I almost forgot!

It has been a long time since I posted my thoughts – I almost forgot that I had a blog!!

What a winter!  It started in mid November and it snowed again last night.  Is this ever going to end??  The snowbanks where the  plows have piled the snow are not quite as high as they once were – I can see over them now if that makes things better!

Interesting news lately – all sorts of nonsense going on with the Liberal Party.  I got quite caught up in the JWR SNC Lavelin stuff – even watched the full 4 hours of her initial testimony.  She is quite a lady.  Just think what things would be like in Canada with somebody like JWR at the helm…..not that I’m hoping for any sort of Liberal election win, I just think she is brilliant, well spoken, extremely ethical and very strong.  What more could one ask for in a Prime Minister?  She just picked the wrong party.  Now that she has been booted out of it, I can’t wait to see what her next moves will be (along with Jane Philpott) – maybe they will create a new party?

Real estate is completely crazy in Ottawa.  There is a huge lack of inventory – if one can have a “huge” lack of anything!  Buyers are lining up at nearly every listing trying to out-bid each other and potential sellers are sitting tight because, as buyers, they are having the same problems trying to find something to buy.  Real estate agents are working twice as hard showing buyers many properties only to lose one deal after another.  First-time buyers are finding it very difficult to get into the housing market so they are turning to entry level condominiums which, in turn, are becoming difficult to find.

My brother recently had a successful heart valve replacement and he is “on the mend”.  He won’t likely catch up to the number of body parts I’ve had replaced, but a heart valve is pretty key to living a longer life!

Such is life in the nation’s capital!





Bursting at the Seams

Last weekend I had family visiting from Florida – 3 teenagers, 2 adults and a large Newfie/Golden mix dog – Buddy.  Every bed in the house was called into action!

My 17 year-old great nephew was in my office/den on the Murphy Bed.  Keeping his room tidy was certainly nowhere on the priority list – I had to fight my way to my computer through bags of chips on the floor alongside dirty clothes, bed clothes and goodness knows what else.  It was best not to look too closely – but I had to access my computer for work.

After the den visit I decided to avoid going downstairs while my guests were in residence (2 in the guest bedroom and 2 on the sleep sofa). Everything and anything can be cleaned up after the fact and some things are just better left unseen!

My cats, though not confined to my bedroom – only ventured out of it on occasion to see if that big dog was still here.  He was – so they expected meals to be delivered to them (which I did) and a litter box be installed in my ensuite bath for the duration.  Ahhhh – the feeling of bits of litter under one’s feet before and after showering !!  Buddy – a trained therapy dog – loves cats and has two of his own at home but my felines weren’t interested in making friends.

Being accustomed to living alone – with that number of extra bodies, it certainly felt like a full house – but also a house full of love and fun though not much conversation.  Chatting seems to be via personal devices these days and not so much face to face.  The teenagers don’t even watch TV which surprised me.  They did seem to enjoy a visit to the Diefenbunker – another surprise.

It’s been 6 days since they all left and I have finally finished all of the laundry and have remade the guest beds for the next visitors.

I think Buddy did me a huge favour.  There had been a skunk living under my shed (this year and last year as well).  A visit from the Humane Wildlife Control (a company called Skedaddle) was scheduled shortly after the gang left.  The process involved encouraging the skunk to leave and then digging a trench around the shed to install heavy duty wire mesh so that nothing will ever be able to dig their way under it again.  The little stinker was nowhere to be found.  I’m guessing he/she moved to another den location after hearing Buddy’s loud and lusty bark.  Thank you Buddy!

Most of my family lives out-of-town so a visit from any of them is a welcome event!  It is always worth the effort and I hope they visit again soon.





A few months ago I received a Facebook message from an old friend I hadn’t seen since my early teen years.  He now lives in Los Angeles and, after googling him and checking out his BIO, I discovered that he has had, and continues to have, a significant career in the music business.  Pretty impressive.  I just got back from a visit with my longest and dearest friend (friends since we were 4 years old) who lives in Redondo Beach.  Since we had plans to see a show in L.A. I made arrangements to reconnect with Mike and we met for brunch (the 3 of us) before our matinee performance of School of Rock at the Pantages Theatre.  We had a great visit and heard many stories about musicians he has worked with – Rod Stewart, for example.  We talked about Elvis for some reason and he mentioned that he had written an article about the fact that he never did manage to meet him.  This article is below.   Mike is a very good writer and I thought it worth sharing with my friends.



