Heather Smith

I really am an old biddy. Forty years old with the aches and pains of an eighty year old, and, I tell ya, this damp spring weather is killing me.

My doctor understands. He's ancient. We're like that (my arthritic index finger is wrapped lovingly around my arthritic pointer finger, protecting it from the chill).

"Go on holiday," Doctor Oldie says. "Go to Mexico."

Mexico. Let's see. Aches and pains or Swine Flu? Swine Flu or aches and pains? Hmmmm. In Canada, with my best friend the heating pad, I shall remain.

Got me thinking though. Maybe I should consider a trip south. But where? The only place I've ever really fancied is the Yorkshire Dales ...THE YORKSHIRE DALES??? Holy Swine Poop! What was I thinking? Here was me with visions of sitting in my thatched cottage, drinking tea in front of the fire, listening happily to the sound of the wind and the rain hammer the windows ... I didn't consider how my poor old hips would feel about it ... I never gave a second thought to my wrists or to my knees! No, I was just going to drag them along with me on my adventure - unwilling participants as I frolicked through the dales and performed strenuous veterinary procedures as I joined the local vet on his rounds. How would my shoulders feel about pulling lambs from their mothers in drafty barns? How would my knees feel about standing in a field giving vaccinations to a herd of cattle in the driving rain?

I have been selfish. Perhaps I should reconsider this wild and crazy dream. Perhaps I should pick a new place to obsess about. Do they have thatched cottages in Morocco? Could I wear a Barbour jacket and khaki wellies in Egypt and go fly-fishing in the Nile? No, of course not. I need to face facts. My Yorkshire dream is all the more appealing because of the occasional rainy and damp day. My thatched cottage and open fire is all the more charming when the out of doors is soggy and drenched.

So screw the joints. Damp weather? I'll cope. And anyway, on days when my hips act up, old Mrs. Thompson from Happydale Farm will drop by with a hearty stew to warm my soul. And the local veterinary doctor won't mind if I'm not up to following him on his rounds, in fact, he might even be relieved.

There's only one place where I can frolic ... I know that now ... and that's the Yorkshire Dales.
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Heather Smith
Dear Billy Bob,

My last letter to you was one of anger and repulsion but today's letter is much, much different. Today's letter is one of heartfelt gratitude. Can you feel it, Billy Bob? Can you feel the love?

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking "I don't know what you're talking about."

Well, let me explain. You see, had you not been a complete knob to Jian Ghomeshi I would never have had the inspiration to write a scathing song about the whole ordeal for the CBC Canada Writes online challenge and been subsequently crowned the Online Challenge Winner.

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking "I'm not sure what that means."

What it means, Billy Bob, is that I am thanking you for being a horse's ass.

What's that you say? Would I say that to Tom Petty? Um, no. 'Cause he isn't a horse's ass, but you, my dimwitted friend, are the epitome of the hindquarters of any member of the Equidae family.

Yeah, yeah - you don't know what I mean by that. I get it. Again, I'll explain. The Equidae family is the horse family - horses, zebras, asses. What that means is that you are not only a horse's ass but a zebra's ass and yes, you even qualify as an ass's ass.

Anyway, Billy Bob, good news ... your knobiness has won me an iPod touch. And I feel so indebted to you I might even consider putting a Boxmasters song on it, preferably a track on which you were to too sulky/lazy/childish to play the drums.

Sincerely,

Old Biddy
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Heather Smith
Following one's favourite celeb on Twitter can be quite exciting. When I first entered into the world of Twitter I was thrilled to know what Jamie Oliver was having for lunch and Stephen Fry's clever and witty posts always caught my attention.

Wow. Stalking from your easy chair - what could be better than that?

That's what I thought for the first week anyway. And then some of the celebs started to share too much ... and shattered the illusion of who I thought they were.

For example, one of my favourite singer-songwriters posted this: Would you rather eat your own poo or drink someone else's vomit?

Had this been a post from some random person on my list I would have rolled my eyes at the dumbness of it and immediately hit the Remove button. But I didn't. And why didn't I? Because of this person's celebrity status?? Boy am I sad.

Question is, do we really want to get to know our celebs? I am not sure that I do.

