an emergency vehicle through and it means SOMEONE’S LIFE.

Oh well,  the guy in front of me didn’t pull over and so I don’t have to either.  Oh well, I can’t quite see where the ambulance is so it’s probably not behind me.  Oh well,  there’s room in the other lane,  they can just go around me.  Oh well,  I’m in a hurry and I don’t have time to pull over and then get back out into the road.  Oh well,  I’ll just stop right here,  that’s as good as pulling over, right?

LISTEN UP.  This is not a hard concept to grasp.  Stop over thinking.  Stop justifying.  STOP.  PULL OVER.  PULL OVER RIGHT AWAY. THAT’S IT.  YES I AM YELLING.

I think it’s because there are no direct repercussions for these drivers to deal with.  After all,  firemen and paramedics aren’t going to stop to get a license number or punch someone out.  They’re busy,  oh,  SAVING LIVES AND SHIT.

Ambulance Etiquette  Lessons - Light

We should get cameras out there on the trucks.  And every one who doesn’t pull over when it’s lights and sirens time gets hit right square in the wallet.  The money goes straight into the relief fund for first responders. It doesn’t mean they don’t still deserve a punching.  THEY DO. Before you know it someone’s going to put together that when someone dies because of the delay caused by the driver who doesn’t pull over, there’s a chance that they could be found to be culpable.

It would seriously warm my cold, icy stone of a heart if someone knows of a place where people are still decent folk who give the slightest crap that an emergency vehicle needs to get through? Please don’t let that place be the past.  Or the future.  Or Michigan.  Please,  pull over.  And then you can think to yourself,  Hey I just did my part for saving someone’s life.  Isn’t it wonderful that in just a minute or two,  I could help someone that much.  I’m awesome!  I should buy me a drink!


Ambulance Etiquette Lessons - Sign

29 Oct

Most Embarrassing Moment

Day 29 of the #Blogtober14 Challenge with The Daily Tay and Helene in Between!  Here’s Mary with epic tales of her “Most Embarrassing Moment.”

Oh,  once again how to choose,  how to choose… Even leaving out the multitude of painfully shame-filled moments involving drunken escapades,  bodily functions or ex-husbands,  there’s still plenty.  The time I was in Mexico and the hotel clerk asked me in English for my credit card and I responded with ‘no habla espanol’.. twice…  (Rasa had to step in and save me on that one)  Or the time I called a cat owner by her cat’s name (to be fair I had spent more time with the cat than her).

After a quick poll,  I’ve decided to go with this oldie-but-a-goodie, from my Mexico trip when Paul and Rasa tied the knot at Chichen Itza.

Most Embarrassing - Mary and Paul

It was a beautiful vacation,  hanging out with my friends was wonderful and witnessing  their wedding was one of the highlights of my life.  We drank out of fruit,  we ate delicious gazpacho,  we went to the ruins,  the gorgeous,  spectacular ruins.

At the end of my trip,  Paul and Rasa drove me to the airport and I was heading up the escalators thinking about how lucky I had been,  to not be clumsy at all during the entire time,  I didn’t fall down,  or trip or anything and I was not wearing good shoes!

Most Embarrassing - Mary and Rasa

Daydreaming,  I tripped stepping off the escalator into the small waiting room for departures from Merida.  I fell like a ton of bricks and threw my arms out in front of me,  my bags on one arm flying off to the left and my suitcase flying off to the right as I flew off the top of the elevator like Super-girl.  In a panic and grabbing instinctively to cushion my fall I latched onto the rear end of the woman in front of me.  A buxom,  rotund older woman whose upper half whipped around to stare shocked at a bizarre Canadian woman grabbing her ass and shouting “gracias gracias” over and over again, which  was the only thing I could remember amidst the sensation of my knees slamming into the floor  the gasp of the collective waiting room and the woman herself.

An eternal moment of embarrassment later,  she scurried away and I shamefully limped about the waiting room collecting my things and moaning from time to time about the state of my scraped and bruised knees.  The stares eventually subsided.  When I got home,  my husband at the time took one look at my wrecked knees and quipped,  “I thought I said no pool boys!”