January 5, 2010

I Never Met Elvis

I never met Elvis.

Came close a couple of times, but I missed that boat.

When I was writing for the Detroit Free Press a call came through saying Elvis was going to play in that city. The performance subsequently took place on Sept. 11, 1970.

At the time I wrote a lot at the Freep as it was and still is called, including a weekly column that appeared on Friday’s in what was named the Youth Page (hey, I was in my early 20’s at the time). The column was called Pop Pourri because I wrote mostly about pop music, although it was slanted towards what the youth of the day wanted to hear or talk about…some politics, a little fashion, some gossip. Due to the phone call regarding Elvis’ pending appearance in town, I wrote a sentence in my column about it.

The concert sold out.

With one sentence. Olympia Stadium. 15,000 tickets gone. Now, we could say that’s the power of Elvis. But wait, it was my column. People read it. One mention of Elvis in my column and the show is sold out…. I must have saved them a fortune in ad money they didn’t have to spend. Did I get an invitation to meet the man? Hell no. I did get a call from some woman who said her husband served in the army with Elvis and would I work it out that he got to say hello to the King of Rock. I can’t get to meet him myself lady. And he OWES me.

Ah well. They did give me free tickets so I got to see him perform live once in my life. And it was unbelievable. There he was. Up there on that stage. There was the man who at that time still looked sleek and silvery, cool and powerful. He walked on stage, the place went into bedlam mode. People who banned their kids from seeing him fifteen years earlier were going nuts. And he came forth and filled the stadium with song and handed out scarves to screaming women (not girls, women). It would have been nice to meet the guy, though.

As I said, I did come close a couple of times. The above close encounter doesn’t count.

In about 1975 I had the deep and wonderful pleasure of working for a while with the great Roy Orbison. (For you kiddies who don’t know, Roy had 22 songs hit the Top 40 and Rolling Stone Magazine listed Oribson as No. 37 in their list of The Greatest Artist of ALL TIME and No. 13 in their list of The 100 Greatest Singers of ALL Time. I say they listed him too low in both lists, but we can’t do much about that).

By now I was Director of PR for Mercury Records and for a while Roy was an artist on that label. He was in a career lull and all his legendary stature wasn’t doing him much good. I don’t know the specifics but he wasn’t selling records, and concert tickets for a Roy Orbison show weren’t that hot. He would eventually recover from that and by the time he died ten years later he was experiencing hit records as a solo artist and as part of the Traveling Wilburys (whose other members were Bob Dylan, George Harrison and Tom Petty). I always loved the comment from George Harrison, the so-called quiet Beatle, when the Traveling Wilburys came together. It showed Roy’s stature and level of importance. With glee, awe and some degree of disbelief the legendary Harrison said, “I’m in a band with Roy Orbison!”.

Orbison was a true gentleman. It was just such a pleasure to deal with him and although we as a record label didn’t revive his career at that time, he was grateful for the attention. He was soft spoken, humble and rather matter of fact about things. One day he, his wife Barbara and I were sitting in a hotel room in Nashville (Roger Miller’s “King of the Road Inn”) just chatting about things and the subject of Elvis came up. Roy asked if I had met him and of course I had to admit I hadn’t. And Roy just looked up and said, “If we are ever in the same town at the same time as Elvis, we’ll go over and say hello”. Oh My God! One legend just invited me over to meet THE legend of rock. It was a beautiful gesture and I know Roy would have lived up to it except…..Elvis died before we have had the chance to “say hello”.

The second opportunity was just that I was almost at the right place at the right time. Also in the 70’s a Canadian band called Bachman Turner Overdrive was experiencing a string of hits and a level of success nobody had suspected could happen. We didn’t doubt their talent, which was immense but because the leader, Randy Bachman had already had huge success as a member of the premiere Canadian band, The Guess Who. And in this music business, especially at that time, lightning just didn’t strike twice. Anybody who had success in one musical configuration just so rarely saw success again. In fact when BTO, as they became known, first met with the staff of Mercury Records we told Randy that it would be a slow build. We’d have to kind of re-introduce him to the rock audience in this new set up. Ok. Fooled us. Their first record sold millions and they became huge on the concert circuit. It was a nice mistake to make.

