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Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Signs of the Times, Part Two

 Remember the

clever billboards in front of a synagogue

that have been brightening up a nearby street?

The synagogue hasn't had any visitors since March,

 but that writer has been busy making drivers smile.

Here are more examples of sparse writing

where every word counts.

Thou shalt not covid thy neighbour's wife.

2020 is hindsight.

In my copywriting days, the layout came first and I had to fit my copy into it.

I had to count words. Sometimes I had to count characters.

That was excellent training for other kinds of writing.

I appreciate this writer's economy of words and sense of humour.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Driveby Birthday Surprise Party

 How do you celebrate

 a special birthday

during a pandemic?

If you're my friend, 

and if you have imaginative, super special kids,

you have a


Everyone wore masks,

we stayed in our cars--physically distanced--

while the birthday girl and her family

talked to us through our car window.

It could have been a traffic jam on her street

but we all had our assigned times to arrive.

The sun even came out for a few minutes

on this rainy, blustery day.

Party favours were a choice of kosher chocolate treats!

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

 Reasons I Appreciate October


Cut tulips are available again.

The colours are especially vivid this year.

October 21 (and October 23) 

On October 21, 1976, M got up the nerve to phone a strange woman, introduce himself, and ask her for a date. The strange woman accepted. They got together for a coffee date on Saturday October 23. 

October 23 was cold and snowy. I remember I wore my winter jacket and boots and a sweater and blue velvet pants. M wore a beige suit. I thought, "Snazzy dresser!" I didn't see that suit for another year and a half. I told him that anyone who wanted to get along with me had to be funny. (I didn't know he would consider that as a challenge.) He immediately told me six funny jokes. 

On the seventh date he thought I asked him to eliminate a tense, so he changed the simple past tense to the pluperfect tense in everything he said for a couple of hours. (Again I didn't know I was giving him a humour challenge.) I figured someone who could make me laugh so much was a keeper.

We've been laughing ever since.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

But On the Bright Side...

During these trying--I am so over the word "unprecedented"--times
it helps to find something hopeful.

I am appreciating these things that have occurred since the beginning of the pandemic.

1. Better tv advertising.

Have you noticed the soft-sell tv ads? The commercial starts with some soothing music accompanying text and visuals that make us feel good about ourselves. Most of the ad is that kind of thing. At the very end, you see the logo of the advertiser. They tug at the heartstrings and don't try to hit you over the head with "Buy! Buy! Buy!" I wish advertising would keep this up, even after the end of the pandemic.

2. Outdoor concerts at seniors' residences.

At the seniors' residence next door to us they have one concert a week, usually Tuesday or Wednesday afternoon, depending on the weather. It's the good stuff, too: songs from the sixties, rock, guitar, jazz piano. The seniors sit on their balconies to listen. I said "sit" but often they're dancing along.   It's a joy to watch them.

3. The return of manners and kindness.

Maybe they never went away, but they're more noticeable now. I'm so grateful for those cashiers and delivery people. They really mean it when they say, "Have a good day!" And so do I.

Today, after grocery shopping, M and I checked out the rest of the mall to see whether the stores were open yet. What a relief to see that most of them, except the restaurants, had reopened. We're still in Phase Two here, and I'm glad the Ontario government is being cautious and gradual about the reopenings. But, wow, how wonderful to see something out there that reminds me of "normality." 

Have a good day!


Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Overjoyed, Overwintered, Overlooked


to finally show you my



Three exclamation marks are totally justified.

Because of the pandemic I couldn't buy new tulips in a crowded store, nor hire our usual gardener to plant them. These are the overwintered tulips from last year. (Thanks, Anthony, for doing such a good job last May.) We've had two snows and frosty nights since the leaves first emerged, and I only weeded and watered. I don't really know what I'm doing. But...


They don't care whether there's a pandemic.
They don't care whether a professional gardener takes care of them.
It's Spring.

They weren't going to miss their party for anything.

Yesterday, May 13, was Stevie Wonder's 70th birthday,

which I seem to have temporarily


Happy birthday to ya, Stevie, and many more!

Stevie is OVERJOYED, too.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Letter to My Younger Self

Dear Younger Barb,

Keep your diary. You'll be a writer eventually and you'll regret throwing it away.

Your father is wrong about the Beatles, but he is right about almost everything else.

You can do math despite your grades. You just find it boring.

Even the worst experience and the meanest people can be writing material.

Travel as much as you can while you still have your health.

Take more photos of your family and friends. Keep printed photos. Don't put important memories exclusively onto technology that will disappear.

Keep paper copies of all your writing. One day floppy disks will be unusable.

You'll go on a lot of blind dates. Most will be okay, a few good, one horrid-but-hilarious (good material!), and you'll hit the jackpot with one.

The blind date experience is also good practice for writing query letters. Keep submitting.

Keep up your fitness routine. But avoid the high-impact stuff (jogging, skipping, step aerobics) and protect your knees.