Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Finally: Are Men More Free With Money?

A Definitive Experiment

(continued from previous post)

I was still pondering the hypothesis that women are more careful with their money than men several days later when Elizabeth asked for money to spend at the Ancaster Fair.

“It’s $30 for 22 tickets,” she reported.

“That’s the sort of thing we give you an allowance for,” I answered.

She minimized her request, “How about $2 for the entry fee?”

Together we decided to do an experiment. She would ask her father for the money, not mentioning that I had already turned her down. I was willing to go with whatever he said.

“What if he says, ‘ask mom?’” she wondered.

“Then we’ll discuss it.” I replied.

She approached her father just before leaving for the fair.

He immediately reached for his wallet, “I’ll give you $20. Anything more, you pay yourself.”

According to Elizabeth the hypothesis that women are more frugal than men is 100% correct.

Read Rave Review at 'Interviews and Reviews'

Laura Davis recently posted a review of Align LeftBlooming on her blogsite Interviews and Reviews. Tomorrow I'll be over there for an interview.
Thanks Laura, your words are music.

Women Who Buy Books

(continued from previous post)

Are women more concerned about price than men? Five women in the store during the book signing bought my book. None of these women expressed any concern about price. Of course there were also a number of women who didn’t buy the book. Possibly they were concerned about price.

One woman wondered about a senior’s discount. Another woman told me she didn’t come that day to buy a book. Astutely, I deduced she wouldn’t buy a book. She didn’t.

Yet, another mentioned apologetically that she had just spent $26 on another book. I gave her my blog address.

As you can see my study was inconclusive, not to mention, unscientific.

(to be continued – tomorrow – A Definitive Experiment)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Do Men Spend Money More Freely than Women?

(continued from previous post)
My testing field wasn’t exactly even in the middle of the day in the middle of the week at a Christian bookstore. A steady stream of women flowed through the door the day I was there; whereas, I noticed less than a dozen men during my four hours in the store.

At least two men rushed past me as they targeted their purchase. I read somewhere that men treat shopping like a hunt—find it, and capture it.

Women treat shopping more like an exploration—don’t miss anything along the way. I suppose this fits in with my friend’s observation that men are looking for the item, while women are looking for the bargain.

Men with the wives are different then regular men shoppers. These men are looking for something interesting to happen while their wives check out their purchases.

One such husband said to me, “I don’t read.” I noticed his wife three feet away at the check-out counter shaking her head.

Using my superior reasoning ability I guessed he was lying. I read a story to entertain him. He laughed out loud at least three times during the story and ended up buying the book.

(to be continued)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Husbands, Wives and Parting With Money

Photo taken by Lynn McCallum

A writer friend of mine observed—while working in a Christian bookstore—that women are more frugal than men. The gist of her observation: women want to pay less for more; men, on the other hand, want what they want and will pay whatever it costs.

At my book signing last week I had an opportunity to test this theory.

Would it be easier to sell books to men?

Friday, September 25, 2009

MY Jars of Frozen Fruit (I Think)!

Monday I visited 96-year-old Mrs. Z at the extended nursing facility. Mrs. Z is now using a walker to get around, her eyesight is steadily deteriorating, and although her mind is still pretty savvy, she's definitely in Ecclesiastes 12.

Mrs. Z had phoned me in the morning to make sure I would first go to her house to clip some roses, check her mail and pick up two jars of frozen fruit from her freezer downstairs.

“I have an upright freezer downstairs in the laundry room.” she explained.

“Yes,” I said remembering the years of arranging her garden tomatoes in plastic bags in her upright freezer in the laundry room while she spent her summer at the cottage up north.

“Count the jars and take half of them for yourself. The fruit is about a year old.”


“You will come here to visit me and give the two jars, and you must go back later for the jars for yourself because they shouldn’t thaw out while you are visiting me.”


I brought her a jar of raspberries and a jar of apricots, along with four gorgeous roses from her bush. As I arranged her roses, she wondered, “How many jars are there in the freezer?”

