Posts Tagged With: humor

Everything Will Be Alright: If I remember correctly.

One of the things I miss most about Mom and Dad is their infernal, eternal, and ever-so-clever words of comfort.

Mom:  “Stacey, you’ll be fine.”

(Never believed her!)

Dad:  “A hundred years from now, we’ll all be dead.  So what does it matter?”

(This one had me stumped for a long time!)

Mom:  “Just do your very best.”

(I wasn’t reassured as a child as I didn’t think that would always cut it!)

Dad: ” If they don’t like it – too bad for them!”

(Didn’t get that one at all!)


How I miss their reassurances these days.  It really doesn’t matter who you are or how confident you are – everyone needs a cheer-leader.

I have been juggling and struggling this week to find a balance between work, home-life, Dad’s condo, a visiting German student, and play.  Play-time has never been a priority for me as my family were strong subscribers of the Puritan work ethic.  Work first – then play.  And there is too much work to do to play these days.

Play. For a long time I didn’t understand that word.  I really thought it meant have fun at work.  I think I still do.  And I think a lot of my play is my work.  Others, however, have a more realistic version of what play means… I think.  And I get the impression that play means recreation.  In any case, I am struggling to redefine my definition so that everyone in my family is on the same page.

Anxiety.  This emotion seems to be two emotions attached to each other:  stress and anticipated failure.  I find myself anxious these days about a lot of things.  It happens usually when things pile one on top of another.  I forget to isolate the projects and so they blurr and give me an overwhelming sense of .. anxiety.  Dad’s condo. insurance – moving furniture, marking assignments, making muffins, cleaning toilets… you get the picture.

Comfort.  I long for Mom and Dad’s words, “Stacey, everything will be okay.”.  We offer these words to our children – or we ought to offer these words to our children… but how often do we hear them as adults?  Will everything be okay?  I know, in the long run, things always find resolution.  It’s the process that is sometimes derailing, debilitating, confusing, and frustrating.  But, as fate would have it – there is always a better resolution that falls than one that could really ever be planned.

Yes.  I miss my Dad’s casual, “Don’t worry, Stacey.  You worry too much.  100 years from now… ”

I know, Dad, we’ll all be dead.  Kind of puts things into perspective.

Patience.  Perspective.

Everything will be alright.




Categories: Life After Dad, Life's Lessons, Mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Lobster Tales

I was exposed to lobster tales when I was knee-high to a grasshopper.

I guess Dad’s loyalty to the industry came from his days of patrolling the Northumberland Straits during World War II.  He and his buddies, when on break, would often be invited to visit lighthouses where a feast of lobster would be served.  Some of the lighthouse operators had daughters, and, Dad would explain to me that pilots in those days were considered a pretty good catch themselves.  I guess Dad was no exception.  (He only had eyes for my beautiful mother at that time and so the lighthouse “Dads” were out of luck before they even knew it!)

In any case – it was here where Dad learned the fine art of cracking and consuming lobster.

There was no part of the lobster spared when Dad was through – other than the eyes and the shell.  Even the legs and the material already digested by the lobster itself was “succulent”, as Dad would describe it.

I remember Dad recounting a story about how he and Mom went to dine with their friends Floyd and Francis in Dundas one time.  On the “all -you – can – eat” menu was lobster.  I guess it wasn’t really all you can eat as Dad’s feast was halted after 13 lobsters.

And it wasn’t just the fact that he ate the pre-digested green stuff that had people stunned, it was that he was given everyone else’s carcus with pre-digested material too.  So – imagine at the end of the feast there would be over 20 lobsters waiting for Dad to “enjoy”.

Lobster – which is why Red Lobster was our dining choice after Dad’s inurnment – has been an important meal to the Duff family.  It would be served to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and the arrival of special guests. Of course, accompanying the lobster would be Dad’s home-made wine – the body-builder.

Dad always said the best part of the lobster is the tail – but I’ve always liked the lobster “tales” better.  Grin.


Categories: Duff History, Life After Dad, Life's Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Firsts.. for the Second Time..

Today is the first time ..

