Saturday, December 22, 2007

COOL ...

I had a business meeting scheduled at my home on Wednesday morning with someone I have not met in person before. When he called to confirm a few days earlier, I made a point of mentioning that he should please be careful on the walkway as it was very icy. The weather has been really bad these last few weeks and with DDTF being away the whole week in Hong Kong, no-one was available to shovel and salt the area. Selfishly I didn’t pay too much attention to it as Ross and I exit and enter the house through the garage. If I drove slowly and carefully enough down the driveway, I would manage not to get the car into trouble in spite of the layer of ice that was now my driveway. My lovely neighbor, Stan ploughed the driveway for me on the Sunday, but under the snow was a layer of ice from the rain and freezing temperatures from the week before. It was a real mess.

When Person A. called me to tell me he was on his way but running late, I once again cautioned him to negotiate his way very carefully up the walkway to the front door. He told me that I had mentioned this previously, that he had heard me and that he, “got it!”

My office window is directly above the walkway. I was working at my desk when suddenly I heard a loud and clear THUD outside on the walkway. I couldn’t move. I put my head in my hands and the first thought that went through my mind was, “Oh great – we are about to be sued by Person A.” I remained glued to my chair as I heard yet another THUD … and another … and another. By this time, still glued to my chair, I had visions of the ambulance arriving with DDTF’s colleagues coming to rescue the THUDDER off my walkway. I was thinking to myself that although there was really no point in my going to his rescue because how would I be able to lift him off the ice, I had to go downstairs and see what was happening. The picture I had formed in my head while the THUDDING continued and seemed to get LOUDER with each THUD, was one of Person A. lying on the walkway THUDDING his fists on the ice to get someone’s attention from inside the house.

I managed to dislodge my terrified ass off my chair and mustered up the courage to look out of my office window. To my shock and relief, I see Person A. on his feet … and the explanation to the THUDDING took me by complete surprise.

I got on my stair chair, made my way down to the front door, opened it, and all I could think to say was, “WHAT are you doing?” Important to note at this point that I had not met Person A. before, I had only ever spoken with him on the phone.

“Person A. asked me to come by and do this before he got here.” he said.
“Yeah, right – I do recognize your voice. I can’t believe you are doing this* for me.” I replied.
“Well,” he said, “I study torah every week and I have learnt that one of the best ways to build bridges is to do something for someone when they least expect it. So, thank YOU, for giving me the opportunity to do this for you!” he explained.

To clarify, – this* amounted to close to 45 minutes of hard labor – breaking the ice and then shoveling it away – this was no small task.

I could not believe that this total stranger arrived here, having totally planned to shovel my walkway with no knowledge of how much work this would take. He came equipped with an ice breaker, snow shovel, the boots and gloves to do it in and the sole intention of extending this random act of kindness to me.

I don’t think I could have scripted a better story if I had tried that would so perfectly speak of what the season of goodwill is all about.

Needless to say, we went on to have a very successful meeting and what he did was totally super cool, don’t you think?


Sunday, December 09, 2007


Having a ten year old son, a husband in the IT industry, and a blog of my own, I am often amazed at the wonders of technology. However, I also often think about the frustrations of the technology. I feel frustrated when I feel that people are hiding behind their email faciities. I feel frustrated when I see people having text conversations as opposed to being old fashioned and picking up the phone and speaking to each other. I feel frustrated when I see people zoned out on their ipods depriving themselves of opportunities of chance meetings with a stranger at the bus stop, for example. I sometimes ask my son to take the headphones off, switch the dvd off while in the car, and to talk to me.

I guess it has become an aspect of our lives now that like most other things, one has to simply find the balance. There are often little miracles waiting to happen through the technology, and here is one that I just experienced.

My friend Sandra shared a letter she had received with me and some of her other friends via an email to all of us. Sandra is a South African living in Canada. She makes beautiful pottery. I thought the letter she shared told such a lovely story that I wrote to the sender and asked her if I could please use it on my blog. We then exchanged some emails by the end of which I had permission to share the letter. It reads as follows:

I just washed and dried one of your small Vanilla dipping bowls and thought I'd check the internet to find you and tell you a little story about the bowl.

I bought it at the shop in the Gardiner Museum, in May this year. I was on my way to a memorial service at Victoria College for a dear friend who would have celebrated her 100th birthday next week.

Marguerite was her name and I met this generous, lovely woman ten years ago when I was doing research for a children's book about the teen poet of "High Flight" ("Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth..."). Marguerite had met young John Magee when she lived in Ottawa in 1941 and her husband was a minister there. John's dad was a minister in the U.S. and John took a message to Marguerite's home while he was stationed in Ottawa. Eight weeks later he left for England and was killed that December in a training accident. The poem lives on. And Marguerite had John's signature in the family guest book. And her story of him sleeping on her couch while waiting for her husband to finish writing a sermon....

Anyway...I was early for the memorial service and decided to spend some time in the Gardiner shop. I saw the little bowl and thought of Marguerite. That little bowl spoke to me. When I saw the "Dotti Potts" name on the bottom I knew that Marguerite would have 'got a kick' out of the name.

And so I bought the bowl, put it in my purse, and went over to the service in the beautiful Victoria College Chapel.

Since May, every time I take out the bowl to use, I smile. It's now the "Marguerite bowl" for the family. It's wonderful how something so physically small can be so huge. Marguerite is very much present and remembered.

Many thanks for 'listening' to this tale. I just thought you might like to know how I truly appreciate the human touch that went into this bowl and the utter wonderful humanity and friendship it now celebrates.

May you and yours have a wonderful holiday!

Linda Granfield, Toronto.

The internet certainly makes it possible for us to reach out to people whom without it, we might not have known even exist in the world. It opens doors that lead to wonderful connections – the likes of which I would find it very difficult to survive without.


pic by jen gray