So, BTO is in Los Angeles making a record, probably the follow up to their huge debut and I happened to be in that city on business. At the time, by the way I lived in Chicago where Mercury Records had its headquarters. I visited the band in the studio and had a nice time with them and manager Bruce Allen, then I headed out to do some work and fly back to Chicago. Not long after Bruce called saying I should have stuck around. “We got a call from Las Vegas,” Bruce said. “Elvis wanted to meet us so we drove over and hung out with him one night”. Rats! Foiled again.

I never did meet Elvis.


Mike Gormley

L.A. Personal Development


Website: www.lapersdev.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mike.gormley.10?fref=ts

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When I was growing up our special family dinners always included “Auntie Pearl” aka (Pearl Beckwith) – a 2nd, 3rd, removed??? cousin of my Dad’s.  She was an unusual woman – born in Jamaica, never married and earned a living by living in other people’s homes while they went on vacation – looking after the home, their pets and often their children.  In between contracts, she had a room at the old (no longer existing) Alexandra Hotel at Somerset and Bank Streets.  Pearl was always meticulously turned out – I doubt she even owned casual clothing.

Many years have gone by and I find myself the Auntie Pearl of current times.  I am on my own (though I was married briefly many years ago), certainly am rarely “meticulously” turned out, my closet is full of casual clothing and I enhance my IBM pension by working for several real estate agents.  What we do have in common is being included in special family dinners.  I am so lucky to have two 1st cousins here in Ottawa and their children and grandchildren and even luckier to be invited to their family gatherings at Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving.  I am one Sheffield in a throng of Earles but they always make me feel so very welcome.

Easter, 2018 – Front Row – Julie Earle, Jennifer Earle, Steve Earle, Jamie Earle.  Back Row:  Sue Sheffield, Jeff Earle, John Earle

My brother, his three sons and their families, all live “away” – Toronto, Burlington, Guelph and Lake Mary, Florida.  Busy lives and geographic distance result in, for the most part, somewhat distant relationships – but any time I do see, or even hear from,  any or all of these folks, it is an extra special event.

Having no children or grandchildren of my own, my special friends play a huge role as part of my extended family and thank goodness for them. Knowing there is always somebody near by you can count on is huge.

I have no doubt we all define family differently based on our own life experience.  However we define it, we are lucky to have it.

Long Ma and Kumo

For those of you who don’t live in Ottawa, for the past 4 days we have had magical (and huge) creatures roaming our downtown streets.  The story behind this is as follows:

From the ninth level of heaven, Long Ma—a cosmic creature who is half-horse, half-dragon—keeps watch over humanity. But a sinister force that has taken the form of a giant spider slips into his home as he sleeps, burning his wings and robbing his sacred temple. From this time forth, the Dragon-Horse roams the seven seas in search of his missing temple. 

The giant spider, Kumo, takes refuge in Ottawa, the mother-city of all spiders. Buried deep beneath the waves, the temple remains concealed. But the recent work undertaken by the city to build Ottawa’s new transit line has disturbed Kumo, and she is forced to emerge from the ground. Her power depleted, the spider becomes vulnerable and loses control of the temple, which reappears in the city. Alerted by this apparition, Long Ma sets out on the route taken by Champlain several centuries earlier, with the intention of recovering his temple of travel, a shrine that he alone has the power to properly restore.”

Part dragon and part horse, Long Ma stands 12 metres high, 5 metres wide and weighs 45 tons.  With his piercing gaze, Long Ma scours the crowd and interacts with them as his neck rises, lowers and oscillates from left to right. His rib cage swells under the pressure of his lungs.

Beautiful and repulsive, aggressive and gentle, Kumo, the giant spider, will give you chills. Her eight legs and body that synchronize as she crawls around town gracefully. Like a dancer, she wanders, steps over trees, streetlights and bus shelters… At rest, she is 5.7 metres high and 6 metres wide, but she can reach up to 13 metres when in motion.  Fully outstretched, she is about 20 metres long.

