Tag Archives: humour

What Do Women Really Want? After Valentine’s Day Thoughts…. Linda Knight Seccaspina

What Do Women Really Want? After Valentine’s Day Thoughts…. Linda Knight Seccaspina


What Do Women Really Want? After Valentine’s Thoughts….

Linda Knight Seccaspina

I’m not anti-love, in fact I watch an average of 5 Hallmark movies a week. I thought Valentine’s Day was romantic when I was in Grade 1, but by the time I got to Grade 3  it seemed that it was nothing but business transactions between the card and chocolate companies. In fact for a couple of decades I decided I didn’t need some popular opinion to tell me what my wants or needs would be for a man. In fact, I had a list. Yes, I had a list and I remember it well.

In the grooming department I wanted no dirty combs growing bacteria in some back jeans pocket. Of course that would be the rule only if the fella had hair. Lessons on “wipe-downs and aim” would be needed, and green things growing in a toilet bowl were not usually the mark of a real man in my mind.

A  generous supply of toilet paper must be available, and stocking the bathroom with paper towels from the gym, gas station, and other such places was a no-no. Pants should not be considered portable hand towels. Having many empty spools of toilet paper scattered as kick-toys is not a big turn-on for many women. Reminders should be mentioned frequently that if there is no toilet paper in the house your sheets aren’t really clean. Also, I would prefer no mockery at all about the 18 bottles of hair products I have in my bathroom.

In his home, decorating floors is not really an efficient shelf. Retro is not cheap furniture, and using a mattress or a futon on the floor?  Listen, if you’re old enough to bend over to change the sheets, you’re old enough for a big-boy bed. In the retro theme of home decorating, Lava lamps are not making a comeback. Black light went out in the 60s and 70s and that spooky velvet paint-by-number on the wall does not make the entire room come together. Even if he passed the test there was a bottom line. If he has a collection of action figures, he better have a law or medical degree, or better yet- a substantial trust fund.

Real dishes in the kitchen are important to me as I don’t care to eat out of containers and use plastic cutlery. (Please note that these rules changed once I was older and had a  big crowd over)  Obviously, a restraining order and messages from your ex-wife on the answering machine are particularly unappealing to me either. If you disagree with some of these maybe you don’t really want me as a girlfriend or wife, and just be thankful you have that internet connection!

Love should not be complicated– but it is. I’ve had my share of doozies and I’m sure I was a real piece of work to some of my dates. The world is a mess but I’m glad my Steve is in it even though we did have to have a chat about his use of plastic cutlery and paper plates in his kitchen. Since there was no taxidermy anywhere on the walls, I gave it a pass.

A few years ago at the local Heritage dinner a beautiful diamond ring from Burns Jewellers was the big ticket. I joked with Steve that if he won, he was going to have to get down on his knees and ask me to marry him for a second time. He might have passed the list, but he had never gotten down on one knee and popped the question. That was still a stickler on my imaginary list that one might blame the Hallmark Channel for.

Sadly we did not win– but a good friend did. I was thrilled for her– but what did she do? She put the ring down on the table and told Steve it was his. We were flabbergasted, just flabbergasted, and I think I was in shock. In front of a capacity crowd at the Town Hall Steve got down on one knee and asked me to marry him again. I could not stand up, I was completely frozen.There in the middle of Carleton Place on a cold winter’s night in February I got my Hallmark moment.

In my confusion I did not realize Father David was there and we could have done the marriage roundup a second time right then and there. When I mentioned it to the good padre after the fact he said,

“Well, we’ve still got the parking lot!!”

My lists are gone forever and I laugh when I think about it today. The thing is: you should love your special guy or gal all year long, not on one

day, and get rid of the lists. But, you can still  buy me discounted chocolates the day after Valentine’s. You have to admit that nothing is hotter than a bargain!

See you next week!

Trying to Put Humour Into Being Sick –Linda Knight Seccaspina

A Town Founded by Women and Gossip

There was No Shortage of Wives in Carleton Place

It Wasn’t Raining Men in Carleton Place!

Funny Friday — “Look Mac, That Ain’t No Moose” — 1966

Funny Friday — “Look Mac, That Ain’t No Moose” — 1966

CLIPPED FROMThe Ottawa CitizenOttawa, Ontario, Canada08 Jan 1966, Sat  •  Page 83

THIS is a story of valor. It is the strange but true story of a Hereford bull, a photographer and me. But to fully understand our brave act we must first go back to that day in November when I was called into my boss’s office. “Jim,” he said, “sit down. I have a job for you.” “Great, Chief,” I said.

“We are in the middle of the hunting season again,” he went on, “and at this very minute the woods are alive with amateur hunters who don’t know the difference between a moose and a cow. They keep shooting horses and cows and even themselves to prove it.” “Sure, Chief,” I said. “Well, Jim, you are going to get a cow and . . .” “A COW!” I said. “… or a bull, drive up to northern Ontario, put it on the roof of your car and drive back,” he said. “You should get some great reaction and prove my point.”

And that’s how it all began. That’s why, at the height of the deer and moose season, thousands of people saw Kingston photographer Fred Ross and me driving around with that animal on the roof. Before proceeding further, I think it is only fitting to extend sincere thanks to all those people who saw us; they were a great help. To those who called our passenger a Hereford bull, our compliments. To those who believed it was a moose, we say nice try. To that man in Peterborough who agreed we had been right in cutting the antlers off our deer so we wouldn’t scratch the paint on the roof we say . . . Sorry, I’m afraid we still can’t think of a thing to say to him.

We put the show on the road or, if you prefer, the bull on the roof at Sudbury. The beast, as you have’ surely guessed by now, had passed away. He had been, in case you haven’t guessed, in the trunk of our car, all 400 pounds of him. Our original plan had been to hoist him up on the roof with a block and tackle but it was cold in Sudbury and snowing. It being Sunday, we decided to let somebody else do the heavy work. We pulled up to a service station and I told the attendant what we had and what we wanted. He thought he might be able to help. “But I’ll have to check with the boss,” he said. I followed him inside the station. “George,” he said, “they have this cow …” “Bull,” I corrected…. in the trunk and they wanna put it on the roof.” George looked at his man and then he looked at me. “Bull he said. “Bull,” I replied. “Sounds like a job for the Cannonball,” he said. Cannonball, George’s big, powerful tow truck, handled the job with ease and we were soon headed south with the bull up top.

