Ahh, those late-night trips to the drug store. My son has a flaming sore throat and of course, what else would naturally accompany a flaming sore throat but a crucially important test at school the next day? I needed a vat of Halls lozenges and several dozen Popsicles to get him through.

While I was at the counter and the lady was ringing my items in, I glanced to my left and saw a pretty little basket. You know, those baskets they place strategically at checkouts….? Filled with things to tempt: in this case, several crinkly bags of  Cadbury mini eggs. I am not generally rendered weak by chocolate, but it was late, I have a nuisance of a head cold, and the candy shells on those suckers is so…right. I stared at those little bags for a few longing moments. I haven’t been eating any crap these last few weeks, and the cravings haven’t been too bad…and yet, I realized that craving was exactly what was happening to me at that moment. I wanted those mini eggs with the pretty pastel candy coating and the melty milk chocolate underneath. I wanted to eat an entire bag of them, actually.

“Pardon?” said the cashier.

I looked at her and realized I had spoken. I think I said, “I wish I could have those mini eggs…”

She looked confused. “Why…can’t you just…buy some?”

“Oh, I can,” I assured her. “I just won’t let myself.”

She smiled. “Oh…you’re very good. Do you watch Dr. Oz?”


“Well, Dr. Oz says you should imagine yourself eating the thing you are craving. Pour the imaginary mini eggs in a bowl, visualize them, and pretend to pop them in your mouth.”

There was no one behind me in the line, so I picked up an invisible egg (a pale blue one) between my thumb and index finger and popped it gently into my mouth. Let it sit on my tongue and then rolled it around in my mouth. Bit down.

“Nope,” I said. “Nothing.”

She laughed. “Not working, eh?”


“Well, I’ve gained some extra pounds and I started my diet Monday,” she told me.

“Good for you!” I encouraged.

She didn’t miss a beat. ” I ate a bag of Munchie Mix today,” she said. “The whole bag.”

I burst out laughing.

“With about a third of a container of Heluva dip,” she continued.

I laughed all the way out the door. Without the mini eggs.

But I’m not being smug here. Because I have a whole container of onion dip in the fridge….




After wearing my hair long for a few years, I needed a change. I booked an appointment with Dom. Dom is a hair genius. He’s moved salons three times since I’ve made his acquaintance, and I follow him blindly wherever he goes. That’s how it goes with women and their hair dressers.

I’ve broached the subject of shorter hair with Dom before. What usually happens is, he gets this stricken look on his face and mumbles something that could pass for consent. I then leave the salon a few hours later with a bit of a trim and a fantastically high/low-lighted and straightened head of smooth, blonde hair…long blonde hair.

Not this time. I told him straight up. “I’m waking up with long hair caught in my teeth,” I said. “It’s got to go, Dom. It’s time.”

Dom brandished his scissors. Our eyes met in the mirror.

“Sure?” he asked, grimly.

“Let’s do this.”

And the first clump fell to the floor.

I knew right away that I had done the right thing. I did not have the slightest pang of regret. When he was done snipping and spraying and straightening, my hair looked freaking amazing. All weekend, I actually smiled at myself whenever I passed a mirror. It was that good.

When I went to work this morning, I have to say, I got wow’s. I am not a woman accustomed to wow’s. Or beautiful’s, amazing’s, or incredible’s. I got all that and more. I received a steady rain of compliments all day long. I was starting to get a swollen head under my beautiful, amazing, incredible hair cut.

I had a Grade Three computer class at the end of the day. The students sat down in front of the projector screen for their lesson. I received a few more compliments about my hair before I started the lesson. I thanked everyone in a demure fashion. Then Gracie, who had been studying me for a few minutes, piped up.

“I miss your long hair,” she mourned. “Your new hair looks like Dora the Explorer’s!”

All of us conceited starlet types need a little “Gracie” in our lives.

March Woods

March has booby-trapped my favourite trails. When we arrived, the entire parking area was covered in mud and wide puddles–that should have been my first tip-off.  I looked down at my clean runners, and set my chin. I was going to do this. Even without the benefit of wellies.

I wasn’t going to do it fast, however. The main trail leading in was a veritable obstacle course of water and thick mud. The sun beamed overhead, converting what was left of the snow into piles of filthy slush. I aimed for the slush piles, making good use of my walking stick to keep me from slipping. My feet were drenched in short order.

