Hey peeps

Uh oh!

I am in the process of moving Pollie Ponders to a new server

and…

it’s not as EASY as I thought it would be!

Please bear with me while I work through the problems!

I promise I’ll be back soon.

Meanwhile go follow me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/paulineclark 

on Twitter as @PollieClark and on Instagram as pollieclark.

Till I’m back…happy days to you!

Pauline (aka Pollie)

Writing about friends in warm places

I wrote before about meeting a certain couple in Vallarta two years ago. Do you remember that?

You know this is where I’m going to tell you about it again, right?

Here’s how that meeting went down:

We’re standing on a corner waiting for a city bus to take us out to a restaurant called El Rio. You can see El Rio here. Sure it’s somewhat “Americanized” but it’s still fun and the ribs are fabulous! Check it out if you ever go to Puerto Vallarta.

So anyway, we’re waiting for this bus except I’m over looking in a store window and Gerry, who always talks to strangers, starts talking to this couple.

As I said, Gerry always talks to strangers. He actually comes up with some pretty strange facts about people.

I’ve been saying for years that I want to start a website called, “Gerry talking to strangers.” And you know what? Someone beat me to it. Seriously. Check out Humans of New York. Now, don’t get me wrong; I LOVE HONY (that’s the acronym for Humans…). The guy, Brandon, has two books out and he’s done some seriously good humanitarian stuff through the people he’s met AND helped. I can’t see that “Gerry talking to strangers” could ever be that powerful but hey, one never knows. Yeah, I should put that site further up on my “to-do list”. What do you think?

2015-03-01 15.28.15
Us with Don and Karen in Puerto Vallarta 2015

So anyway, we’re waiting for that bus and I hear Gerry calling my name and I look up. He waves me over. “Guess where these people are from?” he asks. I shrug.

“Port Huron, Michigan.”

“I told them we were from the Sault, then said not really but they wouldn’t know the place but then I said Thessalon, and this guy said his wife’s family is from there.”

Coincidence? Yes. But it gets better.

Gerry asked who their family was. Because you know how we are in a small town. We KNOW everyone. (And if we don’t, we make it our business to find out.) So anyway, the man said to Gerry, “Karen’s aunt was a lighthouse keeper there.”

And of course, Gerry said, “No way! My wife wrote a story about that.”

And the man, Don, said. “We saw that story. That was our nephew she interviewed. He sent us the article.”

How funny is that?

So anyway, it turned out we were going to the same restaurant so we ended up going together and dining and visiting together for the afternoon. Don took my email and we said we’d get in touch sometime.

And a couple of weeks before we went to Mexico last year, we got an email from Don and Karen. “We’re going to be in Vallarta for most of February. How about you?” We only had one overlapping day but we hooked up for brunch and caught up on things. We also met Don and Karen for lunch last summer when we passed through Frankenmuth and it looks like we’re going to meet up again in Mexico in February. We’re friends on Facebook and Don and Karen may be coming through Thessalon on some sort of vintage car tour in late spring.

Isn’t it funny how things happen all because a certain someone talks to strangers. Every time I voice that out loud, I realize again how it’s such a great concept for a website. Now I’m not claiming it’s a truly original idea. They say that no story is original–there are 7 or 8 basic plots. I suppose it could be said of newspaper stories too. The ideas aren’t original. It’s just how they’re presented that becomes different.

After all, I’ve long been inspired by reporter David Johnson of the Lewiston Morning Tribune who used to write a column called Everyone has a story. Fully believing that to be true, Johnson would randomly phone people up from the phone book listings in the newspaper’s viewing area and talk to them to find their story. HONY does the same thing by approaching people on the streets of New York and Gerry Talking To Strangers would be another version of that same thing.

I suppose in a way that’s what I already do with the feature articles I write for the Sault Star. I don’t randomly phone people up. Well, not blindly anyway. But I do keep my ears open and when I hear unusual things, I jump at it and try to get the full story. My recent article on Shirley Seabrook came about when I went to get a copy of her prize-winning short story she’d entered in the Stories in the North Short Story Contest. When Shirley told me about how she’d been writing since she was a young girl, I knew I had to tell her story.

I love telling those kinds of stories so never be afraid to share one with me. “Anonymous” tips are also welcomed.

Anyway, if you’d like to read my original lighthouse story, go here. And if you’d like to read a story about my travels in Mexico go here. And here.

Right now, I’m finishing up some scheduled work projects including two more upcoming Sault Star features. I’m trying to clear my desk as we prep for another visit to Mexico where I’m pretty sure I’ll find myself a story. Or two.

And even if I don’t, Gerry just might when he’s talking to strangers.