  • I’ve wished my oldest son, Happy Birthday, Ben! through a post…
  • I’ve made Ben escargots for breakfast
  • I’ve changed Mom’s recipe for cauliflower soup to suit my health-crazed daughter (that’s also the last time I’ll change it..)
  • I’ve recognized how birthdays, as you age, can be opportunities
  • I’ve been able to catch up on these posts
  • I’ve sat under the gazebo this summer and had the morning dew drip on my back
  • I’ve heard “Dad’s songbird” sing in the garden and not had him try to whistle the tune back to the bird
  • I’ve realized that I’m holding onto Mom and Dad’s condo for sentimental sake
  • I’ll shop for groceries in my 50th year
  • I’ve weighed so much in my life.. other than being pregnant – too much celebrating so far this summer
  • My parents have not called my child on the occasion of his birthday
  • I’ve spelled occasion correctly for the first time
  • I’ve seriously considered my ability to retire from teaching in five years
  • I’ve rooted for a country to win a beach volleyball game (I’ve not really ever been a fan  – just no exposure till now)

But, should I be granted the gift of tomorrow and tomorrow, it will not be the first time..

  • I will enjoy the company of my husband and children
  • I will be served a morning coffee by my husband
  • I will sip my coffee under the gazebo with my husband
  • I will cry over coffee about my parents
  • I will smile over coffee about my parents
  • I will rejoice in my family
  • I will wish my oldest son a wonderful birthday!
  • I will prepared something “odd” for my son to eat as per his birthday request.
  • I wish all of you some very happy firsts – may these bear repeating.

And once again, “TTFN”

Categories: Family and Friends | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Leroy Brown…

Just when you think you have escaped the music you didn’t like – a funny think happens.  A gentle wind breezes by (thanks Alice) and melts the ice so that you can feel again.  I used to “hate” this song.  I used to also hate “Snowbird” by Anne Murray. But – it is funny how music can evoke such emotions to help you rise above your own and appreciate it for another value.  Leroy Brown was one of Dad’s favorite songs to dance to – now, Mom never like it – FYI – but I still remember Dad swinging his arms and feet in tune to this music.  Hope you enjoy – I know I never did until I lost the one who appreciated it most.. and now.. well.. I sang along to it today.   Please don’t hate me. (grin)  TTFN!

Well the South side of Chicago

Is the baddest part of town
And if you go down there
You better just beware
Of a man named Leroy Brown

Now Leroy more than trouble
You see he stand ’bout six foot four
All the downtown ladies call him Treetop Lover
All the men just call him Sir


And it’s bad, bad Leroy Brown
The baddest man in the whole damned town
Badder than old King Kong
And meaner than a junkyard dog

Now Leroy he a gambler
And he like his fancy clothes
And he like to wave his diamond rings
In front of everybody’s nose
He got a custom Continental
He got an Eldorado too
He got a 32 gun in his pocket for fun
He got a razor in his shoe

(Repeat Chorus)

Now Friday ’bout a week ago
Leroy shootin’ dice
And at the edge of the bar
Sat a girl named Doris
And oo that girl looked nice
Well he cast his eyes upon her
And the trouble soon began
Cause Leroy Brown learned a lesson
Bout messin’ with the wife of a jealous man

(Repeat Chorus)

Well the two men took to fighting
And when they pulled them off the floor
Leroy looked like a jigsaw puzzle
With a couple of pieces gone

Categories: Family and Friends, Life After Dad, Life's Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The “A Team”

July 5, 2012

It’s 7:55 pm and we (the angels and I) are all gathered to celebrate our success:  success in celebrating Mom and Dad’s life and our role in helping them to maintain their dignity … to the end.

I asked the ladies to contribute to this blog.  I wish I could capture the conversation live – but they speak too quickly and passionately – so – I ‘m asking that they capture a few words on this blog.  God bless these ladies as they speak… bring it on, girls!

I’ll start with this tag line:  Working with Bill and Paula was…

(Diane)  … an absolute pleasure.   I loved how Paula gave such easy direction and with so much encouragement.  It was so wonderful to be  a part of their journey and before long I began to feel like I was right at home.  I actually felt like I was home away from home.  It felt so good to know that I was needed and appreciated for doing just what came natural.  I can honestly say I always looked forward to going to work.  I remember having feel good moments – like sniffing the coffee beans before starting the coffee in the morning or having special moments sharing from the heart with Paula.