We knew we had a winner as soon as we met the first car. We were moving slowly and it slowed down when the driver saw us coming. There were five people in the car and, while we could not hear what they said, there was only one word on their lips: COW. We pressed on. By the time we hit North Bay hundreds of motorists and pedestrians, many of them hunters, had displayed some of the greatest double-takes you have ever seen. So we figured it was time to stop. Ross parked the car in front of a Chinese restaurant on North Bay’s Main street, went in and ordered something to eat. I stayed behind and pretended to secure the ropes. In no time at all there was a crowd around the car. “How was the moose hunt?” one of them asked. “See for yourself,” I told him. He walked all around the car, very slowly, looking at our prize from all sides. “Nice size,” he said.

“Have you ever seen a bigger one?” “Oh, they go a lot bigger than that,” said the man. “You should try your luck up around Mooso-nee. They say it’s real good for them up there. We wondered then and we wonder now whether the guy actually believed it was a moose. Meanwhile, Ross was inside choking on his won ton soup as he watched and listened to the Chinese waiters. I arrived in time to hear one ask: “Bear?” “Moose, said Ross. “Hen!” said the waiter and walked away.

By now traffic around our end of the main drag was hot and heavy; word spreads fast when you have a bull on your roof. We didn’t want to cause any traffic jams so we decided to leave town. Just south of Huntsville we were stopped by the police. Ontario Provincial Police Constable Len Schloendorf wanted to know if we had a bill of sale “for that.” We had one the carcass had been purchased from a farmer at Kingston. We levelled with him. We were, we said, conducting a survey. Schloendorf asked as they always do for Ross’s driving permit, saw it, took a few more glances at the bull and waved us on. But we had a feeling he wasn’t really satisfied. We were right. He wasn’t.

A few miles down the road he’ stopped us again. Would we follow him, please? He wanted to check this thing out in detail. We followed him to the police station at Bracebridge where we met Constable Art Dawson, who was on radio duty that night. He and Schloendorf both wanted to know the story. Schloendorf sat down at the teletype and started to punch out a message to the Motor Vehicle Registration branch in Toronto. He was going to ask them whether the rented car we were driving really belonged to the people we said it did. “Hold it, said Ross. “I think I can save you the trouble. I have a letter here from the police chief in Kingston and . . .

They checked us out anyway but, after they had detained us for about 40 minutes, they were laughing. They explained then that they had heard of us from the Huntsville detachment. We had passed the police station there and I recalled the officer who had been standing in the window, because the double-take he took when he saw us was by far the best of the trip. “He called us,” Dawson explained. “But it was difficult to make out what he was saying, he was laughing so much.

Before we left the police they told us that a few years ago someone had shot a Hereford bull “one just like yours” in their area and, convinced he had bagged a moose, had strapped a moose licence to one of the animal’s hind legs, loaded it on the roof of his car and headed home. He didn’t get far.

We got motel rooms at Bracebridge that night and parked our car out front. There was just enough light to do the trick. A few minutes after we settled in someone rapped on our door. It was Constable Nels Kennedy of the local police. “I have to ask,” he said. “I couldn’t face driving past that thing all night without knowing the story. Did you shoot it?”

In return for the facts he told us the one about a hunter who went out for deer in the area not long ago and saw a white goat. He killed it, thinking it was a white deer. He didn’t get far either. Traffic past our motel was heavy that night. Hunters would come up, stop their cars, get out and take a close look. And just at the right moment Ross or I would open the door and shout: “Beauty, isn’t he? Nine times out of 10 they would agree and walk away doubled up with laughter. At times I would open the door, walk out and say: “The only question now is how to cook it. Do you guys know anything about cooking venison? I hear that red wine …” It worked every time.

The next day we pushed on past the little town of Udney on Highway 69 and didn’t stop until we were forced to by cattle crossing the road near Brechin. Two farmers looked at our bull, looked at their herd and broke up. They were Hereford farmers and their animals looked just like our “moose.” We parked on the main street of Lindsay. Ross got out and walked away. I pulled my cap down over my eyes and pretended to sleep. A crowd gathered in no time and one man’s curiosity soon got the best of him.

He rapped, gently, on the window. “Yes, sir,” I said. “Is that, he wanted to know, “a deer or a cow? “Moose,” said I. “Lovely, just lovely,” he said and walked away. I drove the car around town for a while to let Ross get pictures of the people. We stayed long enough for Stu Mewburn, a photographer with the Lindsay paper, to hear about our bull. He saw me turning a corner and Ross nearby with his camera. “What do you know about it?” asked Mewburn. “Not a thing but it looks like a picture to me,” said Ross, who then got a picture of Stu taking a shot of our bull. Peterborough was really good to us. We hit town just before noon and parked in the heart of the downtown area.

Within 15 minutes the local press, radio and TV boys were on the story. We made page 1 of The Peterborough Examiner and later discovered other newspapers and the Canadian Press had carried the story of the hunters who had shot the bull by mistake. A little later in the day we pulled into the Royal Burger drive-in restaurant on the edge of town for a bite to eat. It is one of those places where you shout your order into a microphone.

We knew they could see us and we knew they could see our bull. “Two burgers, two large milks and an order of French fries!” shouted Ross. The girl on the other end repeated the order. We waited a few minutes and then drove up to the window for the food. The bull was about 24 inches from her nose but she didn’t crack a smile. Just before we left the restaurant a man from inside the place came out to the car and asked what this was all about. He said he had a reporter on the line who wanted to know if there really was a car in front of the Royal Burger with a bull on its roof. We told him we preferred not to comment “I understand,” he said. We left town.

We moved south on Highway 14 past the little towns of Bonarlaw and Harold and when we got to Stirling we saw a man coming out of the post office. Ross pulled up. I rolled down the window. ‘Tell me, sir,” I said, “do we turn right or left to get to Belleville?” He said left. I thanked him and started to roll up the window. “Out hunting?” he asked. “Yep, moose. And, with one eye on our bull and one eye on me, he asked cautiously: “Get one?” Proudly, I pointed to the roof and volunteered that we hadn’t done too badly on our first time out “for the big ones.”