The Daily Tay
25 Oct

Favourite Book(s)

Wow!  It’s Day 25 of the #Blogtober14 Challenge with The Daily Tay and Helene in Between and we’ve been doing it everyday so far.  Go us!  Here’s Mary with today’s post of “Favourite Book”, well books…

Oh dear, I’ve really been quite stumped for this one. I read so many books and I love so many books, how could I possibly choose a favorite? I really couldn’t. So, here’s a few of my faves… in no particular order…

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

This book was the first Christie mystery I ever read and it hooked me good. I must have reread this one a thousand times and its always such a treat.  One of the best things about Agatha Christie is that she wrote so many books, so once you’re a fan you have a huge library of great mysteries to choose from.  This book really launched my love for mysteries and gave me a first glance and one of my favorite detectives of all time, the inimitable Hercule Poirot.

Fresh Wind Blowing by Grace Campbell

Gotta shout out for the family on this one. My great grandmother wrote a number of books that were popular back in the day, but this one has always been my favorite.  Set in World War 2 and following the life of a young Canadian woman dealing with the loss of her twin brother and her continued acceptance of hope and life in the face of grief, this book was written after my great-grandmother suffered the loss of her twin sons both shot down over France within a month of each other.  My great-grandmother died before I was born, but in this narrative and her other books as well, I hear her voice ringing through loud and clear. It sounds like mine!

Favourite Book - Pages

The Chains That You Refuse by Elizabeth Bear

This is a relatively new collection of short stories. The book was a gift and I have read it again and again and I am always finding myself thinking about one or another of the strange and delightful and even horrifying stories in this collection. I loaned it to my mom for about 6 months and I’ll be damned if I didn’t regret it fairly regularly and then became ecstatically happy when she returned it. The Kit Marlowe story in particular I find captivating and have spent many hours thinking about. Its full of interesting ideas.

Whale Music by Paul Quarrington

Here’s another book that is on my short list simply because I cannot stop reading it. I stole my brother’s copy and read it and then refused to give it back. Eventually, I had to buy him a replacement.  It sticks in my head and will not let go. Its the kind of book I like to read and reread, and then listen to the Beach Boys and read their biography, listen to copies of SMILE on youtube and then go back and read Whale Music again.  Yes, I do that.

Slaughterhouse 5
Vonnegut. Pure, unadulterated human being who knows the secret of life. For real. Brilliant. I read this book in high school and never stopped… these days its an annual affair usually.  I really love Vonnegut. I had the entire collection of his works once, but I also had a nasty ex-husband who wanted them because I loved them. Ah, well. So it goes.
SO MANY OTHERS… oh man, this list looks so paltry. I mean, where’s Gormenghast? Or Jane Eyre?  Or anything Tana French writes?  Or Charles Todd’s amazing Inspector Rutledge series?  I LOVE RUTLEDGE.  I just read The City & The City, too and that was brilliant, thank you China Mieville. I was chewing on that for days and days. Le Petit Prince, Siddartha, The Razor’s Edge, for the seeker in all of us. Hilary Mantel’s series about Thomas Cromwell.. oh god, read it now!  And get ready for the third instalment… I think I know how this one ends.


The Daily Tay
22 Oct

Your Pet Peeves

We’ve made it to Day 22 of the #Blogtober14 Challenge with The Daily Tay and Helene in Between!  Here’s Mary with today’s post of “Your Pet Peeves.”

1. Grooming on public transit

This includes nail clipping,  flossing,  etc.  How gross is this?  It gets me every time.  Take five more minutes in the bathroom people, do not make our commute your bathroom .

2. Not completing “The Cycle”

“The Cycle” is a term I’ve helpfully coined to remind others that when they, for example,  take the ketchup bottle out of the fridge, they should PUT IT BACK IN THERE when they are done with it.  Once the item in question is back in its home,  “The Cycle” is complete.  If you start a cycle, you are responsible for completing it.  Do NOT leave me hanging.

Your Pet Peeves - Mess of Condiments pickles

3.  Leaving traces

My motto for myself and others is generally, “Leave no trace.”  That means, don’t throw trash on the ground, stinky socks on the floor,  dirty dishes in the living room, hair in the drain,  etc.  I understand that we all have to…Function.  But I don’t want to be dealing with your functioning.  Or its vicious aftermath.  Be aware.  Leave no trace.  It’s really much nicer this way,  I promise.