Oh – just a moment – Adrienne’s accusing me of writing a novel.  I’m sitting in a room with 9 other women trying to be serious  and they’re all sharing and I don’t want to miss out on the chit-chat, so this is taking time.  Oh, now there cheering and talking about who driving home!

Okay, back to where I was – I loved working here and the memories I will keep forever.   Bill and Paula’s team of girls is another reason to enjoy work.  I loved sharing and connecting each weekend.   Okay that’s it for me for now.  I’m passing the post to Adrienne.

(Adrienne) This is going to be short and sweet. I really enjoyed working  for Paula and Bill. I really enjoyed the most was having  breakfast  with them and  and talking about the old times .  I sit  here with my fellow angels and talk about  all kinds of stuff.  I finally had a glass of wine for Paula and Bill so cheers  to you guys !

(Ana) No Brandy??? Well Adrienne I must say Bill will always say ” you didn’t make the funny face yet ” as I always sniff to the bottle before pouring it in his glass.  I can still remember my first night working here Paula was offering a lot of food and she even said, “Ana can I make your bed here?”, but of course I didn’t let her do that (grin). I have many more stories to tell but to cut it short to give the girls more space for their lines. I could say I’m so lucky and thankful to be a part of this family and to work with them  Bill who was not only a good employer but a father to me because I stayed with Paula for two (2) weeks but I can say she’s a good mom…I missed you papaold…ttfn

(Heather) Well here it is Thursday night and I have missed my crib game with my Bill . I looked forward to every Thurs. Paula would laugh when we played and sometimes we would say, “there is a skunk coming in the door.”! After seven years I miss you and our games and walks outside around 2 blocks, not ready to get up yet give me half hour more(lol). So you are not gone you are just away. TTFN

(Tessie Frugal) To all the girls that Papa Bill and loving  Mom Paula have…We are all here, talking all the good things happen in our lives.  The most wonderful and great LOVE and help to us most especially after working with their family  for more than 3 years. I can’t say anything today but to say, my family and I say that we love you so much and thank you very very much.You are always in my heart.Tuck Tuck now. To Stacey you are our angel to help us always Thank you very much.

(Dorothee -the youngest)  I’ve only stayed here for a while but it seems like I’ve been here for a very long time… I’m very fortunate to have known Father Bill (what i called him)(grin), I’ve never met Paula but I’ve  heard a lot about her (kind-hearted and pretty). For Father Bill, you will always be in my heart and THANK YOU for being a father like to me, worrying during weekends (shopping too much) BOLOGNA… And THANK YOU BEAUTIFUL STACEY for making it all REAL….. TTFN Bill…

Categories: Family and Friends, Life After Dad, Life's Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Mom’s Computer

Note:  Today’s post is written in my (Stacey’s) voice

t’s the calm before the storm.

I am at home with my family.  Kevin is out picking up a few random things we need for the visitation tonight.  Ben and Katya are still sleeping as they have both been burning the candle at both ends between writing final exams, working their jobs, helping out around the house, caring for me (for which I am so grateful), and grieving the loss of their Poppa.  David is up wearing his house-coat (because I am wearing mine) watching television.

I just finished downloading recent photos of Dad – and Mom (who passed away November 2010) off Mom’s computer.  I was so relieved that Kevin was able to open it as the computer had been locked.  It is most likely the battery was dead – but to me – memories were as good as erased.

Mom’s computer was full of recent images.  There were photos of birthday parties, dinner parties, special events… ordinary days.  And in each photo, Dad was smiling.  And in each photo, Mom was smiling.

Mom’s computer was the testimony to how much a part of our lives Dad was.  He was inside our house, outside our house, apart from the house, singing, laughing, eating, celebrating.

Mom’s computer unlocked history.  Family Christmases, Malloff reunions… oh my goodness.

More recently, Mom’s computer unlocked a world that only Dad and his care-givers knew.  There were no images of his “girls” getting him ready for bed – pouring the brandy, changing into pyjamas, putting on is slippers, preparing his “whistle” so that he could whistle for help in the middle of the night if help was needed, wishing him a ta-ta-for-now, and turning off the light.  But there were photos of Dad well rested, well dressed, and content.