I even had a little scare with my man, Jian Ghomeshi, when I joined his Facebook fan page. There, "Jian" posted regularly and shared lots of pics. Sounds great, doesn't it? Well it wasn't. I didn't really want to see photo upon photo of Jian and his girlfriend! Another illusion shattered. And the photo album entitled "Beer, booze and babes" really turned me off - where had my charming, respectable radio host gone???

Turns out this fan page was run by an impostor! Phew, now I can go back to my fantasy world of thinking Jian is mine and only mine.

Following the stars on Twitter or Facebook is a gamble. The info they post can either be endearing or off-putting. Do I want to follow their posts and get closer to their real lives or do I want to live in my fantasy world and maintain the image of who I think they are? When the posts are of the poo/vomit variety I think I prefer the latter.
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Heather Smith

As anyone who reads this blog knows, I love to read books by James Herriot. I describe them to people as comfort books - feel good reading material sure to give you the warm and fuzzies. However, I have always added a disclaimer when recommending James Herriot saying that, while they are lovely books filled with lovely anecdotes, don't expect a great work of literature. But now, as I am re-reading James Herriot, I realize what a disservice I have done to him - what a bloody good writer he was!

Here is a passage from Vet in a Spin. In this scene he describes Roddy Travers, an interesting character who shows up in Darrowby to do odd jobs:

Roddy stayed around the Darrowby district throughout the summer and I grew used to the sight of him on the farms or pushing his pram along the roads. When it was raining he wore a tattered over-long gaberdine coat, but at other times it was always the golf jacket and cordouroys. I don't know how he accumulated his wardrobe. It was a safe bet he had never been on a golf course in his life and it was just another of the little mysteries about him. I saw him early one morning on a hill path in early October.

It had been a night of iron frost and the tussocky pastures beyond the walls were held in a pitiless white grip with every blade of grass stiffly ensheathed in rime.


I was muffled to the eyes and had been beating my gloved fingers against my knees to thaw them out, but when I pulled up and wound down the window the first thing I saw was the bare chest under the collarless unbuttoned shirt.

"Mornin' Mr. Herriot," he said. "Ah'm glad I've seen ye". He paused and gave me a tranquil smile. "There's a job along t'road for a couple of weeks , then I'm movin' on."


"I see." I knew enough about him not to ask where he was going. Instead I looked down at Jake who was sniffing the herbage. "I see he's walking this morning."


Roddy laughed. "Yes sometimes 'e likes to walk, sometimes 'e likes to ride. He pleases 'imself."


"Right, Roddy," I said. "No doubt we'll meet again. All the best to you."


He waved and set off jauntily over the icebound road and I felt that a little vein of richness had gone from my life.


Aaaah. I can't wait to wear my wax jacket as I walk the tussocky pastures of the Yorkshire Dales. Grass stiffly ensheathed in rime? No problem! I'll have my fetching khaki wellies to keep my feet warm and dry.

I will never again state that silly disclaimer when discussing James Herriot. He may not have been a Pulitzer Prize winner but his works are truly remarkable - not only because of the charming semi autobiographical stories but because of the way in which they were written.

If for some reason, my James Herriot books were taken from me, a little vein of richness would be gone from my life as well.

To find out more about James Herriot (Alf Wight) click here.
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Heather Smith
In my brother's latest blog post (Travelling With Gershom), he ponders our interactions with strangers - when people we don't know strike up a conversation with us how do we react? Do we engage them or do we nod and make a quick escape? Maybe the stranger shared way too much information - do we recoil?

My reaction is usually a negative one, especially if there was a bit TMI involved. In general, I tend to walk around thinking people are idiots. Maybe this is something I should work on ... I don't think it's conducive to my crunchy granola aspirations.

My brother's wife suggested that when strangers talk to us we have an opportunity to brighten their day. Hmmm, interesting. She's right. Why not spend an extra two minutes at the corner store and respond to the shopkeeper ... why not add something to the conversation instead of trying to think of a way to politely end it?

