Author Archives: Crystal

The War on Christmas

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Adding a natural challenge to this year’s last minute Christmas rush – mother nature blanketed us with 2 inches of ice.  Power was out all across the grid -many folks burning candles and wrapped in quilts for an entire week … Continue reading

Don’t be Afraid to Ask….

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Kids are curious.  It is a natural thirst for knowledge that we will eventually beat out of them by answering good questions with “Because I said so” or “Stop asking so many questions”.  This natural curiosity has given me content … Continue reading

“F” Perfection

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I long to see a perfect world Where all life’s ailments are cured and we are all true to our word and the lines between right and wrong are not blurred. But what’s perfect for me is not perfect for … Continue reading

That Friggin’ Computer Had it Comin’

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They said computers would make our lives simpler.  They said computers would change the way we work.  They said we would not be able to live without them. Bull. Today I had to fill out a form.  Sounds pretty easy.  … Continue reading


For years I have had the honour of being on the Board of Directors for the Green Wood Coalition in Port Hope.  I am extremely proud of the work the GWC has been able to do in helping many within our community who struggle with basic needs.  I also had the pleasure of making some acquaintances and friends who have had a major impact on how I view the world.  I met Sue at Green Wood.  Sue has since passed away, but she had a very special view on life that taught me humility and acceptance.  Sue would tell you that she was not poor – she was just less fortunate than others.  Words are powerful in their impact, and Sue’s words never left me.  They inspired me to try to enlighten others.

I miss you Sue.


The Journey from New to…….. Obsolete

It was a proud moment.  It was a fleeting moment.  I must be getting old.

We were very happy with the purchase of our brand new Sony SLR digital camera.  It was a masterpiece of technology.   Being the responsible owners and significantly lighter in the pocket, we were going to take very good care of our new baby.  We knew it was going to last us a long, long time.   We had images to capture of our growing children, our insane pets, our wondrous travels, our renovation projects, our fine collection of caught fish and our sports accolades.  We would be able to download, upload, share, and oogle our pics for years to come.

My old pre-digital age dinosaur of a camera was also a Sony and it travelled with my through 19 countries on 3 continents.  It was a constant and trusted companion.  It had a long and colorful life right up until it fell off the roof of a mud hut in Dionobougou, in Mali Africa.   It was fortunate that I could somehow  manage to put the thing back together again and baby it through the rest of my fabulous trip through Africa.  And, if the thing had not suffered such a dying blow, I could still walk into a photo shop and purchase film, get this film developed and created a scrap book to show off my photographic talents.  Not to say that I want to go back to those days.  I love this new technology where, for no extra cost, I can snap off 1000 clicks hoping to capture that one great shot – with no development costs.  I do miss those anxious moments when we used to await the development of a film, sometimes months after the first picture was shot, hoping that the one special picture actually turned out the way you wanted.  But I prefer the instant gratification of knowing I got a good shot while I still have the opportunity for a retake.

I loved my old camera.  I love our new camera.  New!  It is now about 7 years old.  And it still works like new, still looks like new.  The pictures, snapped at random and without restraint, are saved on a memory card that we used to just plug into our computer for instant downloads. It was so easy on the good old days – a few months back.

And then….. our old computer died.

Our new computer does not have a slot that takes this now massive storage card that accompanies our camera.  Crap.  Bill Gates has standardized what I will call death by progress.  Objects now become obsolete long before they become non-working.  We know that every time we buy anything driven by technology, we are buying products that are out of date even before they hit the shelves.  We have created a throw away society that looks not to longevity or quality as these qualities are actually frowned upn by todays tech savvy buyers.  Who needs that iPhone to last more than a year or so, because we want the new one when it will come out in just a years time.  We judge people not by their strengths and weaknesses, but by what phone they carry.  (Can you believe poor Jenny – she actually has a flip phone.)  No cool kids carry Blackberry Bold, the LG, or even the iPhone 3.   Only a dweeb would carry around an iPad after the mini came out.   I heard a gang of kids talking about beating the crap out of another kid becasue he was still on dial up.  Hmmmm.

