Tag Archives: waybackplayback

way back playback: driving home for christmas

on the fifteenth day of december...

my third year of university was spent in chicoutimi, quebec. that was exactly twenty years ago! i always remember which year it was because dad turned fifty that year i was away – i remember doing up a special happy birthday package based on the number 50 that i mailed home.

chicoutimi is a barren outpost a two hour drive northeast from quebec city (which is two hours east of montreal). that means it was a ten hour drive, minimum, from home. needless to say, i didn’t travel home at all between the start of school in september and the christmas holidays.


i have fond memories of my time in chicoutimi. luckily, one of my very best friends from u of w Рwhose name was also cathy Рdecided to go to chicoutimi, too, that year. we were both in the certificat de français pour non-francophones program. there was only about ten of us in the program Рan eclectic mix of personalities! Рand i really appreciated having one of my besties from home along with me.

file photo from 1995: me and cathy

we started making our christmas travel plans well before the holidays. one of the other girls in our program, jackie, had a car in chicoutimi, and cathy and i would be able to get a drive home with her as far as guelph (about 45 min away from where we lived, in kitchener). a fourth girl, also from guelph – and i completely forget her name! i think it started with m?! mila? mira?? – would complete our carpool.

once december 1st arrived, i remember getting super excited to come home. thanks to my advent calendar (told you i have one every year!), i tracked the days til we would depart. and here is a nice memory: i remember a couple of our profs switched around the exam schedule for us so that we would be able to travel home a few days sooner than originally anticipated.

since the drive would be so long, we planned to start our homeward journey early in the morning – i am going to guess 7 a.m.-ish. now, picture this: jackie’s car was a little tin can – ancient! tiny! i bet it would not pass a safety inspection, nowadays. now imagine four girls PLUS all their gear and luggage piled into this shitbox economy car. i clearly remember cathy and i being STUFFED into the back seat, with a hodge-podge of bags jammed in all around us. [mila/mira was a bit of a diva and if she had one bag, she had five pieces of luggage, i do recall!]. we did not care – we were going home.

chicoutimi is known for snow and biting cold temps. wouldn’t you know it, departure day saw fairly extreme weather conditions hit this region of quebec…and southward to montreal…and into eastern and southern ontario. yes, for the entire trip home, we would be driving through snowfalls, squalls, and flurries.

looking back, our trip home can be considered a christmas miracle. how we four girls made it down the 401 in the accumulating snowfall is unbelievable! i distinctly remember taking my turn as the driver, and just holding onto the steering wheel for dear life as i kept the car in the tracks made by the vehicles ahead of us.


otherwise, the ten + hours in the car was a lot of fun. we were all so hyper to be going home – we sang christmas carols, gossiped and laughed about classmates, and snacked on potato chips and hershey kisses.

we pulled into guelph after dark – maybe 6 p.m. or so?? i was so excited to see mom and dad, who picked cathy and me up at jackie’s. what a joyful reunion. we took cathy home, and finally got to our house. i remember mom had prepared one of my favourite meals – ground beef/sour cream/noodle casserole, and for dessert, i got a piece of dad’s birthday cake that mom had frozen and saved for me. we all sat around the kitchen table, so happy to be conversing and sharing in person (remember, this was the era before skype and email – communication had been limited to weekly phone calls and snail mail letters).

that christmas holiday was jam-packed with visits with family and friends, and favourite traditions. each celebration felt a little extra special.

what’s a nasty-weather drive that you’ve experienced? another white-knuckle drive that i remember very clearly was a treacherous, snow-stormy trip home from teacher’s college in st catharines with julie and kersten – we barely made it up the super-huge hill heading out of burlington/hamilton and into clappison’s corners.

file photo from u of w graduation in 1994! me and julie!

what is one thing you appreciate about home after you’ve been away for a while? there is nothing like sleeping in your own bed, again!

way back playback: ghosts of hallowe’ens past

ok, technically, i never dressed up as a ghost when i was little. that would have been way too boring!

hallowe'en, age 22 months: first costume - a little witch!