“About twenty,” I guessed.

She put the raspberry jar on her dresser. “Take 10 jars for yourself.”


As she showed me where to put the apricot jar in the fridge, she reconsidered, “Maybe take eight jars for yourself.”


When we came in from sitting out on the little deck, she pulled off her well-worn purple mohair sweater—the one I had given her for a clothing drive for the people in Latvia about seven years ago—she reconsidered once more, “Maybe take seven jars and we can talk about the rest later.”

“Okay.” I said.

As I prepared to leave, she thanked me for coming and asked me to pray a blessing.

I hugged her, and prayed for her health, for peace and for her son. Then I kissed her and smiled as I left.

About an hour later, my phone rang. It was Mrs. Z. “Hello Marian, I forgot to offer you one of my roses while you were here.”

I pictured the four coral roses in full bloom. “That’s okay. There were only four and they look so beautiful together in your window.”

She continued, “When you go to my house to get the jars, then when you come to visit me, can you bring me two jars?”

“Okay,” I agreed. I love Mrs. Z.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Getting Shovel-Ready

A very efficient company has been awarded one of those shovel-ready boost-the-economy infrastructure projects in our neighbourhood. Among other things, they are ripping up old damaged bits of sidewalks and putting in wheelchair assessable walkways.

At 4:30 Monday morning I woke out of deep sleep to beep, beep, screeching growling roaring noises. Marty who had already peeked out the window explained to me that a giant shovel was being loaded onto a trailer bed just outside our bedroom. A few minutes later we heard a woman voice. We assumed she too had been startled awake. Then we heard the clunk clunk of chains being gently arranged, followed by the roar of a mighty engine starting up, then fading off and finally silence.

Is there a bylaw against disturbing the peace at 4:30 in the morning? Or maybe there are exceptions for shovel readiness. I had trouble keeping my eyes open Monday.

Above: equipment used to break-up and truck out the old sidewalk. I didn't get a picture of the shovel they carted away at 4:30 a.m. It was one very large shovel on caterpillar treads.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


The front window after we cleaned it up.

Sunday afternoon, when I came home from the woman’s conference I attended on the weekend, our front bay window was slimy with raw egg and bits of egg shell. Apparently sometime Saturday evening someone had spent a few wonderful moments tossing eggs.

I found a note on the table from my husband, “If you wait until I get home, I’ll help you with the front window.”

Between us we hosed down and wiped the window clean. Then we prayed that whoever did this thing would come to the decision that they’d rather eat eggs than throw them.

We tried not to perceive this attack on our house as a personal attack—whoever threw the eggs didn’t hate us, they just liked throwing eggs.

Having our house egged reminds me of an e-mail I received a while back. Someone had spent a few wonderful moments putting together an email that blasted me from five different angles and then told me she would pray for me.

I thanked her for her prayers and tried to believe she didn’t hate me—she just liked writing nasty emails. Nevertheless, I felt slimed.

Everything—Even the Kitchen Sink

(continued from previous post)

Home Hardware quietly announced they were shutting down the post office so they could make room to sell everything—even the kitchen sink. Of course, I thought I would still be slipping over to buy household items, but it doesn’t seem to be happening. My consumer habits altered overnight.

Sometimes to meet my husband’s post office requirements, I find myself in Shopper’s Drug Mart where I trudge past racks of enticing paperbacks and endless shelves of junk food to line up at the back corner of the store beside pharmaceuticals. I haven't bought anything yet.

Other times I drive a little further and end up in Zeller’s. Their Post Office is right at the front of the store and manned by a wonderfully experienced and pleasant woman who knows everything about the post office. There is never a line-up more than two people long because she is so efficient.