Your Pet Peeves - Mess of Condiments

4.  Puke Surprise

The cat vomits in the night and you pretend that you’re sleeping and you know if I can’t stand knowing that a puddle of vomit is just hanging out so I will have to get up and deal with it and now that I think about it,  I’m the one with the problem…well, maybe I should be the one to get up and clean it if it can’t wait until morning when, inevitably, I will awaken first and step in it,  okay,  never mind…

5.  Disrespect in the Quiet Zone

This one’s gets me all the time.  Quiet.  Zone.  In other words,  close the mouth and stop with the speaking,  for God’s sake people.  Respect the Quiet Zone.  It is sacred.  It is beautiful.  It is….Silent.  And if you want to blab away on your phone or have a loud conversation,  there is the rest of the train.  Go sit there.  No really, GO AWAY.

Your Pet Peeves - Mess of Condiments Mustard

6.  Multi-tasking

Exiting the train while watching a video on your smart phone,  texting or otherwise not looking where you are going or paying attention to what you are doing.  In other words..  WAKE UP!!!  YOU ARE INTERACTING WITH THE WORLD OUT HERE!

Your Pet Peeves - Mess of Condiments with hot sauce

7. And last but not least…  Crap headphones.

I’m looking at you ipod with your wretched white ear buds,  or any other crap headphones that project a nightmarish tinny mockery of whatever wretched thing you call music and are currently sharing with everyone around you.  I actually hate you.  Moderately priced good quality headphones are not rare.  Do not invade my personal auditory space.

Also,  get off my lawn.

The Daily Tay
20 Oct

Your Biggest Fear

It’s Day 20 of the #Blogtober14 Challenge with The Daily Tay and Helene in Between!  Here is Mary with today’s post of “Your biggest fear.”

The Legend of the Octo-Optae
Long ago, when the world was sludge and everything in it mere sludge creatures, a powerful alien race dropped suddenly from the skies to inhabit every corner of the earth. Hither and yon they would crawl on their horrifying legs, creeping into corners, cupboards, under benches and dropping suddenly from above. And they had eight eyes and eight legs and their form was fierce and terrifying.  They were the Octo-Optae.
These horrifying (and evil, way way evil) beasts proceeded to carry out their horrifying (and way evil) plan to conquer humanity by scaring the beejeesus out of them at every turn. Upon seeing a young girl descending innocently into the basement of her childhood home, they converged and attacked, surrounding her and trapping her in the laundry room.
“Beware, beware!” shrieked the young girl’s parental units, “In the basement, the Octo-Optae are many and they will EAT YOU UP and destroy you!”
This same girl they ambushed twice in the doorway of her home. Spreading a cloud of themselves over the doorway and crawling over every part of her body when she unwittingly walked through the cloud. She screamed and tore off her clothes and charged upstairs to the shower, but lo, showers are one of the Octo-Optae’s strongholds and they did not perish.
The young girl was stalked and plagued for years by these evil creatures from outer space.  Wisps and tendrils of web found their way into her face, they would present themselves suddenly at a moment of weakness and take great delight in her terror. When she accepted a position working for a lakeside theatre, she had to walk through a tunnel under the highway and the Octo-Optae were many strong there. Big, chunky jumpers, lurking about in the shadows and great giant webs streaming down the cement walls from the caged light fixtures. They could smell her fear, though they had no noses.
When the young girl grew up, she found that the things with too many eyes were not so terrible and the horrifying legs were just legs.
And she found, at last, that when she accepted that all living things were part of the world she lived in, that there was room enough for the Octo-Optaes too.
The Daily Tay
18 Oct

Share A Secret About You

It’s Day 18 of the #Blogtober14 Challenge with The Daily Tay and Helene in Between!  Here is Mary with today’s post of “Share A Secret About You.”

Share a Secret - Sad Stone Angel Green Here’s my deep, dark secret.  I am probably one of the most sentimental, emotional people you will ever meet, but you will never know it…  I try to keep this side of myself to myself most of the time, but on occasion, the odd thing does slip out.  Like crying at phone commercials, music videos, a sad (or happy) story, movies, magazine articles, bus shelter advertisments… Anytime that some kind of human struggle or emotional moment is taking place my empathy meter goes haywire and the waterworks come on. There’s hardly any way to stop this reaction…you can feel it coming, you know its happening, but your body is in control and it says… Weep fool, weep!

