Best Halloween Ever

When I reflect on Halloweens past, the year that stands out in my mind the most is 1983. I was in the third grade. I didn’t have a particularly interesting costume that year. In fact, I don’t even remember what I wore, although if I had to guess, it was likely Strawberry Shortcake. I wore that costume several times throughout my childhood (and a few times as an adult). What was so memorable about that year is that I went trick or treating without an adult chaperone. Instead of my parents, I went out with the girl next door and her friends.

Tracy was older than me, by three, maybe four years, and I looked up to her. She told me secrets and introduced me to alternative shoelace configurations, glittery nail polish and Joan Jett. The previous summer she had entertained me while I was quarantined with chicken pox (she had already had them and was immune). We would listen to her records on my Mickey Mouse record player while roller skating on the concrete floor in our unfinished basement. She tolerated my naivety and immaturity while I studied her for clues as to how I could someday be as pretty and sophisticated as I saw her back then.

I don’t know how or why I was afforded the privilege of hanging out with her and her friends that night. It doesn’t matter. All I know is that night we ventured farther out of our neighborhood at night than I’d ever been without a grown up. Then at the end of the night we went to McDonalds. There I was, hanging out with the girls at a restaurant. We were nearly a kilometer from home eating french fries acquired with treat coupons we had picked up along the way. I felt so cool and independent. It was incredible. It wasn’t until years later when I drove a car alone for the first time, that I would feel that free again.

By the following year we had moved across town and I didn’t see Tracy much after that. With such a big difference in age, our lives never really overlapped outside of being neighbours. Wherever she is now, I wish her well and I’ll always be so grateful that she let me tag along with her that night. It really meant a lot.

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Crashing and Burning on the Information Superhighway

I’m so sick of the swine flu, especially the debate surrounding the vaccine.

Twenty-four hour news media, social networking sites, weblogs and YouTube are all flooded with information, or in many cases, misinformation, about the vaccine. It reminds me so much of that broken telephone game we used to play in Brownies. It started with a fact and an opinion. The end result is a garbled mess of the two and it doesn’t seem to occur to anyone to listen to health professionals while they attempt to clear up the confusion. Why bother when Bill Mahar has already tweeted against it?

The problem is too much information. It’s everywhere and we don’t seem to know how to filter it. We put so much stock in the people who have found a voice in the media. We listen to entertainers, bloggers, and unqualified friends and neighbors who have no business passing off their opinions as gospel. We trust them based solely on the fact that they have an opinion and a medium to express it. Meanwhile, we tune out the real experts, the people who could put our fears and concerns in perspective. It’s driving me crazy to hear people around me making important decisions about their health based on information from weak sources. Not once have I heard someone say, “I’m not getting vaccinated because my DOCTOR told me not to.”

As for myself, I’m a bit of a skeptic when it comes to pharmaceuticals. I take them sparingly, as I believe that exercise, nutrition and sufficient rest are the keys to good health. I’m a huge supporter of preventive medicine and naturopathy. At the same time, I appreciate the benefits of modern technology. I’ve actually never had a seasonal flu shot because I rarely get the flu. H1N1 isn’t the seasonal flu. This is a fact that doesn’t seem to be getting across as clear as our nation’s health officials would like, and while I’m not qualified to advocate for or against the H1N1 vaccine, here are a few questions you might want to ask yourself as you decide whether or not to inoculate yourself and your family: When was the last time you thought about Polio? Do you ever worry about your children contracting smallpox? Do you know what Diphtheria is? What about Pertussis? Of course not. Thanks to vaccinations, here in Canada, they’ve been long forgotten as a threat to public health. For our grandparents though, they were real and scary, just as the H1N1 virus is for us right now.

So, go out and get the H1N1 shot. Or don’t. It’s your choice. Just make sure your decision is based on qualified information, not what you heard in the supermarket check out line, on Facebook or what Kanye thinks (has he weighed in on this yet)? In the meantime, eat your veggies, wash your hands and get plenty of rest.

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Button Napkin Rings

After sorting though my stash of buttons, I found that I had a lot of small, plain white and cream buttons in various sizes. Too plain to use in my other projects, these have been accumulating at the bottom of my button box for years.

Over the weekend, I found a use for them:

Napkin rings.

I made them simply by stringing about a dozen random buttons on some elastic thread and then fastening it off with a knot.

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