The story plays out with a spectacular finale and, of course, Long Ma wins back his wings.

While I sure don’t like the idea of Ottawa being the mother-city of all spiders – this was extremely well done.  The company who made and managed these creatures is in France.

The pictures below were taken by a friend (and very talented photographer), Don Douglas.

Ottawa a Sanctuary City??

While it sounds lovely – I understand why Jim Watson doesn’t like the idea.  I don’t usually agree with our Mayor – but in this case, I do.

I’m not even sure about the “legal and fully processed” refugee program in terms of our capacity to deal with these people so I sure can’t see adding to this issue by welcoming illegal immigrants.

Why should we reward people who have broken the law?  If you try to cross the border where there is a border office, you won’t be permitted into the country without the right paperwork – but if you cross through the fields where there is no border office, our RCMP actually help you out?  What’s wrong with this picture??

We have huge waiting lists for low-rental housing – where would we “house” illegal immigrants?  Surely they shouldn’t jump the cue over those on the waiting list?

Our health care system is almost at the breaking point – how would we manage the addition of more people who aren’t paying their way?

Our social assistance programs are stressed to the max.  Where is the money going to come from to help these people? We can’t even manage a snow removal budget never mind find pots of excess financial resources just waiting to be given to a group of illegal immigrants.

I would assume that at least some of these illegal immigrants are trying to get out of the United States because the current President has promised to get rid of “the bad guys”.  Do we really want the bad guys in our country?  Don’t we already have enough of our own? Without due process, there is no way of checking criminal records, ability to work, or anything else about these individuals.

Sanctuary for REAL REFUGEES with a capital R – is one thing.  Harbouring runaways from south of the border is a whole different kettle of fish.  I certainly hope that sane heads prevail and the message continues to be NO – NOT FOR OTTAWA.


It’s been a while!

I can’t believe that my creative juices (or my need to vent) have gone unfulfilled for almost a year!  There is something wrong with this picture.  So – here I am, back again.  This time I don’t have a specific topic to “chat” about – there are just so many of them.

Why oh why am I yet again seeing an article in the newspaper about the city’s snow budget going into the red???  Doesn’t this happen pretty much every year?  I would sure like to see a more normal budget for snow removal and take the huge risk of having some money left over for a change.

Trudeau…….Wynne…… – what are the similarities and what are the differences?  One is pretty, one is not.  They both make promises.  Neither keeps them.  They are both out of touch with reality.   They are both willing to mortgage our future and that of the next generations.  They are both too “green” for our collective good.  Climate change should not take priority over health, education, the economy, etc.  He can’t put a sentence together without a string of “uh’s”.  She is carefully rehearsed for every speech.

Why on earth would our City budget $10 Million for art in LRT stations???  Surely there could be a way to entice artists to display works for no cost at all for the exposure?  Why not run a program for donation of art-works?  Why not let art students paint murals on the walls?  Why is it a given that a certain percentage of all infrastructure projects be spent on art?  There must be something better to spend that money on.  Snow removal deficits?  Low rental housing?  Food banks?  Surely not  more bike lanes!!!

Why have airlines and airports taken the fun out of travel?  What’s the point of saving Airmiles or Aeroplan points if you can’t book seats when you want them?  Why are the taxes for a flight higher in cost than the flight itself?  Why have airports removed the “service” from customer service?  If it wasn’t for the travel itself, travel just might be enjoyable!!

I think I’m just getting warmed up again – I would welcome your comments and/or topic suggestions.

Thankfully, I do have things to rave about – mostly the people in my life!  You are appreciated and I don’t know how I would survive without you!




Just Surviving

My last post was shortly after a new hip to replace a previous hip replacement (they call them “revisions”) and to introduce my new sleep buddy – Monsieur CPAP.  Well – not much has changed.  I’m having a rough time with this recovery.  I still have to use a cane or I limp badly, I still have considerable difficulty getting the darned leg into the car when I’m driving, my wrists are complaining loudly about the overuse of them with walkers, crutches, canes, and just the action of getting up from a chair!…..and one of my other nasty visitors has turned up again – vertigo.  Whoever called this the Golden Age was certainly full of something!!  Somebody told me that the only thing “golden” at this stage of life is your urine – if you are lucky!  I think they nailed that one.