Do you talk to strangers? What unusual incident or connection have you chanced upon just by striking up a conversation with someone you didn’t know? And if you’re feeling brave, tell me, what’s YOUR story?

Working when life (and death) get in the way

Some mornings I wake up early.

Some mornings I stay in bed a little longer. It’s not like anyone’s going to notice if I don’t start working until 8:30. Or 9 a.m.

But back to those mornings when I arise a little earlier. Those are the mornings when I wake up with a start and for just a minute, I think I’ve heard my brother’s car. But it’s not him. And it won’t be.

Because he died. And I’m finally finding a way to get past that and get back to work.

me and steve as toddlers

(Me and my brother Steve as toddlers)

Have you ever had that happen?

Something disrupts your life so much that it’s hard to get back into the routine?

You’re sad. Your concentration is nil. You don’t feel like talking to people.

The mornings are the worst for me. On most weekdays, my brother stopped by my house for morning coffee. That was our routine. It was a ritual and after he left, I’d get to work.

Sometimes his visits would only last 5 minutes. He had things going on. Sometimes, when I had lots of work to do, it would feel like hours. But always we’d have coffee and talk. We’d share news and gossip. We’d talk about our workday and solve life’s problems and sometimes we had crazy discussions. And whatever it was we talked about–or didn’t talk about, I guess it worked because we’d both be ready to get on with our day by the time we finished our coffee.

I miss reading him the quotes of the day that arrive in my email every morning. Steve would store some of those quotes in his head – “to use later” on his buddies, I suspect.

There were mornings we’d sit quietly. I’d be checking email. He’d bug the cat. Sometimes he was a little hung over from too much drinking the night before and I’d tell him so. “Don’t act like my mother,” he’d say. Other days when he tried telling me what to do, I’d tell him, “Don’t act like you’re my husband.”

A few weeks before he died, for various reasons Steve stopped coming for coffee. He’d still stop by for a brief minute or send me a text message but he didn’t come for coffee. He’d done that before. Stopped coming. Trying to get an earlier start on hot summer days or maybe we’d had a little tiff…whatever…it wasn’t that unusual that he’d not be around so much for a few weeks. That was Steve. I always knew he’d return.

Except this time he didn’t.

Loud. Silly. Funny. Annoying. Helpful. Obnoxious. Stubborn. Sentimental. Mostly he was just my brother. We spent most of our lives around each other. We shared friends and teachers and secrets. We held hands in the dark when our father died and I consoled him on more than one occasion when a girlfriend broke up with him. I drank beer with him when he was in a wheelchair after a truck accident and snuck out with him after his stag.

The ashtray he used to use—he was the only one I still let smoke in my house–still sits on my counter by the sink. The coffee cup he liked to use in the mornings is stuck in the back of the cupboard but every so often it comes out and I remember.

I still think about him in the present tense. I think I’ll give the leftovers to him. Or I’ll wonder if he needs anything at the grocery store. The sound of a car racing a little too fast down the road sounds like him. A song on the radio reminds me of his rock band days.

Running into one of his friends brings him back. So does the price of scrap metal. Pork hocks. And Crown Royal. Our cat when we’re going away and we need someone to feed her. Little things. Every. Single. Day.

I don’t want to forget and yet I try to forget.  Especially first thing in the morning. Because that’s when I feel it the most.

Damn, I miss him.

I wrote this right after my brother, Steve died unexpectedly on September 24, 2015 but was unable to click “publish” till now. I’m finally getting fully into work again and although the pain has lessened, I still miss him. Should I be thankful I’m self-employed and was able to lighten up on my workload when I needed to? I like to think so. It’s hard to fathom why things happen but they do. Carrying on with living doesn’t make us bad people. And it doesn’t mean we don’t still ache. We just learn to deal with it.

How have you dealt with bad things in your life and carried on? Have you had to make yourself work when it wasn’t in your heart? What tips do you have to offer to others trying to get it together? Please share your thoughts in my Comments section.

Making those New Year’s Resolutions happen

I’m taking a look back at 2015.

Along with that, I’m taking a look ahead to what I want to happen in 2016.

In 2015, there were good things and bad things. In both my writing and personal life.
For the first half of the year, things went well. I suppose this could be said for most of us.
I was working lots in the writing world, between being managing editor of a magazine and doing other freelance work. My other “love” job is the work I do for That White Paper Guy; a bit of administrative work, a bit of social media and a bit of writing. It’s all good.

Laptop and various paper

Using an old cliche

See, life was good. Then it got worse. By the end of July, things went bad. Actually, to use a cliche; they went from bad to worse.