He cautioned us to stick to the back roads and was still standing there when we went into the turn toward Belleville. We stopped for gas at Belleville. “Nice size, eh?” Ross asked the attendant “Beautiful,” replied the man on the pump. Ross wasn’t satisfied. “Have you seen many coming through?” he asked. “Four yesterday.” “Do they run much bigger than this?” “That’s the biggest one I’ve ever seen.” Ross handed him a $20 bill and we waited for him to go into the station for change. Several men in the window were laughing and we figured the man would get clued in before he returned. We were right

“That’s a steer,” he said with confidence when he got back. “Well, you’re close,” said Ross. “It’s a bull.” “Oh, a bull, ehr “Yep, bull moose,” said Ross. “They say they are good eating.” said the man, confused as ever. “Tender,” said Ross and away we went. After emptying a tavern at Napanee we went on to Kingston, where we parked the car in a shopping centre lot. Ross disappeared and I started to secure the ropes.

I soon had a crowd and one of them, a young man in his twenties, got me over to one side and in hushed tones out of the corner of his mouth said: “Mister, that isn’t a moose.” “You’re kidding,” I said. “Look, I’ll lay you $100 to $1 that that is a Hereford bull. Moose are a lot darker than that and they have long noses.” “You’re sure that isn’t a moose?” “Look, my dad raised Herefords for years and I know one when I see one,” he said. “If I were you I would get it the hell off this lot in a hurry.” When he left another fellow took his place. “What have you got there?” he asked. “Moose; what else?” I replied. “Well, all I can say is it’s a good thing you didn’t go duck hunting.” “How’s that?” “You woulda shot an airplane,” he replied.

CLIPPED FROMThe Ottawa CitizenOttawa, Ontario, Canada08 Jan 1966, Sat  •  Page 83

Perils of the Cows of Carleton Place or Where’s the Beefalo?

Should Cows and Smart Cars be Tipped?

My Shortlived Bushman Farm Career (Bill Saunderson) — Larry Clark

I’m Done With Winter — Next Season Please! Linda Knight Seccaspina

I’m Done With Winter — Next Season Please!  Linda Knight Seccaspina

I’m Done With Winter. Next Season Please? Linda Knight Seccaspina

Does shivering count as an exercise? I would like to know. One year later we are back to the same issues of living in an older home. Last year at this exact time I wrote:

“I live in an old home that was built in 1867 and various additions were added throughout the years. Everything was built with stone– and the walls are three feet thick. The thickness of the walls holds the heat away for a week in the hot summer and then it becomes an oven. The same applies to winter–keeps the cold out for a bit and then cold draughty temperatures prevail.”

Things have not changed this year and today, because of record lows; I have frozen pipes going up to the only shower that works on the third floor and the laundry room. I try not to get upset about it as there are worse things in the world going on and this will eventually remedy itself with an explosion of water or be fixed. It’s always either A or B and I am amazed how calm I am. 

My California-raised American husband seems to think the temperature change tomorrow by 7 plus degrees is going to immediately remedy this  situation and he has offered not to complain and wash his hair in the sink and sponge bath. As a Canadian, I know this will not help and he is to call the plumber. Of course he is also worried that some partial demolition of a wall is going to be added to another small area we have now. I explained to him that on the last house tour I went too I saw partially demolished baseboards in an older home and I could relate to what was going on. I actually smiled as I knew they once had frozen pipes too.

So how did people live in the past? 

How did we walk to school every day and not complain?

How on earth did I walk back and forth to school 4 times a day and wore knee socks and Hush Puppy Desert boots with a knee length trench coat? I remember being cold. I remember my legs being beet red, but how did we do it? It took my friend Sheila and I 25 minutes to complete the journey to CHS on South Street. To expect a child today to endure this experience for nine months would be unimaginable to some parents now. How did we line up at bars on the weekend without coats not wanting to pay a coat check fee? Today, at this very minute, I swear I’m not going back out until the temperature is above my age.

Groundhog Day this week was supposed to give us hope and happiness. A few made their decisions, and of course one died. Organizers of the Groundhog Day event in Val-d’Espoir, Quebec, broke the news of Fred la Marmotte ‘s demise to the crowd on Feb. 2.

Being so important as a local weather mascot I was shocked to find out they only checked on Fred the night before, and that the groundhog had likely died in late fall or early winter, while in hibernation. Sad, but considering groundhog powers of divination are worse than flipping a coin– I’m fine. It’s Fred. He’s dead—pauvre pauvre Marmotte. Let this be a lesson to never represent your community in the Winter.

As a realist, I woke up this AM to -30 C, with a wind chill in the -40’s. It is going to take a long time before a real Rodent pokes its head out and myself as well. Spring is a long way off and I hope my pipes are unfrozen before then. Honestly, there is no precedent for what outright death, or your shadow means for the forecast. One good note: I haven’t seen a mosquito in months. There’s that…..

I apologize to the folks that just love Winter. You know, those people who try to convert you into their Winter Wonderland. I just don’t like being cold as I am today. I don’t like my pipes frozen, but I will offer you this. Maybe next time when I come back into this world I might give it a chance. But this lifetime I am going to sit this one out. And to pauvre pauvre Fred la Marmotte, late of Val-d’Espoir– maybe he told a local predator that there was going to be six more months of winter so he was eaten. 

Update- the day after I wrote this:

To all of you, and I know there are many out there that experienced damage from the cold these past few days. I want to say– it’s going to be okay. Twenty- five minutes before I was to be at St. James last night to auction off gift baskets the pipe that refused to give us hot water burst.

Apparently the break was at a good location– but is it ever at a good location? So, I went to St. James and my son Perry came over and had it fixed in a few hours. Now like any other old house to badly quote Pink Floyd: It’s now just another hole in the wall:)

See you next week!

Sand in the Trunk and Other Winter Things – Linda Knight Seccaspina

It’s Too Cold to Be Pretty — Winter 2021

The Winter of 1916

“Au Gratin” Ramblings from Linda Knight Seccaspina

“Au Gratin” Ramblings from Linda Knight Seccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina

Perth Burying Grounds, Perth, Ontario that day when my outfit ‘bled” lol

“Au Gratin” Ramblings from Linda

Linda Knight Seccaspina

This week my friend Bobby Lyons from Cincinnati posted a Facebook ad that Walmart in the United States is now selling “Funeral Potatoes”. I was gobsmacked to learn that this beloved old recipe was now being sold in the Walmart frozen aisles.