In spite of all my complaints, I am back at my favourite exercise haunt – The Liquid Gym.  I  know it sounds like a wonderful bar – but it’s treadmills and exercise bikes under the water.  Whoever dreamed this up is an absolute genius.  Exercise without discomfort – unless you count the trials and tribulations of getting dry (in a humid dressing room) and dressed at the end of the session.  I’m hoping the therapist I see at the hospital will see a difference when I go back to see her late in the month.

The CPAP story is a successful one – at least I think it is.  It is a wireless gadget so I can get a report in the morning on my computer about how well I did the night before – # hours used, # times the mask came off, how much air leaked out, etc. etc. – last night my score was 100.  Yeah Me!!  I a finding myself sleeping 9 and 10 hours – EVERY NIGHT!! –  and the best part – I sleep through the night without getting up to pee!!!  I have no idea if I still snore or not – my first trip with a roomie (Sept) will tell the tale on that aspect of things.  Aside from the fact that it adds extra tasks to my regular morning routine (clean nose piece and humidifier dish with gentle soap and water every morning, clean hose once a week and clean the entire headgear contraption monthly – or something like that), I am not finding it the least bit difficult!!  The kitties just have to wait a few more minutes for their breakfast.

I did watch the entire season of Downton Abby and I highly recommend it – to everyone – men and women alike.  What a fabulous series.  I was very sorry to have it end.

At the moment, I’m pretty buried in Real Estate listings – the spring market is alive and well.  I have a love/hate relationship with this work. On the plus side, it provides extra much needed and appreciated income and it keeps my brain working.  On the negative side, it interferes with my social life and my ability to find enough “do-nothing” time.  Oh well.  We can’t have everything and I’m very lucky to have found work that I can do from home on my own schedule.

The housing market might think it is spring – but the weather hasn’t been co-operating.  I’m tired of snow.  My snow tires are coming off tomorrow morning and the car is being cleaned, inside and out, tomorrow afternoon.  Enough already!!




Surviving Joint Replacement Surgery & a new CPAP Machine

On January 26th, 2016, I had my FIFTH joint replacement.  My very first hip, done in October of 1999, had gone past its “best before date” and had to be redone.  I am now totally bionic and then some with 2 knees and 2 hips made of precious metal (stainless steel) parts.  You certainly don’t want to be behind me in the security line-up at an airport!!  All the bells go off and the pat-down is on – unless, of course, there is a scanner – my new best friend when travelling.

My sister-in-law came and looked after my 3 cats while I spent 2 short nights in hospital and then helped me out for a few days after that.  Her father turned 100 on February 1st, so the timing worked well for both of us.  This surgery seemed to be easier than others in that on day 2, I could get myself in and out of bed.  Previous surgeries left a gap between my brain and my leg muscles – nothing worked!!  Things are still pretty tender though and the exercises given me by Physio not a whole lot of fun to do.

Restrictions, at least with my surgeon, go on for 6 weeks – no bending more than 90 degrees, partial weight-bearing only, and no driving…..and of course, no crossing your legs and no twisting.  I am pretty handy with the grabber – in fact, I can even pick up blueberries (one by one) from the floor – and pills – as small as they can be.  This is the time when everything you touch falls on the floor.  The basket of my walker handily holds my coffee, my phone, my e-reader – but doesn’t easily allow for loads of laundry.  Everything takes a lot of time.

Having not been a Downton Abbey follower before now, I purchased the boxed set of DVDs and a friend/neighbour comes over just about every day to watch one or two episodes.  We are almost finished Season 2 now and I’m loving it.  I can’t imagine having to wait a whole year to see what happens next.  Downton Abbey marathons are much, much better.

I still have my real estate admin work for 6 agents and I read a lot.  Between real estate work, chores (which take forever), Downton Abbey, reading and my hockey games, the days go by very quickly.  Neighbours and friends pop in and out, helping me with things I find difficult and/or driving me to the occasional appointment.  I am so grateful for my friends.  Life would be difficult without them.