The best thing I’ve found to control it is a combination of 8 count breathing (inhale for 8, hold for 8, exhale for 8, hold for 8, repeat until no longer weeping) and scheduling a time to just let loose and howl.  The GO train is always a nice option, it pretty much guarantees a seat to yourself. My friend once tried a variation of this technique (he added a bible) on a busy Amtrak route and it worked like a charm!
I wasn’t always like this you know. I used to be tough as nails and unsentimental and mock those weepy fools whose paths crossed mine. That I am now one of those same weepy fools is a little something called ‘Karma up and smacking your mouth in this life, bitch’.  It would be slightly more tolerable if I were an attractive cryer. But, no, no Johnny Depp single tear here. Its a full on red eye bulging sloppy and mucousy nightmare wherein I almost always have forgotten to bring along my kleenex.  When I was watching ‘Jurassic Park’ one day and wept at the scene where the old dude gives the scientists the grant, thinking ‘ohhhh its so hard to get grant money these days’ I knew that I was a lost cause.
So, alas and alack, for better or for worse, there it is:  messy, public weeper.  I’m sorry, World. I will try to remember the kleenex.
The Daily Tay
15 Oct

Favourite Quote and Why

It’s Day 15 of the #Blogtober14 Challenge with The Daily Tay and Helene in Between!  Here is Mary with today’s post of “Favourite Quote and Why.

Being a literary sort,  I have an awful lot of favorite quotes, from all kinds of different books and poems and articles and songs and plays.  But one of my all time favorites is from a Dylan Thomas poem.

Favourite Quote - Sunset2

I was very little when I started obsessing over my mom’s book of poems by Dylan Thomas, about 7 or 8. I barely understood what I was reading,  and yet the language captivated me.  This wild Welsh man poet and his strangely compelling turns of phrase became something I would come back to again and again and again over the years.  In time I became interested in the poet himself (and his tempestuous relationship with his wife Caitlin) and read a number of biographies over the years.  But I always came back to the poems themselves,  saying them out loud,  trying to understand them,  marvelling at his complete mastery of the language.  I liked how primal they felt to me,  like he had cut them off a stone or discovered them in a storm. I just couldn’t get enough of them.

Favourite Quote - Reaching

Later on,  as I grew and had my own experiences with loss and heartache,  the poems started to resonate even more.  I would turn to the book in a state of emotional turmoil and find an understanding there.  After a particularly harsh series of heartaches,  I took a line from the poem ‘And Death Shall Have No Dominion’  as a mantra for awhile and eventually I even registered it on a star.  Right up there in the sensitive area below Orion’s belt,  where heartaches belong.

Here’s the quote:

“Though lovers be lost love shall not;
and death shall have no dominion. “

Favourite Quote - Sunset

And please do check out the poem in its entirety,  here:

The Daily Tay
14 Oct

Funniest Memory from Childhood

Day 14 of the #Blogtober14 Challenge with The Daily Tay and Helene in Between!  Here is Mary with today’s post of “Funniest memory from childhood.”

Childhood Story - Mary and James

I remember a time when I was 8 years old. We had recently visited “Pioneer Village” and I was fascinated with old wood construction that had survived for all these years. Looking at the carving on some of the desks in the olde timely school-house I was struck by how the graffiti had survived. That someone who had carved their name on their desk had achieved a kind of immortality. And here I was, hundreds of years later, reading that name and participating in their act of impetuous vandalism and self expression.

I immediately resolved to set my own hand to the task of defacing some furniture for the purpose of artistic expression. Back at home, I inspected each surface, looking for the ideal canvas for my future contribution to urban archaeology. My mother’s desk at the time was made of a light soft wood that I concluded, given my extensive knowledge of wood carving, would form the basis for my magnum opus.

Childhood Story - Ballerina Mary  

There was only one problem. I needed to both do the deed and deflect the blame as my mother would no doubt have some words for the errant child who willfully and with malice aforethought had disfigured her work area. Being a budding criminal genius, but not quite yet fully bloomed into my full Super Villian, I hit upon this devious but ultimately flawed plan.

Childhood Story - with goat
Taking my carving implement, I arranged several minutes alone with my target. Painstakingly, and with considerable care, I carved each letter into the perfect, soft wood of the desk top. When I was done, I looked at my work with approval. It was perfect. Now my work would live on for posterity, as no amount of sanding would fix the deep gouges I had inflicted on the hapless furniture. But the best part was the devious way I had thought to evade punishment. You see it was not my name that adorned the desk, but rather my sister’s. Now my mother would ultimately have to agree that my sister was the culprit and I would slip away unpunished to plot my next act of ad hoc wood carving. In my haste and glee at coming up with this plan I had missed one crucial detail.