Believe it or not, “Funeral Potatoes’’ is not actually the technical name–it’s usually called Cheesy Potato Casserole in your recipe Rolodex. This casserole is often found served with ham on festive holiday dinner tables as well as luncheons following funerals which is how they got their name.

Why are funeral potatoes so delicious? I chalk it up to the heartfelt care and sympathy with which they’re prepared. In reality, you’re eating tons of carbs and fats which do make us quite happy. Though they have a sombre name; Funeral Potatoes are truly the ultimate comfort food to show your support and sympathy for a grieving family.

To make them yourself, you could follow the Pioneer Woman’s go-to funeral potatoes recipe on the internet. There are countless variations of the casserole-type side dish, but the general recipe calls for: ‘taters’, cheese, some kind of cream soup, sour cream, and a crunchy top made of breadcrumbs or potato chips. While you are at The Pioneer Woman website also has a funeral cooking episode you might want to take a gander at. 

Of course this reminds me of an elderly friend that was cremated and I went to the services to pay my respects. As I inched my way up to the Urn that held the departed ashes I heard an elderly man say as he glanced at her remains.

“You know looking at her now she seems to be a lot smaller than I remembered.”

Last summer while shopping in a store in Perth,ON. someone looked at my hands and asked if I’d been to the doctor to see about my circulation problem. I gave them a quick look. My hands were as blue as the ocean from my outfit and I knew if my hands looked like that my face probably had shades of blue dye on it too. Admittedly, it was probably because the poorly dyed black lace jacket caught in the rainstorm stained my face and hands.

Like so many afflictions, dye leaks don’t discriminate by age, location or background and it can strike anyone at any time. Parked outside of the Perth Old Burying Grounds I looked in the car rear view mirror to see if any of the blue dye was on my face. I shrieked in horror that in exactly 5 minutes I was expected to join the Mahon Family Reunion at the Old Burying Grounds as a speaker. I looked like I had died with shades of black and blue around my eyes and cheeks. Also wearing a traditional black Victorian Mourning outfit this was not a good look for a cemetery!  With a very used Kleenex I attempted to get the ‘death warmed over’ look off my face.

According to the web the only cure for this situation is to wash your garment inside out, three or four times, in cold water before you wear it. Never, and I repeat never, wear something like that on a rainy day and never put your stained hands on your face.

How did black turn into navy blue? Seems that good-quality black dyes were not known until the middle of the 14th century. The black dyes produced were often more grey, brown or bluish. Also, and still done today they first dye the fabric dark blue, and then dye it black

Anyway, it was all fine, no one thought I had climbed out of any plot in that cemetery, and that night at the buffet line some older gentleman looked at me quite intently. As he heaped huge spoonfuls of Funeral Potatoes on his plate he said, and quite seriously I may add,

“I like you, because I like my women like I like my potatoes, Cheezy and Au Gratin!”

See you next week!

Iveson Funeral Original Photos

The Last Man to Let you Down? Political Leanings at Local Funeral Homes?

Embalming 1891 – A Local Report

Cemetery or Funeral Cake

Just a Field of Stones Now? “The Old Perth Burying Ground” Now on Ontario Abandoned Places?

The Old Burying Ground — Perth

The Saga of Grumpy Boots Linda Knight Seccaspina

The Saga of Grumpy Boots Linda Knight Seccaspina

The Saga of Grumpy Boots Linda Knight Seccaspina

For years I have not worn Winter boots. Not that I am trying to show off any daredevil feats or anything, but I can’t seem to find anything that fits my feet properly. I used to list shoe shopping under special skills on my resume as I was that proficient. But as the years have gone by my feet have grown their own way. My right foot wears a size 10, which is strange because years ago I slid into an 8 and wore them 12 hours a day on a retail concrete floor and then walked home. I  remember squeezing my feet into every vinyl concoction of trendy shoes. My left foot is a strange one however and I don’t really know what size group it falls under anymore. Since I delivered a 10 pound male child decades ago the top of the left foot has been puffy much like a fine cheese souffle for the last 36 years. The nurse said not to worry at the time of my son’s birth because it was only postpartum fluid swelling– and it would go away. Well that fluid, brought its home furnishings and plants and has squatted on top of my foot since that day in 1985.

Having a normal right foot and a puffy left foot means buying footwear is an issue, and sometimes I feel so alone when the world turns grey and cold with my black Naturilzer flats. It’s not like I can hike anymore because of my mobility, but it would be nice for my feet to feel part of Winter. My son tried a few years ago and bought me lace up hiking boots. They fit perfectly  and had ample room to get the foot in perfectly but I needed help lacing those suckers up. I needed a team to get those boots on. Oh had it been in the late 1800s I might have had able young men crowd around me for the chance to be chivalrous, but not anymore. My husband has a hard enough time getting his Converse sneakers on being an American from California. He views this Canadian snow as just  something he has to deal with every year – and bending over for a period of time is becoming difficult. (Shh, I didn’t say that)

Alas, if it were only boots I had issues with I would not be writing about it. Last year I walked into Walmart on a quest for comfy shoes. Instead, I purchased two pairs of high heel shoes that cost only $5.00 each. I was thrilled when I tried them on and vowed to wear them everyday for one hour until I got used to them.The next day I donned the leopard 4 inch heels trimmed in red and walked from the car to the row of grocery carts. By aisle two I was hanging over the cart to support myself and my feet were now in excruciating pain.

A farmer in overalls was also checking out my shoes and followed me to aisle four pretending to buy peaches. He returned a few times still eyeing the shoes, and I don’t think I ever realized the power of heels in a rural area. I paid for the groceries and literally crawled back to the car in pain. As soon as I sat in the car I ripped them off, and the feeling of relief was much like being constipated and then having it all disappear.