There were no images of his “girls” getting him up in the morning – putting on his slippers, his house-coat, walking beside him as he used the walker through every step, giving him a shower, helping him shave, get his teeth ready, putting on clothes, preparing his “shakes”, sausages, eggs, pills, coffee.  But there were photos of Dad smiling and healthy and clean and content.

There were no images of his “girls” playing cribbage with him (and wondering who was going to skunk whom), reading the newspaper with him, playing cards with him, doing the crossword with him, going to walks with him, talking him to the pool and doing physiotherapy with him, talking with him about God, Mom, and family.  There were no images of him guiding the girls through their relationships, finances, education, and celebrations.  But there were photos of Dad smiling – knowing that he was respected as a person for his wisdom – knowing he had been a Dad when there was no Dad around for the girls.

Sometimes what is not seen is what is more important than what is seen.

Mom’s computer asked me to read between the lines to understand how happily Dad lived with Mom and then, how much happiness the girls brought to Dad through their care and stories.  Dad was not allowed to be sad – he did not want to be sad. He always told me when we talked about Mom, “Think of the happy times”.  He told me the girls helped him live through Mom’s death because they were always happy.

Mom’s computer revealed smiles – happy times.

A picture tells a thousand stories – if you read between the lines.

Thank-you for all you have given to my family and I, girls.  On behalf of Dad, I would like to thank Diane, Tessie, Adrienne, Heather, Mely, Abby, Ana, and Dorothee and all the other wonderful ladies (and Rou) who gave Dad quality of life.  God bless you all.  I am forever in your debt.

Categories: Family and Friends, Life's Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Mrs. Reynolds’ Class

The New Lowell Public School was a classic.  It was made from red-brick, had two wood-burning stoves which needed were used to heat the building in the fall and winter and, most importantly, it was where “Mrs. Reynolds” taught.

Mrs. Reynolds looked just like a Hollywood star and it was my intention when I was young, to marry her.  I think it may have been every boy’s intention in that school.   She was gorgeous.  So, we didn’t skip school.

The school itself had two rooms; in one room were the children attending grades 1 – 8 and in the other were the seniors who were in grades 8 – 12.  There were about 25 – 30 students in each class, which made our school quite large at a grand total of 60 students.  One teacher was assigned to each room and she taught all subjects to all grades.  I guess that must have been a challenge when I think back on it now.  My favorite subject was geography – this bode well for me when I traveled overseas during WWII.  A lot of guys had no idea where they were headed – so I became the “expert” of sorts.  Mrs. Reynolds, in addition to being gorgeous you see, was also a good geography teacher.

I was a good student and, in those days, good students were “honoured” by being able to sit in the seats next to the stove.  Maybe that was the best motivator of all?

During recess we’d play, “Crack the Whip”.  We’d all line up and hold hands at the top of a hill and then run down the hill.  One person would plant his/her feet and the rest would, well, crack like a whip.  We’d of course fall down and roll and laugh… and sometimes cry.

The boys were in charge of loading the stove at the school.  Cliff Martin, who lived across the road from the school, would supply the wood to us.  I suppose it was the School Board that had to purchase the wood – seems a bit odd today that a School Board would purchase wood from a farmer, but that’s what you did in those days.  The wood was cut and delivered and the boys would stack the wood and keep the fire going.

The girls, well, the provided us with a good supply of pigtails.  You see there was a purpose for pigtails in those days – they were meant to be dipped in ink-wells.  I did my share of dipping – oh boy they’d get mad.  But it was all in good fun – and you’d really only dip the pigtail of the girl you liked the most.

I did end up graduating from grade 12 and had to eventually say good-bye to Mrs. Reynolds.  I guess that was a good thing since it afforded me the opportunity to say “hello” to the future Mrs. Duff – my beloved Paula.

Categories: Duff History, New Lowell | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Wine Doctor

We lived in Barrie on Peacock Lane for several years and became good friends with several of our neighours.  To the right was “Jim” the engineer and to the left “Bill and Jenny” the doctors.  We were nestled between two solid families.  The rose between the two thorns – I was the Wine Doctor.

Dr. Bill, one day,  came over to borrow a bottle of whiskey.  I sent it over and also sent over a bottle of my fine wine  – known as “body – builder” in addition.  My wine was very popular – it was made from Welch’s grape juice.  Bill and Jenny  were having guests for dinner that night and they were in a pinch.  The wine doctor came to the rescue.  I  guess they must have enjoyed the wine because they had a great time with their guests!

