Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Dear Readers,
I am taking a few days off, so I asked my best girlfriend Dame Clare Voyant, to write a little something, so look out- here she comes.

Holiday Happenings
by Dame Clare Voyant 

Now that nice man Mr. Reid- who owns this Blog, is allowing me- once again, to sub hit for him with this column of mine. He’s taking a small break you see. I truly appreciate the gesture at this warm, joyous time of the year, even though your Royal Dameness is practically up to ample bosom with Holiday preparations. 

I really am My Dears.
I mean that,
I really do.

Why, there are several trees to be decorated- although my Darling Pool Boy Roger and his “hubbie” Xavier helped me drag my balls out a day or so ago, to see just what I have in storage. Well, you know the “Gays” and their “balls”. Everything has to be hung just so. ~snicker~

My Dear’s the Palais Royale- just on the outskirts of town, will absolutely “sparkle” all through the season. From the electronically enhanced front gate to the Chauffer’s quarters we absolutely glow!

Speaking of such, I remember one year my Chauffeur Rudy got the 57 Chevy all oiled and gassed up to take Roger, Xavier, my Best friend Hedda Lettuce and myself tree shopping. Hedda, Rudy and I were in the Chevy’s cab while the boys jumped into the back, wrapping up tight in a couple of Hudson Bay blankets. Rudy turned up the Christmas tunes and we were good to go! 

There is a special “tree place” My Dears- in that little burg called Oro-Medonte, that we have driven to these past few years. Now it’s all part and Christmas parcel of our Holiday Traditions. We gathered armloads of fresh branches and a tree or two then headed back towards town. A quick stop at the Canadian Tire for some new LED lights that Rudy said we simply must have My Dears- and we were off to brunch and liquid refreshments.

Now, My Dears, I must say when this group of “giddies” gets together all “heck” can break loose. We stopped at a local watering hole to grab a sandwich and a few beers. We chatted and laughed and talked of how we would decorate the trees. I believe we were feeling quite happy.

I must say that My Dears.                                                                                                     I really must! 

Roger and Xavier broke into song at several points and even encouraged one of the Male servers to sit at the old 88’s and bang out a Christmas Song or two. It was absolutely delightful and brought me closer to the Holiday Season. Hedda and I sang our own version of the Twelve Days of Christmas, however My Dears, it got pretty naughty towards the 9th, 10th and 11th days. I just couldn’t repeat the lyrics here in this Blog that we sang. Mr. Reid would flip!

He really would My Dears.  
I mean that.
He really, really would. 

After we were all “tanked” up, off the 57 Chevy sped to the Palais- just on the outskirts of town. We unloaded the boughs and trees into the barn to keep them cool, while Roger and Xavier headed to the indoor pool to shimmy into their speedos for a little “heated” dip.
What a memory and how cherry red their suits were!

Anyway, later today Hedda and I will spread every issue of House and Home- from the past 20 years, on the Living Room rug and begin to look for Holiday Decorating ideas.

We’ll have a terrific time. 
I really mean that My Dears.
I really do.

I must toodle away now because your Dameness has a date with a loofah sponge and a pedicure artiste. The things we “gals” must do to look presentable and garner that “Holiday Glow”. 

Tah for now!


Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Beware pre-lit trees.

The warning to Caesar was quite clear-
Beware the Ides of March.
I now say to you " beware items of Christmas decorated with strings of pre-lit lights."

It all started a few years back when I bought an outdoor artificial tree in a box from Costco. Pre-lit with 200 lights and stuck in a decorative pot. It was reasonably priced. It would save time so-
I took it home.
I removed the tree from the box. Plugged it in on the front verandah- and voila...instant light.

That lasted for a few weeks and then one evening 100 lights went dark. I tried everything.
I replaced a bulb or two. I jiggled strings- and I swore.
Nothing worked.
Finally, in desperation, I removed all the lights. A mighty big job. The strings must have been wound on the branches by a machine somewhere in mainland China where the tree was made.
They were tightly wrapped and took longer to unwind and remove than the entire process of buying the tree, removing it from its cardboard container and plugging it in- combined!