from age four on, my costume ideas needed to include either makeup, jewellery, and wigs or fancy dresses in order to be considered as possibilities. while we never had hand-sewn costumes, we never ever had store-bought outfits purchased from zellers – you know, the plastic pull-on ones. rather, our costumes were a mix of dress-up box items, mom’s closet finds or stuff from our own wardrobe. i was always very happy with my final choices!

hallowe'en age two: a cat! remember how those plastic masks would make your face sweat?!

and boy oh boy, did i love hallowe’en! seriously, i would have been hard pressed to tell you which was better: hallowe’en or christmas.

hallowe'en, age three: a teddy bear! (mom had the costume from when she taught kindergarten!)

so many parts of hallowe’en were just too much fun: dressing up; parties and special activities at school; evening trick or treating traditions. i DID like getting all the treats, but to be honest, that was not the highlight of hallowe’en – i’d have to give that honour to dressing up.

hallowe'en, age four: an old lady. this is the first year i remember picking my own costume idea

here’s what went down at our place on hallowe’en evening (these memories come from the ages of five to about twelve, i’d say)…

hallowe'en age five: a witch! the obvious choice that year because i was missing a front tooth!

same year - this time the brother was the teddy!

my mom would stay at home and hand out the candy while dad took us out and about in the neighbourhood to collect our candy. the brother and i always went door-to-door with vfbf joanne, her sister, and their dad. we’d do quite a tour through our neighbourhood. hey – didn’t you always hate the years when it was chilly and you had to wear a coat over your costume?

hallowe'en age seven - mickey mouse (daytime for school)...

...and night-time for trick-or-treating!

we never went crazy-heads with the candy collecting. i remember gazing in astonishment at the kids who ran around – literally – with pillow cases. we were more moderate in style.

hallowe'en, age eight - a gypsy. FAVOURITE COSTUME EVER.

with joanne and wanda. we've always loved the orange squiggles emanating from the jack o'lantern in this photo!

so, after going door-to-door, we’d come home and the brother and i would dump our candy collections on the living room floor. honestly, this was the most fun to me – sorting through all the treats, and organizing them into categories: chips, chocolate bars, candies, crackerjack, miscellaneous [see, i’ve always been an organizer at heart!]. mom and dad would allow us to enjoy a couple of treats of our choice [i always picked a chocolate bar and sweet tart candies!], then we’d pile everything back into our bags and they’d be stored in our bedrooms.

hallowe'en, age nine: a scarecrow (did you collect for unicef, too?)

vfbf joanne was princess leia this year! love wanda's (genuine) dutch girl outfit

call me weird, but i never consumed treats on the sly, and we didn’t take sugary snacks for recess time. and i don’t believe that mom and dad ever snuck their favourites out of our collections, either! [now’s the time to ‘fess up, guys, if so…!]

hallowe'en, age ten - cowgirl!

the rule was that whatever was still left over by early december would be tossed out. all our favourites would be long gone by then, anyhow, and what was left would be stale. plus, by then, it was time to get ready for christmas goodies!

hallowe'en, age eleven - a queen (2nd fave idea, ever)

tonight i am working or else i would take a walk through the neighbourhood to see all the excited children. i still love hallowe’en!




what was your first hallowe’en costume OR your favourite hallowe’en costume OR did you dress up this year?…or answer all three! this year, i did not wear a costume, per se, but saturday, sunday and today to work, i DID wear my spider bracelet

sparkly spidey - and you can move his legs!

…and my jack o’ lantern earrings!

wish i had three pairs!

(you don't need a huge shot of my ear)


way back playback: apple pickin’ saturday

good morning!


thanksgiving weekend is here – for us canadians, anyway. u.s. friends, you’re welcome to celebrate and be thankful, too!

how did it get to be turkey weekend already? didn’t i just wish you happy canada day?!

our family is big on traditions. when we were little, the saturday morning of thanksgiving weekend featured our annual trip to the apple orchard. we would drive down to st george (just south of cambridge, maybe a 30 minute trip) and pick our bushel baskets of apples. we would go with our grandpa and grandma c (my mom’s parents). we wouldn’t all drive together, though – two empty trunks were needed to take home all the apples.