I gave away my last pair of leopard stilettos to a friend of mine after keeping them in my closet for ten years. They had thin gold heels, and the suede was soft as silk, and they had only been worn once for about 8 minutes. Placing them on my feet as I sat on the couch at a monthly church lady meeting; I gingerly walked over for tea with a performance worthy of an Academy Award. The ladies marvelled at how I had walked in them all day and I never acknowledged anything different. What a shoe Oscar moment that was, and really, it wasn’t the place to fib at a church meeting.

So here’s a toast to 2023 and another year without winter boots– unable to find a practical boot for the right foot and a winterized cardboard shoe box for the left. Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz proved shoes on a gal’s feet can change your life, and Cinderella made a point that just one shoe can procure you a Prince Charming. Well, let’s just say I am a permanent fan of the Vivienne Black shoe size 10 from Naturalizer, and  just one step closer to Velcro shoes. Cowboys die with their boots on and I am just going to die comfortably with my flats and no Winter boots. But, this week I found out I was not alone. Standing in the Royal Bank I saw two senior ladies in white running shoes. I asked one of them if they were good for Winter and she laughed and said,

“It’s all I can wear dear, but I have cut some bread bags to wear over my feet!”

I smiled and thought- life is always full of interruptions, complications and possible uses for  empty bread bags isn’t it?

Here’s to Verna May Wilson Hadlock’s Shoes Linda Knight Seccaspina

The Ball of Small Shoes

Dueling Shoes and Fiddles and Step Dancing Contest July 15 1974

James Watson– Bigamy and Shoes

Did The Bootleggers in Lanark County Wear Cow Shoes?

Does What Happen in a Church Pew Stay in a Church Pew?  Linda Knight Seccaspina — Sherbrooke Record Column

Does What Happen in a Church Pew Stay in a Church Pew?  Linda Knight Seccaspina — Sherbrooke Record Column

Does What Happen in a  Church Pew Stay in a Church Pew?  Linda Knight Seccaspina

This morning as I attended Wednesday Morning Breakfast at St. James I looked at two names, E. Virtue and C. Mull, that were crudely scratched into the top of a pew. I had seen these faded names hundreds of times throughout the years but I never really gave it much thought.

Who were E. Virtue and C. Mull I asked myself?

What were their stories?

Had they used a geometry protractor as their artistic weapon?

It reminded me of my days being a nuisance in a church pew until my Mother and Grandmother decided I should join the church choir. You see, as a child, I didn’t have much use for a church congregation. My Grandmother, on the other hand, had every use for it, and I was going to be part of it.

My late mother who was tone deaf like myself thought I was born to sing like Deanna Durbin. Every week Reverend Brown would choose a soloist and my mother suggested to him one too many times that I participate. Finally exhausted by her phone calls he agreed to let me have the next solo.Sunday came way too fast and standing in front of the choir I began to sing the first verses of “Lead Me Lord”.  There were no “bravos” in the congregation while I sang, and by verse three people were covering their mouths with their handkerchiefs. At the end of the hymn fellow school classmate Dickie Miner in the front pew broke out into a fit of laughter and fell off his seat.

I went back to the church pew and saw Reverend Brown look down at me through his bifocals in bewilderment. Miss Smith, the spinster church organist, stamped on the organ pedals and rolled into the next hymn at a death defying volume. My musical career ended after that, but my Mother kept saying it was fine, as she insisted they had stand-in-singers for Joan Crawford. I often wondered if people remembered the caterwauling that came out of me that day and actually gave it a second thought years later.

Of course the stories from the church pews didn’t end there…

My Grandmother once gossiped about quite a prankster in the good town of Cowansville.Trying to become a good Samaritan and rack up those brownie points he offered to help one of his friends pump the organ one Sunday at Trinity Anglican Church. In those days the organ was pumped by hand, as the electric motor was not in use then.

After the kind offer was accepted the do-gooder began to sprinkle sneezing powder in and around the organ. As the organ began to play the first hymn the powder began to waft through the air. First the choir began to sneeze, then the minister, and finally the congregation joined in. No mention of what kind of punishment our local lad got when he got home- or if it was from a higher power.

My Grandmother also repeated a story about a man that spent most of his days in the rotunda of the Cowansville Hotel. The gentleman had an artificial appendage, which in those days was nothing but a wooden leg.

The man loved to whittle, and folks loved to watch him. One Sunday, busy on the steps of the church, one of his whittling projects became unsuccessful. While folks were entering for Sunday service he crossed his legs, uttered some type of expression and drove the knife a couple of inches into his wooden leg. The knife was sticking straight up into the air and an elderly woman who was just entering the front doors screamed and fell into a heap.

The minister who heard the thump came out running and asked what was wrong. The whittler looked at him with deadpan eyes and said innocently.

“Heck if I know!”

As I looked at the two names again on the pews I imagined the children that carved their names on the pew had to be between 10 and 12.  I assume their parents caught them and punishment was either the woodshed or sitting in the corner with a bar of soap between their teeth. Needless to say, the families probably remembered the event each time they sat in that very pew. Of course there was always the thought that maybe their parents committed “the crime of the century” and changed pews so as not to be reminded of their children’s misdeeds.

I love telling stories, but unlike my Grandmother I never gossip.I observe, I remember and then relay my memories to practically everyone! See you next week!.

Church Lady Memories by Linda Knight Seccaspina

The Emotional Crowded Houses– St. James

50 Shades of Local Potatoes

Is That the Face of a Great Dane in a Lake Ave East Tree?

Sand in the Trunk and Other Winter Things – Linda Knight Seccaspina

Sand in the Trunk and Other Winter Things – Linda Knight Seccaspina

Sand in the Trunk and Other Winter Things – Linda Knight Seccaspina

Two months ago I got my winter tires on my car. As I listened to the roar of the heavier tires, and watched them throw my tire sensor system out of whack, I had to laugh at some old memories.

My late husband Angelo used to argue that winter tires were “for people from Toronto who have to call in the army to shovel the sidewalks when it snows.” That was until one day he backed down my father’s snowy Miltimore driveway in Bromont and removed part of his fence. Not content with believing his Delta 88 could do such a thing he attempted to reverse again, only this time he hit the mailbox.