Jenny knocked on my door the next day with the request to help her make the body builder – I said I’d come over and show her.  She bought the necessary supplies:  Welch’s grape juice, sugar, yeast, and of course water.

I showed her the proportions and off she went.

Bill was at work when I was busy brewing the wine with Jenny.  When he arrived home from work he came in asked his children, “Where is your mom?”  They answered innocently, “She is down in the basement making wine with The Wine Doctor.”  With great curiosity,  Bill came down into the basement only to find his wife and I brewing up a batch of the Welch’s.  We all had a chuckle!

Her wine turned out well – I know because we all toasted to our good health together.. and we all lived to ripe old ages.

Wine doctors are rare birds these days – but my wine aka body builder continues to be the “cure that cures all ailments” these days!

I garnered a reputation of wine maker over the years and had requests from several of my students to save their batches.  With a little bit of magic – which was really sugar – I was able to cure their wines… me… the Wine Doctor.

Categories: Duff History, Family and Friends | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Lobster Air


When Dad told me this story – just a few months before he passed away – I was shocked.  Of all the stories I had heard growing up, this one had been kept a secret.  Maybe it wasn’t a secret but it had certainly slipped into the back files of his mind.  Dad didn’t really think this was a story at all and “It isn’t really worth repeating.”, he said.   Writing the update to the story, I did some research about the Straits and lobster there – found an article from the Toronto Star which puts another layer to the story about lobsters.  Kind of interesting read for those of you who are lobster fans!  (–new-brunswick-lobster-fishermen-fight-for-higher-prices)

“Oh, my goodness, Dad.  This is funny!”  I replied.  I must confess that I didn’t understand a few aspects of the story since I didn’t really put the story into the context of World War II and the fact that fishermen didn’t have access to much needed fuel.  After a few questions and a bit of research, however, this is the story that emerged.  Enjoy!

Lobster Air (in Dad’s words)

Yes – lobster can fly – at least they did in Prince Edward Island during World War II!   Truthfully, the crustaceans were assisted with their flight and it wasn’t that the pilots were particularly welcoming of their aerial hitch-hike either.

We, members of the RCAF Squadron, were on patrol in the Northumberland Straits watching for German Submarines.  The Straits are located between Prince Edward Island and the “Mainland” – mainly New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.  Today, the Confederation Bridge New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island makes the trek between the two locations a little easier.  But, during World War II, the only way to “access” the area was by plane and air surveillance.  Although there had never been sightings in the Straits,  Germans had surfaced and were even so bold as to buy fish in Montreal.  I never did confirm that was the truth, but the rumor was pretty exciting.  Our mission was to criss-cross the Straits to watch for “enemy” subs.  (Funny how some of my best friends today are German.  Was sure is a strange thing!)

The Straits were well known for lobster.  Since my favorite meal was lobster I felt I was not only defending my country, but also my palate!  During lobster season, the fishermen were out in full force – not like today – but still there was many of them.  Since fuel was rationed during the war, the fishermen had to use sailboats to fish.

Some of the pilots – to conduct their patrol- would fly close above the water.  This would make a “slip-stream” behind the aircraft.  This slip-stream would unintentionally (or not) cause the  lobster farmers’ sailboats to tip over.

Oh boy, the fishermen became quite upset but it seemed there was little they could do.. until they figured out how they could retaliate.  When the low-flying pilots flew too low, the fishermen threw lobster up at the aircraft.  Some of the lobsters would become lodged in the wings.  This wasn’t really too much of a problem.  The fishermen felt they had had their “say” and the pilots were still able to fly without hazard.

The funny part of the story happened, though, when the pilots arrived back at base when the pilots took their planes to the maintenance crew for inspection.  The crew were quite surprised to find lobster stuck in the aircraft.  I guess for a while they figured the lobster jumped out of the water.  No one could figure out how the lobsters managed to hitch a ride.

Finally, the story emerged.  The low-flying pilots and their craft had unintentionally become, “Lobster Air”.  I guess we may have been the first to ship lobster into PEI!

Categories: Duff History, Life After Dad, Life's Lessons, World War II | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

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