i remember that the apple orchard was divided into different sections for different types. back in the 70’s, there weren’t as many varieties or hybrids of apples as we have today. we only could pick types that were natural to southern ontario: macs, ida reds, spies…those are the names that stick in my head.

after entering the farm, we’d bumpity bump down the lane to our first stop. everyone would hop out of the cars. mom, dad, grandma and grandpa would do the actual picking. the brother and i got to play!! we excitedly climbed trees, jumped on picked up fallen apples, plucked and munched apples right off the trees, ran around…man, it was a good time.

archive photos from thanksgiving '74 - i would have been 4.5 years old, the brother 18 months

when we got a bit older, the best part by far was the travel from one part of the orchard to another. now, remember: this was the 70’s, and ideas on safety were different than today! since we were going 5 mph for 100 feet from the macs to the ida red’s (or whatever), the brother and i were allowed to sit in the trunk of the car (it was open, of course), along with the apples and the bushel baskets. this was just about as exciting as life could get – we would be beside ourselves with glee at this hilarious ride. i wish i had a photo!

my grandparents and my parents would each pick bushel upon basket of apples. both houses had fruit cellars, so the apples would keep through the winter. and my grandpa loved to make his own applesauce. many a cold winter night, our family would enjoy homemade apple crisp or pie from our thanksgiving apples!

thanksgiving weekend, 1977 - looks like it was a beauty of a sunny day!

after the picking was over, it was picnic time! mom and grandma would co-ordinate a simple lunch of sandwiches, coffee for the adults and juice for the kids, fingerfood munchies, dessert. i clearly recall that we always had my grandma’s lemon squares. to this day, no one makes a lemon square – even if it’s her recipe! – that matches hers. also totally 70’s: everything we brought for the picnic was re-useable: tupperware, thermoses, cutlery, plates…and a blanket to sit upon!

that year, our friends the c's (mr & mrs + 3 kids) joined us! gram and gramps are in the lawn chairs

just this week, my neighbourhood and blogging friend, tricia, posted about her family going apple picking. that’s what triggered my memories! i’m glad to see the tradition continues in other families – such a simple outing that is such a lot of fun.

ever picked your own apples? i have not been apple picking since this childhood era!

what’s your favourite type of apple? i love crunchy, tart, apples – faves would be honeycrisp, gala and red delicious if they’re not mealy (you have to know how to pick ’em with that variety). on these childhood apple picking outings, i loved eating the ida reds right off the tree – they were tart enough to make your eyes water!


way back playback: labour day + back to school

happy monday morning!

we can say that today because chances are you are off and relaxing at home instead of going about your normal monday morning routine.

don’t you just love a holiday!

and you can bet that by the time this evening rolls around, i will still have the biggest smile on my face [as i lollygag on the new couch]. i may even pick up the phone and call mom just to gleefully chuckle with her as we say, “we are so happy not to be going back to school!” with both of us being former teachers, labour day evening now is truly a time of relaxation. [i don’t know of one teacher who will sleep well tonight – just goes with the territory. that being said, i do wish all my teacher friends the very best tomorrow!]

growing up, i truly loved going back to school. [it was only my three years of teaching where the night-before-the-return-to-the-classroom was anxiety-filled]. the newness of the whole first-day-of-school experience really appealed to me. we always had a brand new outfit to wear, new backpack or tote bag of some sort, and the usual assortment of untouched school supplies.

another tradition: the first day of school photo! always taken in the same spot on our front porch, as you can see!

i don’t have too many clear memories of how we spent labour day itself, when we were young. i do know that we were always at home – we weren’t the type to come home from vacation or a day trip on this last weekend before school. so, the monday holiday would have been spent around the home, playing with neighbourhood friends, or in the teen years, watching tv.

that being said, we did have one annual tradition that i remember with extreme clarity!

on labour day monday evening, mom, dad, the brother and i would all go out to tim horton donuts.


we’d all choose a treat [chocolate glazed was my go-to!] and then sit around a table, chat, and get ready for…

…dad’s annual back-to-school speech.