I found out my editor’s gig was about to end. The magazine I worked for, Our Homes Sault Ste. Marie, was ceasing publication. And the next day my brother-in-law passed away.
I ended up with house guests (not that I’m complaining–I love them all!) and went into extended holiday mode. One might say for practically the whole summer and on into September. Shhhh. Don’t tell.

I finally gave my head a shake, decided I had to find some more work to replace what I’d lost and just as I was coming out of it, my brother passed away.
That sent me into another few weeks of company, mourning and then I think a bit of depression. We were just 11 months apart in age and even though I’m a full grown adult, it was a hard blow. He’d been with me my entire life.

By December, I was ready to pull out of it. I still have this underlying sadness but I suppose I always will. I’m still here and need to get back into things. But alas, the holidays arrived. There went that idea.

Looking ahead to 2016

And so, here I am at the beginning of January rethinking where I’m going and where I want to go.

Do you by chance have an easy plan for how to do this? I suppose the first step is to cut the excuses. It is what it is and it’s now or never. You only live once. Use it or lose it. Life is full of cliches, isn’t it?

I’m one of those people who is inspired by the new year. It makes me feel refreshed. Renewed. And if I set some goals and don’t complete them all, that’s not a bad thing. If you never have goals, you aren’t going anywhere.

So as I work towards a new set of goals, I’ve been reading articles all over the internet and ingesting more information than I can wrap my head around.
I’ve been devouring online courses, mostly on SEO and copywriting. (Check out www.udemy.com and www.moz.com) Now, I think I’m a bit obsessed with SEO and plan to study it even more. I’ll need to try put it to work on some personal sites maybe. Or find a client.

Making a new website

To that end, I’ve got a pre-paid VISA in hand, a gift from my dear husband to pay for web hosting for my new professional writer’s website. I’ll probably go with bluehost.com for hosting and I’m building my own WordPress site with a free theme. It’s actually quite easy once you know how.

I may even get my writer’s group to critique my site if I can get it all done by end of January.

Get support from those who understand your world

    I think it’s pretty important to have support for everything you do, whether it’s making a new website, writing a book or just going to work everyday. Support is good.

  • The people in my writing group are the people who are most invested/interested in my life as a freelancer. They totally get it and that makes them an important part of my goals. I think when one of us is successful, the rest of us are a little more inspired to believe it CAN happen for all of us. Support networks are good. If you want to read more about how important other professionals think support is, check out this recent article on the AWAI website.
  • I’m also awaiting the arrival of my new Passion Planner which is going to help me focus, set goals AND be creative at the same time. Because of course, you know, I’m also a scrapbooker and run a scrapbooking business too. I suppose if the planner doesn’t do all those things, I can make it look pretty and artsy. Do you use a planner?
  • I’m also ready to start reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It’s a book I’ve heard recommended by scrapbookers, writers and everyone in between. It remains to be seen if I declutter. Along the way, I’ve got a whole list of self-help books. I “read” that if you read 10 pages a day, you’ll read something like–well, I forget how many books it was, but it was a lot. So send me your best business self-help book titles.

And now blogging

I was actually a little shocked when I realized I’d only done six posts in 2015 on this blog. After all, I was blogging when blogging wasn’t cool.
Six posts?
It felt like more.
I’ve had a blog since 2001. You didn’t know that? See, that’s BAD SEO. I’ll work on that. Anyway, you could go to the original blog at www.pollieponders.blogspot.com to see how I started. But really, don’t bother. The blog was pretty amateurish. It was almost like a newsletter but I had a little fan base. I think I moved it over from Yahoo Groups or maybe I moved the blog content to Yahoo Groups. Either way, I was doing stuff that was pretty new at the time and if I’d put a full-hearted effort into it and really worked at it and marketed it, I might be pretty much famous now.

It’s time to make more money

So now, here I am, seeking more money. By doing the work I like to do. Like writing. Except now I not only want to write; I want the money jobs too. And there IS money in writing. I’ve been writing for long enough, you’d think it would be easy. But I have to change directions a bit and now we’ve got so many more things than just sitting at a keyboard and writing. As a writer, you have to keep up with social media and web presence and SEO and hashtags and stuff like that. Do you find it challenging to work as a writer today?

There’s just so much information to take in.

Finding the time to write

I’m sure I can find enough people in the world who will agree that I’m a decent enough writer, maybe even a pretty good writer. And in my online search for information, I’ve discovered the demand is only growing for businesses to have good writing on their sites and in their promotional copy.

I can do that. If you’re a business, I can do that for you.
I can also do your social media, help with email tasks etc. And I can do it in your voice. No posting embarassing content because it’s not something you’d say. I figure out who you are and what works for you. And with an in-depth look at SEO, I can provide valuable tips on getting your name out there. So if you’re a business looking for a writer, let me know. I can help.