Through the years as he got older he began to realize living in a rural area needed snow tires. One day I overheard Angelo tell my oldest son Sky to get his head out of the sand and put some winter tires on his car. I just smiled and realized things just take time to sink in. It was similar to that proudest moment of being a parent when my child agreed it was finally cold enough to wear a hat.

Arthur Knight, my late Dad, always insisted that you kept bags of sand in the trunk for traction in case you got stuck in the winter. His 70s Ford Pinto was loaded to the brim with bags of sand, and when I went to visit him he always insisted on tossing some in my trunk too.  

It was supposed to add weight, and if I ever got stuck, the sand could be used for traction, he said. I never actually got stuck, so I never had to use the sand.  He said he learned the hard way hitting every ditch on the Brome Pond road one winter with no sand or salt in the trunk and a bunch of lightweights riding in his car with him. Somehow I doubt that a couple of sandbags, add or subtract anything is meaningful to the traction of a vehicle today that already weighs a few tons when empty, plus a few hundred pounds with a driver and passenger. But, weight was significant in the days of rear wheel drive, because most of the weight was in the front. I can well remember in my youth, the only way I got up an icy hill (not having heeded my father’s advice about the sand) was to have a couple of my friends climb into the trunk to put some weight over the back wheels.

Every year AAA publishes advice for winter driving and putting sand or litter in the back of a car is always on the list. I personally prefer cat litter because it’s relatively inexpensive (non clumping, non scented) and provides decent traction.

I decided to look this traction myth up on Snopes.com and the page was completely blank. Had Arthur Knight had it all wrong? I found a few discussions on a few automotive boards and one man had this to say.

“So while extra weight generally improves traction, the only safe place to put it is in between the wheels. That’s why, for traction, we suggest car-pooling. In fact, when recruiting car-poolers, you could start by putting up a sign at Weight-Watchers.”

After more research I decided to go back to Snopes where I found another link about the topic. Again the page was blank and the lone entry was about a woman called *“The Human Couch”.

Word on the street goes that a very large woman had to be brought to the ER after she had experienced shortness of breath. While they attempted to undress her an asthma inhaler fell out of one of the folds of her arm. A shiny new dime was under her breast and a TV remote control was found somewhere else on her body. Her family was extremely grateful that she was okay, and that they found the remote.

It’s easy to see I don’t care for Winter one bit, and if there is one good thing that comes out of snow, cold and ice is the fact I haven’t seen a mosquito in a really long time.

*( Brown, Mark.  Emergency! True Stories from the Nation’s ERs. –New York: Villard Books, 1997.   ISBN 0-312-96265-7   (pp. 32-33).

Findlay vs. Bailey in Carleton Place —Horses vs. Cars

When was the First Car Fatality in Carleton Place?

When Things Come 360 –The First Automobile Fatality in Carleton Place– Torrance, Burgess, and Names Names

The Carleton Place Bathroom Appliance Cars

Rollin’ Down the Mississippi River —- Tunes and Cars of Carleton Place 1971

I Swear it’s True!  Part 1 and 2 – by Linda Knight Seccaspina

I Swear it’s True!  Part 1 and 2 – by Linda Knight Seccaspina

Greetings and Salutations to all our Townships Weekend readers. As you know I have a weekly column on Thursdays, but I am honoured to be contributing once a month to the Townships Weekend. I decided to do something different for the weekend format and entertain you with a short series of stories on a subject, something  like the old fashioned serials they once had in newspapers.

So here is Part 2 of…..

I Swear it’s True!  Part 1 – by Linda Knight Seccaspina

I am a proud family member from the Knight and Crittenden family dynasty and come from a lineage that not even Heinz 57 would understand. My bloodlines are thick with British and Irish roots and a few other tree branches slipped in between. My mother’s side from the Call’s Mills and Island Brook area were all from England and Ireland, and as a child, tales were told on a weekly basis about our ancestors.

My favourite story was one about my great great aunt fighting off the Fenians during the fight at Eccles Hill on May 25, 1870. According to the Crittenden legend, she fought them off single-handedly using a spoon as a door lock. Knowing my mother’s side of the family, I assumed she probably invited them in to play cards and have a few pints. But, one tale that was told to me was continued on through the years and even the Knight side contributed years later, so here goes.

My grandfather George Crittenden married a lass from Laconia, N. H so we had many ‘International’ stories to mix with the encyclopaedia of family stories. One tale that was told was about one of the Griffin family that did some sewing for the American Civil War. She lived for almost 100 years under six British sovereigns and ended up living most of her life in the Eastern Townships, but part of her life was in Boston,Mass where she learned to sew by sewing for the soldiers. She came to the Townships via Brockville, On. and this was one cracker of a story she once spread for years to come. I am sure the tale stretched a bit here and there but the basis of this story was written in the media.

In 1915 it was said that some of their family in Brockville and the surrounding area were returning from church and spotted something lit in the sky on February 15, 1915.  When the mayor of Brockville and three constables also witnessed this incident word quickly spread up and down the valley that the Germans were invading Canada.

Vivid flashes in a minor lightning storm gave credence that German aircraft were possibly passing over the area. To make matters even more interesting the mayor of Gananoque also said that two invisible aircraft were heard flying overhead. Parliament Hill went dark at 11 pm that very night and the city of Ottawa and most small towns in the outlying areas followed suit 20 minutes later. I have no doubt that many of the Griffin family spent a restless, fearful night.

Newspaper headlines of: Machines Crossed Over St. Lawrence River: Seen by Many heading to the Capital–Fireballs Dropped appeared quickly the next day. Explanations from government officials were demanded by the local newspapers. Was it really a few of the Morristown youths playing pranks? Some asked when a paper balloon was found on the ice of the St. Lawrence River near the town. What about the remains of a few more balloons that were found with fireworks attached to them near the Brockville Asylum? Soon after these items were found; the media that had been so intent on causing hysteria scoffed at their reader’s fear in print.

Opinions differed as to the nature of the mysterious objects.  Of course Ottawa had to chime in to assure everyone that Germans aircraft had not flown their planes over Eastern Ontario as the headlines persisted. The Dominion Observatory agreed, adding information about local wind direction and added that everyone just had war jitters. But, in all honesty the generic comments from the Observatory and the government did nothing to quell the fear of the locals. As gossip spread and the story transfer expanded to new highs the German bombers became very real to the public. No matter what the media and the government had said in their morning statements the lights still went out all over the Ottawa Valley and guns were set up on various rooftops that next evening.