Once the deed was discovered it was I who was held accountable for the deed. How unfair! It wasn’t even my name! Later, I would have to conclude that I picked the wrong patsy. My sister’s handwriting, and therefore wood carving ability was limited by her being only four years of age.

The Daily Tay
12 Oct

Best advice you’ve been given

It’s Day 12 of the #Blogtober14 Challenge with The Daily Tay and Helene in Between!  Here is Mary with today’s post of “Best advice you’ve been given.”

Best Advice - In Corner, Sad One day in high school I was prancing around in my sparkly silver tights when my English teacher pulled me aside to impart the following little gem of wisdom.  Mary,  quoth he,  you really should try to be more like other people.

This is when I realized the value of a secret identity. Of course, I think he just didn’t like my sparky silver tights but I worked at it and later that same year my brother made me a t-shirt that said “conformist” and I knew I was on the trail of something big.

Best Advice - Beer Horns

Be more like other people.  It’s so simple and yet surprisingly difficult,  at least it is for a big honking weirdo like yours truly.  Sure,  everyone says be yourself,  embrace your inner what have you,  but when it comes to getting a job quickly when you’re broke,  making small talk with office strangers,  or just trying to float by under the radar without anyone noticing you,  there is nothing like being normal.

Anything funky or weird,  keep it to yourself and a small, trusted group of friends who will forgive you for your independent streak.  If you catch yourself doing something strange in public,  like chanting “evil robot”  under your breath ad nauseum just pass it off as a small stroke.  This creates what author Douglas Adams calls a “somebody else’s problem” field which most normals cannot perpetrate. Or just say,  “wow do I need another coffee! ” and everything will be right as rain.

Best Advice - Mary, Claire and Rasa

The best part about great advice is passing it on!  Let your loved ones know that you expect them to toe the normal line,  and shun them if they refuse.  Who are they anyway,  Ayn Rand?  This is an excellent way to curb troublesome childhood behavior too,  a few brutal corrections and they’ll be colouring in the lines like the little conformist monkeys they are.

It’s also a nice way to take the edge off any existentialist angst you may be feeling.  Not sure of the meaning of life and existence?  Trapped and frozen in a hell dimension of depression and pain?  Creatively stunted?  Desperate to express your true nature by performing a modern dance routine in a wolf suit to Van Morrison’ ‘Moondance’?  Relax and remember,  everybody feels that way,  so just pick yourself up off the floor and shake it off,  ‘kay?

Best Advice - In Corner, Happy

The Daily Tay
11 Oct

If I were President

Day 11 of the #Blogtober14 Challenge with The Daily Tay and Helene in Between and today’s post is “If I were President”  Here’s Mary, well Mary’s cat, The Cheat, with the scoop.

If I were president.. With special guest blogging cat, The Cheat.

If I were president - The Cheat Snuggly

My fellow creatures,
The Cheat here, with a very presidential message for you all…

First of all, if I were president there would be much stupendous awesomeness and probably rejoicing around the world. That’s how powerful the message of The Cheat can be. Mostly because of the whiskers.

If I were president - The Cheat Lying Down

I, The Cheat have a simple philosophy of presidenting. First, make no promises. You never know what The Cheat is gonna do. That’s the risk. At least, I’m up front about it. Like cleaning the back end. Someone has gotta do it and it’s not The Cheat, okay? That can be the vice president’s job. Figure it out.

With The Cheat as president, you’re gonna see some big changes. Changes in you, not me. Mainly I’m gonna flop down here and get relaxed. That’s just how I rule. What a world we live in… Wars and and slavery and hunger. The Cheat is all about peace and freedom and eating. Everyone can take a nap too, that would be good.

If I were president - The Cheat Splayed

Sometimes, things get rough. I know you want a president that can bust out some sudden violence and take control. The Cheat is a one hundred percent expert in attacking from a lying down position. It’s all about the disembowling kick. Another fancy technique is I just lie down on top of whatever is the problem. That takes care of a lot of things.

So there you have it. Lie down. Sing for freedom. Eat food. Rub this fuzzy belly. Basically get relaxed that’s what I’m saying. Everything is better when relaxing. That’s The Cheat’s presidential way.

If I were president - The Cheat Portrait

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