My 2016 goals

    1. Find a couple of great writing gigs. Ideally something I’ll be able to continue to do over a few months near a beach in Mexico in a few years. But if they happen to be short-term clients, that’s fine too. I believe knowing HOW to write and HOW to tell a story is as important as knowing the subject.
    2. I’ll keep on hosting scrapbook retreats.I host day and weekend retreats and organizing such events is a passion. These events are like playtime for me. Not because they are easy–though they are to me–but because they are so darned fun. So I’ll keep on doing them. And writing about it too. So if you need a writer who knows about things like hosting and planning events and basically working in the hospitality and retail world, that’s me. See how it all comes together?
    3. Be a professional blogger.I’m not there yet but you know what? I like this blog. It’s like a personal journal. When I said I only did six posts last year, I need to confess; I only PUBLISHED six. I have a whole bunch more I wrote and never published. Some, I never will. Some, I may go back to. Either way, the blog won’t be on my professional writing site. But I’ll keep it around. What do you think?
    4. Get really good at SEO. Continue the fascination with Twitter. Make my Pinterest make sense–to me. In a professional way. Take fab photos for Instagram. If I could go back to school, I’d study Social Media. For now, I’ll still study it but it’ll be through online courses (mostly free for now) and tutorials and by following other social media experts. If you’ve got any recommendations, send them my way.

And so that almost caps up my goals. Except for this…

field of snow

I want my year to be like this.
And even if I do all the stuff on this list, I hope I surprise myself.

How about you? What are you resolving to do in 2016? Be sure to tell me in my Comments section.

All I want for Christmas…

5 things on my wish list this year

It’s funny how your needs change as you get older. At one time, there were so many things you might want for Christmas but then one day you stop and realize you have practically everything you want. Or need.

Almost.

I bet you’re wondering where this is going. So let me assure you, it’s not one of those spiritual, inspirational posts about all the good I want to see happen in the world.

photo of macbook computer on table

Oh no. This is a list of things I found that I would like after all. And they all relate to the internet in some way.

So here they are, in no particular order:

  1. A Mac computer. That’s right. I’m ready to switch. Of course, I’ll have to keep a working PC around because my tax program isn’t Mac-compatible. But there you have it. I want a Mac. A laptop. With a big screen. Go big — or stay home, they always say. So I’d pick a more expensive model–with a big screen.
  2. I want a new website which I think I can build myself. Unless of course, someone wants to pay a really fab designer several hundred dollars to create one for me. But no. I don’t care about the professional design so much. However, I will need a theme. I’ll probably take this one at GeneratePress which is free unless someone wants to pay for the upgrade. I need other things first though. Like hosting. A year would be good. Three years would be awesome. A recommended place (at least the one recommended as easiest to get going with a WordPress website is Bluehost. I already have a domain name. So that’s it. And I’d get hooked up with a professional writing website.
  3. I want to play. In that respect, I want to be enrolled in this class: Wanderlust 2016. And if not that, then this: Sweet Paul Makerie. Now trust me; Sweet Paul Makerie is about 10x the price of Wanderlust and that’s not counting the money to get there! Maybe not lodging either. So I’d go with the first class. The one that’s a year long, online. If I were shopping for me, that’s what I’d get.
  4. On a slightly more economical level, I’d take some of the books on That White Paper Guy’s list. I don’t have any of the ones from the first three sections so any of those are a safe bet. And, yes, I work for him. And maybe it’s a little blatant promotion but seriously, these are GOOD books. For a lot of people. Some of them, even if you’re not  a writer.
  5. I’d like a new Canon lens. Of course, that’s stretching it for my Internet category. Unless you count that I’d use it to take photos for my new website. Or for Instagram. Or maybe Pinterest. But I don’t know what lens I’d want right now anyway so maybe I should trash this item.

At this point, I guess I’m stretching things so I’ll stop my list. As you can see, there’s not a lot I really want. And the things I do want are all related to my professional life. Which kind of makes them not so bad. Right?

And about those other things. The spiritual, inspirational things. I do wish for all those things too. In fact, I wish for those things every day, all year long. That way it frees up my Christmas list for things I remember I might want. If anyone’s buying.

What are you wishing for this Christmas? Tell me in the Comments section. But be serious. None of that inspirational stuff.

My carrot grater and what it’s got to do with writing

 

Have you ever had a kitchen tool –or any other tool for that matter–that you just couldn’t part with even though  you know it’s seen better days? 

carrotgrater

That’s how I am with my little carrot grater.

