Monthly Archives: September 2019

I’m Special

Dropped by the Elections Canada office at the County Fair Mall yesterday afternoon to find out how to arrange a mail-in ballot for my mother for the October 21 federal election. We did this for the spring provincial election and it eliminated a lot of stress for us like potentially having to travel to the polls in poor weather or standing in long lines.

Two extremely efficient and pleasant women greeted me. All I had to do was give them my mother’s name and mailing address and they would arrange for a voting package to be mailed to her. We were done in a couple of minutes and I stood up to leave.

The woman who took my mother’s information asked me if I would like to vote. I thought she was asking if I intended to vote, but she said she meant I could vote right then and there. I had time, there was no one else in the office, so I gave her my ID, she consulted a computer list, and handed me a ballot.

It was a blank ballot, with just a line on it, no names or little circles to mark. She directed me to the standard white cardboard screen voting booth. Taped to the inside was a list of the four confirmed candidates for my riding in alphabetical order. I was to write the name of my choice on the ballot with the little pencil that was in the booth.

I wrote in my choice, exited the booth, folded the ballot, placed it in an envelope, sealed that envelope with one of those wand-like water-filled sponge envelope sealers, placed that envelope into another envelope, which I signed, dated and sealed, and placed that envelope in a ballot box.

Interesting to note that nominations only close on Monday, September 30, so there is a possibility someone else will come forward before that date. As the four candidates on the list represented the main Canadian parties, I can’t imagine I would have changed my vote anyway, but it is too late to worry about that now.

I wondered afterwards if voting this way would be possible for someone who couldn’t write, for example, but it seems as though Elections Canada has addressed this and many other potential challenges already, and have developed excellent materials that can be shared to educate people on the many accessible voting options.

Steven voted as well, and as I waited for him to finish, the other woman showed me the ballot package she had prepared for my mother. Once the printed ballots were ready, it would be popped in the mail, my mother could vote, and we would either drop her envelope in the mail or take it into their office.

It kind of felt like an “only in PEI” type of thing, very loose and easy, but now that I look it up they were following Elections Canada guidelines for a special ballot.

While many people in the world face huge barriers to casting their vote, I was made to feel like my vote mattered, that accommodating me was the most important job those women had. How lucky we are.

Your Smith

The night after the 2016 presidential election, the world already seemed off-kilter. I had carved Hillary’s logo into our Halloween pumpkin that year, for cryin’ out loud, this wasn’t supposed to happen!

Jacked and hijacked.

Full Frontal With Samantha Bee that night saved me from descending into a chocolate coma. They had booked a young singer to perform in honour of the first female president of the US, but instead it became something else.

That singer was Lizzo. Watch her performance here (only 229,578 views as I write this? I’ve watched it at least ten times!). She was as joyful and proud and positive then as now when she is at the top of the charts. I sang “Good as Hell” all day every day for a few weeks, as my patient husband can attest. (Aside – “Good as Hell” was on Graham Norton’s Saturday show this morning as a pick from the Radio 2 New Music Playlist for this week, even though the song is from 2016. “Truth Hurts” was from 2017, but it just topped the Billboard Hot 100 list, so I bet Lizzo Inc. are hoping “Good As Hell” will have the same kind of luck second time round.)

In getting to know and love Lizzo, I found a catchy song she did in 2014 with Caroline Smith,“Let ‘em Say”, a fundraiser for The Women’s Foundation of Minnesota. Then I fell in love with Caroline Smith! Look closely at the video for Smith’s 2013 song Magazine and I think Lizzo might be dancing in there, too!

Caroline is now performing as Your Smith. Last year she released a couple of great singles, Bad Habit (“I’ve got a bad habit of living rich on minimum wage”) and the Sheryl Crow-y The Spot (this live version makes her look like a DJ, especially with the Stevie Wonder “Do I Do” sample mashed in there, but that’s a new side of her to me!).

Last week she released the Wild Wild Woman EP. I especially like “In Between Plans” (Joe Janiak’s guitar work reminds me of Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsay Buckingham) and “Man of Weakness” has a great Paul Simon vibe. The video for that one is a handheld one-take! 

I hope she can grab the same rocket that her old Minneapolis pal Lizzo caught and ride her way to the top…if that’s what she wants, of course. Now on tour with K. Flay, go go go!

Keynote Magic

One of the MacOS updates knocked out my copy of Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 a couple of years ago. Instead of paying for another MS product, and seeing as I seem to live in Apple world, I decided to try to figure out how to use Pages, Numbers and Keynote.

Except for never having figured out the keyboard shortcut to centre text in Pages (I don’t think there is one), these apps do all I need to do. It’s an MS world for most people, and I collaborate on a lot of documents by times, but “translating” to MS versions mostly goes smoothly.

I gave a presentation at the Inspire Learning Centre in Summerside on Tuesday at the invitation of EPSI and wanted to up my game to match the neat A/V equipment they have in their Key Family Room. My last MacBook Pro had an IR function that allowed me to pair the remote from our AppleTV to use as a presentation remote, but my newer 2015 MacBook Pro does not have IR, so I’ve just always used the keyboard/trackpad.