poor dad. to this day, we still tease him every year about giving us that speech. at the time, however, it was no joke! after we’d inhaled enjoyed our donut, dad would turn all serious, and in a tone more solemn and stern than usual, he would lecture rally us for the upcoming school year.

i don’t remember exactly what dad would say, but it was along the lines of how we would need to work hard at our school work, stay focussed, and not be swayed by outside forces. the funny part is that the brother and i were both straight “a” students, so the relevance of this speech is what is questionable!

then, dad would turn his attention to our futures and remind us that hard work would allow us to pursue whatever career we desired. [i also distinctly remember an era where dad was very gung-ho about the fact that the brother and i should both be dentists in a joint practice, and he would be our business manager – sorry, dad, that this did not come to pass!].

for sure, dad’s heart was in the right place. but there was much eye-rolling and shoulder-heaving sighing from the brother and i as we anticipated dad’s back-to-school speech. and like i said, to this day, we tease dad, and every year we make some smart-ass comment, asking if he’ll be delivering his lecture to us. good thing dad can put up with teasing!

any back-to-school traditions from your past? it was always exciting to find out who my teacher would be and which friends would be in my class, too, on that tuesday morning back!

p.s. – > dad, if you want to buy me a donut later today, i won’t say no. just no speeches, ok?!!


Way Back Playback: How We Stayed Cool in the Olden Days

What time machine picked me up and plunked me down in the middle of Aruba?! Get set for a long haul, kids, because this heat is going nowhere fast:

Heat Wave Here to Stay (K-W Record)

This weather trend got me thinking about how we stayed cool, as children, before air-conditioning was a given and before people paid attention to proper hydration. As a child of the 70s, that era probably seems light-years ago to some of you readers! So, let’s take a step back in time…

Here are five (I do like lists of five items!) ways that we beat the heat, back when I was little…

1. Wading pools and sprinklers: In the afternoons, when it was super-hot, Mom would pull out my little yellow splash pool and set it up on our back patio. She’d take the garden hose and fill the pool with water. My little pool was about the size of a bucket that you’d use to wash your car – as in I had enough room to turn around, or sit down and kick my feet, and that was about it. Sometimes, we’d bring a small step stool poolside, and jump into the six inches of water. [Remember this was the 1970’s and safety practices were more…lax, in those days – although my Mom was always on supervision duty any time water was involved].


Alternately, Mom would set up the lawn sprinkler for us. This was the type that waved back and forth. We’d have much fun inventing games of hopping over the sprinkler, avoiding the splatter-drops, sitting ON the sprinkler to see if the garden hose would blow up, etc. Every once in a while, Mom would move the sprinkler to a new location on the lawn so that we wouldn’t run a bare dirt landing strip into the grass. Still, by the end of July, much to Dad’s chagrin, there’d often be brown/squashed patches in the grass!


2. Frozen juice-sicles: Once again Mom and Mrs M (VFBF Joanne‘s Mom) were ahead of their time. We didn’t grow up with daily ice cream, popsicle or Mr Freezie treats – these were kept more for occasional surprises. Instead – and I have very clear memories of Mrs M doing this – our Moms would freeze orange juice in Tupperware-brand popsicle-makers.


Healthy, appropriately child-sized servings, these cooling juicy pops were just the revitalizing snack we needed on a hot day – then it was back out to the sprinkler! [Moms out there (or anyone who feels like making a refreshing, frozen treat): Angela featured an updated homemade popsicle recipe idea on her blog the other day – they look delicious!].

3. Trips to Goderich: Now, this of course, was not something we could just do on the spur of the moment, but we did spend quite a bit of time in Goderich, as children. My grandparents’ cottage was outside of town, but they did have a small beach area in their neighbourhood of cottage homes. It wasn’t really a swimming/play-in-the-sand type spot, but we could splash about and throw rocks – into the water, not at each other, haha! – for a short cool-down break. We’d head to the beach proper in Goderich for excursions of several hours.

me (L) and mom (R) at the goderich lighthouse park, summer 1976

4. Playtime in the basement: Our house was a bungalow, and we had a “rec room,” as we called it in our basement. On scorching hot days, the downstairs was noticeably cooler than our main level. So The Brother and I would spend a lot of time during the hottest part of the day playing very happily with Barbies, paper dolls, arts ‘n’ crafts projects (me) and Lego, Sonos and Star Wars figures (him). Oh! And a favourite 10:30 a.m. cooldown event was to watch Mr Dressup on TV!