Last time I was mailing something I picked up a new electric kettle to replace the one leaking all over my counter. It was on sale probably a few dollars cheaper than the same model at Home Hardware. I’d still rather shop at Home Hardware, but I just never seem to be there anymore.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Consumer Fickleness

Until recently, as the gopher for my husband’s firm, I would find myself in the local Home Hardware doing business with the post office in the back of the store at least three times a week.
Over several years I’ve bought a kettle, a mixer, pizza pans, mousetraps, rubber tips for my chairs, an apron, oven mitts, an electric blanket, varnish, stain, touch-up paint, vacuum bags, water filters, duct tape, Christmas lights, bus tickets, bicycle tubes, garden gloves, Murphy’s oil, a screwdriver and chocolate bars to mention a few. My local Home Hardware carried everything but the kitchen sink.

Suddenly everything changed.

Even though they are within walking distance and they carry practically every convenience for a North American household, I haven’t shopped at Home Hardware for over a month.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Poop Unscooped

(continued from previous post)

Because we don’t have a dog and don’t have friends who bring their dogs over, I was more than surprised to see a fresh doggie doo right next to the hose holder in our fenced-in side yard. I turned up my nose and walked around it as I unwound the hose to add water to the pool. I walked around that little bit of poop several times, wondering where it came from and if the owner would possibly be coming anytime soon with a scoop.

Several hours later as I rewound the hose, an unmistakable stink filled my nostrils as a soft warm substance oozed across the bottom of my barefoot. Oh crap.

Moral of the story: A little crap falls in every life. If it’s in your yard clean it up.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Poop and Scoop

Growing up, I lived on a farm and we had a dog. Teddy, a beautiful collie-cross with a shining coat and impeccable habits, did tricks. He would sit, rollover, and shake a paw upon command. Best of all, he would go to the woods to deposit his crap which he always covered with dirt or leaves. We loved that dog.

Now when I see a dog, owner in tow, romping through the park across from our home, I invariably focus on that little plastic bag the human slavishly carries. I wonder if sometime in the not so distant future with the demise of the plastic bag the owner will have to wash and rinse a cloth bag after each little outing. I cringe. How can someone love an animal that much?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

How My Soul Turned Murky

(continued from previous post)
When in my spirit I heard, “The kind of murky green your soul gets when you neglect me,” I had to admit I hadn’t been reading the Bible much, had stopped listening to praise and worship CDs, didn’t pray with all my heart anymore, and didn’t have much patience for anyone asking for help.

Little disappointments and a touch of cynicism have brought about this neglect which led to a scummy green cloud blocking my relationship with the Lord.

The Cure for Murkiness
I sprinkled the pool with a smidgeon of copper sulfate, a bucket of chlorine and two scoops of Excel, then ran the pump. Several hours later the water sparkled right to the bottom.

I prayed and repented, turning my heart back to God. I got into the Bible. I received prayer at church. It was that easy; the murky scum in my soul is gone. Now, to keep it that way.

The Pool is Turning Green

“The pool is turning green.” Elizabeth informed me.

What does it matter? September is here. I know from experience that nobody will be swimming anymore. Still, I would like to tuck away a crystal clear pool for the winter.

So, I attack the pool with the long-handled brush and the new vacuum head I have recently purchased to replace the old falling-apart one. The vacuum keeps sticking to the bottom of the pool. Don’t ask me why.

Despite the sticking problem, I finally have the whole pool vacuumed. The water in the shallow end looks healthy, but the deep end appears murky green—the colour that happens when the chief caregiver is gallivanting in Montreal and Saskatchewan, too far away to do regular pool maintenance.

“The kind of murky green your soul gets when you neglect me,” I hear in my spirit.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Is “Little Black Sambo” a Bad Story?

This season at Toastmasters, I’m planning to do a series of speeches involving storytelling. For my first speech I am choosing to tell one of my favourite tales, Little Black Sambo. I enjoy the way the story reads and love the ending.The story has a hero, speaks strongly about family, provides drama and stretches the imagination. I find Little Black Sambo delightful.

Well my daughter Allison tells me I should not do this story. She informs me that Little Black Sambo is politically incorrect.

“Why?” I asked.

“You shouldn’t identify people by skin colour.”