And so… family and I just returned from a really great trip to Washington.  We took loads of pictures.  Great pictures!  Perhaps even award winning pictures!  I would love to share some of these pictures with you right now.  But alas, I cannot.  That 7 year old SD card is obsolete.  It is no longer supported by new technology.  And rather than asking why we cannot just keep this technology alive, we as a people ask why I would want to keep such an old camera.  Get a new one, a better one, a smaller one.

BUT I DON’T NEED A NEW CAMERA.  Mine is working great.  It feels like an old friend in my hand.  I like it.  It is deemed obsolete because we have allowed Bill Gates and the sellers of technology to alter our natural common sense.  We have become puppets to the large sellers of technology and slaves to the system they created.  I want it to stop.  I want control over my needs.  I want to download my pictures.

I cannot change the tides.  I like my new gadgets as much as I like my old gadgets.  When I get a new computer, I expect it to be miles better than my last one.  I never want to go back to dial up.  I love my tablet.  I need my Blackberry.  When my iPod was stolen I did think about how great it would be to get a newer one.

And so…. can anyone recommend a great camera to me.  Looks like I need to go shopping.  I gotta get me one of these beauties.

The Neighbour and the Crock Pot

Several months ago, we had new neighbours move across the street from us.  Brian and Sherry are the the kinds of folks we clicked with right away.  Brian is ever willing to lend a helping hand.  Sherry was the first to offer a hug when my father-in-law passed away – even though she hardly knew me.  Seems we all enjoy a good laugh, have similar values and are ever-ready to play little jokes on each other.  All in good humour and harmless of course.

Well…. last weekend, Marc went away with our youngest to a hockey tournament.  They organized a pot luck supper the one night up there, and Marc took our well used crock pot and all the fixings for a beef stew.  The stew was a hit, so I heard.  But this story is not about the stew, or the hockey tournament, or even about our lovely neighbours,  This story is about my husband’s journey with the crock pot.

I love my husband.  He makes me laugh.  He compliments my style and he makes my life complete.  But this crock pot episode has left me truly concerned about his mental state.  Read on and tell me if my concerns are unfounded – or if I need to call in the professionals.

Now, like I said, I love my husband.  But we all have our faults and weaknesses.  For example, Marc claims I snore.  Admittedly this seems to be true.  Marc, like most men, does not put cleanliness at the top of his priority list.  So…. after making a wonderful and hearty stew for the team, the thought of actually cleaning out the crock pot before he packed it into his truck was somehow foreign to him.  He is pretty specific in telling this portion of the story – as it has a lot to do with his subsequent claims.  He claims he placed the internal (and by now crusted with dried stew remnants) ceramic pot inside the external warming devise and then placed the lid on top of it – when he packed it in the back of his truck.  He had several witnesses to this fact, but oddly none of the 11 year old boys seem to recall the exact packing procedures of this said crock pot.  In fact, most of them failed to register any memory at all of the crock pot or its packing details.

When Marc arrived home (remember this is the love of my life) he unpacked the bare essentials.  That would be the alcohol.  Temperatures are dropping and we don’t want to put any alcohol at risk.  I think all you women  have similar stories of this skewed version of priorities.  All the guys are saying “Yeah buddy – you did good.”  And so the crock pot remained in the back of the truck.  The next day Marc drives Ethan to the arena, and mentions to me that the oddest thing happened.  Someone, it seems, has stolen the ceramic pot and the lid from the back of his truck.  Now, I have been married to Marc for a long time, and I have a pretty good idea what the back of his truck looks like after going to a hockey tournament and not yet being unpacked.  So, I did not waste any time going to have a look.  I was pretty sure that, as items slowly made their way from the back of the truck to their permanent homes, the missing insides of the crock pot would be discovered.  I was just hoping this would happen before we had a warm spell – but being December in Ontario, we had several months leeway.   I did not, however, offer Marc support for this stolen crock pot theory.  I mean, really, who steals the unwashed, crusty, disgusting insides of a crock pot.