5. Picnic lunches in the park: To break up the monotony of lunchtime, Mom would organize lunches out for us – but not at a fastfood joint! Our version of lunch out was to all hop on our bikes and head to a local park. We’d find a shady area, and eat a simple but yummy lunch of sandwiches, cookies and fruit. Then, The Brother and I would play on the playground equipment before we’d head home. I remember that one week, we went to a different park every day from Monday to Friday! Our house was in the Stanley Park area of Kitchener, and some of our favourite spots included Tecumseh Park, the grounds of Canadian Martyrs school, and the park area on Manchester Road. These lunches out were much more fun – and healthier for out bodies and the family budget!¬† – than trips to McDo would have been!


So, yes, nowadays, it is much easier to flip a switch and get instant cooling with our air-conditioners. But, we managed way back when, and had a lot of fun!

What do you remember about how you stayed cool, as a child? Even as a child, I loved the summer and hot temps! Some things never change!

Way Back Playback: A Top-Secret Family Recipe

There is but a small window of opportunity during which to enjoy the treat I am about to share with you, today.

My friends, that time is now.


I kid you not when I say that Mom could be famous for this strawberry pie recipe.

It’s the pie recipe that Dad listed as his favourite (yes, the one that I forgot!) in our Father’s Day quiz game.

True story: once, my parents needed some basic legal paperwork completed. The lawyer who did the work (friend of my Dad’s) said no payment was necessary…except for one of Mom’s strawberry pies.


As far back as I can remember, we’ve celebrated in June with strawberry pie. It was a longstanding family joke that Mom never made enough strawberry pies during the (too short) local strawberry season. Because this pie needs local, freshly picked berries; do not attempt with imports.

Now, to be honest, I have never made this pie myself…ummm, or even the pie crust [Brainwave! I see a New Experience here: “Get a Pie Crust Lesson From Mom!]…but we won’t let that stop us from discussing this recipe today. In an ideal world, I would have a vlog tutorial, with Mom demonstrating her perfected pie techniques. Some day. In an ideal world, I’d have an actual pie from Mom to show you. [Maybe this post will inspire Mom to make up a pie TODAY!]

You’ll just have to trust me and try for yourself.


  • 5 cups flour (2.5 cups EACH all-purpose and whole wheat flours)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp sugar
  • 1 lb pure lard or shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tsp vinegar
  • cold water

Stir together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Cut in lard with 2 knives until the size of peas.

Beat egg in a measuring cup. Add vinegar, and enough cold water to make 3/4 cup. Pour over pastry, blend until it balls up, then knead for a few seconds. Divide dough into 8 equal pieces. Either roll out immediately to fit pie plates, or freeze balls of dough.

[Therefore, you get eight crusts out of this recipe – – > for four top + bottom crusted pies or eight bottom-crust-only pies, or a combination thereof].

*while we’re featuring strawberry pie today, this pie crust is perfect for any type of pie.

**this pie crust is unique to Mom – she is the one who conceptualized the inclusion of whole wheat into this recipe


  • 9″ baked pie shell [to bake shell, bake in 475 degree oven for 7-8 minutes]
  • 4 cups fresh berries (1 quart)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • dash salt
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

Wash berries. Hull. [Can you tell Mom wrote out this recipe specifically for me?!] Place 3 cups of the choicest berries in pastry shell [Place them neatly so the pointy ends are up].

Crush remaining 1 cup of berries in a saucepan [Mom suggests using a potato masher]. Add water and simmer for 5 minutes. Strain. If needed, add water to make 1 cup of juice.

Combine cornstarch, sugar, and salt in a saucepan. Slowly add berry juice. Bring to a boil, cook and stir until smooth and thickened. Remove from heat. Add lemon juice. Cool to lukewarm. Pour glaze over berries in pie shell, coating all of the berries. Refrigerate pie at this point until serving. Serve with slightly sweetened whipped cream.