I think I'll try this. And maybe if I approach it genuinely, without the sense that I am humouring the stranger or sacrificing my time, I might just get something out of it ... the good feeling of making a connection with a fellow human being. Reaching out and engaging with a stranger could prove to be a very positive and uplifting experience ... as long as the stranger doesn't act like a bloody idiot.
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Heather Smith

I haven't blogged in two whole days now and it's Billy Bob Thornton's fault. Man, that whole Billy Bob/Jian Ghomeshi really got to me. But I'm over it now. Really I am. I've written a ranty song for CBC Canada Writes about it. I've posted disparaging remarks and bad publicity links for Billy Bob on Facebook. I've even twittered (tweeted? twitted?) about it. It's out of my system now. Completely. Billy Bob who?

Now that I've calmed down I've had a chance to reflect on why I got so angry. I mean, in an earlier blog post I wanted to throw a brick at BBT's head. That's not me. I'm not a violent person. I do yoga for God's sake. I meditate. I am the epitome of peace. I could replace the dove.

So here's the deal and I know I'm not alone on this ... but as someone who is at home all day with a young child, CBC keeps me company ... it provides me with some adult conversation. In years gone by, this wasn't so much of a problem for moms who stayed at home. Edna or Ruth or Marge some other old biddy from next door would pop over for a cup of tea and a bickie ... but it's not like that now ... not where I live anyway. All I have are my BFFs from CBC - Jian Ghomeshi in the morning, Rita Celli at lunch, and Aamer Haleem in the afternoon. I can't talk back to these people, granted, but I feel I know them quite well. It's like they are right there with me at my kitchen table - Jian and Aamer with their coffee (one sugar for Jian, black for Aamer) and Rita with her green tea (she's very health conscious). I sip my tea and listen to their titillating conversation, nodding in agreement as they discuss the serious issues and laughing loudly at the occasional hilarity. When Jian speaks I often look in his direction flirtatiously. "Oh, Jian" I say. "You are SO right about that. Good point."

So you see, when some bonehead with a hillbilly name (nothing like the sophisticated sounding Jian Ghomeshi) struts into my home, knocking over the good pottery mugs that I had laid out for my guests (the biggest one for Aamer, coffee is his fuel) and looks down his nose at my no-name digestive biscuits, I get riled. Even more so when he disrespects my guests and my country.

That's how it is with CBC and me. These hosts are my old biddy neighbours ... so if you're an egotistical celebrity with an holier than thou attitude you'd better think twice before messing with my Edna or Ruth or Marge - 'cuz this peace-lovin', yoga-crazy hippie will get a bad case of blog rage and through the power of the almighty rant will turn your name to mud.

See? Told ya. I'm over it. It's out of my system. Completely.
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Heather Smith

There's too much trash on TV these days and it's causing me to have unclean thoughts about All Creatures Great and Small.

Last night I was watching series five, episode six - A New Chapter. In it, James is gone to a lecture on metabolic diseases, leaving Helen home alone with a pot of liver and bacon. Soon, James' boss, Siegfried Farnon, arrives. Helen, who is packing boxes in preparation for a big move, complains to Siegfried that she fears James will be hitting the pub after the lecture and will drink too much. Then the following exchange:

Helen: I've got liver and bacon in the oven and now he says he's going to have a sandwich on the way.

Siegfried: Liver and bacon? Don't tempt me.


Helen: You hungry?


Siegfried: I'm always hungry ... but I mustn't trespass on your hospitality.


Helen: Oh please do (she passes him a drink and sits down next to him). It'll only be wasted and I can do with the company.


Siegfried: Could you? (he put his hand on her arm and leaves it there)


Helen: Well it is a bit depressing packing up ones home.


Siegfried: I expect it is.

Helen: Oh please stay and keep me company. (Then, coyly) Unless you hate liver and bacon.

Siegfried: (smiling like a fox in a hen house) Oh I like liver and bacon.


They smile at each other and chink glasses.

Had I been watching something other than All Creatures Great and Small I would have believed what was in the back of my mind ... that they weren't really talking about liver and bacon. But, let's be real here, there's no way Siegfried and Helen would go at it while James is away. It's unthinkable ... yet, for a moment, I thought it. I have been jaded by modern TV and it's racy story lines.