My tiny handheld carrot-shaped grater has seen better days. It’s carrot-top is almost ready to snap off from years of use.

The grater isn’t an expensive item and I’ve had it for a very long time. Probably more than 30 years. I think I won it as a prize in a shower game and I’m pretty sure it was at my own wedding shower. I suspect it was purchased at a dollar store–or what some of us might have called “the five and dime” store.

So about the carrot grater.

It’s small.

It fits in the utensil drawer and it’s always easy to grab. And use. And clean.

Don’t you hate those graters that have 20 parts to them?

I have one of those. I root around in the “Tupperware” drawer to find the cover and then the base. I have to assemble it to use, then clean it. And of course one part of it is NOT dishwasher safe so I have to watch my spouse (and in previous years, my kids) like a hawk to make sure they don’t put the wrong part in the dishwasher. (I know…world problems, eh?)

My electric chopper is no better!

I have to stand on my head to find it pushed back on the shelf in the bottom of the cupboard. Then I have to search somewhere else for the blade because someone (spouse?) didn’t put it together when it was last used. And there’s the whole cleaning issue again. “Which part goes in the dishwasher?”

The carrot is so easy.

Really. That’s why I like it. It’s one piece. One simple little piece that I can stick in the dishwasher. I can also just give it a quick wash by hand because it’s one part. It doesn’t matter!

But as I said, it’s a dimestore grater, and after 30+ years, it’ getting fragile.

I’m going to have to replace it soon.

I bought a new grater from Epicure Selections. It’s two pieces, the blade and the base. The first time I used it, it went into the dishwasher and that is okay. Sort of. The next time I went to use it, I could only find the base. A few days later, I found the blade on the bottom of the dishwasher.

There’s nothing wrong with it otherwise. It grates okay. I was worried the fine blade would be too fine but it’s not bad. I was even thinking I should try the grater without the base. If that would work, I’d at least have just one piece to keep track of.

And I bought this one.

grater

I picked it up at a yard sale for .50. Why? I can tell already that I am going to HATE keeping track of all those parts. But I’ll try it.

When I don’t use my carrot.

Old habits die hard.

It’s hard to change our habits. Our likes. Our dislikes. And whether they’re little things like carrot graters or bigger things like career choices, it matters to us.

Take my career; I’ve been a freelance writer for so long. I say it’s over 20 years but really, I’ve been telling the stories of people and their lives all MY life.

Now I’m working towards changing what I write. I want to write for business. I’m over the thrill of seeing my name in print. Now I want to see it on the cheque.

There’s so much more money in business writing. If I’d gotten into it years ago, I’d probably be making six figures by now.

I’m working on it.

To that end, you might notice a change in the slant of my blog posts and my Twitter account and perhaps in my other social media accounts too. I’m probably going to try tie things into my working life and see how things can relate.

And I intend to be at home writing the kinds of things I should have done years ago. Because I can tell a great story–and people need good stories, even in business.

So if you know anyone that could use a really good writer for their business; for their newsletters, blogs, websites…whatever…send them my way.

Hey! If you know where I can get a new carrot grater, send that my way too, please.

Have you ever had something you couldn’t part with? Have you ever had a hard time making a change? Share your thoughts in my Comments section.

#TBT: What’s in a name?

I’ve been watching everyone playing with #TBT (Throwback Thursday) for a while now and was trying to figure out how I could participate. I decided it might be fun to go back to some of my old articles. Let me know if you enjoy it!

Here’s one that first appeared in The Sault Star, Saturday, April 18, 2009. 

What’s in a Name?

by Pauline Clark

Why do so many people in Thessalon have nicknames?

It’s a question we lifers seem to hear from visitors and newcomers to Thessalon. And though it sounds a bit silly at first, if you really stop and think about it, it’s a good question.

Take a look at some of the nicknames around town and see if you agree.

You might wonder how the term nickname even came about and it’s a simple story. The word comes from an Old English phrase “ekename,” which literally meant additional name. Over time, the phrase “an ekename” somehow saw the syllables divide incorrectly and thus, the phrase became a nekename or, as we say, a nickname.

But back to Thessalon and the long list of nicknames found here. Some go way back and are still remembered even though the individuals passed away a long time ago. You may never have personally known “Singing Sam” or “Moose” St. John or “Doc” Smith, but you’ve likely heard those names before. And surely you’ve heard about “Neighbour”Miskimmons, who got his name for his “Howdy, Neighbour” greeting to anyone he met.

whats in a name photo

(Couldn’t find my original photo so this is a photo of The Sault Star. Here’s how it read: “These Thessalon men are all better known by their nicknames. (Left to right) Richard “Beanie” Brown, Ken “Grinch”Greer, Jim”Pinger” King, Don “Muskrat” Siemens, Tom”Timber Tom” Robinson, David “Bunker” Boyer and Roger “Hawkeye” Coventry.”