If you ask some today they will tell you it wasn’t the Morrisburg kids trying to be funny, but in reality it was UFO’s. This story which has appeared in a number of paranormal books says that as the Valley was “preparing for the arrival of Germans” these strange lights were apparently spotted in towns all over Ontario and in provinces as far away as Manitoba.

When I was a kid I used to let balloons go up in the sky in the backyard of my Albert Street home and always hoped that maybe an alien would find it and it would make him or her smile. Maybe the pranks of those Morrisburg kids caught someone else’s attention in the sky– I guess we will never know will we. Almost out of the X-Files isn’t it? So what happened in the next tale from the family lore?

See you in a few weeks for another chapter…..

I Swear it’s True!  Part 2 – by Linda Knight Seccaspina

To recap Part 1-  It was the story of seeing UFO’s or the German’s supposed attempt to bomb our fair land in the Brockville area in 1915 by one of my ancestors. If anyone thinks that was strange, it does not begin or end there. It was not that particular moment where the hysteria began in my family about things that go bump in the night. It seems there were other incidents before that.

Housing was sparse in the early 1900s and a group of my ancestors all resided in one home in the Calls Mills area. One night they were suddenly awakened at 3 am in May of 1910 by the voices of the neighbours from a local fire nearby. The barn fire illuminated the sky and Halley’s Comet was also passing that very night. The women seeing the fire in the distance assumed that Halley’s Comet was producing the end of the world which they of course expected.

The three rushed outdoors in their night clothes waving their arms and crying in despair. It took awhile to get the ladies under control and understand what had really happened. No doubt they had read the newspapers about the coming of Halley’s Comet and this was it.

For weeks international and local newspapers literally terrorized their readers. Over 500 Italians in Little Italy in New York fell to their knees in prayer that night when they saw the ball of flame bearing down on them in the sky. In New Jersey locals took the whole day off work to pray in their local churches for their salvation. Fraudsters hawked anti-comet pills, with one brand promising to be “an elixir for escaping the wrath of the heavens,” while a voodoo doctor in Haiti was said to be selling pills “as fast as he can make them.” Two Texan charlatans were arrested for marketing sugar pills as the cure-all for all things comet, but police released them when customers demanded their freedom. Gas masks, too, flew off the shelves.

The whole performance took five hours that night while the barn fire raged. In the rural countryside some folks gathered on top of their rooftops and watched, waiting for the comet to suck them up into the sky. 

The world’s greatest scientists assured everyone that no harm would befall and their analysis could not be foretold, but it was concluded that there was no cyanogen gas from the tail of the comet that they were fearful of. Local bartenders were telling their patrons to drink half water and half alcohol and that was an antidote if they breathed any cyanogen gas from the meteor. Local farmers removed their lightning rods from their homes and barns, fearful of dangerous light flashes and substances that might accompany the comet.

Folks got real creative with their anxiety like my ancestors. It didn’t help that a few months earlier The New York Times had announced that one astronomer theorized that the comet would unceremoniously end life as we know it. The Associated Press warned their readers they had observed two rather large black spots on the sun and solar eruptions were viewed and spread even more hysteria.

In Sherbrooke some educators carried bottles so they could contain some of the ‘comet atmosphere’ for future analysis. Meanwhile in the back shops of country newspaper offices, the appearance of a few had never been noted for their extreme cleanliness. There is nothing of an edible nature in these places and the printers went on the principle that composing rooms were useful not ornamental. This was pointed out in a delicate manner, on the Wednesday afternoon, by a business neighbour who was a considerable gossip. The male gossiper came downtown without his colored glasses to see what all the fuss was about, and was unable to view the eclipse with any degree of comfort or satisfaction.

Popping into the back shop of the Sherbrooke Record to tell the printers of his sad plight he chanced to look at the eclipse through one of the windows. 

“Well now isn’t that fine,” said he, “you don’t need smoked glasses to shield your eyes when you gaze at the sun through these dirty windows.” He was soon given a pail of water with the other necessary equipment and told to “go to it.’’

In the end there was no collision with earth, none of my cousins got sucked up into the heavens, and life went back as we know it. In the next days in a newspaper it read:

“Some of our citizens claim to have seen the comet Friday night.

There is nothing wrong with their eyesight”– May 27 1910 The Montreal Gazette

That night as the barn burned down few locals thought of Halley’s passing comet as a danger, only my ancestors. The ‘horror’ has carried on through the years and will not end with me. I am called :“Anxiety Girl”- able to jump to the wrong conclusion in one single bond. As I tell my grandchildren: ”99% of your awesomeness will come from me.” Then I get the “look”. I don’t think these stories will help my case.

See you in a few weeks for Part 3 for more of their celestial shenanigans.

Fleas, Skunks and Other Irritants — Linda Knight Seccaspina

Fleas, Skunks and Other Irritants — Linda Knight Seccaspina

Fleas, Skunks and Other Irritants — Linda Knight Seccaspina

I have encountered my fair share of skunks growing up as a child in the Quebec townships. But, last week my husband Steve got sprayed by a skunk in the yard while the sun was coming up. It seems everyone has come to me throughout the years to remedy an immediate crisis.

Like my sons when they were young, my husband came into the bedroom and almost killed me with the stench. I pretended to still be asleep, but believe you me I knew what was cooking in the bedroom, and it wasn’t love. No matter how many Pepe le Pew jokes you make I wondered if I should wash him in tomatoe juice and baking soda as soon as possible.

 Instantly I sat up and asked a very stupid question.

 “Did you REALLY get sprayed by a skunk?” 

Steve replied with a sad tale about the wee critter lifting his little bottom up in front of him. Now my husband is an American from Berkeley, California and one would think the message about skunks had gotten that far west by now.

What to do? What to do?

It’s not like I can tie him up outside for the day, or get the garden hose out and hose him down. 

It reminded me of the year 2006 when a small flea had been found by my son, and he had told everyone it had not been found on the dog– that they were somewhere in the house. After assuming the necessary precautions, nothing else was found. All of us, with the exception of my oldest son, had green lighted everything. The crisis was over as far as we were concerned. At approximately 2:30 am that night a large flashlight was pointed in my face while I was fast asleep. It was flea fighter son number 1 with a look of terror on his face.