Marc went about trying to solve the mystery.  He knows he had the insides when he packed it up.  That was Sunday night.  He notices on Monday that the insides have been stolen?!?  The truck was at the arena, at his work, and in our driveway.  Seems to be a local criminal.  Hmmmm.

Tuesday night he drives Jacob to his practice.  The external portion of the crock pot still sits in the back of his truck, sans ceramic pot and lid.  He will swear on a stack of bibles about the truth of this rendition.  (My question is more along the line of “Why is the truck still not fully unpacked”, but it is still too early to bug him about that – his procrastination can often be measured in years, so a few days is hardly worthy of thought.)  So, he leaves our house with an empty crock pot base.  He drops Jake off at the arena; he joins a buddy for a beer at the local pub; he picks up Jake and brings him home.

About an hour after Jake and Marc arrived home, we found ourselves all downstairs at the same time.  Jake mentions to his Dad that the crock pot seems to have been reunited with the base.  Marc rips out to his truck and confirms that yes, indeed, the base has been returned.  Now he wonders, who steals the dirty insides of a crock pot and then returns.  I ask if it is still unwashed.  Seems it is. For those of us who possess any form of sanity at all, we can easily deduce that the ceramic innards have been in the truck the whole time.  Jake may have found it and replaced it back in its logical spot, or more likely, it has been there the whole time.

Well now, there is an even more unlikely mystery to be solved.  This new development points to a devious, dangerous and criminal mind.  We are no longer dealing with a one time prankster.  We are dealing with a serial prankster.  He had to get to the bottom of it.  I decided to play along.  Well, I said, it has to be our new neighbour Brian.  Yeah, he yells.  There is no doubt in Marc’s head that Brian is the culprit.  He even laughs a bit at what a great gag Brian has pulled on him.  No doubt.  He got me there.  That was a good one.  Hahahaha.  What a guy that Brian is.

Then he starts planning how he can get even.  Wow.

Jake pipes in with a small piece of sanity.  He reminds his Dad that the base was missing when they went to the arena.  Then Marc drove to the pub – back to the arena and then home.  The truck was not parked in the driveway to allow Brian the chance to return the stolen morsel.  Hmmmmm.  Hmmmmm.

But there was no straying Marc from this mental path.  He had solved the mystery and Brian was the culprit.  He figured Brian either followed him to the arena, or followed him to the pub.  Had to be.

Okay, now I am really starting to worry about the mental stability of my husband.  Brian does not know the town yet.  I bet he as no idea where the arena is.  I know he works very very early and also tucks himself in very very early.  Did Marc really think Brian gave up his beauty sleep, followed him to the arena – just to return the insides of a crock pot he stole 2 nights before.  Come on!

No amount of sane talk could stray Marc from this line of deduction.  Brian, dear sweet Brian, was the guilty party.  He had to pay.  And in the spirit of one-upmanship, it had to be a good one.

Sorry Brian.

I tried to talk sense into him.

He needs professional help.

In the spirit of Christmas, just let sleeping dogs lie.

I am pretty sure we are going to have to seek some clinical help for my husband.  I don’t think he is a danger to society yet, but he is walking a thin line and it is only a matter of time before he completely loses it.  Until we can get him the help he needs, the kids and I are being very vigilant around the house.  We make sure the cap is on the toothpaste, the dishes are put away in the correct location, the toilet paper roll comes out on top and the alcohol remains hidden.  Wish us luck, and please, if you know where the crock pot lid is, just keep it.  I am afraid the mere sight of the lid will trigger a recurrence.

What Happens In Vegas……

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Okay.  I have travelled a bit in my day.  You know…. Rome, Athens, Tofino, Cape Breton, Nepal, India, Tanzania, Burkino Faso, Zambia……  But can someone please tell me what the hell is going on in Vegas. If I were to … Continue reading

Alan John Cranch

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His father affectionately called him AJ; his wife called him sweetie; my children called him Granddad; my husband called him Dad; I called him Alan. October 2, 2012 – the world lost a great man. I know this site is … Continue reading

With Age Comes Wisdom?