Do use real whipped cream! I remember we all could hardly contain our excitement to dig into Mom’s pie, but we always had to wait that extra five minutes while she made the fresh whipped cream. I swear Dad, The Brother and I would sit around the table like vultures, forks poised, practically drooling in anticipation. It’s funny how we had our individual pie-eating styles:

Dad would dollop on his whipped cream, then painstakingly swirl and contour the white topping with such precision that you’d swear he was painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Mom enjoyed dainty bites, each mouthful the same size as the last. I would eat the interior first, and save as much crust as possible til the end (the best part of pie!). The Brother could scarf two slices in record time, and still be ready for more.

Happy Strawberry Season!


Do you practise any quirky unique pie-eating methods? I’ve never understood how some people can eat pie back-to-front!

Any super-secret family recipes in your possession? You don’t have to spill the beans, just share the name!

Wayback Playback: Pop, Ka-Pow!

I don’t care if summer doesn’t *officially* arrive ’til June 21st…to my mind, this Victoria Day weekend kicked off our summer months! I always find that the time between this weekend and Labour Day weekend will absolutely fly.

Back when we were kids, Victoria Day was solely known to me as “Firecracker Day.” I’d be sooooo excited all day long, and couldn’t wait for the evening to arrive. Over the years, we enjoyed two types of celebrations, and both involved our dear friends/neighbours, the M’s. (VFBF Joanne and I have reconnected and over the last two months have enjoyed two lovely visits, shared on the blog here and here).

Since we had the day off school, The Brother and I would play outside, all day long, weather permitting. I don’t remember too many rained-out Victoria Days. It was always the day after Vic Day that it poured rain – the accepted theory was that all the “toxins” from all the fireworks made it rain (hey, this was the 70s, allow a little leniency in scientific theory, ok).

I’d grow more and more excited for the evening festivities as the day went on!

When we were younger, here’s how we’d celebrate: the M’s would come over to our house, and we’d all gather in the backyard. Us kids would get to write with sparklers. These freaked me out, frankly, as this picture attests:

firecracker day 1975; the expression on my face belies my true feelings about sparklers!

I did love the smell of sparklers, though!

At dusk, the Dads would convene over at our sandbox with the box of store-bought fireworks:


(again, bear in mind this was the 70s; safety rules were non-existent loosey goosey in that long-ago era). The Moms and Joanne, Wanda, The Brother and I would sit around the picnic table (a safe distance away), and the Dads would set off the firecrackers. Some would quite amaze us kids, some would be duds.

Then we’d all eat Tim Horton’s donuts in the dark. And laugh a lot.

As we got a bit older, the tradition changed. We still met up with the M’s, but the families would head over to Centennial Stadium, early eve. There, they held a Victoria Day Fireworks “Spectacular.” As the day’s light faded, there would be drum and bugle corps performances, and some two-bit local *rock group* would perform (it was terribly exciting the year they did Van Halen cover tunes).


When it was dark, the fireworks display began. This only lasted about 10-15 minutes, but we ooh-ed and aah-ed our little hearts out over the exploding colours. The loud ka-booms, ker-fizzles and crescendo-ing bangs impressed us, very much. We felt very important because we were up so late, and were very happy to be out at this social event with our favourite friends.


Good. Times. Great. Memories.

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

How do we know it’s been a wet May?

as seen in the Uptown outdoor square in my 'hood

I’m going to keep a close eye on this sign, and hopefully they’ll announce shortly when the market will start up for this year. Last year, on Thursdays between 4-8 p.m. the vendors were set up. It didn’t suit my schedule last year to get over very often; this year, I’m excited to see what they will have for sale. Last year, about 6-8 vendors participated, selling veggies, honey, crafts. I hope they have even more variety and increased participation this year!

When does summer *officially* begin in your mind? Environment Canada has forecasted a hot, dry summer for us; I sure hope they are right!

Fireworks: any memories? Nowadays, I can see fireworks on Canada Day at Columbia Lake; the perfect viewing spot is our condo rooftop!

