Clearly not my neighbour, but someone like him.

Clearly not my neighbour, but someone like him.

One of the world’s greatest bagpipers has moved onto my street. This is a good and not-so-good thing. 

As a native Nova Scotian, I have been known to burst into tears when confronted with a pipe and drum band.  I am inordinately fond of pipe music. It makes me emotional. The sight of a line of swinging kilts clutching armloads of pipes with the drums rat-a-tat-tatting right behind never fails to send me over the edge. Blame it on all those Natal Day parades in front of Lake Banook. Where I’m from, where most people have their own tartan, a party isn’t a party unless it ends with a drunk piper wheezing on the front lawn at 4 in the morning. That’s just the way it is.

However, it takes an enormous amount of practice to be one of the best pipers in the world, and the people in my neighbourhood can tell you that this practice happens religiously between 9 and 10:30 every weeknight.  Not that we’re complaining. It’s exciting to have a celebrity musician in our midst, and who hasn’t cut loose with the stereo or an amplified electric guitar once in awhile…live and let live, right? These last few weeks, we’ve been humming along, then closing our windows and putting the kids to bed under the cooling breeze and insulating sound of a floor fan.

Except last night, something cut the practice short. I’m not sure what it was. Speculation has arisen that it might have been complaints from a protective grandmother with visiting toddlers. Maybe the piper got a blister.  Whatever prompted it, a blissful silence fell over the neighbourhood. We switched off the fans, threw open the windows and breathed the sweet night air. It was lovely while it lasted, but I hope this is just a temporary hiatus.  I’ve never been the best in the world at anything – and I respect the amount of work and sacrifice (and practice) it takes to master an instrument as difficult as the pipes. When I listen to my neighbour work at it night after night, I feel like I’m part of his clan, and frankly, I’m rooting for him. Even when I close my windows.


Wednesday, July 22, 8:17 a.m.

Light rain and fog.

Unidentified man in navy suit jumps out of idling Prius, which is parked sideways in narrow passage of St. John Street lot.  Man looks around, removes one of three dark green sawhorses erected to a) protect grass and b) ensure access to large dumpster. Man wedges Prius into spot, parking on grass immediately in front of green dumpster.

Brad Woodside, wearing a tie

Brad Woodside, wearing a tie

I confess to not understanding the purpose of men’s ties. They occasionally give a little flash an otherwise boring uniform, sure, but other than that, what do they DO? Catch soup? Be hideously expensive? Get caught in doors? Make most men look downright uncomfortable on summer days?

This is why I am applauding Fredericton Mayor Brad Woodside’s twitter campaign to eliminate the need for ties in business attire.

On Monday he tweeted:

“Happy Monday. Why do men wear ties. Do men have to wear ties. I don’t like ties and I am not wearing one today to protest. It’ll be peaceful.”

On Tuesday, he tweeted:

“Gave a speech today and had a number of meetings No tie No problem We can change the world one person at a time You don’t have to tie one on.”

Brad Woodside is well-known for being a pretty cool guy. He’s on his seventh term as mayor of our little town and that alone should give him the right to decide what goes around his neck. I don’t think he needs to wear one if he doesn’t want to. Nobody should have to. I like bowties. I also like those little cravats, when the occasion calls for it. Maybe a scarf casually tossed over one shoulder. I also happen to believe that an open collar shirt and jacket, a v or crew-neck sweater or shirt are perfectly acceptable menswear for the office or public events. After all, what’s above your neck is ultimately more important than what’s around it.

My mother has discovered Skype. She called last month and asked if we could try it, because her friend Fran uses it to talk to her daughter. She and Fran are fast friends, but my mother doesn’t like Fran to get ahead of her on anything, especially when it comes to connecting with daughters.

It took us three weeks and several false starts to start talking via video, while we tried to figure out why a) I could neither see nor hear her (turn camera on) b) I could see but not hear her (purchase and install microphone) c) I could hear but not see her (enable camera on Skype).  The first time it all came together I had to work to convince her to put the phone down. She didn’t believe we were talking through the computer until she actually saw me through her computer without a phone in my hand.

My mother lives in Halifax, which is about five hours away. We talk weekly on the phone and are now strangely even more connected through this magical digital phenomenon. I now risk that little phone ringing everytime I go online, but I admit it is reassuring to see her smiling brightly on the other end of the video link, having just applied lipstick and fixed up her hair for the occasion. She wants to “see” me, she says. And more to the point – she wants to “see” her grandchild. It’s lovely to see the look of glee on my mother’s face when Lucy climbs on my lap and appears onscreen. Fran doesn’t have any grandchildren yet. At least Mom’s ahead of her on that one.

VCA010-DISNEY-PRINCESS-follI apologize for being absent the last week or so, having been caught in a storm of work, home and school assignments. I am now, however, caught in the act of procrastinating so I might as well make the best of it and share some observations on the subject of Princesses. 