Some nicknames reference what one does for a living.

Paul “Purolator Paul” Dupuis is familiar to most area residents though Dupuis says the name actually came from Max Foster and was actually “Percolator Paul.” By now, you might have guessed Paul works for Purolator Courier.

Tom “Timber Tom” Robinson is a recently retired truck driver who once hauled lumber. He’s also a pretty big guy and, though many will speculate his monicker comes from either of those, they’re wrong. Robinson says he was given the name by Sam Mortimore for the way he used to drive his snowmachine.

“I was always in the bush–in the timber,” he says.

Some names come about because of a resemblance to someone.

Phil Rickard spent many years being called “Bentley” by his coworkers at Midway Lumber because of his resemblance to the late actor Paul Benedict, who played Bentley on the TV sitcom, The Jeffersons.

Some nicknames make reference to a person’s characteristics and are sometimes sarcastic — and may even be considered rude.

Gary “Handy” Quinton says his ability to adapt to different jobs at work resulted in him being called “Handy”more than 30 years ago. His son, Gary Jr. “Dewey,” got his name because of his sweating at work.

Handy’s brother, Larry “Smiley,” smiles all the time. And that name has been passed along to his son, Larry “Smiley” Jr.

“It was our co-workers giving those names out,” says Quinton.

Like the Quintons, there are other whole familys with nicknames.

Take the Marin family. Elaine Sweet, one of 18 children born to Helena (now 93) and the late Willy Marin, says their father gave them all names and, though some stayed within the family, many became permanent names.

Andre “Picky” got his name after throwing wild cucumbers at his siblings.

“They were all mushy and . . . picky,” says Elaine.

Then there’s “Jughead,”whose nickname might be an adaptation of his real name, Jean Guy. Geiven “Porky” was short and chubby and the late Arnold was nicknamed “Papoose” for his diminutive size and dark curly hair.

Ron “RockBass” got his name while fishing on Cockburn Island and sister Liette was more commonly known as “Peanut” when she lived in Thessalon. And “Bang Bang’s” crib banged against the wall as he rocked it, earning him that handle that is still used by some of his friends, as well as his mother.

Sometimes, whole families have the same nickname. Take the family of Phillip “Gus” Grisdale. The senior Gus and wife Shirley have eight sons. They’ve almost all had the nickname “Gus” at some point.

First born was “Sonny,” who’s really Gerry and has answered to “Gus.”

Of course, Peter is called “Gus” so much at work that few people know he’s actually “Peter”– which isn’t his real name either. It’s actually William, and Peter only came about after an uncle (“Coozie” Belisle) referred to him as “Little Pitou.” Pitou somehow became Peter and it stuck.

Then there’s Rodney, who is also called “Frog”– or “Gorf,” according to his brothers.

Jeff is probably called “Gus” the most and says it started when he played hockey in his teens.

Youngest brother Richard did pick up the name “Little Gussy” from Jeff’s friends, but it didn’t stick as much.

Brother Steve was also called “Gus” sometimes, while Curtis got the nickname “Blacky” and Phillip was best known as “Chink.”

Jeff’s quick to reveal that their two sisters also had nicknames — Anne was “Scrag” and Bev, “Snake Eyes.”

Of course, Gus Sr. reveals that his nickname was originally “GooGoo” — a name he was even called by his school principal, Mr. Coulter. Eventually it got shortened to “Gus” and wife, Shirley, speculates that it may have derived from the first three letters of Grisdale which, when written longhand, can look like “Gus.”

And finally, Phillip Jr. has a dog that he named — you guessed it–“Gus.”

The McColman family also has a long legacy of nicknames.

James “Cap” McColman spent his life on the water, which earned him his nickname.

His sons include Sherlock “Socky” and David “Bunny.” The nicknames to the next generation with such handles as “Slippery Jim,” “Dey Dey,” “Terrible Ter,” “Haywire” and another “Bunny.”

Women aren’t exempt from nicknames.

There’s Clara “Poochie” Scheuermann, named by her Uncle “Johnny Wine” (he was so named because he liked to drink).

He also nicknamed her brother Percival “Boxer” Anderson, and sister Noreen says it was because “Boxer” liked to have his fists up.

Doris “Muffy” Fowler says her nickname came from her French grandmother, who called her “ma fille.”

Eventually it got changed to “Muffy” and though teachers in school called her Doris, her friends and family called her “Muffy.”