So how do I watch this delightfully pure show when impure thoughts keep worming their way into my head? All I can do is repeat the following mantra: There is no room for rumpy-pumpy on All Creatures Great and Small, there is no room for rumpy-pumpy on All Creatures Great and Small.
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Heather Smith

You crossed a line, my friend. Nobody and I mean NOBODY disrepects my Jian the way that you did today.

You made a big boo-boo, Thornton. Canada loves Ghomeshi. LOVES him. You lost some fans today, dumbass.

Canada too reserved for you, huh? Prefer playing in joints where people throw stuff, huh? Well, Billy Bonehead, I'm one Canadian who likes to chuck stuff around and I got a nice big brick here with your name on it.

You know what, Billy Bob? You can kiss my arse. And you know what else? Your band can kiss it too. At first I felt sorry for your crew, sitting awkwardly in the Q studio while you acted like a COMPLETE MORON. But their silence only made them look like weak, cowardly jerks. They should be ashamed.

FYI, just so you know, you're a dipshit.

Sincerely,

Old Biddy

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Heather Smith

I will never again try to have a deep and serious discussion with Edgerton while he is drinking an espresso. Last night, while we were standing in the kitchen having a serious chat, I was distracted by a peculiar head jerking motion Edgie insisted on performing every time he took a sip from his Illy cup.

"What the hell are you doing?" I finally asked.

"What?"

"That thing. With your head."

A blank stare.

I sighed. "The head jerk thing."

Nothing.

I demonstrated with my imaginary cup, almost giving myself whiplash.

"Oh that," said Edgie. "It's the proper way to taste an espresso." He then gave an explanation that described when to inhale, when to exhale, when to enjoy the coffee flowing over the tongue and when to swallow. Man, he's anal.

I think this Father's Day, just to be evil, I'll bring him breakfast in bed, a cup of instant Folgers placed lovingly next to his toast. Somehow I don't think it'll be the best part of waking up.

I'll post the pic.
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Heather Smith

The supermarket is not super. Far from it. It is a boring building in which one does a boring thing - food shopping. It is my dreaded Monday morning chore. Up and down the aisles I go with Goo, the littlest youngster, who rides happily on the front of the cart. Far too disorganized to bring a pen I try to mentally check off my list as I go knowing that I will return home without some vitally needed items - it's always the way.

Oh look. Roast beef is on sale. Pitter-patter goes my little heart. Not.

Time to pick out the best buy on toilet paper. Edgerton's voice fills my head. "Remember: look at the cents per sheet." Edgie thrives on this sort of thing. Not me. I couldn't wait to get to the end of my list.

Bu then something remarkable happened. The muffled monotony of the Muzak suddenly became clear ... is it? Could it be? Annie's Song? John Denver?

The supermarket was transformed!! No longer an uninspiring stink-pit of doom, it was now a place of wonderment.

You fill up my senses like a night in the forest
Like the mountains in springtime, like a walk in the rain

There was a bounce in my step as I headed off towards the dairy section. I gave a happy nod to the old lady who was blocking my access to the cheese. Did I wink? Yeah, I probably did.

Like a storm in the desert, like a sleepy blue ocean
You fill up my senses, come fill me again.


As I hummed along, I noticed for the first time the vibrant oranges of the cheese. I was like a newborn lamb taking in the beauty of the dales.

Oh, how the Pillsbury Dough Boy smiled at me as I read the ingredients of his Pop'N'Fresh dough. My heart brimmed with happiness at how he never lost that doughy grin, even when I gently laid him back down again due to an over abundance of artificial flavours.

Let me drown in your laughter, let me die in your arms
Let me lay down beside you, let me always be with you


Yes, John, if only you were still with us.

The song came to an end but not my new found optimism. No, that lingered for a long time afterwards ... because that's what John Denver does to me. I've said it before and I'll say it again. He fills up my senses.
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Heather Smith
I stumbled across a lovely website yesterday called MyFavouriteDales.com. Cees van der Veen has enjoyed his yearly vacations to the Yorkshire Dales so much he created this website as a tribute. The welcome page is something special with its video slide show of the Yorkshire Dales through the seasons. Cees van der Veen writes: Join me during my rambles over the hills, and down the vales. Share with me some special moments. And so I did.