Now, this year I am cursed with the same problem.

A week ago, I plugged in a wire reindeer lit with LED lights and half of the bulbs didn't work. I jiggled a cord and replaced a bulb and the string finally sparkled to life.
Holiday luck!

Then, another dark, unlit cloud appeared.
Last year I bought two Canada Geese from Wal*Mart. They are constructed of white wire and wrapped in a hundred LED mini-lights. I take them from the garden shed- The Shed Mahall (yes, it's a big garden shed!) and plug them in.
One goose is fine. The other- designed with wings spread wide as if it's about to take flight, not so much. The body of the goose is well-lit but the wings are dark. I haven't tried to fix them yet. Half the Goose is under 20 cms of snow!

Move forward to a few days ago. I decide to set up one of a half dozen artificial spruce trees I have in the garage. This particular tree was bought well after Boxing Day a few years ago. I bought it for 10 bucks. It was pre-lit with 400 lights.
I only used it twice in past years.
I go out to the garage and drag it into the house. After taking it from the storage box, I take out the lower level and carefully fold the branches down.
I plug it in.
It works.
Next, I take the middle section.
Repeat the process and there's light!
Finally the top of the tree.
I fold down the branches and fluff them. That's the term one uses when setting up a fake tree. Fluff the branches so the tree looks life-like.
Fluffing completed, I plug it in.
I jiggle some lights.
Dark, yet the bottom two thirds of the tree sparkle away.
I could just spit!

With a minimum of swearing and a maximum of deep breaths, I take the tree apart. Place it in it's box. Tape it closed and take it back to the garage. It'll be going to Goodwill.

Now, one would think all my bad light-luck is behind me.
Well, one would be wrong.
I bring in a slender slim-line tree next. 200 lights. I plug it in.
One set is dark.
I can't &%$$%# believe it!

Calmly, I walk to the kitchen.
I open the junk drawer and take out a pair of needle-nosed pliers.
I go back to the tree and cut the string of offending lights in 3 or 4 places and RIP them from the tree and throw them in the garbage.
Now that felt good!
I smiled a sneer-like smile- like the Grinch who Stole Christmas.
Jim Carry would be proud.

Off I trot to my Christmas cupboard. I take out a new box of 100 mini lights and return to wrap the tree. Easy as mincemeat pie!
I plug them in and there was and still is- light!

Dear Readers, there is indeed a morale to this story.
Oh, nothing poetic just a caution when one purchases a pre-lit anything.

Remember darkness lurks amid the presence of light.

Monday, November 10, 2014



Cool, overcast, rainy, wet snow, miserable and dark.

A sunny month can make all the difference but for now we seem to be stuck in the midst of dull grey. This is when I hear- "This is exactly what the west coast is like. Would you want to live there?"
Chances are there will be no snow whereas here in Central Ontario, we are all waiting for that dreaded first snowstorm when the white stuff stays on the ground until next April- or heaven forbid- May!! Some mornings I am afraid to open the shutters.

We have to make sure that we keep busy this month. Have coffee with friends. Go to a show- "live" theatre, it's the best! Get out for a walk in the crisp air or at the very least soggy, damp miserable air.

Now as you may know, I operate two online radio stations- Swisssh and Starlite. Every year both stations switch to all Christmas Music- usually about the end of  November. However, I was reading this article on just how many stations and how "early" many stations start to play Holiday Music. One station in the article started Holiday Music two weeks before Hallowe'en.

The station programmes "easy listening" music the rest of the year. Not soft and beautiful like Starlite but a notch or two up tempo. Not as much new music as Swisssh has been playing the past year and a bit but relatively adult oriented. Your Michael Buble, Bette Midler etc.

The station manager says in the interview that he starts getting e-mails and Facebook comments in October asking when the Holiday Hits will begin. He says Holiday Music is like comfort food. You know- Macaroni and Cheese only Let it Snow and It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas.
Their ratings- apparently, go skyway.
This I believe.