I am being swarmed by Princesses. We have princesses on light switches, backpacks, socks and toothbrushes. Princess notepads, colouring books, coloured pencils, cut-out dolls and markers. I found Sleeping Beauty staring at me from the bathroom doorframe the other day, where a small hand stuck her, having peeled her away from friends Snow White, Belle, Jasmine and Cinderella who linger, until the next time, on the Disney Princess sticker sheet. 

Anyone who knows a five-year-old girl, or has been one recently understands that Princess is a real, actual profession. If you ask, you will find out that Princesses live with their friend Hannah Montana in Disneyland and you have to ride a plane to see them. They wear beautiful dresses of pink, yellow and baby blue, favouring bows, ribbons, roses and crowns as accessories. They do not have body hair, toenails or bad teeth. In fact, if you look closely, you will find that their teeth are actually one solid mass of grinning white, beneath perfectly shaped Princess lips.

The downside to all this is the fact that there is only one Prince. When Cinderella and her girlfriends go to the Ball, they have to wait for the Prince to choose which one he will dance with and then marry, and then spend the rest of his life with. Happily Ever After. 

As my mother’s daughter, raised in the empowerment age of the 1970s and 1980s, it is mildly horrifying to me that my own child thinks these things and more – doesn’t believe that Princesses have armpits.

Just yesterday, Lucy and I were playing with cut-out dolls (Cinderella and Belle) on our sunny garden deck, putting stickers shaped like jewels, bows and flowers on their massive magnetic ball gowns when talk turned to armpits. 

Me: Lucy, that dress goes just under Belle’s armpits, you might need to stick her fur stole on her shoulders in case it’s cold at the Ball.

Lucy: Mommy, Princesses don’t have armpits.

Me: Of course they do, sweetie. And I bet they have to shave them too.

Lucy: No Mommy, they don’t. They are Princesses.

Me: (Masking growing hysteria, attempting ‘teachable moment’) Lucy, Princesses are grown-up girls. They have armpits and vaginas and belly buttons and all the things that real women have. Just because they….

Lucy: (Closing eyes, covering ears with hands) NO NO NO NO NO NO NOOOOO!!

I played with Barbies. I loved their long hair and strange bodies and the fact that their feet never rested flat on the ground. I don’t think this scarred me. I read all about Princess too, and never thought it meant I needed a Prince to complete my own story. I have a busy full-time job and a husband who bakes bread and does the laundry, in addition to his busy life teaching university students how to think and write. Don’t get me wrong, my husband is definitely a prince, but not the kind who rides in on the white horse to rescue me from some evil fate. 

Lucy is surrounded by strong, capable women who have jobs, body hair and brush their teeth. Her teachers, her sisters and my friends and I are all as real as they come. I hope we are modeling a reality check to that Princess fantasy so brilliantly commercialized by the Disney Corporation. I think this will all turn out okay in the end. 

After all, while I couldn’t convince Lucy of the proper anatomy of a Princess, she was the one who took off their ball gowns and sent them off to their pretend jobs with packed lunches and pretend cellphones. For the record, Belle works full-time in a candy store and Cinderella is a unionized bus driver who carries her job manual in a sparkly pink purse.

AAAAAvl8s2oAAAAAABzlDALovely Husband weighed in on the subject of parenting on his blog, The Mysterious East today, suggesting the tide is shifting in many families toward a more equitable sharing of domestic duties.

Now I know lots of men who say they do an equal share of the grubby work of parenting (bum and nose wiping, laundry folding-and-putting-away, everyday cooking – and not just on the grill – bathroom scrubbing and grocery buying) and even more women who say they just do a better job of those things than their husbands ever could.  

I am grateful for our own, let’s call it “flexible” arrangement, where everything seems to gets done eventually and we don’t worry too much about who does it on what day. Oh yes, and we have a cleaning service every two weeks, which helps smooth things beautifully.

At the risk of alienating my vast audience that is apparently quite interested in the Edward Greenspon/John Stackhouse drama unfolding at The Globe and Mail this week, I must share this video I just found on youtube. It’s brilliant and guaranteed to make you smile – a jam on a bus travelling through the Belgian countryside with members of The Waterboys from 2001.

We are big Waterboys fans in my house. Five-year-old Lucy is in the midst of a terrible crush on Mike Scott and tonight asked me to email him a love note, requesting that he post her favourite song on youtube. She has a thing for pale blue-eyed boy musicians. Yes, already.

I wrote that because I just know he’ll love that headline. Still, I appreciate the irony in one of Paul Wells’ most recent posts regarding the head honcho change-up at The Globe and Mail. Wells translates the infamous Crawley memo into twitterspeak and here it is:

Improved, Web 2.0 version:

Teamwork ftw!! ShakingUp Exec Team. $4shareholders=changes. Bye Eddie! lolz Stack=newBoss

Incidentally, Twitter broke the news about Edward Greenspon’s departure before Truth and Stories did. I guess there’s always next time…..