I find that totally baffling.

As far as I’m concerned this ‘seriously white’ mama is going to tell a made-up story about a brave little chocolate-coloured boy from India (nevermind that the picture makes him look like he is from Africa).

What do you think?

Friday, September 11, 2009

A disturbing dream

(dreamed in 1992)

I thought my dream was simply about taking care of Zack, Aunt Marnie’s green Amazon parrot. You see, Aunt Marnie, who was in the process of settling elsewhere, had temporarily left talking, whistling Zack with our family. But even though the dream was all about parrots, my family suggested the dream wasn’t about parrots at all.

In my dream Angela was caring for Zack inside an empty church building while Marty and I were out and about. The church building was a wooden structure that could possibly have seated about 100 worshippers if there had been pews. As it was, shiny wall-to-wall hardwood covered the floor and there were big windows along both side walls. The only bit of furniture was a pulpit.

When Marty and I returned to the church building, presumably to fetch Zack and Angela, we found only a white bird somewhat bigger than the green Zack. Immediately we asked for Zack.

The white bird hopped over to a small hole in the wall behind a wooden pillar on the left side of the church and pointed to it with his wing. Outside in the snow we saw poor Zack struggling about. As for Angela, she had altogether disappeared from the dream.

I knew a tropical bird such as Zack would not be able to withstand the cold so I demanded that Marty rescue her straightaway. At that moment, the president of church council and his wife entered the church. We two women took it for granted that the men would save the bird. After some problem finding Marty’s coat, they headed out.

By then it was dark so we women could not see the men on their mission, much less direct them from the window as women are wont to do.

Nevertheless, some moments later the council president and Marty returned. Perched on the president’s shoulder was a large blue parrot with black markings around beady eyes, and with rather a smug grin on his beak. Even though I like the colour blue a hundred times better than the colour green, I didn’t like that bird at all.

Marty quietly explained that Zack had been found lying dead in the snow, with a large chunk eaten out of its chest. The blue bird smirked as Marty related Zack’s fate.

Like Angela, the white bird vanished entirely from the dream.

When I awoke I remembered the dream in vivid detail and at breakfast related it to the family.

Marty matter-of-factly pointed out that I had been dreaming about our church. Zack represented our denomination; the white bird symbolized the Holy Spirit; and the blue parrot, what we could be left with when the squabbling about “women in office” was done.

Angela, on the other hand, said the dream had a personal meaning for me. According to her, it meant my church activities were for the birds and I should concentrate on my family.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Ten Things I Love about My Grandchildren

or Things I Think I Can Say
Because They Are Not My Children

They are cute.

They are smart.

They are possibly the cutest, smartest grandest kids in the world.

They like playing.

They get excited about little things.

They like playing with me.

They look like other people I’m related to.

They have good parents.

They have parents.

They go to bed early.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Why Is My Husband Standing on His Head?

He's heels over head in love with his grandchildren.

Julianna Langelaar

Owen Langelaar

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What’s a honeymoon?

(written in 1995)
According to a letter we received from the principal at the children’s Christian school, each class would be doing age-appropriate units on family and interpersonal relationships. In other words: sex education was on the agenda.

Sex education at a Christian school comes from a different perspective than at a public school. At the public high school I attended, in grade 9 we learned the technicalities: “Here’s how it’s done; everybody does it, but do be careful and think about consequences.”

At the Christian school, the kids learn sex belongs inside a marriage between a husband and wife.

So when Paul approached Marty and myself with, “I have to ask you some questions about your honeymoon,” we thought this was part of the family life curriculum.

That the interview was really an oral history project was just as well; like our honeymoon, more of it was about our car than sex.

There was the day I navigated us through the heart of Nova Scotia on a gravel trail that didn’t deserve to be on the map. The potholes and boulders sent Elsie, our little green Datsun, to the nearest muffler shop sounding like a diesel. Marty was not impressed. A new wife learns to be very quiet at times such as these.