It seems another year has come and gone.  I grew a year older, but not sure if I also grew a year wiser.

It got me to thinking that age and wisdom are not necessarily inter-related.

I often use the adage, “With age comes wisdom.”   Look at this genius.

I have an immense amount of respect for my elders.  I personally think that my German grandmother was a very wise lady.  She had the wrinkly face to match her quiet personality, and yet she had an aura of happiness and acceptance.  She was non-judgemental, even though she had lived a life harsh enough to cast judgements.  She was silent at times when I would have been yelling. She suffered in her long life, but she never spoke of her suffering and chose to appreciate the little joys life provided her, like the exquisite bloom of a peony or the sweet aftertaste of a fresh raspberry.  I loved her dearly and knew, without question, that she was a wise wise woman.

And so, as I grow older myself, and add a few more wrinkles to my own patina, I always expected I would naturally age with the grace and wisdom that befell my grandmother.  Unfortunately, after reviewing my own existence, I have to admit that wisdom is not a natural side effect of aging.  Wrinkles, on the other hand, seem to eventually find us all.

Age.  As I have aged, and become a wife and mother, I have viewed life through eyes less self-centred.  Don’t get me wrong.  I lived a full and fun life in my single years.  I spent years trotting around this globe experiencing cultures very different from my own upbringing.  I spent years thinking only of myself and maximizing the amount of fun I could fit into every single day.  I spent years doing whatever the hell I wanted.   In this phase of my life I still believed that with age came wisdom.  You see, I was still too young and reckless to know any better.  It was not until I had the pleasure of watching my children grow, that I began to re-assess this age = wisdom thing.

My 13 year old son, who can one minute break into contagious laughter whenever and wherever someone passes gas, can also bring back the naivete that all the wrongs in this world can still be fixed.  My ten year old son can come up with ten simple strategies for avoiding world wars, and ten reasons not to eat his broccoli.

The well-aged past-leaders of Syria, Libya and Egypt have recently shown us that the age=wisdom rule is very fallible.  Meanwhile young people around the world fight for the right to be heard.

“Twenty years ago, a 12-year-old rocked the Earth Summit in Rio with a plea to world leaders to get serious about saving the planet. Her name was Severn Suzuki, and today, she hands the torch to another young’un, Brittany Trilford, 17, who will address the leaders of 140 nations as the Rio+20 Earth Summit finally gets off to its official start.”  Ms. Suzuki and Ms. Trillford have much to teach our esteem and learned (old) world leaders.  I do wonder though, that if as Severn and Brittany grow older, will they too fall victim to the acceptance that they cannot change the world.  Will age lead them away from the path of grace and wisdom.  I too used to believe that world peace was possible.  I too used to believe in humanity.  I too used to speak out on issues I have long since accpeted cannot be changed.  So – what is age bringing me if not wisdom?

Aging gracefully – not gonna happen with me.  I actually get through many days now planning my old age.  I am going to be a purse wielding maniac.  I plan to swing this purse without prejudice and without remorse.  I plan on getting even with all those who I have had to offer polite responses to insane requests.  And I plan to get away with it by labeling myself a “crazy old lady”.  I can’t wait.  It is going to be soooo much fun.

But then I remember my grandmother emitting a peaceful grace after a life of hard living.  I think of my sons who still believe in humanity.  I think of Mother Teresa who asked nothing of anyone and accepted a position in life than any other person would have avoided at all costs.  I think of Severn and Britanny who just might change the world.  I think of my own childhood where I fought for womens’ rights even though I was just a girl.  I remember telling my children that they can lead through example.  Was I lying to them?  Can one person change the world.  Again – look to Mother Teresa.  Of course one person can change the world.  And, even if we cannot all be like Mother Teresa, we can make the world a little better.  It was Mother Teresa who said “If you cannot feed a hundred people, feed just one.”

But then again, we can’t all be saints.  If you want to know how the story ends with me, you can place your bets and take a seat and wait it out.  There is no real way of knowing if I will get any wiser, but I know with certainty that I will get older.  Bummer.