Now that news of Edward Greenspon’s departure from from the editorial helm of The Globe and Mail is being widely circulated (see Phillip Crawley’s memo below), word is getting around that he may have been pushed. Kind speculation suggests Greenspon resisted further cuts to the Globe newsroom, which has already been hit by layoffs. Maclean’s writer Paul Wells, outraged less by the corporate shuffle than by the goddawful writing in the memo, had some fun at Crawley’s expense. Newsrooms can be vicious places.

 This staff memo was sent to me this morning by a friend in the news business. As an avid reader of The Globe and Mail and and a big supporter of Canadian newspapers, I am passing it on in its entirety. I’ll leave the rest of you to read the tea leaves.  Here’s the official news story from the Globe.

From: Crawley, Phillip

To: ~Permanent Staff All Branches Sent: Mon May 25 11:04:48 2009


The need to restructure our business, to meet the challenges of the current economic environment and the rapid changes in media consumption habits, has been our overarching goal during FY09. As we head towards FY10, that evolutionary process takes a leap forward today with the reorganization of our senior executive team.

Reimagination-inspired teamwork during the last four years has reinforced the value of a more collaborative way of managing our business. By drawing on the collective strengths of the team, we are all better able as individuals to contribute to the success of The Globe and Mail. With that objective in mind, I have reviewed the composition of the Executive Team, and identified priority areas for improvement. New skills and different styles of leadership are needed to take The Globe and Mail to levels of achievement which meet the ambitions of our shareholders, to cement our standing as the best in Canada at creating high-quality content for consumption on whatever platform is most desirable for our readers, users and advertisers.

We are building on a position of strength not enjoyed by many of our competitors. The executive changes outlined below are intended to ensure that The Globe and Mail is in the prime spot to take advantage of the market opportunities that will arise when the recession eases.

To deliver the required results, I am adding one extra position to the senior team and changing responsibilities and reporting lines in three other parts of the business. Ed Greenspon, who has been our Editor-in-Chief for almost seven years, is stepping down and is succeeded by John Stackhouse, the Editor of Report on Business since 2004. John, 46, who is a Queen’s commerce graduate, joined The Globe and Mail in 1989, and has proved himself to be a strong team leader in our cross-functional business initiatives, especially during the last two years when he championed the relaunch of our Globe Investor site.

He brings a high-class pedigree to the Editor-in-Chief position, having been a distinguished foreign correspondent before taking up executive roles as Foreign Editor and National Editor. He has raised Report on Business to levels of excellence in print and online which are unsurpassed. There will be other occasions to pay tribute to Ed Greenspon’s outstanding service to The Globe and Mail, which he joined in 1986. He made his reputation as an astute observer of Canadian politics and turned the Ottawa bureau into a powerhouse of coverage. Since 2002 he has spearheaded our editorial transformation, particularly in exploring new ways to tell stories. The record of awards won under his leadership is second to none.

I know you will join me in thanking Ed and wishing him well as he moves on to new challenges. In addition, I expect to make an early announcement that we have recruited a Vice President of IT, having conducted an external search in recent months. We need a dedicated leader in the IT Department to enable us to choose the right path forward in our use of technology and choice of systems. Given that most of our annual capital expenditure is devoted to this area, I need the best possible guidance and expertise. He/she will take over responsibility for IT from Perry Nixdorf, whose triple-headed responsibilities as VP of Operations have become impossible to sustain. Perry will now be able to concentrate exclusively on preparing for the transition to our new presses in 2010 – one of the biggest undertakings in The Globe’s long history – and to continue with the revitalization of the Circulation Department, which has undergone radical reform under his leadership. Perry will remain VP of Operations, looking after the Circulation and Production departments.

The importance of the digital revolution affecting our business is well understood, but remains the most demanding issue we face in terms of the complex options ahead of us.

From next Monday, June 1, the role of VP Digital will be filled by Angus Frame, who has proved that he has the skill and determination to lead this department since his move from Editorial last summer. Angus, 37, who graduated in political science from McMaster and from Ryerson in journalism, has worked for The Globe and Mail since 1996 and was Editor of before switching to Digital. He will work closely with the new VP of IT and with Roger Dunbar, who has headed Digital for the last two years, and now takes up the new position of VP of Business Development and Marketing. The reorganization of departmental responsibilities which has been under way since the start of the year means that some staff who currently report to Roger will move with him to help him fulfill his new role. The main aim of Roger and his team, which includes management of co-brand products, will be to identify new revenue streams across all our properties, and lead the process of launching and supporting new business initiatives. He will continue to head our marketing, promotions and research efforts.

Details of the staffing arrangements in IT, Digital and Business Development will be announced shortly by departmental heads. All of these changes are an expression of my determination to ensure the long-term health of The Globe and Mail. With the backing of our shareholders, I am confident that we can be among the best in the world at what we choose to do. I look forward to your support and advice in making those wise choices.

July 2018
« Jul    


  • throwing my grammaaa a party today cant wait to dee the surprisment in her little face :) it makes me excitied evertime i see shes 99 now 5 years ago
  • genuine people dont come around often.If you find somebody real,enough to stay true,keep them close. 5 years ago