I paused on the bridge. Only short weeks ago, the creek was silenced by its layer of winter ice. The ice was long gone. The water was high, coloured dark brown by silt and muck, and it rushed along beneath me, gurgling over stones. The trails beyond the bridge were easy to pick out–they were covered in slush, and beneath that, a layer of ice. I picked my way along carefully, heaving myself up the slippery hills with my stick. Here and there, along the trails, were patches of new grass, soft and feathery and vibrant green. Birds overhead chuckled and tsk’d. As we neared the church,  a turkey vulture circled above the evergreen branches, casting quiet shadows with its hooked wings. It was cool in the church, under the thick spruce branches. The sun tossed in handfuls of light, and it dappled along the ground, through the dead needles and patches of glittering snow.

The hill leading up to “Lothlorien” was treacherous. I took my time getting up  there and then stood for a while, under the tall pines. The March wind was soughing through the trees. High above, the tree tops dipped and swayed, as light in their dance as heads of wheat on slender stalks, brushed by errant breezes.

Going down into the deeper woods, the trails were blanketed thickly with last autumn’s fall of leaves–all brown and damp and matted by their long winter beneath the snow. The creek rolled past on the other side–certainly not a mighty river, but trying its best to roar, in its own understated way. It did a decent job in its attempt at noisy water.

I think that I appreciate the sound of a running creek, more than beach waves or ocean’s roar. I prefer the intermittent gurgles and babblings of a brook to the powerful, predictable rhythm of crashing waves. Mingled with birdsong and wind in branches, it makes a quiet kind of music that settles into the soul, and buoys it gently along into a tender, new season.

Thomas Newman

A few years back, I went with a friend to see “The Holiday.”  I was captivated by the opening scene, which had Jack Black in his role as a composer, sitting in front of his piano keyboards with his double-screened computers and various other techy equipment. A love scene from a movie was on one of the screens in front of him, and as it unfolded, his fingers moved over the keys and created the music that would accompany the scene.  The score magically unfolded on the other computer screen at every touch of a key. A brief scene, but I would have watched an entire documentary on the subject.

I love movie music.  I will come home from movies and if I’ve missed the credits, I will google the composers and composition titles.  I have many of those titles on my iPod.

Imagine watching a movie with no music. Great story, great actors, great dialogue, great special effects. Without the music, it all goes flat. A good score is what brings the tears to my eyes, the thing that colours in all the nuances and unworded tensions and griefs. The music is what breathes life into a movie. It’s what makes the audience connect.

I think the first time I stumbled onto Thomas Newman was when I watched “The Green Mile.” Even before the opening scene began, the music started–a strange, haunting chirping of birds and queer tinkling of piano keys. Then, a hot day in a cotton field, men with guns moving past in slow motion, calling out in muffled voices,  looking for something…someone.  As the movie unfolded (an incredible story, the kind the sticks to your heart and memory for several days afterwards), so did its beautiful, enveloping score.  The ache of strings, yanking at your heart, an incredibly sensitive orchestration–the kind that makes you remember every sad feeling and lost wish you ever had–even the ones that never quite made it to articulation in thought.

There were other movies, some of them rented. I remember watching “American Beauty” at home, and thinking….”That music…it has the same taste as “The Green Mile” score…” It happened a few more times, and then, it was nagging at me so much that I went to “Bear Share” and plugged in some of the titles.  And there he was, a long chain of Thomas Newmans. He had been the composer in many of my movie favourites, as it turned out.  By the time I saw “Road to Perdition,” I knew him. The dark piano chords and the aching arch of violin strings–it had to be him.  To my delight, I discovered him under water once, when my kids were watching “Finding Nemo.”

Last night, I went to see “The Adjustment Bureau.” There he was again. Just to be sure, I watched the credits over my shoulder on the way out, and sure enough, his name was there, in the customary,  inconspicuous spot near the end. He’s the name the theatre cleaners see, when they are sweeping up the spilled popcorn. 

Thomas Newman is the only composer that I can pick out in a movie score. I could not listen to another person’s score and tell you who it was, but this guy, I can.  His flavour is that unique. I could not tell you what his techniques are–something to do with percussion  instruments that become lyrical, and a mournful kind of longing he squeezes out from between the piano keys and violin strings. This man has never won an Academy although he has been nominated many. many times.  He has been recognized in other venues, and deservedly so.

I love this guy’s stuff!

P.S. Cool side-note. He’s a cousin of Randy Newman.