It’s a name that’s endured throughout her life.

Muffy also has three sisters. Two of those are Francis “Pete” and Hilda “Steve.”

“Pete” was derived from “la petite” while “Steve” was derived from a French phrase, petite vieille dame, that may have translated into “little old lady” and eventually became “Steve.”

Rosemarie “Paste” Wonch tells her tale of wearing a dress to school for the first time in Grade 8 to which classmate Mark Howard told everyone to look at the “pastry legs.”

“The name stuck. It got shortened to ‘Pastry’ and now it’s just ‘Paste,’ ” she laughs. “My name (Rosemarie) was up on the seniority list at work once and no one knew who it was.”

Paste also has a sister, “Buzz.” Though her real name is now Donna Fahrer, she was once mostly known as “Buzz,” a name she got because — as her sister tells it — she talked “real prissy” when she was young, so her siblings would mimic her saying, “Bzzzz, Bzzzz, Bzzzz.”

Eventually she just became “Buzz.”

Jim “Pinger” King earned his nickname back in about 1953 when he was a 16-year-old hanging out in the pool hall.

“Every time I got a ball, I’d say, ‘Ping,’ and then everyone started calling me ‘Pinger,’ ” he said.

“Pinger” isn’t the only one in his family with a nickname. Son Mike has been known as “Shadow,” a name he earned from shadowing in sports. Pat “Dumptruck” got his name while playing ball in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

When his teammates wanted to go for a beer and he was too young, they told him to go play outside with his “dump truck” while they went for one. Another son, Darren, who passed away a little more than a year ago, was fondly called “The Big D”– especially by his nephews and other young friends of his own sons.

Animals are frequently used in nicknames around Thessalon.

There’s been Moose, Mouse, Bear, Muskrat, Beaver, Bedbug, Grasshopper, Tiger, Seagull and Crab, to name a few.

Don “Muskrat” Siemens doesn’t even know how he got his nickname, though he knows it was in grade school and speculates that it came from classmate Jeff Bailey. A brother, Pat, now deceased, was known mostly as “Pedro” around town while another brother, Dale, was once called “Cookie.”

Gary “Hoot Owl” Goodall got his name during what he calls his partying days. He was sitting in the back seat of a car, leaning over the front trying to hear and repeatedly asking, “Who? Who?” and the driver, Webb Seabrook, told him he sounded like a “hoot owl.”

He says a co-worker asked him once — after about two years — what his name really was.

Today, it’s been shortened to “Hoot” and he says even his

employers will call and ask for “Hoot.”

“My son, Lucas, ran across some of my old friends who said they knew me and they started calling him ‘Little Hoot’–I guess he might carry on the legacy,” he says with a laugh.

Dennis “Sparky” Wardell inherited his handle from his father, Ron, who was called

“Sparky” for his mechanical skills. Dennis picked up the name from his friends when he was a boy, and it’s stuck. His brothers have also been called “Sparky” at times.

“Last fall, my nephew Cody told me he’s getting called Sparky, so I guess the name is going to carry on,” Dennis says.

Gerry Clark, who has been called “Barney” as was his own father by some friends, says he didn’t know his dad’s name was Byron until he was an adult.

“No one ever called him that . . . ever,” he says. “I thought his nickname was “Spitty” and his name was Barney (Clark).”

Some nicknames came about because of specific incidences.

Roger “Hawkeye” Coventry says he wanted to see the German Luger pistol Ron McLeod had at his stepfather Lawrence Chagnon’s place.

“After they went out, I found it and took it all apart and checked it out. They came back and caught me and Ron said I had a real “hawkeye” to be able to find that gun where he’d hidden it,” he says.

Ken “Grinch” Greer says he got his name when he was a teenager. And though he alludes to fishing lures, he won’t say any more. Regardless of the reason, “Grinch” is a name that he’s kept.

And Doug “Mop” Whitfield also got his name in his youth. He speculates it was in about Grade 8 when classmates Mike Lang and Mike West started calling him “Mop,” most likely for the long locks of hair he had.

David “Bunker” Boyer got his name from fellow hockey player Bert Marin when he was about nine.

“I had an old army bag for a hockey bag that said Bunker Hill on it and he started calling me ‘Bunker’ from that,” he says.

Richard “Beanie” Brown was much younger when he inherited his name. It came from his father, Harvey. He says it may have come from the cartoon, Beany and Cecil,about a boy and a dinosaur.

“I guess I must have liked that show though I really can’t remember now,” he says.  “I’ve just always had the name as long as I can remember.”