In a few days after Swisssh and Starlite's programming goes all Christmas- all the time, our listener numbers double and triple. I'm sure we loose a few regulars who feel it's just too damn early but those seeking comfort and happy thoughts to banish the dull days of November, dig right in and ring those bells and really what and who does it hurt?
If happy, snow-filled, bell jingling, carol singing music does the trick, keeps people happy and not depressed- what's the harm? One trip around WalMart, Canadian Tire, Sears or Hudson's Bay- not to forget the Dollar Stores, tell us the Holiday Season is here.

I admit.
I have bought a couple of Christmas decorations already including a set of Edison Christmas lamps. They look like they belong on Murdoch Mysteries. Long, lean and vintage looking. I can't wait to hang them on the front verandah.

I'm not saying my stations will go all Christmas today or tomorrow but once the Toronto Santa Claus Parade, the Orillia Santa Claus Parade and the Markham Home for the Holidays Show are in full swing, my tinsel gets itchy. I start humming Frosty the Snowman and one day I say "what the heck" and throw in a couple of "wintry type" songs. Then one morning I say I flip the switch and it's all Holiday Music All the time right through to the New Year- give or take a day or two.

Forget about how miserable November can be some years and set your sites on a long Holiday Season. You'll need to stockpile all that cheer because January and February is in our future dammit.

Let me be the first to say happy holidays.
Note that for now I keep that wish in small letters but one of these days...

Monday, November 3, 2014


Ugh! Spring cleaning in the fall.

I wrote a note on a piece of paper the other day.
It said- "Clean Closet".
I placed the note scrawled in black Sharpie ink on the keyboard of the office computer so all could read it- especially my husband.
Sunday was earmarked as the day to get to the job at hand done.

I have been nagging for a couple of years now- maybe longer, trying to light a fire under my hubby Tom's ass. The closet in question is right at our front door. There was so much "stuff" crammed in there one couldn't offer a guest space to hang a coat. Papers were pied high with winter coats stuffed into one corner. Woven rag rugs, pillows, photo albums and a collection of LP's on the shelf above the coat rack. Standing in the middle of the closet was a four drawer metal filing cabinet- more than 30 years old, filled to the brim with old papers, photo envelopes  and outdated computer programmes. In fact, next to the filing cabinet there was a blue plastic container on the floor with even more computer programmes and discs including a photo editor, family history maker as well as various plugs and wires that we had no idea what they belonged to. We probably didn't have  any of the devices anymore but we had the plugs made them work!

So, with coffee in hand, we set to work.

After 4 hours of work, the result was a half dozen bags stuffed with papers for recycle. Another stack of papers to be shredded. A huge bag filled with the aforementioned rugs and coats- not all of them, set to go to Goodwill. We moved the filing cabinet into the garage where we filed important papers (Tom's words) and recent tax forms dating back to 2009.

Last week I saw heavy cardboard storage boxes at the dollar store, so I ran over and picked up two. After a half hour of trying to understand the sketches on the side of the box- instructions as to how to make the box, I placed them on the shelf. They fit nicely and will hold small photo albums and such.

Summer footwear like flip-flops, sandals and running shoes are sitting neatly on the floor right now but I plan to store them in a plastic container to keep the floor area neat and tidy.

Overall, a job well done. One could actually hang a coat in the closet without any fuss and now I won't be embarrassed when I open the closet in front of a friend- although that seldom happened.

Next up in my "spring into fall" cleaning programme, I plan to go through the Christmas decorations and take trinkets I no longer use or want to Goodwill. We also have some old electronics to drop off at the recycle container up at Foodland- including our microwave that went "flop bott" reently and then I'll tackle shelves in the garage- as long as the temperature is above freezing.

This purging of stuff  is good for the soul but there are lessons to be learned.
If you're not using something get rid of it. Pass it on.
Quit hording papers.
A door does not hide a closet monster. He still lurks inside, in the dark.

So, start small.
Tackle a junk drawer first then move on to a closet.
After that, you'll be well trained to give the basement or garage a good purge.

Have a good one and reward yourself with a martini or at the very least a self pat on the back when you're done!