I started to look for a third-party solution, but of course Apple makes it simple. I downloaded Keynote onto my husband’s iPad (my Gen 2 iPad won’t play this game!) and easily paired it through Bluetooth with Keynote on my MacBook so I didn’t have to worry about wifi passwords. I could preview the next slide, read the notes and prompts, click to the next slide, and it worked perfectly.

p.s. The Inspire Learning Centre has what looks like a self-serve online booking system if you are ever looking for a room to do something in Summerside. Library staff say high school students will book some of the smaller rooms for group study, and craft and community groups use them as well. The library staff are patient and helpful, and they even have a Thunderbolt-to-HDMI dongle!

Ernest Insists on Cashmere Stockings

I’m preparing a presentation for tomorrow evening, the third one I have given this year on the general topic of “I’m saving and sharing stuff and you should, too!” The first two talks were in my Tyne Valley/Ellerslie neighbourhood, but this one is in Summerside, so I am switching it up a bit.

I’ve just added a clip from audio interviews I’ve done over the past few years with my mother, Vivian. She was raised by her paternal grandparents, Ernest and Eva Hardy, after her mother died in 1927 when my mother was four. They had already raised eight children, including my grandfather, Wilbur, their oldest child. How good it was of them to take on my mother and her younger brother, Edgar, so that Wilbur could continue to farm and make a living.

Eva and Ernest died long before I was born, but I have heard so many stories about them from my mother and her aunts and uncles that I feel like I remember them. The act of telling stories about someone keeps them alive. Many of my memories are not of things that happened to me but of things I’ve been told so often they are now mine.

I especially love this story about Ernest as it make him sound like Matthew Cuthbert off to Carmody for puffed sleeves! My mother was 91 when this was recorded, and she has been every bit as generous as her beloved grandfather.

Ernest Buys Cashmere Stockings
Ernest and Eva Hardy, Freeland, PEI

6 Days, 3 Hours and 30 Minutes Later

Starting at around 7:00 p.m. this evening, a nice crew from Ontario Line Clearing in Coburg cut the huge old spruce tree and branches that came down on our power line on September 7 during post-tropical storm Dorian. By 8:45 p.m., a line crew had our power reconnected. I thought we would be without power for a couple more days, but these hard-working people really came through for us. Thank you. I’m happy to put the generator to bed for a nice long rest.

Zimbabwe, PEI

Top Internet searches across Atlantic Canada today will probably be for terms like “Dorian” and “what is an emergency kit again?” as we scramble to remove potential outdoor projectiles and gather supplies as a hurricane speeds northward.

The trend bots might note a strange blip in the area around Tyne Valley this morning as those who knew Dr. Joyce Madigane awaken to the news that former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe has died. You didn’t need to know Dr. Madigane well or for long to find out her feelings about her former countryman. She wasn’t a fan, to put it mildly.

I remember one of the last conversations I had with her in 2013. Mugabe must have been in the news for some outrageous thing or another (there were too many to recall), and I had asked for her thoughts. She told me what a hero he had been as a freedom fighter against white rule in Rhodesia, and lamented that his intelligence and boundless energy had later been used to oppress those he had fought to free, all while enriching himself and his family. She said wryly that he would outlive us all.

He did outlive Dr. Madigane, who died in 2014, so she didn’t get to see him unrepentantly resign in 2017 (or the sweet deals he and his family received for him stepping aside). She was too kind and professional to ever wish anyone ill, but I can’t help wondering how she would have been feeling today.

Never Too Old

Just watched Never Too Old for the second time, a CBC documentary about Olive Bryanton, who studied older women in rural PEI for her PhD thesis. It was a moving viewing experience for me as I have watched my mother and her contemporaries navigate the challenges of growing older in place. Olive is an inspiring person.

As it happens, we had two of the lovely women who were in the documentary here to visit my mother last week, Ruby Cousins and Olive’s aunt, Lois Brown. I was able to ask Ruby if she bought the vehicle she was considering in the documentary (spoiler: she did buy a vehicle, just not that one!). Lois is a veteran of the Second World War, and she and my mother were both members of a “Lady Vets” group that used to meet on PEI. They travelled with author and historian Katherine Dewar, who is collecting stories from women veterans for a book and was following up on an interview she did with my mother last year.

I love many things about this beautiful island, but the way we are all connected to each other is a constant source of delight!

Phillips Brown Cousins Dewar
Vivian Phillips, Lois Brown, Ruby Cousins, Katherine Dewar – August 30, 2019. Rarely does someone leave my mother’s house without a treat; these ladies got a blueberry muffin and a bag of chocolate chip cookies each, and a gumdrop cake to share!


Moving my site to WordPress from RapidWeaver has been pretty smooth. I know basically nothing about coding, but thankfully lots of smart people generously share what they know and I can copy it (always cautiously, as not all advice works in all situations).

I’ve just played around with the comment function thanks to these folks:

How to Change “Leave a Reply” in WordPress from Jason Artman at

How to: move or remove the “Leave A Reply” link in the Twenty Twelve theme from Stefan Johansson.


It used to be called a 5-in-1, and now some upgrade it to a 9-in-1, but the uses for the handy painter’s tool really are infinite. Cleaning a paint roller with it will change your life, I promise.

Yesterday I used mine as a handy edging guide while painting our boathouse, and also to nudge a little green bug away from wet paint.