“Mom, I have been in here for 10 minutes shining this flashlight on my white socks and I have found two fleas”.

Apparently the white socks were used as bait and displayed whatever he thought was a flea in fine form on the white colour.

“I can’t sleep upstairs,there are fleas everywhere,” he said.

I strongly and silently disagreed with this as we have gone through this many times with other creatures and insects such as bats and spiders. It never fails that when the oldest is not Kosher with something he comes downstairs to his old room where I sleep so he can sleep in his old bed. 

His former room still holds his childhood Bobbleheads, Beanie Babies, hockey posters, and two small pocket mirrors taped to one of his shelves across from his bed. He constructed those mirrors at age 9 as a plan to see if the boogeyman was coming into his room.

“Mom I don’t think anyone realizes how serious this is as no one will own up to the grave problem we have here,” he continued.

I shot him a look that said everything. How could I take anyone seriously that was going to walk around all day in the summer heat in long jogging pants with white socks pulled up almost to the knees and white shoes. Mind you the white shoes were very soft leather fashionable ones from Aldo. But still–no dice kid!

In the morning he cleaned his room for the upteenth time in 24 hours. He vacuumed, he sprayed, he vacuumed again, and then more spray. To appease my child I vacuumed everywhere also and he followed me and sprayed again. In this house that’s a big job and I was sweating like a dog– the same dog who caused this issue who was now relaxing outside on the veranda not worrying about fleas.

After lunch son number 1 yelled information down the stairs each time he thought he had found new alerts about fleas on the internet. Anyone who has been sick and looked up things on the web knows for a fact that you can scare yourself for life with some of those articles. So far, not one flea had been found, but I began to Google “Symptoms of Toxic Brain Freeze from Aerosols” on the internet.

That night Sky came down the stairs dressed in the same outfit as the night before. White shirt tucked into white printed PJ pants, and white socks pulled up to his ankles. I was exhausted from his shenanigans, and so was the dog who was still crashed out on the veranda. With that he wrapped himself up in two sheets much like a mummy with a giant flashlight in one hand and a cell phone in the other. I shook my head and realized that thoughts like fleas jump from man to man– but they really don’t bite everyone. The dog looked at me and nodded his head in agreement.

Epilogue- 18 years later come Spring, when the spiders begin to venture out I get the occasional text photo from my son about the spiders in his basement– and asking if he should sell his home. 

As for Steve I just called him at work this morning and told him his Warrior’s Tshirt didn’t make it no matter how many times we washed it –but he will be allowed to stay as he has now passed the smell test.

Trying to Put Humour Into Being Sick –Linda Knight Seccaspina

Trying to Put Humour Into Being Sick –Linda Knight Seccaspina


Today is Saturday, August 6th as I write this and I am back to what one could call normal?

Day 4–a Recap

I am not hiding the fact that I have “the plague” as they call it– as it is nothing to be ashamed about. This is a new reality we have to live with and I know now that I also had it in January of 2020. My doctor could not  put his finger on it because there were no antibody tests then. But, having it now just reaffirms what I had in 2020 before the surge. Instead of a few days, it was two horrid months long. We have come a long way, but these are the facts now. We have to live with it. It is the new flu– and it’s awful–hands down. 

Looking in the mirror this morning I look like Bette Davis on a bad day with a semi swollen face and bags hanging under my irritated eyes. I decided to write a blog called “I Look Like Shrek” and then chose not to share it with anyone. Do I really want people to have that impression of me? If I really was Bette Davis I would have ‘my people’ helping me get through this awful day. But I am not her, so instead I daydream about how I longed to be a movie star when I was very young.

Most of my friends know that my favourite actress is Bette Davis. There is absolutely no one that can get her point across in three seconds or less like she could. As a child I used to buy Popeye candy cigarettes and flash them back and forth yelling in my mother’s high heels,

“It’s going to be a bumpy ride!”– or something to that effect.

But, Bette Davis is not wetting her pants today and doing a laundry load of underwear. The sheer force of nature is running through my body with each sneeze. Only I am feeling the true warmth of being sick and trying to sit in various positions tobe comfortable. I am suddenly longing for the time I can stop crossing my legs when I sneeze. As Bette once said:  “Old age is no place for sissies!” and maybe I would be dry as the desert now if I was 31 and not 71.

But, once upon a time I was young and every part of me worked. My mother Bernice Ethylene named me Linda Susan after her two favourite actresses: Linda Darnell and Susan Hayward. From her hospital bed to her wheelchair at home she commanded my father to enroll me in every dance class known to man. Mother Bernice wanted me to become another Joan Crawford as she was her favourite actress and lived, ate and breathed Crawford.

My mother, who was also tone deaf, thought I was born to sing like Deanna Durbin. Every week Reverend Peacock would choose one person to perform a solo at Trinity Anglican Church in Cowansville, Quebec, and my mother called him and suggested that I participate.

Sunday came way too fast and barely standing next to the choir I began to sing. At the end, I hear no bravos in the congregation, but by verse three people are covering their mouths with their handkerchiefs. At the end of my song Dickie Miner in the front pew breaks out into a fit of laughter and ends up on the floor.

I go back to my seat and see Reverend Peacock look down at me through his bifocals in bewilderment. Miss Watson, age 69, the spinster church organist, stamps on the organ pedals and rolls into the next hymn at death defying volume. My musical career ended that day, but Bernice kept insisting that it was okay because they always had stand-in singers for Joan.

Daydreaming over, I come to the conclusion that I’m going to use up a box of Kleenex every hour and it’s going to be a bumpy ride for the next few days. There is no one that is going to stand in for me like Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, but I am lucky it’s only for days and not months or maybe even worse. For the first time in history we can stay inside and watch as much Family Feud (Canadian or American) as we want while chasing it down with a cup of Chicken Noodle Soup. Being sick has made us realize the things we take for granted in life are never to be ignored again, not to mention life itself.

Be well everyone!

Being Old is No Place for Sissies! Part 2

Being Old is No Place for Sissies

This Old House….. Linda Knight Seccaspina