So there you have it. Along with Yakker, Boomer, Goober, Bush, Newfie, Squirrelly, Scrappy and Ace, there’s also Tootsie, Lala, Birdie, Fuzzy and Beeg.

The list goes on and on and you’ve probably come up with someone who you think should have been mentioned in this article.

Maybe Thessalon should look into inventing a category for nicknames for a world record. And be careful, you never know when someone’s going to stick a name to you that ends up sticking, adding you to this never-ending list of Thessalon nicks.

—end—

So there you have my #TBT contribution. Have you got any nicknames to add to the list? Please be sure and leave your comments in the Comment section of my blog.

Me in an oversized t-shirt

My T-Shirt Remodel

Does one “remodel” a t-shirt?

If so, that’s what I did.

You know how those boxy men’s t-shirts are? Certainly NOT flattering to someone that doesn’t need any added bulk!

But the t-shirt in question is one that I just need to wear once in a while…like tomorrow when the torch for the Pan-Am Games comes through town…and various local groups stand together in support.

I’ll be standing with Stories in the North but I dreaded the thought of wearing this t-shirt. I like the t-shirt fine enough–it’s got our Stories in the North logo on the front and our website address on the back. It’s just the style of the shirt.

See?

Me in an oversized t-shirt
But I’d saved something on Pinterest a while back. (If you want to see it, go follow me (www.pinterest.com/polliec) and check out my “Things I Need to Make” Board. The original I’d seen was on this website. I don’t think it’s active any more.

So I grabbed my scissors–the ones I keep in the package that says, “Mom’s Sewing Scissors–Do NOT Touch!–and I began to snip.

First…
2) snip the bottom
…the bottom. I was just cutting it below the seam to help keep the shape but I went back later and cut about 3 inches off as I really didn’t like the length. Hopefully it will hold up.

Then…
3)snip the sleeve
…I cut the sleeves, at an angle. I cut about an inch out from the underarm and angled up to the top edge. I ended up cutting this a little shorter at the top too. But better to do a bit and then adjust. Right?

And finally…
4) snip the neck
…I cut around the neck, just below the neck band. I may go back and trim this a wee bit more to make a wider neck opening. It’ll be cooler. Some of these t-shirts are SO hot. This is a good way to make it a bit cooler.

Once all the snips were made, I gently stretched each area to make the fabric roll up slightly.

Here’s the finished product…
5)thats better

So, tell me. What do you think?

As if?

As if I haven’t posted on my blog since December.

As a writer, that makes me ashamed.

I’ve thought about it. But what could I say? What would be of value? What would you really want to hear about?

How much I hated winter?

How much I loved Mexico? And want to winter there and wonder why I live somewhere cold when I could just as easily live somewhere warm and vibrant and…happening.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cuWVhHzuxRc&w=420&h=315]

Check out this little video from Mexico.

We’re so horrible at video but you learn a lot when you do a few…in other words, we’ll get better. It still sounds good so…enjoy.

I’ve got another video of a fellow making a Caesar salad from scratch. It. Was. Amazing. And to think I said I didn’t like anchovies….that salad was so good. I should go watch the video again. Anyone want me to post it?

How busy I was when I got back because I’d neglected my tax customers and overextended myself with writing commitments.

I did this in The Sault Star the week I got back.

And this in The Sault Star the following week.

And I had to scramble to get this latest issue of Our Homes Sault Ste. Marie & Algoma together!

Plus I’ve been doing some behind the scenes B2B work with That White Paper Guy. (Click on Blog and scroll down a few posts to see my post on stock photos.)

And spent a little time having fun with Stories in the North hosting this event. Incidentally, I update their blog and Facebook page too.

I also did The Scrapbook Room’s Spring Crop which involves posts you’ll find here on The Scrapbook Room’s Facebook page and on the blog here.

So now I sound like I’m bragging. Which is better than complaining. Right?

Anyway, life gets in the way or perhaps it’s jobs that pay as opposed to taking time to do frivolous posts on my personal blog. I do still like doing them though.And I DO intend to!

One more thing that gets in the way: social media. But I love, love, love it. I love the internet. I love how much there is to read and learn. I find myself engulfed in everything and I wish I could just devour it all. I should actually share some of my favourite finds over the course of a week. Anyone into that?

For example, I was just all set to read an online magazine I came across. It’s called Scrap n’ Art. Alas when I clicked on an article, I must subscribe. But hey, it’s only $2.00 per month. $2.00? Are you kidding me? I must go subscribe. Now.

See how easy it is? I get lost in the web and I forget to blog.

But I promise (again) to make more of an effort. And If I don’t do so well, you can find me at any of those other links I’ve given you already!

So what do you think I should say?

What would YOU like to read?