Way Back Playback: After-School Swimming Lessons

The Brother and I took swimming lessons during the years we were in grade school. Once a week, my mom or Mrs M would pick up The Brother, me, Joanne and Wanda at school and drive us over to the old Waterloo YMCA.

[Sidenote: The M’s were our closest friends and also neighbours. Joanne was my VFBF (very first best friend) and Wanda was close in age to my brother. Our families spent a lot of time together in the 70’s – their home was my second home, and Mrs M a second mother. This explanation just gives you some context! I’ve got tons of stories that I could share about¬†our fun times with the M’s…all in good time!].

With four kids to place in different swim levels, usually the moms could get two kids in at one time slot, and the other two in the next time slot. So, for example, Wanda and The Brother would take their lesson from 4:15-4:50 pm, and Joanne and I would follow at 4:55-5:30 pm, or so. The combinations would vary from session to session.

I loved swim lessons! My favourite part was swimming lengths.¬†The instructor would¬†assign a medley of front crawl, back stroke, side stroke, breast stroke, and the other backwards one…name escapes me! I also loved treading water. Once I got the hang of it, I loved diving in (that one took a while).

I was not so fond of drownproofing or practising CPR – back in the 70’s, you actually had to put your mouth right on your partner’s – fine if¬†Joanne and¬†I happened to be in the same class, but otherwise, very ick.¬† can you imagine that way of practising being allowed now?!

Our instructors would be high school-aged students, a mix of male and female, over the years. One boisterous male instructor sticks in my mind – he was enthusiastic, loud, energetic, and his classes were super fun. Would you believe I still remember the CPR mantra he taught us?! This is likely because he’d have us shout it out as a class, over and over, as loud as we could. When you’re nine, this is hilarious.

Shake, shout, look, listen, feel. Raise the neck, pinch the nose, four quick breaths.”

Now, I’ve taken numerous CPR classes over the years, and the way to do proper CPR is always being finessed. However, this is the method that I think would pop into my head, should I ever have to perform it (knock on wood, that never happens, of course).

I never minded waiting around when it was not my lesson time. Mrs M or my mom would always buy us a red or black licorice Twizzler from the tuck shop area as a pre- or post-swim snack. Candy was a treat for us, so this sweet was definitely a highlight.

By time we were all dried off, re-clothed and back in the car, it was getting late…we’d all be STAR-VING!!! As the moms sped us down the Expressway towards home, we’d sing a little ditty:

Here we sit like birds in the wilderness, birds in the wilderness, birds in the wilderness;

Here we sit like birds in the wilderness, waiting to be fed

WAI-TING to be-FED, WAI-TING to be-fed (this line wailed with great gusto),

OHHHH, here we sit like birds in the wilderness, wai-ting to be fed.

Once home, mom would have a quick supper all ready to go. My absolute favourite was homemade hamburgers, potato chips (another treat!) and homemade blueberry pie (remember, this was the 70’s and I had a stay-at-home mom; homemade was pretty much the standard!). Yum!!! After the invigorating exertion of swimming lessons, supper never tasted so good.

What lessons did you take as a child? Fond memories, or not so much?!

Way Back Playback: The Saturday Edition

Growing up,¬†Fridays were typically Family Night,¬†while Saturday Nights were social…at least for my parents.

My parents were not “party people,” so no bar-hopping or swinging-’70’s party scenes for them.


But a couple of times per month, they would go out to the symphony or to their Couples Club (a monthly get-together of similarly-aged young parents who all attended our church and would rotate hosting duties).

The Brother and I loved when the parents would leave! Because that meant we had a babysitter! We practically shoo’ed them out the door! Yes! Go be social, see you in the morning, adios!

Our first and favourite babysitter was Cathie. She was the daughter of our next-door neighbours. Since I’m also¬†Cathy, she was known as Big Cathie while¬†I was¬†Little¬†Cathy. [Sidenote: Cathie and I are still in touch to this day, exchanging Christmas and Birthday cards!] When she got too old to babysit, we progressed through sisters Michelle and Tracey from further¬†up the street, and occasionally Beth would come over, from a few houses down.