Then we had the slow leak in the left rear tire. It only let out air if parked in a certain position.

Late one afternoon, heading back to Ontario through Montreal in a torrential downpour, our honeymoon reached a climax. As water splashed up through the floor boards, and rose around our feet; the alternator light flashed ominously. This was after we had already bought a new alternator–not to mention the new muffler, a new battery and a new tire.

Marty slammed his hands down on the steering wheel reciting a few choice words he has since dropped from his vocabulary. In response, the horn cover popped off into the back seat.

Meanwhile, I kept navigating us onto turn-off lanes either towards the heart of the city or to the further reaches of the province. We just couldn’t see the overhead signs through the driving rain.

It was like a bad dream. I wanted to stay in a motel and continue our journey later–much later–after the storm, after the night.

“There’s a motel,” I squeaked.

“We’re going home,” decreed my new husband, the accountant, thinking of all the money we’d spent already, mostly on Elsie. He was as good as his word. Eight hours later Marty carried me over the threshold of our apartment.

“What’s a honeymoon?” Amanda asked me several days after Paul’s interview.

“It’s a trip that a man and a woman who just got married take so they get to know each other better.”

Amanda who obviously had been mulling over the honeymoon concept since the interview, was really disappointed with my answer. “Oh,” she said, “I thought on a honeymoon, you go to the moon and you eat honey or something.” Now there’s an idea.

(More thoughts on Honeymoons)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Montreal Sunday--Worship the Lord with Gladness

This is the cross on top of Mount Royal.
No building is allowed to stand higher than this cross.

According to the dictionary a church is a building for public Christian worship.

Church can also mean the whole number of Christian believers.

Notre -Dame Basilica

United Church on St. Catherine Street

We walked past this church

and this church

and an apartment building that used to be a church.

We looked in this church the oldest chapel in Montreal, Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours.

We worshipped in this church.

We who believe are carefully joined together, becoming a holy temple for the Lord.
Ephesians 2:21 New Living Translation

The 'S' in SPC Doesn't Mean Simple (or Senior)

When the cashier at the shoe store asked if I wanted to purchase a SPC, I asked, "What's that?"

"Oh, it's a discount card. You'll be going back-to-school shopping for your daughter. She nodded at 12-year-old Elizabeth. You can get 10% discounts at all these stores listed. It depends on the store, but most of them give you a 10% off whatever you buy. It only costs $8.50 and you get a $5.50 saving with this purchase, so $3 more and the thing is paid for. You can use it all year."

"Okay, I'll take it."

Later that day I tried to use my new SPC at Zellers. I didn't think of it until I saw the little rack of SPC's for sale on the counter. "Oh, I have one of those, could I use it here?" I said brightly to the young cashier.

"Too late. I already rang you through."

"So, just do it over."

"I need to see your student card."

"I'm not a student."

"This is a card for students."

Suddenly I felt a need to stand up for my rights. My voice grew louder, "I bought this card today. The girl at the shoe store said I could use it at all these stores." I pulled out the list of stores. "She sold it to me, as me." I pointed at my 57-year-old self.

"Well, I'll call the supervisor, but you have to know that this is a student discount card."

"All these items" I pointed at the Tide, the Fantastic, the face wash and the printer ink cartridge, "are for my daughter who is going back to college. She asked me to buy them for her."

"Well, then she will have to pay for them."

"She's not here. I'm here. I'm buying them for her."

At that moment a supervisor stepped in. She listened to the story and decided, "We'll let you use it this time, but you need to go back to that shoe store and get your money back. This is a Student Price Card (SPC)."

I had my $4.75 discount. The card was more than paid for. I apologized to the young cashier. She gave me a 'whatever' look. I slunk out of the store.

I felt like crud. Why did I have to use my righteous indignation for such an unworthy cause? Why do I think of the store as an enemy out to get me?

The next day I gave my SPC to my daughter, the college student. Now that she is going off to school, she'll be doing her own shopping. I hope merchants in Quebec recognize the card.