Another new thing in my life is a CPAP machine.  A sleep study in mid-January (sleepover at the hospital with 24 or so wires attached to your body, a small bed and a “sleep well” goodnight) showed that I stopped breathing 85 times per hour.  How on earth was I even functioning?  I guess your body gets used to anything.  With the machine, my events are now down to less than 5 per hour which is considered normal.  It is not, however, a pretty picture.  The cats don’t seem to mind.

Never a dull moment!



The Beautiful Rhine

Now that I’ve ranted about the travel part of our trip – I can leave the negatives behind and talk about the good things.

Our ship – the MS Gerard Schmitter – was very nice – part of the CroisiEurope fleet of river boats – a french company.  It was built in 2012 with 87 cabins and a capacity for 174 passengers.  It sure seemed to be completely booked!  The cabins were small but completely functional.  We were all on the top deck (one below the sun deck) so we had french balconies.  Unfortunately it was so cold and windy, opening the patio doors was NOT going to happen – at least not for any longer than was needed to bring a blast of fresh air into the cabin.

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Breakfast was always buffet style and our group got into the habit of boiling eggs rather than trying to eat what passed for scrambled eggs and bacon.   One had to hook your egg onto a coloured gadget (then you had to remember which colour was yours), and time it, hoping it wouldn’t fall of into the tub of boiling, or almost-boiling water.  We got pretty good at this.  There was lots of choice – cereals, croissants, fruit, yogurt, etc. etc.

Lunch was always a formal 4-course meal as was dinner.  We usually had some options for the dinner entree.  There was never a shortage of food – in fact, it was usually way too much food – but always french, always delicious and beautifully served.  Wine flowed at lunch and then starting with happy hour in a small lounge at the rear of the ship, continued through dinner.  There were even some non-wine options included – beer, rum, scotch, etc.  Premium drinks such as single malt scotch or grand marnier were at your own cost – but there was more than enough alcohol !! If you were still interested in more – post-dinner drinks were also provided!

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Everything about Europe is so full of history!  Buildings are older than we can imagine and towns full of cobblestone and fascinating architecture.  Bicycles are the main mode of transportation and they were EVERYWHERE!  They seem to have the right of way no matter what so you had to take care not to get run over by one!  We had a few days in Amsterdam and area including a canal tour (beautiful city, full of life), a tour of Volendam – pretty little fishing village including a cheese factory visit and windmills.  I completely missed Arnhem due to a nasty tummy bug that flattened me – I slept for 36 hours straight! Then it was on to Cologne where we sampled some lovely local beer, followed by lots and lots of vineyards and castles and the Rock of Loreley on the section of the river called The Romantic Rhine.  In Rudesheim we had a tour by sightseeing train, and then a visit to a local winery with tasting (of course) – and a visit to a very unusual Music Museum.  We decided to stay in town rather than dine on the ship so we found a great German restaurant and had our fill of schnitzel etc.  We had been told we mustn’t miss the infamous Rudesheim Kaffee – so, of course, we sampled that too.  Our next stop was Heidelberg where we toured the Castle and the old town and then finally our last stop – Strasbourg where we had a city tour and a very unique farewell dinner in the Maison Kammerzell – a famous restaurant opened in 1427 where the rich and famous and the royal dine.  You can imagine our surprise when after a lovely pate, we were served pork hocks and scalloped potatoes!!!

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We travelled well as a group – there were 11 of us in our little group of friends.  It was a busy 9 days without much down-time but that’s the nature of a “tour”.  You see a little bit of a lot of places but nothing in any great detail.  We did have some free time in a few stops which was great!  One says it gives you an overview and an idea of where you would like to return and spend time.  That’s a great theory if you are 30 and have oodles of time to re-visit the places you especially liked!!  For me, it was a lovely taste of many beautiful towns and cities and doing it on the water was perfect – there was always a great view.

We had good local tours, well informed local guides, a great Collette tour leader, fabulous food, comfortable beds, friendly staff on the ship, more alcohol than we could consume (another sign of our getting older) and enough castles to last a lifetime!

River cruises are lovely – casual and intimate when compared with large ship cruising.  But – this may end up being the last “tour” type of holiday I take.  The travel is difficult, and the tour pace faster than I like to (or am able to) go.  A “stay put” vacation is calling to me – not sure yet where the next one will take me!