One of my favourite videos is the montage of cottages in which he has stayed from 1990-2007. He seems to know the area quite well and he demonstrates great taste when it comes to picking cottages. I might start stalking him.

I was quite excited to see some webcam links. Lambwatch caught my attention. A click later and I was watching the Yorkshire Dales from my comfy chair. Not much happening - just a lamb-less piece of land and a bird feeder swinging in the wind. But it was peaceful. "I will keep watching until I see a little lamb walk past the camera," I thought. Doo-dee-doo. Where are they? Asleep, maybe. Getting shorn, perhaps. Dum-dee-dum.

Edgerton was sitting next to me. He had his laptop, I had mine. I was sure he didn't have Lambwatch on his screen - but thinking that perhaps he might think it neat that I was watching the Yorkshire Dales, I filled him in enthusiastically on my new obsession. He looked at me with what may have been pity, I'm not sure.

Wow, the wind was really picking on the dales. I'll definitely need a Barbour wax jacket when I go there for real some day.

"OH MY GOD!" I shrieked.

Edgie jumped.

"THERE'S A WOODPECKER ON THE BIRDFEEDER IN THE YORKSHIRE DALES."

Edgerton looked at me with pity, I was sure of it this time. He said something about getting a life but my attention had already turned back to my computer screen where I stared, fascinated, at the bird on the feeder, hoping to catch a glimpse of a little lamb walking by in the background.
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Heather Smith
Yesterday, The Big Youngster was on a riddle kick. It was one riddle after another for hours on end ... and he got me every single time. At the dinner table that evening, in an attempt to stump him, I smarmily challenged him with the following riddle:

A man and his son are in a car accident. The father dies on the scene, but the child is rushed to the hospital. When he arrives the surgeon says, "I can't operate on this boy, he is my son!" How can this be?

The Big Youngster looked at me like I was a complete idiot. Half-laughing and using the most condescending tone he answered, "The surgeon is the boy's mother." Then, to add insult to injury, he held his hands out and looked around the table as if to say "What the-?"

I was amazed. Not at how The Big Youngster had scoffed at my riddle, but how he had answered it without hesitation ... of course the surgeon was the boy's mother ... who else? You see, perhaps I am dating myself by saying this, but back in my day the thought that a woman would be the surgeon would not have entered the minds of most. I remember this riddle being quite a perplexing one.

Oh how times have changed! I was so happy that my son had shown no signs of male chauvinist piggyness, I overlooked how haughtily he had dismissed my riddle.
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Heather Smith
I was just listening to CBC radio's Spark, a fantastic programme about technology and culture.

I was struck by a piece entitled "Al Rae on Facebook Mea Culpas". Al Rae masterfully told his story of reaching AA's step nine, making amends with the people in your past, and doing so ... though Facebook.

It was a well written, touching, and funny piece, the best line being "to think you're the worst person in the world is another form of narcissism. It's like you can't just be a horse's ass, you have to be Seabiscuit's ass".

I googled Al Rae afterwards. Turns out he's the Artistic Director of the Winnipeg Comedy Festival. No surprise there. His talent as a comedy writer came through loud and clear in this Spark piece.

Listen for yourself by clicking the link above.
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Heather Smith

Well I finally did it. I convinced Edgie to move to the Yorkshire Dales. In Spring 2010. For one year. I can’t wait!!

We’ll be living in a quaint hamlet called Foxup in the valley of Littondale.

It was an amazing turn of events. Edgerton's company is opening a branch office in nearby Harrogate. I almost pooped myself when I heard. I didn't need to say a word. Before I could open my mouth sweet dear Edgie said "I'll put in for a transfer." I jumped on him. I did a number on his back. I felt bad. But then I thought about springtime in the Dales and immediately felt better.

The picture above is an actual photo of Foxup. Click to enlarge. Our cottage is the one in the distance to the right. I CAN'T BELIEVE IT!

I will frolic with The Youngsters across the countryside. I will visit the local pub. I will stalk the local veterinarian and assist him in the birthing of the animals whether he likes it or not. I will be one with The Yorkshire Dales.

My wildest dreams will be realized.
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