Our evenings followed a similar flow: after mom and dad escaped left, we’d set up the¬†board games. Parcheesi, Snakes and Ladders, some game where we rolled dice and progressed around a circle…or, we’d bring out jigsaw puzzles, have colouring time. I don’t remember TV as being part of the entertainment, at all! The Brother and I¬†would enjoy¬†a snack before bed – I remember my mom always organized a plate of homemade cookies for¬†the babysitter, and¬†for us.

My¬†most¬†prominent recollection, though, is of¬†each girl’s friendliness, patience and kindness towards us.¬†They were fun!¬†As the oldest in the family, I¬†always wanted an older sibling – babysitter¬†nights were like having a big sister parachute into¬†my life!

We even took great pleasure in watching our sitters complete their homework – I remember Michelle, especially, as being quite academic, and¬†I would be¬†entranced with her shorthand class homework (yup, this was the ’70s!). They’d show us the novels they needed to read for English class, and explain math homework. Really, this world of high school was so intriguing!

When I started babysitting, I followed the same example set by our sitters: playing hide and go seek with my charges, reading stories, just spending time chatting with the children.

These evenings were win-win for both¬†our parents and for us kids. Sunday morning breakfast we’d all recap our evening fun – good times for all!


Guess who was in the next city over last night!


None other than Pauly D of Jersey Shore fame!!! Yea, way to make the guy love Canada – bring him to Guelph in the middle of January! But for $40 000, I’d just wrap myself in goosedown and show up, too!

Sadly, B didn’t advise me of this news until last eve…yea, can’t you just see me and B gettin’ down with the kids at the club (I jest)…so we did the next best thing since we’re too old and just watched the latest episode on our couch, in the warm Condo Casa. Woop Woop, homies!

Way Back Playback: The Friday Edition

Woo hoo! Happy Friday! ‚ô•

I’m heading off to BFF Debbie’s shortly for Girls Night! It’s BYOB – being the heavy drinker that I am, I’m going to try this carbonated water tonight:

fizzzzzy water!! perrier is my usual go-to; we'll see how this measures up! it was more $!

We’re each contributing an app, too. My pick:

hummus and salsa from vincenzo's; veggie platter from valu!

And I won’t try to pass the hummus off as “my own!” Can’t wait for chitchat/gossip/visiting/social time with girlfriends!!


I have always loved Fridays. Even back in grade school, I eagerly anticipated our¬†family’s celebration of the weekend’s arrival all day long. I have nothing but¬†happy memories of our¬†typical¬†Friday evenings. Circa 1980, here’s how things went down chez nous…

My family didn’t eat out a lot, likely due to financial and nutritional reasons. But Friday evenings? You’d find us (and many other middle-class suburbanites of the era) at Ponderosa.

Typically, the line-up to get in was literally out the door. But it always moved quickly. At the start of the cafeteria-style line, Dad would place the order for our family. Ponderosa made its name on red meat: I have vague memories of many plates that looked like this:


But I always got fried fish and french fries. And The Brother and I each got a POP!!! Soda was NOT a staple in our household, and this beverage (with free drink refills!!!!) was such a treat.

After placing your order, you grabbed a tray and progressed along the slow-moving line, collecting your salad, dessert (if so tempted), and drink. You Dad paid at the end of the line, and then we would find seats at the solid wooden tables. The decor was decidedly old west: visions of wagon wheels, wooden barrells, and cowboy-hatted wait staff are firmly lodged in my head.

But supper out¬†was not the end of Friday Night Good Times! After supper, it was home for…


…our favourite show: Dukes of Hazzard.¬†The Brother and I adored this¬†show, and we’d be¬†glued to the tv, completely absorbed in the predictable yet hilarious (to our young minds)¬†antics of Boss Hogg, Sheriff Rosco P Coltrane, Uncle Jesse, Daisy, and Bo¬†& Luke.¬†¬†

The show ended at 9 p.m. which meant that we were up past our bedtime!! Another Friday Night GoodGoodBingo! Think we slept in, then, in the morning? WRONG!!! Saturday mornings were meant for one thing and one thing only: cartoons! But, as they used to say on Hammy Hamster

“…that is another story.”